Pearl Jam – Mind Your Manners

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Holy shit! I’m probably a little late to the party on this song, but it FUCKING RAWKS! It has a very punk vibe to it, and I’m not talking whiny Green Day/Fallout Boy/Emo/New Punk shit either. Think Sex Pistols or Bad Religion with Eddie Vedder on the mic. Now I’m really wishing they were playing KC on this tour. I may have to trek to OKC or Dallas, ugh.

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Mumford & Sons – Hopeless Wanderer

This got posted alot yesterday. Some of my favorite comedic actors (including Overland Park, KS homeboy Jason Sudeikis) doing a parody of the ‘Mumford Style’. It really is better on mute so you don’t have to suffer through the song, but I’ll give them some credit for making a little fun of themselves. Banjos and monster strumming for all!

Van Halen ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ 2012 Tour – Kansas City Sprint Center 5/22/2012

Has Diamond Dave lost some of his luster?

Let me preface this post by saying Van Halen was one of the first rock and roll groups I discovered on my own, without influence from my Dad’s music tastes. Seeing David Lee Roth strut and kick on stage in videos like Hot for Teacher and Panama helped form my idea of what rock and roll excess was meant to be. The band’s album 1984 is still in my regular rotation. I’ve always felt that without ‘Diamond Dave‘, Van Halen just didn’t have the same swagger and party attitude I loved. Sure, there was still Eddie and Alex Van Halen (the true musicians in the band), and some great songs came out of the Van Hagar days but it just wasn’t the same. All that being said, it’s obvious I am a fan of the ‘real’ Van Halen.

When I heard earlier this year that VH would be putting out a new album with David Lee Roth, I was beyond excited. I had seen the band on the Kansas City stop of their 2008 ‘reunion’ tour at the then brand new Sprint Center. The show was great! Roth and the band seemed to be in synch and having a great time playing all of their old hits. That tour had no new album to promote, and was the beginning of Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang taking over bass guitar duties from Michael Anthony who defected along with Sammy Hagar. One thing that amazed me about that show was how good Roth sounded. It was like he was in his heyday again, strutting around the stage, kicking and doing splits, and singing the songs marked with his trademark squeals and asides peppered in. Most notably, he was singing the right words, and the songs sounded right. Flash forward to last night…

Again, Van Halen took the stage of the still amazing Sprint Center in support of their first new album with Roth since 1984. Ending the intermission, after odd choice opening band Kool and the Gang, a thunder of Alex Van Halen’s drum’s blasted from the sound system, and soon Wolfgang, Eddie, and David Lee appeared on the stage. The band launched into Unchained from 1981’s Fair Warning album. Musically, the band sounded great, but Roth’s vocals were definitely strained, and he seemed to almost speak most of his lyrics. I played this off at first as just Dave ad-libbing a little to start the show. Moving on from Unchained, the band then tore into Roth’s signature song Running With the Devil, one of my all time favorites. I say this is Roth’s signature song because of his improvised squeals, and scats throughout the song that have become synonymous with Roth’s frenetic vocal style (for a sample try this). Dave did none of his signature vocal stylings on the song, and seemed at times to barely know what song they were playing. The band then moved on to a set of songs from A Different Kind of Truth, including the first single Tattoo. I have to say that I generally like the new album, and am constantly amazed by Eddie Van Halen’s guitar skills, but Roth’s vocals on the album were much more spot on than when performing the songs live. Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang were amazingly tight, and their back-up vocals almost made up for the lack of Roth’s execution on lead vocals. There were some bright spots in Diamond Dave’s performance (he can still kick pretty high!), and the band musically executed every song I would have wanted to hear (Panama, …And the Cradle Will Rock, Hot For Teacher, Jump) flawlessly, but at times I felt as though I was watching David Lee Roth – Alzheimer’s Patient instead of Diamond Dave.

I really hope that the reason for VH postponing/canceling the bulk of the upcoming shows on this tour has nothing to do with either Eddie’s battle with cancer, or Roth actually having Alzheimer’s, but I do hope that Roth can rest his vocal chords and study the lyrics for any upcoming shows they actually play.

Sadly, I have to give this show only 3 Stars.

PLAYLIST:

1. Unchained
2. Runnin’ With The Devil
3. She’s The Woman
4. The Full Bug
5. Tattoo
6. Everybody Wants Some!!
7. Somebody Get Me A Doctor
8. China Town
9. Hear About It Later
10. (Oh) Pretty Woman
11. Drum Solo
12. You Really Got Me
13. The Trouble With Never
14. Dance The Night Away
15. I’ll Wait
16. And The Cradle Will Rock…
17. Hot For Teacher
18. Women In Love
19. Beautiful Girls
20. Ice Cream Man
21. Panama
22. Guitar Solo
23. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
24. Jump

Power of Music

I’m really not sure why, but I am still amazed at the power of music. In my 30 some years, music has been the main constant. Almost any memory I have has a bit of a soundtrack associated with it, whether it’s just one song, a whole album, an artist’s entire catalog, or a commercial jingle. I think I will always be in awe of how just hearing the beginning notes of some songs can instantly change my mood for the better or worse. Today, I started listening to the album Don’t Tell a Soul by The Replacements and I could smell the interior of my old 1979 Ford Granada, I could remember the anxiety of not having my homework done, and the pain of getting shot down for a date. Listening to Sugar’s Copper Blue last week brought me back to summer nights riding around in my 1986 Escort with my best friend. I could feel the warm breeze, and smell the remnants of a rain storm, as well as feel the heartache of a fight with my high school girlfriend. Hearing an old Pink Floyd or Zeppelin song puts me back in the passenger seat of my dad’s lime green Mustang and him saying “Josh, close your eyes, feel the music, and we’ll be where we are going before you know it.” The opening notes of In the Mood by Glenn Miller will always take me back to a time of my Grandma bopping around the kitchen humming along and my usually reserved Grandpa swooping in from the other room to take her in his arms for an impromptu dance. Then there is the music that often holds no good memories, but can still grab me by the throat and almost take my breath away. Songs that remind me of lost love, friendships, and innocence. I think I could go on for days writing about all of the music that has power over me. I often wonder if all humans have this type of connection to music or not. I really feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t.

Loving this new song…

Solo stuff from Brandon Flowers of The Killers. Crossfire from his upcoming CD, Flamingo.

I love The Killers and definitely hope they make more music, but this will tide me over. Very mellow, but driving. Kind of sexy, starts out with the ‘toy piano’ vibe of  Sam’s Town, my favorite Killers album. I love Brandon’s songwriting, great lyrics. Plus you have to love a cameo from Charlize Theron in the video. So HOT!

Flamingo is set to release on September 6th in the UK, and September 14th in the US.

What a difference a week can make…

The RingSo, my last post about a weekend was a pretty negative one. This one is anything but.

M. and I had a great weekend. Went to see one of our favorite bands, Better Than Ezra, Friday night after dinner at one of M.’s favorite Mexican restaurants, Taqueria Mexico. We had VIP tickets for the show which meant we got to hang out in an air conditioned lounge while the warm up acts played. Much nicer than the 90-something degree heat outside. We also got to be right up front for the show, which was great. The band put on a great show as always, mixing up their old stuff with cuts off of their latest, Paper Empire (set-list below). The highlight of the evening however, was during the 2nd song of their encore. the song they played is called I Just Knew, the first time I heard it was shortly after M. and I started dating and it just fit. About midway through the song, I pulled out an engagement ring and gave it to M. She quickly put it on her finger and said ‘YES’. So there you have it, I’m engaged. The rest of the weekend was all about relaxing, which we did.

Better than Ezra SET-LIST Crossroads KC 8/6/2010

Blacklight

Good

Misunderstood

A Lifetime

The Loveless

Womanizer (Britney Spears) LOL

Extraordinary

King of New Orleans

Sincerely, Me

Absolutely Still

Live Again

Laid (James)

Desperately Wanting

ENCORE:

Porcelain (Acoustic)

I Just Knew

In the Blood

(Set-list courtesy of my friend jpeoschl@twitter.com)

Ahh…the weekend.

So, the week started out pretty shitty for me. Problems with the kid, which of course made me worried they would turn into problems with the girlfriend. I shut down for the most part and didn’t sleep very well most of the week. I’ve also been pretty worried that my contract at work may not get renewed, and that come October I would be among the ranks of the unemployed again. I’m not sure I could handle that stress again. Fast forward to Wednesday. We had a good night out at trivia with some good friends and my siblings. We lost for the 2nd week in a row, but it was still fun, and a much needed stress relief. Then, yesterday my boss asked to talk to me and gave me good news that he is definitely recommending the company keep me around and that he and his superiors are impressed with the work I’ve done. I’m not a person who needs constant validation and praise, but our talk definitely eased some stress. Now, here it is Friday and the girlfriend and I are going to see one of our favorite bands, Better Than Ezra, and we have almost nothing to do all weekend other than relax. I can’t wait. Maybe there will be a surprise or 2 along the way. Who knows?

Have a GREAT weekend my readers! Enjoy time with the ones you love.

Better Than Ezra tonight at P & L.

So, there’s a pretty great free concert tonight in the Power and Light District here in KC. Better Than Ezra is playing. I have seen these guys probably 10 times, and have never been disappointed with a single show. For those who don’t know, BTE started in New Orleans in 1988. All of the original members were attending LSU and playing house parties in their spare time. In 1990, their lead guitarist, Joel Rundell committed suicide. the band took some time off, but by the end of 1990 they were back as a trio playing the same LSU circuit as before. BTE’s first label release was Deluxe in 1993 on Swell Records. In 1995, the album was re-released when the band was signed by Elektra records. Deluxe spawned the hit Good, which hit #1 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Chart, as well as the singles In The Blood (#4 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Chrat), and Roselia (#24 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Chart). The albums also contains crowd favorites Porcelain, and This Time of Year. The band has gone through a few personnel changes throught the years including the departure of original drummer Cary Bonnecaze who was replaced by Travis McNabb after the Deluxe album. Lead vocalist and song writer Kevin Griffin and bassist Tom Drummond are the only original members left in BTE. McNabb left the band in 2009 to focus on his work and touring with country/bluegrass group Sugarland. McNabb was replaced by drummer Michael Jerome before the release of BTE’s latest album Paper Empire, which released in March of 2009.

There are quite a few theories, but the band has never acknowledged where the name Better Than Ezra came from.

Below is a discography, and my picks for “must listen” tracks from each album.

Deluxe – 1993, 1995: In The Blood is quite possibly my favorite BTE song. I’m not sure what it is about this track. It’s pretty haunting, and the lyrics really strike a chord with me for some reason. I have done this one on karaoke a few times, and people actually clapped. 🙂 When BTE does this one live, they sometimes launch into a little interlude of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper. Pretty awesome. I also really like Rosealia and Good, but another track, Porcelain is almost a tie for my favorite. EXTREMELY haunting, almost scary lyrics about not wanting to lose the one you love. There is also a great remix, the VooDoo Mix, on the Greatest Hits album that is amazing.

Friction Baby – 1996: King of New Orleans is a great, racous tune about being the ‘life of the party’ in a town that used to never stop partying. This one is a great reminder to me of what it was like to party in pre-Katrina New Orleans. It really captures the spirit of the city in my mind. Desperately Wanting was the big hit off of this album, hitting #10 on Billboard’s Rock Chart. It’s a great song about, well, desperately wanting someone you may or may not be able to have. That’s a feeling I have definitely been able to relate to in my life.

How Does Your Garden Grow? – 1998: Where do I start on this one? Wow, a lot of good stuff here. At The Stars was probably the biggest hit, not a bad song at all. There’s also Allison Foley, a great party track, another that makes me feel like a good ‘ol time in The Big Easy. Live Again (which just came on as I am writing this) is a song I can definitely relate to. Kevin Griffin talks about the song as it’s beginning on the Live at  House of Blues, New Orleans CD and says it’s about when you spend a lot of time locked in your house alone after someone you love has kicked your ass, and about how it feels when you finally leave the house and try to move on. Such a great message about starting over and taking your life back after you’ve lost love. Probably my favorite track here though is One More Murder. The opening notes sound like a music box gone psycho. Extremely haunting picture painted of the other side of New Orleans and the poverty and crime in the city. Probably not one for New Orleans’ tourism council to use in ads. 🙂

Closer – 2001: This one has one of my least favorite tracks, Extra Ordinary. I guess it’s a pretty good party song, and works if you are having as bunch of beers and around a bunch of friends who don’t care if you get goofy. (Must be why it’s one of my best friend Scott’s favorites. 🙂 ) So, I guess the song has a place afterall. I really like A Lifetime, a song about wondering exactly what to do when death unexpectedly takes someone too soon. It’s not a dreary funeral dirge either. It’s more a song about trying to figure out how to celebrate the life of someone you love who is gone forever. I have always wondered what REM song they are talking about singing on the hood of the car.

Before the Robots – 2005: This later album kind of shows the band trying some different things. One of these different things is the track Juicy. Not a fan of this one at all. Kevin Griffin’s vocals on this track are almost unrecognizeable, and he sounds like a chick singing over a 70’s porno groove. I can handle the porno groove, but the androgynous vocals make me cringe a little. The song was also used in ads for ABC’s Desperate Housewives, which definitely is a negative in my book. On the brighter side, I love the track A Southern Thing, a tale of two misfits tearing it up in the seedy South. For some reason, A Lifetime is also included on this disc.

Paper Empire – 2009: BTE took quite a bit of time off from recording between Before the Robots and Paper Empire. I think it may have been a good thing. this album was recorded in Los Angeles. Griffin made a move to L.A. in 2006, needing a suitable place for his child to go to school after Katrina crumbled New Orleans’ infrastructure, and also somewhere conducive to his music career. In a leased recording studio in Laurel Canyon the album came together. The first single, Absolutely Still is a song about the feeling you have when love is new and you never want it end or change. You just want to hold that feeling forever. I Just Knew is probably my favorite track. It’s about how suddenly a friendship can turn into something more, and how when it happens you know it’s right. A feel good song by all means.

So, basically, as you can see, I am pretty excited for the show tonight. Great music, a great girl, and hopefully a few friends I haven’t seen in a while. I will post a review in the next couple of days.