Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Von Ehrics - Shameless Plug

The latest Von Ehrics tour is well underway. Go see them if they're near your city and if you like your music loud and fast. Stop by the Chicago show at Quenchers on Thursday, December 6th and I'll even buy you a beer.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Next Great American Band - Nov 23

Rolling Stones night on NGAB. I don’t think I can get no satisfaction, but let’s start this up and see what happens.

First band up after nearly going home last week was Tres Bien with Get Off Of My Cloud. Wow. Four bars in and I know this week is going to suck. If they were auditioning for High School Musical 3, then they would have killed. This isn’t High School Musical, so they should be killed. But I’ll give them a reprieve if they promise never to do that again.

Who dares to be called next – Denver and the Invesco Field Orchestra. They did a cover of I’m Free that actually made me miss the Soup Dragons. The performance was so lame it may have been more exciting to watch them eat soup. Especially Campbell’s Chunky Soup. Those commercials crack me up, and the athletes who do them are cursed. I feel the same fate awaits Denver and crew.

Six Wire strutted out to do The Last Time and sped it up enough such that it didn’t suck as bad as I thought I would. That’s a compliment, although I wasn’t too keen on the Oak Ridge Boys harmonies going on. They are good musicians and very polished, but that’s not what I want to see on this show – I want to see scantily clad women and car crashes. But since that’s not possible, then how about a band that’s not a template for the Billboard charts?

Light of Doom got their permission slips signed to perform again and did Jumpin’ Jack Flash. They annoy me and the vocals sucked, so enough about them. But Dicko did mention that the Stones are good role models and LoD should research them. Yeah, a couple drug overdoses should give them some credibility.

The Clark Brothers were called out to give the show some real credibility and did Gimme Shelter. Wow. The other bands should just be ashamed of themselves.

Final slot came down to Dot Dot Dot and Cliff Wagner. Unfortunately, Cliff had to go home. I think it says a lot that I missed hearing what the Old #7 was going to do with the Stones catalog this week. May their moonshine run clear and may their jugs always be full. Or some sort of Tennessee blessing that might make sense to them.

So Dot Dot Dot performed Let’s Spend The Night Together. Dicko summed it up nicely for me – as lead singer you need to command attention instead of looking like you’re desperate for it. (Ed. Note: That works pretty well for sex, too.)

I don’t see how Denver can survive another week, but I’ve been saying that since I finished my Labor Day hamburger. Tres Bien always seems to be living on the edge, but they seem to be working that like Nadia Comaneci. Light of Doom makes my head hurt, but will probably continue. I can’t figure out if America is on board with D3. Six Wire and the Clark Brothers are safer than a Marine in Disneyland. See you next week!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Next Great American Band - Nov 16th or so

Leiber and Stoller night on NGAB – the dudes wrote songs a long time ago back before women were bitches and hos and before everyone got so angry. They wrote a bunch of songs for Elvis Presley and a few for Milo Butterfinger, who never achieved the same level of fame as Elvis but knocked them dead in the Tiki Lounge at the Ramada Inn in Texarkana before moving to Dallas to open his namesake bar. But I digress.

Light Of Doom got called out first to annoy me. Nobody under the age of 30 should ever be interviewed about anything since they can’t possibly have anything interesting or insightful to say. Not that I do, either, but I’m not on television. Their cover of Jailhouse Rock was acceptable from a musical aspect, and it reminded me of something you might hear over the closing credits of a mediocre light comedy, but the vocals seemed to work as well as a corroded battery on a cold winter morning.

The Clark Brothers were saved from elimination to perform Saved, a cool tune I don’t ever remember hearing before. Their manic performance inspired me to look up the original by LaVern Baker. That alone is a good enough reason to keep them around. The Goo Goo Doll guy accused them of hating drummers because they don’t have one, but it’s a family act and maybe the drummer was a chick, which would ruin the name of the band, or, even worse, maybe their mom was the drummer, and we all saw what happened to Danny Partridge after he had to tour with his mom. Yeah, I know Shirley played keyboards and not drums, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t know she was banging Reuben on the side.

Dot Dot Dot chose to sing Love Potion #9 and the producers let them. The uber-annoying lead singer played guitar this week, which kept him somewhat tethered and made him considerably less annoying. I have to be honest and confess it wasn’t horrible. Like avoiding Tab because it’s a diet cola and comes in a pink can but then finally trying it because everyone already drank all the good stuff and realizing it’s not that bad and then dedicating your life to spreading the word. That’s an inside joke for the other 18 people watching the Sarah Silverman Show with me. The first season was pretty good, but too many duty jokes in the second season.

Cliff Wagner and the Old #7 got the call to sing Poison Ivy. It wasn’t that exciting, but it was something I’d want to listen to while eating a slab of ribs at a church picnic. I’ve never been to a church picnic and I’m not even sure they would serve ribs, but it doesn’t matter since they’d probably never get the call to perform at a church picnic unless it was one of those churches that likes handling snakes. Now that’s a picnic.

Denver and the Invesco Field Orchestra somehow survived the cut again and performed Ruby Baby. I think it was supposed to show their funk side but it sounded more like something Charlie Brown and the Peanuts would throw down for the Black History Month pageant.

Six Wire did the just written for their cheesy country asses I Keep Forgettin’, but somehow made me keep forgettin’ why anyone might be inspired to vote for them, unless there’s a bunch of cheese brained rural housewives fantasizing about leaving their beer-bellied Pabst swilling husbands for some slick-singing musical hucksters.

Tres Bien somehow outlasted Franklin Bridge somehow and did Some Other Guy. I still like them against my better judgment, but have to confess this week’s tune sounded more like it should have been coming out of Greg Brady’s console stereo system before Mrs. Brady had to come in and ask him to please turn it down because Marsha was busy studying etymology in the other room to impress Harvey Klinger and couldn’t concentrate.

When Franklin Bridge got eliminated, they looked stunned. So did Tres Bien – they were in the process of putting their liquids and gels in quart size zip lock baggies to get through security for their flight back home to the 60’s when America decided to Grim Reaper the funksters from Philly instead. I was as stunned as I am every time I write a blog celebrating the greatness of Crystal Bernard and she doesn’t thank me. The Mrs. was as stunned as she is every time I manage to get out of bed before hitting the snooze alarm 14 times. Sheila E. was as stunned as when she met Prince and found out how short he was. America was still pretty clueless – after all, they did elect Bush to a second term (hell, they elected him to a first term), so Franklin Bridge shouldn’t feel so bad.

My hopes and dreams don’t change – the little turds from Light of Doom need to be flushed next, but I have a feeling I’ll be stuck with their stink a while longer. We’ll just to tune in next week to find out. The sacrifices I make for you people…

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Next Great American Band: Nov 9ish

I broke my face in college and had to get surgerized on a Tuesday morning. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight, so I made the most of it at quarter beers the night before right up until the magic hour. But more importantly, the last song before leaving was Only The Good Die Young by Billy Joel. I didn’t find it a good omen, but I survived the surgery and my face didn’t turn out any worse than what I started with. This week the bands will cover a Billy Joel tune – we’ll see which ones survive and which ones flatline.

Franklin Bridge was the first out of the green room this week, and their cover of Big Shot reminded us all how white Billy Joel is. So white that it his songs are funk-proof. I still thought they did what they could with it, but still want to see them just rock out one week.

Cliff Wagner and the Old #7’s were saved from the confines of the green room next and treated us to a cover of You May Be Right. Okay, I confess – I like country music. Not the new Nashville over-produced stuff, but the kind of stuff you find on the AM side when your so far out in the middle of nowhere that even your iPod doesn’t get reception and you get to hear classic country in between the farm report and pork belly prices. Cliff’s version seemed more country than bluegrass and a little mellow, but it made me want to crack open a cold can of Coca-Cola and go on a hayride with a girl in Daisy Dukes and a red and white shirt tied off above her cute little country girl belly button. I hope they stick around.

Denver and the Invesco Field Orchestra somehow survived the cut and left the green room to Tell Her About It. The Invesco Horns rocked it with a version that took elevator music to a whole ‘nother level, but I’m getting bored with Denver. If my wife doesn’t dump me by then, I think I’d still hire them for a 25th anniversary party.

Dot Dot Dot was unfortunately pulled out next to cover Pressure, which they claim made it the coolest day of their lives. If that was true, I feel sorry for them. If not, I resent their insincerity. But I figured out why they bother me so much – they make me regret all the money I spent on bad 80’s music. So it’s me, not them, but I still have to break up with them.

Six Wire came out to perform She’s Always A Woman and didn’t make it their own, but somehow made it the Eagles own. Nonetheless, it turned out to be the perfect end to a night at the barn dance before getting knocked up, getting married and kicking off that five pound a year weight gain until you realize you’ve turned into your mother.

Tres Bien got pulled to perform Movin’ Out and did make it their own. It was a little Billy Joel, a little Beatles, a little Maroon 5 and shouldn’t have worked, but somehow I think they pulled it off. Kind of like Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

The Clark Brothers were finally brought out and did She’s Got A Way. Just when I though they might fall prey to the wussdom of Billy Joel, they kicked it up at the end just enough to remind people that they’re badass enough to lick the batter off the spinning whisks of an electric mixer while it’s still running.

The final band to be saved from the picked-over deli platter and eventual starvation in the green room was Light of Doom who chose to play The Stranger. Unfortunately they did make it their own. I can appreciate a good metal band, but the thing is, unless they are really, really good, it just sounds really, really bad to me. It’s like risotto – not an easy dish to make and even the most expert chefs can screw it up, but it’s very good when they learn the right touch. I have no idea what I’m talking about, but made that all up based on watching one season of Hell’s Kitchen. Risotto seemed to be the dish that brought the wrath of Gordon Ramsey and made contestants cry. I guess what I’m saying is that I’d prefer to eat an overdone dish of risotto rather than be subjected to another serving of these pint-sized doom-mongers.

That means that Rocket and The Muggs get sent to the morgue, where Dicko Was His Name-O declared it death by lead singer. In the words of the late, great Mark Twain, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, and perhaps the egos leading this band will realize that hanging hopes on frayed vocal cords ain’t gonna cut it while trying to repel into the jagged edges of the American public’s consciousness. I know that last sentence was totally ridiculous, but I wanted to see if I could pull it off in case this Leper Pop thing doesn’t work out and I decide to apply to a pretentious music magazine.

I just noticed that Rubson tuned in to this week's festivities, so keep reading below - he's not an old guy so he knows what he's talking about.

The Great American Next Band - Billy Joel Episode

Guess reporting for the disabled Moist Rub this week is Rubson.

This was my first time watching this show so I didn’t really know anything about the bands. So here it goes.

That John guy from the Goo Dolls has very simple responses and just repeats it 500 times more and hopes that adds insight. Dicko is my favorite judge because he seems like he knows what he is talking about, he actually explains his answer, and he’s fat.

Franklin Bridge sounds like a good band, but the song didn’t really match up with them. I liked the effects on the first part of the guitar solo. That one fat back up vocals guy is not very good at singing. He doesn’t bring good harmony to the band.

Cliff Wagner and the Old #7 is a crappy band, but I did like the mandolin because those are cool.

Denver and the Mile High Club has got to get out of their little imagination that they will get big with the horrible crap music they play. I don’t like his voice, some of the band members have stupid hair, but they do get a positive feeling out of the music.

Dot Dot Dot just gives another reason for the world of music to go down to hell. The keyboards are more annoying than The Cars and they all have a really silly look. I can stick my head up a bulls ass and their look is still worse.

Sixwire is not my type of sound but musically they are pretty good. They will probably go farther than a lot of the other bands.

There are too many commercials.

Tres Bien is okay but kind of nerdy. The psychedelic picture in the background was cool but it was too computery and needs to be bigger. The bass player sticks out a lot because he is a fat guy with a bunch of loser dorks around him.

The Clark Brothers have a cool guitar player because his left hand is on top of the fret board. He played it that way really well, too, especially at the end with the fast slide solo. That sounded awesomely cool.

Light of Doom is the best band on this show. They kick ass playing music. The drummer is cool. He’s so small but so loud. They will go far. Then again, Iraq is far, too, so that may not be a good thing.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

That Depends on What Your Definition of "Fun" Is

They're fun. They're quirky. And they're full of surprises. Now more than a century of adventures and photographic memories from the magazine's archive are just a click away.

Wouldn’t that be grand if that were the case? But the surprise of which the above quote speaks is a beastly, sick sense of humor prostituted by none other than National Geographic Magazine.

This quote is National Geographic’s description of their Flashback feature that displays old photographs in attempt, as it seems, to horrify and disgust for the purpose of gathering a few yuks. The Flashback series appears (or used to appear, I don’t have any recent issues of the magazine) on the last page to send their audience home with a gruesome smile. It also appears on their web site, which is where I nabbed the above quote.

Below is scan of the last page of the December 2006 issue. Get ready to have fun.

(You may have to click it to make it bigger to read it. Or you can rub it - that seems to work for making some things bigger, too.)

As you can see, just in time for Christmas, the quirky image is that of a World War I soldier with half his head blown off while a Salvation Army worker takes a letter from him describing to his mother how much fun he is having in Europe. “I’m having a blast, Mama!”

I have circled in red National Geographic’s directive to go to their web site to access the Flashback Archive where they have these kinds of photos stored under the Fun Stuff section. Bloody war wounds – what could be more fun than that? To find out, I took a quick look, hoping to experience a whimsical beheading or some regaling pestilence. Sadly, National Geographic was not as hilarious as I had hoped, but I did find desolation in an icy world, instant death in the Alps, wild goat abuse in Ireland, earth quake destruction, and what kind of a fun web site would forget a reference to pedophilic royal guardsmen on all fours? Not National Geographic, that’s for sure!

Apparently, the editors at National Geographic aren’t as serious as we thought they were. How can we entrust them with documenting and protecting our natural world? How do I know those naked pygmies I masturbated to in high school (and last week) weren’t staged clay animation extras from Rankin and Bass holiday specials? I feel so cheap and dirty right now.

I need to renew my subscription.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Next Great American Band - Nov 2

Perhaps I’ve been too tough on the gang at NGAB. I’ve lost a lot of weight in the last year, so I’m not too big to say I was wrong. I was invited to a murder mystery dinner party on Friday night and wasn’t going to review the show, but since I recorded it I decided I would watch on Saturday morning. It’s not like I’m Jewish and they’d miss me at temple. But I digress.

For the party I was assigned the role of Chief Wiki Wiki, the Polynesian tribesman and suspect in the murder of Detective Chase, while the Mrs. played the role of fellow suspect and swimsuit model Nadia Seymour. We did get a few double takes from our neighbors while leaving our building on a brisk fall evening in beach wear and war paint, but most of our neighbors are senile and probably thought it was still Halloween so we picked up two Snickers, a Blow Pop and some M&M’s on the way to the car. Wait, wrong blog. Back to the show.

This week on NGAB featured the same format: one original and a cover, this week from the catalog of Elton John and the other guy that writes his lyrics. How did Elton transform from Captain Fantastic to the Queen of England so quickly? I’ve always wanted to do a top ten list of artists that have gone from so good to so bad, but I’m too lazy and Rolling Stone hasn’t given me an advance on the article so it remains undone. Elton and Aerosmith would probably make the cut – feel free to add your own nominations in the comments for your chance to win the praise of your colleagues.

I wasn’t planning to post any reviews but once I started watching I decided I had something to say whether anyone wanted to hear it or not. Probably because Six Wire kicked off the show. Oh, here’s the deal – twelve bands enter the green room and only ten get called to leave. The remaining two bands get locked in the room until the deli platter runs out and they starve to death.

Six Wire
’s originals always seem to feature some rapid fire lyrical hook that makes them sound like they were formed after listening to John Michael Montgomery singing “could ya would ya ain’t ya gonna if I asked you would ya wanna be my baby tonight, yeah I’d take a chance, slow dance. make a little romance, honey it’ll be alright. Girl you got me wishin’ we were huggin’ and a kissin’ and a holdin’ each other tight, so could ya would ya ain’t ya gonna if I asked you, would ya wanna be my baby tonight” and decided to try and base a whole genre around it. Sure, they’re polished, but so is a polished turd.

Tres Bien got the call next and did their 60’s thing. Just like a new girlfriend with a quirky habit (like screwing other guys), it’s cute at first but then becomes increasingly annoying until you decide you just want to be friends and then stop talking all together and don’t really mind that she never returned your Tres Bien CD since you really don’t listen to them anymore.

Franklin Bridge was brought out next and I agreed with Judge John – this show sucks because it doesn’t give the good bands enough time to rock out. But I also agreed Judge Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton that there’s too much shit going on in some of their arrangements. And when a drummer like Sheila/Sheena E. tells you that there’s too much drumming going on then you had better believe there’s too much damn drumming going on. But I’ll give them a pass.

The Clark Brothers were rescued from the remaining freaks in the green room and performed an original called Country Time. It’s good to know that if they get kicked off the show that they can get an endorsement deal should Kraft Foods choose to reinvent the Country Time Lemonade brand. If I were Kraft’s ad agency, I’d be all over this. The boys could probably make more money doing ad jingles than trying to sell records. I like them, but this country has turned into one giant billboard.

Lords of Doom were pulled from the green room so the rest of the bands could finally enjoy a beer. Kids are annoying even if they’re rockers and these little shits deserve a swift uppercut to the gut of their miniature heavy metal t-shirts from the Nigel Tufnel collection in JC Penney’s young lads department.

Dot Dot Dot
tried to tone it down a bit this week, but I still think they are best suited to be the band in the background at the 25th reunion for the cast of all those John Hughes' movies from the 80’s.

Cliff Wagner and the Old #7 got the call next and I’m digging these guys more and more because they seem to just want to have some beverages and play some music and if you happen to like it then, hey, it’s all good with them. Versus a band like Six Wire who is seemingly managing every single detail of their music organization to achieve the goal of a world tour with Faith Hill and an appearance on the CMT Kind of Country Music Awards Show. I’m officially throwing my support behind Cliff this week, and I’m sure he is thrilled.

The Muggs
were saved next and did another hard rocking original that cemented their position as a band that I would most want to see open for another band. I like these guys and mean that in the best possible way. Then they performed I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues which I was very sorry to say might be one of the worst covers I have ever heard. I would rather listen to the Brady Bunch cover of American Pie than to hear this again. Worse yet, the judges tried to give the band some feedback on how to improve the vocals and the singer gave them the thumbs down and implying they’d rather continue playing dingy taverns for unemployed auto workers in the worst local economy in the United States. But that’s cool if you don’t want to tune down a key like the judges suggested.

Rocket was lured from the green room next and continued to not impress me. And I’m a guy. I don’t agree with the whole “girls need to rock harder to prove themselves” bit. If anything, because I’m a stupid guy, I set the bar a little lower for females since I generally enjoy watching chicks rock out more than loser musician guys that get more chicks than I do because accountants supposedly aren’t as cool as rock stars. I’d like to see them look as sexy as I do while using Excel to figure out the return on equity, baby. But I digress. Besides not being half as good as many other all girl bands I’ve seen, Rocket’s vocalist is horrid. The judges, rather than saying she’s horrid, tried to give her specific constructive criticism that might postpone their impending demise, but like her counterpart in The Muggs, she told the judges they were stupid heads and don’t know anything. Later, babe – have fun waiting tables.

Denver and the Invesco Field Orchestra was the last band saved and did their big band thing again sounding very big banded. Not sure how long they’ll last but the exposure should keep them booked solid for quite a long time after they leave the show.

That means the two bands going home were The Hatch and The Likes of You. America had spoken and I guess I didn’t give America enough credit because they did a damn good job getting these douche rockets out of town so I can enjoy the show a little more.

Of course, the lead douche from The Hatch commented that he didn’t think America had spoken, but 300 people in Nebraska. Wow. I’m not sure if he meant to insult the people of Nebraska, the network, the other bands, the judges, the viewers or the fans or whatever, but what a dickhead. I guess I’ll let you get back to your “indie-rock business model to drive forward your radio-ready rock songs dressed in RnB style.” Word.

I never liked The Likes of You, but they were gracious in losing and left inspired to hit the road and keep working. Cool. Rock on, bald guy. I take back that douche rocket thing I said.

By the way, Week 2 videos are up here - Week 3 isn't up at press time, but will probably be posted soon enough if you're interested in playing along at home.