DMed’s Video of the Week: Hard-Fi, “Suburban Knights”

From our “You heard it here first” section to “You’ll hear this everywhere you go for the next three months, like it or not,” Hard-Fi’s insanely Clash-y (but in such a good way) leadoff single for their upcoming album, Once upon a Time in the West. Hot damn, I love these guys.

“Jailbreak” a la Sniff The Tip

Howdy, everyone. I’ve been busy making up a few new videos under the Sniff The Tip banner, but I quite like this one the most, so I figured I’d share it here as well. It’s the classic AC/DC tune “Jailbreak” married to a shitload of groovy comic book art. Enjoy.

Video Vault – Plastic Operator

“Folder” from the fantastic Different Places album.

Man-about-MySpace: Fats Hammond

One of New England’s best kept music secrets is Fats Hammond, a group featuring two Hammond B-3 organs bashing out some of the funkiest soul-jazz on the planet.

Before you go thinking for a second that Fats Hammond, in their standing Tuesday night gig at the Dodge Street Grill in Salem, Mass., puts on some sort of high-faluttin’ academic jazz clinic, go listen to their tracks uploaded to The Space: It’s pure soul grease, laden with more fat than the pub’s fish & chips. Dirtier than the floor around the beer stand behind home plate at Fenway Pahhhk.

Sometimes, we’ve been told, the drummer from the Trey Anastasio (Phish) solo band knocks off early–he works behind the bar at Dodge Street–and sits in with the band, and the jams go deep into Wednesday morning.

Ken Clark

Fats Hammond ringleader Ken Clark (back to camera) wheels in his 400lb B-3 every Tuesday
and jams with another B-3 playa and the band.

Chris Heath: a music writer you should get to know.

If you’re familiar with music journalist Chris Heath, it’s probable that you’re an Anglophile of the highest order. After all, Heath is a Brit whose subjects tend more often than not to be artists with popularity that doesn’t necessarily translate to American audiences; they’re also artists at whom your traditional rock and roll fans often tend to turn up their noses. Nonetheless, I say to you that if you’re a music fan, period, and you’re looking for a new book to keep you occupied, you really need to check these tomes out, as they offer extremely funny and highly fascinating insights into the world of popular music:

Pet Shop Boys, Literally

C’mon, don’t tune out on me now. I assure you, it doesn’t matter one bit whether you like or even care the slightest bit about the Pet Shop Boys. It’s a great read either way, focusing on how the duo prepare and embark upon a tour of Hong Kong, Japan, and Great Britain, and the backstage and behind-the-scenes look at the pair provide a no-holds-barred, fly-on-the-wall examination of what it’s like to maintain a chart career of such considerable longevity. One bit in the book which has always stuck with me is when Chris Lowe – he’s the one who usually just sits sullenly behind the keyboards while singer Neil Tennant takes the spotlight – discusses how he likes certain tiny bits of songs…like, for instance, the “uh-uh-oh” bit in Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up,” or the part in Kylie Minogue’s “I Should Be So Lucky,” where she sings, “I should be so lucky / Lucky, lucky, lucky.” As Lowe says, “If that’s banal, it’s a strength. It’s just a mark of pure genius.”

Pet Shop Boys versus America

Heath’s relationship with Tennant and Lowe proved so successful that he wrote a sequel, focusing on the band’s subsequent tour of the U.S., where, as I implied earlier, their profile is nothing compared to what it is elsewhere. (Ask people about the band in the States, and you can expect an instant reference to 1985′s “West End Girls.”) You may or may not enjoy this one as much, depending on how thin your skin is when it comes to patriotic matters, but, again, it’s imminently readable.

Feel

It is possibly not coincidental that the subject of Heath’s next book, Robbie Williams, had worked with Tennant on the song, “No Regrets” (which appeared on Williams’ 1998 album, I’ve Been Expecting You). The resulting book is, as it happens, arguably better than the two Pet Shop Boys books, providing a look at a very complicated individual who leapt from teen stardom as a member of Take That into a solo career which has taken him around the world and back…but never to success in the USA. There’s a painful but true observation by Heath when Williams is preparing to perform a promotional gig for a radio station in America, where he indicates that this same set of songs would be performed by Williams for 375,000 people later in the summer…but, today, he’s playing for less than 20. (As it happens, his enthusiasm level is approximately the same for both, which is to say that it’s through the roof no matter how many people he’s playing for.)

Anyway, as I say, you’re probably skeptical, and you’ve got every right to be, but I swear to you: if you take the risk and make the purchase, you will enjoy these books.

The Nuge causes dissention within the Bullz-Eye ranks…

It all started so innocently, with a good-natured jab between two comrades in arms about how this album…

…is such a textbook example of “breezy, funky, white-boy pop” that the only antidote to its effects is to spin this album:

And, suddenly, it all went horribly, horribly wrong…

David Medsker: Nugent? Wow, that’s good timing. Have you seen this yet?

Ted Nugent goes OFF on Obama in California

Unfortunately, Red’s going to freaking love this. But the good people at the South Dakota State Fair, however, did not. (Editor’s note: That might be because, based on the Fair’s theme song, which you can hear by clicking on the link to their site in the previous sentence, the organizers would appear to be bigger fans of Orleans than Ted Nugent.)

Red Rocker: Uh, the caption said he was in Cali? And I didn’t hear an objection, if that’s what you were suggesting? Seemed like wherever he was, the crowd was pretty much in his corner…

Jeff Giles: He was asked by the organizers of the SD State Fair to tone down his retarded antics for his planned appearance at the event.

Red: Why?

Jeff: Um, because there are going to be kids at the fair, and they were worried about Nuge threatening more presidential candidates with bodily harm? It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s true.

Red: I get that kids attend state fairs, but if their parents are ignorant enough to take them into a Ted Nugent concert then they deserve to be exposed to his Platform For The Everyman.

Jeff: I dunno. At any fair I’ve ever been to, the concerts are open-air, meaning anyone taking a stroll over to the churro cart would be able to hear Nugent spouting off his Platitudes for the Cro-Magnon Buffoon. I can understand the South Dakotans’ concerns, and I, for one, think it’s downright hilarious that Nuge’s career is at a place where he needs to worry about what state fair organizers think of his shenanigans.

David: I’m pretty sure your thoughts on the subject would be much different if, say, Howard Jones told a state fair crowd that George Bush could “suck on this.”

Red: Not really. I didn’t burn my Dixie Chicks CDs a couple years ago. It’s called free speech, Med. Even you hippies embrace that, right!?

David: Free speech, huh? So you would be okay with me cursing like a drunken sailor in front of your daughters?

Red: Again, my daughters (at age 2 and 1) would not be at a Ted Nugent concert! Maybe by the time they’re 13 and 14….

David: Answer the question: would you want me swearing in front of your daughters, yes or no?

Read the rest of this entry »

Hilly Kristal dead at 75

After a battle with lung cancer, Hilly Kristal, founder of CBGB’s, has died. After 33 years, CBGB’s closed last year, its final show featuring Patti Smith. The club was founded in 1973 and became a haven for punk and new wave acts.

Video Vault – The Stone Roses

“I Am the Resurrection” live in Blackpool from ’89. Oh. Hell. Yeah.

Space Ace does the Dunkin

When David Medsker and I were in Chicago covering Lollapalooza earlier this month, we were sitting around in our hotel room discussing music and such, natch. I had mentioned to him that Ace Frehley was recently in a pretty amusing Dunkin’ Donuts ad. Ace was always my fave member of the original lineup, not just for his playing, but becuase he didn’t take the whole thing so damned seriously and straight faced as Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Anyway, here’s the recent Dunkin’ ad with Ace in full Kiss attire makin’ some moolah.

Man-about-MySpace: Tim Halperin

Ben Folds used to awesome. In concert, he still is, a consummate entertainer, and MySpace-aware fans point to his October 2006 live MySpace concert–requests only, the site’s first such event of its kind–chronicled on the Live at MySpace DVD as evidence of that.

But on the studio recording side, many of his fans are right to feel his songwriting has become almost too serious, his lyrics too jaded, to bear. Gone is the insouciance of the Ben Folds Five of the 1990s, the light drama of “Emaline,” the innocently poignant “Brick,” the simple chords . . . the subtle aspects of Folds that are gone and replaced–at least for the moment–with heavy-handed songs like “Bastard” and “You to Thank,” two back-to-back cuts on Songs for Silverman that sound like classic Folds pop but are so bitter and whiny that they just leave one cold.

Tim Halperin
Tim Halperin

Enter Tim Halperin, a TCU student and Folds devotee.

In between classes and other pressing needs that hamper the fun of dorm-dwellers (like having a television too small to read the score of the football game he and his pals are watching, chronicled in his “Life in the Dorm Room,”) this guy records whimsical piano-pop loaded with the delicious chordal curlicues we Folds fans love to hear.

These low-budget productions mean that his voice, piano, and songwriting skill must carry the day in cuts like “Nice to be Free” and “Mary.” They aren’t encumbered by effects and rich sonic backgrounds behind which the singer-songwriter can hide. It’s just his voice, his piano, and very basic backing tracks. Halperin’s vocals and piano playing stand up to the test.

And perhaps that is what is missing from Folds’ layered, heavily produced studio creations of today: That low-budget innocence of his 20s. Halperin’s stuff, while perfectly original in its own right, recalls the Naked Baby Photos era of the Five. Go give him a spin, and if you want his cuts on your iPod, go to his Garage Band page and download away. He claims he’ll let us know when a CD’s coming out; we’ll hold him to that.

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