Moving In Stereo - Vol 1
as heard by Darren Paltrowitz
Even after contributing thousands of features and reviews to zines like Long Island Entertainment, Under The Volcano and The Jersey Beat over the last six years, there have been countless stories of interest that I never had the chance to write about. After all, if there were tens of thousands albums released in 2003 -- beyond all the worthwhile movies, videos, books and action games - how could one ever expect to sum everything going on in the matter of 10,000 words? Or even 20,000 words? It seems impossible to me, at least, but the purpose of this monthly column will be to fill you, the reader, in on some of the happenings that I do feel to be worth your time. From concise reviews and mentions of upcoming releases, to news about some other things you're not quite yet familiar with, I'll be aiming to keep you informed yet with enough room to seek other viewpoints. This is for the folks that lack the time to check a dozen entertainment-oriented websites on a daily basis, and instead would like to hear recommendations from a media-obsessed New Yorker:
... From The Island
After years of being plagued as the land of the cover band, Long Island is finally getting a favorable reputation in the music business. Brand New signed a seven-figure deal with Dreamworks last Fall, Taking Back Sunday has sold hundreds of thousands of albums on a major-indie and From Autumn To Ashes became the first band of its kind of Vagrant Records. Heck, it's the music of The Reunion Show you hear as the theme to MTV's TRL program. But as of late, some other area acts have been heading into the van and onto the radar. Bayside is yet another L.I. signing for Victory Records and The Goodwill have stayed on the road since their stint on The Warped Tour, while As Tall As Lions and Anterrabae are both readying up releases for Triple Crown Records (former home of the aforementioned Brand New). All-female hip-hop trio Northern State might be collaborating with ?uestlove (The Roots, Jay-Z, Common) on their debut for Sony, while Straylight Run - containing former members of Taking Back Sunday and Breaking Pangaea - has sold out two headlining tours without a full-length CD to show for. On The Might Of Princes and Dearly Departed have both done some touring to trumpet recent for-label albums, while The Kites spent their holiday break recording in Los Angeles. Yet there's many more where those came from!
... From The Labels
It's no secret that this isn't a great time for the music industry with all of the major labels now being owned by the same three companies. Unfortunately, some genuine folks on the lower-levels are being hurt as well. Suburban Home Records is an example of the latter with $20,000 of slowness-related debt currently looking to shut it down, according to its founder Virgil Dickerson. As a company that's put out music for the likes of Planes Mistaken For Stars, Adventures Of Jet and Asian Man Records founder Mike Park, in addition to distributing labels like Negative Progression, Double Zero and Law Of Inertia, it would be a shame to lose this great company - contributions are being accepted through the label's website... The Arena Rock Recording Company, as known to many for putting out music by Luna, Harvey Danger and Calla, will be moving out west in 2004 with label co-founder Greg Glover looking towards office space in Portland, Oregon. This should not affect the long-delayed Get Saved album from ARRCO's Pilot To Gunner... Congratulations should be extended by all to the Rykodisc label, from the way I see it. While most labels would simply live in the past if they had the catalogues of Frank Zappa and Big Star, the Boston-based establishment is now celebrating its 20th year of existence with charting discs from Josh Rouse, The Misfits and The Joe Jackson Band. Also on-tap for future releases are Butch Walker and Fastball.
... From The Hype Machine
Speaking of Butch Walker, Midtown just did some recording with him in Atlanta. I would expect the results of such to be ultra-poppy and full of self-indulgent guitar solos. Also in the rock-stars-who-assist-dropped-recording-artists category is System Of A Down guitarist and songwriter Daron Malakian, who is at the helm of latest from Amen - the third label deal overall for Casey Chaos. Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly has also assisted the likes of My Chemical Romance and Murder By Death; the former which signed to Warner Bros. with the latter currently being drooled over by a lot of A&R folks despite a recent morale-dampening robbery that stripped the band of most of its gear and personal possessions... Something that will certainly have a lot of the industry's attention will be the Pixies reunion at the upcoming Coachella Festival. I wish some of that attention would be pulled away and given to the fact that The Descendents are back together; although touring is not currently in the cards for Milo. Same with the rumored-to-be-happening reforming of Letters To Cleo - why aren't people caring?
... From The Stage
After receiving quite a few press releases trumpeting The Unicorns as the next big thing, I decided to catch the Canadian trio's outing at Park Slope, Brooklyn's Southpaw. Possibly the most packed standing-room show I've ever been to, you could tell that most of the people there were attending due to the hype - after all, this was the band's first U.S. tour. While I'm not sure if they are “the best band in the world" as Spike Jonze proclaims in one of said press releases, this is an original and entertaining group. Somewhere in-between Hot Hot Heat, The Flaming Lips and performance-art at points, the show alternated between rock, humor and the avant-garde. Instrument-changing and genre-hopping were rounded out by a mid-set Kylie Minogue cover and a memorable rendition of “Inoculate The Innocuous"... By contrast, Fresno, California's Bel & The Dragon - whom I caught at The Knitting Factory with As Tall As Lions and Pilot Round The Sun - played one pop-rock anthem after another. The band's Superplane-meets-Death Cab For Cutie sound is a winning one, and will hopefully stay put on the full-length album the quartet is currently recording... Wisconsin's The Response and Minnesota's Somerset may not have been playing to a packed house at Siberia in Midtown Manhattan, but the during-song-wall-climbing of the former's bassist, Mikey Blanchard, and the latter's powerhouse, high-maintenance drumming of the surname-less Claudio both left an impression on all there. These two bands made the now-self-satirizing “emo" genre interesting, memorable and addictive.
... From The Screen
While not a large town on Long Island, Bellmore is the subject of a recent punk rock-centered documentary titled Bellmore: The Unscene. Often-funny as band members contradict one another's stories, Hi-Tide Pictures writer Frank Fusco and producer Jim Muscarella have themselves a very worthwhile movie about bands like Rat Bastard, Agnostic Front and The Eggplant Queens... I've never been into nu-metal, or whatever the Ozzfest followers listen to, but Dope has taken a very creative approach with its new album. $13 not only gets you the 13 songs of Group Therapy, but each track has an accompanying music video within the Enhanced CD feature. Talk about value... As great as 2004 is looking to be, according to articles in Newsday and The New York Post, by 2005 there will be new episodes of the Seth MacFarlane-created Family Guy series on Fox and/or The Cartoon Network. Apparently, revitalized interest in such came from the Rupert Murdoch-owned network after sales of last year's DVD sets toppled over the one million mark. If there's a lesson to be learned from that, it's that a show's cancellation doesn't always spell out the end... While not every cable carrier includes The Game Show Network, you can be expecting some new programming that'll be as captivating as a car-wreck. The producers of The Surreal Life have announced the current-development of a show called Extreme Dodgeball. Yes, Extreme Dodgeball. I don't know if you're also picturing the Nintendo game Super Dodge Ball as you read this, but if you are, then I think you'll know why I'm excited... Though DVD's about bands generally aren't worth watching more than once, I've encountered two that are. The Aquabats may be a footnote to most in the evolution of Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, but the group's Serious Awesomeness is a two-disc set that chronicles the band's rise to cult-status with assorted video clips that accompany a full concert. The other? Weezer's last two albums may not have been the gems that the first two were, but Video Capture Device is expected to be out around the time of the double-CD re-release of what's affectionately referred to as The Blue Album - which I'm guessing will be out before Rivers Cuomo and crew finish their fifth album with the legendary Rick Rubin.
... From The Stereo
Fans of Mike Viola and his Candy Butchers shouldn't be disappointed with the power-pop of Hang On Mike. More to-the-point and hook-heavy than the preceding Play With Your Head album, the band has already landed on Late Night With Conan O'Brien in support of the disc; Figgs fans ought to be relieved to that Pete Donnelly's fret-work is still on-board... While The Mr. T Experience (MTX) is not rocking out as much on Yesterday Rules as it had on Love Is Dead or Alcatraz, word is that the Bay Area trio's live show remains in tact. They'll be out with Manplanet, whose live show is worth the price of admission alone, this month and next. The space-themed, guitar-themed, pop-loving Minneapolis band is to Tron as The Darkness is, wait, nevermind... A band that thanks Manplanet in their latest self-titled disc is West Virginia's The Emergency, and their power-trio interpretation of power-pop sounds more like Cheap Trick than Cheap Trick does nowadays. And that's a good thing... Although not generally a fan of soul, I am intrigued by the forthcoming Ricky Fante album as it really is modernized Motown - it's definitely a good thing when there's a well-selling R&B album that features live instruments.
... From The Studio
Though Let Go had only been put out in the U.S. this past February, Nada Surf is currently back in the studio working on its fourth full-length. Word is that Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla will be contributing to some of the sessions... Superdrag frontman John Davis, whose first solo gig was as an opening for Nada Surf, currently has more than two-dozen songs written for his solo debut. “Me And My Girl," a finished www.superdrag.com. Former Superdrag bassist Sam Powers, who recently filled in on bass duties for Guided By Voices, also has a solo album in the works, intending on such to be completed by the end of this month... The People completed its album with Peter Katis (Interpol, Clem Snide) at Connecticut's Tarquin Studios. The disc will be out on Astralwerks in the coming months, although the band will be undergoing a name change before then. Suggestions are still being taken... Although tremendous slashings had been done to the roster of Dreamworks after its purchase by Interscope, New Jersey's Rye Coalition is still part of it and making a record with the Grammy-winning team of Dave Grohl and Nick Raskulinecz. It will be interesting to see what straight-up rock guys will do with a band that likes its music complex yet witty... Following last year's Cardiact EP, Murfeesboro, Tennessee's Imaginary Baseball League is reportedly finishing up a self-produced full-length release. Touring will likely resume in March with dates alongside Come Down.
And speaking of life one month from now, if you have news to report for the March edition of Moving In Stereo, press releases and all other correspondence for Darren should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2004 - Column used with permission from Darren Paltrowitz. All right reserved.
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