Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Loren Benjamin Plays Pre-New Year Show at Rockwood Music Hall, Friday, Dec. 28th at 7pm

Loren Benjamin Plays Pre-New Year Show at Rockwood Music Hall, Friday, Dec. 28th at 7pm
NYC-based singer-songwriter Loren Benjamin, is influenced heavily by the music of the 60's and 70's, including classic songwriters like Elton John and Billy Joel as well as The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Born and raised in New York City, he consistently delivers stunning performances at many great NYC venues, including Highline Ballroom last April and BB King in Times Square earlier this month. Loren plays the guitar and the piano, and is an extremely talented and prolific songwriter, with catchy instrumentals and sensitive lyrics that touch the heart.

(Loren Benjamin's cover of Rihanna's "We Found Love", Highline Ballroom - May. '12)

Benjamin and band are playing as an acoustic trio at a pre-New Year Show this Friday at Rockwood Music Hall. Benjamin goes on at 7PM and is followed by Sophie Auster (8PM) and Jay White (9PM).

Loren Benjamin

Monday, December 24, 2012

Krokus Signs to The End Records and Announces 'Dirty Dynamite' Due Out March 5th

STREAM: Krokus - "Dirty Dynamite"

I'm always a bit intrigued when I come across a metal band who has been around for almost 40 years and I really have no clue what they have done outside of covers of the Guess Who's "American Woman" and Alice Cooper's "Schools Out". While I remember critics panning the band as an AC/DC rip-off, the title track from this new disc is a blues-rock number that sounds closer to the (London) Quireboys than AC/DC.

Krokus Signs to The End Records and Announces 'Dirty Dynamite' Due Out March 5th
For almost 40 years now, Krokus has stood for high-quality, honest-to-goodness, hand-made power rock. No other Swiss rock band sells albums and its back catalogue worldwide like Krokus. The band has already sold over 14 million records, toured the world, and received gold and platinum discs in the USA and Canada. The milestones in their rock career are dotted around the world: from Australia and the USA to Mexico, Russia, Japan, and China.

But it hasn't all been one long high: death, sickness, and internal strife have pushed the band to the brink of collapse. The story of Krokus is like no other. Dotted with highs and lows, sell-out stadium concerts and sweaty club gigs, these five musketeers of rock have outlasted trends and survived treacherous US managers, tough splits, bad deals, shady lawyers, drugs, awful fast food, endless bus trips, disco, grunge, grotesque record companies, and double-dealing advisers. (Too late guys - 'The Story of Anvil' has already been made)

Today they are back in their classic line-up plus Mandy Meyer (who briefly replaced Steve Howe in Asia) and are stronger than ever on their new album, Dirty Dynamite. The band spent a whole two years working on the new album under the watchful eye of Chris Von Rohr. "We didn't spend all that time on golf courses or tennis courts. No, we just wanted to make our best album yet, the magnum opus of the new Krokus era," says the hit producer. Guitarist Mark Kohler has this to add: "This is not just another Krokus album. I think we have definitely passed another rock milestone with this record."

To reach this goal, no expense was spared; the band booked into the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London. Krokus went back to their roots, back to where it all began with the Stones, the Beatles, the Free, the Who, and the Bluesbreakers; back to where the band headlined concerts in the Hammersmith Odeon, celebrating their first international success. "The atmosphere there is very special, and we wanted to make the most of that," says singer Marc Storace. Guitarist Fernando von Arb is quick to add: "With Dirty Dynamite, we have recorded the urgently needed, dirty kind of rock that no one plays in this country."


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lissie (Maurus) Announces New Disc Will Be Out in the Spring

It has now been a year since Lissie released her covers EP, "Covered Up With Flowers", and over two years since her last studio disc so I was beginning to wonder when something new would surface. Lissie just sent out an email to her mailing list that her new disc is complete and will be out in the spring.

Señor don Lucas and I,, he's a mezcalaro,, the agave fields and production are his & his families. They produce quality mezcal I'm hoping to sell a special edition of!

Hello friends,

Wanted to check in with you all and let you know what I' ve been up to!

I finished recording my new album and hope to release it in the spring! I'm really excited about our new songs / music! I had an incredible time making the record in Topanga canyon, California and am really anxious to share!

In the meantime I'm going on a couple adventures! You can see all the photos I've been taking on my Twitter and Instagram and on Flickr.

As some of you know I love a good tequila and more recently I've developed a taste for mezcal which is also made from agave. My friend Todd has a brand of tequila and mezcal called Metl, the latter of which is made just outside of Miahuatlan, Mexico.

So, a film crew, Todd, and I have travelled down here to develop a special edition of mezcal that I can share with my fans! We'll be exploring Mexico City, Oaxaca City, Matalan, Miahuatlan, Zipolite beach, and Puerto Escondido beach!

Upon my return I'll have some great video footage to post and a link for you all to purchase my special edition of mezcal.

On Dec. 17th Eric, my guitar player, and I will head to Haiti with changing tides orphanage. This past August we played a fundraising concert that raised $18,000.00 for the orphanage and school so the founder is kindly taking us to visit and meet the kids.

We'll take 3 small acoustic guitars that Fender graciously donated with us to leave there. We hope to teach some songs to the kids as well as learn some Haitian tunes.

That trip will also be filmed so my aim is to share concert footage of the kids and us! I'm very much looking forward to it! From what I've heard, these are some incredibly special, resilient and spirited children!

So, that's what's going on! I miss you all and life playing music on the road! I'll be in your town with new music soon! Thanks for your support and I hope you enjoy the pictures from my travels!

Lissie x
Below is an audience video of a new song, "Shameless", filmed at Coachella erlier this year.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Everest Cale & Stone Cold Fox Plays Pianos on January 4th

Everest Cale & Stone Cold Fox Plays Pianos on January 4thBrooklyn roots-root band Everest Cale is celebrating the release of their "Beast" video with a show at Pianos on January 4th. I reviewed the band's debut EP a few months back (link) and thought the band's sound was comparable to artists like Kevn Kinney and Connor Oberst.

“Beast,” the titular single from the band’s debut EP, is a dark love song with a cinematic video to match. Shot in and around lead singer Brett Treacy’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment, produced by Treetop Pictures, directed by Chris Sandas and starring NY-based actress Marisol Sacramento, the video paints a picture of deception and heartbreak matching the mood of the song.

On this note, the blog MusicUnderFire noted that the song’s opening lyric “‘Cut the apple from your eye before she takes a bite,’ is more than enough to assure that you’ve stumbled upon greatness. Love is brutal and Everest Cale is explicitly descriptive of the torture."

Also on the bill is the fabulous indie-rock band Stone Cold Fox (another local band whose sound brings to mind post Brit-Pop acts like Radiohead and Coldplay) who are also touring behind their debut EP, "The Young" (link to review).

Tickets are $10 and the full lineup for the night is Basement Batman (8PM), Everest Cale (9PM), Stone Cold Fox (10PM) and Moon Furies (12AM).

Everest Cale

Friday, December 21, 2012

Phantom of the Opera: Win Tickets to the Show's 25th Anniversary Performance and Post-Performance Party

Phantom of the Opera: Win Tickets to the Show's 25th Anniversary Performance and Post-Performance Party
Enter now through January 2nd for your chance to win one of 100 pairs of tickets to the 25th Anniversary Performance of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Saturday, January 26th.

Enter directly through the contest's Facebook page.

100 lucky winners will receive a pair of tickets to the Anniversary performance, and two grand prize winners, in addition to the performance, will also receive additional passes to the exclusive post-performance party, as well as a one-night stay at the Algonquin Hotel (Exclusive official Hotel Sweepstakes Partner) and air transportation from American Airlines (Exclusive Official Airline Sweepstakes Partner) for two during the weekend of the event.

Phantom of the Opera

Railbird Posts School of Seven Bells Remix of "MIRRORs" as a Free Download

DOWNLOAD: Railbird - "MIRRORs" (Posted on Consequence of Sound)

Brooklyn-based experimental psych-rock band Railbird is excited to premiere a new School of Seven Bells remix of their recent single "MIRRORs" on Consequence of Sound. To Railbird, the remix is "A journey in three movements. Benjamin [of SVIIB] established his own dreamy world within the song, then dropped it while simultaneously playing with mood and meaning throughout." Consequence agrees, stating the Benjamin's methodically slowed down version of the original jittery cut creates a "dreamy pool of contemplative reverberation and airy synth."

Railbird released their latest EP, "Lucky", in late November which includes two previously unreleased songs, as well as "Jump Ship," a track that made waves this summer after a residency at Pete's Candy Store. The video for the song, which features guest vocals from Anti recording artist Sean Rowe and Phantogram's Sarah Barthel, premiered on Brooklyn Vegan in late August.

A limited edition run of physical copies of "Lucky" will be available at shows and online as part of a bundle that includes a t-shirt with Jisoon Park's original design.

Railbird's next show is January 25th at Rockwood Music Hall. Railbird is playing with #1 Kid (feat. members of Rubblebucket), who are making their NYC debut. Tickets are $10.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Replacements - 'Color Me Obsessed' DVD Review (MVD Visual)

The Replacements - 'Color Me Obsessed' DVD Review (MVD Visual)
Almost 22 years ago, The Replacements imploded at a July 4, 1991 show in Grant Park, Chicago. The band (which was down to Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson) left the stage and had the roadies close the set with their run-through of "Kiss Me On the Bus". The band never played or recorded again until Westerberg and Stinson reunited last year to record the forthcoming 'Replacements reunion' benefit disc, "Songs for Slim". The Replacements' music was direly important to me in the 80's but it seems a shame that the spirit of The Replacements had to die for Paul Westerberg's solo career to live.

I first heard The Replacements in the mid-80's when a friend gave me a soundboard bootleg of the band playing The Pop Shop in Cleveland in 1984 and I really didn't know what to think of the band's drunkenly slurred version of the Marine Corps Hymn segueing into Kiss' "Black Diamond". Once I heard Let It Be, it all 'clicked' and I was a die-hard fan by the time Tim rolled around. Pleased To Meet Me (the first post-Bob Stinson album) had some good songs (and the demos recorded with Stinson before his departure showed what this album could have been) but Don't Tell A Soul was a disappointing reach for the mainstream. The firing of drummer Chris Mars and the completely forgettable All Shook Down was a regrettable note on which the band ended their career. get to the point of this review, "Color Me Obsessed" is a 2xDVD set that tells the story of The Replacements through the eyes of the fans. These fans are an eclectic mix of musicians (which include Greg Norton, Grant Hart, Craig Finn, etc.), music critics and journalists, actors and 'normal' concert goers. This is where "Color Me Obsessed" differs from other bio pics as there is no footage of The Replacements or any of its members (live or interview) used - the viewer needs to rely on the 'I was there' narrative of the various fans to build a mental picture of the time and place being described.

The challenge with this sort of picture is that if you weren't around during the original run of The Replacements, you have nothing to anchor to and this film becomes a bunch of talking heads going on and on about how 'this band could have changed your life'. The fan footage is interesting, brilliant in parts but ultimately drags on a bit long. Listening to Grant Hart (who I still believe can do no wrong), Terry Katzman and Mark Trehus (both longtime label/record store owners), Jack Rabid and Robert Christgau (longtime music writers/critics) added color to the band's history. Watching Dave Foley talk about how Kids in the Hall wanted to be 'The Replacements of Comedy' or Geroge Wendt ponder whether "Here Comes a Regular" was written about his Cheers character Norm was somewhat suspect. Watching fans reminisce about how they drove to a Don't Tell a Soul era concert and made out with Tommy doesn't add a lot of value. One of the "fan" interviewees was so stalker/creepy, I didn't know whether to laugh or cringe.

The bottom line is that if you weren't already a Replacements fan prior to watching "Color Me Obsessed", this film isn't going to covert you. You might actually have a hard time making it through the "the band could have been your life" stories without any music from the band to back up these claims as the same thing has been said about the Velvet Underground, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat and many other bands where the legend of the band peaked long after the breakup.

As a long time fan (I guess I can still call myself that), I learned a few things from watching the film. Specifically, I wasn't aware that there was such a power struggle between Paul Westerberg and Bob Stinson. Insider commentary talked about how there was inherent tension from the beginning as Paul joined Bob's band and later - Bob didn't want any part of the the mainstream commercial direction that Paul wanted to take the band. Most of the people interviewed for the film seemed to agree that Bob's departure was the beginning of the end.

Overall - this narrative history of The Replacements was interesting but this isn't a film I would watch more than once every couple of years. In my mind, the video below shows the magic of the original Replacements better than any talking heads.

Getting back on point - the bonus DVD contains uncut interviews with Grant Hart, Robert Christgau, and Jim DeRogatis with Greg Kot, which run an hour each. There are also nineteen deleted scenes (same sort of stuff that is on Disc One) along with interviews with director Gorman Bechard and producer Hansi Oppenheimer.

Color Me Obsessed

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Yes (band) Will Play Three Complete Albums At Show At Beacon Theatre on April 9th

Yes Will Play Three Complete Albums At Show At Beacon Theatre on April 9th
I have such the aversion to 'tribute bands' that I cringed when Yes replaced vocalist Benoît David (who fronted the Yes tribute band Close to the Edge) with Jon Davison (who fronted the Yes tribute band Roundabout). It equally seems like a bad idea that Yes is going out next year and playing three albums back-to-back that 2/5 - 3/5 of the current lineup played on. I would have loved to have seen Yes do something adventurous like play through albums like Time and a Word, Tales from Topographic Oceans, Drama or Open Your Eyes but, unfortunately, it looks like Yes wants to play it safe but...this moves the band somewhere between Moody Blues (who last released an album in 2003) and tribute band territory.
Legendary progressive rock band, Yes, today announced its upcoming North American tour, kicking off March 2013 in West Wendover, NV and wrapping up May 2013 in Detroit, MI. On this tour, fans can look forward to a totally new and unique Yes experience; the band, for the first time in its storied history, will perform three of its most popular albums in their entireties, The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One. Due to performance time limits in several venues, Yes will perform two albums, The Yes Album and Close to the Edge, in their entireties.

Performing three of rock’s most renowned albums will see Yes members, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, and Jon Davison, playing Yes staples that have dramatically influenced rock music over the last four decades. Fans will enjoy long time favorites, including "Yours is No Disgrace," "I’ve Seen All Good People," "Starship Trooper," "Close to the Edge," "And You And I," "Going for the One," "Wondrous Stories," "Awaken," and more, in a completely unique format. Moreover, Yes will perform all tracks in the order they appear on their corresponding studio albums.

"These albums we all easily agreed on—they are complete works in themselves. And several of the songs have rarely been performed live," says Yes guitarist, Steve Howe. "I believe the one song we’ve never performed in concert is ‘A Venture’ from The Yes Album," states Yes co-founder and bassist, Chris Squire. Yes drummer, Alan White goes on to say, "This is a great opportunity to show the growth of Yes throughout different eras, and to once again enjoy the great memories of those times, as well as create brand new ones. We’re looking forward to performing these albums. It’s going to be fun for us, and we think our fans will love it as well."
Tickets for the Beacon Theatre go on sale Dec. 14th and ticket prices range from $39.50 - $125 (or $53.25 - $143.60 after TicketMaster fees). (Update: I was curious to see what sort of tickets were left and the Beacon/TicketMaster website shows no tickets available, at any price - I'd be shocked if the show sold out that quickly so I'm wondering if it was canceled).

For anyone who wants to see what the current lineup looks like - here is a live video from a tour stop over the summer.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher)

‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher)
Clifford Odets’ classic drama Golden Boy re-opened on Broadway on December 6th and Bartlett Sher (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, South Pacific) directs this 75th Anniversary production in the very same theater in which it premiered. Golden Boy was originally written in 1937 and a movie was made from the play in 1939, which marked William Holden’s film debut. In later years, the story was re-written to reflect the burgeoning Civil Rights movement and re-opened on Broadway in 1964 with Sammy David Jr. in the lead role. This 75th Anniversary production reverts back to the original story with Seth Numrich (Warhorse) in the role of Joe Bonaparte and Tony Shalhoub in the role of Mr. Bonaparte.

Odets’ son, Walt Odets provides the perfect introduction to the play in an essay he wrote entitled “With Music I’m Never Alone When I’m Alone”: “In Golden Boy, my father, Clifford Odets, gave Joe Bonaparte two possibilities. Joe could remain a violinist or he could follow the lure of money and public adoration to become a prizefighter. He could have an authentic, fulfilled life or an empty one. It is important that the authentic path offered is a life in music.

Seth Numrich does a wonderful job capturing the inner-turmoil of an angry young man, desperate to make a name and a place for himself in the world. Bonaparte is a concert-level violinist but there is probably no opportunity for him to use this talent to break out of the Italian-American ghetto where he lives or to prove himself to his father. As such, Bonaparte, “the cockeyed wonder”, aggressively sells himself to down-and-out boxing manager Tom Moody. Once Moody gives Bonaparte his chance in the boxing ring, Bonaparte slowly moves to the ‘dark side’ in a familiar morality story. While Joe seems to be an adequate boxer, his key asset is that his opponents aren’t able to stand against his anger and rage, which manifest themselves with a mighty punch. Bonaparte continues to move down this path of no return and finally breaks after killing a man in the ring. This is Joe’s breaking point for he now sees what he has become and that the option of going back to his music is closed off to him.

‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher)

Tony Shalhoub is brilliant in his role as Joe’s father – an uncompromising voice of right and wrong and the audience can feel his pain when Joe will not accept a violin that Mr. Bonaparte had scrimped and saved for. Given Mr. Bonaparte’s rigid morality, it is little wonder that he refuses to give his blessing to Joe to pursue a career as a boxer. The other standout role is Lorna Moon (played by Yvonne Strahovski), a self-professed “dame from Newark” who is also caught in her own moral dilemma – mistress to Joe’s manager who saved her from the streets so she feels a sense of obligation to him and her love for Joe.

Golden Boy is playing at Lincoln Center Theater at the Belasco (111 West 44th Street) and runs until Jan. 20th. Tickets are available through Telecharge and range from $37 - $122.

Golden Boy

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Asia - 'Resonance : The Omega Tour' Live in Basel, Switzerland CD Review (Frontiers Records)

Asia - 'Resonance : The Omega Tour' Live in Basel, Switzerland CD Review (Frontiers Records)
In looking at the current state of some of the bigger prog-rock bands of the 80's, King Crimson has gone on indefinite hiatus, Genesis became a pop band before going out with a whimper (and a poorly received new lead singer) and Yes is on the cusp of heading onto the greatest hits/revival circuit having replaced Jon Anderson with a second tribute band vocalist. Thirty years ago, who would have thought that Asia (who started off as AOR/pop band) would have matured with such grace and end up as the last of the great prog-rock bands?

Similar to Asia's Spirit of the Night live album which documented the band's 2009 Phoenix tour, Resonance is a 2CD/DVD set that captures the band in front of an enthusiastic audience during their Omega world tour. This show was recorded on May 4th 2010 in Basel, Switzerland and John Wetton describes the show as "Asia live on the road, in-your face and for your pleasure".

What is refreshing is that the band does a nice job of balancing material from Omega (five tracks from this disc are part of the live set) and Phoenix with the obligatory greatest hits. Even the greatest hits though get new life breathed into them as a number of these songs are reinterpreted as stripped-down numbers or extended jams. What is also a pleasant surprise is that the set includes "Go" from the post-Howe disc Astra as I've seen video bootlegs of the Payne/Downes/Howe lineup where Howe would leave the stage when the band played "Go" (and the rumor was that Howe wouldn't play on anything from Astra).

Here is how the band mixed up the set list: "Don't Cry" is John singing with just Geoff playing behind him, "All's A Chord" and "The Valley of Rocks" are songs from Steve Howe's solo albums and it sounds like he is the only one on the stage at the time and the extended version of "Don't Cry" starts with just Geoff and John before Carl Palmer fires up the drums midway through the song and Steve Howe follows right behind. Some of the other highlights are Carl Palmer's drum solo during the extended version of "The Heat Goes On" and Steve Howe playing Mandy Meyer's (Krokus) metallic licks on "Go".

The band sounds in great form - John Wetton's voice has held up well through the years and Carl Palmer hasn't slowed down so the song tempos remain crisp. Both Howe and Geoff Downes are integral contributors to the "warm sound" of the show and their melodic riffs, chords and experimental flourishes keeps the set sounding fresh. Resonance was recorded after the reunited band had been back together for four years and this show documents the sound of a band that has maintained their musical chops and aged with grace.

Asia - Resonance Track List
I Believe
Only Time Will Tell
Holy War
Never Again
Through My Veins
Don't Cry
All’s A Chord
The Valley Of Rocks
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Open Your Eyes

Finger On The Trigger
Time Again
An Extraordinary Life
End Of The World
The Heat Goes On
Sole Survivor
Heat Of The Moment