Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Who's "Quadrophenia" gets Director's Cut treatment

Quite a package for one of the band's - and rock era's - classic recordings. Read on...

Considered by guitarist/singer Pete Townshend to be the Who album that he is most proud of, "Quadrophenia" is the last album in the Who back catalogue to be given the deluxe treatment and perhaps the most deserving.

After the 1971 album "Who's Next," Townshend returned to the 'rock-opera' concept, so dramatically realized through "Tommy," with another ambitious double-album masterpiece. Based around the story of Jimmy - Quadrophenia tells the tale of a young mod and his struggle to come of age in the mid-'60s. The story also takes its influence from the band's early fans from the original mod era, and its themes of teenage angst and disaffection still resonate strongly today.

The full details and track-listing for the 'Director's Cut' reissue of "Quadrophenia," due out Nov. 15 through Universal Music Enterprises in America, follows. Townshend has opened his personal archive for the very first time for this release, stating:

"The time has come for me and my team to honor "Quadrophenia" with a carefully presented package that features examples of the impact surround sound (quadrophonic) would have on the music, to remaster the vinyl mixes, and to collect and restore my demos. I am also going to try to shed some light on the way "Quadrophenia" came about, and how it was inspired by events in my life in 1970 and 1971, when I scribbled or typed the very first notes and lyrics for some of the songs that made it onto the final record."

The super-deluxe limited edition box set will feature the following exclusive content:
  • Discs one and two – the original double album – 2011 remaster
  • Discs three and four – 25 demo tracks from Pete Townshend's studio archive giving insight into his original vision. Includes songs that were not included on the original album.
  • Disc five - 'The Quadrophenia 5.1 EP' - exclusive eight track DVD re-mixed for surround sound.
  • Deluxe 100-page, hard-back book featuring a new essay by Townshend, shedding light on the period before and during the creation of the album, explaining some of the technical processes – the startling and progressive use of synthesizers as well as a revealing insight into the story of the album's central character - the mod Jimmy.
  • Also features Pete's in depth, track-by-track guide to the demos and studio diary.
  • The book also includes previously unseen personal notes, photographs, handwritten lyrics and memorabilia from the period, all recently uncovered in Pete's archive.
  • The package replicates the striking black and white imagery from the original vinyl LP photography and adds never-seen colour out-takes of the famous cover shot.
  • A replica 7" vinyl single featuring hit single "5.15" b/w "Water" in a picture sleeve.
  • Set of six facsimile memorabilia 'inserts' housed in a card envelope.
  • Limited edition, housed in a hard-back deluxe slip-case.

Other formats available…
  • Double vinyl
  • Mini-deluxe digi-pak edition
  • Digital
Tracklistings for SDE version:
Disc One:

I Am The Sea

The Real Me


Cut My Hair

The Punk And The Godfather

I'm One

The Dirty Jobs

Helpless Dancer

Is It In My Head?

I've Had Enough

Disc Two:


Sea And Sand


Bell Boy

Doctor Jimmy

The Rock

Love Reign O'er Me

Disc three – the demos

The Real Me (demo)

Quadrophenia – Four Overtures (demo)

Cut My Hair (demo)  

Fill No. 1 - Get Out and Stay Out (demo)

Quadrophenic - Four Faces (demo)

We Close Tonight (demo)  

You Came Back (demo)

Get Inside (demo)

Joker James (demo)  

Punk (demo)  

I'm One (demo)  

Dirty Jobs (demo)    

Helpless Dancer (demo)  

Disc four – the demos

Is It In My Head (demo)  

Any More (demo)  

I've Had Enough (demo)  

Fill No. 2 (demo)  

Wizardry (demo)  

Sea & Sand (demo)  

Drowned (demo)  

Is It Me (demo)  

Bell Boy (demo)  

Dr Jimmy (demo)  

Finale-The Rock (demo)  

Love Reign O'er Me (demo)  

Disc five - DVD - 5.1 surround-sound mix

I Am The Sea

The Real Me


I've Had Enough


Dr Jimmy

The Rock

Love Reign O'er Me

7" single

Side one: 5.15

Side two: Water

To accompany the box set, double vinyl, 2-disc digi-pak and digital versions will also be released.

Concert pick: Sade's first Inland Empire show

Sade performs live on Sunday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California with opening act John Legend. Tickets are $29-$129.50. Here is info on the first Sade tour since 2001 and the new career retrospective... 

Directed by longtime collaborator Sophie Muller, the tour has production and lighting design by Baz Halpin and features a 23’ x 52’ high resolution LED screen behind the band and large projection screens around the stage, resulting in a visually stunning setting. 

"The Ultimate Collection" is a 29-track album with four new songs: a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Still In Love With You," "Love Is Found," "I Would Never Have Guessed" and “The Moon And The Sky.” The latter is a remix featuring Jay-Z; there is also a Neptunes remix of "By Your Side."

Updated with more than a dozen tracks not found on Sade’s 1994 quadruple platinum "Best Of" CD, the collection reaches back to include such '80s R&B/pop chart hits as "Smooth Operator," "The Sweetest Taboo," "Never as Good as the First Time" and "Paradise."

The Nigerian-born singer and her band's most recent studio release "Soldier Of Love" hit No. 1, while the Grammy-winning title track held the top spot at Urban Hot AC and Smooth Jazz radio.

Sade has enjoyed phenomenal success both internationally and Stateside throughout a 27-year career. Since debut album "Diamond Life" in 1984, all five studio albums have gone top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart and sold more than 50 million albums worldwide to date.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Noel Gallagher album/tour info

Earlier this year, I did an interview with Beady Eye, featuring the ex-members of Oasis (see elsewhere on this blog). I'm equally excited about this new release. 
Noel Gallgher's High Flying Birds will embark on their debut North American tour on Nov. 7 in Toronto (see below for details). The following day, Noel's solo debut album will be released in the U.S. on Sour Mash/Mercury Records. The album was co-produced by Noel Gallagher and Dave Sardy (Oasis' Dig Out Your Soul).

At a press conference ( earlier this summer announcing his new project, Noel stated that the band would be performing classic Oasis tracks along with his new solo material. "I'm proud of them and of what they mean to people," he said of the Oasis repertoire. "I'll never do a gig without playing them. They're like drugs to me." 

When asked by his manager who the High Flying Birds are, Noel responded "They aren't anyone in particular. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds is me and whoever is around at the time of whatever it is that I'm doing, a loose collective kinda thing."

Today the first U.S. single "If I Had A Gun" made its radio debut on KROQ/106.7 FM/Los Angeles. "If I Had A Gun" will be available at all digital retailers on Sept. 20. On Nov. 10, Gallagher and his band will debut on the Letterman show.

The disc marks Gallagher's first solo album project since the 2009 split of multi-platinum band Oasis. As songwriter, guitarist and producer of Oasis since the band's inception in 1993, Noel Gallagher was at the helm for their global success, from the launch of their first indie UK singles in 1994 to their final shows together in the summer of 2009.

Over the course of their seven consecutive #1 studio albums, Oasis sold over 70 million records worldwide and charted 22 consecutive Top 10 UK hits from 1995 to 2008 (including eight #1s). 

Fans can click here - - to watch the webcast chat that Noel did earlier this week that has been posted to YouTube.

For a look at the video for the first U.K. single, "The Death Of You And Me," fans can head over to The Mike Bruce-directed video was filmed in the desert outside LA  in May 2011 while Noel was putting the finishing touches to his debut solo album.

November 7 & 8   Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall
On Sale September 9th at 10am at,, Roy Thomson & Massey Hall Box Offices & Charge By Phone 416.872.4255

November 11 Philadelphia, PA @ Academy of Music
On Sale September 9th at 10am at, Kimmel Center Box Office & Charge By Phone 215.893.1999

November 12 Boston, MA @ Wang Theatre
On Sale September 9th at 10am at, Wang Theatre & Shubert Theatre Box Offices & Charge By Phone 866.348.9738

November 14 New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
On Sale September 9th at 10am at and all Ticketmaster locations, Beacon Theatre Box Offices & Charge By Phone 866.858.0008

November 17 Los Angeles, CA @ Royce Hall
On Sale September 9th at 10am at and all Ticketmaster locations & Charge By Phone 310.825.2101

November 19 San Francisco, CA @ Orpheum Theatre
On Sale September 11th at 10am at, Orpheum Theatre Box Office & Charge By Phone 888.746.1799

For more info:

More details on Beach Boys' deluxe 'Smile' packages

Really exciting news for Beach Boys fans. Read on for details in the press release below...

With the full participation of original Beach Boys Al Jardine, Mike Love, and Brian Wilson, Capitol/EMI has, for the first time, collected and compiled the band’s legendary 1966-67 sessions for the never-completed SMiLE album.

November 1 is the U.S. release date for the long-awaited arrival of The SMiLE Sessions in multiple physical and digital configurations.
In numerous sessions between the spring of 1966 and the summer of 1967, The Beach Boys recorded a bounty of songs and drafts for an album, SMiLE, that was intended to follow the band’s 1966 masterpiece, Pet Sounds.

The master tapes were ultimately shelved, and The Beach Boys’ SMiLE has never been released.  Drawn from the original masters, The SMiLE Sessions presents an in-depth overview of The Beach Boys' recording sessions for the enigmatic album, which has achieved legendary, mythical status for music fans around the world. 
The SMiLE Sessions’ 2CD lift-top box, double vinyl LP, digital album, and iTunes LP formats feature an approximation of what was intended to be the completed SMiLE album, compiled from The Beach Boys’ original session masters. Additional session highlights and bonus tracks are also included, including demos and stereo mixes.
An expanded, boxed edition of The SMiLE Sessions will also be released physically and digitally, featuring the main SMiLE album tracks, plus four CDs of additional audio from the legendary sessions, a double vinyl LP set, and two 7” vinyl singles.

The deluxe box will also contain a 60-page hardbound book with rare and previously unseen photos and memorabilia from The Beach Boys’ archive and newly-written essays by Beach Boys Al Jardine, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, and Bruce Johnston, as well as by Beach Boys historian and author Domenic Priore and many other inner-circle participants.
Produced by Brian Wilson, Mark Linett, Alan Boyd and Dennis Wolfe in Los Angeles, all of The SMiLE Sessions’ physical and digital configurations include an assembled collection of core session tracks, while the box set delves much deeper into the sessions, adding early song drafts, alternate takes, instrumental and vocals-only mixes, and studio chatter.

SMiLE Sessions invites the listener into the studio to experience the album's creation, with producer, singer and bassist Brian Wilson's vision leading the way as he guides his fellow Beach Boys, singer Mike Love, drummer Dennis Wilson, lead guitarist Carl Wilson, rhythm guitarist Al Jardine, and newest member Bruce Johnston (who'd replaced Brian Wilson in the touring group during 1965), through the legendary sessions.
Artwork for all of The SMiLE Sessions’ physical and digital configurations has been created with and inspired by Beat-Pop artist Frank Holmes’ original 1967 LP sleeve art and booklet designs intended for the SMiLE album.  With its three-dimensional shadowbox lid, The SMiLE Sessions box set offers a whimsical peek inside the storied ‘SMiLE Shop.’ 
Several special SMiLE Sessions packages will be available for purchase exclusively on, including:
- The SMiLE Sessions 2CD edition paired with a limited edition SMiLE t-shirt
- The SMiLE Sessions 2CD edition paired with a limited edition autographed lithograph
- The SMiLE Sessions limited edition box set with light-up SMiLE Shop window on lid, autographed
- The SMiLE Sessions limited edition box set with light-up SMiLE Shop window on lid, autographed, paired with a custom-made SMiLE surfboard by Hobie
The Beach Boys are embracing technology and crowdsourcing to produce the first official music videos for "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes And Villains" by partnering with Tongal, the leading creative social platform.

In Tongal’s first-ever music video initiative, fans can now collaborate to create the official music videos, as the project begins today on, and consists of two phases - a concept phase and a video phase.

The concept phase calls for fans to conceptualize the music video for “Heroes and Villains” or “Good Vibrations” in 250 characters or less. In the video phase, Tongal users can select one of the five winning concepts from phase one and produce a music video based on it. The video can be animated or live-action, trippy or classic – it can be whatever the fans want, as long as it’s their own. Cash prizes and special items, including an autographed custom Hobie longboard, will be awarded to Tongal users for the top submissions.
Capitol/EMI and The Beach Boys and  will celebrate the band’s 50th Anniversary in 2012.  Plans for commemorative releases and other anniversary activities will be announced.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ben Folds Five retrospective news

With The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective, a career-spanning anthology of the music of Ben Folds arriving Oct. 11, Legacy Recordings is proud to announce the release of "House," the first new studio track from Ben Folds Five in more than 11 years, now streaming on

Ben is returning to NBC's "The Sing-Off" this fall as a celebrity judge.

"House," the first single from The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective, is one of three new Ben Folds Five tracks recorded in 2011 especially for this collection, marking the trio's first official studio recordings of original material since 1999's The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (Ben Folds Five reunited for a one-off live performance of the album in 2008).  The other new BFF tracks -- "Tell Me What I Did" and "Stumblin' Home Winter Blues" -- are available on the three-disc retrospective.

For the cover of his first major career-spanning retrospective, Ben Folds commissioned a new work of art from Opie Otterstad. Renowned for his iconic high-energy sports paintings (and a distinctive brushless palette-knife technique), Opie has been a lifelong fan of Ben's music, attracted to the passion and intensity of Ben's sound, attitude and aesthetic.  In making the cover, Opie literally "deconstructed" an old dilapidated piano he found on Craig's List, ripping out the strings and hammers and keys to use as physical, emotional, psychological and compositional elements in his 36" x 24" portrait of Ben.

"I wanted it to tell a story," says Opie, who uses the terms "calm" and "violent" when discussing art and Ben's music. The most comprehensive and definitive Ben Folds collection ever assembled, and first-ever domestic overview of Folds' music, The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective is remastered from original master tapes, bringing together Ben's biggest hits, deep catalog fan favorites, hidden treasures, and collectible rarities.
Available as a single disc or in an expanded three disc set, The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective features liner notes and track-by-track song annotations by Ben Folds. Fans purchasing the three-disc expanded edition of The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective will be given an individual code redeemable for the "Free Folds Five" EP from the Ben Folds '55' Vault [55 ultra-rarities available for purchase exclusively on the site—territory restrictions apply*... *Ben Folds 55 Vault only available in the following territories: Australia (AU), Austria (AT), Canada (CA), Germany (DE), Indonesia (ID), Ireland (IE), Italy (IT), Netherlands (NL), New Zealand (NZ), Singapore (SG), South Africa (ZA), South Korea (KR), Spain (ES), Sweden (SE), United Kingdom (GB), United States (US)].

"Free Folds Five" EP bonus tracks include:
Underground (Demo 1992)
Steven's Last Night In Town (Demo 1994)
Song For The Dumped (Demo 1994)
Narcolepsy (with Ben Folds Five) (Recorded live on 11/21/1999, Brussels, Belgium)
Dr. Yang (Recorded live on 11/23/2008, Leuven, Belgium)

"This is the album I will submit for the next Voyager to be launched into space," says Ben Folds in his liner notes for The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective.  "It's my best shot at an honest assessment of where I was in each period of my career. . . . In the end we tried to put together a collection of the unrepeatable, each recording hopefully representing a moment that was somehow otherwise beyond my ability."

A bonanza for dedicated Ben Folds aficionados, the expanded three disc version of The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective includes a 28-page booklet and two additional discs containing previously unreleased live and studio material, rare solo and BFF demos and studio outtakes, alternate mixes, scorching concert performances and the debut releases of "Tell Me What I Did" and "Stumblin' Home Winter Blues," a pair of brand new Ben Folds Five tracks, recorded in 2011.

Along with his first major career retrospective arriving in October, Ben Folds is reprising his role as celebrity judge on "The Sing-Off," ( ) the a cappella singing competition series returning for its third season as part of the NBC Fall line-up beginning Sept. 19 (8-10 p.m. ET). This fall Ben is also producing the upcoming EP from Sara Bareilles, who joins him as a judge on "The Sing-Off" panel this season.

Aerosmith early catalog debuts on iTunes

The classic Columbia Records catalog recordings (1973-1987) of Aerosmith, America's all-time top-selling rock and roll band, will be available for the first time digitally on the iTunes Store beginning Tuesday, Sept. 6

An essential canon of music from one of the world's greatest and most enduring rock bands, Aerosmith's recordings for Columbia Records in the 1970s and 1980s defined an epic career trajectory and the cultural epoch that surrounded it.

Over the years, Aerosmith's patented blend of knowing pop-craft and roiling libidinous id has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, with more than 66 million of those in the US alone.

The classic Aerosmith catalog will be available to purchase and download on iTunes and other digital retailers as full albums or individual tracks.

Among the non-album tracks available:

Subway (b-side of "Sweet Emotion" remake)

On the Road Again (from "Aerosmith" sessions)

Major Barbara (from "Get Your Wings" sessions)

Rattlesnake Shake (Live Radio Broadcast 1971)

Krawhitham (from "Draw the Line" sessions)

I Wanna Know Why (Live "Texxas Jam")

Big Ten Inch (Live "Texxas Jam")

All Your Love (from "Draw the Line" sessions)

Soul Saver (from "Rocks" sessions)

Adam's Apple (Live Indianapolis 1977)

Kings and Queens (Live Boston 1978)

I Live in Connecticut (from "Night in the Ruts" sessions)

Let it Slide (from "Night in the Ruts" sessions)

Downtown Charlie (from "Night in the Ruts" sessions)

Shit House Shuffle (from "Night in the Ruts" sessions)

Riff and Roll (from "Rock and a Hard Place" sessions)

Chip Away the Stone (alternate version)

Helter Skelter (from "Toys in the Attic" sessions)

More with Steven Chen of Airborne Toxic Event

Here is more from my interview...

Q: The last two times I saw the band was during acoustic shows - last December at the X103.9 FM Xmas show in San Bernardino and the following month at the NAMM Show in Anaheim. Do you have a preference between doing acoustic and electric performances?
I’m a guitarist; I like plugging in my guitar and having it loud. There’s something about that that you can’t beat. At the same time, with the acoustic shows, you really get to showcase the musicality of the songs...If you can really lay a song bare and play it in an acoustic setting, you can really get to the core of it. “The Graveyard Near the House” lends itself to being an acoustic song. There’s definitely strengths in doing both and we enjoy doing both.

Q: Now that the album has been out for a few months, what feedback have you received from fans about it?
It’s amazing how quick they took to it. We released ‘Changing’ before the album in typical singles fashion. People were singing along to it even before the album came out…'Graveyard' is a really quiet, somber song and people [have been screaming out for that]. Last year, we did that live DVD at Walt Disney Concert Hall and ever since then, ‘All I Ever Wanted’ has been a favorite of the fans. We’ve been seeing more people glom onto that song. After the first album, we played those 10 songs so many times, now [I’m glad] we have these other songs. We’ve spent a lot of time on them.

Q: What was it like working with producer D. Sardy in the studio?
He’s a genius as a producer and so meticulous. He has a reputation and for good reason. Part of that reputation comes with someone with very strong opinions. Mikel particularly has very strong opinions. There were a lot of times where they were trying to hash it out. That only made the album better. I’d heard stories about Dave going in and they all turned out to be true. He knows what he wants. 

Q: Before this album, you had performed live with the Calder Quartet several times. Was getting them to contribute in the studio as well an obvious next step?
Yeah. We started doing stuff with them for various TV shows. Prior to the release of the first album, we did an acoustic series [of video clips] in random locations, just as we did for the second album. So they were involved early on...[For] the first album, on ‘Sometime Around Midnight,’ we basically had Noah and Anna mimic a full orchestra. They went in and played several registers on the upright, violin, viola, cello. We filled it out. We definitely had that in mind. The Calder Quartet are total pros and don’t have to do more than one or two takes. We did a tour with them [including the Disney Hall CD+DVD] and they’re great friends and literally family. Andrew, their second violinist, is Anna’s brother. 

Q: Were there any lessons from making the first album that you applied to making this one?
Mikel is the kind of writer that needs to lock himself away and work on songs by himself for awhile. Then he brings stuff to the band. That’s what happened with ‘Sometime Around Midnight’ and a lot of songs off that album. For the second album, he would go away, then come back and show us what he’d been working on and we’d hash out arrangements. ‘Welcome to Your Wedding Day’ and ‘Strange Girl’ and on the first album - a song like ‘Something New,’ these were songs that Noah brought to the band instrumentally and Mikel worked with those. The process was remarkably similar.

Q: Since you’ve done various video clips for all the songs on both albums, would you say the visual medium is equally important as the music?
Everything should be in the service of the song. For that acoustic series of videos, we just thought it would be good to see the songs in a different context and make them come alive.

Q: When the band started, did being part of the influential Silverlake music scene make it easier to get exposure and gigs?
It’s an awesome community, no doubt. We were all bumming around the scene. Darren and Noah were playing in various bands – more than me, Mikel and Anna. Everyone supports each other. More than that, there’s a friendly competition. People are really supportive. With the bands, there’s not a disaffected, morose [attitude]. Everyone is alive, energetic and giving it everything they have. You can see it in so many bands in the Silverlake scene. When we were first getting started, it was really fun to be a part of it…the blogs were part of it too. The music community there really helped us as we were coming up and were really supportive.

Q: KROQ started playing “Sometime Around Midnight” as a demo. Did that give you a major leg up in the industry?
It was night and day. Right after that happened, it was insane. First, people were like, ‘who the fuck is The Airborne Toxic Event’? And then, it was, ‘oh, they’re not signed?’ There were several calls for meetings. KROQ had added us to the playlist and there were mostly major label bands on it at the time...We sought advice from [industry veteran Phil Costello]. He helped us navigate the waters. The impact of that add on KROQ was immediately evident.

Q: You contributed a song to the new Muppets album. What can you tell me about it?
The Muppets are better than a lot of other things kids are watching today. We were really excited and we started going through which songs were available for us to cover. ‘The Wishing Song’ has dialogue in the middle and we were [hesitant at first]. But you take the core of the song and add your own spin. It freed us up to have fun with it. You take a more playful attitude [toward doing it] and have a good time. You look at some of the other artists [that contributed], like OK Go and people just went for it. Turned out really well.

News on pop/rocker Jon McLaughlin

Singer/songwriter Jon McLaughlin will kick off the release of his much anticipated new album, Forever if Ever, with a tour that will include over 40 concerts throughout North America, co-headlining with Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers. 

Forever if Ever (due Sept. 6) embodies McLaughlin’s irresistible songwriting style and charismatic live performances, and is the newest album in a career that has been filled with critical acclaim and a dizzying array of success that has taken him up the charts, to the Oscars, into the studio with fellow artists like Jason Mraz, and on the road with Sara Bareilles and Kelly Clarkson, and Marc Broussard.

Four years, two albums, hit singles like “Beautiful Disaster” and an Academy Award performance brought McLaughlin to an unlikely crossroads when it came time to record a new disc. He wanted to write songs, and he wanted them to be his own. Grateful for the brilliant songwriters his label had paired him with while making 2007’s Indiana and OK Now (2008), he missed the profound connection he felt when singing lyrics that tapped into his own soul. So Jon parted ways with Island Records and got back to writing solo.

With creative control back in hand, it was only natural for McLaughlin to take on producing duties as well, bringing his longtime band into the studio with him for the first time. It gave Forever if Ever a truly complete, band-like sound that he’d missed during his major-label recording sessions.

At the core of it all remained Jon’s sweetly melancholy songs. Liberated by the freedom to write without budgets, radio and marketplace weighing in, McLaughlin was able to let his stories and characters live like never before with lyrics that are painfully, achingly beautiful. He wrote songs about love of all kinds, heartache, longing and loss that were intensely personal yet universal, instantly apposite to his fans.

Jon will bring his new songs, and his hits, to life this fall on his extensive three month tour with Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers. Prior to heading out on the road, Jon will join the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for a very special concert on September 10 at Conner Prairie in Fishers, IN. The event, Concert For A Cause: Jon McLaughlin with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, will raise funds for Outreach Inc and the symphony’s community programs.
For tour dates, go to

Airborne Toxic Event interview

courtesy Big Hassle Media

A version of my story originally appeared at 

Upcoming tour dates:
Aug. 26 - Del Mar, CA - Del Mar Racetrack
Sept. 1 - Anchorage, AK - Bear Tooth Theater
Sept. 18 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits Festival
Oct. 9 - Denver, CO - Fillmore Auditorium
Oct. 10 - Fort Collins, CO - Aggie Theatre
Oct. 12 - Houston, TX - Warehouse Live
Oct. 13 - Dallas, TX - South Side Music Hall
Oct. 14 - New Orleans, LA - Howlin Wolf
Oct. 16 - Pensacola, FL - DeLuna Fest
Oct. 21 - San Francisco, CA - Fillmore
Oct. 23 - Los Angeles, CA - LA Weekly 101 Fest - Gibson Amphitheatre

The Airborne Toxic Event is a band that could definitely be called road warriors.

Over a 16-month period, the Los Angeles alt-rock group did 354 shows to support its impressive self-titled 2008 debut album.

That time frame included a run of 30 consecutive U.K. concerts and culminated with a special hometown performance at LA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in December 2009, featuring guests from the local Latino and classical communities. The proceedings were detailed on last year’s excellent, beautifully shot documentary “All I Ever Wanted” and accompanying live CD.

Exhilarating sophomore studio effort “All At Once” arrived this past spring to an equally ambitious schedule: three multiple venue residencies in London, LA and New York.

“Doing it all in one week was surreal,” admitted TATE guitarist/keyboardist Steven Chen in a recent phone interview. “It was really satisfying to go through that whole thing, but grueling.”

“We must have done 25 shows in a row without stopping,” he continued. “It was a crazy experience.”

Formed five years ago, the band came up amid the close-knit and thriving Silverlake music community. After recording several songs earmarked for the first album, “Sometime Around Midnight” found its way onto the playlist of KROQ/106.7 FM (rare for an unsigned group) in early ’08.

Once the powerful L.A. station added it and others around the country followed suit, TATE “got a crash course in music that you have to learn quickly.” U2 bassist Adam Clayton was an early supporter of the single, which went onto sell more than 400,000 copies here and the debut disc moved half that.

Friday, the quintet – also comprised of singer/guitarist and sometimes literary writer Mikel Jollet, bassist Noah Harmon, violinist Anna Bulbrook and drummer Daren Taylor - arrives at Del Mar and performs after the horse race. Do they plan on a few wagers?

“Whenever we play Vegas or Reno, Mikel will either stay longer or go on a run at the tables. For a period of time, he supported himself playing poker. I don’t trust myself with gambling. I play it too safe in all the wrong ways; he’s reckless in all the right ways. He’s really good. I wouldn’t be surprised if he put money on some horses.”

It’s a safe bet to assume fans will be enthralled with “All At Once,” which boasts a more expansive sound and continues to provide major competition for Arcade Fire. The album title refers to Jollet’s losing grandparents and an uncle during the creative process. He wrote several songs revolving around how your life can change in an instant.

From the electronic textures in “Numb,” spirited early Johnny Cash-styled rockabilly of “It Doesn’t Mean a Thing,” quirky high energy stomp “Changing” (think Modest Mouse) and breezy, poppy “Strange Girl” (where Jollet name checks a classic Cure album) to the searing, politically-tinged “Kids Are Ready to Die” (which revisits “Joshua Tree”-era U2 territory) and fiery, accordion-led war denouncement “Welcome to Your Wedding Day,” the band sharply explores different sonic terrain.

The latter tune was inspired by The Clash and news of Afghan nuptials turned deadly via an accidental American Predator drone attack.

“Mikel was writing towards a theme and purposeful in trying to create an album that was cohesive,” explained Chen. “There’s no reason why we wouldn’t continue playing with rhythms and genres. In that way, the second album feels more versatile to me.”

The Calder Quartet, frequent collaborators on stage with TATE, finally provided string section enrichment of three new album tracks. “The more we played with them, the more integral they became to certain songs…watching them in the studio was amazing.

“We knew we had to have them on there,” affirmed Chen. “The songs are beautiful.”

Producer D. Sardy (Oasis, Bush) almost had a “Phil Spector” moment with the guitarist during a minor disagreement. “For some reason, he had a switchblade [knife] lying there. He picked it up and said, ‘the first song; let’s do that one.’ It was a total joke and hilarious, but it made me wonder why he had a switchblade in the production room.”

TATE can be heard doing "Wishing Song" on "Muppets: The Green Album" (Walt Disney Records), covering tunes by the beloved children's characters alongside a stellar crop of contributors (My Morning Jacket, Weezer, OK Go, Alkaline Trio, Matt Nathanson and others). 

"When we first heard about it, we wanted to do it immediately," said the guitarist. "The Muppets are such a part of childhood. If you go back and listen to their songs, they’re funny. From an adult perspective, the comedy holds up." 

Earlier this year, the band appeared in an episode of WB drama “Gossip Girl.”

According to Chen, none of the musicians had any idea what that show was about and hadn’t done anything like that before. After it aired, their popularity among young girls – and previously oblivious relatives - suddenly increased.

“I have cousins who knew I was in a band, didn’t really follow us and all of the sudden were like, ‘Oh my God, you’re on ‘Gossip Girl.’” 

For more information:

New Americana duo honeyhoney set album, tour dates

Not long ago, I caught this band as an opening act at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. and was really impressed. Can't wait to hear the new album. 

Bubbling up from the underground of the LA music scene with an indelible Nashville-influenced sound, indie roots duo honeyhoney have announced that Lost Highway will release their new full-length album, Billy Jack.

Set to drop Oct. 24, Billy Jack finds musicians Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe threading sweet melodies with big acoustic guitar sounds, percussive banjos and countrified fiddles.

The album's first single "Turn That Finger Around" is a steady-grooving story detailing hard times with a memorable hooks and Southern twang.

A slow burn seethes beneath the gospel-flavored tale of romantic doubt, "Don't Know How (Slow Mover)," while strings baste the mourning ballad "Angel of Death" and "Thin Line" explores dissatisfaction, good times and loss through the blues. From the dark smolder of "Glad I Done What I Did" and stark piano of "LA River," to the euphoric romp of "Let's Get Wrecked" -- honeyhoney's music embraces the sound of what it means to be alive.

Santo and Jaffe converged in Los Angeles and immediately found a shared chemistry. It was when the hauntingly voiced Santo sang the songs Jaffe was writing for his band at the time that they knew they had something.

Encouraged by a serendipitous relationship with French record executive Bertrand Lamblot, the pair entered a radio contest and won $25,000 to make a record. "Little Toy Gun," their song from a rare early release, found life as a cult favorite, with bands in several states embracing the song in multiple YouTube cover versions.

Evoking California's hippie Dust Bowl fringe, honeyhoney's music contains a strong pull of Woody Guthrie-esque folk, vintage Buffalo Springfield, glints of Gram Parsons and bits of Bonnie Raitt's early blues, along with Rickie Lee Jones reality and Bakersfield Saturday nights.

To support the release of Billy Jack, the pair will take their full band on the road, starting Sept. 21 in Albuquerque, NM.

For full list of tour dates, visit

Tokyo Underground Music DVD contributes to Tsunami Relief

Regular readers of my blog might recall that I recently interviewed Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac, whose indie label is putting out this new soundtrack/DVD in association with MVD Visual... 

Good Charamel Records has released the "Live From Tokyo" DVD, plus a bonus digital music download of the soundtrack. The film explores Tokyo's thriving underground music scene. Portion of proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund in Japan.

Directed by U.S. filmmaker Lewis Rapkin, "Live From Tokyo" is a fascinating documentary that takes viewers through the back streets in Shinjuku, the intersections in Shibuya, the alleys in Koenji, and all over Tokyo, as it highlights the innovative musicians that create the city’s multi-faceted underground music scene.

Tokyo’s reputation for an overwhelming variety of global information, media-saturated urban environment and cutting edge innovation, makes it the perfect sample for addressing a new outlook on music culture.

The film explores this eccentric music culture set within the back­drop of the modern Japanese megalopolis. Featuring surreal stop-motion animation, interviews and live performances by acts such as Nisennen­mondai, Tenniscoats, DMBQ, PARA (members of the Boredoms), Shugo Tokumaru, Sexy Synthesizer, Sajjanu, KIRIHITO, d.v.d, Optrum, Uhnellys, Samm Bennett, W. David Marx, Tokyo Pinsalocks and more.

Audio tracks were donated by many of the bands that appear in the film and were compiled into a soundtrack album which will be included as a free digital download with the purchase of the DVD. A special code will be contained within the package of each DVD allowing the viewer to down­load the album free.

View the Live From Tokyo Trailer at: 

Upcoming Screenings:
9/21- 10/2 - The Netherlands, Camera Japan Film Festival (