New Wave Wednesdays – 1, 2, 3… ABC… And Defining The ’80s With “The Look Of Love” For Me

Before I begin, I just wanted to share my Spring Listening Playlist with you… Some old… some new… and all rocking my April…

Do The Beast, the new record by The Afghan Whigs came out yesterday and so far, from what I have heard, I really dig it.  I am already deeply in love with the song “Algiers.”  I’ll get to that album soon.  David Gray has a new one coming out soon, too!  The current single is the stunning “Gulls.”  Yay for music.

I am having a Renaissance of a few bands/artists:  Maximo Park (they also have a new one I have not heard yet)… and of course, they are playing the Troubadour the night of my daughter’s lead turn in the Spring Musical… AAAGGGHHH!!!  Foo FightersVenice (Yes, they also have a wonderful new Double Record out!!!)… Billy Bragg and Marshall Crenshaw to name a few

New, or fairly new discoveries include:  Little Comets… fantastic band… HozierSomeKindaWonderful (just one song out so far, but what a song “Reverse” is)… Bear’s DenWhite VioletMargot & The For Me  So and So’s… and Girl in a Coma…

Special shout outs to Julie Slater and Out On A Limb on KCSN, David Dye and WXPN, Noisetrade and KCRW for most of these new finds!

And to round out the rest of the playlist:  Neon Trees, Tyler Lyle, South, Flight of the Conchords, Lake Street Dive and Pharrell Williams… Okay, you know what “Happy” is one of the best Pop sings ever, and listening to him talk is so damn inspirational.  And I do contend that if you do not like that song, you have no soul.  There!  I said it.

Now… on with the show…

Speaking of infectious tunes…

ABC – “The Look Of Love, Pt. 1″

So sometimes I do an album, sometimes I do a concert review… and sometimes I do one song… Do meaning discuss, blog, post…

And today I am picking one song, but not because that is all this band has to offer.  By my account ABC is not a one-hit wonder, as they had at least three major hits… “Be Near Me”, “Poison Arrow” and this one… and many of their other tunes are immensely enjoyable… Yet this song, at least for me, helps define the ’80s.

Sounds of David Bowie… visuals of Mary Poppins and a whole lot of airplay on MTV make this song and its imagery indelible.  Perhaps you had to be a child of the ’80s, but these songs are so much a part of who I am.  They come on the radio… well, Satellite radio nowadays… :( … and I am smitten all over again… singing… dancing… smiling.  And isn’t that the key?

Something doesn’t have to be Beethoven or Bach, Beatles or Beach Boys, to be a good, solid song.  Then again, to each his own.  If you do not like this, fine… but don’t rain on my musical parade.  We are not here to judge, per se, we are here to enjoy… and find the music that helps us through.

 This one came to us in 1981, from their debut album, The Lexicon Of Love.

“Part One is the standard album version, Part Two is an instrumental version, Part Three is a vocal remix and Part Four is a short acoustic instrumental part of the song, containing strings and horns, as well as occasional harp plucks and xylophone.”  Thanks, Wikipedia.

More pop than rock… more dance than disco… “The Look Of Love” is just one of those songs.  From proms to parties, this song helped make memories and continues to give me joy.  And really, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  Finding joy in music and the simple things… Realizing that our lives have much more value when we focus on people, not things… places not palaces… and above all… happiness and love.

Am I sucker for the sap… for the pop… for the infectious hook?  Maybe I am.  So what.  I can rock with the best of them… But I also love what I love… So if you are going to look my way, please give me “The Look Of Love.”  And to quote David Bowie… “Let’s Dance.”

 

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New Wave Wednesdays – When The World Goes Pop, Fix It With Power Pop… The Joys Of Marshall Crenshaw

Life is a mother—–r.  In a world filled with so much beauty, why is there so much pain?  I see so many people hurting right now.  Why must there be so much suffering?

I suppose without pain, healing would not have as much power… the same goes for beauty and love.  Without the opposites to help define them, life’s most wonderful treasures might be less appreciated.  But that’s a shame, isn’t it?  We must take nothing for granted… especially wonder and majesty, joy and love.  Appreciating life and all its beauty is imperative.  We must open our eyes and our ears and our souls.

So it seems then, that it is our job to appreciate the wonders of the world… the joys… the bliss, and the love as much as we can, for as long as we can. There will always be suffering… So our task is to overcome it and find the beauty and the happiness.  Very Buddhist.  Very important.

Today I woke up to find 5/10 newly acquired plants from Home Depot dead… my reputation as the Plant Killer lives on.  Yes, I can and will return them.  The news this morning added a stabbing at a high school in Pennsylvania and the passing of “Princess” Lacey Holsworth, the adorable 8-year old many of us came to know while watching March Madness, and college hoops.

It makes me want to hold my daughter so tight… kiss her and tell her how much I love her.  Not easy to do with a 13-year old, who thinks everything her Dad does is embarrassing and wrong… but I see her growing up so very fast and I need her to know how amazing and special and wonderful she is… and how deep my love for her is…

So I just e-mailed her… Yes, she’ll read it at school, but tough.

Today we need some joyous music played loud… very loud.  We need to dance and sing and remind ourselves that we need to dance and sing every single day… and love… and laugh.

Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw

Not exactly what many would consider New Wave… but he was on the list I built of New Wave artists, so we’re going for it… though mostly because listening to Marshall Crenshaw gives me true joy and makes me happy.  This is probably a lot closer to Power Pop… which I would define as catchy, infectious and melodic songs that possess some great hooks.  Crenshaw was a master… and it is no coincidence that he played Buddy Holly in the film La Bamba… He reminds many of us of Buddy physically… but also as a master songwriter.

To be clear, I LOVE Pop Music… but my definition is different from what you might be thinking.  I am not talking about the mindless Bubblegum Pop that too many teens think is great music… Oops, did I say that out loud?  I am talking about music that does not quite fit into the Rock or Alternative genres, and while it may be mainstream, has tremendous staying power and value.

Power Pop is a genre that, by all accounts, was coined by the genius Pete Townshend.  Hell, he calls The Who a Power Pop band!  I can see that, at times… though they are pretty hard rockers.  The Beatles and The Kinks were also major influences on the genre, and ditto that they also rocked it pretty hard.  It still amazes me that The Beatles have influenced almost every modern genre of music.

For me… when I think of Power Pop, I usually start with British bands… who ironically were influenced by jangly guitar, American bands like The Byrds.  My list of favorites include Teenage Fanclub, The Hollies, Raspberries, Badfinger, The Pearlfishers, Squeeze, then Big Star, JellyfishSloan, Maximo Park and of course, Marshall.  What I love about the genre is the worldwide influence and the continuation of it decade after decade.  This list alone covers the UK, Canada and the US!

One of my most favorite collections EVER is the 3-CD set Rhino Records put out called Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics… It covers the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and is so utterly enjoyable.  One might be able to survive on a desert island with these discs alone… Okay… and of course some Bruce and The Beatles

This 1982 debut album… Hold on… let me say that again… DEBUT ALBUM!!!… gets a deluxe treatment courtesy of the fabulous Rhino Records… okay, really?  Just HIRE ME ALREADY!  They are genius at taking already brilliant material and giving it an abundance of riches in the guise of demos, live tracks, bonus songs, etc.  This album goes from 12 tracks to 21!!!

This is also, at least for me, one of those rare records where each and every track is a song I adore.  I do not ever skip through this one… and on a day like today, I need an album that delivers song after song… Even though many are about lost loves, the album makes me feel fine!

Included in the bonus tracks are two of my other, most favorite Marshall tunes… a demo version of “Whenever You’re On My Mind” and “You’re My Favorite Waste Of Time.”

Just look at the original, killer track list:

  • “There She Goes Again”
  • “Someday, Someway”
  • “Girls…”
  • “I’ll Do Anything”
  • “Rockin’ Around In N.Y.C.”
  • “The Usual Thing”
  • “She Can’t Dance”
  • “Cynical Girl”
  • “Mary Anne”
  • “Soldier Of Love”
  • “Not For Me”
  • “Brand New Lover”

This is some of my most beloved music… Mmmm!  I just adore this record.  And in the face of such tragedy, finding joy is key… and music unlocks so much of that.

If we all listened to more music, the world would be a happier, calmer and more peaceful place.  Really!  Let’s give it a try.

Peace!

 

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Def Leppard Kicks The Monday Blues – So Pour Some Sugar On Me And Crank Me Up

When I was a kid my mother would not buy us Frosted Flakes.  It was one of those rarefied treats we had to have at friend’s house or maybe when were on vacation… Of course, I am now the enforcer of a similar policy in my own house.  Doh.  I guess we DO become our parents.  And in my case that is not a bad thing… MOSTLY!

What my mother did NOT know, is that I would pour myself a big ‘ol bowl of Corn Flakes… and then douse them in sugar when she wasn’t looking.  The poor man’s version.  Boom!  My favorite part of Frosted Flakes was when they just started become mushy and the milk tasted like sugary goodness… so this was the next best thing, and while probably not as good as the name brand Kellogg’s Frosted FlakesKellogg’s Corn Flakes WITH sugar was a good, close second.

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Product Placement!  Product Placement!

And yes, as a matter of fact… I WAS a big fan of Tony The Tiger!!!  And now you can also call me a product placement whore… well… actually not since Kellogg’s is not paying me… YET!

Does anyone else remember stalling and sitting at the table “reading” the box of cereal???  I used to do that all the time to delay doing chores… or going to school… or just getting up… Oy!  Maybe sugar cereal WAS bad for us!

So… What does this have to do with anything?  Or more specifically, what does this have to do with today’s musical selection???  As I listened to this song today, it just reminded me of that.  Does the tune have anything to do with the cereal of my youth?  Um… I am gonna say NO.  In fact… I would say this song is about… SEX.  WHAT???!!!  Are you kidding me?

But perhaps now Jerry Seinfeld and I have more to talk about!  The cereal I mean.  Sheesh!

Def Leppard – “Pour Some Sugar On Me”

Another MTV staple… This came out in 1987 and was featured on the Hysteria record.  Great album!

“Pour some sugar on me
Ooh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me
C’mon, fire me up
Pour your sugar on me
Oh, I can’t get enough

I’m hot, sticky sweet
From my head to my feet, yeah”

Um… yeah… I get it now.

I saw Def Leppard open for Van Halen back in the day.  They were great.  Why they suddenly popped into my head, who knows.  The classic rock I grew up with just does that from time to time… all random like.  We have already discussed how my brain is a musical jukebox, so go with it.

And while I am now hitting the 2-CD Rock Of Ages album hard… this song… and music… is the perfect way to kick-start the week and make you feel like everything is gonna be all right.

Go ahead and listen to this without singing at the top of your lungs… or cranking it up to 11.  I dare you to try!
I dare you to not jam some killer air guitar and pretend you are in a music video… THIS music video.  It cannot be done… so just give into it… go with it… let it go!

We all need some sugar… we all need some love.  So pour it freely, folks.  Never hold back the sugar… never hold back the love and affection.  Hell, never hold back.  Go for it all and live life to the fullest.

With that said, I have to give major props to Rick Allen.  In what is now both tragic and triumphant Rock legend, Rick was in a car accident on New Year’s eve 1984.  His left arm had to be surgically removed… yet within 5 weeks he was back with the band.

Of course, he assumed he would never drum again, and had a long rehabilitation ahead… which left him depressed… but according to Wikipedia:
“Joe Elliott, visited Allen in an attempt to cheer him up. The band was on a break, so soon after, Allen met with some engineers and started to design a drum set to assist Allen’s drumming. He could still play some drum rhythms with one hand and used his left foot (typically for hi-hat pedals in common drum kits), to play the snare drum. Former Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich helped and encouraged Allen during his convalescence, and they designed an electronic kit Allen could play using only one arm. (TheLudwig acoustic drum kit he used on earlier albums High ‘n’ Dry and Pyromania was later given away by Def Leppard’s one-time management.) Electronic drum manufacturer Simmons created a kit to their specifications, and Allen made his post-accident debut in 1986 with a well-received set at the “Monsters of Rock” festival at Castle Donington.”

What is even more remarkable… is that the band hit its true heights after all of this…

Rock is dead, they say?

Long live Rock!

 

 

 

 

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New Wave Wednesdays – Don’t Tie The Tubes… Down.

I first saw The Tubes on SCTV.  I thought they were crazy… Great, but crazy.  They were the musical act… I think several times… but Fee Waybill and the boys also did some bits.  Who were these wacky guys?

Then they became a huge part of my musical life… The Completion Backward Principle came out in 1981 and wowed me with “Talk To ‘Ya Later” and “Sushi Girl”.

1983′s Outside Inside gave me the monster and most infectious “She’s A Beauty” and “No Not Again”, and also “The Monkey Time” and “Wild Women Of Wongo.”

They were a staple on MTV and on my stereo.  How many times have you seen the above videos???

These songs just make me happy… and make me move… No thoughts… just pure and utter joy!

And yes… I wanted Fee’s hair… especially now!!!

I have seen them play The Canyon Club… and also got to see Fee play with Venice at one of their amazing benefit shows for the arts at SAMOHI (Santa Monica High School).  Venice just announced they are taking a well deserved year off from this event, so do not miss their return in 2015.  Speaking of which… their new double album, What Summer Brings is fantastic and a post on that is long overdue.

But now… back to The Tubes.

For today’s listening pleasure I will do what I try to normally avoid, and suggest you give a spin to The Best Of The Tubes (1992), primarily because it has everything in one place!  But you are also encouraged to give the previously discussed discs full listens.  You will be more than satisfied if you do.

The band was formed in San Fran in the ’70s… but it is the aforementioned hits, and MTV that catapulted them to ’80s stardom.  And their live shows… While I saw them way after the fact, apparently the early live shows were insane.

Wikipedia says: “The Tubes put their creativity and art skills mainly into their live performances, in which songs could be full-fledged production numbers, from a beach movie parody for “Sushi Girl”, to leather clad S&M hijinks in “Mondo Bondage”, to the game show antics of “What Do You Want from Life?” At their peak, their live act featured dozens of other performers, including tap dancers and acrobats. The Tubes’ stage productions were choreographed by Kenny Ortega…”

That would have been something!  Where the heck is that DeLorean???

Ah well… I’ll just have to go back to the ’80s in my mind… which I often do anyway… and dance and sing at the top of my lungs.  And yes, this embarrasses the HELL out of the 13 year-old daughter.  Oops!

And guess what that makes me want to do even more???  Yup!  You got it, friends!!!

So go and dance and sing as loud as you can… Life is a musical and we are the soloists and the chorus and the book writers.

Speaking of which… I also HIGHLY recommend Big Fish – The Original Broadway Cast Recording.  Got to see this on B’Way before it closed… It was such a stunningly beautiful show and the album is a joyous reminder.

Other current listens include…

A Bear’s Den… stellar harmonies for fans of Fleet Foxes and that kind of psychedelic folk.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones (retro soul and funk… and if you love Alabama Shakes, hold on to your socks!)

Mogwai – Instrumental Post Punk… and gorgeous rock.  Their new one Rave Tapes is killer.

Lake Street Dive… a most delicious jazz/rock mash-up and more fun than a barrel of monkeys.  LOVE this band!!!

So crank it up and rock out, friends!  Rock out!!!

 

 

 

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Random Tunes – The Mind As A Musical Jukebox (Starring The Outfield Play Deep)

New Wave Wednesdays will return next week at its regularly scheduled time.  Today we bring you a special presentation…

Random Tunes – The Mind As A Musical Jukebox (Starring The Outfield Play Deep
How do our brains work?  They can be loud when we want them to be quiet… and fuzzy when we need them to be sharp.  We cram so much information into them, that sometimes it can be overwhelming.

As humans, we pride ourselves on the size and the complexity of our brains, but sometimes… don’t we wish that life was more basic… simpler?

I was watching a bird the other day, fascinated at the almost second nature of flying, gliding, soaring.  I know it’s something that had to be learned, but still.  A bird is born… it learns to eat… learns to find food and build a nest… but perhaps, somewhat magically, it learns to fly and it learns to sing.  Walking outside and hearing nature’s orchestra is so soothing and remarkable… a symphony of chirps and whistles.  And seeing a hawk catch a wave of wind and sail through the sky… effortlessly… majestically.  No words.

How amazing would it be to dedicate so much of ourselves to flying and singing?  I often think we should do more of that.

Thoughts… so many thoughts.  The mind is an incredible thing, too.  A file cabinet… a photography exhibit… a film house… and most definitely an mp3 player.  Like a lot of things in my life right now, I have realized that my brain is cluttered.  It is not coincidence that the same piles of papers and things that clutter my floors and tables, metaphorically do the same in my head.

So I am reading a lot.  Not “self-help” books… I hate that term… But self-improvement… self empowerment.  Books on Buddhism and meditation… philosophy and science.  All designed to quiet my brain, make me more focused and present… and above all happier.

I honestly believe that things come to us when we need them most.  Not physical things, necessarily… but a memory… an idea… someone randomly discussing a quote or a book they read, that in turn influences us immensely.  There are no such things as coincidences… especially when our brain is putting out an SOS to the universe.

I was walking the dog the other day, when suddenly a tune started playing in my head.  I knew it was The Outfield… but I was not 100% sure of the exact song.  I mean, I heard the tune quite clearly, but only certain lyrics came to me, so I needed to get home and listen, to be sure which song it was that I was hearing.

“All The Love.”  Not even their biggest hit.  So how and why did that specific song… a tune I have not heard in a very long time, play so clearly and seemingly randomly on the musical jukebox that is very often my brain?

The opening lyrics are:

“I can’t believe
The things that happen to me
I guess that I should have seen
A long, long time ago.”

Okay… kind of profound.  I can totally apply this to my life right now… but I don’t even remember listening to the lyrics that carefully even back in the day when I was pounding this record.

Songs pop into our heads all the time.  Often there is a logical and explainable reason… Perhaps we walk by a house and overhear music playing… or a car sails by with its windows down and stereo on… giving us a little snippet… a sound byte that sets our mind on a musical journey.  This wasn’t that.  Not at all.  This just came out of nowhere.  So why this song, right now???

What tricks or trips the mind to pull something out that is so far in our past?  Yes, I own the Play Deep CD.  I still listen to a song from time to time, but I know it has been a while… and I would tend to hit the ones like “Your Love” and “Everytime You Cry” or even “61 Seconds.”

I have a few friends with photographic memory… It is a blessing and a curse… for them and me.  I don’t have that gift or liability, depending on how you look at it.  In fact, I have forgotten way too many things… and for that I am sad.  Large chunks of some great times… are just gone.  They come back in pieces, when someone triggers me with a story or a tale… but if I was asked on my own to describe certain things or events… Man.  Not good.

I hope and pray that as I move towards a more peaceful brain and a happier place, that tensions will be released and memories will be restored.  For me, it’s about clearing out the clutter… the grey… and getting back to the vibrant colors of Oz.  No, I’m not tripping.

I know full well that certain songs can trigger memories… loves, lost and found… family… friends… good times, bad times… you know I’ve had my share…

I understand the need for songs to help us get through… or maybe even push us deeper.  How a specific song soothes us… heals us… Musical therapy if you will.  That all makes sense to me.

But a truly random selection… a song coming almost out of nowhere fascinates me… and yes, okay, perhaps frustrates me, too.  I want to understand it more… I want to grasp it… I want to know who dropped the dime, spun that silver wheel around, flipped the cards from songs to songs… and then pushed those buttons at the diner to get that very specific tune playing at our table… my table… in my brain.

I’ve had days where tune after tune will start playing… literally like someone hit the shuffle on MyBrainPod.  Bands and tracks with seemingly no connection.  I starting writing the tunes down… hoping for a clue or a path to be revealed and illuminated.  So far nothing…   It’s just music I know and like… with an occasional, helpful lyric.  But it’s very peculiar at times… or maybe I just have not yet been ready to receive the message… like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

So I look to the skies… have a pile of dimes… and will continue to feed the jukebox that is my mind.  And if I find myself back at one of those great diners in New Jersey… sitting in one of my favorite booths… perhaps I’ll also order some baked manicotti… or a grilled Taylor ham on a Kaiser roll.  Hey… food feeds the soul, too.

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Happy Sad – From Joy To Tears In An Instant… The Power And Beauty Of Nature And Music

Listening to Falling Off MapsA Seaside Town In Winter (Post on that this weekend.)  It’s cinematic and wonderful!

Our world has become almost instantaneous.  You text or post and within seconds people have read your innermost thoughts and opined on them.  As cold and distant as technology can be, it is also remarkably intimate.  This blog allows me to express myself, to put my heart on many sleeves and to connect with all of you.  It is not simply that I want to write… or love to write, which I do… but that I NEED to write.  It is part of who I am and just one more way to communicate and share.  This seemingly simple act brings us closer together, allows for shared passions, and opens up amazing discussions and dialogues. That was always its main intention.  Not musical criticism, but musical connections… musical bonds.

It starts with ideas, that are then formulated into words… And they come to us in strange and mysterious ways.  As writers, we try to pare them down, get to the essential meaning… find the most clear and powerful definition.  Being specific is key, so that we can get the reader to identify with what we are saying… understand it, and then relate it back to their own personal experience.  But sometimes what is specific to us, clear in our own thoughts, becomes something completely different to someone else.  We are all different, of course, all unique, so this is not unusual, but sometimes that can be frustrating for the communicator.

Let me explain.  In my master bedroom is a bay window, that is divided into 12 equal square panes.  Each one captures a very specific section… a picture of the front yard, the tree outside, the house across the street, etc.  The beveled edges act as a frame for each square, but also reflect the light and the various images.  It is fascinating to look at… like a living, moving and breathing painting.  One can easily stare and get lost in the visuals, and the other day I did.  I focused on one square that had branches of the tree in the foreground… and the sky and mountains in the background.  It was calm and stunning… serene and beautiful.  It gave me a real peace and happiness.  Yet within a few moments, tears streamed down my cheeks.  No explanation… nothing had changed.  The beauty of what I was seeing hit me so deeply that it took my emotions to another level.

I wrote:
“In life’s beauty, there is darkness.
In the darkness, there is beauty.
Allow our eyes to see both, but our mind and soul to hold only one.”

I thought it clearly reflected what I was experiencing, without specifically discussing the impetus, the window, etc.  Clearly it did not, as the dialogue went off on some interesting paths.

I edited myself and then wrote:
“In life’s beauty, there is sadness.
In the sadness, there is beauty.
Allow us to see both, feel both, but in our mind and soul, hold only one.”

My point was that sometimes beauty, and in turn love, can be so strong, so powerful that it changes our happiness… or perhaps deepens it to the point of an even rawer emotion.  In life, every single thing has many sides… even thoughts.  There is always an undercurrent of sadness in joy, and vice versa.  We are at once happy… and sad.

Our emotions flow like water.  They do not start and stop… they are constant… they continue… through sleep and being awake.  Buddhism explains this much better than I can.

Yes, our brains work in mysterious ways… and if yours is like mine it never shuts up.  But this was not that… this was not me becoming sad at the fleeting nature of life and beauty… realizing that all things must fade and die… none of those thoughts were at all present.  This was being so lost in the simple power and elegance of what I was seeing that I started to cry.

It makes sense to me with a song, and my buddy Doug and I were discussing this.  Lyrics that once gave us a simple bliss and a very pointed meaning in our youth, become very different, more profound later in life.  With years and water under the bridge, we drift to very different places in our mind and soul.

So what does all this mean?  For me, it’s my journey… a recognition that we must never ignore what we feel and experience, but learn from it.  Embrace the sadness and pain, or at least acknowledge that it’s there, but by all means run towards bliss and happiness… fight for it.  Life will always give us challenges… pain… loss, so why add that into the mix yourself.  Find the quiet… the Zen… the positive…

Do things that make you happy… things that you love…

Take the time to stop and smell the roses… the wine… the air… the trees… and by all means, stop and listen to the music.  Hear it… Really hear it… deeply… passionately.  Let it guide you and take you to those meaningful places… Let it grow with you… play beside you… and wash over you.  Yes… this Jewish boy loves using the imagery of a musical baptism!!!

There is power in a single note… ferocity in a chord… and the world in a song.  (This one is mine…)

This one is Pete’s…

“There once was a note, pure and easy
Playing so free, like a breath rippling by
The note is eternal, I hear it, it sees me
Forever we blend it, forever we die

I listened and I heard music in a word
And words when you played your guitar
The noise that I was hearing
Was a million people cheering
And a child flew past me riding in a star.”
- “Pure And Easy” (Pete Townshend)

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Kaiser Chiefs At The El Rey – Musical Mortalilty, Musical Mid-Life Crisis Or Just Great Music?

We interrupt your normally scheduled program to bring you today’s special, live music review.  Please tune in again next week when New Wave Wednesdays returns to its regularly, scheduled time… probably.

The following is a live music review… with an introspective look at my own musical tastes… It contains no nudity, violence, nor any truly foul language… probably.

Kaiser Chiefs – El Rey Theatre – February 25, 2014
 I have been accused, by those who shall remain nameless, of liking certain music and bands in order to stay young…
Rather than running off with a 20 year-old and buying a Porsche, I listen to and go see specific bands in concert, in order to hang onto my youth… A musical mid-life crisis, if you will.

The fact is, I like what I like… and I believe that while my musical tastes are extremely diverse, eclectic and all over the map, they reflect excellent taste.  I do not put an age limit on my music or listenings.
I tend not to be overly critical… Partly because, unless something really rubs me the wrong way, I want this to be a celebration of music.  I would never sell myself or this blog as musical criticism.  That was never its intention.  I purposely pick bands, concerts, songs and albums that move me, and Marc’s Muse has always been a starting point to discuss what brings us all closer together, musically speaking… to give you my very personal points of entry into a band or a song or a record and give it a very specific, historical context.  This is what was happening to me at the time… This is what I was thinking, feeling, etc.

It was and is also my hope that this will inspire you to share similar, personal stories about your own experiences and loves for certain groups, etc.  Based on the amazing comments and dialogue this has created, I would say the goal has been achieved.  Heck, my buddy Patrick can and should have his own music blog!!!

So now a much larger readership is the goal.  Music is meant to be shared, and I am happy to be a conduit.

I have learned that I still have a lot to learn about music… but this is an exciting thing.  Life must be a constantly evolving journey, one in which we are always discovering and growing.  I love that friends can still surprise me and toss out a band that I have never heard before.  This week brought me the Brit band James… Thanks, Alan and Rob.  They were shocked that I did not know them.  Well, I do now… so thank you.

Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to those “too late” moments, such as the case with Paco de Lucia, who passed away today.  I will admit, I did not know this world-famous Flamenco guitarist, but I am in queue at the library for some of his CDs… I am reading and listening and will know him soon enough… Bad timing, I guess.  But thanks in advance to Paco for the musical gift that awaits me.  Read about him here.  Or watch this breathtaking video.  Dang!  And only 15 million hits!!!  Way too many under 70 deaths recently… I am still in mourning over Harold Ramis… Which leads me to my own mortality… and this… last night’s fantastic show.

First off, the opener Avid Dancer was great.  We missed most of their set… my bad… but what we heard was really good.  I will definitely be following this band.

Second, the Kaiser Chiefs are a high energy, post punk, Indie band clearly inspired by The Clash, The Ramones and Joy Division.  Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and David Bowie’s “Heroes” played before they hit the stage.  They are not Scottish… my bad… but are from Leeds and AllMusic compares them to Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads, another band I do not know!

They rock almost non-stop for an hour come back for a 20-minute encore… and range from screaming punk, to pretty poppy tunes like my favorite “Ruby” and the new single “Coming Home.”  I personally like the range, and it fits perfectly into the genre I claim to have created, “Power Punk Pop!”

Lead singer, Ricky Wilson is quite charismatic and will do whatever it takes to make sure the crowd is participating, whether that’s getting us to clap, raise and sway our arms, or jumping into the crowd and making everyone sits on the floor with him for an Otis Day And The Knights type sing-along.  He will pose and posture and pound the mic on his chest, and broke at least one mic stand, in what some might consider mic stand abuse (He basically treats it like a band leaders baton.)  But they are infectious.  Is Ricky dramatic?  Yes… but I liked it… I liked the dedication and energy and passion that too many “cool” musicians lack these days.  Hell, he even climbed up on the lighting rig to the side of the stage.  Come on… that is fun and kind of daring… and the guy is engaging.  And they all look really young… I mean, they are, but dang… young.

So third… yes, third… This was an enthusiastic, fairly diverse crowd.  Yes, I felt part of the upper end of the age spectrum… but not uncomfortably so.  Sort of.  The only time I really felt “old” at a show was The Boxer Rebellion at the Avalon in Hollywood last spring.  My buddy Alan and I were definitely the chaperones of the lot… though us 40-somethings seemed to find the same corner to sit/stand in.

Last night was mostly young… 20-somethings, who can still vertically jump up and down without back pains the next day… And while I did look around the room and see enough of my kind… we were in the minority for sure…

But the realization I had was this… At one point I looked over and saw a woman who was probably my age or at least closer than most.  She was having a good time, but not as into it as others.  She was moving and clapping, but not as crazy as some of the young ‘uns.  In fact, it seemed, at least according to the movie that played in my mind, that she was probably with her daughter.  (I saw her with a younger looking gal… granted she was in her 20s, but still… )

So here she was, essentially chaperoning… and here I was… her age or older… bouncing and singing along.  For a moment it gave me pause… made me feel like perhaps I was out of place… and then I realized we are all as old as we are in our minds.  So hold onto your youth, love what you love and always proceed and live with passion.  And above all, live a musical life… whatever that means to you.

Thanks to JS for taking me to the show!!!

Setlist:
The Factory Gates
Never Miss a Beat
Everything Is Average Nowadays
Everyday I Love You Less and Less
Bows & Arrows
Little Shocks
Coming Home
You Can Have It All
Modern Way
Ruffians On Parade
I Predict a Riot
Ruby
Misery Company
The Angry Mob

Encore:
Cannons
Oh My God

El Rey Kaiser Chiefs MarqueeKaiser Chiefs RedRicky Kaiser Chiefs

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