Tag: Tom Petty

Live Footage: Xiu Xiu Covers ZZ Top on AV Club “Undercover”

I’ve long been a fan of The Onion AV Club, as I think they’ve consistently offered some of most incisive and hilarious criticism of movies, movies and pop culture, written by some of the country’s smartest critics and writers. And it shouldn’t be surprising that for a long time I longed to write for them. Now, since moving exclusively to the interwebs, the folks at The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series.  The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to hear some contemporary artist or band cover.

The website’s staff then invites artists and bands over to their Chicago studio, where the invited band chooses a song from the AV Club’s list for that particular session — and then the band or artist records it in a live session. Here’s where things get truly interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again.

And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as  They Might Be Giants’ boisterous  cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females‘ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams (And Into My Car),”  and  Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like  Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger in its entirety.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this very strange year, you may recall that to start off the eighth season of Undercover, The A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” Adding to a pretty interesting season of covers, The A.V. Club invited renowned and incredibly prolific experimental indie rock act Xiu Xiu into the studio, where they contributed a tense, manic, almost Devo “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”-like cover of ZZ Top’s smash hit “Sharp Dressed Man,” complete with a wild drum accompaniment that brings new life to an oft covered song. 

Along with their John Congleton-produced 11th full-length effort FORGET, which was released earlier this year, the members of Xiu Xiu will be releasing a split 7 inch with Italian band (r) and it’ll feature both bands covering ZZ Top. 

As Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart explains in press notes, “It took me a long time to come around to ZZ Top. When I was a kid i thought they were a joke band and their beards and campy sexuality freaked me out. Later on Xiu Xiu tours we would and still do always listen to the Black Flag tour diary Get In The Van wherein Henry Rollins mentions playing ZZ Top to all the punks in England, telling them it was the new Exploited record and watching them cry. 

This was funny and I thought hmmm .  . .

Then after watching a long jag of music documentaries, Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top, time and time again was a commentator. He was always incredibly smart, clearly deeply devoted to the history of music and insane looking.  

We were asked by the AV Club cover’s series to play a song from a list they had chosen. Everything on the list was a bunch of 90s RnB that I was never into or lame-o indie rock EXCEPT for ‘Sharp Dressed Man.’

The stars had aligned. I had no idea what a radical guitar part it was and what a pleasure it was to learn, by the end of the song I had to have 4 different fuzz and distortion pedals on to make it as zonked out as it needs to be. 

Walking down the streets of Torino on tour and talking with dear friend and long time collaborator Fabrizio Palumbo of (r) and his husband Paul Beauchamp. I mentioned we were covering the song. They said very matter of factly, “‘Xiu Xiu as ZZ Top and (r) as ZZ Bottom. Let’s do a split 7 inch.’”

He sent in his perfect minimal, experimental, goth, cabaret version of ‘Gimme All Your Lovin.’ A perversion made in heaven was born. “

Musings: Thoughts on Las Vegas and Tom Petty

This morning I woke up to hear the news about some crazed and hateful fool shooting innocent concertgoers at a music festival in Las Vegas, just did me in. If you’ve been frequenting this site or following me through social media, you’d know that besides the Guinness drinking, the Romeo Y Julieta cigars, and the ridiculous exploits here and aboard, that I’ve probably spent close to half my adult life in darkened clubs, DIY spaces, music venues, arenas, stadiums and music festivals either covering music for various publications or this blog — or attending as a fan. And I can tell you that I’ve met some of the smartest, most talented, most passionate, funniest and kindest people in the entire world that I’ve met through music but perhaps more important, catching live music in all of its forms — whether it was a band, a DJ, a singer/songwriter and no matter the genre — has always been one of the safest, most welcoming places I’ve ever known. God, “the warm thrill of confusion/that space cadet glow . . . ” as a song says, and I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.

Now, like a lot of people, who are involved in music in some way or another, what happened in Vegas feels like a deeply personal affront because we love music so much to make a large portion of our lives. I can’t speak for my colleagues and friends but I can never forget that at every show, concert and festival I attend that for my fellow concertgoers that it may very well be the highlight of their year, if not their entire lives to see their heroes perform their favorite songs live. Ah, the joy and camaraderie of the live music experience; there are few things in this world that can top that. And to have that be destroyed in such a horrible fashion is heartbreaking. Of course, my thoughts are with everyone at the festival from fans, support crew and performers. It should have been a joyous, wondrous night for those catching their heroes.

Then while at my day job, finding out that Tom Petty was in dire shape? What the flying fuck is going on? Full Moon Fever and Damn the Torpedoes are arguably two of the greatest rock records ever. Don’t believe me? Listen to them and tell me how “Free Falling,” “Won’t Back Down,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” “Refugee” or “Don’t Do Me Lke That” aren’t classic songs that don’t fit into the “rock canon”? If you do, you’re bullshitting me. Now, I can say that I was very lucky to see Petty and the Heartbreakers many years ago at the Garden with a woman, who later turned out to be one of the worst things that ever happened to me; however, Steve Winwood (!!) opened for him, and Petty came out to do a song with him. Petty did two hours of the hits and even pulled out Winwood for a song –and every one of those songs were songs I had heard throughout my life and have loved immensely. Plain and simple, Petty is a national fucking treasure and while the news reports are conflicting, my thoughts go out to his family, his bandmates, his touring crew and friends at what clearly is a very difficult time. Tom Petty forever, everyone!

New Video: An Intimate Portrait of Life on the Road with The Head and the Heart in New Visuals for “City of Angels”

Currently comprised of founding member Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Matt Geravis, Charity Rose Thielen (violin, guitar, vocals), Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (keys) and Tyler Williams (drums), the Seattle, WA-based indie folk/indie rock act The Head and the Heart can trace their origins to a series of open mic nights at Conor Byrne Pub back in 2009. At the time Russell, who had relocated from Richmond, VA and the band’s other founding member Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), who had relocated from Southern California were relatively recent transplants. Russell and Johnson met Hensley, who also was a relatively recent transplant, who had relocated the previous year to pursue film score writing. Thielen, was the next member to join, and she had recently returned from a year abroad studying in Paris. Williams had been a member of Richmond, VA-based band Prabir and The Substitutes, but after Russell sent him a demo of “Down In The Valley,” Williams quickly relocated to Seattle to join the new band. The last member of the original line, Zasche was a bartender at the Conor Byrne and was member of Seattle-based bands The Maldives and Grand Hallway. Interestingly enough, as Johnson explained the band’s name came from an relatable situation in which “Your head is telling you to be stable and find a good job, you know in your heart that this [the band] is what you’re supposed to do, even if it’s crazy.” 

Since their formation the band has released three full-length albums — 2010’s self-titled and initially self-released debut (which later caught the attention of Sub Pop Records, who re-issued it), 2013’s Let’s Be Still and 2016’s major label debut, Signs of Light with each record seeing greater attention and the band building a growing profile; they’ve opened for Vampire Weekend, The Walkmen, Dr. Dog, Dave Matthews, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, Death Cab for Cutie and Tom Petty and Heartbreakers among a lengthening list of acclaimed acts. Along with that, the band has seen quite a bit of critical and commercial success — their self-tiled debut reached #110 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks with  Let’s Be Still landed at #10 on the Billboard 200 and each album has been well received to boot. 

2017 may be arguably be one of the bigger years in the band’s history as they’ve played the historic Newport Folk Festival and Coachella, and are in the middle of an extensive tour that includes stops at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, Lollapalooza and a bunch of other stops. (Check out the tour dates below.)  In the meantime, the band’s latest single “City of Angels” will further cement the band’s growing reputation for a sound that  simultaneously nods at 70s era Fleetwood Mac, 60s psych folk and pop, arena rock and contemporary indie rock, but with a swooning earnestness; after all, their latest single like all of the preceding singles is written from a sincere place; in this case, a bittersweet longing for a home you’ve left some time ago — but underneath there’s a growing sense that you may never be able to come home again. 

The recently released video was directed by Claire Marie Vogel, and its an charming and  intimate, fly-on-the-wall like portrait of the band that captures them in a variety of moments both big and small. As the director says in press notes, “When The Head And The Heart asked me to join them on the road to make a video for ‘City of Angels,’ there were many moments, big and small, that made it a trip of a lifetime. Record store shopping in a thunderstorm, backstage birthday parties, a summer ski lift through Catskills mountains, all night bonfires on a California beach, surprise songs in a Charlottesville bar, mini golf beside a river. It was a thrill to be a welcomed fly on the wall and treated as one of the gang. I knew ending the trip at the Monterey Pop Festival would be special, but when we found ourselves in a charmingly odd practice room – the band rehearsing with Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and Lou Adler, a founder of the festival throwing his two cents in on their arrangement — it felt utterly surreal.”

Live Footage: Minus the Bear Covers Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” on A.V. Undercover

Going back to their print days, I’ve long been a fan of  The Onion AV Club, as they’ve consistently offered some of the smartest, most incisive, funniest criticism of movies, music and pop culture around. Since moving exclusively to the web, the folks behind The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series.  The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to have contemporary artists cover. The website’s staff then invites a bunch of artists and bands to stop by their Chicago studio, where they have the invited band choose a song from the AV Club’s list for that season — and then they record it in a live session. Now, here’s where things get really interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again. And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as  They Might Be Giants’ boisterous  cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females’ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Out of My Dreams (And Into My Car),”  and  Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like  Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger. 

To start off the eighth season of Undercover, the A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” 

New Video: Night Club Takes Alice in Wonderland to Hell in Video for “Dear Enemy”

2016 has been a rather big year for Night Club, a Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo comprised of Emily Kavanugh and Mark Brooks as they released the official soundtrack to Comedy Central’s Moonbeam City earlier this year and they quickly followed that up with their full-length debut Requiem for Romance, which not only had the duo aiming for a louder, club-friendly/arena-friendly electronic sound. And as a result, the album may be the duo’s most commercially successful, attention-grabbing effort to date as the album was the #2 Most Added and hit number 7 on CMJ’s PRM chart where its remained on the chart for over 10 weeks. Additionally, the album is a top 15 electropop best-seller on Bandcamp while UK-based electronic music site Electricity Club named “Pray” in their Top 30 Songs of 2016. Also, the duo wrote the score for the recently released feature-length film Nerdland starring Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt.

Requiem for Romance’s latest single “Dear Enemy” pairs Kavanaugh’s breathily sultry vocals with an incredibly slick, propulsive and dance floor-friendly production featuring wobbling low-end, undulating layers of shimmering synths and skittering drum programming — but under the gleaming surface is bitter, vitriol-fueled recrimination and accusation, betrayal and vows to get revenge. As the band’s Emily Kavanagh explains in press notes “It’s been a pretty rough year for us personally, so making this record was our only form of therapy. It’s the angriest, most introspective music that we’ve ever made, while being ‘pop’ at the same time.”

The recently released music video borrows off a similar Alice in Wonderland motif as seen in Tom Petty’s “Don’t You Come Around Here No More” but with a malevolent air as it implies torture, mental and emotional manipulation and revenge fantasies.

Bonnie Whitmore (vocals, bass) is a Denton, TX-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of her musical career to when she started playing in her family’s band, Daddy and the Divas. Shortly after that, a teenaged Whitmore picked up gigs playing in several Dallas-Ft. Worth area bands; however, her first professional band The Brent Mitchell Band lead to studio work with an impressive array of artists including Susan Gibson, Shelley King, Mando Saenz, Justin Townes Earle, Hayes Carll, Colin Gilmore and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Sunny Sweeney. As a solo artist, Whitmore’s work is influenced by Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, Fleetwood Mac, Roy Orbison and The Replacements while drawing from deeply personal experiences — although her her third and latest album Fuck With Sad Girls, which features a backing band comprised of Scott Davis (guitar), who has worked with Band of Heathens and Hayes Carll; Craig Bagby (drums), who has worked with Sherman Colin Herman; and Jared Hall (keys), who has worked with Velvet Underground and Colin Gilmore, the album thematically focuses on the social and cultural stigmas placed on “imperfect” women.

 

Fuck With Sad Girls‘ latest single is “Fighter,” and the gorgeous song has Whitemore, Davis, Bagby and Hall pairing twinkling keys, accordion, lap steel guitar, gentle pads of percussion and Whitmore’s expressive and plaintive vocals in a song that manages to be psychologically revealing, vulnerable and honest as the song’s narrator admits to living a full, complicated and messy life, a life full of joy, mistakes, regrets, difficult and uneasy decisions and compromises, and throughout the song’s narrator reveals herself to be a resilient, modern woman — the sort of woman you’d likely known and encountered in your own life.

 

 

 

 

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You might recall that earlier this month, I wrote about California-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Elijah Ford. Ford has quite the musical pedigree as his father, Marc Ford is a former member of Black Crowes. Interestingly enough, the younger Ford toured with his father’s band Fuzz Machine when he was 17 and a few years later, Elijah’s own recording career started in earnest when he hooked up with Oscar and Grammy-winning artist Ryan Bingham, with whom Elijah Ford recorded and toured with for several years before going solo with the 2011 release of his full-length debut Upon Walking and its follow up, an EP Ashes in 2012.

As We Were, Ford’s forthcoming full-length effort is slated for a September 16, 2016 and as you might remember, the album’s first single “The Way We Were” liberally draws from bluesy and boozy old school work, while possessing a finely crafted feel, thanks in part to a soaring and anthemic hook and a shimmying and shuffling sound reminiscent of The Black Crowes, Elvis Costello and others. As We Were’s latest single “Black and Red” will further cement Ford’s burgeoning reputation for finely crafted and rousingly anthemic songs that draw from 70s and early 80s rock; however, in this particular instance, “Black and Red” is sonically reminiscent of Damn The Torpedoes-era Tom Petty and the aforementioned Elvis Costello but with a novelist’s attention to psychological detail and how it impacts one’s character and in turn their relationships with others.

Perhaps best known as the co-founder of Department of Eagles, multi-instrumentalist Fred Nicolaus’ solo, side project Golden Suits quickly won attention with the release of a self-titled full-length album that thematically focused around a breakup and an obsession with a collection of short stories by John Cheever. And as a result, Nicolaus developed a reputation for crafting contemplative, folk-leaning indie rock; however, with the release of “Is It Wrong” the multi-instrumentalist reveals a subtle change of sonic and songwriting approach as the song manages to sound like a breezy and mischievous version of The National covering the likes of Tom Petty and Paul McCartney.