Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Leonard Cohen to Tour US

2008 looks to be a prosperous and busy year for Leonard Cohen. First off....the highly influential singer-songwriter will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10th in a ceremony held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Well deserved, Leonard.

Secondly, Cohen, who hasn't had a full tour in nearly 15 years, is expected to tour the United States and Canada starting in May, followed up with a tour of Europe, according to his website.

Cohen holds a special place in my record collection.

Although most people who know me, know that I'm not a particularly religious person, I've always had a belief in a universal spirituality. I'm not great at explaining abstract spiritual concepts and I won't try and do that now. However, I can tell you that listening to the records of Leonard Cohen and Van Morrison give me that feeling of universal spirituality. Capturing the essence of the spiritual world of Leonard Cohen is a daunting task, but Kurt Cobain, comes as close as anybody when he sings in the song, Pennyroyal Tea

Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld
So I can sigh eternally

There is something about Leonard's poetry combined with the soothing and comforting voice of Leonard that takes me away. Don't forget that Leonard is a poet at heart. He began as a poet in Montreal, and continued after he combined music to his words.

To get an idea of what the voice of Leonard Cohen can do, watch this performance of Suzanne, recorded at the infamous Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.

For proper perspective, you must realize that the Isle of Wight Festival was largely a disaster. It was essentially the last stand of radical anti-capitalism. Many in the young crowd felt it unethical to charge admission to the festival and thus crashed the gates and rioted throughout the event. Many in the crowd harassed the performers during their sets, unfairly characterizing the performers of profit-orientated bourgeois behavior, forgetting that many costs are associated with putting on a festival. Joni Mitchell finally got fed up with the naive crowd and called them "tourists". Bad vibes were all around, essentially a European Altamont.

Watch as Mr. Cohen had everybody's ear for this haunting and spectacular version of Suzanne.

I highly recommend watching the Leonard Cohen documentary, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man. The documentary features performances and interviews with admirers such as Beth Orton, Linda Thompson, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, U2, as well as the man himself.

Sometimes, when you no longer see yourself as the hero of your own drama, expecting victory after victory, and you understand deeply that this is not paradise... somehow we're, especially the privileged ones that we are, we somehow embrace the notion that this veil of tears, that it's perfectable, that you're going to get it all straight. I've found that things became a lot easier when I no longer expected to win. - Leonard Cohen

*Recommended Reading*
Beautiful Losers- Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Recommended Rock Shows

Jan 26 2008 @ 400 Bar of the best rock and roll live bands around. Their albums don't come close to showing what a great band this is. However, early reviews of their new record, "Angels of Destruction" are claiming it the best since their solid, "Kids in Philly". Come see why Bruce Springsteen sometimes joins this band onstage.

**Editors Note** According to the band's website, their tour has been cancelled. Hopefully, they'll be able to sort out the issues within the band and re-schedule.

Watch Marah live from the Abby Pub in Chicago take a stab at The Replacements "Can't Hardly Wait".

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Feb 6 2008 @ Varsity Theatre

The former Drive-By-Truckers guitarist/singer was forced out on his own and it's benefited both parties involved. Isbell has proven that he's strong enough artistically to succeed on his own. Isbell's 2006 disc "Sirens of the Ditch" was one of the best records of the year. He should also have the very talented Derry deBorja (Son Volt/ex-Canyon) on keyboards, along with his fantastic MuscleShoals-based band, the 400 Unit.

Daniel Johnston
February 8 2008 @ First Avenue

The underground-hero, eccentric, mentally-unstable, singer-songwriter had his story exposed in the 2005 Sundance Award-Winning Film, "The Devil and Daniel Johnston." The film is a must see for music wonks. Hopefully, a relatively stable and comfortable Mr. Johnston will show up, showing why everyone from Nirvana to Sonic Youth has championed his recordings.

Watch the trailer for "The Devil and Daniel Johnston"

Mark Olson w/ Janey & Marc
Feb 10 2008 @ 400 Bar

Like Isbell, Mark Olson is another singer that left a great band (The Jayhawks) and had enough talent to succeed on his own. He's been solo for 10 years now and doesn't show any signs of letting up. Opening the show is Olson's former bandmate in the Jayhawks, Marc Perlman, who teams up with Janey Winterbauer (ex-Astronaught Wife) for the folk-Americana duo, Janey and Marc.

Cat Power
Feb 11 2008 @ First Avenue

Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) is also an eccentric, mentally-unstable, singer-songwriter. She also happens to be very gifted and her 2006 record, "The Greatest" was one of the best records of the year. Fortunately, she's coming to the hallowed halls of First Avenue with a great backing soul band that will attempt to recreate the soulfull Memphis sounds featured on "The Greatest". She's now touring on the newly-released covers album, Jukebox. Hopefully, we'll be treated to a couple. Which Chan will show up? The one who has onstage meltdown/trainwreck-type shows or the one who will show why she is such a respected artist.

Watch Cat Power's video for "Living Proof"

Super Furry Animals
Feb 15 2008 @ Varsity Theatre

The Super Furry Animals are the greatest Welsh exports since Tom Jones. The SFA's have been a bit inconsistent on the album front, going from producing must-have masterpieces, "Rings Around the World" and "Fuzzy Logic" to the largely forgettable "Love Kraft". They are now touring on the new Rough Trade release, "Hey Venus!" which is getting good reviews. Additionally, the SFA's put on one of the best live shows anywhere, as I can attest to, having attended their great show at the Fine Line in 2005. They've been known to dress up as furry animals and spacemen and your senses should be overloaded with videos and lights, while playing great psychedelic rock. Not to be missed.

*The Super Furry Animals are also doing a free in-store show at The Electric Fetus at 3:00 PM*

New York Dolls
Feb 24 2008 @ Fine Line Music Cafe

Sure....Johnny Thunders is dead. Jerry Nolan is dead....and Arthur "Killer" Kane is dead. However, this is a legendary and influential band, and despite missing what many people consider the soul of the band, the remaining members, David Johannsen and Syl Sylvain, have assembled a respectable band, to perform the songs we all love and adore. Their 2006 show at First Avenue wasn't mind-blowing, but it was good enough for me to "Put My Arms Around a Memory" again.

Black Moth Super Rainbow
March 27 2008 @ 7th St. Entry

These guys opened for the legendary Flaming Lips last year at the Myth. Their intrumental, psychedelia impressed most of the Flaming Lips crowd....a hard task indeed. This band should be better suited at the Entry, however.

The Hives
Feb 28 2008 @ First Avenue

Yes.....another one of the "The" bands (The Strokes, The White Stripes, etc.) that came to fruition during the latest garage-rawk revolution in 2000. Although I only have one record by The Hives, Veni Vedi Vicious, I love everything about them...their attitude, their story, and of course the music. What good Garage RAWK is all about. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on the set times, they are playing a wall away from the current Garage RAWK kings, The Black Lips, who are playing The Entry.

Black Lips
Feb 28 2008 @ 7th St. Entry

Currently, the Black Lips, are one of my favorite bands. This Atlanta-based quartet was one of the last bands signed by the legendary Greg Shaw at Bomp Records before Shaw's passing. Shaw, like his late friend, Lester Bangs, always had a great ear for music, especially bands that fit into the garage/pyschedelia scene. The Black Lips have toured non-stop the past few years, and if you've ever seen them live, you know how exhausting that must be. They've also played the Late Night With Conan O'Brien show, and despite this exposure, they are still playing the cozy 7th St. Entry. This may be your last chance to see them in a venue this small. Warning....their shows can get a bit out of control......beware.

First Communion Afterparty w/ Gospel Gossip
Feb 29 2008 @ 400 Bar

I first heard about First Communion Afterparty a few years ago. I was going thru a deep addiction to the Brian Jonestown Massacre and their ancillary scene....and so were the Afterparty. I would see them at shows by the Jonestown, Warlocks, The Black Angles, Out Crowd, Dandy Warhols and what seems like a hundred other Anton Newcombe-inspired bands. I first saw them at the 7th St. Entry over a year ago and was totally blown away. I knew right then that this was the best band in Minneapolis...and probably the best band to come from here the last 5 years. I thought they were more inspiring than their musical compadres and much-more-hyped, The Black Angels, and their music was transcendent. I became aquainted briefly with now ex-drummer Mara Apple..sauce (now in the band Shy) and Liam Watkins. I've also had a chance to talk with lead singer, Mama Carin, at a recent Hopewell show. These young-energetic musicians are not only good people, they really know their rock and it translates to their music. This will be one of their last shows before the band heads down to Austin, TX for the South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. Here's hoping that someone down there tunes into what we've known for quite some time....this is a great band. I've been hoping for a full-length album for quite some time. In the meantime, they do have a live record out, recorded at the Varsity Theatre last year. By the way, Gospel Gossip is a fantastic shoegaze-type band from Northfield. Here's your chance to see two of the best bands from Minnesota in one night.
* Photo courtesy of Tony Nelson

Bob Mould Band
Mar 5 2008 @ First Avenue

Just about 10 years ago, Bob Mould, prior to The Last Dog and Pony Show tour, told his fans that the tour would be the last time EVER that he'd perform with a full-on rock band. Apparently, hearing problems and references to Neil Young & Crazy Horse looking ridiculously old, caused the ex-Husker Du frontman, to pull up the stakes on loud rock-n-roll. Well....fortunately for us....he... like David Bowie.....has renigged on the promise. I've seen Bob Mould probably 20 times and although he's fantastic solo acoustic, there is nothing quite like RAWK Bob. Bob's shows are some of the loudest shows I've ever been too, so if you're a wimp, bring earplugs. His catalog matches up against anyone. This is going to be a great show.

Steven Malkmus & The Jicks
Mar 17 2008 @ First Avenue

I, like a lot of indie-rock kids in the 90's, loved Malkmus' band, Pavement. I haven't followed him much since he's gone solo, but I did get a chance to see him with The Jicks open for Radiohead at Alpine Valley in 2003. Although he went on early and I missed a third of the show, I was impressed.

Black Mountain
Mar 24 2008 @ 7th St. Entry

I'm pissed that I missed these guys the last time thru town. Fortunately, they're back six months later and I get a chance to see what the buzz is all about. All I know is that they're a fantastic heavy-psychedelic/garage band from Vancouver, coming out of the same scene that birthed bands like the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Warlocks, and Dead Meadow.

Gary Louris
Mar 25 2008 @ State Theatre

Gary Louris did a fantastic job leading the Jayhawks thru their post-Mark Olson years. The loss of Olson seemed initially heavy, but the Louris-headed Jayhawks were just as phenomenal as before and they didn't miss a beat. After the final breakup of the legendary Jayhawks, Gary is releasing his first solo record, "Vagabonds" (in stores Feb. 19th) produced by his friend, Chris Robinson (Black Crowes). If the few songs I've heard on his myspace page and other blogs are any indication, this is going to be a great record, start to finish. Gary has been hanging out in the Laural Canyon scene lately, so expect to hear nods to that breeding ground of pyschedelia by way of the Byrds.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Top 30 Shows of 2007

  1. Wilco w/ Andrew Bird- Northrop Auditorium
  2. Wolfmother- Myth
  3. Black Lips- Triple Rock Social Club
  4. Elvis Costello & The Imposters- Myth
  5. Hopewell w/ Spindrift- 400 Bar
  6. The Redwalls w/ Robbers on High St.- Triple Rock Social Club
  7. Dinosaur Jr.- Triple Rock Social Club
  8. Flaming Lips w/ Black Moth Super Rainbow- Myth
  9. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club w/ The Cobbs- First Avenue
  10. Neko Case- First Avenue
  11. Son Volt w/ Slim Dunlap- MN Zoo
  12. Jason Isbell- 400 Bar
  13. Two Cow Garage- 400 Bar
  14. Drive-By-Truckers- First Avenue
  15. Flavor Crystals w/ Bridge Club- Triple Rock Social Club
  16. The Black Angels w/ Vietnam & The Tyde- 7th St. Entry
  17. Hymns- 400 Bar
  18. The High Strung- Barnes and Noble (Mall of America)
  19. The Drams- Peavy Plaza
  20. Son Volt w/ Jason Isbell- First Avenue
  21. Golden Smog- Minnesota Music Festival
  22. First Communion Afterparty w/ Strange Lights and Mouthful of Bees- FCAP Warehouse
  23. Zappa does Zappa- 10,000 Lakes Festival
  24. Derek Trucks Band- 10,000 Lakes Festival
  25. Tapes 'N Tapes- First Avenue
  26. Bob Weir & Ratdog- 10,000 Lakes Festival
  27. Soul Asylum- Minnesota Music Festival
  28. Neko Case- Electric Fetus
  29. Gov't Mule- 10,000 Lakes Festival
  30. Tapes 'N Tapes- Grand Ol' Days