November ended up being a fairly light month, mainly because I spend half of it in Iceland. My annual trip there begins with the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival, coverage of which can be found after the jump. There were also some anniversary pieces for both Diffuser and Loudwire.
Getting to this a bit late as the annual jaunt to Iceland bugged up the end of October going into November. We’ll be back on schedule – hopefully – come the end of this month. But who knows!
Between the horrific shooting in Las Vegas and the death of Tom Petty, it hasn’t been a pleasant several weeks for music. Moving forward though, I managed to nail down some record reviews, reasons why Judas Priest should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame among other things.
There’s a lot to get to after the jump…let’s get started.
September allegedly kicks off the fall around these parts, so I decided to deliver my first “MC News Repository.” This is where I’ll provide links to articles of note for each particular month. It’ll be a good place to catch up on what I’ve been working on for a variety of publications.
This was a pretty busy one, talked to the singer from Kasabian, found a new band to dig into with Nothing More, revisited the 2007 Van Halen reunion with David Lee Roth and finally finished up a long gestating ranking of Depeche Mode’s catalog.
It’s been two weeks since the death of Chris Cornell and still I’m not settled over getting my thoughts about it out. When John Lennon died, I was too young to grasp the…not importance, because I somehow knew it was a big deal that my favorite band ever (as a child and until now) was truly done, but the pain of those congregating outside the Dakota where the ex-Beatle lived and died was something I wasn’t mature enough to comprehend. I saw the tears in everyone’s eyes, but couldn’t join them in mourning.
Kurt Cobain was next, who retroactively got labeled the spokesman – and “John Lennon” – for my generation, but like the Dallas Cowboys being tagged “America’s Team,” that wasn’t something which everyone agreed. I know I didn’t. Few people remember, in fact, that Nirvana’s then fresh release In Utero was polarizing at the time, and the band’s popularity was waning while Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins were blowing up. Jump ahead past to the not-so-shocking deaths of Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley in 2002 and Scott Weiland in 2015, while also realizing Bowie had been sick and Prince was on another level of stardom, Chris Cornell hit differently. Harder. Like, this was my John Lennon if there had to be a simple, tied-in-a-bow descriptive.
Soundgarden, however, had been around longer than any of those acts, were signed to a major label before them, and bridged the gap between 70s and 90s hard rock for both incoming grunge fans and leftover lovers of cock-rock. Cornell was a shirtless, lion-maned rock God without coming across as cheesy, and the guys could drop metal riffs and Beatles-esque melodies with equal effortlessness. Lyrically, Cornell’s words resonated not just because of their authenticity, but because anyone who ever went through the doldrums could identify with them. Nothing was bright and sunny; hell, the most popular song of theirs is titled “Black Hole Sun.”
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.
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.
“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.
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!”
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!