Want to know why end of year lists and holiday gift guides are so popular? It’s because there is typically nothing of note going on around this time. That said, I managed to eek out some pieces for The Daily Times (gift guides mostly) and Ultimate Classic Rock.
November ended up being a fairly light month, mainly because I spent 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!”