Monday, March 28, 2011

Billy Joel 'Shea Stadium' DVD+CD review

Billy Joel - Live at Shea Stadium: The Concert, released earlier this month on Legacy Recordings, just entered the Billboard Top Music DVD/Video chart at #1.

Sonically and visually, it is one of the best music DVDs I've seen so far in 2011, boasting a fantastic setlist and strong performances all around (kudos to longtime percussionist/backing singer Crystal Talifero). The man himself is in good vocal form and seems to be having a blast (exclaiming at one point: "this is the best job in the world" and dedicating "Summer, Highland Falls" to all the manic depressives in the crowd).

Joel's still fast-fingered piano work during "Prelude/Angry Young Man," trumpeter Carl Fisher's solo turn amid the jazzy "Zanzibar," the string section's classical sweetening on "Ballad of Billy the Kid" and "2017: I've Seen the Lights Go Out on Bradway" and the quiet, stirring lead vocal with military personnel on the chorus of "Goodnight Saigon" are among the many highlights here. 

And then there are the special guests: John Mayer was the perfect choice to add weepy guitar lines on "This is the Time" as was Tony Bennett to duet on "New York State of Mind." For the most part, Joel let the guests take the lead vocal reigns as he played piano, added backing vocals ("My Generation," with Roger Daltrey; "Pink Houses," with John Mellencamp) or just looked on in awe (Paul McCartney on "I Saw Her Standing There," "Let it Be").

Watching it reminded me of the memorable local shows I saw Joel do in Feb. 2008 (Honda Center/Anaheim) and April 2006 (Staples Center/LA).  

Read more details below. 

Available in a 2 CD/1 DVD set, stand-alone DVD or Blu-ray disc, the set documents the last shows ever at Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. With a running time of 155 minutes, the concert also includes appearances from Garth Brooks ("Shameless") and Steven Tyler ("Walk This Way").

Joel played to a combined audience of 110,000 people on July 16 & 18, 2008. His two Shea shows sold out in less than an hour. The Bronx-born, Long Island-raised New York native became the only artist ever to have performed at Yankee, Giants and Shea Stadium, the latter venue having ushered in the stadium rock era with an iconic Beatles performance in 1965.

PBS-TV series Great Performances premiered a special broadcast edition of Billy Joel - Live At Shea Stadium during the 2011 March Pledge Drive. Look for possible repeat affiliate airings in the future.

Built in 1964, Shea Stadium was the Mets' home for 45 years. After two World Series victories, the last section of Shea Stadium was demolished in February 2009 to make way for the new CitiField. "The Last Play at Shea' was one of the most memorable concerts I have ever performed," said Billy Joel.

Depeche Mode remix album coming

DM fans have reason to be anxious this summer with the announcement of a new collection last week. Here are details...
On June 7, Depeche Mode will release Remixes 2: 81-11 on Mute. An inspiring collection of new and classic mixes of material covering their entire career, the album includes remixes of tracks from their 1981 debut Speak And Spell to 2009's Sounds Of The Universe, and is the follow-up to 2004's million-plus selling Remixes 81-04. These remixes reinforce Depeche Mode’s standing as one of the world’s most influential and innovative acts.  

Depeche Mode have been at the forefront of remix culture for the best part of three decades and this new compilation includes classic mixes from M83, UNKLE, François Kervorkian and Dan The Automator, alongside all-new mixes from Röyksopp and others. The expanded editions include exclusive remixes by former band members Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder - the first time either artist has remixed tracks for their former colleagues.

Highlights from the selection of classic mixes include reworkings of "Dream On" from 2001’s Exciter, "Suffer Well," "John the Revelator" and "A Pain That I’m Used To" from 2006’s Playing The Angel and "In Chains," "Peace" and "Wrong" from Universe, while the new mixes include "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and "Puppets" from Spell, "Never Let Me Down Again" and "Behind The Wheel" from Music For The Masses as well as "A Question Of Time" from 1986's Black Celebration. Lead single "Personal Jesus", from 1990's Violator, also features several remixes as part of the package.
The Remixes 2: 81-11 tracklisting…

Single disc version:
1. Dream On - Bushwacka Tough Guy Mix Edit (2001)
2. Personal Jesus - The Stargate Mix (2011)
3. Suffer Well - M83 Remix (2006)
4. John The Revelator - UNKLE Reconstruction (2006)
5. In Chains - Tigerskin's No Sleep Remix Edit (2011)
6. Peace - SixToes Remix (2009)
7. Tora! Tora! Tora! - Karlsson And Winnberg (from Miike Snow) Remix (2011)
8. Never Let Me Down Again - Eric Prydz Remix (2011)
9. I Want It All - Roland M.Dill Remix (2011)
10. Wrong - Trentemøller Remix (2009)
11. Puppets - Röyksopp Remix (2011)
12. Everything Counts - Oliver Huntemann And Stephan Bodzin Dub (2006)
13. A Pain That I'm Used To - Jacques Lu Cont Remix (2005)

Three disc version:
Disc 1
1. Dream On - Bushwacka Tough Guy Mix (2001)
2. Suffer Well - M83 Remix (2006)
3. John The Revelator - UNKLE Reconstruction (2006)
4. In Chains - Tigerskin's No Sleep Remix (2009)
5. Peace - SixToes Remix (2009)
6. Lilian - Chab Vocal Remix Edit (2006)
7. Never Let Me Down Again - Digitalism Remix (2006)
8. Corrupt - Efdemin Remix (2009)
9. Everything Counts - Oliver Huntemann And Stephan Bodzin Dub (2006)
10. Happiest Girl - The Pulsating Orbital Vocal Mix (1990)
11. Walking In My Shoes - Anandamidic Mix (1993)
12. Personal Jesus - The Stargate Mix (2011)
13. Slowblow - Darren Price Mix (1993)
Disc 2
1. Wrong - Trentemøller Club Remix (2009)
2. World In My Eyes - Dub In My Eyes (1990)
3. Fragile Tension - Peter Bjorn and John Remix (2009)
4. Strangelove - Tim Simenon/Mark Saunders Remix (1998)
5. A Pain That I'm Used To - Jacques Lu Cont Remix (2005)
6. The Darkest Star - Monolake Remix (2006)
7. I Feel You - Helmet At The Helm Mix (1993)
8. Higher Love - Adrenaline Mix Edit (2004)
9. Fly On The Windscreen - Death Mix (1985)
10. Barrel Of A Gun - United Mix (1997)
11. Only When I Lose Myself - Dan The Automator Mix (1998)
12. Ghost - Le Weekend Remix (2009)

Disc 3
1. Personal Jesus - Alex Metric Remix Edit (2011)
2. Never Let Me Down Again - Eric Prydz Remix (2011)
3. Behind The Wheel - Vince Clarke Remix (2011)
4. Leave In Silence - Claro Intelecto 'The Last Time' Remix (2011)
5. In Chains - Alan Wilder Remix (2011)
6. When The Body Speaks - Karlsson And Winnberg Remix (2011)
7. Puppets - Röyksopp Remix (2011)
8. Tora! Tora! Tora! - Karlsson And Winnberg (from Miike Snow) Remix (2011)
9. Freestate - Clark Remix (2011)
10. I Want It All - Roland M. Dill Remix (2011)
11. A Question Of Time - Joebot Presents 'Radio Face' Remix (2011)
12. Personal Jesus - Sie Medway-Smith Remix (2011)

Duran Duran concert review-LA

A version of my review originally appeared in the Orange County Register newspaper and can be viewed at

After three decades together, Duran Duran still causes hysteria.

On Wednesday night, it happened at the Mayan in downtown Los Angeles, where the influential synth-pop group performed a special show in conjunction with American Express concert series, Unstaged. Once doors opened, anxious fans that had been waiting at the front of the line since morning aggressively pushed each other to get inside and secure a prime viewing spot.

The live webcast was directed by David Lynch, who added various images to the online visual presentation. Before the sold out, 100-minute performance began, he encouraged people to dance beside a funhouse mirror specifically geared for the cyberspace audience, but asked them not to hog the spotlight (watch highlights at

Duran Duran put out the physical, expanded CD of latest studio effort All You Need is Now on Tuesday - a digital version came out this past December - so the L.A. gig served as an album release party.

Among the British band’s strongest collections since their early ‘80s heyday, it was produced by Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Adele, Kaiser Chiefs), finds R&B singer Kelis and Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters contributing vocals and Owen Pallet (Final Fantasy, Arcade Fire) handling some string arrangements.

Ronson envisioned All You Need is Now as the imaginary follow up to Duran Duran’s 1982 multi-platinum classic Rio. He encouraged the veteran musicians to use vintage instruments whenever possible and update the distinctive new wave sound they helped craft. Wise move: the consensus has been positive among critics (a rare occurrence) and the public (it currently ranks No. 3 on  

All snazzily attired in black at the Mayan, Duran Duran took the stage to the classical strains of “Return to Now” from Now. Augmented by backing singer Anna Ross and percussionist/saxophonist Simon Willescroft, they immediately locked into the slamming groove of the new album’s title track led by Nick Rhodes’ careening synth line.

“Being Followed,” a dark-hued tune about paranoia and paparazzi, saw John Taylor supplying nimble bass lines as lead singer Simon Le Bon (nowadays sporting a beard that makes him appear distinguished) whistled and Rhodes triggered siren sounds.

“How cool is this?,” exclaimed Le Bon, before introducing My Chemical Romance leader Gerard Way, the first of several special guests. Tentatively trading vocals with Le Bon on “Planet Earth,” Way’s neon red hair recalled a young Rhodes.

Guitarist Dom Brown’s jagged playing on “Friends of Mine” was a highlight. Although Le Bon sang, “It’s time that you were told/I think you’re growing old,” it was hard to believe these guys are at or near age 50.

Voluptuous Beth Ditto, singer of The Gossip, admitted to being nervous as she added her soulful fluttering voice to a funky “Notorious,” but quickly got into the flow as 1960s “flower power” images were projected on screens. “What a dream,” she said, after finishing.

“Blame the Machines,” all squelching guitar and high flying harmonies, made its concert debut and was just as catchy as the old songs. Ronson appeared added electric guitar to the infectious, dance driven “Safe (In the Heat of the Moment),” propelled by John Taylor’s slinky, Chic-inspired bass work.

Then a female string quartet arrived and stayed for most of the set’s remainder. They made graceful new ballad “Leave a Light On” even more luxurious. The stately “Ordinary World” followed. Le Bon was in rich vocal form on both, still managing the latter’s falsetto ending well. Fan submitted photos of painted hands and faces flashed on the screens. 

Kelis reprised her role on the high drama and mystique of “The Man Who Stole a Leopard.” She looked regal in a dress that made Le Bon say “wow” and used a lighted mike stand that changed from orange to pink. Kelis looked slightly uncomfortable on the tune though.

Ronson rejoined for some rocking guitar on the dancey “Girl Panic,” which was preceded by Le Bon telling a story about a dream. Drummer Roger Taylor did some heavy percussion and primal beats on his raspberry-colored kit.  

Careless Memories was lean and mean. When Le Bon sang “you make me feel alive” on “Rio,” he could have been describing the rambunctious crowd. For the encores, Kelis returned for “Come Undone,” but her weak voice – even bolstered by Ross - added little.

As on the previous tour which stopped at the Pacific Amphitheatre in July 2009, the sleek instrumental take on John Barry’s Goldfinger film theme segued into a slow, Le Bon-recited vocal for “A View to a Kill,” before Duran, Ronson and the string players transitioned into the normal tempo. Still a rousing song – just like the band - after all these years.

Duran Duran, Mayan Theatre, Los Angeles, March 23, 2011
Setlist: All You Need is Now/Being Followed/Planet Earth/Friends of Mine/Notorious/Blame the Machines/Hungry Like the Wolf/Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)/Leave a Light On/Ordinary World/The Man Who Stole a Leopard/Girl Panic/Careless Memories/(Reach Up) For the Sunrise/Rio
Encore: Come Undone/Goldfinger theme/A View to a Kill/Girls on Film

Band photo courtesy of PMK/BNC Public Relations

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bonus Q&A with Andy Bell of Beady Eye

How does it feel to have the album finally available now?
It is a relief to have it out there because, you know, when things get leaked these days, you get paranoid about having a CD release. I haven’t really listened to it as much as I wanted to in the weeks and months coming up to the release, because I was scared to burn myself a CD in case I lost it.

America was always the second biggest market for Oasis album sales worldwide. Do you think Beady Eye will do just as well in the States?
We hope so. We’re certainly willing to come and play. It’s just in the hands of whoever controls these things, really...anywhere you’ll have us, we’ll come and see whether you dig it or not. It would be nice if you did.

Is it more fulfilling being back on guitar full time now?
For sure. The guitar is my natural instrument. Although I enjoyed playing the bass, I was like the third best bass player in [Oasis]. I was good at it; don’t get me wrong. 

What was the experience like working with co-producer Steve Lillywhite?
He likes working fast and is very instinctive in that way. I think it’s the sign of a good, experienced producer that would take that attitude and really try and listen to the band...I’m sure that wouldn’t be how he’d record U2, for example.

One of my favorites on the new album is “For Anyone.” Since it has that La’s/Merseybeat-type sound to it, I wondered it Steve and Chris Sharrock, who worked with that band, had any influence on its sound.
It came together with the sound and was part of the charm. Although Steve and Chris weren’t really the inspiration behind it, there’s a lot of their influence in there, in general. 

On “Millionaire,” which you wrote, there are references to cities in Spain and painter Salvador Dali. Was that influenced by a trip to the country?
Yeah, it was inspired by a trip I made to Barcelona and up the coast of Spain to this small fishing village where Salvador Dali grew up. It’s just about my time there.

In three of the songs, the subject of dreams comes up. Just a random thing or a topic you guys like to write about?
It is a coincidence, but two of the tunes are ones I came up with, so I’m notorious for this kind of thing. I’m always – even going back to the Ride songs – writing about daydreams. I really have to stop myself and rein it in. Otherwise every other song would be about dreaming. Mainly because I write a lot of my songs when I’m just waking up. Or in the middle of the night, which is my time [to be creative].

Has the fact that everyone in Beady Eye contributes equally to the songwriting and decision-making been liberating for you?
It’s been good. I was always happy being the bass player in Oasis. It was a band that worked well. I don’t want to put Beady Eye on a pedestal and say Oasis was bad in some way, because it wasn’t. I’m certainly being a lot more creative in Beady Eye because there’s room for it. There’s a vacant spot there. We’re all able to jump in and fill that spot with ideas.

I have to ask you about Ride. Rhino Handmade Records just reissued ‘Nowhere’ in a great deluxe book version and on vinyl. What do you think made that album stand out and become one that many fans gravitated toward?
I think debut albums are special in general – or at least they can be: Stones Roses, The La’s, Oasis, of course.

How did Ride feel about being referred to as "shoegazers" back then?
It was just starting to get mentioned at that point...we were just awkward. We were little middle class kids from Oxford who weren’t really socially savvy. Everything was awkward to us. We didn’t really want to be lumped in with a scene of bands. We were quite happy to be on our own. We felt like outsiders and didn’t feel like we were part of anything really. We were from outside London, so I think people thought we were farmers or something.   

Beady Eye interview

Changing ‘Gear’
Beady Eye focuses on a future after Oasis

Few bands dominated British pop music and culture like Oasis did in the 1990s. The Manchester musicians racked up multiple chart-topping albums and top 10 singles in a spectacular run that lasted well into the next decade.   

They were initially successful here too. Despite diminishing sales, Oasis still managed to pack such large Stateside venues as the Hollywood Bowl. By August ‘09, tensions between constantly bickering brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher came to a head at a Paris music festival. Minutes before show time, a fight backstage prompted Noel - the de facto leader and principal songwriter/guitarist - to quit for the final time.

Soon after, the breakup was announced. Since the remaining members all still had a close musical bond, carrying on was a no-brainer.

“We never recorded an album with [’08 recruit and noted session drummer] Chris Sharrock; that was one of the main reasons why we wanted to continue,” explains guitarist Andy Bell, via phone from a tour stop in Manchester. 

“Three of us had been through so much together over 10 years of playing that it seemed like a shame” to call it off, continues Bell. “There’s no one else I can imagine wanting to play with. There were never any issues between us. It was always good musically, so it seemed natural to want to do something,” albeit under a different name: Beady Eye.

Instead of taking time off, the group went straight into writing and demoing and kept everything quiet. Bell says they used a local studio, “didn’t make a big fuss about it” and worked through the 13 songs in the order they appear on impressive debut effort Different Gear, Still Speeding - which entered the U.K. album chart at No. 3 last month.

Right after the split, producer du jour Steve Lillywhite (U2, Morrissey, Peter Gabriel) called the band’s office and said “if Liam was making a record, he wanted to be involved.” All the guys admired Lillywhite’s work, especially with The La’s (Sharrock happened to play on that group’s signature hit, “There She Goes”).

“That is definitely one of our favorite records ever made…Steve was a ball of energy, very enthusiastic and open to our ideas” in the studio. The Different Gear tracks were primarily done live, using few takes.

“There’s something about recording a band live in a room together that gives it an extra feeling you can’t get anywhere else. It’s the reason Elvis [Presley] records were so great…you can hear that shared spirit.”

According to Bell, songs such as “Bring the Light” (with rollicking Little Richard-styled piano, female backing vocals) and “Beatles and Stones” (ironically, a stomping Who homage) were one-offs. “On a lot of songs, we captured a moment, which is something we’re always striving to do. If you get it right, then that’s a minor victory for rock ‘n’ roll.”

Having primarily played bass in Oasis, Bell switched back to his natural instrument, resulting in more creative freedom. Now “I can bring a lot more of my taste and personal style to the guitar than I can to the bass.”

Was there a concern about whether second guitarist Gem Archer’s technique would be compatible? “It was one of the unknowns…playing together in a rehearsal room was really the first time we realized we were going to mesh well. I feel we’re like Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, where sometimes he plays the lead; sometimes I do.”

Gallagher, who typically recorded vocals last in Oasis, took the opposite approach in Beady Eye and completed them early. What results is a fresher clarity, particularly amid the soaring, idyllic “Kill for a Dream,” jangly, acoustic guitar-led “For Anyone” and trippy epic “Wigwam.” Other standouts include psychedelic album opener “Four Letter Word” and a John Lennon-esque “The Roller” (think: “Instant Karma”).

Prior to joining Oasis, Bell was in Ride. Rhino Records recently put out a brilliant two-disc, 20th Anniversary remastered edition of the acclaimed British noise pop group’s 1990 bow, Nowhere. Housed in a hardback book, with an interview/essay, rare photos and lyrics, it features an enthralling ‘91 live recording from the Roxy in West Hollywood.  

“I think Ride’s first statement was the best one,” admits Bell. “I was so happy when I found out that concert was going to be on” this version. “I didn’t realize there was a recording of it. I haven’t got a good memory for gigs, but that one I remember being a proper, amazing night.”

As for Beady Eye, America will get its first look at them on tour this summer. “We’re into playing anywhere and spreading the love around every country we can,” notes Bell. “We’re full of musical hopes for the future. Mine are based on playing great gigs and coming up with some really great tunes for album two.” 

Initial U.S. tour dates
6/18 Metro…Chicago, IL
6/20 Sound Academy…Toronto, Canada
6/23 Webster Hall…New York, NY
6/25 Theater of Living Arts...Philadelphia, PA

Photo by Steve Gullick/courtesy of Dangerbird Records


Peter Bjorn and John album review

Release date: March 29
Peter Bjorn and John
Gimme Some
[Startime International]
Grade: A

Anyone familiar with Peter Bjorn and John solely through their breezy, whistling ‘07 pop hit “Young Folks” (subsequently sampled and covered by Kanye West, among others) will be surprised after hearing eclectic sixth album Gimme Some

On 2009’s uneven Living Thing, the Stockholm natives delved into experimental electronic sounds. This time around, band members used an outside producer for the first time - Per Sunding, known for his Cardigans work - and intended to make a punk album.

The first two tracks are prime examples. Both feature ramshackle guitar and drums, breathless vocals, wry wordplay (about threatening broken arms and noses to avoid heartbreak; chastising lackluster musicianship) and race by in 1 ½ minutes. Nothing else sounds like the Buzzcocks, but some tracks do have a loose party vibe. The childlike refrain in “Tomorrow Has to Wait” revolves around getting drunk. A sinister sounding “Don’t Let Them Cool Off” concerns the Swedish monarchy and wouldn’t sound out of place on a Raveonettes release.

More reverb-heavy sound is found in the somber, Jesus and Mary Chain-styled “Down Like Me.” Other standouts include the insanely catchy, danceable “Dig a Little Deeper,” replete with bongos and chants, plus the smile-inducing couplet, “if you think your brain is hollow/you just have to scream.” A slinky “Second Chance” boasts spazzy electric guitar and ample cowbell. The eerie, new wave-ish drum machine-driven “I Know You Don’t Love Me” and polyrhythmic “May Seem Macabre” are also highly memorable. Definitely solid from start to finish.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Highly touted Brit band The Hours tours U.S.

This album is one of the best I've heard this month and the shows are surely not to be missed. I recall seeing them years ago in the Mescaleros and was impressed. Here's the official background that came across my desk...

Having served time in some of the most esteemed UK bands, singer-songwriter-guitarist Antony Genn (Pulp, Elastica) and multi-instrumentalist Martin Slattery (Shaun Ryder's Black Grape) don't waste time wallowing in Britpop history, but rather keen to add to it with their band, The Hours

Their first stateside album, It's Not How You Start, It's How You Finish, was recently released on Adeline Records, and now, Genn and Slattery are prepping to make their inaugural appearances on U.S. soil as The Hours.

The duo's impressive pedigree extends to The Mescaleros, which they formed with then-former Clash frontman Joe Strummer in 1999. But it was Patti Smith who incited the formation of The Hours. While at her concert at Royal Festival Hall, Genn found himself newly inspired to create. "From the opening bars of her first song you could feel it," says Genn. "She came onstage and she was so potent and visceral and vital and honest and true and it was all blood and guts and spew and she looked so cool... she kind of reminded me of Strummer - that spirit of punk rock. In that very moment, I thought to myself, 'I gotta write some songs that are honest blood and guts on the floor.'"

Genn contacted Slattery and shortly thereafter came "Ali In The Jungle," which they wrote in merely a couple of hours. As the intro track on It's Not How You Start, It's How You Finish, the song is a window allowing us to peer into the stadium-worthy, 11-song collection brimming with impassioned, pop-rock anthems that follow.

"Their songs rollercoast along on jagged guitars and whipcracking snare drums, or beautiful, shimmering pianos," wrote UK publication The Guardian. "But their most arresting quality is a sense - not least in Genn's soul-baring lyrics - of musicians who have taken the knocks but are now putting every last emotion and sinew into a death-or-glory assault on pop's heavyweight title."

The Hours instantly resonated with their peers, including Bono who sang their praises on Radio One, as well as Jarvis Cocker, then quickly grew to include
the controversial post-modern artist Damien Hirst. He was inspired to develop a clock's-eyed skull "logo" for The Hours' albums and on-stage set; he later went on to release their music on his own label, thrusting his full support behind the group.

"Damien is an incredible creative force," offers Slattery. "He's got an incredible energy and we're lucky to be around that on loads of levels." Other supporters include Flood, who lent his production prowess to the band's sophomore See The Light album.

The Hours, having toured with Oasis and Kasabian and served as opener for U2's UK tour dates, are now ready to make their U.S. debut.

Tour dates:
March 22            New York City             Mercury Lounge
March 24            Los Angeles                Bootleg Theatre


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nick Lowe's 'Labour' reissued this week

I'm glad to see this finally become available on a wider basis. Lowe is truly an underrated talent and has gotten even better with age, evidenced by his efforts in the '90s and '00s. Here's more info...

As the bassist and primary songwriter for Brinsley Schwarz, Nick Lowe was one of the catalysts of the British pub rock phenomenon in the early 1970s. As the co-founder and house producer at UK label Stiff Records, he would help create the blueprint for the modern indie rock label and usher in British punk and new wave, helming historic recordings for The Damned, Elvis Costello, and The Pretenders

Now his landmark second solo album Labour of Lust gets the deluxe reissue treatment, sporting an expanded 12 pg. booklet with period photos, new essays and artwork by groundbreaking graphic artist Barney Bubbles.

The reissue also includes Nick's biggest US hit "Cruel To Be Kind," the originally U.K.-only "Endless Grey Ribbon" and U.S.-only "American Squirm" plus bonus B-side "Basing Street." 'Labour' is the only of Lowe's solo albums to hold the distinction of featuring Nick's Rockpile cohorts Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams on every track.

Originally released in 1979, 'Labour' is Lowe's highest charting album in the U.S. to date and has been out of print for nearly 20 years. Remastered from the original source, it is available on CD and LP (due 4/12) and for the first time ever, digitally, thus reintroducing this masterpiece to a new generation of pop music obsessives.  

Check out Yep Roc Records' website [] for a new Q&A with Lowe.

Q&A with DEVO's Jerry Casale

Q: Is guitarist Bob 1’s injured hand back to normal now?
Yeah, finally...There was a long period of therapy after the tendon healed and reattached. There was scar tissue, muscle atrophies and everything else you can imagine.

Q: So you haven’t had to tailor the set list toward less strenuous Devo songs then?
No, man. He knows we can’t do that. We’re like Charlie Sheen. We only have one speed: go!

Q: Are you still performing live with those cool animated video images synchronized to the music? Is the set list set in store because of that or can you diverge on occasion?
Yes. In the first part of the show, you can’t. Later on, you can.

Q: Does having the 'Something for Everybody' songs to play live keep the gigs more interesting for you?
A lot of bands that have been around as long as us, when they put out new material, it’s very devoid of energy and doesn’t sound much like they used to. I have to say in Devo’s case, the new songs are right on par with an album like ‘Freedom of Choice.’ When we do them, they have the same power and energy as older songs and people love them. I’m happy we have new songs to do, especially songs like “What We Do” that we are just releasing as a single. We have this great interactive video coming out that we shot to it. The user can navigate the video and decide what they want to see and when they want to see it. No edit. You can pan left and right, zoom in and out, tilt up and down. It’s as if you are in the video with a steadicam.

Q: Is that an option for viewing on any computer?
Yeah. The way it’s going to work with YouTube is they have to create a link and you go to it because it’s an html thing. Any modern computer, yeah. You get a file, click on it and it opens this widescreen format on your browser. You go and navigate in real time. You never see the same thing twice because the camera system is 360 degrees in a ring, pointed outwards, capturing the whole environment. That is in the round, so there are things going on every 10 degrees. As you pan left and right, you find something to see, but that means you miss something at the 9 or 3 or 6 o’clock positions. You get to go back over it and check out new things.

Q: The previous animated and live action videos for “Fresh” and “Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)” were amazing, so your fans probably have high expectations.
This one is beyond that. This is something you haven’t seen before. We’re really excited about it.

Q: Did it take long to work out the technology?
Luckily, we didn’t have to. Jason Trucco pioneered the system with his tech team. It’s done on a hi-def camera system, all input into a computer that stitches it together into a seamless 360 degree strip of visual information.

Q: Since the album came out last summer, are you pleased with how it turned out and has been received?
I wish more people knew about it. I certainly think the way it was brought to market could’ve been more effective and impactful. What was great is that – and this matters to me as a creative person – all the rock reviewers that I respect gave it anywhere from a B+ to an A. The critical reviews were really great [I included it in my top 10 best of 2010-GAP]. It would have been so easy to trash a legacy band like Devo and say, ‘why should we listen to these old guys when we got [quotes LMFAO lyric] ‘drink all day/play all night/let’s get it poppin’/I’m an L.A. trick’? It wasn’t like that.

Q: Why do you think that is?
I think that’s because the material was up to par with what you’d expect from Devo songs.

Q: You had inquiries from other younger musicians who wanted to work on the album.
Yeah. James Murphy [from LCD Soundsystem] was ready to do something and Al from Hot Chip. But we couldn’t wait any longer. 

Q: How difficult was to find time to finally make the album considering all of your various projects and sporadic tours?
Not really. Actually, all the songs – this is the truth; this is how long deal-making takes – were done by Oct. 2009. None of the songs on the album started being written until Jan. 2008. Between that [period], every song that made it to the record was written. We wrote about 36 songs in all.

Q: Is it easier to wear the new masks than the energy domes onstage?
No. The energy domes feel like they’re growing straight out of our heads at this point. We’re so used to them. The masks are much more confining. It’s like bondage and discipline – a little bit of sensory deprivation.

Q: “No Place Like Home” is dramatic and quite a departure for Devo, especially with those classical piano flourishes. How did it come about?  
Mark had written some music for a movie. Then it didn’t happen. I always liked the music and asked if I could work on it. I wrote the lyrics and decided as a senior citizen, if I can’t sing a serious song without some smart ass wink, then I’m never going to be able to do it. The time was now or never. I just wanted to do a song that didn’t have any cynicism to it. It’s basically about saving ourselves, like ‘people, if you want to stick around, you’ve got to change.’

Q: Was “Later is Now” inspired by people who stir up trouble writing negative comments on blogs?
That’s exactly what I was thinking about. We always procrastinate and put our heads in the sand and deny. Then the big monster grows bigger. And the 800-pound gorilla becomes an 8000-pound gorilla. That’s basically a ‘running out of time’ song I wrote.

Q: Among the newer crop of musicians today, do you see anyone following in Devo’s footsteps, being innovative both musically and visually?
Certainly there are ones stylistically that kind of follow in Devo’s footsteps. Not content-wise. There are a lot of bands we really like that popped up in the last five years. We love LCD Soundsystem and The Ting Tings. We like Lady Gaga a lot. We think the people she works with are very powerful visually. Their idea of how to stage a show is just tremendous – the best I’ve seen since Trent Reznor.

Q: Do you guys find a certain satisfaction that much of what you said about devolution in the 1970s has come true?
You would think that’s what we’d feel, but you know what? We don’t really get any pleasure in having been right. We didn’t want to be right. It was just kind of an artsy warning. It’s depressing that we were right [laughs].

Q: In 2006, the band worked with Disney on the “Devo 2.0” children’s album, where your classic songs were sung by kids and the words were altered a bit. Were people surprised by that alliance?
Yeah, they couldn’t believe it. Frankly, I couldn’t [either]. When they asked us to do it and if we had an idea, I said, ‘let’s find kids who can actually sing and play.’ Deliver our songs to the young demographic because they are going to watch kids they can relate to playing our songs. They said, ‘sure, let’s do it.’ They picked the songs. We recorded the kids and I shot all the video elements with a computer graphic artist. Worked on that for about six months and put that CD/DVD out. Then I did a middle school tour with those kids of the east coast and Midwest.

Q: How was that?
Actually, it was fun.

Q: Also in 2006, your alter ego Jihad Jerry released a bluesy rock album. What kid of reaction did that receive?
He didn’t get the love [laughs]. I think I was misunderstood. You would think that a senior citizen, in a ridiculous theatrical turban and bad suit, looking more like Sam the Sham from 1966, would’ve been taken as satire – which is what it was at the heart of the Bush administration’s egregious wrongs and hideousness. The satire was lost and people were angry at Jihad Jerry. Muslim people were writing me threatening emails. Infidels were like, ‘this is too heavy, man.’ I had this New York radio programmer tell me, ‘I really liked three songs on this record and I’d play the song “Danger” in a minute of it was a Devo song, but I can’t play Jihad Jerry because I can’t tell anyone that’s the name of the artist.

Q: Is it still as enjoyable for you to direct and make music videos these days?
Yeah, because I’m a creative person. That starts when you’re young and you don’t have an audience at all and it makes no money. Then it’s great when it does make money. Then later on, you have a smaller audience and you’re still just as excited about creating because you were in the beginning. It doesn’t change it for me.

Q: Among all the videos you’ve directed for Devo and others over the years, which ones stick out as favorites?
Devo’s “Beautiful World.” Silverchair’s “Freak.” Even though that was a problematic group, I really liked the video.

Q: If you had to choose, which Devo albums do you think still stand the test of time?
The first one and ‘Freedom of Choice’ are the essentials you’d have to have.

Q: Many new wave-era albums sound dated, but yours really don't.
The whole idea of what’s dated is completely changed. We live in an amorphous pop culture where all the decades are mixed and shuffled like a deck of cards. What used to be a putdown, like [adopts affected voice] ‘they sound just like the Rolling Stones in 1974,’ now it’s like a badge of honor to have a critic say that.     


DEVO interview

My interview originally appeared in the North County Times and can be viewed at Devo performs Saturday at Club Nokia in L.A. and Sunday at the Belly Up in Solana Beach. For more info, go to 

“Fresh” opens Devo’s long-awaited studio release “Something for Everybody,” but the song could also describe the current state of the influential new wave band’s career.

For starters, their always important visual image has changed. Those famous energy domes now gleam bright blue, while the uniforms are silver reflective titanium with matching masks. Fans helped choose the colors, album cover art and track selection via focus groups.

“We embraced marketing techniques that ad agencies use when trying to sell a laptop or cereal brand. We did it with a sense of humor, while commenting on how we live in a culture where all that matters is marketing,” explained bassist Jerry Casale from LAX, before catching a flight to a Seattle show.

“At the same time we were using those same techniques, it was fun for us creatively. That in itself was a statement. We didn’t have big expectations, so we were pleasantly surprised” by the results, he said with a laugh.

The Akron, Ohio act formed in the early ‘70s when Kent State University classmates Casale and Bob Lewis conceived a joke theory about the de-evolution of mankind. Fellow art student/singer Mark Mothersbaugh joined them and brought his own unusual ideas.

Several musician changes, warped home videos and theatrical live performances later, the “classic” Devo lineup: Casale, Mothersbaugh, their guitarist brothers (both named Bob) and drummer Alan Myers unveiled debut record “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!,” produced by onetime Roxy Music keyboardist Brian Eno, in 1978.

A success in America, it eventually went gold on the strength of such college/underground radio faves as “Uncontrollable Urge,” “Mongoloid” and a strange take on the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Devo pioneered the music video long before MTV came along and used the medium to their advantage. The 1980 clip for top 20 hit single “Whip It” – from Devo’s platinum third album “Freedom of Choice” - became one of the era’s most memorable. Over the next decade, the group put out five more discs before going on hiatus in 1990.

Mark Mothersbaugh became a sought after film and TV soundtrack composer, Jerry Casale branched out from directing Devo’s videos to doing ones for The Cars, Rush, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Silverchair and others before transitioning to TV commercials. The band reunited for Lollapalooza 1996, occasional tours and musical endeavors, but another full-length disc took forever to materialize.

“We had collaborated on things for video games, TV commercials and movie songs, but not ever written an album’s worth of material as a band in those 20 years. Mark wasn’t interested in doing anything like that,” admitted Casale.

When they finally convinced the front man they should give it another shot, it was a matter of “going back to the well and rediscovering what we used to do.”

During the 2000s, electronic/new wave music saw a popular resurgence and several young musicians cited Devo as an influence. Once word got out that the band was open to outside recording help, there was no shortage of offers.

Previously, “we always did everything ourselves. We were a self-contained unit, almost hermitically sealed. This time, we said, ‘let’s collaborate with producers.’ We never really did that [much].” So they teamed with Greg Kurstin (Bird and the Bee, Geggy Tah), John King (Dust Brothers), John Hill and Santi White (Santigold).

Everyone “gave it their own twist and said, ‘here’s what Devo should sound like.’ From a production level, we let loose the reigns for once. We wanted to see how other people make things sound.” The result was a “more ear friendly delivery. They put some fairy dust on it, but nobody sped anything up,” said Casale with a laugh.

What resulted was Devo’s strongest and best reviewed collection since “Choice.” Was it a challenge to be contemporary and retain their classic dance/rock noise?

“Not really. I’ll tell you why: we can’t help but be Devo. We couldn’t do anything else if we tried.”

Devo has been sidelined since last fall, when lead guitarist Bob Motherbaugh severely injured a hand that required major surgery and recuperation. “That was scary and protracted,” noted Casale, who kept busy with the upcoming “What We Do” video, which utilizes interactive 360 degree technology as well as continued work on a proposed Devo musical (“a chance to bring back the narrative and concepts behind the musical spine of Devo and actually tell a story”) and long gestating film biopic (“I’m not going to give up on it”).

Now Casale is anxious to start a short run of West Coast and Texas dates. “Believe me, I love playing live and wish we’d been doing it a lot sooner.” If Casale had his way, the band would tour and record more often, but “that’s just the way Mark wants it.”

Photo by Joshua Dalismer/courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

Q&A with Ed Kowalczyk

Q: What can fans expect from the shows?
It will touch on my work in Live, all the sing along songs and a good cross section of my solo album as well. Who knows? I could throw some surprises in there...I’m going into a new area with this power trio I haven’t tried yet, which keeps me having fun. That translates to really good shows and excitement all around for the fans. After close to 20 years of the same lineup, this is a breath of fresh air for me as an artist and a performer. Everything I’m doing now, I can’t wait to get back out on the road and try new things...With [the current live format], it’ll keep a ‘Storytellers’ kind of environment going on, but at the same time have a good intensity musically.

Q: In many ways, your vocal delivery on the new songs harks back to the mid-90’s Live era. Was that a goal?
That really just came from finding this excitement and passion about the process again. It just came out that way. I recognized it right away, like ‘this sounds like 10 years ago from me.’ The fans immediately responded to that. That was really a result of reconnecting with that passion for the music again. With my delivery, it just fired everything up.

Q: How did working with this new group of guys in the studio compare to Live in terms of dynamics?
It was quite a different experience than I’ve had with the recent past records with Live.

Q: “Zion” has a really different sound for you.
Yeah. I went into that after getting my crash course in guitar evangelists like Blind Willie Johnson. I was always admiring his ability. Obviously coming from a spiritual orientation and an intense, somewhat dark rock element, it spoke to my heart about how I might want to approach doing this. I allowed that to color "Zion." We actually sang those hums through this tiny $5 mike you use to tune acoustic guitars. It sounded really good and we went for it.

Q: You co-wrote “Drink” with Chris Daughtry. Would you consider him a kindred spirit?
Absolutely. He’s and amazing singer and a great guy. Incredible musical intelligence with melody and arrangement. We weren’t even planning on writing together...When Chris sings, you really get the sense that he’s just so connected to his music.

Q: Where did the brief street noise sound effects at the beginning of “Rome” come from?
They are actually Roman city street sound effects. You can find anything on the internet. For $10 or $15, I purchased a snippet of a sample, like a movie sound effect. I wanted to recreate the environment that inspired that song. My first trip to Rome was actually a couple years ago. The traffic jam and all that is kind of historical and real in my life, the rest is interpretive. I wanted to try and recreate how wild and crazy that city is, but at the same time, how deeply rooted in history it is.

Q: Did it take an adjustment going the independent label route after being on Radioactive/MCA and then Epic Records with Live?
I’m enjoying it. It’s challenging. I never had that entrepreneurial relationship with my music as much as people who’ve always been independent have. Being on a major label, you’re a little bit distanced from that. You don’t have those day to day responsibilities. Taking that barrier away and having my own label, and being in a partnership with MRI and RED [distributing], being hands on as I’ve been, has been exciting. Just the thrill of it – it’s sink of swim on your own.

Q: Do you enjoy engaging with fans via Twitter and Facebook?
I do. I use Facebook. I’m newer to Twitter. I tweet as an extension to Facebook. It’s really inspiring to do a show, go down the road and look on my iPhone 4 and [see all the comments]. It’s a fun media, I really enjoy it. I did have tweet fatigue for awhile. I’m much more of Facebook person. If you miss a week on Facebook, it’s ok, whereas if you haven’t tweeted every 30 seconds, it’s like ‘where’d he go?’

Q: What was it like to take part in the 2010 Light of Day benefit concert with Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey?
It was a dream. I got this call at the last minute: could I come and do this? I jumped at the chance. I had never met the Boss. I always wanted to thank him for the first time I saw my crazy last name in Rolling Stone in late ’91 or early ’92, with Bruce Springsteen on the cover. He mentioned ‘this band Live and their amazing lead singer.’ I finally got to look him in the eye and thank him and tell him how much I loved his work too. He gave me a 25-minute full mentor lowdown on the length of his career and how it’s always been ‘damn the torpedoes’ and how from his perspective, he’s just had the best year of his career playing the Super Bowl and all that. He said, ‘every 7-10 years, they write me off and then I have my best year ever.’ I thought that was a great outlook. Just meeting him for the first time as I was about to embark on this new chapter, seemed totally scripted in some way. Having this heart to heart from the Boss at the outset was pretty much a dream.

Q: What is coming up on the horizon in 2011?
I’ve started to write for a new record. We’ve released the second single “Stand” and we’re promoting that. And I have my third baby daughter coming in April. I’m hoping to get back in the studio sometime in the next six months.            


Interview with Ed Kowalczyk (formerly of LIVE)

My interview originally ran in the North County Times and can be viewed at Kowalczyk performs Sunday at Stinger's in San Bernardino, Tuesday at Anthology in San Diego, Wednesday at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano and Thursday at the Hotel Cafe in L.A. For more information, go to

Spirituality has always been part of Ed Kowalczyk’s lyrics. On “Alive,” the solo album he put out independently last year after leaving hugely popular alt-rock band Live, that quality is definitely more prevalent.

“I took a page out of the U2 book,” said the singer/guitarist, in a phone interview from his home in Ojai, Calif. 

“They’ve always had a universal approach. Nobody doubts they’re Christian, but there’s an open door to everybody in any walk of faith, to consume the music at any level they feel. I wanted to make sure that was the case with this record.”

Kowalczyk spent nearly 20 years in York, Pa. outfit Live, who racked up several big rock radio hits (“I Alone,” “Lightning Crashes,” “All Over You,” “Lakini’s Juice,” “The Dolphin’s Cry,” “Turn My Head”) and saw all four 1990s CDs go platinum or beyond.  Following their 2006 effort “Songs from Black Mountain” and his subsequent exit, the vocalist drifted into a creative malaise.

“I had to stare into the void of inspiration I was having and unpack it. I was bored and tired doing things the same way. As a songwriter and performer, the routine of it all was sitting on the process. Shaking that up was absolutely what the doctor ordered.”

So Kowalczyk started doing acoustic gigs for the first time three years ago.

“I decided to give it a whirl and fell in love with it,” he said. Not only did the change serve as a “reconnection with my craft,” but the “bare bones nature of the shows led to an intimacy I was able to create with the fans in that environment. The connection to the [old Live] lyrics was reinvigorating for them and me.”

Although recent tours to support “Alive” have been in stripped down solo and full electric band modes, the current jaunt will find Kowalczyk utilizing a “power acoustic trio” with bass, guitar and drums. That decision came about only recently.

“Actually, it’s going to rock a little bit more than I had anticipated, which I’m sure none of my fans will have any problem with…I’m excited, because one of the fun things about this new chapter in my life is being a lot more spontaneous.”

The recording process for “Alive” was also done in an off-the-cuff manner. Kowalczyk traveled to Austin, where producer C.J. Eiriksson (Live, Incubus, Jack’s Mannequin) owned a studio and recruited local musicians.

“I went down there on a wing and a prayer,” admitted the singer, “and didn’t really know anyone. If I had any reservations, within 48 hours, they were completely gone. Drummer Ramy Antoun totally rocked my songs and made me think about ‘em in different ways.”

While the album’s sound isn’t far removed from the soft/loud dynamic of Live, Kowalczyk pointed out distinct differences.

“It was like night and day,” he said. “They weren’t coming in with any conditions or approaches. Everything was completely fresh. That lent itself to a real open experience in the studio with everybody trying things. There was a real spark.”

Among the standout tracks are the quietly moody “Soul Whispers,” intensely dark “Zion” (a gospel-tinged nod to late 1920s slide guitarist Blind Willie Johnson) and “The Great Beyond,” driven by cascading The Edge-styled guitars. Antoun’s propulsive beats gave the latter “this amazing rock/dance feel that I’d never done before,” Kowalczyk said. The song will be featured on the soundtrack to Irish comedy film “Killing Bono,” opening in the U.K. next month.

The dramatic and inspirational “Grace,” originally inspired by the catastrophic Haitian earthquake, takes on added depth in light of last week’s more devastating one in Japan.

Kowalczyk’s knack for intriguing lyrical metaphors continues on rock ballad “Drink (Everlasting Love),” which could refer to a spouse of higher power. Here, he sings: “I drink you like water/drink you like freedom/drink you like the nectar that falls from Eden.”

The tune was close to being finished before Kowalczyk attended a Chris Daughtry concert in Ventura. The pair – who met and performed together on “American Idol” and later became friends - returned to Kowalczyk’s house afterward. “We played each other some new ideas. Next thing you know, we were co-writing the rest of this really special song together.”

Last fall, the singer did a USO tour and got involved with a World Vision relief organization project to provide wells for safe drinking water in Zambian villages. Fans can donate money at his shows and website; even Kowalczyk’s daughter got involved. “We’re $600 closer to our goal, because of her third grade class World Vision bake sale.”

The venture is “so fulfilling and rewarding and touches so many lives - way beyond what you can imagine in terms of impact.”

Photo courtesy of Fresh Clean Media

New album from Nelson

The new studio album (plus catalog collections) came out last month on Italy's classic rock specialist label Frontier Records, but I just got around to it and was pleasantly surprised. If you were a fan during Nelson's early '90s heyday or of current Bon Jovi, you should enjoy hearing the brothers' supple harmonies again. Here are more details...

Self-produced and playing most of the instruments themselves, LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE finds twin rockers/frontmen Matthew and Gunnar Nelson seamlessly picking up where they left off with their multi-platinum debut AFTER THE RAIN (featuring the #1 single, "Can't Live Without Your Love And Affection."

Gunnar Nelson commented, "This is by far the best Nelson record ever made.  Ever.  Was it worth its 20 years in the making?  Check it out and decide for yourself - but I know for me, on every level it was."  Matthew Nelson added, "We set out to make a brand new classic rock record - and the critics in Europe have assured us that our mission's accomplished." Guitarist Steve Lukather of Toto makes a guest solo appearance on the song "To Get Back to You."

BEFORE THE RAIN features the 18 songs that secured Nelson their recording deal with Geffen Records, the original demo recordings that caught the attention of the label in 1989.  The album documents the story of their five year musical journey leading up to their multi-platinum debut. Matthew wrote the detailed liner notes.

PERFECT STORM - AFTER THE RAIN WORLD TOUR 1991, a live concert album, also contains reminisces from Matthew.

The name Nelson has always been synonymous with entertainment in America. Matthew and Gunnar follow grandfather Ozzie and father Rick's vision of connecting with people and audiences through all forms of media. 

St. Patrick's Day music picks

If you're looking for music to serve as a soundtrack to your St. Patrick's Day party, here is the official lowdown on a couple new album releases...

On Dropkick Murphys' seventh full-length studio album, "Going Out In Style" - which just debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart, a career high -  the group crafted a raucous and rollicking romp overflowing with punk rock energy, folk soul, and Irish spirit. Fueled by fiery riffs and unforgettable choruses, "Style" traces the journey of Cornelius Larkin, whether it’s the Irish immigrant’s first person account of his own wake or the band’s in depth interpretation of his life and lineage throughout the album’s lyrics, it’s the party to end all parties.
Frontman Al Barr has said "this album was different because we were telling someone’s story. Yes, it starts with a rowdy, out-of-control wake. As the story goes back to explore the long life of the character Cornelius, we really started to become engrossed in the story and life of this man.”

Recorded with producer Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly) in 2010, the album’s title track is a rousing celebratory anthem with guest vocals by NOFX’s Fat Mike and The Living End’s Chris Cheney. Dropkick Murphys also enlisted the vocal talents of Bruce Springsteen for a rousing version of the old standard “Peg ‘O My Heart.”

Since they first hit the scene in 1996, the Boston seven-piece have racked up record sales in excess of 3 million worldwide. Their smash hit single “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” exceeded platinum status and was featured in Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award-winning film, "The Departed." They even penned the theme song to the first Red Sox World Series win in 86 years.
Irish band The High Kings' latest, "Memory Lane," includes traditional songs ("Whiskey in the Jar," "Red is the Rose," "The Irish Rover") and instrumentation (bodhran, bouzouki, accordion, whistles), performed in a highly appealing style. 

Released in Ireland last year, it bowed at #5 on the Irish Music chartThe group has headlined the Oxegen Festival and played before a crowd of 80,000 at the All Ireland Hurling Final at Croke Park Stadium.

They’ve been named “Best Folk Group” for three years running by the Irish Music Awards. A self-titled debut came out here in 2008 here, where it landed in the Billboard 200 chart, ranked #13 on the Top Internet Album chart and #2 on Billboard’s World music chart.   
Band member Darren Holden (co-lead vocals/acoustic guitar/mandolin/accordion) starred in more than 1000 performances of Billy Joel’s production, "Movin' Out", and toured as part of Joel’s own band. Finbarr Clancy (co-lead vocals/acoustic guitar/bass/flute) is from Irish music’s legendary Clancy family. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

R.E.M. news

Check out some cool activities surrounding R.E.M.'s new album, also in stores tomorrow...

R.E.M. is gearing up to roll out the "Collapse Into Now" Film Project, a selection of films accompanying each song on the band's Warner Bros. release, directed by notable artists and filmmakers and personally curated by singer Michael Stipe. Directors include Oscar-nominated actor James Franco, filmmaker/photographer/conceptual artist Sam Taylor-Wood, and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles. A full list of directors is below.

The films will be unveiled for viewing at broadcast and web outlets over the course of the next several weeks.

In its four-star review,
Rolling Stone calls "Collapse Into Now" - "a portrait of full-grown artists who reached the top long ago but decided to stick together and ride out the decades. You can hear a lot of shared history in the music, but you can also hear conflict, confusion, doubt, exactly the kind of recipe that R.E.M. thrive on." Spin finds the band "refreshed and refueled for a new alt-rock reckoning."
In related news, the band announced a remix project last month in conjunction with "Collapse" tune “It Happened Today.” Fans have the opportunity to remix the entirety of the song from the ground up by distributing the raw source for the song as both a Garageband file for Apple Macintosh computers, or as raw stem audio files for other platforms. Album producer Jacknife Lee prepared both sets of files, which delivers the song in its "raw" state with no reverb, mixing, or effects.

Users who visit the band’s website,, can download all 16 tracks Lee used to create the song, including vocals by Michael Stipe and Mike Mills, as well as those by special guests Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and The Hidden CamerasJoel Gibb, plus Peter Buck’s guitar and mandolin, Mills’ signature bass, and brass ensemble tracks from Bonerama. After creating their own versions of the song, fans are invited to submit their remixes on the band’s website to share with the members of R.E.M. and other fans around the world.
“It Happened Today” is currently available on iTunes as an “Instant Download” track for those who pre-order Collapse Into Now. The first U.S. single from the album, “Mine Smell Like Honey,” is currently available for purchase from all digital retailers. Visit R.E.M.’s YouTube channel for lyric videos for several tracks on Collapse Into Now at

R.E.M. Collapse Into Now Film Project


Directors: Michael Stipe and
Lynda Stipe


Director: James Herbert


Director: Sam Taylor-Wood


Director: Jem Cohen


Director: Tom Gilroy


Directors: Jim McKay, Chris Moukarbel
and Valerie Veatch


Director: Dominic DeJoseph


Director: Sophie Calle


Director: Lance Bangs


Director: James Franco

11) ME,
Director: Albert Maysles
& Bradley Kaplan

12) BLUE

Director: James Franco
For more info, go to: