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Issue 47 Cover - August, 2010 - Innocent Words
 
Interviews & Features Minimize
McLagan is a rock ‘n’ roll survivor. He’s opinionated. He’s driven. He’s passionate. And right now, he’s the man of the hour.
It’s been a long four years since California’s Angel City Outcasts turned in their last record, Dead Rose Junction, but it might as well have been a lifetime ago.
After working on their second full-length for nearly a year, the guys in the Philly/South Jersey indie pop band It’s a King Thing did something a bit peculiar. They gave it away. For free.
This is the tale of a troubadour who’s weathered the ups and downs of the music industry, along with the backroom dealings of labels and managers. He’s a survivor, having navigated the challenges of his chosen profession since the early 1980s … all the while continuing to make delicious rock-tinged pop for his legions of fans.
In the 1980s, the electric guitar was king. Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Statriani and Steve Vai were shredding their way into rock ‘n’ roll history with fast licks and huge guitar riffs. Arguably one of the best of the bunch, George Lynch was taking the guitar to a whole new level with his work in the band Dokken.
John Mellencamp has never been one to follow the trends of the day, and he isn’t afraid to buck the system. I mean, hell, his nickname isn't "Little Bastard" for nothing.
For all those cranks who complain bands don’t play punk rock like the old days, they clearly have never given Off With Their Heads a listen.
Multi-instrumentalist Dax Riggs is a restless soul.

Once More With Feeling Minimize
Tommy Keene is one of the greatest songwriters ever. Tommy Keene is also one of the most underappreciated songwriters ever, in terms of commercial success.
The biggest surprise off of Time Flies, the just-released double disc, best of collection from Sony Legacy, is just how many popular songs Oasis turned in over the years. From “Champagne Supernova” and “D’You Know What I Mean” to “Cigarettes & Alcohol” and “Wonderwall” the band had the recipe for putting together fantastic pop songs with strong hooks and choruses that stuck in your head for days.

Book Reviews Minimize
Arthur Lee was a singular talent. And truthfully, painful as it is to acknowledge, most of his brilliance shone over the first four Love albums on Elektra Records.
It may not have the mass appeal of modern day mafia stories like “The Sopranos,” but Nathan Ward’s “Dark Harbor: The War for New York” is a true crime book which exposes the gangs that ran the New York waterfront in the late 1940s. The book is every bit as exciting and has the benefit of being realistic.

Movie Reviews Minimize
“Live from the Artist Den” captures Amos in all her solo glory, just piano, a keyboard and a microphone running through 12 songs, some classic Amos and some newer material.
The folks at MVD Visual have done a fine job of actually finding rare and (mostly) unseen footage of Lennon from throughout his career and short life. The back cover bills the presentation accurately as “It’s a portrait, but on film.” One comes away from the viewing with a better understanding of the man who wrote some of the most perfect and enduring songs of the last five decades.
Every fan of The Rolling Stones or even those who only hail Exile on Main Street as a masterpiece should have this DVD in their collection. “Stones in Exile” is monumental on so many levels.
And you thought every possible vocation had been mined for reality TV. Well, now it may have. Mike Wolfe, who owns an antique store in Iowa, and Frank Fritz, his business partner, are pickers (hence the show title “American Pickers”) who travel in their van looking for collectible objects (everything from rusting motorcycle frames to old movie posters) in the back yards, garages and neglected barns of America.
The BBC and the Discovery Channel have a solid track record so far having produced “Planet Earth” and “The Blue Planet: Seas of Life,” both surprisingly enthralling documentaries on topics that could easily come off as simply dull. With their latest series, “Life,” they prove once again that they can turn 6th grade science topics into hours of compelling entertainment.

Table of Contents

Issue 47/August 2010
Features: Ian McLagan, Angel City Outcasts, It's A King Thing, Tommy Keene, George Lynch, John Mellencamp, Off With Their Heads, and Dax Riggs.
Album Reviews: Attack! Attack!, Authority Zero, Blitzen Trapper, Tracy Bonham, The Bundles, Carnival Season, Crowded House, Delta Spirit, Devo, D.O.A., Alejandro Escovedo, Foals, Framing Hanley, The Gaslight Anthem, Kingdom of Sorrow, Sarah McLachlan, Son of the Sun, Stewart, The Streets on Fire, Tracey Thorn, Von Haze, The Whitsundays, Rusty Willoughby.

Once More With Feeling: Tommy Keene, Oasis.
Book Reviews: "Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and The Book of Love" by John Einarson, "Dark Harbor: The War for the New York Waterfront" by Nathan Ward.
DVD Reviews: Tori Amos: Live from the Artists Den, John Lennon: Rare and Unseen, Rolling Stones: Stones in Exile, American Pickers: The Complete Season 1, Life.

Album Reviews Minimize
It’s no small secret that there are some gaping flaws in Attack Attack’s game, but this eponymous release proves that these boys, at least, can play.
At one time, Authority Zero was probably best known for drawing on reggae music as much as they did from skate punk bands. In the years and records since their debut, the band has certainly toned down those disparate influences, drawing more on their punk side.
After the Furr record and the Black River Killer EP, we had some high hopes, but I think that Blitzen Trapper have lost the plot and need someone to tell them to tighten up, not goof it up.
Some may have written off singer songwriter Tracy Bonham as a one-hit wonder with her 1996 chart-topping single “Mother Mother” off her gold selling debut full length The Burdens of Being Upright.
The Bundles’ eponymous debut album at first seems like a gift from a friend – your cool artistic, vegan, environmentally-aware friend who happens to be in a band. The casual packaging, with what appears to be a child’s drawing on the actual disc, is quite unpretentious, and you hope it reflects the music.
Decades have passed since the world has heard anything from Carnival Season. The band that started in 1984 has now released their entire career on one CD complete with extensive liner notes and photographs documenting their time period in independent music history.
This is a good album, a dark album. But, it is not a good Crowded House album. Over the last few years, it is getting harder and harder to discern Neil Finn’s solo material from Crowded House material. Could it be that the absence of drummer and songwriter Paul Hester has blurred the line? I think so.
History from Below, the follow-up to their critically lauded debut album Ode to Sunshine, is an honest, beautifully crafted ode to American culture and events of the past ten years.
They've done it! After 20 years, the band has been able to combine all the best elements of their seminal works Duty Now for the Future, Freedom of Choice and New Traditionalists into one great new album. The early tracks bounce along quite nicely and are infectious and punchy as anything they've ever recorded. The last few tracks even give a tip of the energy dome to the later era/club Devo.
This Vancouver band, who could be credited with inventing the term "hardcore punk,” is a still-thrashing contemporary of such retired D.I.Y. pioneers as Black Flag and Minor Threat. Knowing only their age and nationality, I pictured D.O.A. as a punk Anvil.
Alejandro Escovedo’s rock ‘n’roll lineage goes all the way back to his punk band The Nuns, who had the distinction of being on the bill of the last gig of the Sex Pistols in San Francisco.
The UK band Foals take a sharp left turn with their sophomore LP Total Life Forever. Their debut, Antidotes, was a math-prog masterpiece reminiscent of Q and Not U and Don Caballero. This new offering is much more subtle, but no less emotional.
A Promise to Burn is a literal hodgepodge of sounds, most of which stray from the bands initial nu-metal tinged hard rock they’ve become known for.
American Slang is the third album from this quintet, who, up until now, has been well-received critically and with the music-buying public.
The album is filled with a hard-driving onslaught of face-shredding metal that impeccably combines elements of hardcore, thrash, and sludge, one that begins immediately upon pressing play, and doesn’t end until the record finishes.
Although the industry of pop or “adult contemporary” music has drastically changed since McLachlan was last promoting an album of new material, she has stuck with what brought her here.
Son of the Sun’s debut album, The Happy Loss, is a beautifully melodic, yet heartbreakingly gorgeous piece of work. This is the type of moody rock that can waver in and out as you sit around and relax on a gorgeous summer’s night.
While every other female-fronted pop/punk band is trying to style themselves as the next Paramore, Brooklyn’s Stewart is proudly looking to bands like The Dead Milkmen and early Weezer for guidance and the result is satisfyingly refreshing.
The Streets on Fire’s debut album, This Is Fancy, is a fun, gritty rock record which thankfully does not take itself too seriously. Just look at the lead-off track’s title, “No One’s Fucking to the Radio,” and you know you are in for a light-hearted, entertaining treat.
Tracey Thorn’s Love and Its Opposite is an adult pop record for people who have reasonable expectations for lyrics of substance and meaning. Not nearly as glossy as say, an Annie Lennox LP, but certainly in that confessional mode.
Von Haze are a Brooklyn-based pysch duo and not surprisingly, their self-titled debut EP touches on a number of blissed-out genres. Their sound features a helping of pyschy drone, sprinkled with neo-shoegaze (admittedly, a loathsome term) mixed together with amazingly stark execution and focused song craft. The track pacing is superb to boot, helping to create a succinct, but blistering debut.
I’m not sure if it’s the cold, the hockey or the beer with higher alcohol content, but there’s something about Canada that brings out the quirkiness in its musicians. Think Crash Test Dummies, Bare Naked Ladies… and now the oddest of them all, Alberta’s The Whitsundays.
You may not know the name Rusty Willoughby unless you were or are a diehard follower of the Northwest music scene. Before going solo, Willoughby made a name for himself in the seminal '80s band Pure Joy and later on in the '90s with his other band Flop.

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