The first time I ever laid eyes on the band Social Distortion was in the documentary video Another State of Mind. My good friend Pat brought the VHS tape to my house and said we had to watch it. The video featured footage from two punk bands on tour in 1982, Youth Brigade and the now-iconic Social Distortion. I remember footage of Social D’s front man Mike Ness talking to the camera looking through a mirror as he got ready to play a show, smearing black mascara down his face from his eyes and spiking his hair.
From that day forward, for one reason or another, it seems that Social Distortion has had an ever-present part in my own music collection. Social D is one of those bands that you can always go back to, and they seemingly never change.
When they’re in town, it’s well-known that they always put on a good live show, and they always have an overwhelming stage presence. You can bring your best girl and sing along to classic songs like “Ball and Chain,” and if you’re really lucky, you can lay your ears on more classic tunes from the bands arsenal, like “Mommy’s Little Monster” or “Prison Bound.” Whichever era of the band’s catalog that you fancy, Social Distortion always delivers a little bit of everything.
If you’re looking for a down-to-earth show full of some slow-cooked Americana, this is just for you.
Country caravan Son Volt are coming to the 9:30 Club, and we’ve got a pair of tickets to giveaway. It’s crazy easy to get in the running, so if you dig on some hearty folk music, you’ve got no excuse to miss out.
Singer-songwriter Jay Farrar started Son Volt in 1994 after the demise of Uncle Tupelo, the alt-country band that also counted Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy as a principal songwriter. Through the mid- to late-’90s, Son Volt created a name for themselves with no-frills folk/country spanning an aesthetic gap from Bob Dylan to Crazy Horse.
“There’s a fire extinguisher strapped to that guy’s drum set. WHY? His sticks are on fire and I can clearly see smoke…is he going to be ok? Is he going to use the fire extinguisher? As a kid, this is what I would repeatedly think to myself as I stared at the back cover of my older brother’s copy of Van Halen 2.“
“I would fixate on the photo of David Lee Roth and try to comprehend how the split he’s doing is as high as the mic stand. Was there a springboard or something that they pulled away right before the photo was taken? I didn’t have the answers but I knew what I was looking at and listening to was AMAZING.
Downstairs in the den was my parents’ record collection. I had been having dance parties there with my mom courtesy of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The coffee table would be removed to make room and then I would go to town. That record is now sitting in the basement next to a Sergio Franchi album.
I didn’t own my own piece of vinyl until “Start Me Up” was released a few years later. I had it on 45. Having my own record was definitely a big deal. Otherwise, if I liked a song, I had to tape it when it came on the radio.
When it comes to bands who have helped define New Orleans music at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century, Papa Grows Funk is at the top of the list.
Their Monday night gigs at the Maple Leaf Bar are legendary. They have also spread the gospel of Noveau funk beyond New Orleans and they have a wide fan base across the country.
As most readers know, the band is taking an indefinite hiatus after thirteen years of playing together. The Mondays at the Leaf are a memory now, though there is still some touring to do, and one final show in New Orleans, before the musicians go their separate ways.
The Twitterverse delivered an unexpected surprise last week with the announcement of three (only three?!?) upcoming shows by The Replacements. After coming together to record a benefit project for ailing guitarist Slim Dunlap last year, it appears that the prodigal sons of no one finally will dare to confront their former selves. Will it be great? Will it suck? Will the tickets cost more than floor seats for the Stones? Whatever happens, it’s safe to assume that these bastards of middle age still have a few surprises up their tattered sleeves.
To be honest, it won’t be true reunion. With one member dead, one recovering, and one abstaining, it’s left to Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson to shoulder the burden. And I think “burden” is the right word here, particularly for Westerberg, who has alternately embraced and rejected his ‘Mats legacy over the years. Unwittingly thrust into the “spokesman of his unsatisfied generation” role, he was never comfortable pursuing traditional rock stardom.
Thus, his solo career has wavered between shoulda-been Top 40 hits (“Love Untold”), unpolished demo dumps (the occasionally brilliant, ultimately frustrating 49:00) and Disney songs (“The Right to Arm Bears,” anyone?). Conversely, Stinson, alternating between solo projects and the traveling circus that is Guns n’ Roses, appears to be thoroughly comfortable in the world of leather pants and limos. Contradictions such as these were at the center of The Replacements’ ethos, for whom conflict was rocket fuel. Whether this yin and yang still burns we’ll know soon enough.
With 13, three-fourths of the original Black Sabbath has reunited under the guidance of career-savior-as-producer Rick Rubin. The result isn’t a masterpiece, but it is the best record of new material to bear the Black Sabbath name in decades. Ultimately, its biggest limitation is the one element that’s missing.
In a manner similar to the 1963 Mario Bava-directed film that provided them with their name, it took Black Sabbath a while to gain some critical respect. And when the belated praise started popping up in print, some welcomed it as validation of a truly important band while others dismissed it all as unnecessary.
Those of the latter opinion populated a camp that listened to hard rock/heavy metal enthusiastically and accepted it on its own terms, and they frequently adopted an intensely autodidactic approach, learning how to quickly recognize the good-to-great stuff from the mediocre or worse and largely dismissing the rumblings of the rock music press as antithetical to their interests.
And that was mainly because the scribes populating the rock critic game were in general quite dismissive of hard rock/heavy metal as a whole, with vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward often getting lambasted as cartoonish, unsubtle purveyors of a stylistic cul-de-sac that’s stereotypical main audience was a bunch of dead-end teenagers and twenty-something alcohol-swilling and illicit substance-riddled degenerates. Adding to the problem; as critical esteem for the group rose, their stock with fans started to wane.
On Tuesday night, Of Monsters and Men played to a welcoming crowd on a beautiful summer night at Merriweather Post Pavilion, their indie pop harmonies and theatricality well suited to the vastness of the space. Openers HAIM added enough just enough rebelliousness and grit to the night to keep things grounded.
Of Monsters and Men takes their production seriously, with nearly every detail of the show seemingly planned. Taking the stage with a white sheet obscuring the stage and the band members just shadows illuminated by purple lights, the band quietly started into “Dirty Paws.” As the song picked up, the sheet dramatically fell and the audience immediately transitioned from cheers to singing along.
The five piece Icelandic band, which expands to seven members when on tour, was quite a spectacle on Tuesday night. Standing center stage, singer and guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir vaguely resembles Bjork; her seemingly-innocent face was framed by the turquoise she dyed the ends of her hair. Her co-singer and guitarist Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson, sported a porkpie hat, while another guitarist donned a full tuxedo.
It was definitely odd and eclectic, but somehow endearing at the same time. Their bassist, drummer, piano player, and piano/ accordion/ trumpet player rounded out the group on stage. Backed by oversized, brightly-lit domes, it was the kind of enchanting backdrop that I wish I could recreate at home.
We’ve extended the deadline to enter given downtime from last week’s server switch. —Ed.
While there’s been no shortage of commentary and critique as to The Rolling Stones’ current “50 and Counting” trek through the States and beyond, we for one couldn’t be happier to see the band out on the road, exorcising classics from a catalog with very few peers.
In tandem with the band’s 50th anniversary and tour, ABKCO Records has seen fit to delve into their own archives to remaster and rerelease a trio of the band’s classic LPs on clear vinyl—and we’ve got the set of 3 “Clearly Classic” releases to award one of you.
First, some official background:
“Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, and Hot Rocks 1964-1971, the most celebrated albums in ABKCO’s catalog of Rolling Stones releases, will debut later this month as 180-gram LPs, pressed on clear vinyl, in celebration of the band’s 50th anniversary and ’50 and Counting’ tour.
The launch of a projected series titled “The Rolling Stones Clearly Classic,” featuring these three initial releases out May 28th, focus on the three Rolling Stones albums that reflect the group’s formative years and transformation into “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” at the end of the 1960′s and into the early 70′s.