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Music info and commentary

Monday, November 26, 2007


He's been on the national music scene for roughly 20 years, but only recently did Dan Wilson release his first solo album.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wilson was a member of the band Trip Shakespeare. After that, he was the leader of Semisonic, best known for the 1998 hit "Closing Time."

In recent years, he's been writing songs with the likes Jewel, Mike Doughty and the Dixie Chicks. "Not Ready to Make Nice," one of six tunes he co-wrote for the Chicks' Taking the Long Way, won him a Grammy Award in the Song of the Year category.

Free Life (American Recordings), Wilson's solo debut, was released last month. The album, executive produced by Rick Rubin, is cut from the same pop-rock cloth as his previous efforts and features its share of guest artists, among them Sheryl Crow, Gary Louris and Benmont Tench.

Wilson has gigs tonight (Nov. 26) at the Music Hall of Willamsburg in Brooklyn, Tuesday (Nov. 27) at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan, Wednesday (Nov. 28) at World Café Live in Philadelphia and Thursday (Nov. 29) at Maxwell's in Hoboken.

Wilson's official site is


Around 2 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 27), the Asbury Park Press will unveil its new Web site.

Sounding Off will rock on, but not at this link. So in the future, please visit, click on Entertainment and then scroll down until you see Blogs.

Another way would be to visit, then put your cursor on Your Voices. Click on Blogs, then scroll down to the Entertainment/Living category, located on the left side of the screen.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Just like the songs that accompany them, music videos have a way of making a lasting impression on pop culture.

The Fuse network has picked 10 such clips for its Videos That Rocked the World series, which debuts at 10 p.m. ET Monday (Nov. 26).

First up in the series is Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Fittingly, it features commentary from bassist Krist Novoselic (who says it was his idea for the video's cheerleaders to wear anarchy A's on their uniforms) and drummer Dave Grohl (who wanted the members of L7 to be the cheerleaders).

Also providing some interesting tidbits about the clip is director Samuel Bayer, who talks about the janitor being a central figure in the video. Late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain had been a janitor, says Bayer. The older man in work clothes featured throughout the clip was the janitor at Bayer's apartment complex.

The 30-minute look at the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video goes by fast, yet it provides a nice refresher for those who experienced the grunge movement as well as a decent introduction for those who missed that era of music.

For more information on Fuse's Videos That Rocked the World series, click here.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Things got a little complicated the last time The Beautiful Girls set their sights on the United States.

Last year, the Australian band's drummer, touring keyboardist and tour manager didn't have the correct visas and were stopped at the U.S./Canada border, thereby messing up a scheduled West Coast swing.

Everything is in order this fall, with the band touring America in support of a new album, Ziggurats, released last month in the United States via Controlled Substance Sound Labs.

There are traces of Police-style reggae rock throughout Ziggurats and some Midnight Oil-esque social commentary on the album, too. That's interesting because growing up, singer Mat McHugh kept his distance from those bands and many of their contemporaries. Only in recent years has he come to appreciate what they did.

"I grew up listening to my dad's records," McHugh tells Sounding Off. "Country and blues were all I heard for a long time, and I guess I thought that all the stuff that was on the radio in the ‘80s was kinda corny at the time. It was more about avoiding the status quo than it was a reflection of the bands themselves. It wasn't until recently that it dawned on me how powerful and interesting some of the bands from that era really are."

McHugh credits Mark Needham, who mixed Ziggurats, for the "hugeness" of the album.

"All of the songs had been arranged and somewhat mixed when we took them to him, but we wanted a big rock sound, and he knows exactly how to get that done," says McHugh. “He works out of a pretty amazing studio in the Hollywood hills and has a lot of cool gear, so it was a good place to hang out and mix a record."

The Beautiful Girls will be the headliners Tuesday (Nov. 20) at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park and the openers for Friday's (Nov. 23) bill at Terminal 5 in New York. For more information, visit

The official Beautiful Girls site is

Friday, November 16, 2007


With the possible exception of Yellow Submarine, any Beatles album is a good introduction to the band.

For Rich Pagano, drummer/singer for the Beatles tribute group The Fab Faux, his was 1969's Abbey Road.

"Sonically, the album was their best," he tells Sounding Off. "Abbey Road has influenced me more than any other record, and as a drummer, I still bring a bit of this period of Ringo (Starr) to just about every session I do.

"To some, it may lose a point due to the fact that they weren't finishing songs at the songwriting stage (because of) the personal climate within the band," Pagano adds, "but what came out of that dark cloud was the brilliant medley on side two."

On Saturday (Nov. 17) at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, The Fab Faux will perform Abbey Road in its entirety. The five-piece band, known for its authentic performances of Beatles material, makes a point of being faithful to the long gap between "The End" (which concludes the second side medley) and "Her Majesty" (Abbey Road's final song).

"We hit the last note of 'The End' and hold it heavy until the acoustic guitar is brought out and handed to Frank (Agnello)," says Pagano. "At that point, we hit the big chord and he runs with it."

Showtimes on Saturday are 4 and 8 p.m. The State Theatre is at 15 Livingston Ave. Call (732) 246-7469 or visit for more information.

The official Fab Faux site is


Former Skid Row singer and Jersey Shore resident Sebastian Bach will head north Tuesday (Nov. 20) for an in-store appearance/autograph session at 8 p.m. at Vintage Vinyl, 51 Lafayette Road, in the Fords section of Woodbridge.

That's the same day his new solo album, Angel Down, will be released. It includes a version of Aerosmith’s "Back in the Saddle," featuring guest vocals by Axl Rose.

Visit or call (732) 225-7717 for more information.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Every album has its centerpiece, and on Noble Creatures (Yep Roc), the latest from The Gourds, it's a ballad called "Promenade."

For a band not known for ballads, this is a big deal.

It all started when singer/songwriter/guitarist Kevin Russell, playing around with a ukulele chord book, stumbled upon a simple chord progression -- C major to E minor -- that led to the melody for "Promenade."

As for the song's lyrics, Russell says he made a point to go for "something a little different" -- in other words, sentimental.

"I don't usually write stuff like that for The Gourds," he tells Sounding Off.

Russell says his band mates immediately liked "Promemade," but controlling the song’s tempo took some effort.

"They didn't want to lay back," he recalls. "I kept having to hammer 'em, saying, 'No, you gotta let a lot of space happen there. It has to be quiet, open and slow.'

"We want these kids to slow dance to this song," he says with a laugh.

Humor and versatility play a big part in what The Gourds do. (Think of the Austin, Texas, quintet as a cross between NRBQ and The Band.)

So does trust.

"They're so polite to me and (singer/bassist) Jimmy (Smith) as writers, they pretty much give us carte blanche," Russell says of multi-instrumentalists Claude Bernard, Keith Langford and Max Johnston. "They don't really question us too much about what we choose for a record. They go along with what we want to do."

And for Russell, that meant including additional atypical material on Noble Creatures.

"Most of these songs I already had written," says Russell. "I've had a lot of those songs over the years where I just didn't do them with The Gourds because they didn't seem like Gourds songs. And so that became my theme for my part of the record: I'm going to do all those songs that I always wanted to do."

The Gourds will perform Thursday (Nov. 15) at Maxwell's in Hoboken, Friday (Nov. 16) at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia and Saturday (Nov. 17) at Hill Country in Manhattan.

For more information about the band, visit


With late-night TV shows in reruns due to the writers' strike, recent musical guests are enjoying encore airings.

On Friday (Nov. 16), look for a repeat of Nicole Atkins' Late Show With David Letterman performance that originally aired Oct. 30. The Jersey Shore-bred singer/songwriter's Neptune City album is available now on Columbia Records.

Slash also is featured in the same episode, talking about his recently released memoir.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Six years together apparently is enough for the members of Someday Never.

The Monmouth County-based emo quartet will be calling it quits following a hometown show Friday (Nov. 16) at Marlboro's recreation center.

For the most part, the decision to end Someday Never was mutual, says the singer and guitarist known as DL -- and there were many reasons to disband.

"We've ended up in such a hole that we've been struggling to dig ourselves out of, and it’s only caused stress and letdowns," he tells Sounding Off. "Our trailer was stolen; our van broke down -- we were and still are completely broke.

"We've had numerous members quit, some we had to kick out due to personal issues . . . It's (been) a big vicious cycle," he adds. "We've tried so hard to get ourselves out there and really just had too many setbacks."

Essentially, Someday Never had run its course, according to DL.

"We didn't want to become one of those bands that never branches out beyond its hometown and ends up being 30 without any direction," he adds. "I'm only 22, but at the same time, I'm already 22. We decided that the best thing to do would be to end Someday Never and move on with our lives, musically and mentally."

During Friday's farewell show, look for Someday Never to perform an acoustic set and conduct a Q&A segment with the audience.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show. Admission is $12. Marlboro's rec center is at 1996 Recreation Way (off Wycrest Road). Call (732) 617-0100 for more information.

Someday Never's demise doesn't mean DL is giving up playing music.

"I've already got something in the works that I'm very excited about, and Ihope that everyone else is, too," he says. "Someday Never was not just a huge part of my life -- it was my life. And even though it had to come to an end, it definitely made me a smarter and better musician, as well as a smarter businessman in the aspect of creating something successful.

"This time, things will be done the right way -- with much better planning."


TBD Records/ATO Records Group will release the physical version of Radiohead's In Rainbows in the United States on Jan. 1, according to a press release issued today (Nov. 12) by Red Light Management.

TBD/ATO is focusing on "Bodysnatchers" and "Jigsaw Falling into Place" as the North American radio singles, according to the release.


Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna veteran Jorma Kaukonen will be an artist in residence at the 2008 New York Guitar Festival, taking place Jan. 12 through Feb. 6.

The festival's lineup also includes G.E. Smith, Larry Campbell, Laura Cantrell and Teddy Thompson.

The free, opening-night concert at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden will be a tribute to Bob Dylan.

Visit for more information.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


If Thrills singer Conor Deasy could relive his youth all over again, there would be a few things he’d do differently.

"I'd wear cooler clothes, to start," he says. "I would definitely have thrown out a few grunge records I picked up along the way."

As a teenager, one’s sense of identity is incredibly important, adds Deasy.

"Obviously, you're pinning it onto all kinds of reference points -- usually bands," he tells Sounding Off. "It's how young people like to define themselves. When you get older, maybe it becomes books or films, but there's something about youth and music that's so intertwined."

A youthful feel runs throughout the Irish rock quintet's latest album, Teenager, released Oct. 23 in the United States via Capitol Music Group.

"I was thinking more along the lines of a great Phil Spector or early Beatles track, like 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' -- really straight to the point and not cryptic for the sake of it, very much of the moment," explains Deasy. "But because it became one of those albums that took a while to make, it was unlikely that we were going to stay within such a narrow framework. So the theme became a little wider, and I think it also became an album about getting a bit older, and what (youth means) to a middle-aged person. There's quite a bit of melancholy on the album, as well as optimism."

Teenager could have been a double album, Deasy says, but in the end, the band members decided "to resist our temptation."

"Last Christmas, we were about to deliver the record to the label, and that would have meant that we would have been roughly on schedule and roughly within our budget," he explains. "But at the last minute, we decided to write some more songs. At the time, I thought maybe we were losing our minds a little bit. ... But really, 'The Midnight Choir,' 'This Year' and 'Restaurant,' which are all at the very top of the record, they all came together in that last stretch of creativity."

The Thrills will perform songs from Teenager on Friday (Nov. 9) at the Mercury Lounge, 217 E. Houston St. in Manhattan. Go to for more information.

The official Thrills site is


Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood recently announced they will play three shows together (Feb. 25, 26 and 28) at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.

This isn't just a random pairing, of course. Back in the day, Clapton and Winwood were members of Blind Faith.

Hey, Eric, here's something to chew on while you're in a reunion state of mind: Bobby Whitlock, your old mate from Derek and the Dominos, is alive and well in Austin, Texas. Care to consider doing a couple of shows with him in the near future?


In Rainbows, the new Radiohead album, will have an international physical release Dec. 31. reports that XL Recordings will issue CD and vinyl versions of the album that day outside of the United States. Label details regarding a physical U.S. release have not been finalized, according to the site.