Chris Squire's Musical Legacy

Chris "Fish" Squire, the heart and soul and, yes, the foundation of iconic prog-rock band Yes, passed away Saturday at the age of 67. He had been battling leukemia, and last month had left the band for the first time -- he is the only member to appear on every Yes album (21 studio albums and a plethora of concert recordings). Squire, who played with a pick, achieved his unique sound by rewiring his Rickenbacker bass to stereo and sending the output of the bass and treble pickups into separate amplifiers. His sound -- and, let it be remembered, his vocals, usually heard in harmony or counterpoint to lead vocalist Jon Anderson's, but still prominent enough to be immediately recognizable -- was integral to the classic Yes albums of the 1970s. Read more »

Röck Read Röund-Up

As I mentioned way back on this post from 2008, as much as I’ve tried to branch out, my tastes are pretty narrow when it comes to reading material.

I’d love to say that I’m broadly well-read when it comes to the more celebrated books of the day, but it’s just not true. If you’re looking to engage in a discussion about today’s most incisive fiction, you’re much better off speaking with my wife (who works in publishing) than one such as I. Truthfully, I’ve pretty much lost my taste for fiction almost entirely. Unless I have some vested interest (like, say, I know the author or it’s about something near and dear to me), I usually cannot muster up the interest to crack the binding. Read more »

Song of the Week: The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers - "MMLJ"

Given the state of guns and violence in America, and how the unspeakable insanity of a few can ruin lives of many, I present the healing calm of "MMLJ" by the LA-based The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers. Heavenly Fire, their debut album, will be released on August 4th. Recorded with Matt Wignall (Cold War Kids, J. Roddy Walston and the Business) and led by the remarkable vocalist Kim Garcia, it won't be long before The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers become household names. You can catch them at upcoming festivals including Austin City Limits, the High Sierra Music Festival, and Pygmalion Music Festival.

What They're Serving Out in Seattle…

Don Nordo del Midwest
Cafe Nordo, Seattle

Dinner theatre is an experience that one might naturally associate with a mediocre meal accompanied by a tired production of some standard-bearer musical. Cafe Nordo challenges this preconception, doing the unthinkable by infusing creativity and sincerity into this otherwise basely novel tradition. Read more »

Song of the Week: Todd Rundgren - "Put Your Arms Around Me"

Okay, so it's a collaboration and not a true solo Todd Rundgren track. The album Runddans is the result of the collaboration between Todd Rundgren, Hans-Peter Lindstrom and Emil Nikolaisen. Their track, "Put Your Arms Around Me (Stereolab/The High Llamas Remix)", is fantastic. Hopefuly Todd will get back to his organic roots on this next long player. Until then, this will do just fine.

Music and Sex #6: New Experiences

Music and Sex: Scenes from a life - A novel in progress by Roman AkLeff (first installment can be read heresecond herethird herefourth here; fifth here).

[Warning: the chapter below contains "adult situations." Seriously, this one's not for the faint-hearted.]

Walter’s new home, Carman Hall, was an utterly soulless pile of cinder blocks. No effort at all had been made, during its design and construction two decades earlier, to build in anything conveying the slightest sense of warmth. No carpeting in either the halls or in the suites, no wood anywhere except the doors, no decorative touches, nothing but bare straight lines. One imagined it had been designed so it could be hosed down with minimum effort between school years to as to be literally as well as aesthetically antiseptic. There was not even any accommodation made for cooking; not only were there no kitchen nooks, even hotplates were forbidden (though, given that they were horrific fire hazards, that made sense, which was not to say that the ban was not widely flouted). Read more »

Quote of the Week: Christopher Lee

"There are many vampires in the world today... you only have to think of the film business."

Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE, CStJ (27 May 1922 - 7 June 2015), an English actor, singer and author. Read more »

Thoughts on Ornette Coleman

The first time I heard Ornette Coleman in person was at a New Year’s Eve concert in the Harlem State Office Building cafeteria. (He and his band Prime Time were topping a triple bill that opened with drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson  & the Decoding Society and found guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer’s band spanning the transition from 1980 to 1981; both leaders had spent crucial time as Ornette sidemen.) The thing I remember most about it was how closely Ornette’s sound on alto sax resembled that of Charlie Parker’s. I had never heard the resemblance on Coleman’s recordings, but on the nearly non-existent sound system in this low-ceilinged (with acoustic tile) room, the similarity was striking. Read more »

Video of the Week: Big Lazy - "Avenue X"

Avant twang, Americana noir, garage chamber music, whatever you'd like to label composer/guitarist Stephen Ulrich's NYC-based trio Big Lazy (drummer Yuval Lion and bassist Andrew Hall), one thing is undeniable -- the vibe is unforgettable. "Avenue X" is from their fifth long player entitled Don't Cross Myrtle and it features Sexmob trumpeter Steven Bernstein. Love the "Mission Impossible" guitar lick during the middle eight. And the video is pretty fab, too. Ready for consumption today.

R.I.P., Mr. Coleman!

Free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman has passed on. He was a giant. Not always an easy listen for those unaccustomed to his style or this genre of jazz, but this album -- Dancing In Your Head -- remains one of my favorites from him. Here it is, top to bottom.

There Is a God in Celluloid Heaven! Entourage Flops at Box Office

You could be vaccinating felines for a year at an animal shelter and still not hear the word "pussy" as much as you do in the first half hour of Entourage. This expansion of the HBO TV series appears to have been conceived by a gaggle of misogynistic, beer-chugging adolescent virgins who brag about getting laid, but the closest they've ever gotten is a Playboy centerfold bespattered with cream of mushroom soup that they rescued from the city dump. Read more »

The Hauntingly Difficult Montage of Heck

A cherubic blond toddler is shown in Super 8 film: playing on a lawn, sitting on his parents' laps, celebrating birthdays. He's a lovely child and clearly adored. It's easy to imagine his future as, essentially, peaceful and stable, full of strong connections—and very hard to imagine what actually happened: that this babe in arms, Kurt Cobain, grew up to be a tormented artist who would take his own life at age 27.  Read more »

Quote of the Week: Kyrie Irving

"I gave it everything I had and have no regrets."

Kyrie Andrew Irving (born 23 March 1992), American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association.

Fare Thee Well... 50 years of The Grateful Dead!

So if you know anything about The Grateful Dead, you know that this is their 50th anniversary. Their final shows will take place in Santa Clara, CA (2 shows) and in Chicago at Soldier's Field (3 shows). (A live webcast of all five concerts will be available for $79.95 at Dead.net.) To celebrate this historic milestone, Dead.net has just started taking advance orders on their new 80-disc box set -- Thirty Trips Around The Sun -- featuring 30 unreleased shows; one show from every year of touring! (It's planned for a September 18th release date.) You may not have enough time to listen to all 80 discs, but if you're a Deadhead, how can you say no? There will also be a 4-CD sampler set -- Thirty Trips 1965-1995 -- that serves as an introductory sampler to the Dead’s live canon, including 30 unreleased performances — one from each concert in the boxed set – along with the 1965 recording of “Caution.” Also featured is an essay by Dead aficionado Jesse Jarnow dissecting every track in the collection.  Read more »

The Aftermath of Tribeca: James Franco on Adderall, Lily Tomlin as a Grandma, Jason Schwartzman with a Huge Penis, and the Wolfpack Are Coming to Your Local Theatre

Of the hundreds of films screened at festivals across the nation only a handful will wind up at your local theaters, and that goes for those lucky enough to have been viewed at the growingly prestigious Tribeca Film Festival (TFF). Read more »

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