Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bob Mould Plays Maxwell's Solo (But Not Acoustic)

Bob Mould put on a rocking show with his band back in March in New York, and last Thursday he played a couple of intimate solo shows at Maxwell's in Hoboken. Solo, yes, but definitely not acoustic: Mould and his electric guitar were strumming and howling through a selection of songs from his entire catalog, much like his NYC show in March.

That show was in one of a much larger venue, Irving Plaza, and Mould probably wouldn't play a club the size of Maxwell's except for its historical value. Maxwell's was one of the clubs that Mould's seminal band Husker Du played at, and onstage at the club Mould even seemed to recall the first time he played there (1984). Mould's two-night stand at Maxwell's was part of the club's 30th anniversary, and the 10th anniversary of the club's current ownership (which rescued the club from a brief, unfortunate incarnation as an Italian restaurant and brewpub).

There definitely seemed to be a sameness to the songs when heard only on one electric guitar, but to hear a legend like Bob Mould in a place as intimate as Maxwell's, with a capacity of about 200, was a rare treat I didn't want to miss.

And good news for Mould fans: he played a few new songs at Maxwell's and said that he was working on a new album, which is scheduled to be out next Spring. Considering that District Line is still a pretty recent album, that's good news indeed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Donnas Featured on Rock Band 2

The Donnas have been one of my favorite bands for several years now, so I was happy to hear from the band that one of their tracks will be featured on the new Rock Band 2. The song is "New Kid in School" and the band says it's a bonus track from their latest album, "Bitchin'" (but it's not on my copy).

Other twenty-first century songs included on Rock Band 2 included "Down with the Sickness" by Disturbed, "PDA" from Interpol, and "Lazy Eye” by Silversun Pickups. You can read the entire Rock Band 2 song list and features at the Rock Band Web site.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pay What You Want to Download the New Girl Talk Album

The recording artist Girl Talk is the ultimate mash-up king: his new album "Feed the Animals" is said to sample more than 200 different songs. In fact, the "songs" by Girl Talk (real name Greg Gillis) are totally composed of ingeniously spliced clips of songs from disparate genres. Following in the footsteps of Radiohead's "In Rainbows," Girl Talk is offering "Feed the Animals" in digital download format on a pay-what-you-want basis. You can get the name-your-price download at the Girl Talk MySpace page, among other places.

"Feed the Animals" got a write-up in today's New York Times Magazine, so he can expect a lot of downloads in the next few days.

Girl Talk's songs contain a dizzying array of samples in each selection (one of them combines Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl," Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone," and The Prodigy's "Firestarter," among a number of others), and he hasn't obtained permission for any of them. Apparently he hasn't been sued yet, maybe because the original artists are happy to get the added exposure or consider it a form of indie cred to get sampled in a Girl Talk tune.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sub Pop Features Bands Old and New at Its 20th Birthday Bash

Sub Pop Records has turned 20 years old, and of course they had a concert to celebrate the occasion. Many people just know of Sub Pop as being Nirvana's label, but they've had plenty of other strong acts through the years. An article about Sub Pop's birthday concert makes clear that the label is still signing great acts, some of which I didn't know were even on Sub Pop. (I've discovered a number of good tunes from the label through their podcast... check on iTunes to see what songs they've been featuring lately.)

Of course, Mudhoney is on Sub Pop, and they've been touring with some new songs. And Scottish duo The Vaselines, who could count Kurt Cobain among their admirers, are back together again, and have played a number of shows in the U.S., including gigs in New York and Hoboken's Maxwell's.

I had forgotten that Sam Beam, better known as the performer Iron & Wine, is on Sub Pop; in fact, he's one of their all-time bestselling artists. Also on Sub Pop these days are Helio Sequence and Canadian indie rockers The Constantines and Wolf Parade, as well as Flight of the Conchords, Fleet Foxes, and a bunch of others.

Happy birthday, Sub Pop, and here's to many more.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The CBC Summer Road Trip Mix Tape is Out

If you want some great traveling music, head over to the CBC Radio 3 podcast Web page and download the Summer Of 2008 Roadtrip Mixtape Special (show #163). As in years before, it's a virtually nonstop playlist of great Canadian indie music tunes just right for driving down the endless highway with the windows down. Host Grant Lawrence keeps the talk to a minimum so you can enjoy the songs almost nonstop, nearly one and a half hour's worth.

U.S. audiences may recognize artists like Sloan, Kathleen Edwards, and Matt Mays on the mix tape, but there are also great lesser-known (in the 50 states, anyway) Canadian indie artists such as Ladyhawk, the Wet Secrets, and Malcolm Bauld.

And while you're at the CBC Radio 3 site, download podcast #164 too, which announces the 10 finalists for the Polaris music prize, and features a song from each artist that made the final cut.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Crazy Rhythms: The Feelies Return to Maxwell's

The Feelies were one of the bands that helped cement the reputation of Hoboken's Maxwell's as a rock mecca in the early '80s. Their first album, "Crazy Rhythms," was named #49 in Rolling Stone's "Top 50 Albums of the 1980s," and it received acclaim from other critics as well. Someone hearing The Feelies today would remark that they sound a lot like early R.E.M., but R.E.M. has reported said that it was influenced by The Feelies, which makes sense since they were around earlier.

In any case, the band that originally arose from Haledon, New Jersey (that's HALE-dunn) is back and performed two shows at their old home away from home, Maxwell's. These two shows were billed on the band's Web site as a "warm-up" for their spotlight as the opening act for Sonic Youth in the big Fourth of July free concert in lower Manhattan, they were in fine form in the show that I saw, Tuesday night's gig at Maxwell's.

The Feelies made several more albums after "Crazy Rhythms" and then broke up for good in the early 1990s, though various members were reunited in a range of other bands, including Speed the Plough and The Trypes. (You can find more about Feelies history and spin-offs at their MySpace page.)

Last night's show revealed that they still had the chops and intensity that made them so acclaimed back in the day. And playing two 45-minute sets, they clearly have the stamina.

They played plenty of old favorites from their albums, of course, along with a few cover tunes and, surprising to me, a couple of songs that bassist Brenda Sauter referred to as new tunes. Is there a new Feelies album in the works, I wonder?