Havin’ it in Toronto

One of the musical acts I’ve been into for a couple years now is Sleaford Mods, an inventive duo out of England. Stripped down, it’s observational punk hip-hop with frontman Jason Williamson spouting off about working class struggles with a mixture of humor, anger and disbelief backed by the laptop created beats from Andrew Fearn. It’s brilliant. Iggy Pop himself has dubbed them, “The world’s greatest rock and roll band.”

Sleaford Mods: Iceland Airwaves ’15

I caught Sleaford Mods at Iceland Airwaves 2015, and despite the guys themselves being unhappy with the gig for a variety of reasons, it was one of the best times I’ve had at the festival since I started going each year.

Afterward, I got the chance to meet and talk with Fearn, who immediately enthused how my mate and I Rich were “havin’ it.” We were right up front, bouncing about and I, for one, was yelling out the lyrics to every song and Fearn was as entertained by us as we were by him.

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Elegia: Haunted by New Order

I’ve long been into by New Order, mainly because they have two things I find attractive in a band; they make engrossing music which happens to span and combine wildly different genres (at the time of their release), and they have a fascinating backstory.

new_order_press_picture

The incredibly abbreviated history is: Three guys who were in a Manchester, UK band and poised to break in a major way had their singer die by suicide on the eve of their inaugural tour of North America. Left to their own devices, they decide to forge ahead under a new moniker with the guitarist ultimately taking on vocals, enlisting the drummer’s then-girlfriend for additional guitar parts as well as keyboards and then go on to single-handedly create a new form of music by melding aspects of rock, punk and electronic.

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No, This is Not Normal

[Re-post from my Facebook dated 21 January 17]

I’m ashamed for not speaking up in a public forum until now, but have decided to do something about it, hopefully beginning the slow march toward a bit of personal redemption. Typically I keep my political leanings close to the vest, choosing not to engage with anyone other than my dearest friends about them. This evening, I have spent the past hour deleting lots of them from not only Facebook, but essentially my life. This includes members of my family, people I once considered best friends and a slew of acquaintances. I did it with a heavy heart and it wasn’t completed rashly.

This-is-Not-Normal.jpg

The reason this was done is not at all because they voted for and continue to support Donald Trump – that was their right and I respect it. It was for the hate-filled rhetoric dripping from their pages today. Saying protesters should be beaten, that they should not be organizing in the first place, that this “anti-women agenda” talk is nothing more than nonsense by the Far-left, that wearing “pussy hats” somehow means they shouldn’t be taken seriously, when a man you defend and take serious was caught saying the vagina is where you need to grab women.

WHAT IN THE FUCK REALITY ARE YOU LIVING??

I’ll tell you the one I’m living in. I have expectant and recent mothers in my life with children who are absolutely terrified of the world where their babies are going to be raised. I have people close to me who are horrified that family members who have lived here for decades are going to be deported. I see stories that the US Border Patrol and Customs is denying entry to this country founded on freedom, because they intended to non-violently march in support. I have friends of different races, genders, sexuality and religious beliefs scared their God-given rights are about to be trampled. I have friends not just coast to coast, but worldwide who are taking time out of their weekend to make their voices heard.

And those same friends in foreign lands? They want to know what the fuck is happening in my country.

In my country, white supremacists are celebrating the voting-in of Trump. Pharmaceutical companies are over the moon about the election results, with requests from people who now feel the need to go on anti-depressants through the roof. There is a man who is an admitted climate change denier and once said the Department of Energy should be eliminated preparing to head the organization. The vice president supports conversion therapy – which involves electroshock and castration – and also made the outrageous claim that smoking doesn’t kill people. His boss has invoked an executive order to remove a form a healthcare that technically could leave many citizens in precarious positions when it comes to continuing life-saving treatment they are currently receiving.

I am by no means claiming to be an expert on what Trump hopes to accomplish, what he can get away with and how he will proceed with a confusing and cloudy agenda. The fact is, the only thing I really consider myself an expert on is a singer who left his band in 1985 and finally came back to tour with them in 2007. Both of those events were under somewhat murky circumstances, and I’m ok with that. I’m not ok with the future of my life and that of my rightfully fearful friends from all walks-of-life to be so nebulous.

To those friends, let me openly say for the first time I AM WITH YOU. I am here for whatever you need, by your side both physically and spiritually. I’ve got your collective backs, am holding your hands and standing up for your rights. We are stronger united, open and honest. And those interested in putting forth or encouraging hate, misogyny and a having a racist bent can feel free to delete me from your friends and life if I haven’t done it to you already.

Love,
MC

History: Van Halen at Cafe Wha?

“I am with the whole team right now. We want to know who you are writing for and where we can follow up and find your stories at.
Are you on assignment or can you get assigned by one of your publications.
Please let me know asap.
Thanks”

I received that message from Van Halen’s publicist – Eddie Van Halen’s wife Janie – in the middle of the afternoon five years ago today. Immediately I responded with my editor’s contact information for the Boston Phoenix, who I would be covering the invite only show for by the band at the tiny basement club Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village. The day before, I had been told that I was on the wait list. Now it was looking like I might actually have a shot at attending.

Eight minutes later, this message came through:

“Ok my friend, we will see this evening.
There are no plus ones at all so please come alone.
Thanks and look forward to seeing u tonight!”

Holy SHIT. This was really happening.

dlr
I took this fucking photo!!

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Good As Hell: Songs of the Year

You’ve no doubt seen the glut of end-of-year lists in recent weeks, and here’s one more for to check out. Over at Vanyaland, we all threw our favorites of the year into a massive mixing bowl, drew them out one by one and voted on them and this is what we ended up with, whittling it down to the final 25.

A couple of mine made it into the Top 25, no small feat as there are some damn solid choices on there. My favorite – reaching number six overall – was from Lizzo, a single titled “Good As Hell,” and here’s the video, along with what I had to say about it:

“Blooming hip-hop artist Lizzo became a sensation in her hometown of Minneapolis in 2013 with the release of her solo debut Lizzobangers, which caught the attention of fellow Minnesotan Prince, who asked her enlisted her to guest on the funky rump shaker “Boy Trouble” from 2014’s Plectrumelectrum. And while there’s no doubt working with the late Purple One had to be a career highlight thus far, it’s the undeniably catchy “Good As Hell” from this year’s major-label debut EP Coconut Oil — and slotted prominently on the soundtrack to Barbershop: The Next Cut — that has everyone talking. Co-written and produced by Ricky Reed, it’s a song about post-relationship failure and female empowerment as much as it is an ode to friendship. “Boss up and change your life/You can have it all, no sacrifice/I know he did you wrong, we can make it right/So go and let it all hang out tonight,” goes one of the verses, which Lizzo delivers with an effortlessly smooth and confident flow. “Good As Hell” might be referencing moving on, but as her show at Brighton Music Hall earlier this month that brought the house down showed, it’s sure to be a launching pad for Lizzo to move up.”

It was a bit of a surprising choice to some, but you can’t choose what songs grab you – they just do. Trust me, there was plenty of expected fare in my orbit this year as well. I was all over songs by Sleaford Mods, the Cult, Seratones, the Kills, Deftones and Daughter; there was certainly no shortage of good stuff to spin. Here’s to a just as sonically bountiful 2017…cheers!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Game

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the more divisive institutions out there. Many are critical of its nominating committee, the artists who have been unfairly left out as the years have gone on, and, the opposite, acts getting in who don’t deserve to be there.

This year is no different, and with the announcement of who will be getting into the Hall as part of the Class of 2017 coming any day now, arguments will be loud over who got screwed over and who got the nod but shouldn’t be in the conversation in the first place.

I’ve done a series of piece on why certain acts should be in for Ultimate Classic Rock and Diffuser. Here are the links to five reasons each of the following nominees should be inducted:

Electric Light Orchestra

Jane’s Addiction

MC5

Pearl Jam

rockhallnew

69 to 99 Moving Finds: Part Five

I’ve never really had a nice car. Well, maybe that one ’85 Camaro Z28 for a few weeks until I took it out for an accelerated spin down a winding road after a rainstorm and ended up flipping it, narrowly avoiding death…but that’s a story for another post. But no, having had ten cars (ten!) over a period that lasted less than a decade, there was never one that I could say, “Man…I really miss that car.” More often than not, it was, “Good riddance.”

Each one had some issue that was the then bane of my automobile owning existence. The ’83 Mustang GL, for some reason, was all metric underneath, and it leaked oil incessantly. The heat didn’t work in the ’86 Camaro Z28, there was no backseat, the T-tops leaked  and the hatchback didn’t latch. The driver’s side door on the ’88 Monte Carlo LS wouldn’t latch (try that one going down I-95 at 75mph). The black Buick Century  had a smashed in front end from a “slight accident” my then girlfriend got into. Three of the automatic windows in the silver Buick Century wouldn’t go down. The passenger window wouldn’t go down on the ’79 Camaro, and one of the spark plugs kept fouling out. And what the fuck is that garden hose knob doing under the hood of the ’76 Pontiac LeMans and what does it do?!!?

The relationship with most of them ended in spectacular fashion. Totaled the ’83 Mustang when some kids in a Camaro made an illegal turn into my lane. Flipped its replacement in the aforementioned fashion. Drilled the Monte Carlo LS into a fire hydrant, replaced the front end myself with an SS front end which confused everyone. The rear axle on the silver Buick Century simply collapsed as I backed out of a parking spot. I just raised my eyebrows, went back in my apartment and called it a day.

None of the cars were from the decade in which I was presently living, be it the mid-90s or early-00s. Since they were all so old they were always in need of some sort of repair. Most were sub-par; not a Mustang GT, a GL. Who needs a Monte Carlo SS when you can have the inferior LS? And Buick Grand National or even Regal? Nah…I’ll take a pair of the Century please.

Still…I always managed to get into trouble with them…

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