"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, June 30, 2006

Souvenir of Canada Teaser

Happy Canada day everyone.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

God's favorite band
is coming to Japan

The Asylum Street Spankers will be making their triumphant return to the land of the rising sun in September. Quick, somebody call Kirin Breweries and tell them to start an extra couple of batches and book me a suite at the Betty Ford Clinic for October.

9.9.06 Saturday Sayama, Japan Hyde Park Music Festival
9.11.06 Monday Kanazawa, Japan Mokkiriya Jazz Bar
9.12.06 Tuesday Osaka, Japan Shinsaibashi Club Quattro
9.13.06 Wednesday Hiroshima, Japan Club Quattro
9.14.06 Thursday Kyoto, Japan Taku Taku
9.15.06 Friday Nagoya, Japan Tokuzo
9.17.06 Sunday Tokyo, Japan Shibuya Club Quattro
9.18.06 Monday Yokohama, Japan Thumbs Up

Monday, June 26, 2006

the perfect podcast
One part goofiness
One part cocktail recipies
One part luscious LaLa
Visit the Tiki Bar

Sunday, June 25, 2006

It's not the heat, it's the stupidity

The results of the Konservative home-skooling movement?

Kevin Wood / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Living with War

Warner Music, 2,580 yen

Neil Young's latest album Living with War is about as subtle as a Molotov cocktail through your front window.

With song titles such as "Let's Impeach the President," and "Lookin' for a Leader" it's obvious that Young is not a fan of the current occupant of the White House. Living with War is a passionate, angry broadside of invective, irony and sarcasm backed by buzzing guitars and a 100-voice choir.

Protest music is generally about rallying those sympathetic to the singer's cause either with humor--as in the case of Phil Ochs' "Draft Dodger Rag"--or by tugging at the audience's heartstrings, as Bob Dylan does with "Masters of War." Young does both on Living with War.
On "Shock and Awe" he wails about "Thousands of children scarred for life/Millions of tears for a soldier's wife" while on "Let's Impeach the President" Young chants "flip" and "flop" over comically contradictory sound bites from the president.

Musically, Living with War is reminiscent of Young's work just before the last war in Iraq on albums such as Freedom and Ragged Glory with lots of thrashing, distorted guitars and midtempo grooves that were the hallmark of Crazy Horse. "Flags of Freedom" is so melodically similar to Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom" it can only be a homage.

Young also makes good use of the trumpet of Tommy Bray, which transforms the minor key grunge of "Shock and Awe" into something that sounds like an excerpt from an Ennio Morricone soundtrack to a spaghetti western.

Fans of George W. Bush will hate this album, but for anyone else who likes their rock with a little righteous fury, as Young once sang: "This Note's For You."

Taking the Long Way
Sony Music, 2,520 yen

Another album unlikely to make it onto the presidential playlist is the latest from the Dixie Chicks.

Already a top country act, the Chicks were thrust into the international media spotlight in March 2003 when lead singer Natalie Maines said at a concert in London, she was "ashamed the president [was] from Texas" on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. The backlash was akin to imposing the death penalty for a parking violation. The band was boycotted by country radio and publicly branded as traitors or worse by Republican talk-radio cheerleaders, even receiving death threats.

Taking the Long Way shows the experience had a strong effect on the band. Working with producer Rick Rubin (Metallica, Beastie Boys, Neil Diamond) the former bluegrass phenoms have dialled back the Dixie and moved to the middle of the road, bidding good riddance to the conservative country fans who turned on them. While there isn't a single track with a political agenda, nearly half the songs on the album refer in some way to the intense vilification they suffered, with the first single off the album "Not Ready to Make Nice" a defiant telling off of their detractors.

While the album has been a huge hit in North America, the move into the mainstream has turned the trio a bit bland. The pleasing countrified vocal harmonies are still there, but the band's old instrumental verve has become adult-contemporary vanilla, expertly produced to the point of slickness. Several of the songs, especially "Baby Hold On" and "I Like It," are little more than pop-country cliches.

Taking the Long Way is music for mom to play in the minivan while driving the kids to soccer practice.
(Jun. 24, 2006)