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Saturday, January 31, 2004

  David Bowie concert: So effing awesome!

I saw David Bowie in concert at the HP Pavilion (aka "The Shark Tank") in San Jose on Tuesday. David was nothing short of brilliant. And gorgeous, romantic, and versatile. I attended with my own David - David Duman - and we got to hear nearly all "our" Bowie songs performed by the man himself. I'm glad I took advantage of this opportunity to tack yet another legend onto my lifetime concert list (joining Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, and AC/DC). In addition to maintaining his figure, he's retained the quality of his characteristic voice, no less than 36 years after his first album. The highlight of the show (aside from his sassy banter) was indisputably David's duet with bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, who handled Freddy Mercury's vocals on "Under Pressure" as if the part were written for her. I guarantee not a forearm in the house was sans-goosebumps.

Here's the set list:
(orig. release date - orig. album appearance)

Rebel Rebel (1974 - Diamond Dogs)
New Killer Star (2003 - Reality [most recent album, hence "Reality Tour])
Reality (2003 - Reality)
Fame (1975 - Young Americans)
Cactus (2002 - Heathon [Pixies cover])
All The Young Dudes (Written by Bowie for 1972 album by Mott the Hoople)
China Girl (1983 - Let's Dance)
I've Been Waiting For You (Neil Young cover [so awesome!!!])
Days (2003 - Reality)
The Man Who Sold The World (1971 - The Man Who Sold the World)
Afraid (2002 - Heathon)
Fall Dog Bombs The Moon (2003 - Reality)
The Loneliest Guy (2003 - Reality)
Hang On To Yourself (1971 - released by Bowie under name Arnold Corns)
Hallo Spaceboy (1995 - 1. Outside)
Sunday (2002 - Heathon)
Under Pressure (1981 - single)
Life On Mars? (1973 - Hunky Dory)
Never Get Old (2003 - Reality)
Ashes To Ashes (1980 - Scary Monsters…And Super Creeps)
White Light, White Heat (Velvet Underground cover)
I'm Afraid Of Americans (1995 - Showgirls soundtrack)
"Heroes" (1977 - Heroes)
Bring Me The Disco King (2003 - Reality)
Five Years (1972 - Ziggy Stardust)
Suffragette City (1972 - Ziggy Stardust)
Ziggy Stardust (1972 - Ziggy Stardust)

For those keeping track, that's a mean release date of 1987.6, a median of 1983, and a mode of 2003. There exists always a battle between a legend playing familiar tunes versus incorporating new songs, but I was very pleased with the result. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of his post-1981 work, but there have been a few gems from Bowie's last three years of productivity ("Days," example). And it just so happens that I can't stand the songs "Suffragette City" or "Rebel Rebel." I'd argue that old crappy songs are no better than new crappy songs; the audience just knows the lyrics to the former.

It was a delightful experience to see David Bowie live. Without hesitation I'd Rebeccommend the show to any of his fans. Especially if your boyfriend's parents gave you the tickets for Christmas.

Rebecca C. Brown 10:47 PM

Monday, January 26, 2004

  Good Boys

The video for Blondie's new single can be seen here. I'm not sure if I'm keen on the song yet, but it's interesting to see where a new wave band like that ends up a few decades later.
Paul 2:42 PM

Sunday, January 25, 2004

  Coppermine - Seven One Eight

The Coppermine promo CD for Seven One Eight came in yesterday, and I've spun it about 5 or six times since. I'm not sure how to begin formulating my thoughts yet, so expect a review within the week.
Gary 12:05 PM

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

  Another "What do the candidates like" story

This time, the Associated Press asked around.
The rock fans are Wesley Clark, who likes Journey's "Greatest Hits"; Sen. John Edwards, "The Essential Bruce Springsteen"; and Sen. John Kerry, the Beatles' "Abbey Road."

Howard Dean singled out the music of Grammy-winning hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean. Rep. Dennis Kucinich chose country's Willie Nelson (who has endorsed him), and Al Sharpton favored gospel's Yolanda Adams. Sen. Joe Lieberman's favorite album is "Sueno," by classical Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
Fascinating. Edwards and Clark favor greatest hits collections, while Kerry goes for one of the great album albums. Does this mean that the former two are more "song"-types, while the latter is an "album" type? Do we want a President with a short or long attention span?

Lastly, a prediction based on this report: If General Clark wins the nomination, after his convention speech, the balloon-drop will be accompanied by "Don't Stop Believing", but not the whole song, just the chorus over and over and over again. Which I guess isn't a problem.

(link via atrios)
Bren 10:57 AM

  Can you spare some change?

For a while now, Target has been promoting a "new artists/new releases" shelf where the CD prices range from 7.99-11.99. I've found quite a few noticeable artists whose CDs made the shelf, among them, The Darkness (8.99) and BRMC (7.99). Other noticables (though ones I do not specfically care for) include All-American Rejects, Thrice, Vendetta Red, Palo Alto, At The Drive In... the list goes on.

Now, the popular sellers and releases have their own shelf, with prices starting at 11.99 up to 15.99.

I suppose the question is if you, the reader, feel that in the near future CD prices overall will continue to drop. Especially with the advent of iTunes, as well as even AOL promoting the legal selling of individual tracks, it seems as if CD price drops in the future are fairly likely in general.

Another question I pose is how on earth can Borders sell CDs $4-5 more than the same CDs at Best Buy and still make money?

Well, I guess I can answer that question. For instance, take that gas station off the freeway in town. The premium price: $2.99/gallon. EVERY OTHER STATION IN TOWN IS BELOW $1.89/gallon for premium! How on earth does this guy stay in business? The answer = morons. And there are a lot of them folks. I mean seriously, not but 1000 feet away in plain sight is another gas station at $1.89/gallon for premium. Unless this guy is putting something special in his gas... oy, I don't get it.

You could say that at Borders you pay somewhat more for selection, and they do have a nice selection of music. There is a lot of stuff there that you cannot find at Best Buy and other mainstream retail stores. Still, when The Darkness is being sold for $14.99 at Borders and $8.99 at Target, something is up. I mean, the CD isn't hard to find at all, and still, $6 more at Borders.
Gary 12:51 AM

Saturday, January 17, 2004

  I love Rock 'n' Roll

If you are looking for an extra unit to pick up this semester, consider Rock & Roll: 195?-1975, Thursdays 4-6 in 201 Giannini. Courtesy of our friendly neighborhood De-Cal.

Also, we have been asked to plug the third semesterly ASUC Bookswap, Jan 20-21, 11AM-3PM on Sproul Plaza. It might be a nice place to find cheap ethnomusicology books :)
Camille 4:51 PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

  Cranking it to a perpetual 11

I took a quarter-long electronic music class a couple of years ago, from which I learned a lot. However, though I recognized their usefulness, I wasn't into using tools for compression and peak-limiting, as I thought they would excessively blunt the dynamics of my compositions.

It seems, however, that the major labels may not share such qualms.

The January issue of Wired has a short but interesting article by Rip Rowan on the record labels' sorry practice of sacrificing sound quality for sheer volume.
The labels' assumption is that what you hear, you buy - and deafening tunes are hard to ignore. So how do you make a CD louder when it holds only 16 bits of audio? Engineers use compressors and limiters to reduce the distance between a song's peaks and valleys and then raise the average signal level. Done well, this can boost the volume without sacrificing punch, definition, or clarity.

Thing is, it's usually done poorly...
Rowan goes on to include some visuals, comaring the audio signals of ACDC's "Back In Black" (a famous "loud" recording done prior to the modern practice of excessive peak limiting), Beck's "The New Pollution" (an example of modern techniques executed well), and Celine Dion's "I Drove All Night" (modern techniques badly done).

I think it was Andy who, in the comments to a prior post, stated that you need to listen to the Darkness really loud to "get it". Apparently the labels think the same goes for Celine Dion.

(link via Mark Anderson's monthly Music & Media Newsletter)
Bren 12:51 PM

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

  If this is true, it's just indescribably tasteless.
A doctor forced a weakened George Harrison to autograph a guitar for the physician's teenage son two weeks before the ex-Beatle died of cancer, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges.

Filed by Harrison's estate, the suit alleges that the musician tried to resist the request by saying, "I do not even know if I know how to spell my name anymore."

The suit alleges that Dr. Gilbert Lederman responded by saying, "Come on, you can do this," and held Harrison's hand as the musician wrote his name on the guitar "with great effort and much obvious discomfort."
Lederman's denial, interestingly, wasn't categorical:
"This lawsuit is strictly allegations. Frankly, I think it's absurd," Lederman's attorney, Wayne Roth, said Tuesday. "He didn't coerce Mr. Harrison."
So, at best tacky, at worst...ugh.

Now, I can't fault the guy for having the initial inclination to ask for an autograph - I mean, we're talking about the coolest member of the coolest band in the world, here. I'd like to think, though, that I'd resist the urge to pressure a dying man to do me a favor like that. It's just inappropriate and unfair.

Update: According to Josh Marshall (who I didn't think usually covered stuff like this), Dr. Lederman "has already been fined by the New York State Health Department for discussing Harrison's final days with the press without permission." He also points to a more unpleasant account of the story from the New York Times.

Paul 9:19 AM

Monday, January 05, 2004

  A Gratefully Undead New Years

This is how I spent the last hours of 2003 and the initial portion of 2004.

It was my first Dead-related show since June of 1995, two months before what was the Saddest Day Of My Life (tm) at the time. Though that's not entirely accurate, as I saw Phil Lesh & Friends from above the Greek Theater in June of 2002, being a cheapskate and all.

I had long been reluctant to attend a post-Dead Dead show for quite a while. (For those who don't know, four of the surviving members of the Grateful Dead reunited a few years back as "The Other Ones", and they now call themselves "The Dead") I was worried that the flow and focus of the band's signature improvisation would be diminished without the bearded, 9-fingered one. I was worried that the on-stage product would seem artificial. I was worried that new member Joan Osborne -- yes, that Joan Osborne -- would stick out like a sore thumb. And I was worried that nobody would show up.

In the end, only one of those four worries would be justified.

First, the setlist:
Set 1:
Let the Good Times Roll
Jack Straw (hell yeah)
Weather Report, Parts 1 &2 (another hell yeah)
Ruben & Cherise
I Know You Rider

Set 2:
(new years countdown)
Sugar Magnolia (woohoo!)
St. Stephen
The Eleven
Born Cross-Eyed
Mountains of the Moon
Dark Star
drums & space
Playing in the Band
The Wheel

Set 3:
It Must Have Been the Roses
Help On the Way / Slipknot!
The song selection was outstanding, I couldn't ask for much more. Well, nevermind, I could (Stella Blue, Throwing Stones, and others), but the setlist was solid. The execution, however, was hit and miss.

Without Jerry around, a variety of solutions were implemented to compensate. "...Roses" featured Joan taking the lead vocal, which worked out pretty well. She did a great job throughout the concert, not showing up the band, and adding a dimension to the band that had been missing since the late 70's, the last time they had a regular female singer.

Phil took some of Jerry's more delicate vocal solos. (Dark Star, St Stephen, and others) Ugh. I'm sorry, I can't fault him for trying, but it's really not the same.

Some of the instrumental jams were, to be polite, meandering. Actually, they were frustratingly unfocused, as if a tribute band were trying to replicate them. Bob Weir is a blues-rocker who is ill-suited for leading psychadelic interludes. Bob's best emulation of Jerry was his new scruffy beard.

Speaking of emulating Jerry, that was the job of lead guitarist Jimmy Herring (who formerly worked with Musselwhite and others). Sonically, his imitation was dead-on (no pun intended). He only faltered in two respects. First, sometimes he played a bit too fast and un-Jerry-like. And second, there's just no replacing the big guy's presence in the middle there. (Herring stood off on far stage left)

All that being said, there was a lot to like.

The overall sound of the show was exactly as I remembered it, and all the memories came rushing back. The Oakland Arena was filled pretty high (again, no pun intended) with a lot of the same concert-goers from back in the day, such as the famous "guy with the Deaddybear suit that lights up" and others. And section 117 was as tripped out as it's ever been, very fun to watch.

Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman are outstanding and thoroughly underappreciated percussionists. There, I said it.

And hey, who was that guy playing some rudimentary percussion during "Sugar Magnolia"? It was former NBA player, and now annoying NBA commentator Bill Walton! For those who might not know, Bill is a longtime Deadhead who also helped design the Dead-themed basketball shirts for the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic team.

All in all, no regrets at all about going to the show, a fine time for New Years. And how was 2004 rung in? With a big spaceship and a giant drum, that's how! Hart and Walton counted down the last ten seconds with the drum, followed by the requisite balloon drop. Good stuff.
Bren 4:19 PM

Friday, January 02, 2004

  The Best Albums Of 2003

And now, the second installment of our year-end best-of poll, the results for the best albums of the year:

1. Hail To The ThiefRadiohead35(3)
2. Room On FireThe Strokes26(4)
3. Permission To LandThe Darkness25(4)
4. Speakerboxxx/The Love BelowOutKast22(3)
5. HoboSapiensJohn Cale13(1)
5. Want OneRufus Wainwright13(2)
7. De-Loused In The ComatoriumThe Mars Volta12(1)
7. Thirteenth StepA Perfect Circle12(1)
9. TransatlanticismDeath Cab For Cutie11(1)
10. Electric VersionThe New Pornographers10(1)
10. Everything Must GoSteely Dan10(1)
10. Give upThe Postal Service10(2)
13. AntidoteRockwell Church9(1)
14. DodirKran8(1)
14. Holy Roller NovacaineKings Of Leon8(1)
14. I Love You But I've Chosen DarknessI Love You But I've Chosen Darkness8(1)
14. Live At Sin-EJeff Buckley8(1)
18. FolkloreNelly Furtado6(1)
18. Love Is Hell, Pt. 2Ryan Adams6(1)
18. Missing The EarthAlla6(1)
21. ElephantThe White Stripes5(2)
21. Liz PhairLiz Phair5(1)
23. Beneath These FireworksMatt Nathanson4(1)
23. Rock N RollRyan Adams4(1)
25. Make Up The BreakdownHot Hot Heat3(1)
25. Welcome Interstate ManagersFountains Of Wayne3(1)
27. 12 MemoriesTravis2(1)
27. FireElectric Six2(1)
27. How The West Was WonLed Zeppelin2(1)
27. On & OnJack Johnson2(1)
27. Take Them On, On Your OwnBlack Rebel Motorcycle Club2(1)
27. The WindWarren Zevon2(1)
33. I Believe In A Thing Called LoveThe Darkness1(1)
33. It Still MovesMy Morning Jacket1(1)
33. World Without TearsLucinda Williams1(1)

For some interesting comparison and reference, check out Metacritic's Best of 2003 page, complete with metascores and top ten lists from magazines and individual critics.
Paul 2:57 PM

Thursday, January 01, 2004

  The Best Songs Of 2003

I'm pleased to bring you the results of our year-end best-of poll. The first installment of results will consist of the results for the best songs of the year. Incidentally, while all If Six contributors participated, nobody else sent in any votes. A pity, that. There also wasn't much consensus - no song got votes from more than two voters. (There was more consensus in the "best albums" category, as you will see soon, probably tomorrow.)

1. There ThereRadiohead22(2)
2. Hey Ya!OutKast20(2)
3. Stacy's MomFountains of Wayne17(2)
4. A Wolf At The DoorRadiohead15(1)
5. I Believe In A Thing Called LoveThe Darkness13(2)
6. Get Your Hands Off My WomanThe Darkness12(1)
7. The OutsiderA Perfect Circle11(1)
8. Between Love And HateThe Strokes10(1)
9. LonelilyDamien Rice9(1)
9. Runnin' (Dying To Live)Tupac f/ The Notorious B.I.G.9(1)
9. The Way You MoveOutKast9(1)
9. ThingsJohn Cale9(1)
13. Where Is The LoveBlack Eyed Peas f/ Justin Timberlake9(1)
14. House Of Jealous LoversThe Rapture7(1)
14. Seven Nation ArmyThe White Stripes7(1)
16. Hands DownDashboard Confessional6(1)
16. MagazinesBrand New6(1)
16. RosesOutKast6(1)
19. So AliveRyan Adams5(1)
20. 12:51The Strokes4(1)
20. Automatic StopThe Strokes4(1)
20. Bad DayR.E.M.4(2)
20. Go Or Go AheadRufus Wainwright4(1)
20. The ScientistColdplay4(1)
20. You DanceEastMountainSouth4(1)
26. Danger! High VoltageElectric Six3(1)
27. Any RoadGeorge Harrison2(1)
28. Dance CommanderElectric Six1(1)
28. Obstacle 1Interpol1(1)
28. Stay Or LeaveDave Matthews1(1)
28. Under ControlThe Strokes1(1)
28. Waitin' On A Sunny DayBruce Springsteen1(1)

Paul 3:51 PM

Studying to: Pet Sounds, The 'Mats

Blog: The Facts Machine

Email: camstar(at)
On Rotation: Elliott Smith

"Too sweet for TV"


Blog: CalJunket

Upcoming Album Releases:
Ani DiFranco - January 20
The Coral - January 27
Moby - February 3
Jonny Greenwood - February 24
The Hives - February 2004
Melissa auf der Maur - February 2004
Garbage - Early 2004
The Vines - Early 2004
The Who - Spring 2004
Wilco - Spring 2004
Beck - Summer 2004
Ben Folds - 2004
Chemical Brothers - 2004
Eels - 2004
Interpol - 2004
PJ Harvey - 2004
Queens Of The Stone Age - 2004
R.E.M. - 2004
U2 - 2004
Coldplay - Late 2004
Paul McCartney - Late 2004
Oasis - Late 2004

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