Monday, October 27, 2008

Hard Lessons To Appear in Store Nov.


The Hard Lessons, one of the hardest-working rock bands to come out of working class Detroit, Michigan, will be performing Sunday, Nov. 23 at 1 pm on the beautiful hard-wood stage at Euclid Records. The Hard Lessons are recording a new album as the follow-up to their series of 4 EPs, “The B & G Sides,” in which newlywed guitarist Augie and bassist Ko Ko Louise sang to represent their respective genders. With a new drummer on board, the Hard Lessons continue to deliver highly infectious and propulsively powerful rock. Euclid Records is located at 601 East Lockwood in Webster Groves, MO.

This will be the second in a series of live in-store performances to be followed up by the release of limited-edition 45 rpm singles recorded in the store. Each release will be strictly limited to 300 copies, and $1 for each one pressed will be donated to the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund (NOMRF) to benefit musicians displaced or suffering loss of equipment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The performance will be recorded live, and the Hard Lessons will choose one or two songs to be released on the 7” single.

Each release will be in a special package with the label and matching back sleeve designed by famed graphic designer Art Chantry. Chantry is considered to be the godfather of independent rock graphics, designing posters and album art since the early 1990s. For this project, the front cover will be a unique design by Craig Horky, an extremely talented artist from Lansing, Michigan who has created a tremendous number of fine posters for Michigan musicians.

The 45s will be sold exclusively through the websites of Euclid Records (www.euclidrecords.com) and NOMRF (www.nomrf.org). Pricing will vary, as individual packages will each contain unique elements such as colored vinyl, etched vinyl, or other possibilities.

Euclid Records is committed to helping rebuild the lives and livelihoods of people and musicians in New Orleans who lost so much in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This is also an effort to expose great artists to a generation which doesn’t know how much fun it is to shop in record stores. Artists will be chosen from as wide a range of musical styles and genres as are carried in Euclid Records, which is to say from just about any kind of music you can name.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Saw Broken Social Scene at The Blue Note

by Jack Probst

On October 17th, I made the trek to Columbia for Broken Social Scene. It was one of the most amazing shows I have ever attended. Seriously. When I saw them back in 2006 at Lollapalooza, every single member was present, and I don't know if that had happened before, so I got lucky to see something so rare. That set was pretty incredible, but extremely short. I decided early on I wasn’t going to attend the show at The Gargoyle the night after, because that place is entirely too small and stuffy for me. The Blue Note was the perfect venue to see BSS, as it is not only a nice little theater, but the sound is always done well. Getting to witness this incredible performance there was well worth the extra gas money.

Broken Social Scene played for 3 hours and were extremely loud. I could not get myself to sit down the entire time. My mind was completely lost in the music. Every so often I found myself with my eyes closed, clearing my thoughts and absorbing every note. There were at least 8 musicians up there at one time. Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning were ever present, as well as the Apostle of Hustle himself, Andrew Whiteman. Elizabeth Powell, the singer from the opening band Land of Talk, took all the female vocals, plus played guitar on a handful of songs. There was also a dude from Do Make Say Think, a band I’ve not actually heard before, but definitely one I am going to check out. I have to give props to the drummer, one of a couple of the dudes whose names I didn't catch, for perfectly matching those ridiculous BSS drumbeats. Almost all the members of other bands got to do a song of their own, which was very cool.

this tour was in support of Brendan Canning’s new solo record, Something For All of Us, though they only played a few tracks, including a fantastic version "Love is New". It's a funky track with a bad ass bass line, and groovy percussion, which sounds very much like it could be a lost Talking Heads song. A good portion of the set was from You Forgot It in People, which is not only their best album, but one of my favorite records of all time. The whole band really shined on "Stars and Sons". Andrew sang a sweet version on the mellow "Looks Just Like the Sun", which i did not expect to hear because of how chilled out it is. When the band started playing "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl", I was a bit weary that Elizabeth couldn't pull it off by herself, but she sang it beautifully.

For the first song of the encore, Andrew played an Apostle of Hustle song "National Anthem of Nowhere" solo on guitar, before the rest of the guys joined him for the last part of it. As the show moved closer and closer to the end, every song sounded like it could be the very last. They rocked each song with so much power, and then kept topping themselves on the next. In fact, I can't even remember exactly what they ended the show with, though I’m fairly sure it was "It's All Gonna Break", the last song on their self-titled record. The entire show was nothing short of orgasmic. My only regret of the night was that I didn't bring in my camera.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Link It Up

by Steve Pick

Just to get you thinking about music when we're not able to write anything new about it ourselves, I thought it would be nice to point you to a couple of places you really don't want to miss.

I was sad to see No Depression go away earlier this year, and absolutely delighted to see that it's coming back in two new formats. No Depression will now exist as a twice-yearly bookazine. And, there is a brand spanking new website, with daily columns from long-time No Depression writers, as well as an ever increasing batch of reviews and other features. May I point you to a particularly fascinating discussion by the very talented David Cantwell on the subject of Darius Rucker, race, and country music? Read the comments (I admit, I've got a couple in there, too).

And, my favorite music writer discovery of 2008, the man who writes the blog Quiet Bubble, has a new post with some very interesting things to say about the Hold Steady, Los Lobos, and more. Very highly recommended.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Doubling Down on Double LPs

by Joe Schwab

Nothing beats a great double album. You can live inside a great double for weeks, months or even years before it’s completely absorbed. 20-25 minutes a side was the perfect length to take in an artist’s concept with sequencing used to build up or to compliment the previous track. When a new record came out, we could take in a side of a record in a few days, but a good double album can stretch the imagination of the artist as well as create a freedom to say things that normally would never be conceived on a single disc (Revolution #9 anyone?), much to the chagrin of the record companies.

So, here it is, I submit to you Joe's all-time favorite, grade A, cream of the crop Top 10 favorite double records, listed chronologically not in order of preference. Sorry, no live albums or best of comps allowed.

1- The Beatles - The White Album - Duh, I mean of course The White Album is on the list. This is the granddaddy of 'em all; it's where it all started. Much like Sgt. Pepper ushered in the long play era, The White Album was the first great double. I think this record took me at least 10 years to take in. Diverse, full of everything that made the Beatles great, and much of what ultimately killed the Fab‘s run. For every "Dear Prudence" we get "Wild Honey Pie", but it's "warts and all" and that's the beauty of it. As McCartney said in the Anthology series, "it's the bloody White Album, shut up!". Check out issues 178 and 179 of Mojo, complete with interviews with McCartney, articles on each song and some very nice cover versions of each tune on the bonus CD‘s.





2 - The Who - Tommy - The first double concept record and credited as the first Rock Opera (whatever that means). It’s a story (a loose one at that) and a handy way for Pete Townsend to tie his songs together into what might be the most fully realized double record of all time. The “warts and all” concept of the White Album is hardly the case with Tommy, it’s nearly flawless. It’s diverse, yet the reccurring themes (also prevalent in Quadrophenia) tie the record into a neat package which I suppose is why it’s been deemed an opera. The other unbelievable fact is that Tommy followed on the heels the equally brilliant Who Sell Out LP. Indeed, a very fertile time for Mr. Townsend.




3 - Miles Davis - Bitches Brew - What can you say about an album that changed jazz recordings forever. The radical shift from acoustic to electric instruments confounded the older Miles fans, brought aboard younger listeners and opened up the next generation of jazz musicians to new dimension of sound and space. It’s easy to say that Miles was the architect of this new electric sound and rightly so, but these recordings as well as the subsequent 70’s releases were made up of spontaneous jams, craftily edited in a concise form by the great Teo Macero. Also, this was not Miles’ first foray into the electric realm, that distinction belonged to In a Silent Way. But this was a package, two records of hypnotic device with a cool cover depicting an Africa-American psychedelic revolution, unheard of at the time. Jazz-Rock to be sure.





4- The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street - A wonderful conglomeration of raw energetic strutting and sleepy heroin-induced stuttering. But this is a perfect final document of the Stones at the peak of their power. After some failed attempts at making a truly great record, the Stones were on a role starting with Beggars Banquet, leading to Let It Bleed and finally Sticky Fingers. I don’t think it’s a real coincidence that this happened with the death of Brian Jones and the arrival of Mick Taylor. Taylor’s blues playing was deeper and far more rooted in Elmore James, than Keith’s Chuck Berry obsession. This made for a wonderful symmetry later lost when Keith’s stylistically like-minded mate Ronnie Wood joined the band. Exile is the perfect example of the rough and tumble world of glam, drugs, love, beauty and jealousy’s rolled into two records of “fuck you if you don’t like it” rock and roll.




5 - Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life – Was this the beginning of the end of Stevie Wonder’s brilliant run of perfection? Starting with Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions and Fullingness’ First Finale, Stevie could do no wrong. At that time, he could take a dump and write a million seller. Yes, that is prolific! Songs in the Key of Life was the ghetto lullaby that still stands the test of time. It depicts a period of post-revolution urban America set with the sounds of great funk and gorgeous melody. This is nearly a perfect record, no “warts and all”, nearly every song is a winner and nearly every tune could have been a hit on the radio. Stevie was never better, which is a shame for all of us, because his music did get progressively worse and in a big hurry.





6 - The Clash - London Calling - The next step after their debut and Give ‘em Enough Rope. This is as slicked down as the Clash could get without ruining their reputation as political zealot Punk Rock Revolutionaries. Maybe the horns pissed off the punks, but it gained a new legion of fans that were working there way out of the Pink Floyd arena shows and looking for something accessible, but in a rebellious “take no prisoners “ kind of way. The Clash were the best band for the job. This album captured the spirit as well as turning kids on to everything from reggae music to Montgomery Clift. A brilliant record that converted the mainstream audience to the most important band of its time.





7- Bruce Springsteen – The River – After the tediously recorded 1975 masterpiece Born to Run came the triumphant Darkness On the Edge of Town. Darkness spawned some of Bruce’s finest songs, but they seemed to lack that spontaneity so prevalent in The Boss’ concerts. Enter The River, not the greatest Springsteen album ever, but filled with tons of great songs played in a looser more spontaneous fashion than the previous two. The record showcases the E Street Band as they are in concert, a tight unit but with an element of looseness that more typifies rock and roll and the Springsteen sound. I suppose Bruce was looking at a larger sound with Born and Darkness, but this stripped down LP captures the essence of what makes him the greatest rock and roller of his time.





8 - Prince - Sign O the Times - Prince has never been anything BUT prolific. This wasn’t his first double record, that was 1999, but this one featured concise R&B/pop tunes, somewhere between funk, disco and rock. The record was a joint venture spilt between Prince and his alter ego female entity, Camille. Prince was so prolific at this time that he followed up his underrated psychedelic funk masterpiece Around the World in a Day record with thefunk-driven Parade and yet he had another set of new songs. This time he took the vocals, sped them up and voila, Prince had an alter-ego in Camille. The remainder of the songs was from the abandoned Crystal Ball sessions. Only Prince at his peak of his powers could take two rejected incomplete odds and sods and put them together into what very well could be considered his masterpiece. It’s good to be Prince.



9 - Wilco - Being There – Somehow Jeff Tweedy shook off the shock of the breakup of Uncle Tupelo and headed into the studio with the remaining members to record the first Wilco record A.M. What came about was a record reminiscent of Tupelo but without the added dimension and vocal prowess of Jay Farrar. Enter Jay Bennett, longtime Illinois rocker-songwriter and hereby the newest running partner of Jeff’s. Jay brought in an arsenal of new instruments and fresh ideas and basically developing what (at least at the time) could be considered the Wilco sound. Somewhat abrasive and often beautiful, there was no doubt, Jeff had found his post Uncle Tupelo voice and audiences ate it up. Even though this record is not necessarily a double in length, it is presented in a double format and fulfills all the requirements of what makes the double great, wonderful diversity and nice sequencing making it better and better with each listening.





10 - Future Clouds and Radar- Future Clouds and Radar – A modern day classic, if not widely heard, yet. Robert Harrison was primarily known from the Austin based Cotton Mather. During its run in the 90’s, they had a series of three fine records of catchy, although complicated, smart pop songs. A band break up, a car accident and four years of lying in bed with a broken back created a glut of shimmering songs detailing a life that was at best stagnant. Once he “got his boots on” the songs came pouring out. Robert and his new band Future Clouds and Radar pulled out the kitchen sink, with unforgettable songs that are both shimmering and murky and often at the same time. The record never gets old, it just more interesting as a good double should do. All this makes the debut of Future Clouds the early pick for album of the decade.




Lest I forget:

Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland
Captain Beef heart - Trout Mask Replica
Todd Rundgren - Something/Anything
Minutemen - Double Nickles on a Dime
Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
The Who - Quadrophenia
Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!
Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
Derek and the Dominoes - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
Husker Du - Zen Arcade
Marvin Gaye - Here My Dear

Sorry, not a fan:

Pink Floyd - The Wall
Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Smashing Pumpkins- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

It’s a triple, fool!:

The Clash- Sandinista
George Harrison - All Things Must Pass

Your comments please? What are your favorites? What did I forget?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spectacular Sidewalk Sale Oct. 11 and 12


No, we're not selling the sidewalk itself, but darn near everything else you'd care to name will be available for cheap prices. This Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11 and 12, music fans will discover incredible bargains at Euclid Records, 601 East Lockwood, in case we didn't mention where we are.

We've spent the last few weeks crawling into every nook and cranny of this business, digging out CDs and LPs that haven't seen the light of day in years, if at all. It turns out there are some pretty good things which were shuttled aside to make room for more popular items at one time or another.

Walk along Lockwood and Summit, and you'll see thousands of CDs priced at only a single United States dollar. Jazz, rock, soul, classical, pop, lots more. Not to mention 100s of LPs going at $3 each or 4 for $10. And a couple thousand newly unearthed $4.99 CDs from all genres, priced to move at 3 for $10. As if that isn't enough, we're selling posters, stereo equipment, cassettes, and vintage music magazines at ridiculously low prices.

Now, some of this bargain stuff will be inside - there's only so much room on the sidewalk, but there's even more incentive to check out the greatest selection of LPs, CDs, and DVDs in St. Louis. Everything in the store will be 10% off our everyday low prices for the duration of the sale (not including the cheapest stuff mentioned in the last paragraph).

This is the greatest single money-saving event to be held in the St. Louis music-loving community this year, so don't miss it. Get on over to 601 E. Lockwood Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm (though the sidewalk will be bare at dark) or Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, and be prepared to carry a lot of music home with you. Call 314-961-8978 for more info.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I Saw Jason Moran at the Missouri History Museum Last Night


by Steve Pick

My wife and I were discussing the state of jazz today the other night, and I remarked that it's pretty darn difficult to know what to say about the contemporary scene. This is primarily, of course, because years ago, jazz fragmented into a dozen different niche styles, but it's also because, unless you're living in New York with access to every obscure tiny record label, you're not able to hear a wide enough assortment of new jazz to know what's going on.

Now, Jason Moran has benefited from recording for Blue Note Records, and from an association at times with Cassandra Wilson which has kept his name in front of even casual jazz fans. But, as much as I've loved his records over the last ten years, I was not quite prepared for the technical and emotional range he displayed in this wonderful solo concert.

Moran opened with a powerhouse rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the James Weldon Johnson composition from the turn of the last century which eventually became a Civil Rights anthem. Relying on the luscious chords to conjure up all the powerful associations the song has had over the years, Moran pulled out all the tricks in his pianistic bag, ranging from simple two or three note patterns to complex rhythmic poundings of massive chords. It was a workout for his body and his mind - he said he needed to open with this piece because he'd been backstage drinking Jack Daniels and he needed to get the drunkenness pumped out. It worked.

Then came an equally old piece, Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer." But, this was not Robert Redford's "Entertainer." All the chords and melodies of the famous piece were there, but the piece started off slow and mournful, as though at the end of the life of a clown, looking back on the thrills and the regrets of a life spent making other people laugh and clap. There were moments where the joy could be glimpsed of the classic version, but always with a whistful twinge of sorrow, which occasionally overwhelmed everything. It was a stunningly beautiful rendition.

What else? There was the version of "Body and Soul" which began as he played along with his ipod giving us Eddie Jefferson's vocalese rendition of Coleman Hawkins' brilliant and iconic 1939 solo of same. Jen, who was at the show with me, said this sounded a little like watching somebody practice on stage, which I understood as it was largely a feat of memorization, but I was impressed with the meta levels of an imitation of an imitation of an original recorded improvisation on a classic composition. And, besides, Moran's own rendition of "Body and Soul" was fascinating, with an avoidance of the overly luscious take on the melody we've heard many times.

There were two pieces, one long one short, based on foreign languages. Moran is fascinated by the sounds of the human voice, and he's had people in other countries record themselves speaking so he can turn it into music. The rhythms and the melodies of casual conversation in Turkish were absolutely riveting, while the frenetic take on Mandarin Chinese reporting stock market figures was funny. Two Monk pieces, "Crepuscle With Nellie" and "Thelonious" were proof once again that anybody with skill and an inventive personality can find bottomless fountains of inspiration in the work of that master. "Crepuscle," in particular, was hauntingly beautiful and his solo was slickly constructed on the familiar tune.

Finally, there was Moran's take on Afrika Bambaata's "Planet Rock," a popular music composition of the 80s which only someone of Moran's age, who loved the song as a teenager, could turn into a powerful jazz treatment. The simple melodies and delightful chord changes led to rhythmically dynamic developments as Moran alternately pounded and caressed the keyboard.

The opening act was a group of local players I've never seen before, which featured three numbers with the great vocalist / tenor saxophonist Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum. This guy has been playing around town for 60 years, and he has every bit of the vitality he undoubtedly had as a young guy just getting started in jazz, added to the imagination of someone who has seen and heard it all. Oh, to get inside the head of someone who could reminisce on stage about the time he played in an after hours club on Vandeventer with Jimmy Forrest, Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt.

Kudos to the Missouri History Museum for bringing in such a major talent for a ridiculously reasonable price (and with free drinks on top of it). Let's hope they do more of this sort of thing.