Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Roky Tuesday

Since I'm heading to the Big City after I leave work today to see Roky Erickson with Okkervil River, I'm going to talk a bit about the show. There are still tickets available, you know ...

Anyway, the Roky Erickson story is told well by NPR in this story. Sure, you can find his whole tale in longer form, but NPR does a great job summing it all up succinctly. The record, "True Love Cast Out All Evil," is seriously good. If you don't believe me, check out this review by a seriously smart dude.

I know I'm a little biased about this album and show because they involve Okkervil River, which I've really made no secret about being my favorite band of the moment. Anything Will Sheff does, well, I just think it's great. With that said, I obviously knew who Roky was long before I ever heard Okkervil back in the early part of this century. And I've always known "You're Gonna Miss Me" as one of the most influential rock songs ever written. I've also heard a lot of the crap Roky's put out over the last couple decades. I didn't expect too much out of "True Love." Boy was I wrong.

The 12-song disc is truly great, and getting a chance to see this tour, with Roky backed by Okkervil, might be a one-time-only chance. The mini tour ends tonight, and I can only assume that after the summer, Sheff and Okkervil will concentrate on their next record. So, that means you might want to buy some tickets now ... An absolute legend backed by a truly great band? No brainer.

Here's "Goodbye Sweet Dreams," which will surely be played tonight:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Missives

There was a point last night, while I was flipping back and forth between the Yankees-Mets game and the Lakers-Suns contest, I was also texting a friend and theorized that we were the only two people around our age, in the United States, not watching the "Lost" finale.

I just have never been able to bring myself to watch that show. I caught the pilot six years ago or whatever, just because I read so many good things about the plane crash. But I really don't like sci-fi, and I have no faith in J.J. Abrams to write something that ends well.

For some reason, people like this guy's shows, yet he always changes the plot on a whim, decides bulks of episodes don't mean anything and, in my opinion, generally doesn't give a crap about his viewers. He's done this with all his television programs. It's why I could never watch "Lost," despite how many friends that have told me it's amazing.

Did anyone on here watch the show? Thoughts on the finale? There's a lot of debate right now ...

Sean Hayes is going to host the Tony Awards. I'm not sure if this will be believable, since he's gay and all.

All of this brings me to the "Celebrity Apprentice," which Bret Michaels won last night. Now, I, like everyone else in America, watched the first "Apprentice" back in 2004 or whenever that happened. I haven't really seen the show since. But when I woke up this morning, and I was reading the news, I saw that Michaels won. It all kind of got me thinking.

Not too get too far out there, but it really made me feel old. I mean, this is quite embarrassing, but Poison was one of my first favorite bands. Mock as you will. I was young and dumb and my dad liked arena rock. It was a foregone conclusion.

Anyway, I always listened to music, but it wasn't until like third or fourth grade when I started forming my own — however misguided they were — opinions about things. I remember when my parents first got cable installed in my bedroom, in what must have been like fourth grade, I got home from school, turned on MTV and just sat on the floor waiting, for hours, until "Fallen Angel" came on.

It was my favorite song at the time. And, besides Belinda Carlisle, the woman in the video was one of the first times I remember independently finding a woman attractive. I was like 10 at the time. The woman in the video was no Belinda, but, hey ...

So, yeah, this morning all got me thinking about how a guy who made bad hair metal while dressed like a chick could, 20 years later, win a game show based on business acumen and watched by a demographic that would have never looked at what the cat dragged in back in 1989. I've seen Bret Michaels' whole career arc. Wow.

I've got to mentally prepare myself for a softball game now. Thanks to all the people who asked about Little Nicholas. He's doing well.

Since it would obvious of me to leave you with the "Fallen Angel" video, I'm not going to do that. Instead, here's Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven is a Place on Earth." Please check out the camera shots from above to know what got my attention as a wee fourth-grader.

Josh Ritter Review

BOSTON, Mass. — There are numerous examples of great musicians who just aren’t that good live. But there are even more examples of great songs that just don’t work on a stage, in front of people looking for entertainment.

On Friday at the Orpheum Theater, singer/songwriter Josh Ritter experienced some of the latter. An accomplished and celebrated live performer, Ritter’s recent record, "So Runs The World Away," easily the best work of his critically acclaimed career, is a subtle and nuanced masterwork, the kind of album best appreciated through headphones and over the course of repeated listens.

So with the bulk of the first half of Ritter’s two-hour set coming from this disc, he dulled the energy level of a crowd that just couldn’t wait to rise to its collective feet at this almost-homecoming show.

With a little more care put into the setlist, Ritter could have given the audience a performance that would have been impossible to forget. Instead, the thousands in attendance, folks singing along to virtually every word, had to settle for a very good, not great gig.

Opening with "Change of Time," the first song off of "So Runs The World Away," the singer/songwriter began a 10-song opening heavy on new music that featured predominantly slow tunes. New songs "Southern Pacific" and "Folk Bloodbath" didn’t receive nearly the same applause as "Monster Ballads" and "Good Man," two older tracks that while slow, got the crowd involved a bit.

After performing the Bruce Springsteen classic "The River" as a solo piece, without his five-man band, Ritter launched into "In The Dark," after imploring the venue to shut all the lights off. The tactic got the house a bit excited, and Ritter then followed with the crowd favorite "Kathleen," which found his band joining in the middle. This began a spirited run of songs that finally got the audience to stand up, dance and shout along.

"Right Movies" and "Girl in the War" kept the momentum, and then, after a dramatic reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem "Annabelle Lee," the group captured beautifully the controlled chaos of "Another New World," the climactic centerpiece of "So Runs The World Away." Ritter then closed with three bona-fide favorites, the folk rocker "Harrisburg," the newbie "Lantern" and the Dylanesque stomper "To The Dogs Or Whoever."

An encore that featured openers The Punch Brothers let the bluegrass band put its impressive plucking skills to work on "The Next to the Last Romantic," a tune that's always begged for fiddles and banjos and mandolins. An appreciative Ritter closed the show with "Wait For Love" alone on his acoustic guitar, with the members of his band and The Punch Brothers providing backup vocals. It ended a two-hour gig that closed well, leaving the audience wanting more, but wishing the beginning was a wee bit more livelier.
"Change Of Time"
"Southern Pacific"
"Folk Bloodbath"
"Monster Ballads"
"Good Man"
"Rattling Locks"
"The Curse"
"The River" (Bruce Springsteen cover)
"In The Dark"
"Right Moves"
"Girl in the War"
"Another New World"
"Harrisburg" (played Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" in the middle)
"To The Dogs or Whoever"

"Snow Is Gone"
"The Next to the Last True Romantic"
"Wait For Love"

Now, I'm a crappy videographer, and I was trying to drink a beer at the same time, but here's Ritter doing "Right Moves." The video was shot from a bit far off, but the sound is pretty good. Enjoy:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Me On The 'Project'

If you've been living your life yearning to hear my sweet, sweet voice on the radio, well, you're in luck. I'll be my friend Vinnie Penn's guest on his radio show, "The Vinnie Penn Project," tomorrow morning at around 8:35 a.m.

Vinnie's show runs from 6-9 a.m. on WELI NewsTalk 960 AM. I have no idea what we're going to talk about, maybe a mixture of Neil Young, the Red Sox and whatever else. It should be fun, so why not listen?

What else? Well, with "MacGruber" opening tomorrow, you're going to hear a lot about other "SNL" movies. Here's a cool little feature on them.

MTV is actually green-lighting a show based on the old "Teen Wolf" movies. Can you believe this? Next thing you know, someone will remake "The Karate Kid." The only thing I'm left wondering, since the story doesn't provide the answer, is who's going to play the title character, Michael J. Fox or Jason Bateman?

I just don't understand this "Scott Pilgrim" flick. Maybe I'm getting old, but the trailer made me vomit in my mouth. Yep. It did.

By the way, if you haven't noticed, I've been back to doing Weekend preview videos the last few weeks. They don't have anywhere near the same production value as they used to, and they're only about 40 seconds each, but you can check them out at the Register website, with my column or in our video rail come Friday.

Since I'm going to see Josh Ritter tomorrow, I leave you with a video of him performing a song off his new, amazing record.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

That Was Still On The Air?

As I write this lil' ol' blog entry, my brother, Little Nicholas, is, last time I heard, having a lil' bit of surgery on his intestine. Let's wish him well because, you know, being well is good.

One thing I do know is that Little Nicholas would agree with me about something: These fall-television announcements are full of surprises. Who the heck knew that "Numb3rs" was still on the air? I mean, really?

I think that dumb thing's been on since like 2002 or something. Who the heck is watching at 10 p.m. Friday? Anybody with a life is out. Anybody with kids is busy and anybody old, the folks who usually watch procedural dramas, are in bed, right?

Oh, and "Gary Unmarried"? Did anybody ever watch that douche Jay Mohr (that's him in the photo)? No way.

CBS axed a total of seven shows, most of which I didn't even know existed. I mean, I know Julia Louis-Dreyfus has had like 12 sitcoms since "Seinfeld" ended, and I'm not sure which one "The New Adventures of Old Christine" is, but, you know, now it's too late. Thankfully.

On the other hand, ABC got rid of less shows, but they did ditch "Scrubs," which started when I was in high school or something, and has sucked for at least the last five years. But, heck, I'm not sure the CW won't pick it up now. Isn't that what happens with "Scrubs"?

In other TV news, James Franco will return to "General Hospital" soon. I kind of find it funny that a film actor likes being on a soap opera, but, you know, why not?

How about we talk about something going on around here now? Well, local filmmaker Gorman Bechard will present a double feature of his work at Anna Liffey's tomorrow evening.

Yep, Gorman will show the excellent "You Are Alone" (2005) and his camp classic "Psychos in Love" (1987). "Alone" will start at 8, while "Psychos" begins at 10. Admission is $5 for one flick, $8 for both. The event is part of the run-up to Ideat Village, everyone's favorite local fest. This is a killer double feature. Gorman will be on hand to talk about the movies, too.

I guess that's it for today. Now that classes are all finished, you're going to see a whole lot of posts on this here blog. Promise. And, like I said before, think about Little Nicholas when you eat food or whatever today since he's losing some intestine. I will leave you with the trailers for Gorman's films:

"You Are Alone"

"Psychos in Love"

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Free Porn!

I got you excited, didn't I? It's OK to admit it.

Really, I just wanted to pass on this new video from The New Pornographers, which releases its fifth studio record, "Together," today. It's a killer disc, and you can read the full review in Friday's Weekend.

Monday, May 03, 2010


I just got an e-mail from a public relations firm. The first line of said message? Here it is:

"Considered one of the biggest rock bands of all time, Limp Bizkit, announced today they will blaze a trail across the U.S. this summer in their first major concert tour in more than nine years."

Um, by who? Really, the only people that would ever consider Limp Bizkit one of the biggest rock bands of all time are the mentally deficient and folks with horrible, horrible bad taste, the kind of bad taste that would preclude me from being friends with you.

Limp Bizkit, really?

Oh, by the way, the tour comes to Hartford, the Comcast Theatre, on July 30. If this gig sells out the old Meadows, my faith in humanity will be severely shattered. And I'd also realize that frat boys with too much testosterone in the late '90s didn't grow up to be productive members of society.