Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012: The Year in Music: Albums

Plenty of great new music was released this year. The following top 10 list is what I consider 2012's best albums (not simply "my favorites," as a lot of critics state) and should be listened to from start to finish.  

1. Missy Higgins, “The ‘Ol Razzle Dazzle”
2. Bruce Springsteen, “Wrecking Ball” 
3. Delta Spirit, “Delta Spirit”
4. Dwight Yoakam, “3 Pears”

5. Kaiser Chiefs, “Start the Revolution Without Me”
6. Mika, “The Origin of Love”
7. The Dunwells, “Blind Sighted Faith”

8. Divine Fits, "A Thing Called Divine Fits”

9. tie: Green Day, “Uno!," "Dos!, "Tre!”

10. Everclear, “Invisible Stars”
Here is the best of the rest...
11. Rick Springfield, "Songs for the End of the World"
12. Eric Hutchinson, "Moving Up, Living Down"
13. Field Report, "Field Report"
14. The Cult, "Choice of Weapon"
15. The Fixx, "Beautiful Friction"
16. St. Motel, "Voyeur"

17. Grace Potter & the Nocturnals,"The Lion, The Beast, The Beat"
18. A Silent Film, "Sand & Snow"
19. Ben Kweller, "Go Fly a Kite"

20. Muse, "The 2nd Law"


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Camper Van Beethoven interview

Jason Thrasher
My story originally appeared at

Whenever December rolls around, a Camper Van Beethoven concert in North County typically follows suit. According to Victor Krummenacher, the Belly Up is one of the band’s favorite places to perform in Southern California.

“I like that area a lot,” noted the bassist, in a phone interview from the San Francisco office of Wired magazine, where he works as a graphic designer. “It’s a very friendly crowd for us and always works well. We’ve been doing it for eight years.”

Since the alt-rock group shares lead singer/guitarist David Lowery with Cracker, both acts do joint tours together. A particular night’s headliner can be determined by a coin toss or different — shall we say personal — factors.

“Frequently, it’s Cracker who does, because they’re a little less stinky. Camper is like the academic band — maybe more difficult in some ways. Cracker’s a little easier on the ‘want a drink, see a rock band’ palate than Camper.”

Last year, the quartet — best known for ’80s college/modern rock radio hits “Take the Skinheads Bowling” and “Pictures of Matchstick Men” — performed 1989’s “Key Lime Pie” album live.

That won’t be happening again on the current jaunt (which kicks off Thursday in Solana Beach), but Krummenacher said doing so “opened up the repertoire. I loved revisiting it.” A perennial fan favorite, Krummenacher has heard from people “who feel ‘Key Lime Pie’ … has a certain ennui to it that continues to resonate.”

Longtime followers should be equally amenable to “La Costa Perdida.” Scheduled for release Jan. 22 via 429 Records, the first new Camper Van Beethoven studio effort since 2004 deftly combines sophisticated pop/rock, psychedelia, ska, norteƱo and Middle Eastern music elements together into another heady musical brew.

The group, which marks its 30th anniversary next year, traces its beginnings to a party in Riverside. Krummenacher had just graduated high school there when he met then-UC Santa Cruz student and Redlands resident Lowery at a local gathering. Later in 1983, they formed Camper Van Beethoven and relocated up north near the campus to attend classes, play gigs and garner a following.

Freewheeling debut LP “Telephone Free Landslide Victory,” featuring the aforementioned “Bowling,” arrived in 1985. Characterized by Jonathan Segel’s frantic violin work, Greg Lisher’s inventive guitar sounds and Lowery’s sarcastic nasal singing style, the group’s daring sonic hybrid defined “alternative” before the term was widely used.

After putting out a pair of records on major label Virgin, Camper Van Beethoven had an acrimonious breakup in 1990. “David was disappointed that ‘Key Lime Pie’ didn’t sell more; we all were in many ways.”

Lowery went on to bigger success with the roots rock-leaning Cracker. Krummenacher simultaneously worked on a solo career and alongside other Camper Van Beethoven members in eclectic, jazzy art rock combo Monks of Doom. The 2000 reunion was followed by a bizarre, complete version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” and 2004’s sprawling prog rock opera “New Roman Times.”

Making the new album came about by accident. A 2011 outdoor gig in Big Sur was postponed due to inclement weather. So the musicians — based in various far flung locales — decided to spend the weeklong downtime creating music at multi-instrumentalist Segel’s nearby home.

“When it finally happened, it was in a way that I wanted: We sat in a room and tried to write together for the first time in many, many years,” recalled Krummenacher. “We hadn’t really done it in a while. It was a very fertile five-day writing period with a lot of really good ideas and music (plus enough leftover recordings for a follow-up).

“I felt it was really important that we do a record that felt organic and represented everyone,” he continued.

“You have four really opinionated people in the band, which sometimes makes for a contentious environment, but also creates really unique music. Since we’d gotten back together, I didn’t think we’d gotten that across. Everything was kind of thematic.”

From the elegant, romantic sway of opener “Come Down the Coast” to the Spanish-influenced title track, a few selections are loosely based on the mythological idea of Northern California’s so-called “lost coast” around Mendocino and Humboldt counties.

Lowery’s trademark skewed humor comes to the fore during the careening “Too High for the Love-In,” while the bluesy “You Got to Roll” is a departure and real showcase for Lisher.
These days, Krummenacher is pleased that Camper Van Beethoven has perfected what he calls “the art of the bar band.”

“I really think there’s an art to mature, seriously grooving playing … it took us 30 years to get to this point, but we did it.”

Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker appear at the Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach, 8 p.m. Thursday, $22, (858) 481-8140. 

For more info: or

Saturday, December 22, 2012

News on Dave Grohl's Sound City

Real to Reel, the companion album to the Dave Grohl-directed Sound City feature length documentary premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, is now available for pre-order along with Sound City the film at iTunes.

All pre-orders for the album, due out March 12 on Roswell Records, will receive first single "Cut Me Some Slack" -- the original studio recording of the track performed by Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear at the 12-12-12 benefit as well as the "Saturday Night Live" holiday episode.

Sound City, the film, was conceived by Grohl after purchasing the legendary custom-built Neve 8028 recording console from Sound City Studios last year. The board, built in 1972, is considered by many to be the crown jewel of analog recording equipment, having recorded such artists as Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Guns and Roses, Metallica, NIN, Rage Against The Machine and countless other musical legends over the past 40 years.

Real to Reel is a collection of original songs, each composed and recorded exclusively for the film within its own 24-hour session on that console after it was reinstalled in Grohl and his Foo Fighters' own 606 Studios.

The new tracks (see listing below) exemplify Sound City's celebration of the human element of musicianship and recording in an increasingly digital world.

Following its Sundance 2013 premiere, Sound City will also be released as an HD digital download and stream Feb. 1 via

Fans who pre-order the film now will receive instant exclusive rewards followed by a stream and download of the entire film on Feb. 1. The film will also be released theatrically, in association with Variance Films, that day. A list of cities and theaters will be announced shortly.

Grohl's personal connection to Sound City began with the 1991 recording of Nirvana's breakthrough album, Nevermind.

Roswell Films, a division of the Roswell Records label that releases Foo Fighters music, will distribute the film.


1. Heaven And All - Robert Levon Been, Dave Grohl, Peter Hayes
2. Time Slowing Down - Chris Goss, Tim Commerford, Grohl, Brad Wilk
3. You Can't Fix This - Stevie Nicks, Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Rami Jaffee
4. The Man That Never Was - Rick Springfield, Grohl, T. Hawkins, N. Mendel, P. Smear
5.  Your Wife Is Calling - Lee Ving, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Alain Johannes, Pat Smear
6.  From Can To Can't - Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl, Rick Nielsen, Scott Reeder
7.  Centipede - Joshua Homme, Chris Goss, Dave Grohl, , Alain Johannes
8.  A Trick With No Sleeve - Alain Johannes, Dave Grohl, Joshua Homme
9.  Cut Me Some Slack - Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear
10. Once Upon A Time... The End - Dave Grohl, Jessy Greene, Rami Jaffee, Jim Keltner
11. Mantra -  Dave Grohl, Joshua Homme, Trent Reznor

hellogoodbye reissue 'Would It Kill You?'

Old Friends Records celebrates its first release with Hellogoodbye's Would It Kill You? - a digital deluxe reissue of the band's latest full length - available now on iTunes.

It includes three live tracks from Daytrotter's Barnstormer Tour and the previously unreleased B-Side "Not Ever Coming Home." The album is available to order as a marbled blue and white vinyl and T-shirt bundle on Old Friends' webstore

The platinum-selling Orange County, Calif. band recently played intimate shows in New York and Los Angeles, reworking material from Would It Kill You? acoustically. Look out for the Did It Kill You? recordings of the shows in early 2013.

Currently in the studio with producer Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Jason Mraz), the group's new full-length studio album slated for a late spring 2013 release. 

For more information on Old Friends Records, go to:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Last minute music gift guide, part 2

Music DVD/Blu-ray recommendations
By George A. Paul
Artist: Coldplay
Title: Live 2012
Filmed at Stade de France in Paris, Live 2012 (Capitol) shows why Coldplay is among a select handful of rock acts today that can make a stadium feel like a small theater. 
The 96-minute DVD is a dazzling dose of audio/visual stimuli; the picture is crisp. Concertgoers were given lighted wristbands as they entered the venue, so the wide aerial camera shots make them look like confetti (actual shredded paper falls during the transcendent “In My Place”). 
The British band kicks off with a fast-paced “Hurts Like Heaven” as graffiti is superimposed on them. Interviews and backstage footage are interspersed between the songs. At one point, singer Chris Martin says, “In the buildup to a concert, I get really excited.” That definitely comes across in his exuberant delivery. 
Highlights include the singalong “Yellow,” totally rocking “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face” (where Martin plays a paint-splattered electric guitar). Rihanna reprises her guest vocal appearance from the “Mylo Xyloto” album during “Princess of China.” She and Martin get really into the romantic song by getting really close and touching each other’s faces. Note: There is also a CD component.    

Artist: Lady Antebellum
Title: Own the Night World Tour
Filmed in June 2012, Own the Night World Tour (Eagle Vision) is a 94-minute concert from Little Rock, Arkansas. The superb musicianship on display here is a perfect example of why Lady A is one of the biggest acts in country music now. It opens with the trio harmonizing backstage before launching into the feisty title track.
The crisp picture makes the DVD look like it was shot in HD. The 13 tracks – including such hits as “Just a Kiss,” “I Run to You” and “Need You Now” – are interspersed with interviews and behind the scenes footage. Among the five bonus tracks are a mildly rocking take on Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” and the fun Doobie Brothers cover “Black Water,” where Lady A is joined by tour mates Darius Rucker and Thompson Square. Also available on Blu-ray and digital video. 
Artist: Patti Smith
Title: Live at Montreux 2005
The punk poet and her stellar longtime band were touring behind the ’04 album “Trampin” when this entrancing 83-minute show was filmed. “I’m glad to be back,” says Smith on Live at Montreux 2005 (Eagle Eye Media), before they begin “Redondo Beach.”
The subtle lighting is perfect for the setting. “Dancing Barefoot” is especially powerful, while a seven-minute cover of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” finds Smith doing vocal tradeoffs with guitarist Lenny Kaye. She gives a spirited delivery on “Because the Night” and does some primal screams on Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.” Also available on Blu-ray and digital video.

Artist: Paul McCartney
Title: Live Kisses
McCartney had wanted to do a standards album that paid tribute to the music of his parents for years, but patiently waited while other musicians had their crack at it. The songs on his “Kisses on the Bottom” aren’t always the familiar jazz standards everyone knows.
For Live Kisses (Eagle Vision/MPL), McCartney ran through the album material at Hollywood’s famed Capitol Studios with a full band and orchestra (Diana Krall and Joe Walsh among them). Beautifully shot in black and white by award-winning director Jonas Akerlund, the 75-minute show includes interviews with many of the album participants (including Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder and others).
Bonus material includes six versions of the McCartney-penned “My Valentine” starring Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman, making the videos, a 15-minute interview with McCartney and producer Tommy LiPuma by former LA Times pop critic Robert Hilburn and clips from the “Kisses” photo shoot. Also available on Blu-ray and digital video.

Artist: The Doobie Brothers
Title: Let the Music Play
Produced by Barry Ehrmann, who also helmed the Doobies’ initial 1982 farewell concert film, Let the Music Play (Eagle Vision) is a 99-minute documentary about the San Jose band’s history. The key players - including Michael McDonald - are all interviewed. 
Bonus material consists of nine career-spanning live performances that run 45 minutes. Most are 1970s/80s clips, but “Long Train Running” and “China Grove” are from the past decade.

Artist: Stray Cats
Title: Live at Montreux 1981
A year before they’d score hits on the Billboard chart with “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut,” Long Island’s Stray Cats amassed a European following. That is clear from the start of Live at Montreux 1981 (Eagle Eye Media).
The 79-minute show is a sweaty, high energy romp through rockabilly territory from start to finish. Audience members are extremely close to the trio and some cameramen are nestled between the fans (one blows cigarette smoke into a lens), giving it a claustrophobic vibe. Even at age 22, Brian Setzer was a wicked guitar slinger and proves his mettle on an extended version of “Town.” Other standouts include Gene Vincent’s “Be Bop-A-Lula,” “Rumble in Brighton” and the raveup, “Fishnet Stockings.” Also available on digital video.
Artist: Freddie Mercury
Title: The Great Pretender
A fine 85-minute documentary, The Great Pretender (Eagle Vision) provides an in-depth spotlight on the Queen frontman’s personal life and endeavors outside the band. For those who had limited knowledge of Mercury’s solo albums “The Great Pretender” and “Barcelona” (an unlikely pairing with Spanish opera star Montserrat Caballe), this DVD is enlightening.
Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor were recently interviewed, as were longtime manager Jim Beach, Caballe and others. Bonus material includes extended interviews with Caballe, Mercury (from 1985) and the recent re-do of “Barcelona” with orchestra. Also available on Blu-ray and digital video.

Artist: Queen
Title: Greatest Video Hits
With a running time of more than three hours, Greatest Video Hits (Eagle Vision) rounds up 33 of the band’s promotional music videos in non-chronological order on 2 DVDs. 
Restored and remixed in 5.1 surround sound, these clips sound better than ever. From “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Another One Bites the Dust” to “Radio Ga Ga” and “I Want to Break Free,” all of Queen’s memorable clips are here. Members Brian May and Roger Taylor provide fans with cool tidbits via the audio commentary. Also available on Blu-ray.

Artist: Bachman & Turner
Title: Live at the Roseland Ballroom
Opening with “Let it Rock,” the main members of BTO put on a 93-minute show during Live at the Roseland Ballroom (Eagle Vision).
The classic rockers perform best known staples from the BTO and Guess Who catalogs like “American Woman,” “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” and “Takin’ Care of Business.” They are joined in NYC by keyboardist Paul Shaffer for an unlikely cover of “Shakin’ All Over.” Also available on Blu-ray and digital video.
Artist: Meatloaf
Title: Guilty Pleasures Tour
Meatloaf’s public profile was elevated in the U.S. with his turn on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” The Guilty Pleasures Tour DVD (Concert One Ltd.) finds the singer performing a two-hour show at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on the 2012 tour for most recent album “Hang Cool, Teddy Bear.” 
Shot in Hi-Def, Meatloaf dramatically performs faves from “Rocky Horror,” as well as epic length versions of “Bat Out of Hell,” “You Took the Words (Right Out of My Mouth),” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams,” “Anything for Love” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.” A 40-minute documentary on the tour and Meatloaf interview is the bonus feature.

Artist: Diana Ross
Title: Live in Central Park
“I’ve never sang in the rain before,” says Ross onstage, halfway into a windy, drenched outdoor concert at New York City’s Central Park in 1983. She had a reputation as a diva but was definitely a trooper on that mid-summer day. The event was being broadcast live on Showtime and via satellite around the world; producers followed Ross’ lead and stayed with her as long as possibly. Live in Central Park (Shout! Factory) is its DVD debut.
Included here is the shortened show as well as the full make-up concert the following afternoon. There is footage from news reports and director Steve Binder provided an interesting commentary, noting that there was no editing done at the time for Day 1. Everyone had to jump through logistics hoops to do the show again with hundreds of thousands of concertgoers.
Artist: The Raconteurs
Title: Live at Montreux 2008
One of former White Stripes front man Jack White’s better projects, The Raconteurs have received modern rock airplay and did the main stage at Coachella. Live at Montreux 2008 (Eagle Eye Media) is a 90-minute, 16 song concert from the famed festival.
The band gives sizzling performances of its blues/rock songs like “Steady, As She Goes,” “Consoler of the Lonely” and “Broken Boy Soldier.” White trades off on lead vocals with Brendan Benson and the group’s ferocious sound is exemplified on a cover of Terry Reid’s “Rich Kid Blues.”     

Artist: Various
Title: No Room for Rockstars
What is it really like to play the Vans Warped Tour? This solid 100-minute DVD documentary answers the question. Over multiple city stops, No Room for Rockstars (Shout! Factory) follows acts that have made minor inroads (Mike Posner, Never Shout Never) and one (Twentynine Palms’ Forever Came Calling) just trying to realize their dream of securing a one-time slot on a smaller side stage in San Diego.
There are interviews with Warped veteran Fletcher Dragge of Pennywise, tour founder Kevin Lyman and others. SoCal hardcore band Suicide Silence – which recently lost their lead singer in a tragic accident – also gets some major screen time. 
Bonus material includes more interviews (Andrew W.K., Casualties, Dillinger Escape Plan) and behind the scenes footage (Bouncing Souls perform with a fan). Subtitles available in four languages. The CD component has live performances from No Doubt, Sublime, Suicidal Tendencies, The Specials and more.