Monday, September 29, 2008

This week in reunions...

*Blessid Union of Souls are back? We need more from the poor man's Hootie like "Hey Leonardo"*?

Do you realize that band had FOUR Billboard Top 40 hits in the late '90s?

(*Should we give props for the inclusion of a line about "my collection of DVDs" in a song in 1999?)

Not much else in reunion news this week, unless you care that Led Zeppelin are not getting back together (at least until 2010). Guess this means the Foo Fighters hiatus was not scheduled to allow Dave to take John Bonham's throne.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More new Chris Cornell, and David Cook's first grunge single

Here's another track from the Timbaland / Chris Cornell collaboration, "Scream":

The comments at Idolator likened it to a God Lives Underwater b-side. Now THAT's an obscure '90s reference!

And in other Chris Cornell news, David Cook's first single, "Light On," was co-written by Cornell. See if you like it better than the Cornell solo stuff here.

9/24 UPDATE: Apparently, Cornell performed with Pussycat Dolls, Timbaland, and OneRepublic on Fashion Rocks a couple of weeks ago (video on the Squib Central site). ARGH.

From the Cutout Bin: Heather Nova - Siren

Welcome to From the Cutout Bin, where we dig up old CDs that have been forgotten for whatever reason and can now be found in the dollar (or quarter) bin at your local used CD store (if your community still has a used CD store). This installment features 1998's Siren, by Bermudian Lilith Fair vet Heather Nova.

Heather Nova made her bones in the US with 1995's Modern Rock hit "Walk This World."

But that song's not on Siren, which I found for 50 cents at my local used bookstore. Instead, this is the follow-up, which was obviously expected to be a hit. There are three different producers, including Jon Kelly (known for his work in the UK with British adult-friendly pop stars like Kate Bush and the Beautiful South) and Youth, who was fresh off producing the Verve's 1997 masterpiece Urban Hymns. Superstar mixer Andy Wallace (whose credits include Nirvana's Nevermind, Soul Asylum's Grave Dancers Union, Screaming Trees' Sweet Oblivion, Jeff Buckley's Grace, The Toadies' Rubberneck, Rage Against the Machine's Evil Empire, the Wallflowers' Bringing Down the Horse, Everclear's So Much for the Afterglow, etc.*) worked on 12 of the 14 tracks. And as soon as it came out, Nova went on tour with Lilith Fair II.

(*Seriously, that list could have been twice as long, and still would have included nothing but platinum albums. Someday, I may do a post on Andy Wallace and the Lord-Alge brothers, the great mixers of the '90s.)

The problem is, it wasn't really a hit, at least in the US (unlike a lot of artists, Nova's Wikipedia page is pretty scarce, so I don't know how these songs charted overseas. Apparently, she's pretty big in New Zealand). It hit the 170s on the Billboard Top 200, the same as the previous album, and landed one track on the Adult Top 40.

Two songs on this album are great, in that "summer road trip when the only radio station you can find is one playing hot adult contemporary" sense: "London Rain" (that aforementioned Adult Top 40 hit) and "What a Feeling." The rest are pretty generic, inhabiting that gray area in between trip-hoppy stuff like Beth Orton and straightforward singer-songwriter stuff like Sheryl Crow.

Siren certainly didn't end Heather Nova's career; she segued over to the V2 label, was featured on the I Am Sam soundtrack among much more high-profile artists, co-wrote a comeback single with Dido and the Matrix that flopped, and then went the indie route. A new album, The Jasmine Flower, comes out Oct. 10 and then she'll do a two-week tour of Europe. She's worked with Moby, had her songs placed on a number of movies and TV shows, and earned a coveted spot on Divas of the Court: Songs from the WBNA. And hey, I already resold this CD on Amazon for a cool 15-cent profit, so I guess the demand's still there.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Foo Fighters headed for a break

Dave Grohl said on the BBC last week that the Foo Fighters are headed for a long hiatus.

Does this mean another Probot album? Perhaps more Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders? A Sunny Day Real Estate reunion? Watch this space...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Links roundup

Sometimes stuff just doesn't warrant a full post. To wit...

* A reflection on Beck's varied career, over at Idolator. I've never really been able to get into Beck. Sure, I liked the Odelay stuff, I enjoyed "Debra" ironically, and I sort of liked the newer singles when I heard them on the radio, but I don't own a Beck album. I've never seen him live. I probably won't buy his greatest hits, and if I never hear "Loser" or "Where It's At" again, I'd be OK.

* Third Eye Blind may be close to finally putting out a fourth album, says this (fairly-old) post by their new guitarist. As far as original members go, they're down to Stephan Jenkins and the drummer. I didn't like much of the third album or the non-"Never Let You Go" parts of the second album, so...

*A celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Billboard Modern Rock charts, along with some nice YouTube videos. I especially liked "I'll Be Your Chauffeur," from 1990, which I'd never actually heard before.

* There's a nice interview with Robby Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls over at Alternative Addiction. They've just built a studio, put out an odds-and-sods album, and are writing the next album. The first taste is a track called "Real," which was part of the AT&T promo for the Olympics:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This week in solo albums...

* has a stream of "Paralysis," the first single off Scott Weiland's second solo album, Happy in Galoshes, out Nov. 25.

* Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace has an album influenced by spoken-word poetry, The Hunters Lullaby, out now. It's self-produced, recorded on vintage equipment, and doesn't sound much like OLP at all. Our Lady Peace should have a new album out soon, according to this article. A new song was premiered at a festival in (you guessed it) Canada this summer.

* Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon has put out a limited-release album with '80s shlockmeister Richard Marx. Vertical Horizon are expected to put out a new album later this year.

* Mark Kano of Athenaeum is still working on a solo album, his first recorded output since 2001 (we previously reported on this here). No word on release date yet.

* John Hampson of Nine Days (now an English teacher), is also working on a solo album. It might be out by the end of the year.

Travis Barker critically injured in plane crash

Blink-182 / +44 drummer Travis Barker was critically injured in a plane crash Friday night in Columbia, SC, hours after performing a free show as TRVSDJ-AM with Perry Farrell and Gavin DeGraw. Four others were killed in the crash.
Barker is reportedly being treated at a burn unit in Augusta, GA.

TRVSDJ-AM, which also includes DJ-AM, was the house band at the 2008 Video Music Awards. AM also survived the crash.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So, about that new Metallica album...

Metallica are back, and it's got me to thinking. Is Metallica really considered a '90s band?
If you look back, the band had a monstrous cult following in the metal community in the early to mid-'80s, then became mega-stars around 1988-89 (that's when all their old albums went platinum within a span of about 18 months, meaning kids were discovering the band and buying everything they could get their hands on).

Then they put out the juggernaut, diamond-certified Black Album (14 million sold so far in the US) in 1991. Load went quintuple-platinum in '96, Reload went triple-platinum in '97, a covers album (Garage, Inc.) went quintuple-platinum in '99.

But here's the conundrum part: people that loudly claim themselves to be true Metallica fans hate their late-'90s work. And their classic '80s albums (Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, ... And Justice For All) continue to sell millions of copies. Master of Puppets was certified 6x-platinum in 2003.* Moreover, the band doesn't seem to fit the aesthetic of everything else that was happening in post-Nirvana rock... maybe you can hear some Metallica in lunkheads like Creed and Limp Bizkit at the end of the decade, but I can't. On the other hand, it was the songs from Load / Reload that were finally embraced by modern rock radio, and the band did play the last touring Lollapalooza.

The album that absolutely no one likes, St. Anger, came out in 2003. And the new one (which opened at #1, by the way, to me sounds like a fusion of their '80s and '90s work.

Actually, this conversation works just as well for U2 and (to a lesser extent) R.E.M. So what do you think? Is Metallica within the remit of this here blog, or not? Discuss.

*By the way, if you're curious, you can look up gold and platinum certifications here. It's fun!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This week in reunions...

*Undeterred by half-empty amphitheatres, long-winded, rambling stage patter, and loogies thrown at bass players, Stone Temple Pilots have tacked on some late October dates to their reunion tour, including three shows in Mexico.

* This is completely unconfirmed, but Tonic may be getting back together. At least, that's what some dude who went to a private concert put on by Emerson Hart says. If it does happen, it would probably be 2009 or 2010.

* Alice in Chains plan to go into the studio in October with new lead singer William DuVall to record their first album in 12 years. Then again, they were supposed to be recording back in February, so I'll believe it when I hear it.

* And... Phish got back together. But just to play for a buddy's wedding.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Concert Report: The Toadies

We've got a special treat today: a guest post from my brother Bill Brassky, who went to see the Toadies Thursday night in Los Angeles and was kind enough to file this report.

Toadies at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip... in 2008.
For an hour and 45 minutes, it felt like 1995. There was a mosh pit. There was crowd surfing. (One guy even went with the daring face first crowd surf, inviting hands to grab whatever they pleased.) There was an obscure Waynes World 2 reference. Another dude even got thrown out. The guys in the band seemed genuinely touched by all the enthusiasm (probably a result of the years off) and threw in an extra new song during a five song encore.
Since they only have three albums of material, they were able to play every song you'd think they would--with the notable exception of "Hell Below/Stars Above." They opened with an instrumental jam before going into "Backslider." Finished the regular portion of the show with "I Come From the Water." Opened the encore with "Hell or High Water" (I think that's the title) from the new album and closed with "Tyler." They played "Possum Kingdom" in the middle of the set right after "Push That Hand" (which might have been the highlight of the night for me). There was a lot of jumping up and down.
I had seen the Toadies once before in 2000 when they were promoting Hell Below/Stars Above. Mr. Peppers and I drove out to Foss, Oklahoma (halfway between Amarillo and OKC) to see them at the Foss Ballroom. I don't really remember much about this show except that the lead singer played one of the songs off that album by hitting his guitar with a mallet (he did that again last night) and being told that the place was dead before the show by a rustler at a nearby Conoco.
The Toadies we saw that night were in the same position as the ones I saw Thursday night--a band trying to come back from years away. But the current version seems to be having a better time and accepts that most of the 30somethings in the crowd just want to hear "I Burn" and "Mister Love," not the new stuff. Though, that might also be the difference in playing for a few hundred people in middle of nowhere Oklahoma and a packed room on the Sunset Strip.
It's too bad the Toadies weren't more famous back in the day because they're still really tight. New songs, old songs, not-so-old songs, all sounded great. Their awesomeness might be diminished by playing in bigger venues, but they should give Sponge and the Presidents of the United States of America a call and put together some sort of larger tour (i.e. the greatest tour ever). I'm not sure if those bands appeal to the same audience, but 6th grade me would give up his best Airwalks to see a show like that. If they could somehow get Weezer to quit sucking, they've got themselves a headliner.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Expect a very post-grunge album from David Cook

American Idol winner David Cook tells LiveDaily he's been working with Ed Roland from Collective Soul, Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace and Zac Maloy of Nixons fame.
The album (due this fall) will be produced by Rob Cavallo, who has done a lot of work with Green Day, the Goo Goo Dolls, and L7, among others.
If the American Idol winner were to put out an album that sounded like the KROQ playlist in 1995, would that be a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, for me it would be a good thing, but what about the music industry as a whole?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Smashing Pumpkins single on video game

Fresh off doing a free show in Orlando, the Smashing Pumpkins have announced that Billy Corgan will be a character in the next iteration of Guitar Hero, and that a new single, "G.L.O.W," will be made available through the game. Which is cool, I guess.

Oasis attacked!

Some lunkhead tried to have a go at the Gallagher brothers in Toronto last night. See video here.

Update: the guy managed to shove Noel into some monitors, causing bruising severe enough that tonight's show in London (Ontario) is cancelled. They're making it up December 15, which means we should all expect a bigger North American tour in November/December.

Monday, September 8, 2008

More '90s acts hit the road

None of these really warrant their own post, but there are a glut of '90s acts hitting the road this fall. Some of those recently announced:

* Bad Religion, touring across Canada from Sept. 14 to Oct. 1.

* Everlast, touring the U.S. Sept. 12 to Oct. 29. Did you know he scores the TNT show Saving Grace now? Since it's set in Oklahoma City, they really should have gotten Wayne Coyne, or perhaps Zac Maloy.

* Nine Inch Nails, extending their mammoth summer tour into the fall with a ton of new dates, Oct. 18 through Dec. 13 in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

* Ben Folds, touring all over the US solo after his one-off reunion with the Five, Sept. 24 to Nov. 14.

* Weezer, touring the US (with two dates in Canada), Sept. 23 to Oct. 25.

* Matthew Sweet, doing a very short US run in support of his 10th album, Oct. 20-30. He is coming to Atlanta, though... I just may go.

* And playing the same venue in Atlanta the night before... the Squirrel Nut Zippers! They're doing a short southeastern run Oct. 23-30.

Other Barenaked Lady singer in plane crash shocker

Seriously, the Barenaked Ladies may be cursed. After singer Steven Page was busted for cocaine this summer, other singer / occasional rapper Ed Robertson's plane crashed near Bancroft, Ontario this week. Thankfully, he is OK.

Here's "Alternative Girlfriend:"

Nice Fu Manchu on Page!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

This week in reunions... the return of Ben Folds Five!

* The big news this week is that Ben Folds Five are getting back together! But it's just for one show, Sept. 18 in Chapel Hill, N.C., and if you wanted to hear "Song for the Dumped," tough: they're only playing their final album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, in its entirety. I once saw Folds perform "Army" with a college marching band. That was pretty awesome. Anyway, if you can't make it to Chapel Hill, the whole thing is going to be broadcast online sometime in October.

* This week's candidate for the Velvet Revolver job is... Lenny Kravitz! At least so says a British tabloid. Idolator's got the truthiness quotient of this story to be less than 40 percent, so...

* And... Lenny denies it.

* Weirdly enough, the non-Gwen Stefani members of No Doubt are reuniting to back up Scott Weiland on his new solo album, which comes out in November. Despite numerous reports of shambling shenanigans on the STP reunion tour, Weiland plans his own solo tour to promote the new album, and Dean DeLeo says STP is working on a new album as well.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

News bites: Filter, Darius Rucker, more

Sorry for the lack of updates, but it has been slooooowww around here. Not much news to report. Here's what has trickled in:

* Filter's comeback album Anthems for the Damned tanked pretty hard (peak of #60 on the Billboard 200, their lowest chart placement ever, and no songs on the Modern Rock charts), but they're doing a headlining tour this fall and releasing a live album and a remix album.

* Darius Rucker's country single has made the Top 10 on the country charts. We previously discussed the '90s-going-country phenomenon here.

* Meanwhile, Perry Farrell is modeling clothes now.