Brick walls, railroad tracks, band members looking in opposite directions (I call that one the "Joshua Tree") ... all are indicators that you need to fire your band photographer.
Bad press photographs have become a perk — necessary comic relief — of my job, which basically consists every day of combing through hundreds of emails from bands, labels, publicists, promoters, clubs, and prospective writers.
Ultimately, everyone wants your attention and, even better, for you to write about them.
Well, this is the first installment of a series in which I give bands attention — maybe just not quite the attention they were looking for.
This, folks, is a bad press photo:
This band — Dazzeltine (even their name makes me want to put itchy powder in their underwear) — sent me an email with this visual gem. I can't decide if it would look fine if they actually shelled out to hire a pro photog, or if they have just drunk the of Montreal Kool-Aid and couldn't be saved by even the likes of Annie Leibovitz.
Anyway, their music is (a little) better than their photo. You can hear 'em for yourself here.
We already love the women of Silver Thread Trio. But if you needed a reason to love them more, well, here you go:
If you watched last night's ass whoopin' of the Detroit Tigers at the hands of the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the World Series, you saw a little history being made.
In the Giants' 8-3 victory, San Francisco third baseman Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval hit three home runs, one of only four players to ever do so in a single World Series game — the others are Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols — and the first to do so in his first three at-bats.
For the purposes of this post, it's also important to note that two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim "The Freak" Lincecum, who has been demoted to relief work for the Giants in the postseason, was a solid contributor out of the bullpen. He struck out five batters in 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
Which brings us to The Baseball Project, an all-star band featuring Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate), Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, the Minus 5), and Linda Pitmon (Zuzu's Petals) who perform nothing but songs about baseball.
The group's 2011 album, Volume 2: High and Inside, features the following song — "Panda and the Freak" — an homage to baseball nicknames and the Giants and, in particular, Sandoval and Lincecum. Oh, and Game One starting pitcher Barry Zito gets a shout-out, too.
By the way, that's R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills filling in for Buck in the video.
And in case you couldn't make them out, here are the pertinent lyrics:
The Giants got the Panda, the Giants got the Freak
The Panda’s smoking line drives, the Freak is throwing heat
Panda and the Freak, Panda and the Freak.
When it comes to kung fu fighting, he’s no better than Hong-Chih Kuo
He’s kind of like Bruce Lee if you cross Bruce Lee with a buffalo
He barrels round the bases, he scrambles for ground balls
Zito named him Kung Fu Panda, that’s our Pablo Sandoval
They said he wasn’t built to last, they said he was too small
The Mariners passed him right by, now that was a bad call
Two Cy Youngs, two strike-out crowns, in his first full two seasons
That’s why they call Tim the Freak, because he defies all reason
Red Fang, the Portland, Ore. hard-rock band known for among other things fantastic music videos, is at it again.
The band just released a new video - this time more of a tour diary than a narrative of destruction. But the video for "Dirt Wizard" again plays up the band's personalities as the every-men of rock. Filmmaker Whitey McConnaughy - who's produced three other clips for the band - stitches together clips from the band's summer European headlining tour. It's got face-melting rock, fan adoration, off-stage jackassery, exhaustion and tedium, showing all sides of a hectic tour that saw the band play 33 shows in 35 days.
Red Fang headlines a Halloween show at Plush next Wednesday. Check out the Weekly's music section for an interview with singer-guitarist Bryan Giles, who grew up in Tucson.
And if for some reason you haven't seen the other brilliant videos from McConnaughy and Red Fang, which have collectively pulled in millions of views, click below:
It's not helpful to listen to a song that makes you laugh this much when you're attempting to do the things that you actually get paid to do, but I had to take at least two laugh breaks from putting together this week's issue of Tucson Weekly (which is a doozy, by the way; photo intern Joie Horwitz absolutely smashed it with her cover story photo essay).
If you love Sir Mix-A-Lot or inter-genre cover songs, you'll dig the hell out of Coulton's soulful rendition of Baby Got Back, from his 2008 album "Joco Looks Back."
If you dig this tune, check out last year's "Artificial Heart"; fans of the massively popular video games Portal and Portal 2 will be pleasantly surprised with what they'll find.
Ron Heathman is a big fan of fresh-roasted coffee. He played guitar in the Supersuckers for 21 years and graduated from Santa Rita High School a long time ago. He is currently working at Sparkroot Coffee Bar + Fare in downtown Tucson.
What was the first concert you attended?
Heart and Firefall at the Tucson Convention Center, in 1977, I believe. Mom took me. It was awesome.
What are you listening to these days?
At this moment, nothing, but in general, I am listening to Psychedelic Soul by the Temptations a lot. That and the last Black Keys record.
What was the first album you owned?
Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare. It was on 8-track.
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone seem to love, but you just don’t get?
Anything with blatant Auto-Tuning in it. That crap hits my ears ugly!
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
I would love to have seen Jimi Hendrix when he first arrived in England—if only to see the look on Eric Clapton’s face.
Musically speaking, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
I would say ABBA, but I don’t feel guilty about that anymore. “Toxic” by Britney Spears. I love that song.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
I do not want a funeral, but I suppose “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin would be appropriate.
What band or artist changed your life, and how?
The Replacements! I first heard them on Virgin Vinyl hosted by Jonathan L. I haven’t been the same since.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
Exile on Main St.
What song should everyone listen to right now?
“SOS” by ABBA. There, I did it. Somehow, I managed to bring up ABBA twice. I might be in need of help.
Jonathan Athon, bassist/vocalist for Savannah, Georgia, sludge-metal band Black Tusk, is a sweaty mess right now. But not because he has just wrapped up a show and stepped off the stage of an air-conditionless club. Instead he’s trapped in a stuffy, sawdust-clouded woodshop cutting rafters with a 24” reciprocating blade.
Unlike many of his pampered rock-star peers, Athon is spending the week building a pagoda for a nearby technical college. The life of a critically acclaimed, underground metal musician ain’t all roses.
“On the bright side,” he says, “swinging a hammer in the Savannah summer means we don’t need to jog. Running around in a fancy pair of New Balance shoes would be a lot less strenuous than this.”
I’m talking with Athon via phone mere days after Black Tusk—a trio that includes guitarist Andrew Fidler and drummer James May—returned to the States. The band just concluded its first-ever European headlining tour, which kicked off in Sweden and culminated with a festival appearance in Tønsberg, Norway.
The latter was, reports Athon, a calamity.
After driving through the night, they unloaded their gear, dragging it to the top of a mountain. A brick medieval tower with a black spire towered above and, as soon as they took the stage, rain poured down. Everything flooded; electrical cords started to short. But the show had to go on. The Tusk draped plastic over their myriad guitar pedals and played against a torrent. On cue, they launched into the massive opening riff of their epic song “Embrace the Madness,” right as a bolt of lightning slammed into the mountain. Athon’s howling lyrics—“Crash of lightning / summon rain / thrash the stage / into flames”—took on additional significance.
“We managed to finish the song,” laughs Athon. “Then the stage manager escorted us off very quickly. He might’ve mumbled a prayer.”
Near-death experiences aside, 2012 has been the Year of the Tusk. The band, which formed in 2005 and released its fourth album Set the Dial on Relapse last year, is still high on the adrenaline of being handpicked by Metallica to play the Orion Fest in June. It’s not every day a metalhead musician gets the nod from his heroes.
“It’s cool as hell to say you’re hanging with someone you idolized as a kid,” says Athon, giddiness in his voice. “We still walk around shouting Metallica lyrics at each other for no reason.”
But the Tusk’s growing popularity and success is double-edged. Being under the radar means the band has kept its collective head. No one tells them to do something they don’t want to do.
“Yet you always feel you want more,” admits Athon. “It gets rough keeping it real all the time. Sometimes you feel like handing over control to others and letting them pimp you for a while. But I like having our punk-rock ethics; it keeps us honest.”
That honesty is evident in the split 7-inch with fellow Savannah band Dead Yet?, released Sept. 21 on Hyperrealist Records, a Savannah indie label.
“Dead Yet? chose one of our songs to cover, and we chose one of theirs, plus an original,” explains Athon. “We always try something different. But whatever we do is going to sound like Black Tusk. We’re only fine-tuning this machine we created.”
performing between headliners Red Fang and openers Lord Dying
8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 31
340 E. 6th St.
This article originally appeared in LEO Weekly.
L.A. based rapper Pigeon John isn't coming by the Old Pueblo on his latest tour, but he'll be swinging up to the Phoenix area, playing Tempe's Stray Cat Bar & Grill on Oct. 26, accompanied by Sunspot Jonz, CC Beats, Dirty Napz, Sauce, YNOT, & Zilla.
Tickets are only $8, which is a small price to pay for both a night of quality hip-hop (though if you want, just consider it a toll for visiting the home city of Girls Gone Wild University and Casino).
And in case the promise of Pigeon John isn't enough for you, here's a bonus tune from Sunspot Jonz:
Oh, and by the way: Apparently, if you choose to pay money for the Pigeon John track featured above, you'll be entered to win a contest featuring prizes that huge Pigeon John fans will dig. Get more details on that here.
Jim Lipson reviewed last week's John Fogerty show at AVA at Casino del Sol for Tucson Weekly. But who are we to say no when Al Perry sent us his own review of the same show?
I'll admit that while I don't go out as much as I should, I've attended a few concerts at AVA at Casino del Sol lately. I am impressed with the place as a concert venue. The size is right, and the sound and sightlines are good. A few years back I was bored by good old boring Bob Dylan there. I rocked to Heaven and Hell with Ronnie James Dio (!) and Alice Cooper, and watched, through misty eyes, the transcendent historic miracle of the Beach Boys' 50th anniversary tour's opening show. A couple of weeks ago, I even attended the hilarious Confederate slob-fest that was Molly Hatchet. Each concert was most enjoyable.
John Fogerty breezed through Tucson the other night and provided a very pleasant, relaxing evening of well-executed rock 'n’ roll. His simple songs and presentation proved quite effective. And, hey, he had James Intveld on second guitar! How great is that? There was no opening act, and his set, just under two hours, was crammed with Creedence classics, and some material I didn't know. Later solo stuff, I suppose.
He was in good voice, though his singing is strangely thinner and higher pitched than back in the day. And his hair was a little too dark and he looked like maybe he'd had a facelift or something. You know? That weird, pale, stretched look? Energy-wise, though, nothing was lacking. The guy was unstoppable, and I'd forgotten just what a superb gittfiddle plonker he is. He Travis-picked on a red Tele, and played some devastating, thick blues solos on "Heard It Through the Grapevine." I didn't see God or anything, but I did derive enormous pleasure from his show.
There did not seem to be anyone under 30 in the crowd. In fact, I'd guess there weren't too many under 50. Which is fine, but does not bode well for the future of real rock 'n’ roll. While each generation must identify with their own sounds, their own T-shirts as it were, it seems a shame that young folks won't get to experience firsthand the great rock that we elderly folks did. Oh well, these oldsters didn't like the big band music of previous generations either.
Then...that drummer! A monster. He was like an octopus but with just two arms, if that makes sense. All over the place! Kenny something-or-other, some big famous guy (Ed. note: It was likely Kenny Aronoff). Normally, I think a drummer should simply lay down a foundation, set a groove for the other participants to build on. If you notice the drummer, then he's not doing his job (my opinion, OK?). This guy nearly upstaged Fogerty. He was fascinating to watch. A powerhouse who really propelled the band, yet never got so busy that the he lost the beat. And the show did need some visual focus. The unadorned, checkered shirt rock of the other guys was lacking in that department.
All in all, I'm gonna call it a great show and give it five stars. For pure rock 'n’ roll, it simply ain't gonna get much better than that. It's nice to see someone out there still kicking rock's withered corpse. The full house no doubt agreed.
Clifford Brown, by the time of his death at age 25, was one of Jazz's next great trumpet superstars. Unfortunately, his life was claimed by a car accident between gigs in Philadelphia and Chicago, leaving a great sadness in and thoughts of what could have been for a man who exhibited talent beyond his years.
This is Brown's Joy Spring, originally written for his wife LaRue, who he called his "joy spring." Recorded alongside legendary jazz drummer Max Roach, it's become a beloved jazz standard.