New old Green Day song

At a recent Denver stop on their current World Tour, Green Day frontman Billie Joe revealed that the band were recording the set for a possible live release. Among the thirty-five (35!!) tracks on show that evening, a “new” Green Day song surfaced. Titled “Cigarettes & Valentines”, the song is actually a long lost track originally part of the scrapped post-Warning album of the same name. Story goes is that Green Day had an album ready to go as a follow-up to Warning, but the tapes were reportedly stolen and the whole session scrapped. Sounds fishy indeed. The band would later record a new album that would become the multi-platinum selling American Idiot.

Video of “Cigarettes & Valentines” can be seen below. Like something from Nimrod, it’s a handy reminder of Green Day’s once glorious repertoire. And since we’re here, below are two older videos of Green Day live- from 1991 and 1994 respectively. Since 2005, this period in the Green Day history books have come to be known as “the good old days.”

“Cigarettes & Valentines”

“Paper Lanterns”

“Christie Road”

Album Reviews, Music

Review: Jarrod Gorbel – Devil’s Made a New Friend

Like the early morning rays peering through the cracks at dawn, there is an intangible quality to Jarrod Gorbel’s voice. It is like an awakening, a vast serenity that evokes an almost immeasurable amount of contrasting emotions. His voice is as moving (and sometimes more so) as any music can be; but is as comforting as a well-liked old friend. It shakes and shimmers, cracks, and echoes as it paints from an aural palette of beautifully written Americana. It leaves an indelible mark on his craft and it always has, from the earliest of his material under the Honorary Title moniker, to his brand new solo material, Gorbel’s voice is the silhouette in which all his art is cast in.

Devil’s Made a New Friend could have easily been the follow up to Scream And Light Up The Sky, yet it doesn’t aim to be. It’s not as urgent as the last few Honorary Title albums, but boasts far more vivid textures. The songs take their cue from the topics that have always fuelled his storytelling; personal growth and pain, love and loss, and the understanding of life as you travel down beaten paths and cobblestoned roads through big cities and small towns. But there seems to be a great deal more patience here. There are more string accompaniments, lush keys and floaty riffs; products of more refined songwriting searching for a wider acceptance.

From the opening “Extraordinary” to the single “I’ll Do Better”, it is clear there exists a certain calmness to the material. Fit for Sunday afternoons and lazy evenings, the territory covered topically is often more of a desperate nature. A twinge of sadness and melancholia that is both beautiful and moving. In the aforementioned single, he sings with strange perfection white flag notions of personal acceptance; “Taking me forever to accept this weakness / That I’ve been defeated / I need help, I need you”.

The reworked (full band) version of the previously released “Ten Years Older” (from the terrific EP of the same name) gets a more layered treatment here. The acoustic version was the EP’s most harrowing song- a look at life some ten years down the road where the protagonist discovers that it has in many aspects, passed him by. The percussions and added guitars have given it in a little more depth, but it doesn’t change the emotional pull of the song. When Gorbel sings, with great conviction; “One day you woke up ten years older / Taken prisoner like a soldier / You left your home for what seemed noble / Give anything to do it over”, there is an immediate connection to it. It feels a lot like the possibilities of life stunted by its unpredictable path of choices, addiction, and circumstance.

There are luscious “oohs and aahs” here and there (in “Need For Control”) and there is a slight smoky lounge (dare say, at times baroque-ish in its simplicity) sheen to “Take Me” that comes across as a meeting between The High Llamas and Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips. But it all comes through with ample grace.

Produced by Blake Sennett (of Rilo Kiley fame), Devil’s Made a New Friend is a very assured debut. His music has always worked on a very straightforward acoustic pedestal- buoyed of course by that inescapable voice. The work here however, is his attempt to make the sound distinctly more palatable (in a good way). It is every bit soul-infused serenade as it is a beautiful pop record. It is perhaps Gorbel’s finest outing to date and the comfort found here is quintessential Americana. Recommended, highly.

[xrr rating=4/5]

Jarrod Gorbel – I’ll Do Better (from the album Devil’s Made a New Friend)

Album Reviews, Music

Review: Terrible Things – Terrible Things

Tracing the lineage of Terrible Things, you get a sense of the band’s pedigree, and in turn, get a better understanding of just what they sound like. Like an amalgamation of the members’ previous bands, it’s all a crosspollination of late-era Hot Rod Circuit with The Color Fred (and Where You Want To Be Taking Back Sunday). It is as expected from a band whose songwriting comes from Andy Jackson and Fred Mascherino. And for those who would enjoy the sound of Hot Rod Circuit through the The Color Fred, then Terrible Things is a record waiting for your approval.

It should however, not be dismissed as simply a by-product of the members’ musical history. Yes, the sounds of “Revolution” and “Lullaby” could have been culled from Reality’s Coming Through, and the rather pristine Midwestern vibes of “The Hills of Birmingham” could have been what Hot Rod Circuit wrote next, but there is a distinct aura of separation between the tracks here and the past. It’s a new record after all, and while its influences are shown clearly in its sleeve, there is much to like and differentiate on Terrible Things. Its scattered use of additional textures is certainly helpful- the occasional piano, the quiet strings and the subtle touches give the album a new found delicate layer.

Case in point with “Been Here Before”, sounding less post-hardcore and more straightforward rock, the song is a good indicator of the possibilities of Terrible Things expanding on pre-conceived sounds. They’ve upped the tempo in “Not Alone” with good results, and only in “Conspiracy”, where they sidetrack to kitschy piano swayed territory does it really misstep.

Percussion wise, there isn’t much outside out of the standard, but third member Josh Eppard, himself a multi-disciplined musician, gives the record a solid backbone. It is perhaps the strongest compliment you can pay Terrible Things at this point, that their debut is most definitely solid. Some great ideas, good production, and history make up for some serious promise. Like they sing in “Revolution”, quote apropos; “this is not a revolution / until we say it is.” (Universal Motown)

[xrr rating=2.5/5]

Terrible Things – Revolution (from the album Terrible Things)

Album Reviews, Music

Review: Banquets – This is Our Concern, Dude

There is something in the Jersey water, or the air, or the food they eat because the products of their craft have been of the highest quality. This quartet is every bit the punchy blue-collar sounding rock n’ roll band you’d expect from the state that made this sound famous. Like the Gaslight Anthem before them, This is Our Concern, Dude is a brief blast meant as an introduction of sorts (think Senor And the Queen). 4-tracks of bluesy, rock n’ roll powered punk themes that are every bit as glorious as they are introspective.

“Lyndon B. Magic Johnson” and “Eleanor I Need A Garden” are the folkish opening numbers and serve as the perfect one-two opening punch. In “What a Bunch of Aaron Burrs”, melody and poetry intersect at perfect speeds, resulting in a near perfect piece of bluesy melancholia. Closing off the foursome is “I Wish I Was A Little More Lou Diamond Phillips”, a more hallowed, almost-orchestral tune.

Banquets are no stranger to the worlds of popular film culture and American Presidential history. They are intelligent songwriters, heartfelt lyricists and ample tradesmen in the genre of bluesy folk punk. Only anticipation and hope awaits their next venture. And whatever it is that’s coursing through the veins of Jersey musicians, it’s connected to the lifeblood of some seriously good rock n’ roll. (Black Numbers)

[xrr rating=4/5]

Banquets – What a Bunch of Aaron Burrs (from the 7″ This is Our Concern, Dude)

Album Reviews, Music

Review: The Reason – Fools

Canadian group The Reason continue to expand their more Southern-drenched rock sound in their latest effort Fools. Having traded in their angular post-hardcore, emo-tinged sounds of their earliest years, the direction continues to benefit their craft to great effect. A remarkable step up from their 2004 debut, Ravenna, the new work is a distinct improvement in almost every audible category from the harmonies, to the song textures, to the crisp sounding production. Vocalist Adam White is not far from Caleb Followil’s Tennessee-drawl, giving the listener an immediately recognizable vocal tone and accessible entry point to the music.

Opener “Come & Go” paints an incredible aural picture for the rest of the album. A mid tempo number with skittering percussions and White’s haunting voice, it’s as good as an introduction as any. Their continued mastering of the indie rock landscape continues well in “Where Do We Go From Here?” and great closing “The Longest Highway Home.” They adopt piano-driven aesthetics in “Work With Me” giving them a new palette to work with, the results here are mixed as the song tends to waver to more dream-pop surroundings. “That’s All I Know” however, is the perfect tune- beautifully written and constructed; it’s a warm but caustic track about the roller coaster uncertainties of relationships.

There are no overwhelming apexes in Fools, but no disappointing low points either.  Their songs about love, lonely highways and cross-country trains are every bit soaked with the shine of a clear moonlit evening. Fools was a long time coming for the band, and with it comes a genuinely good rock record. (Anthem/Warner Music)

[xrr rating=3.5/5]

The Reason – That’s All I Know (from the album Fools)


Jarrod Gorbel offers Ten Years Older for free

With less than a week away from the release of his anticipated solo album, Devil’s Made a New Friend, Jarrod Gorbel is offering up his terrific EP Ten Years Older for FREE. The former Honorary Title front man will soon hit the road all across North America to support the album, playing shows alongside fun, Steel Train and… Hanson.

The EP is absolutely terrific, a natural continuation of his material penned under the Honorary Title moniker. Most notable of the bunch is the title track, a reflective melancholy take on life after you’ve hit a certain point.

You can grab the EP right here after signing up for his email list. You’ll also get a track from his upcoming album, due out next Tuesday.

His tour dates are as following:

Aug 31 – Knitting Factory, (Record Release Show) Brooklyn, NY
Sept 1 – Valentine’s,  (Record Release Show) Albany, NY
Sept 12 – Great Scott,  Allston, Ma
Sept 25 – Wine Amplified Festival,  Las Vegas, NV
Sept 29 – Higher Ground, Burlington, VT *
Oct 1 – World Cafe,  Philadelphia, PA *
Oct 2 – Mr Smalls,  Pittsburgh, PA *
Oct 3 – Grog Shop,  Cleveland, OH *
Oct 5 – The Basement,  Columbus, OH *
Oct 6 – Bricktown,  Oxford, OH *
Oct 7 – Intersection,  Grand Rapids, MI *
Oct 8 – Firebird,  St Louis, MO *
Oct 9 – House of Blues,  Chicago, IL *
Oct 10 – Varsity Theater,  Minneapolis, MN *
Oct 12 – People’s Court,  Des Moines, IA *
Oct 13 – Blue Moose,   Iowa City, IA *
Oct 14 – Bottleneck,  Lawrence, KS *
Oct 15 – The Fox,   Boulder, CO *
Oct 16 – Club Sound, Salt Lake City, UT *
Oct 21 – Media Club,  Vancouver, BC *
Oct 22 – El Corozon,  Seattle, WA *
Oct 23 – Hawthorne Theater,  Portland, OR *
Oct 26 – Starline,   Fresno, CA *
Oct 27 – Great American Music Hall,   San Francisco, CA *
Oct 28 – Music Box at The Fonda,  Los Angeles, CA *
Oct 30 – The Nile Theater,   Phoenix, AZ *
Nov 1 – House Of Blues,  Dallas, TX !
Nov 2 – Antones,  Austin, TX !
Nov 3 – House of Blues,  Houston, TX !
Nov 5 – State Theater,  St. Petersburg, FL !
Nov 6 – Revolution,  Ft. Lauderdale, FL !
Nov 10 – Variety Theater,  Atlanta, GA !
Nov 12 – Amos’ Southend,  Charlotte, NC !
Nov 13 – Sonar,  Baltimore, MD !
Nov 14 – State Theater,  Falls Church, VA !
Nov 15 – Calvin Theater,  Northampton, MA !
Nov 20 – The Dome at Oakdale,  Wallingford, CT !
Nov 23 – Guvernment,  Toronto, ONT !
Dec 8 – Univ. Of Wisconsin Madison, Wi w/ To Write Love On Her Arms Speakers
* w/ fun. and Steel Train
! w/ Hanson

Columns, Music

Me and Rivers and Everything You Know

I had a dream about Weezer. It was a strange dream, probably the fourth of fifth of the night. I’m in the process of recovering from illness so these dreams come in an array of medicated madness streaming through my unconsciousness like a good Chris Nolan flick. Like all dreams, I don’t remember how it started or I how I got there, but I do remember being there. I was in a park that looked like every other park, wide and green and filled with the indistinct noises of chatter and moving people. I had just downloaded (illegally of course) the new Weezer album, Hurley, which in my dream had a new dark blue sheen to its artwork. In reality, I think if an image of Hurley had imposed itself into my brain during sleep, this is where my dream would have ended- instantly and abruptly.

In a parallel to reality, my subconscious seemingly spared me the relief of having to actually listen to the album in full. Instead, fast-forwarding to the moment where I had finally hit “stop” and was left with nothing but the feeling of disgust and disappointment. Next thing I know I’m in this park, and I come across Rivers Cuomo sitting on a bench. Still geekily bespectacled, he was now looking unshaven and slightly bedraggled- as if the diminished talent had finally taken it’s toll (like that Keanu meme). He soon told me, as I fumbled with the voice-recorder application on my iPhone (the app finally has a use!), that he was tired of being a rock star.

Some of the details here get a little hazy but I ask him why, among other things, he can’t write more music like he did for that first Blue Album. I tell him it’s still one of the greatest albums ever written (okay, so a slight exaggeration by my dream self- I apparently have no critical control of him) and it seems to bring a light to his face, a brief and recollective smile. Almost as if, he too remembers that one time long ago, he was a great songwriter. One that penned uniquely intelligent but accessible pop songs that were neither patronizing or self-absorbed, but that moment was fleeting, a flicker long gone. “My Name is Jonas”, “Undone- The Sweater Song”, “Say It Ain’t So”, all since replaced by an endless array of tripe like “Pork and Beans”, “The Girl Got Hot” and “Beverly Hills”. It has been one big joke at all of our expenses that only Rivers and the label were in on. How many more terrible videos can we be subjected to? How does the album cover just get worse and worse? No answer.

I ask him if there is any difference to being on Epitaph than it was to being on Geffen before he lets out a prompt, but ample sigh, “no” he says.

This is where the dream ends. As quickly as I had begun asking him all these questions, a pack of older, slightly overweight gypsy-looking women appear at our table with what I can only decipher as either a television or a karaoke machine and scare Rivers away.

So as I awake from this rather hazy slumber, I hastily jot down this bizarrely memorable dream. What was my subconscious telling me? Was it that the side effects of this medicine need to be studied further, or that Weezer have become so appalling that even a drug fueled dream can tell you so. I didn’t even need to listen to the new album to know this is true. And I’m sure that when I do, I will come to the same conclusion.

I am not surprised to hear rumblings are abound that a possible Blue Album/Pinkerton-only tour could happen. Imagine a Weezer performance where you wouldn’t have to listen to anything they wrote after 1996. Glorious. Think of it as ‘Good Time Weezer’ or ‘How Weezer Should Have Ended’.

In case you doubted my subconscious, Weezer have released the first single from their upcoming Epitaph debut streaming below. Safe to say gypsies singing karaoke are much preferred.

Hurley is out September 14th via Epitaph.

For the sake of reference, here is a small reminder of Rivers’ one time genius:

Album Reviews, Music

Review: The Offspring – Happy Hour

Ah the Japanese, the purveyors of weird and the collectors of strange. No doubt the long history of the “Japanese Import” will turn up some exclusively weird records meant for those most die-hard fans and completists only. So comes this Offspring collection titled Happy Hour, a Japanese-only import of live tracks, covers, b-sides, and some truly terrible, terribly remixes. It’s befuddling to say the least as to who would actually slap money down to purchase this, but as with all things weird in this world, I’m sure there’s an audience somewhere.

It isn’t all bad however- the live tracks do showcase the Offspring’s live pedigree. Recorded well and sounding crisp, they’re a good indicator of what they sound like on stage. “All I Want” and “Gone Away” are particularly great here- but the live version of “Pretty Fly” serves as nothing more than a reminder of how crappy this song really is. Their cover of “Hey Joe” (which is from their Baghdad EP, in itself, a true rarity and a great find) by Billy Roberts and “I Got a Right” by Iggy Pop are easily the gems of this collection, but are probably worth the ticket on releases elsewhere.

Happy Hour is tailended by remixes of some of their more popular tracks, “Want You Bad”, “Why Don’t You Get a Job” and “Pretty Fly” which are beyond awful. The less said about these, the better.

It’s all a little unnecessary and those who do pick it up are pretty desperate. But it’s part of the game in the end, one the Offspring and their labels have played very well since 1994. (Sony Japan)

[xrr rating=1/5]


No Sleep Til Festival announces lineup

How long does it take for excitement and anticipation to turn into quiet reservation and slight disappointment? Well, probably from the time it took between this previous article and the one you’re reading now. The much hullabalooed announcement about the Descendents touring Australia was indeed true, and as expected, it will be part of a new festival. Today Blue Murder Touring announced the No Sleep Til Festival, hitting Australian shores this December and featuring a bevy of heavy, an entourage of enormous, with the Descendents the inevitable “hotdog in a hallway”.

So alongside the Descendents, you’ll have to go and pay to see the following acts:

NOFX (see this article)
Dropkick Murphys
Parkway Drive
A Day to Remember
Alkaline Trio
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Frenzal Rhomb
3 Inches of Blood
Suicide Silence
August Burns Red
We Came As Romans
Break Even
House Vs Hurricane
and other nondescript bands.

The injustice of it all is, you can count the number of good bands on this bill with your five fingers. The good news is, it is probably the LEAST shittiest of music festivals in Australia, but alas, a festival is a festival. So the wish continues that if the music Gods were to be so kind as to grant a Descendents sideshow, than all is forgiven.

For those who have terrible taste in music (but discernibly less terrible than all those who go to all the other festivals), then here are the dates for the No Sleep Til Festival:

Sunday 12 December – Perth @ Arena Joondalup
Wednesday 15 December – Adelaide @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Friday 17 December – Melbourne @ Melbourne Showgrounds
Saturday 18 December – Sydney @ Entertainment Quarter, Hordern Pavilion
Sunday 19 December – Brisbane @ RNA Showgrounds Brisbane


Why American television needs John Luther

John Luther is not a man of great style, he is not a hero, he is not a soldier, and although he is a brave man, he is not a man of great bravery. Unlike Dexter Morgan, the voices of demons in his heads are the voices of real people, in their flesh that torment his waking hours. He is not a serial killer but at times, he wants to act like one. He is intelligent, haunted, but a good detective, one who battles as many demons as criminals, and he would be perfect for American television.

Luther is a BBC produced television series that aired in the UK this past May, a brutal, distinctly British examination into the life of a murder detective and the evil within and around. Starring Idris Elba (American audiences will be familiar with him from The Wire and more recently, The Office) as John Luther, the series does not hold back from the always difficult life of a police detective- juggling his disintegrating private life (a crumbling marriage) with that of a crime fighter. While topically familiar, it is the method in which this 6-part series plays out that makes it truly memorable. Like The Wire, there is an honesty that paints a picture of grit and turmoil, an underlying imperfection that plagues Luther as a man. When the series begins, Luther is recovering from a botched assignment in which his mental well-being is put into question. Suspension from duty leaves him with nothing but his thoughts to contend with and from here, we see the character’s many layers unfold.

Through circumstances (details withheld to prevent spoilers) he meets a psychopathic woman named Alice Morgan (played with an eerie brilliance by actress Ruth Wilson) that serves as a catalyst for Luther’s constant battles with himself. Alice tortures him mentally, and the fragility of his mind comes as the cost of those around him (most notably his wife Zoe (Indira Varma). His struggles to maintain these pieces gives him an edge over more noted American television characters- who while are dealt with certain turmoil, are never quite taken down a path so dark that we, as the audience, feel genuine fear and sympathy. Unlike the Horatio Caines of the television world, the series creators seem unsympathetic towards Luther- making him strong one moment and distinctly weak the next, almost crippled. Dexter Morgan is perhaps the most similar character on television- except his demons aren’t real- they manifest themselves in his head from ghosts of his past. John Luther however, is tormented by someone who will call him on a miserable afternoon to torture for pleasure.

Procedural television series (CSI, Cold Case et al.) will sometimes have longer story arcs that prevail over the course of the season or over a few, but they will linger, leaving the audience rather exhausted over the 22 (or how ever many) episodes. Luther however, gives you 6 in which all the drama plays out with great urgency. Much of the series is beautifully shot amongst London’s monolithic cityscape. There is great use of light and momentary pauses that enhance the atmosphere of the show. Unlike the machine gun editing of their American counterparts- Luther benefits from the slower, more natural scene-to-scene transitions that rely on a little patience and imagination to hold the viewer’s attention.

Tony Soprano is long gone and time will tell whether the new series of Dexter (does Rita become another ghost in his head?) will hold as much as the previous, American television needs another strong, multi-faceted but fragile leading man. Compelling dramas like Luther come every so often to HBO, series that leave the audience with a sense of accomplishment and intrigue. The ground may have already been covered before but rarely has it been done with such conviction.

BBC America has announced that Luther will premiere in the United States October 17th.

[xrr rating=4/5]