New Music: OVENS (Tony Molina) 7″ via Melters

If Tony Molina's playing guitar, I'm listening.

If Tony Molina’s playing guitar, I’m listening.

The first time I heard Tony Molina play guitar it was something of a revelation. His song’s are written, played, and structured like a curt and finely crafted Hemingway sentence. There’s all power, zero bullshit, and certainly no filler. He leaves you wanting more while also being thoroughly satisfied with what you’ve had. This type of editing will power and control is a rare feat to pull off, and his ability to fit so much into so little is a testament to both his Hardcore roots as well as his pop orientated ear.

Molina’s 2013 LP Dissed And Dismissed clocks in at just under 15 minutes and it’s one of my favorite albums of the past few years. OVENS was recorded by Kurt Bloch from The Fastbacks back in 2005 and is the second recording they ever did as a band, and like his other work – it totally slays.

Recommended If You Like: Metal face Weezer, Short Attention Span Thin Lizzy

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New Music: Susan Debut first 7″ on Volar

LA power-pop trio Susan bring it on their debut 7"

LA power-pop trio Susan bring it on their debut 7″

The LA based trio Susan will be debuting their first 7″ via Volar Records this coming September, and you can hear the first of three tracks – “Just Call It” – below. Susan recently completed a West Coast tour and will be back at it this Fall to support the Volar 7″ as well as a cassette to be put out via Burger Records. Susan’s gorgeous three part harmonies drive their songs with bright sun soaked tones masking some cloudy commentary. This dichotomy of conflict make for some memorable tunes, and this 7″ is hopefully the first of many memories.

Recommended If You Like: Cherry Glazer, Speedy Ortiz, Fat Creeps

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Think Summer In The Milky Ways – Review of Guided By Voices at Paradise Rock Club

Guided By Voices in swagger on the Paradise stage. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Guided By Voices swagger about the Paradise stage. (Photo – D. Hixon)

Guided By Voices
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, 07/14/14

This more tome than setlist. (Photo - K.Gartland)

This is more tome than setlist. (Photo – K.Gartland)

Bam. Boom. Pop. Crackle.

My right arm is extra tender these days. There’s a deep, dark, and ugly bruise that extends from my forearm to the middle of my triceps. It’s embarrassingly large, yet I have no clue how I came to acquire such a mark. All I know is that there was Saturday. There was Guided By Voices. And there was me with no voice come Sunday.

Nearly 50 songs were played in a set that included three encores, multiple Uncle Bob kicks, and a crowd that was fervently lucid. It was constant, loud, and well received. This show was different from the last time GBV were in Boston. That was at the apex of their classic lineup victory tour. That was a show to celebrate days gone past. This was a show to celebrate days still here – and with a killer mix of both yesterday and today they achieved just that.

The sun will rise. The sun will set. And Guided By Voices will be playing and putting out great music. To think, I thought the 4th of July was eight days earlier  – and like bright lights dimming in the sky, it’s a shame this bruise is gonna fade.

Bam. Boom. Pop. Crackle.

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Episode 62 – The Song Sounds the Same

The Song Sounds the Same - (D. Hixon)

The Song Sounds the Same - (Acrylic – D. Hixon)

“The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief. He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.” - Othello (Act I, Scene III)

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

All music is derivative. Science has shown for centuries that in order to move forward you must advance what those before you have accomplished. You stand on the shoulders of giants, make footprints on virgin ground, and raise the bar for generations that follow. This rule also rings true for musicians.

Recorded Music is in it’s infancy, clocking in at just under 140 years old. That’s not a very long time given proper perspective, but in this brief period we’ve reaped the benefits of influence. Each genre and sub-genre of music is the result of different styles, experience, and taste colliding together. Jazz, Rock, and Hip-Hop would not exist without the Blues, America’s great art.

That said, you should give credit where it’s properly due – especially when you’re grossly profiting from those whose shoulders you’re standing on. I believe all four members of Led Zeppelin are some of the most technical and accomplished musician’s at their respective instruments – but the lack of credit given to those who laid the mason work for the mansions they now roam gives haste to my praise. I’ll never doubt their influence or talent – but I’ll always question their originality, integrity, and truth in perception.

  1. Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie - When the Levee Breaks (1929) – Originally recorded in 1929, all four members of Led Zeppelin took equal writing credit along with the true author, Memphis Minnie, on Led Zeppelin IV in 1971.
  2. Muddy Waters - You Shook Me (1962) - Led Zeppelin covered “You Shook Me” on their 1969 self-titled debut. They took no writing or arraignment credit on this track.
  3. Lead Belly – The Gallis Pole (1939) – Popularized by Lead Belly in the 30′s and covered on Zeppelin III in 1970 as “Gallows Pole” – Page & Plant took arraignment credit for a traditional song that was over a hundred years old.
  4. Howlin’ Wolf - Killing Floor (1964) - Zeppelin covered this five years after the original on their 1969 sophomore album Zeppelin II as “Lemon Song” – and took equal writing credit with Chester Burnett, aka Howlin’ Wolf, aka The Guy Who Really Wrote The Song.
  5. Blind Willie Johnson - It’s Nobody’s Fault but Mine (1927) – A traditional song first recorded by Blind Willie in 1927. Plant and Page released their cover of  “It’s Nobody’s Fault but Mine” nearly 50 years later on Zeppelin’s 1976 album Presence. All credit was given to Page & Plant.
  6. Moby Grape - Never (1968) - Zeppelin borrowed this song from Moby Grape two years after the initial release. “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, for all intents and purposes is the same song, and was credited to only Jones, Page, and Plant on Zeppelin III – two years later in 1970.
  7. Jake Holmes - Dazed and Confused (1967) - Jimmy Page settled out of court with Jake Holmes over copyright infringement in 2010. Holmes version of the song was released two years before Zeppelin’s.
  8. Bert Jansch – Black Waterside (1966)Jimmy Page borrowed heavily from Bert Jansch’s version of this traditional song on “Black Mountain Side” which was released on Zeppelin’s 1969 debut.
  9. Bobby Parker - Watch Your Step (1961) – Page ripped this riff and used it on “Moby Dick”, released in 1969. No credit was given to Bobby Parker. To be fair The Beatles also ripped this riff on “Day Tripper” and “I Feel Fine”.
  10. The Plebs - Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (1964) – Originally written by Anne Bredon in the late 50′s (performed by The Plebs here) – Page and Plant gave no credit to Bredon in 1969 and took arrangement credit for themselves, when in fact they were covering a Joan Baez version of the song. In 1990 Bredon received a substantial back-payment of royalties after becoming aware of the song.
  11. Otis Rush - I Can’t Quit You Baby (1956) – Another song covered on their 1969 debut, all credit was given to Willie Dixon, who wrote this blues standard. Rush was the first to record the song.
  12. Blind Willie Johnson - In My Time Of Dying Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed (1927) – This traditional gospel song’s lyrics were first Published in 1925 in A Chronicle of Unknown Singers, based on Louisiana street performers. Zeppelin took all credit on Physical Graffiti in 1975.
  13. Spirit - Taurus (1968) – In 1968 Zeppelin opened for Spirit and Page subsequently stole the open for the most famous (and lucrative) song in Rock and Roll history – “Stairway to Heaven”. Spirit are now seeking legal action for a song that reportedly has generated $526 million.
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Episode 61 – Grace Bay Groove

Episode 61 - Grace Bay Groove

Episode 61 – Grace Bay Groove (Artwork – D.Hixon)

Last week I was on the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos. The Caribbean Nation’s beauty has few peers, and while getting lost with rum, sand, and sun I put together a podcast worthy of the gorgeous island. It’s a Summertime Mix that screams to be played loudly at any sun splashed gathering you’re at over the coming months. Please, make yourself a too strong Rum drink and float away as some of the finest Reggae, African, Soca, Dub, and Caribbean wash over you. This is Grace Bay Groove.

  1. Intro
  2. Afro Funk – Hot Love (Body Music – 1975)
  3. Althea & Donna - Uptown Top Ranking (Uptown Top Ranking – 1978)
  4. Blue Boy - Soca On The Street (Thundering Soca – 1984)
  5. Bob & Ty – I Don’t Mind (Clement “Coxsone” Dodd – Musical Fever – 1967)
  6. Paul Blake & The Bloodfire Posse – Every Posse Get Flat (Every Posse Get Flat 12″ – 1985)
  7. Rikki Ililonga - The Nature Of Man (Zambia – 1974)
  8. Seun Kuti + Fela’s Egypt 80 – Many Things (Many Things – 2008)
  9. Culture - Get Ready To Ride The Lion To Zion (Two Sevens Clash – 1978)
  10. Dub Specialist - Always Dubbing (Studio One Dub Vol. 2 – 2007)
  11. Gorillaz - Bill Murray (D-Sides – 2007)
  12. Delroy Wilson - I’m Still Waiting (Dub Plate Style – 2009)
  13. Wendy René – After Laughter (Comes Tears) – (After Laughter / What Will Tomorrow Bring 7″ – 1964)
  14. Ziggy Marley - We a Guh Some Weh (Tomorrow People 12″ – 1988)
  15. Bob Marley - Ego Feed (Three Little Birds 7″ – 1980)
  16. Andy Capp Reco - Popatop (Popatop / The Lion Speaks 7″ – 1969)
  17. Shadow - Ah Didn’t Want To (Doh Mess Wid Meh Head – 1980)
  18. Busy Signal & RC – Dreams Of Brighter Days (Silly Walks Discotheque Presents Brighter Days Riddim – 2013)
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These Art Forms Must Be Developed: A Netflix Worthy Selection – Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Big Star - Nothing Can Hurt Me

Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me

More are aware of Big Star’s music than they realize – but that doesn’t help.

Ask the average American if they know Big Star and they’ll shrug uninterested shoulders. Ask if they know the theme song for “That 70′s Show” and they’ll nod in recognition approval. Cheap Trick did a killer job interpreting the original – but goddamn, it’s a fucking bummer this is how most acknowledge a Giant’s existence – adding to the mythos that Big Star are the best band you never heard.

Watch Nothing Can Hurt Me Know – and realize truth – even if you’ve been a forever fan.

7 / 10 Devil Horns

Devil HornsDevil HornsDevil HornsDevil HornsDevil HornsDevil HornsDevil Horns

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Today Is Tomorrow’s Past: What Pono Means For The Future Of Music

Is PonoMusic the start of a new medium?

Will PonoMusic spark a sea change in digital music consumption? (Illustration – D.Hixon)

Like Hemingway used to, I find myself writing while standing up. There’s numerous health studies that support this, but my reasons are different. I’m standing solely because my Macbook’s flanked directly next to my turntable. I digitize recently purchased records as I write, work, and idle shiftlessly about the internet. I stand because despite the technology that rules my life I’m still a slave to the analog.

I’ve known about Neil Young’s Pono project for awhile, and seeing it launch last week made the possible seem real. Do I think Pono is the end all be all for the future of music? No way. When I was Music Director at 90.9 WONY in 2001 I was told that SONY’s Mini-Disc was the future. Still, any technology that can improve the listening experience is going to grab my attention, and Moore’s Law be damned, despite these advancements of technology, Vinyl is still the King of quality.

Some dude named Edison “kick-started” the phonograph in 1878 and since then Vinyl’s met and conquered each competitor that’s stepped into the auditory ring. Reel-to Reel, 8-Track, Cassette, CD, Mini-Disc, and even the almighty MP3 have not been able to replicate or improve upon the quality of Vinyl. Listening to records is not a mobile activity however, and that’s what technology has brought us over the past Century – ease of use and portability, but NOT improved quality. cell-phone-elephant

This ease of use has come at a cost, as the overall quality of what people are listening to has been compromised, compressed, and cheapened – and this holds especially true with the MP3. My “day job” for the past decade has been working with large media companies to maximize the quality of their digital media files, and anytime you sample down from the original source you’re losing quality. This degradation is necessary though, because the emphasis of technology has become portability, or more specifically, and now we’re getting to elephant in the digital room, mobile phones. In order for media to work properly on a smart phone in 2014 you’ll need to significantly degrade the quality of the source file – and this fact is universally true for both audio & video.

youtube_phoneWhat’s interesting to me is that the average consumer will watch a video on their phone without complaint – knowingly accepting that the quality isn’t a tenth as good as what they’d put up with in their living room. What saddens me is that this same consumer will listen to an MP3 on their phone as well as in their Living Room and think nothing of it. The truth is that a similar gap in quality lies between the MP3 on your phone and the record on your turntable. It’s like going from HD to bunny ears, and there’s now an entire generation that doesn’t even know that gap exists.

hd-cost-graphThis is what intrigues me so much about Pono. I have zero Faith that the format will become the medium of choice for this era of digital music. But I do have hope that it’ll make enough of a dent to shift the conversation some. The cost of Storage per Gigabyte has plummeted from over $10 per GB in 2000 to under $0.10 today. The MP3 did great things for helping music infiltrate all parts of our lives, however, we don’t need the MP3 anymore, it’s antiquated, cheap, and subpar for our HD lives.

In the end I think Pono will sing truest to the Audiophile Community, but it’s time for the general public, and especially this new Generation, to take its ear muffs off. I know I can’t be the only one to stand (literally) a slave to good sounding music, and if Neil and Pono can help shift the consumer back to quality over quantity, I’m all ears.

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