Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Pornographers, SLC, July 29

The New Pornographers with The Dodo's, July 29, 2010.

The New Pornographers played a great set the other night, it was a beautiful night for a Twilight Concert in the park, and it was great to see so many people come out to support them. I have been a huge Neko Case fan for ages, so it was an extra special night for this guy. She sounded great, and loud as always, and the rest of the NP's played a killer set. I left happy, having heard everything I wanted to. The sound was pretty solid and the crowd was the usual unpredictable combination of every age-group we have come to expect from the TCS. I look forward to seeing the NP's down the road...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs"

Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs" Vinyl LP (2x LP Gatefold)
MRG 385
Original Release - 2o1o

"So can you understand why I want a daughter while I'm still young? I want to hold her hand, and show her some beauty before all this damage is done."

The lyrics of Arcade Fire's catalogue are nothing if not dramatic. The new album "The Suburbs" is full of the kind of imagery and emotion you have come to expect from Arcade Fire. What we have here is a perfect marriage of the anthemic nature of "Funeral" and the intimate, foreboding nature of "Neon Bible".

"The Suburbs" works on so many levels. It works as pure sonic pleasure, an instantly listenable album that rewards repeat listens. It works as a stepping stone in the Arcade Fire catalogue, the natural progression of sonic evolution from a band that seems to release each subsequent album under unbearable public expectations. And it also works as a meditation of life, what we all experience, or look forward to experiencing as we get older. The inevitable look over the shoulder at your former self, as you progress ever onward into adulthood and beyond.

"The Suburbs" and "Ready to Start" open the album with an uptempo pace, much like the anthems on "Funeral", its not until "Modern Man" that things settle down into a mid-tempo groove. Win Butler sings "Maybe when you're older you will understand why you don't feel right why you can't sleep at night now in line for a number but you don't understand like a modern man." Lyrics Reminiscent of another excellent 2o1o release from The National "High Violet". Like "High Violet", "The Suburbs" is about change, and how we deal with that change. With "Rococo", we hear Arcade Fire climax into a chorus that sounds like the best of Radiohead, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen put in a blender.

A ferocious arrangement of strings and guitars open "Empty Room" while Regine Chassagne sings of loneliness and self discovery. The musicianship is often brilliant early in the album, always exciting and different, if not always as experimental as we usually expect from Arcade Fire.

The exceptional "Half Light I" thrills the listener with pure escapism. The desperate cry for adventure and meaning reminiscent of classics like "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road" will grip you with a longing for an open highway at sunrise: "You told us that we were too young, now the nights closing in and in the half light we run". The song slowly builds with tension provided by Jeremy Gara, and slowly bleeds into "Half Light II (No Celebration)". Never has a desperate world and American economy been described with such beauty, moreover Win describes the eventual decline that sustains us as inhabitants of earth: "Pray to God I won't live to see the death of everything that's wild. Though we knew this day would come, still it took us by surprise. In this town where I was born, I now see through a dead man's eyes". What is it with the Canadians and their natural ability to commentate on our general lack of respect for nature? I'm thinking mainly of the wonderful Neko Case, the legendary Neil Young, and now the introspective Win Butler.

"Month of May" is a natural born rocker that opens Side 3 with a furious backbeat and some funky, experimental guitar work. Here we also have the now famous commentary on the Hipster movement. As someone who has preformed in front of crowds all over the world, I'll take Win's assessment of the situation as gospel. Unfold you're hands Hipsters, enjoy, this is life.

"Wasted Hours", "Deep Blue", and "We Used to Wait" all confront the listener with sounds and lyrics of escape and freedom juxtaposed against the feeling of, well, the suburbs. Towards the end of the album there are many "what does it all mean" moments, "why do I feel this way", and "am I alone in this". We all have these feelings, we all want to find that sense of home and belonging, and we all want to run. How do we deal with change? "When the lights cut out I was lost standing in the wilderness downtown. Now our lives are changing fast. Now our lives are changing fast. Hope that something pure can last." All of Side 3 builds with an immediacy that leads into the beautiful finale that is Side 4.

"Sprawl I" brings to mind the helplessness at the hand of The Man that was presented with such vivid imagery during "The Trial" of Pink Floyd's "The Wall". Helplessness and longing hangs over "Sprawl I" and gives way to the beautiful, driving, and epic "Sprawl II". What sounds like a reworking of "Heart of Glass" (only cooler) the driving beat and voice of Chassange give this listener the chills. An anthem to regain our humanity by, lets not simply accept what someone tells us, lets not just punch the clock: the dystopian police lights are blinding, she is calling for darkness, she is calling for freedom.

"So grab your mother's keys, we leave tonight"

Album - A

Vinyl - The vinyl is presented beautifully in a glossy gatefold (8 different choices). The vinyl is black and standard weight. The vinyl for the most part sounds excellent, but my side 4 has some issues and does not sound as clean as I would expect from new vinyl. B

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Devil Whale - Slowtrain (SLC) July, 18, 2010

Music Is A Beautiful Thing

One of the best parts about music as a medium for expression is that it surrounds us on a daily basis. One of the worst parts about music is that (especially these days) you really need to be proactive in finding the good stuff.

Slowtrain has the good stuff.

Slowtrain turned 4 years old this past weekend, and to celebrate, they started a label. Yeah, I like big ideas too.

The first release from Slowtrain Records will be the new album from Salt Lake's own The Devil Whale. If you haven't heard of these guys please pay Chris & Anna a visit and purchase their excellent 2008 release Like Paraders or their 2010 EP Young Wives.

To celebrate, The Devil Whale played a show Sunday night for those who have pre-ordered their new album. It was an amazing, intimate and hauntingly beautiful show. Proof that great music doesn't only happen on the coasts. The show provided an excellent soundtrack to the hot summer night, some old favorites and new songs as well, The Devil Whale proved yet again they represent the SLC music scene better than anyone.

In a move no one expected, Brinton Jones (lead singer) asked his younger sister to join him for Butter For Buns, in what would become the highlight of the evening. A beautiful and haunting song, if you missed it, kick yourself and then watch the video posted below. Astonishing.

It was a great celebration, one that I will not soon forget. Its easy to forget sometimes that music isn't just this magical thing beamed to XM radio from a satellite. Its about true musicianship, community, and just getting people in a room. Its the collective experience that makes it wonderful, it makes it a religious experience for those unsure of anything else in this world except for how music makes them feel.

Thanks to Slowtrain for 4 great years, this city would be totally lame without you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

James Taylor / Carole King - Energy Solutions Arena Salt Lake City, July 15th, 2010

If you are like me, you could listen to James Taylor play a concert every weekend for an eternity. On Thursday the great Carole King joined him in Salt Lake City. It was a great night for music.

Taking the stage around 7:45 PM, these two old friends worked their way through all the classics, and in excellent fashion if I may say so myself. While at 68 Carole's voice has suffered the effects of age, James sounds as good as ever, clear and warm. He had me thinking of women and glasses of beer.

The original backing band from the Troubadour days was present, and they really rocked. The acoustics in the ESA are always questionable, but Thursday night seemed to be on the better end of the spectrum. I think its a combination of the talent present, and the softer, more acoustic setting of the show.

Some highlights of the night include: "Sweet Baby James", "Country Road", and "Up On The Roof". A good time was had by all.

Set List:
  1. Something In The Way She Moves (James Taylor)
  2. So Far Away (Carole King)
  3. Machine Gun Kelly (James Taylor)
  4. Carolina in My Mind (James Taylor)
  5. Way Over Yonder (Carole King)
  6. Smackwater Jack (Carole King)
  7. Country Road (James Taylor)
  8. Sweet Seasons (Carole King)
  9. Mexico (James Taylor)
  10. Song Of Long Ago (Carole King)
  11. Long Ago And Far Away (James Taylor)
  12. Beautiful (Carole King)
  13. Shower The People (James Taylor)
  14. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Carole King)
  15. Set Two:
  16. Where You Lead (Carole King)
  17. Crying In The Rain (Duet)
  18. Secret O' Life (James Taylor)
  19. Sweet Baby James (James Taylor)
  20. Jazzman (Carole King)
  21. Will You Love Me Tomorrow? (Duet)
  22. Your Smiling Face (James Taylor)
  23. It's Too Late (Carole King)
  24. Fire And Rain (James Taylor)
  25. I Feel The Earth Move (Carole King)
  26. You've Got A Friend (Duet)
  27. Encore:
  28. Up On The Roof (Duet)
  29. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) (James Taylor)
  30. Encore 2:
  31. You Can Close Your Eyes (Duet)

Paul McCartney - Rio Tinto Stadium Salt Lake City, July 13th, 2010

I am happy to report to my faithful readers that I have seen a Beatle. Life is good.

Paul McCartney brought his short North American Tour to Salt Lake City on July 13th, to a sold out Rio Tinto Stadium. This was Paul's first ever show in Utah, and I was there to revel in the glory.

Everyone has a Beatles stage, mine started when I was 16 and well, its still going. A catalogue so beautiful it belongs in the world's finest museums. When this guy heard Paul was rolling through town... price was not an object.

Paul came out at 8 PM to thunderous applause and ear shattering screams, the sun was setting, and we were off. A set list (listed below) heavy on Wings material in the beginning, covered his entire career. From Beatles material, to Wings, and beyond. The 40 + song set list was a stunning testament to one of the finest lyricist the world has ever seen.

Some highlights from the night include "The Long & Winding Road", "Live & Let Die", "Back In The U.S.S.R", "Hey Jude", "Let It Be", "Get Back", "Highway", and "Dance Tonight".

You know me, I go to a lot of concerts. This is without a doubt, the best arena show I have been to, and it could be the best show period. Paul brings more to the table than most half his age (68), and for 3 solid hours, he wowed the audience, and reminded them that Rock & Roll never forgets.

Set List:
1. Venus & Mars
2. Rock Show
3. Jet
4. All My Loving
5. Letting Go
6. Drive My Car
7. Highway
8. Let Me Roll It/Foxey Lady
9. The Long and Winding Road
10. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
11. Let 'Em In
12. My Love
13. I've Just Seen a Face
14. And I Love Her
15. Blackbird
16. Here Today
17. Dance Tonight
18. Mrs Vandebilt
19. Eleanor Rigby
20. Ram On
21. Something
22. Letting Go
23. Sing the Changes
25. Band on the Run
26. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
27. Back in the USSR
28. I've Got a Feeling
29. Paperback Writer
30. A Day In the Life/Give Peace a Chance
31. Let It Be
32. Live and Let Die
33. Hey Jude
34. Encore: Day Tripper
35. Lady Madonna
36. Get Back
37. Encore: Yesterday
38. Helter Skelter
39. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise) / The End

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Broken Social Scene - "Forgiveness Rock Record" Vinyl LP

Broken Social Scene - "Forgiveness Rock Record" Vinyl LP
Arts & Crafts
Produced by John McEntire & BSS
Original Release - 2010

BSS is an interesting case study of modern indie-rock. They are critical darlings, the Daniel Day-Lewis of indie, emerging and re-forming every few years to release a highly touted album. BSS has more members and ex-members than British Parliament, this sentiment expressed with comedic excellence by Texas Travesty in 2009:

Michael Prohaska
That guy who played with Broken Social Scene once

Texas Travesty:So how has your life changed since the big show?
Michael Prohaska: Oh, it's great. I'm a true rock star now. All my friends have told me that I've changed a lot, and that I act differently around them. But that's OK, I don't really need friends that aren't already rock stars.
TT: What's the next the step in your musical career? Any big projects lined up?
MP: Now that I'm basically a member of BSS, I'm currently working on a few side projects, including my upcoming solo project with whale sounds and sitars called "Electric Birth Canal," as well as a few local gigs, you know, to stay true to my roots.
TT: How did you did you get the opportunity to play with such a prominent indie act?
MP: Well, I knew that some of the songs had trumpets on the track, and I thought I would make a great addition to the band. I snuck in backstage to the rehearsal early in the day by tasering several members of the security team. It only took two measures of my sweet trumpet riffs and the band had to have me. The security guards recovered and we all had a good laugh about it later.
TT: Any advice for the rest of us trying to hit it big?
MP: Just remember: People only think you're as great as you tell them you are.
Turn-ons: French horns, light jazz, Canadians, female vocalists, amphitheaters, great crowds, selling out the big show, breakin' da rulez, European folk music, French wine, proper tuning

Turn-offs: scalpers, major record labels, cultural "norms," people who only got into BSS after they hit it big, people who say I sold out, carbon emissions, parents

BSS's "Forgiveness Rock Record" is an excellent album. As an added bonus, it has been released with the "Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights" EP. We know what to expect from BSS and they deliver with inventiveness and experimentation. "World Sick" kicks off the album with swelling guitars and harmony, while "Texico Bitches" provides the perfect rhythm and lyrics for a sunny drive down the highway. We experience some tempo and mood changes on side B with "Art House Director" and "Highway Slipper Jam".

This is an album made by people who are comfortable in their skin, they don't try to do to much, and they know how to keep it loose. Recently I read an extensive article on BSS in Filter magazine. It covered four seasons with the band, notably over the winter holidays in Canada, where BSS played a somewhat impromptu gig at a poetry reading. Thats just how they roll, hang out and drink a few pints, and then take the stage with a replacement drummer, keeping it loose and charmingly sloppy. BSS fans never know what to expect from a live show, except that it will be the most unique and unpredictable show of the season.

With "Ungrateful Little Father" I can't help but hear echos of Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" not only sonically but lyrically as well.

Side C opens with the driving beat of "Meet Me In The Basement", a epic instrumental that leads into the more melancholy "Sentimental X's". Which leads to the even more subdued "Sweetest Kill" an obvious standout from this album.

"Water In Hell" is BSS at their best, seeming to indulge every Rock & Roll instinct they possess before winding down for the closing "Me and My Hand". An excellent album by an excellent super-group, I would recommend you pick it up.

Album - B+

Vinyl - A (A nice double LP set on excellent sounding vinyl. Also comes with the download codes for the entire album, plus a CD EP).

New She & Him Video

She & Him
Volume II

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs"

Next month, one of the top bands on the planet will release their new album. Arcade Fire will release "The Suburbs" on August 3rd. With this release comes a tour and they will also be headlining Lollapalooza (Ashley: I'm jealous, take me with you). This highly anticipated release will without a doubt be one of 2010's albums still standing in the album of the year race in a few months. Suffice to say, I am anxiously anticipating this release. A photograph of the album artwork is below, and if you would like more details, a letter follows that. Check your local independent record store for the new 12'' limited edition single from the band.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sleigh Bells - "Treats"

Sleigh Bells – “Treats”



I’m not sure you can handle this. I was a little skeptical myself, but this new album from the Brooklyn based Sleigh Bells is pure noise-rock magic. Akin to the famous adrenaline shot scene from “Pulp Fiction”, “Treats” starts and never lets off the gas. You are most likely to end up with a headache at some point, but don’t worry, in the end its all worth it.

This is an album of extremes, with Alexis Krauss’ sweet bubble-gum voice transposed against sometimes shrill and violent rhythms of guitar and percussion. Listen to “Rill Rill” transition into “Crowns on the Ground” and you will hear what I mean. Creativity flows like wine here, and album than begs to be turned up to max volume, a festival of sound for the ears.

Sleigh Bells share a record label with international superpower M.I.A. but don’t expect the same philosophy; Sleigh Bells know when to attack and when to live in the moment. Take “Kids” which should remind you of MGMT’s monster hit by the same name, its one of many sub 3 minute jams that define “Treats”.

Any competent hip-hop artist like Kanye West or Jay-Z would kill to sample the hell out of this album. They could work wonders with a remix of “Run The Heart” or “Rachel”. The latter reminding me of a post-apocalyptic dance track for the barren wasteland. Or maybe a soundtrack to a sunset over our now ruined Gulf Coast, Hauntingly beautiful nonetheless.

“Rill Rill” feels like a mash up between the sweet sensisbility of She & Him mixed with the sonic wonder that is Phoenix. A breezy ode to 70’s folk-pop, with a modern spin. It will have you feeling good driving on a sunny afternoon.

Word on the street is Sleigh Bells puts on a killer live show, and I have no doubt they do if they are able to bottle the magic in “Treats” for the audience.

Sleigh Bells have made banner headlines in the indie world this yeah, so make sure you see them now, before the mainstreamers get a hold of them.

Album - A -

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Massive Weekend

The Hold Steady - The Cabooze, Minneapolis

I've been a Hold Steady fan since I was in college, and have been preaching the gospel of the Unified Scene ever since. The combination of imaginative non-linear storytelling and classic rock riffs have captivated this listener for years. I had seen them once before, at the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, but this time I got to see them in Minneapolis, a homecoming of sorts for both parties. I was treated to two massive nights.

The stage was set for an epic show, it was my first time to The Cabooze and I can't wait to return. The Whigs treated the crowd to a capable set, but when The Steady took the stage, everyone in the Twin Cities area new it. It was hot and muggy, the beautiful midwestern evening was torn apart by the opening chords of "Stuck Between Stations" and we were off. Next came "Rock Problems", "Magazines" (epic intro with the added guitar btw), and "Navy Sheets".

It pains me to say it, but the Hold Steady live experience has not diminished with the departure of Franz, if anything they sound better, and bigger. Heavy guitars lend that unique feel to the songs soaked in references to Minneapolis and desperate characters seeking redemption. It was loud, it was fast, it was unified.

It was a special evening in the Midwest and I'm happy I could spend it with one of the best bands on the planet. The crowd-pleasing setlist was pretty amazing too:

Stuck Between Stations
Rock Problems
Navy Sheets
Chips Ahoy
Hurricane J
Sequestered In Memphis
Stevie Nix
Multitude of Casualties
Sweet Part of the City
Constructive Summer
Hot Soft Light
Barely Breathing
You Can Make Him Like You
Lord, I'm Discouraged
Stay Positive
Southtown Girls
You're Little Hoodrat Friend
Massive Nights
Slapped Actress


The Swish
Sweet Payne (For The East Sider's!)
The Weekenders
How A Resurrection Really Feels

The Hold Steady - First Avenue, Minneapolis

This is the best possible way to spend the 4th of July. With the Hold Steady. We got in line early, met some nice people on the rail, and were treated to PBR's by these clever kids from Iowa. The Unified Scene was out in force to see a band that is best seen in this venue. Not only is it mentioned in many of their songs, but its a local landmark, and a stage this band build their name on.

They opened with "Sweet Part of the City" which on this night, was right at the heart of Minneapolis. The setlist was an oldschool fan's dream, and the sound in First Ave was second to none. Its by far the best live music venue in the country. Yours truly had a front row center spot, right under Craig Finn, sweet.

A Hold Steady show is a unique experience. When you realize you are seeing one of the great bands of our time, in an all time great venue, in the front row, it just hits you. Like it hit me during "Stuck Between Stations", the crowd was crazy, it was hot and insane, soaked in sweat and beer time just slips away. Nothing else matters but the moment you are sharing with the others in the room. Its as close to a religious experience as this clever kid has had in 24 years. I'll never forget it.

The Steady brought out some old school jams like "Killer Parties", "Positive Jam", and "Barfruit Blues". It was great to see them simply enjoy the moment, its been quite a journey:

Sweet Part of the City
Barfruit Blues
Rock Problems
Sequestered In Memphis
Hurricane J
Cattle & The Creeping Things
The Swish
You Can Make Him Like You
We Can Get Together
Ask Her For The Adderall
Bangin' Camp
Soft In The Center
Hornets! Hornets!
Chips Ahoy!
First Night
Stuck Between Stations
Stay Positive
Massive Nights
A Slight Discomfort


Positive Jam
The Weekenders
Most People Are DJ's
Killer Parties

Thanks guys, I needed that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Tallest Man On Earth - "The Wild Hunt"

The Tallest Man On Earth - "The Wild Hunt" Vinyl LP
Dead Oceans DOCO40
Original Release - 2010

"Oh meet me when the morning falls on the fields of desire" sings The Tallest Man On Earth aka Kristian Matsson, on the closing of track of "The Wild Hunt" called "Kids On The Run". If this lyric sounds like something you might be interested in, please read on...

Kristian Matsson is on the run. A modern day troubadour, who has been compared to Bob Dylan one too many times. I'll attempt to set the record straight, yes, he does remind me of Bob Dylan but his purpose is not to be an imitator. In fact, he channels many artists on this sophomore release, including Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen with amazing results. The element of "The Wild Hunt" that works so well for him is he is true to his voice, and he is true to his path.

Full of beautiful imagery, Scandinavian myth, and the thirst for adventure, "The Wild Hunt" flies by in a flash. This is beautiful folk music, from "You're Going Back" where Matsson sings "I could roll you to hell, I could swim from your heavens" to the rollicking "King of Spain", to the undoubtedly Springsteen inspired "Kids On The Run". This closing track sounds something akin to a subdued B-side from "Born To Run".

The thing I like best about this album is that Matsson seems to effortlessly convey the beauty of an adventure and its landscape with his words and music. His phrasing is perfect, and his voice is just weathered enough, and not overly produced. I cant wait to hop a train and take another adventure with The Tallest Man On Earth.

Album - A -

Vinyl - A - (includes download codes)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Blazin' Jimi Hendrix Post

In the mood for a truly smokin live cut of "Fire" or a bucket of blood cover of "Wild Thing"? Well, once again folks Jimi delivers on "Live At Clark University". These recordings were from the March 15, 1968 concert at Atwood Hall. This EP is an official Jimi Hendrix bootleg released exclusively for RSD, and let me tell you, its fantastic.

A Band You Don't Know But You Should...

If you are from Minnesota you know the Gear Daddies, plain & simple, they are a local institution. For years in the 90's the Gear Daddies played second fiddle to more influential alt-country acts like The Jayhawks, and Uncle Tupelo. The Gear Daddies have a cult following, that will sell out reunion gigs at The Fine Line or O'Gara's in minutes (I know, because I have tried to get tickets). "Billy's Live Bait" is my favorite Gear Daddies album. A catchier and more accessible album than the also popular "Lets Go Scare Al". I have to say this would be a desert island disc/record for me, full of classics like "Stupid Boy", "Time Heals", "Gonna Change", and of course the hidden track "Zamboni Song". A St. Paul summer staple that brings back the memories of summers and winters of old. Bring it to the lake or the ice rink, and let the good times roll.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Revival

Take a break from the World Cup and revive with this clip of Neil Young and Sir Paul McCartney jammin. Two absolute legends playing "A Day In The Life" which happens to be my favorite track off Sgt. Pepper's. Enjoy...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Revival

Ahh yes, the sounds of summer return like clockwork. This gem from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers has been in heavy rotation on summertime drives for years, and this summer is no exception. "You Don't Know How It Feels" was made for sunshine, and the open road, and of course the beach. Since Stark The Vinyl Shark is landlocked at the moment, I'll have to stick with the open road.

Enjoy the weather, and when you head out, don't forget the Heartbreakers.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

MGMT In The Venue Salt Lake City, June 4 2010

MGMT played a sold out show in Salt Lake last night at In The Venue. This was my first trip to this SLC venue, and it turns out its a pretty good spot to catch a show.

Stark The Vinyl Shark first spotted the MGMT tour busses parked outside The Hotel Monaco while out to lunch and a few hours later I was awaiting their performance while taking in their opening act.

MGMT's psychedelic rock show was a bit disjointed but found its way towards the end of the set. The set was split about 50/50 between their previous and new albums and their sound was pretty good, though I could have used some more volume.

Highlights include "Time To Pretend", "Weekend Wars", "Electric Feel", and the traditionally uninspired "Kids". A good time was had by all.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Revival

Stark the Vinyl Shark checking in here on this long weekend. Hopefully you are enjoying some tasty beverages and some nice weather. I have been under the influence of LOST for the past week, so posting has been put aside. Here is a killer Jenny Lewis live take of "Acid Tongue" in 2008. Redeem yourself.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Charting The Beatles

I happen to think this chart is astonishing. I came across it in another music blog and thought I would share it with my faithful readers. This chart breaks down the activities of The Beatles from 1963 - 1966. Three years. THREE YEARS PEOPLE!

I know there has been a lot of Beatles backlash over the years. It seems that just as many people decide not to like them because of their prevalence, as those who discover and start a life long love affair with The Fab Four around age 13 or 14. This chart really shows that The Beatles are truly a band for the ages, undeniable talent and output that may never be surpassed.

There is a lot of interesting information on this chart. I would love to see it expanded through 1969. In 1963 they are really touring almost the entire year, with bits of recording throughout. This evolution of recording timeframe would carry them through the end of the Beatles, with almost no touring at the end, choosing to stay in the studio for long stretches of time, producing the masterpieces of a lifetime.

The entries into the second half of the Beatles catalogue ("Sgt. Pepper", "Let It Be", "Abby Road", "The Beatles") I would stand up next to the greatest works of art in the history of the human race. Not only the greats of classical music, but of artists as a whole. Not only was this a great period for music, it was a generation that proved: All you need is love.

Paul, I'll see you July 13th.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Evening Revival Post

This is a new series for the Vinyl Blog. These will be special weekly selections to help cleanse you're ears of what passes for "music" during the week. These will be the finest cuts, just for you, in an effort to re-affirm the meaning of music in your life. We are starting this week with a selection from the famous Howlin' Wolf "Shake It For Me". If you like blues music and want to hear more from Howlin' Wolf I would recommend "The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions" featuring legendary artists like Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Charlie Watts/Bill Wyman from the Rolling Stones. Excellent blues jamming going on there. Enjoy this cut. Until next time, keep em clean and keep em spinin'.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Rolling Stones - "Exile On Main St" Anniversary Edition Vinyl Remaster

The Rolling Stones - "Exile On Main St" 2x LP 18o Gram Vinyl Edition
Original Release - 1972
Anniversary Release - 2010
Producer - Jimmy Miller
Recorded - Chateau Nellcote, France
Mixed - Sunset Sound, Hollywood California

18 Tracks to Redeem Your Soul

Everyone knows the story. By 1972 The Stones were literally exiles. Leaving the UK to evade heavy taxation they set up shop in the south of France to record what would come to be known as "Exile On Main St". This album is not only known as the greatest album in the Stones catalogue, but one of the greatest in the history of rock & roll.

Chateau Nellcote was the home to the majority of the fractured recording sessions. Often taking place in the muggy basement, these drug fueled recording sessions often lasted all night.

During 1971-1972 the exiled band mates were literally on the run. On the run from the oppressive taxation in their home country, on the run from the police in France, and on the run from their own personal demons they imported to Nellcote.

The whoring, boozing, drugs and general debauchery is evident throughout the album, especially side A. The famous down beat from Charlie Watts starts "Rocks Off" with a bang. What follows is 66 minutes of blues soaked rock & roll that plays more as a soul revival than album. With Keith Richards at the creative helm, side A flies by with heartfelt beats, Delta blues style guitars, and a soulful bass line from Wyman. "Tumbling Dice" takes center stage as a mid tempo ode to life in the fast lane: "Always in a hurry, I never stop to worry, Don't you see the time flashin' by. Honey, got no money, I'm all sixes, sevens, and nines".

Side B opens with the bluesy classic "Sweet Virginia". This may be as delicate as The Stones get, but interestingly enough it makes for just as thrilling a listening experience as their uptempo classics. With "Sweet Virginia" you get the sense that this band is a fighting band, they may have been on the ropes, but they will not give in. Mick Jagger's ragged vocals and harmonica add substance to this track, but its the bass line and honkey tonk piano that brings this track to life. Near the end you get the sense that you have been up all night, maybe all month. Strung out and determined you still have miles to go before you sleep.

With "Torn & Frayed" we have Al Perkins on steel guitar (nice touch) and Mick Taylor on bass. A classic Stones rocker, "Torn & Frayed" displays The Stones and their love for American music, especially the Delta Blues. You don't have to look far to see the influence of American blues masters, as it is evident on every track. This is a true "bucket of blood" album. Strap yourself in and prepare for a ride.

There are few albums where the studio shines as an instrument. With "Exile On Main St" you can hear the room, and it adds such texture to the experience, especially the percussion on "Black Angel". This is brought to life by the vinyl remaster which (thankfully) enhanced the recording without washing away the character and imperfections that make this album perfect.

Side C opens with the Keith Richards song "Happy". Written and cut during some of "Exile's" most turbulent sessions. By this time Richard's heroin use was affecting the entire band, but out of this conflict emerged a sweaty, push and pull rock album for the ages.

"Shine a Light" the best track on side D and a contender for best track on the album has Billy Preston tickling the ivories (yes, that Billy Preston) and Mick Taylor on bass. This track brings the album full circle, though "Soul Survivor" closes the album, this is the emotional conclusion to "Exile On Main St".

If we are to trust the lyrics of "American Pie", that rock & roll can indeed save our soul, one must start with "Exile On Main St". Though this an "imperfect" album, made by "imperfect people" it is out of the ashes that this album rises to lay legitimate claim to the title of greatest rock album of all time.

This Anniversary edition vinyl is pressed on 180 Gram black vinyl and comes in a replica of the original vinyl release. There are no bonus tracks on the vinyl edition, but Stark The Vinyl Shark has acquired the bonus tracks which include "Plundered My Soul", "I'm Not Signifying", and alternate takes of "Soul Survivor" and "Loving Cup". An interesting look back at hidden gems from one of the most infamous recording sessions in the modern rock era. The vinyl sounds great, if not slightly compressed (what did you expect) and will serve as a fine play copy until I can track down a original.

Album - A+ (This is JCSTARKvinylblog history in the making, so savor this moment Mr. Reid)

Vinyl - B

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Recent Acquisition

Neko Case - "Canadian Amp"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The National - "High Violet" Vinyl LP

The National - "High Violet" Vinyl LP (2x 18o Gram Vinyl)
Producer - The National
Original Release - 2o1o

This is a front runner for album of the year, right out of the gate. May 2o1o has been more than generous to music lovers, and we are only 1/2 through the month. With "High Violet", The National return with their 5th set of songs: its arguably their best.

The National is a band you won't quite be able to explain, is it the powerful yet delicate baritone of Matt Berninger? The blistering chorus or guitars? Or even the lyrics, which manage to be sad, hopeful, funny and horrifying all at once? Its ultimately up to the listener to decide, but if you find yourself with a (hopefully legally acquired) copy of this album, know you are ahead of the curve.

The National have released some incredible albums. "Alligator", "Boxer", and now "High Violet" complete a (unofficial) trilogy of (almost) flawless music making. Its a mixture of Johnny Cash and Arcade Fire that will leave your ears buzzing, and hanging on ever phrase presented to you. It is a trilogy that can be appreciated on many different levels, all at one time. "High Violet" touches on many themes, many of these themes we can all relate to, and there are some we cannot. There are lovers, bars, imagery that will blow your mind ("Bloodbuzz Ohio"), and yes there are zombies.

"Its a terrible love, and I'm walking with spiders" opens "Terrible Love", probably the best track one side one of The National's catalogue. You know when you hear those words sung with that voice, you are about to embark on a journey. Don't worry, Mr. Berninger will happily take you on a guided tour of his fears, regrets, and moments of triumph. Its a journey worth taking.

This record is what Stark The Vinyl Shark likes to call a slow burner. Case in point: "Sorrow", "Lemonworld", and "England". The National will never take you by the neck and shake you, but if you listen closely, the songs begin to build like a fire and before you know it the thought of leaving your single life for one dedicated to small people who wholly depend on you sounds like the most horrific yet satisfying transition life has to offer.

The shining moment "High Violet" has to offer comes on side B with "Bloodbuzz Ohio", which is probably my favorite song not only off the album but of The National's entire library. Take a listen and prepare to be taken away, and epic track that proves The National is one of the best bands in America today.

Here we have the first clear cut front runner for album of the year 2o1o, though its only May, there have been many strong releases, I can't wait to hear what the rest of the year has in store. This double LP is housed in an amazing heavy duty gatefold, its pressed on black 18o gram vinyl, and the sound is terrific. It also comes with the download codes for the entire album.

Album - A-

Vinyl - A-

Recent Acquisition

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Hold Steady - "Heaven Is Whenever" Vinyl LP

The Hold Steady - "Heaven Is Whenever" Vinyl LP
VR 595
Vagrant Records
Original Release - 2010

First I must admit that I am a huge fan of The Hold Steady. I am always excited when they release an album, and for me to criticize them is very hard. So I will try my best to give an even handed review of their newest release "Heaven Is Whenever".

A new Hold Steady album must first be judged against the previous releases from this Minneapolis via Brooklyn rock band. Its hard to beat the trilogy of "Almost Killed Me", "Separation Sunday", and "Boys & Girls In America" the latter being my favorite album of the last decade. The against all odds characters, and thrilling musicianship presented in these albums made The Hold Steady critical and fan favorites. With "Stay Positive" the group moved into more theatrical territory while still staying true to their anthemic refrains. With "Heaven Is Whenever" The Hold Steady have made their most introspective album to date, a more mature and calculated release. Craig Finn said this album would be less anthemic than previous releases and to a point he is correct. The bar anthems are still here, I'm looking at you "Hurricane J", "Rock Problems", and "We Can Get Together" but the majority of the album is The Hold Steady meets Stones circa "Exile On Main Street" meets classic Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. This isn't a negative, and our boys are not in danger of crossing the "Dad Rock" line as Wilco did with their release 'Sky Blue Sky". I feel this is the obvious progression artistically for the band, a reflection point for the last ten years and four albums.

"Heaven Is Whenever" has a promising start, "Sweet Part Of The City" which is Finn and Kubler doing their best Jagger/Richards "Exile On Main Street" groove. Old School fans will notice this sounds a lot like "Charlemagne In Sweatpants" of "Separation Sunday". We can welcome back Tad Kubler on guitar in "Soft In The Center", which boasts power chords that will surely burn down First Avenue sometime this summer, also a killer solo where Tad totally slays it. Here we are met with the first lyrics of reflection and advice from Craig Finn, a theme that is present throughout this album. The first of the anthemic, classic Hold Steady rockers is "The Weekenders", which will surely be a live favorite for old and new fans alike. "Rock Problems" features classic punk influences, and guitar riffs that seem just a little to easy when compared to previous offerings.

"We Can Get Together" basically sums up the philosophy of the band, the same characters are present, but with different names. The hoodrats, and the townies, the passers-by and the not so innocent girls of previous albums, though their stories seem more muted than we are used to. The lyrics in this album seem more observational, and less street level than before, but whats new here is not necessarily negative. "Hurricane J" will probably be the track of Summer 2010, a hard rock offering with a final thirty seconds that will blow your mind. The Hold Steady is known for having killer closing tracks, from "Killer Parties" to "Slapped Actress", this album is no different, it closes with "A Slight Discomfort" which slowly builds into a crescendo of backing vocals and military style drumming from Bobby Drake. It fades to the sounds of a midwestern night, calm and peaceful. I hope this sense of calm is only a breather, and not a sign the boys are content with their current situation.

This album is housed in a glossy case and includes lyrics sheet. It is 180 gram vinyl that sounds very nice, it also comes with the mp3 download codes.

Album - B

Vinyl - A

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Jayhawks Re-Issued (Finally)

Being from Minnesota I'm a Jayhawks fanatic, it just comes with the territory. I am pleased to announce that the long lost "Bunkhouse" album will be re-released this month. Lost Highway is releasing these original 13 tracks on CD and limited edition vinyl on May 18th. This is HUGE!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


From a Night In Vegas

The Dave Man and I spent last Saturday night in Vegas taking in the sights and sounds of Sin City. The main reason for the trip was to see our long time late night buddy Mr. Conan O'brien. It was a short, but great trip. I thought my readers would enjoy a few observations. All times are approximate.

9 a.m. - "Zero" by New York's Yeah Yeah Yeahs provides great entertainment while waiting in the McDonald's drive through.

11:3o a.m. - Crystal Castles is perfect for the open road.

12:oo p.m. - The only reason Dave Rock knows more about music than I do is because he has satellite radio.

12:45 p.m. - LCD Soundsystem's "Pow Pow" is a toe tapping breath of fresh air.

12:51 p.m. - Yes, this song is still going...

1:30 p.m. - The new single from MGMT "Flash Delirium" is a pop masterpiece in the tradition of "Pet Sounds" and "The Beatles".

2:30 p.m. - When all you want to hear is the Hold Steady's new single "Hurricane J" the radio God's will always play with your emotions.

3:oo p.m. - Blackjack is a cruel mistress.

3:35 p.m. - The Kentucky Derby (Which happens to be the 'main' race on Derby Day) is a helluva lot more interesting with money on it. Especially with a last minute push from #7.

5:oo p.m. - Sometimes you just gotta eat.

7:3o p.m. - Blackjack is a cruel, cruel mistress.

8:4o p.m. - "Don't worry, we're money baby"

10:3o - Everything is automatically better when you add the inflatable bat from the Bat Out Of Hell Tour:

11:3o p.m. - Conan is not only better than Leno, but he is also better than Carson. Yeah. Thats right.

1:30 a.m. - I love Blackjack.

2:30 a.m. - "Empire State of Mind" is still a great song, but mostly because I don't listen to the radio.

2:45 a.m. - I love Black Label, Blackjack, and David's advice.

3:45 a.m. - "Hailey, you aren't a Scientologist... ARE YOU?"

4:15 a.m. - There is a time, and a place for Lady Gaga.

5:3o a.m. - "You pay for the cab, and I hope its 10 bucks and you have to pay with a 100 dollar bill"

unknown time - "This is a good bed"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

She & Him - "Volume Two"

She & Him - "Volume Two" Vinyl LP
Original Release 2010

At the start of "Me And You" Zooey Deschanel sings "Well I'm back in your good graces again", I'm not sure she ever wasn't. The easy breezy duo of indie-pop Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward are back for another album of fun in the California sun with "Volume Two". What works here on "Volume Two" is exactly what worked on "Volume One", which is part of the problem. With lyrics penned by Deschanel and orchestration and production by M. Ward, this collection of songs never really leaves the comforts of "Volume One".

Yes, Deschanel (who almost singlehandedly represents the current indie movement) has a great sultry voice, but it's a voice I almost don't believe. After a listen to this you can hardly blame the poor Joseph Gordon-Levitt for falling for Summer in the fantastic Sundance Selection (500) Days Of Summer. Yet, at the core of these salty and sunny songs is Deschanel, who sounds like she has exclusively broken hearts for a living since 1996. Which isn't a weakness per se, except its almost exactly the formula that made "Volume One" so refreshing.

I love the feel of this album, at the right time, and the right place. The vintage packaging and artwork is classic Deschanel, but the overall experience is nothing more than a sequel to their first effort. A little more creative direction would have worked wonders here.

Album - C+

Vinyl/Packaging - A (Sounds and looks great).

The Flaming Lips, Star Death & White Dwarfs With Henry Rollins and Peaches - "Dark Side Of The Moon"

The Flaming Lips, Star Death & White Dwarfs With Henry Rollins and Peaches - "Dark Side Of The Moon" Vinyl LP (Color Vinyl RSD Exclusive).
WB 523541-1
Original Release - 2010


Finally getting around to cracking some of these vinyl exclusives open from RSD last weekend. I have been on a long and strange trip with The Lips this afternoon and can't wait to tell you all about it. I was a little concerned going in, since Dark Side Of The Moon is one of my all time favorite albums, but now I know if anyone had it in them, it's The Lips. While staying true to the original, The Lips and Co. have etched out a sonic tribute that I think Floyd, and the always hard to please Floyd fans can be proud of. While "Speak To Me" is a faster tempo than the original, its still feels right with The Lips at the helm, awkward, crazy, and a warning of things to come its the perfect lead in. The Lips and Co. sound at ease with "Time", and its hard to believe the original could be improved on, I like how the "Breathe Reprise" brings us right back to the tempo we started at. Did I mention this pressing (Seafoam Green Vinyl) kicks ass? The sound is amazing, I can't wait to compare it to my MFSL pressing of "Dark Side Of The Moon". "Great Gig In The Sky" featuring Henry Rollins and Peaches is the perfect conclusion to side one, this is one of those rare covers thats actually worthy of the original.

"Money" sounds dirty and grungy at the start of Side Two, and the robotic/futuristic voices add an extra kick to this classic track. What I like most is they didn't try to do too much here, they just added some Lip's flair when needed, and let the creative genius of Roger Waters speak for itself.

"Us And Them", my favorite track of "Dark Side Of The Moon" is not more beautiful than the original, but is damn close. Like a brilliant starry night, this album will continue to open the minds of each generation that discovers it. Now we have an alternate take, provided by arguably this generations most creative groups.

This album is housed in a heavy duty gatefold (gorgeous) and includes a CD of the entire album (Bonus!). The heavy-weight vinyl is Seafoam Green (in my case) and sounds incredible, my ears have been enjoying the brilliant sound all day. If you can find one, pick one up, you will hopefully love it as much as I do.

Album - A-

Vinyl/Packaging - A