Category: rock

Throwback: Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” — or Happy First Day of School

Most of New York City’s Public Schools started today, and unsurprisingly, as a product of  New York City Public Schools — PS 206 in Rego Park, Stephen A. Halsey JHS/JHS 157 in Rego Park and Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows — today brings back all kinds of memories good, bad and indifferent; but thankfully, mostly good. 

As an adult, I also know a number of caring and dedicated educators and teachers, who will be molding the minds and inspiring the next generation of artists, writers, thinkers, doers, musicians and rabble-rousers, as well as parents of the next generation of artists, writers, etc. etc. 

So with that in mind, I wanted to bring back what was a briefly annual tradition — of dedicating Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” for those dedicated educators and teachers. And we all know, that one of those little knuckleheads will be hot for one of their teachers because — well, I bet you were at some point, yourself. 

Happy first day of school, everyone! 

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Live Footage: Royal Blood Performs “Lights Out” on “The Late Late Show with James Corden”

Comprised of Worthing, UK-born, West Sussex, UK-based Mike Kerr (vocals, bass) and Rustington, UK-born, West Sussex, UK-based Ben Thatcher, the British rock duo Royal Blood can trace their origins to when Kerr and Thatcher met when the duo were briefly members of the local rock quartet Flavour Country, in which Kerr played keys and keytar; however, the band can trace their official origins to sabbatical that Kerr had spent in Australia, where had started Royal Blood with Matt Swan (drums). And as the story goes, when Kerr returned to England, Thatcher had picked him up from the airport and they quickly decided to start a band together. Initially, the duo had a difficult time landing gigs and according to Kerr, they played a lot of open-mic nights with acoustic singer/songwriters. But after further developing their sound at Brighton Electric Studios, the band was signed to Warner/Chappell Music, and as a result of sharing the same management company as blogosphere darling act Arctic Monkeys, the duo began to receive a steady amount of buzz before the release of their first official single. 

Kerr and Thatcher’s sophomore album How Did We Get So Dark? was released earlier this summer and the album debuted at Number 1 on the UK charts. Since its release, the album has garnered over 30 million streams across Spotify and Apple Music and has sold over 250,000 copies, while receiving praise from the likes of USA Today, Rolling Stone, NME, Entertainment Weekly, and Forbes. And adding to a growing international profile, the band played the main stage at last week’s Outside Lands Festival, and will be opening for Queens of the Stone Age for a series of dates in the fall. (Check out those dates, as well as the band’s headlining Stateside dates below.) 

But before I forget, album single “Lights Out,” recently reached Number 1 on the Rock Radio charts, as the Number 1 Gainer, marking the second time the band has reached Number 1, and as soon as you hear the song you’ll see why it’s been dominating the charts, as it further cements the band’s growing reputation for crafting blistering and swaggering power chord-based arena rock. 

As I’ve mentioned a number of times on this site, I frequently multitask while writing about the various songs, videos and other materials I post — and while at lunch, I was eating, writing about a particular band and once I was finished I stared to tweet about something or another when I came across “Here Comes The Light,” from the Birmingham, UK-based rock duo Glass Cut Kings. Comprised of Paul Cross (vocals, guitar) and Greg McMurray (drums, vocals), the Birmingham-based duo specialize in arena rock-friendly, power-chord based rock that sounds indebted to Silversun Pickups, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters and others, complete with rousingly anthemic hooks. Naturally, what caught my attention was the fact that for a duo, they create an enormous and forceful sound — and those guitar riffs remind me of 70s glam rock.

 

New Video: Introducing the Psychedelic-Inspired Sounds and Visuals of OOLALA’s “Falling Out of the Universe”

Although they’ve dubbed themselves a space rock trio, the Philadelphia, PA-based rock act OOLALA’s Tim Sonnefeld-produced and Fred Kevorkian-mastered debut album The New RockRoll Cosmology reportedly draws from psychedelic jazz, stadium rock, glam rock and heavy soul while thematically focusing on both universal and deeply personal themes. “Falling Out of the Universe,” the first single off the band’s soon-to-be-released debut was released earlier this year to praise from Philebrity, Philadelphia’s longest-running city blog and others for a scuzzy and bombastic, scorching, riff-driven song that sounds as though it were influenced by T. Rex and The Black Keys but with a sleazy, backroom shuffle.

The recently released music video for the song features the members of the Philadelphia, PA-based trio performing the song in front of weird color lights and special effects to evoke the sensation of UFOs and psychedelics — and of time’s relativistic nature; but with a mischievous sense of humor.

Live Footage: See Roger Waters Savage Donald Trump During a Live Performance of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”

Interestingly enough, Roger Waters posted the live official video of a performance of “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” recorded when Donald Trump was the Republican presidential nominee and while Waters was in Mexico City for a series of gigs playing his classic and beloved material — and it’s an incendiary performance with artist-made images of Trump toting a machine gun outside the White House, giving the Nazi salute and surrounding himself with Ku Klux Klan members. And the performance ended with Waters co-opting the phrase that went viral among Mexicans and other Latinos across the world “Trump Eres Un Pendejo,” which translates to “Trump, you’re an asshole.” It’s a witheringly savage takedown of someone, who needs to be taken down as much as humanly possible and as often as possible.

With the election of Richard Nixon, the hippie era had come to a screeching halt; however, just as the hippie era ended in the States, young people across what was then known as the white minority ruled Rhodesia — now known as Zimbabwe — had created a rock ‘n’ roll counterculture that drew inspiration from the hippie era’s message and ideals, as well as the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and others. And unsurprisingly, the young folks in their scene had dubbed their music “heavy” because they felt and believed in its impact — and their music began to resonate across to its neighbor in Zambia and as far North as Nigeria. And at its peak, in the mid-1970s, the country’s heavy rock scene had united thousands of young progressives across all racial and social backgrounds, openly defying the country’s harsh segregation laws and secret police, while making a bold stand for democratic changes that would benefit all.

As I’ve mentioned frequently on this site, including as late as yesterday, the technological advances brought forth by computers and the Internet have made discovering new and extremely rare, lost music from known and little known artists much easier. And it’s also contributed to a proliferation of extremely niche-based labels, who are willing to take careful, thoughtful and taste-making risks. As a result, a number of these labels have spent at least a portion of their time introducing and re-introducting artists, whose work was either so far ahead of its time, that audiences at the time just couldn’t grasp it upon its initial release — and yet, now has proven to fill in a historical gap; or the work of regionally favored artists, whose work should have seen a bigger audience but somehow just never broke out; and in the case of “world music,” releasing work from artists based in regions and countries that Westerners being biased Westerners hadn’t been paying attention to and really should have been. To add to my point, at the time of Zimbabwe’s heavy rock scene’s existence, a quartet by the name Wells Fargo was at the forefront of their homeland’s scene — and for the first time ever will be released the band’s renowned album Watch Out outside of Zimbabwe.

Interestingly, Watch Out‘s first single, album title track “Watch Out” was largely considered their counterculture’s anthem and while clearly drawing from Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland-era Hendrix, there are hints at 60s garage rock and folk-leaning blues and while pointing out the dangers of what was clearly uncertain and fucked up times for them, there’s clear sense of hope and possibility; after all, the storm that’s coming over the horizon will inevitably end. But with some strange days ahead for us here in the States, let the example of these Zimbabweans be a reminder that music and art are weapons — and when you have them on your side, you wield incredible power, the sort of power that wannabe autocratic demagogues like Donald Trump actually do fear. So artists, go out and lead the charge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback: John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”

I also felt compelled to continue yet another semi-annual tradition here — in which I posted John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” with the sincerest hopes that one day there may be peace, equality, understanding and true brotherhood and sisterhood among all. After all war, hatred and strife can be over — if we all want it to be.

In the meantime, I wish all of you a wonderful and peaceful holiday season.