Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Scott Walker 1943 - 2019

As people have been saying, loneliness was the cloak he wore.

I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that the more experimental music, upon which his reputation now rests, was not really my cup of tea, although it's undoubtedly impressive stuff.

That said, if you haven't seen this utterly amazing documentary on his life and career...

...you need to run over to Amazon and grab the thing HERE immediately.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Nobody Likes a Wiseguy. Oh Wait -- Yes, They Do

Attentive readers may recall that, back in 2017, I raved about the eponymous debut album by Jersey boys Mike Daly and the Planets, which featured this haunting love ballad.

Great stuff, obviously, and as you can hear, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson's famous description of Bob Dylan, these guys are a riot.

Now the band has a new album...

....which, like the debut, is guitar-driven power pop and general rock-and-roll of a very high order indeed. Only this time, improbably enough, even more assured, melodic and hilarious.

Exhibit A: The kick-ass opening track, "Slack."

I mean "Comfy in my jammies, polishing my Grammys" -- that's freaking genius.

Oh, and Mike -- thanks again for the t-shirt. I shall continue to wear it proudly.

Meanwhile, you can find out more about the band, and -- more importantly, acquire the new record -- over HERE.

You're welcome.

Friday, March 22, 2019

He's an Adult Now

Moe Berg...

...the brilliant auteur behind the greatest Canadian band of all time The Pursuit of Happiness...

...turns 60 today.

Happy birthday, you Canuck genius.

On the off chance you don't know who Moe is, here's the review I wrote for his band's debut album (from whence that song derives) at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review back in February of 1989.

Given America's preoccupation with sex, it's ironic that our pop culture -- specifically the movies and rock-and-roll -- deals with the subject so superficially and dishonestly. Actually, rock-and-roll is particularly deficient in that regard, not very surprising when you consider how much of it is pitched at fourteen-year-old boys. Nonetheless, it's disappointing in a music that, at least theoretically, is supposed to have something to do with honesty and freedom.

That's one reason Love Junk, the debut album by a group called The Pursuit of Happiness, is such a pleasant discovery: At last, here's a band that actually has the guts to confront sex with realism, maturity, and, occasionally, wicked humor. Of course, sex isn't the only thing on their minds (growing up, another subject all too rarely dealt with in rock, is the album's second major theme), but it's refreshing to hear it sung about by someone other than the usual heavy-metal morons - which these five musicians most emphatically are not, despite a crunch-guitar attack as hard as any you've ever heard.

The band's principal weapon in their attack is singer/songwriter Moe Berg, probably the first important Moe in rock history and a guy who seems to have a remarkable grip on the muddled state of relations between the sexes as the Eighties wind down. "I'm looking for someone with a voice that's true," he declares in "Looking For Girls," "and I'm going to be nice to her - maybe she'll be nice too." A lovely sentiment, to be sure, and one I'm sure we can all relate to, but it's followed, significantly, by, "Then I'm going to do it to her four hundred and eighty-seven thousand times." Take that, Prince!

Elsewhere, Berg deals with unrequited love ("Man's Best Friend"), jealousy ("Hard to Laugh"), the joy of seeing the object of your desire in the altogether ("Beautiful White"), the destructive uses of sex as a substitute for communication ("Down on Him"), and even the difficulty of writing about relationships when you're past a certain age. "I don't write songs about girls anymore," Berg confesses on the hilariously self-revealing third track, "I'm An Adult Now." "I have to write songs about women."

The gratifying thing about Love Junk is the way the music sounds like what it means. The tunes and the band's execution of them are every bit as smart, heartfelt, and funny as Berg's corrosively sane versifying. The idiom, for want of a better term, is pop metal, all ringing guitars, aggressive drums, and angelic harmonies. Here, in the hands of people who obviously have artistic aspirations beyond growing their hair just right, the genre finds something of an apotheosis. And the cream of the jest is that a number of these songs - the wistful "She's So Young," for example - could easily be radio hits.

Add to all this a first-rate production job by Todd Rundgren (easily the equal of his recent work with XTC), and you have a record that will doubtless outlive the dismal musical and political season of its release. Don't miss it.

BTW, not only do I stand by that review, but in retrospect, I think I sort of sold the album short. Honest, it's a masterpiece.

I should add that an expanded and remastered version of it -- with bonus tracks -- came out last year. Order it over at Amazon HERE. And I mean right now.

And happy birthday Moe, you magnificent bastard.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Hey -- These Guys are Good!

Did I mention that a certain Shady Dame and I saw The Yardbirds Monday night?

I went in expecting a pretty good tribute band, but as you can see -- these guys actually are the fucking Yardbirds, even if drummer Jim McCarty is the only original member left.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the aforementioned Shady Dame and I were sitting just off camera stage right.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Walk on the Respectable Side

It's been a fairly hectic couple of days, and I just realized I forgot to post about the most fun I've had in ages.

To wit, attending -- last Friday -- the opening celebration for the Lou Reed Archive at the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.

The ostensible focus of the event -- which was the swellest press party I've been to since my Stereo Review days -- was the 30th anniversary of Lou's New York album; as you can see in the above photo, among the artifacts that Lou donated (with the help of his wife Laurie Anderson, who spoke at the party, and was as charming and funny as one could have hoped) was the script for an (alas) never made film version of that album's "Dirty Boulevard."

Which would have been directed by Martin Scorsese(!) and starring Johnny Depp(!!). Words fail me.

I should add that part of the evening's festivities was being able to get a limited edition NYPL library card with the iconic Mick Rock photo of Lou.

A certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance stood on line and snagged one, I might add.

For information on exactly what is in the collection -- which I guarantee will blow your mind -- check out NYPL.ORG/LOUREED. I should also add that stuff like this is why you pay the big bucks to live in New York City.

[h/t Rebecca Littman]

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Closed Due to Exhaustion

Out late last night seeing What's Left of the Yardbirds©.

Regular posting, including some thoughts on the show, resumes tomorrow.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Your Monday Moment of the Coolest Songs in the World

From 2019, please enjoy...

...The Weeklings (featuring Peter Noone) and a very sharp cover of The Easybeats classic "Friday on My Mind."

And also from 2019, it's The Tearaways (featuring the great Clem Burke on drums) and their tribute to "The Wrecking Crew."

The above was recorded before the passing of the great Hal Blaine last week, BTW (Hal actually got to hear it before he went to the great recording studio in the sky).

I should add that in the last two weeks, both of these tracks got the nod as Coolest Song of the Week over at Little Steven's Underground Garage Sirius XM radio show. Which is itself the coolest thing of the week in perpetuity.

For more on The Weeklings, head over to their website HERE.

For more on The Tearaways, their website is HERE. And you should immediately check out their fantastic CD Anthems and Lullabies, which can -- and very definitely should -- be previewed and ordered at iTunes Music HERE.

[h/t Marc Platt]

Friday, March 15, 2019

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2011, please enjoy power pop gods The Left Banke (and the NYU Choral Society) and the damndest version of their masterpiece "Desiree" you'll ever hear.

Seriously, folk, I'm speechless.

Have a great weekend everybody.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Got Live If You Want It

Attention Gothamites: If you're in the East Village vicinity of this charmingly monikered club tonight..

...stop in at 7:30 to see friend of PowerPop (and me)...

...Joe Benoit and his combo.

Art direction on the above, BTW, by my beautiful and brilliant girlfriend.

Joe's a ridiculously talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, and if you doubt me, here's a glorious song from that forthcoming EP.

You can hear the rest of the new tunes on Spotify HERE.

Seriously -- get over there now!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Granny Takes a Trip

From 2018, please enjoy pioneering first generation San Francisco band The Ace of Cups and the utterly amazing "Feel Good."

Those ladies were very well known in their hometown back in the day, but they never made a proper album until last year, when they reformed, thus proving that Scott Fitzgerald was wrong -- there ARE second acts in American lives.

In any event, that is pretty much the most fabulous thing I've ever seen, even if I hate the bass player for being way better than me. I can't wait to hear the rest of the album, which is on its way from Amazon as we speak.