What I've Enjoyed Since The Last What I've Enjoyed
Well, my weekly recap seems to have became more of a monthly thing, but I’m trying.
Here we go with some things I’ve been enjoying recently.
The Independent Spirit Awards I watch the Oscars every year, because I like movies…although these days with soaring ticket prices, uncomfortable seats, some jackass always talking to the person he/she is with (or talking on a cell phone), and the fact that most movies are not very good, I just don’t go to the movies much these days (I do however watch a lot on DVD and cable).
While the Oscars mostly recognize films that have received a lot of press and/or become blockbusters, the Indie Spirit awards does a good job of recognizing both popular indie films (The Wrestler, Milk), and films that I otherwise might not have heard of (Frozen River, The Visitor). That alone would make it worth while for me to watch, because I do go out of my way to seek out these little “art house” films.
But another cool reason to watch the Indie Spirit awards is it’s loose vibe. While the Oscars tends to stay on script and everyone has their thank you list and is dressed to the nines, the Indie Spirit awards is more casual in dress and attitude, which can lead to amazing acceptance speeches like Mickey Rourke’s (best actor, The Wrestler)
click hear to see Mickey Rourke's acceptance speech on YouTube
The Indie Spirit awards not only manages to be more fun than the Oscars, but it also clocks in at 2 hours, way shorter than the bloated Oscar ceremony.
Been listening to a lot of CDs (I know, you’re shocked), let me rundown a few:
Bobby Steele - “Bobby”
This album kind of hit me out of left field. I am not a huge fan of cover albums, but then again most cover albums are boring rehashes of popular songs with little imagination put into it.
So when punk legend Bobby Steele (The Undead, The Misfits) announced he was going to do a solo acoustic cover album, I figured it would be acoustic punk covers of very run of the mill songs.
Boy was I wrong.
First off, this album sounds like it could have come out 50 years ago, and that is meant as a huge compliment. When one thinks of punk rockers, often you think of people who can’t play instruments well or sing that well (and in some cases that is definitely true). Bobby Steele showcases on this 8 songs album that he not only has some serious acoustic guitar chops, but that his voice has some real depth and can hit the highs and lows that these songs require.
And what songs did he choose? Songs recorded by Gene Pitney, Ricky Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Del Shannon, Al Jolson, and Roy Orbison. I suspect a lot of Undead fans would be surprised by these choices.
It is obvious from listing to this CD that Bobby Steele has a lot of respect for these songs and he really put the effort in to get them right.
Like I said above, I don’t generally care for cover albums, but this one is definitely a keeper.
Sir Douglas Quintet - “complete singles 1964-1966”
Ah, the days when a band could put out 9 singles in 2 years…these days it seems fewer and fewer labels are bothering to put out a single from an album, but the popularity of MP3 downloads may change that once again…
Anyway, back in the mid-60’s the Sir Douglas Quintet was at the forefront of the Tex-Mex music movement. Don’t let the British Invasion name fool you, the band was from Texas and two fifth’s of the band were of Mexican origin. Frontman Doug Sahm would later go on to record with Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender and Flaco Jimenez - The Texas Tornados.
This album collects all 9 singles and the accompanying B-sides, and is ripe full of some great 60’s blues rock, pop rock, and garage rock.
I was not familiar with this band before receiving this new album, but while listening to it I immediately searched out more info on them. This may be the most important review I saw for the Sir Douglas Quintet.
"Look" he said, "for me right now there are three groups: Butterfield, The Byrds and the Sir Douglas Quintet." Bob Dylan
From a band from the 60’s to a current band that is heavily influenced by 60’s & 70’s blues rock…
Ramblin Dawgs - “rockin blues”
East Brunswick, New Jersey’s Ramblin Dawgs sent me a new 3 song EP of originals that is chock full of blues riffage and vocals. “Steppin’ up” sounds like a lost classic Cream/Clapton song, while “you let me down” is obviously an homage to B.B. King’s musical style. Closing the EP is “worse without you”, which reminds me of Buddy Guy type of number.
Ramblin Dawgs clearly have a passion for the blues, and this EP showcases it.
Hey another segue…Ramblin Dawgs aren’t the only blues coming out of NJ…
Kimon & The Prophets - “roadhouse party”
The aptly titled new Kimon & The Prophets album truly is a “roadhouse party”, featuring 11 originals and 5 covers (of songs from Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello, and Don Henley). The originals have a really fun funky blues vibe going on that’s a departure from previous Kimon albums, but in a lot of ways the whole band seems more comfortable on this album then any of the previous ones I’ve heard.
While personally I feel five cover tunes was a bit of overkill, this is definitely my favorite Kimon album, and the case could be made that how could you have a true “roadhouse party” without some covers.
Also included with “roadhouse party” is a DVD with some music videos and acoustic performances. I have not had a chance to view the DVD yet, but it’s pretty cool that they decided to give you more for your money (as if a 16 track CD wasn’t enough).
Rick Barry - “this antediluvian world”
Rick Barry likes to re-invent himself, sometime acoustic singer-songwriter, sometimes rocker, Rick’s new EP with the had to pronounce name, deftly combines both with some new flourishes for a wonderful 5 song EP.
Long-time fans of Rick might be surprised most by his re-working of “all your mistakes have names”, a song that has been part of his acoustic set list for years. This new version starts out acoustic, quickly picking up the beat and adding in a full band, and climaxes with added horns giving it almost the feel of a Polyphonic Spree song. The album was produced by the Churchills along with Gordon Brown, and among the special guests on the album are Val Emmich and Allie Moss.
Alex Brumel - “to bring you home”
When Alex Brumel’s debut album came out in 2006 I titled a review of his CD release show, “Alex Brumel: "the next big thing" from NJ?”
His self-titled debut may not have made him as big as I thought he would be, but his new album, “to bring you home” is an incredible follow up album that hopefully will help bring his folk rock to a much larger audience. The album is a true album, no filler on here, just great songwriting sung with pure emotion. Check out “the line” (currently on Alex Brumel’s MySpace player), and see if you aren’t immediately sucked in by this incredibly talented singer-songwriter.
Hrny Wrms - “Hrny Wrms”
I get it, it’s artistic to leave the O’s out of their name, but it’s also quite annoying that my spell checker keeps trying to make Red Bank, New Jersey band Hrny Wrms into Horny Worms. The name also makes me uncomfortable as a heterosexual ;)
Ok, all kidding aside, “Hrny Wrms” is an absolutely incredible album! Trying to describe the music on this album is difficult. Their MySpace page describes them as Post punk / Experimental / Rock, and that’s probably as good as any, but I’m going to try to explain them a little further. When I was listening to the album I kept thinking about early music of the Cure, and the music of Morphine, not just because Hrny Wrms incorporate synths and sax, but also because both of those bands in their prime were making experimental music that also was catchy and accessible. This is not art for arts sake…or different just to be different, this is wonderfully creative music.
And lastly, my favorite single of the week!
MC Lars - “Guitar Hero hero (beating Guitar Hero doesn’t make you Slash)”
Believe it or not, I have never played Guitar Hero, but I’ve been told on numerous occasions that since I can’t play an actual guitar worth shit, I should play Guitar Hero because I’d probably be good at that.
Basically that was a slap in the face, but I deserve it because I can’t play a real guitar. Sadly, neither can most of the people who are experts at Guitar Hero, yet a lot of people get an ego about their "mad Guitar Hero skills". It was high time for someone to put them back in their place.
With “Guitar Hero hero (beating Guitar Hero doesn’t make you Slash)”, MC Lars creates a very catchy, funny song, with just the right amount of Guitar Hero-like riffs, featuring Nerf Herder vocalist Parry Gripp singing the infectious and witty lyrics. It’s perfect pop-rock with a message to all those wannabe guitarists.
“Guitar Hero hero (beating Guitar Hero doesn’t make you Slash)” appears on MC Lars new album, “This Giant Robot Kills” (out on Tuesday 2/24). I’m hoping to get a copy of the entire album to review for you soon.
Btw - Parry Gripp has his own new album called, “Do You Like Waffles?”. I’ve heard the title track, and all 31 seconds of it (almost the perfect length for some waffle company to use it for a commercial), are also infectious and funny.
Ok, that’s all for this blog.
I’m off to watch the Oscars…check back soon for my bitch blog about it LOL!