JONATHAN ROSS doesn't look like it but he is a bit of a trouble-maker. he is the host of a late-night comedy show that has ruffled the notoriously stoic BRITISH upper-crust and famously he was suspended from the BBC for a prank call gone wrong with fellow muckraker RUSSELL BRAND. his first stint was on the BBC1 with FRIDAY NIGHTS WITH JOHATHAN ROSS (2001-2010) that was followed by the ITV show THE JONATHAN ROSS SHOW which has continued airing to date.
the BRITISH comedian has had some incredible musical guests on both his primetime shows over the years including NIRVANA, DEPECHE MODE, LADY GAGA, DAVID BOWIE, RIHANNA, THE LIBERTINES and GORILLAZ among many many others. definitely check them out these performances.
because the experiential nature of music is such an ephemeral and almost primitive phenomena, there is a tendency for listeners to pretty much take it for granted. as if music was always there. unlike filmmaking, the process of MUSIC PRODCTION is a bit of a mystery to the layperson, an almost alchemical process.
when i began consciously listening to PODCASTS almost ten years ago on a regular basis, the ones i was drawn to had a sense of playfulness with the platform itself. the sound design on something like NPR's RADIOLAB is so palpable and convincing that it is easy to be swept away into an alternate reality where you are swimming with red blood cells or strata of light waves.
likewise the ongoing PODCAST SONG EXPLODER is another podcast with incredible sound design. it is a meta in that it is a podcast about sound, specifically how songs are constructed. podcaster HRISHIKESH HIRWAY basically deconstructs songs with the help of the artist down to their base elements and explains how the piece fit together. you get a real, visceral sense of the artistry and technical wizardry involved with modern music production and how such has enabled songwriters. its incredibly informative and because of its well-sequenced and thoughtful presentation, SONG EXPLODER makes you appreciate the process on a deep intuitive level.
its is quite the experience and i recommend listening to the podcast for anyone interested in music production or with an interest in art. recently SONG EXPLODER expanded into a NETFLIX show but my preference is still the podcast.
at the moment we are living in an age where amazing live performance series, past and present, are all becoming newly available on YOUTUBE. its pretty cool.
MOOG SOUND LAB is a discontinued live performance series based around, you guessed it, the analog synthesized wizardry of ROBERT MOOG's machines and features various artists from the world of INDIE ROCK, ALTERNATIVE HIP HOP and AVANT-GARDE POP. in essence it serves as sonic evidence of the wide-range of moods and sounds available through the gear.
definitely worth watching if you have an interest in analog synths and their unique multitude of sonic applications.
everything recently is so depressing. with structural racism in our policing, COVID continuing unabated and political unrest at the hands of QANON true believers still an ever present threat on our republic. just thinking about the onslaught of disinformation and thoughtless cruelty that has been perpetuated by the hubris of the former TRUMP administration and his craven sycophants in the GOP is just too much to stomach. it is because of them that our country is devolving into a GREEK tragedy.
ive already written about my love and admiration for NORM MACDONALD and how his LATE NIGHT appearances are legendary. they cheer me up every time i see them. following closely behind are the appearances by fellow SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE alumnus WILL FERRELL over the years, who gets more and more absurd each time he's on any LATE NIGHT program supposedly promoting a new project. its become less and less about the film he is promoting and more about some ANDY KAUFMAN-esque next level batshit weirdness.
i love these bits and his insane singular commitment to staying in character and ever-present comic geniusm, so enjoy and get some relief before the ominous return of our collective TRUMPIAN HELLSCAPE.
for the past couple months the legendary, and recently troubled, guitar manufacturer GIBSON has been publishing a series of long-form interviews on its YOUTUBE page. in keeping with recent efforts by other leading manufacturers of musical products like ERNIE BALL and FENDER, GIBSON has used legacy artists to reconnect with their core, and often overlooked, HARD ROCK / METAL audience.
it is probably a smart move of having JERRY CANTRELL, KIRK HAMMETT and TONY IOMMI out front speaking about their careers then having GIBSON themselves selling themselves, especially given the company's recent heavy-handed and notoriously misguided PLAY AUTHENTIC debacle. i also find it interesting that they chose these three players as two of them are well-known endorsees of other manufacturers, CANTRELL with G&L and HAMMETT with ESP. IOMMI of course is synonymous with the GIBSON SG model. apparently last year CANTRELL became a brand ambassador, whatever that is, but then again live and in the studio he has been known to use LES PAULS. HAMMETT likewise is famous for his use of LES PAULS as well as FLYING V's, especially in METALLICA's early years.
whomever jumped on this trend at GIBSON of created thoughtful interviews and mini-documentaries on legendary players deserves kudos because these are great. they have only released a handful but they are well worth investigating.
its really cool the stuff that is being released on YOUTUBE these days. since 1987 the DUTCH television live performance series 2 METER SESSIONS has been film/recording/mixing one session a week of upcoming musical talent. as you can imagine, the variety and scope of these recordings has grown immeasurably over the years and there has been a slow trickle via their YOUTUBE channel releasing the more memorable performances.
everything from BURNING SPEAR, BECK and YEASAYER to SEPULTURA, NADA SURF and even NIRVANA.
definitely look these vintage performances up if you have the inclination. definitely worth the effort.
i have to say, one of my key coping mechanisms throughout the who TRUMP ADMINISTRATION was listening to the POD SAVE AMERICA podcast. if you are not familiar with it, the podcast is basically several former OBAMA ADMINISTRATION staffers who share their insights into the mechanisms and insider baseball of AMERICAN politics. sounds wonky, and at times it can be, but it is these conversational podcasts are done with humor, honesty and a sense of duty in informing the electorate.
they also are not trying to hide the fact that they are all DEMOCRAT operatives who functioned at the highest echelons of power, so take that as you will. they acknowledge their bias and dont make attempts to shield their perspective. specifically, the panel is made up of former OBAMA ADMINISTRATION speechwriters JON FAVREAU and JON LOVETT, spokesperson TOMMY VIETOR and strategist DANIEL PFEIFFER. regular guests on the program include former DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR BEN RHODES and former DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF ALYSSA MASTROMONACO. behind the scenes there are also several prominent staffers as well so it very much feels like a family affair.
its funny, whenever i dip my toes into listening to sports commentary on radio or cable television i am keenly aware of what actual athletes (current and former) say. i always take that experience as being a deeper insight into the processes of preparation and execution that make up being a high-level athlete. same with politics to an extent. my experience of the TRUMP ADMINISTRATION consuming media was one where i felt constantly unrelentingly barraged with half-truths, misinformation and disinformation to such an extent that the ground seemed to shifting beneath me. i could feel myself being gaslighted since, much to my own chagrin, i am not sophisticated or have the intestinal fortitude to wade through all the shit. what i like about POD SAVE AMERICA is that you get a feel for how a functioning administration works. not a perfect one. not an idealized one. just the hard lessons made from making mistakes in the field. to me that is the value of listening to their podcast. you get a sense that there is a series of protocols and procedures and hierarchies and command structures and internal information gathering services created by well-intentioned, competent people attempting to make a positive difference.
i'm telling you, if there was a REPUBLICAN version of this, id listen to it immediately. no question. i find it even more intriguing to learn about processes that inform decisions i dont agree with. but this is all i have as most of the current conservative conversation online is beyond toxic and engulfed in a mindless cult of personality at the moment.
we will see what happens. there has to be some former BUSH or REAGAN officials that can pull this off. just saying. my only real criticism is how prominent the male presence is with the panel, but they are well aware of such and have numerous CROOKED MEDIA-branded affiliated podcasts by comedians and operatives that showcase the diversity and concerns of a wide and complex national electorate, including that of HYSTERIA and POD SAVE THE PEOPLE. i look forward to seeing where they take the program during the upcoming BIDEN ADMINISTRATION.
with the resurgence in interest in vinyl records that has been going on for the past two decades in the wake of streaming, the mp3 and the obliteration of the compact disc as viable format, HARDCORE icon and vinyl aficionado HENRY ROLLINS has been teaming up with online retailer THE SOUND OF VINYL and UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP's promotions and outreach website UDISCOVER MUSIC to create a series of videos about his love of vinyl and those artist that create it.
ROLLINS' curating efforts over the past few years on this accord have included tutorials, artist recommendations and interviews with artists, directors and independent label owners. basically everything a novice would like to know about starting a collection and where to start, but were afraid to ask. ROLLINS at his age is over the industry, so he comes off as a no-bullshit, straightforward guide with no pretensions. and thank god for that since lord knows that elitism is what drives people away from record stores.
i enjoy watching these and my hope is that both companies expand such with other noteworthy curators. my suggestions: CHUCK D, BRIAN ENO, GEORGE CLINTON, DAVID BYRNE, AFRIKA BAMBAATAA, RICHARD DAVID JAMES, NEIL YOUNG, Q-TIP, CORNELIUS and JOHNNY MARR. one can only dream.
below are ROLLINS' record recommendations. in the future i'll post further articles highlighting some of his interviews. this is still very much a current and developing endeavor.
RICK RUBIN is a renowned record producer with an enviable discography that transcends genre and era. he is celebrated for his ability to tap into an artists creative mindset and challenge them to produce new material that often exceeds audience expectation. notable records he's produced include the likes of SLAYER's REIGN IN BLOOD (DEF JAM, 1986), RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS's BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK (WARNER BROS, 1991), TOM PETTY's WILDFLOWERS (WARNER BROS, 1994), BEASTIE BOYS' LICENSED TO ILL (COLUMBIA, 1986), SYSTEM OF A DOWN's SYSTEM OF A DOWN (AMERICAN, 1998), RUN-DMC's RAISING HELL (PROFILE, 1986), JOHNNY CASH's AMERICAN RECORDINGS series (AMERICAN, 1994-2010), SLIPKNOT's VOL.3: THE SUBLIMINAL VERSES (ROADRUNNER, 2004) and METALLICA's DEATH MAGNETIC (WARNER BROS, 2008) among many others. he has also involved been involved in the formation of two successful record labels, DEF JAM and AMERICAN, with each known for their diverse roster lineups.
all that being said, it comes as no surprise to anyone that RUBIN decided to start an interview podcast where he does what he does best: talk. his deft ear and inquisitive, probing questions mark him as an active listener of idiot savant levels.
check out these interview he's done over the past few years. definitely worth your time if you are a fan of modern music and the process behind their creation.
this is pretty cool.
the MUSEUM OF POP CULTURE in SEATTLE recently did their annual fundraiser for local music education and community engagement initiatives by celebrating the work of regional favorite sons ALICE IN CHAINS. aside from their performance at the event, there were also performances both on-site and via video submissions by various peers and artists, many of the METAL and ALTERNATIVE ROCK persuasion.
while i am pretty on the fence about music-related museums in general (in my mind movements are only truly dead once you can visit an exhibit), these performances by the likes of MARK LANEGAN of SCREAMING TREES, MASTODON, HEART, FISHBONE, KORN, SOUNDGARDEN, TAD DOYLE of TAD, KRIST NOVOSELIC of NIRVANA, DAVE NAVARRO of JANE'S ADDICTION, COREY TAYLOR of SLIPKNOT, METALLICA, BILLY CORGAN of THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, TAYLOR HAWKINS of the FOO FIGHTERS are amazing and serve of evidence of the cultural impact ALICE IN CHAINS had on their peers and the next generation of musicians.
makes me miss LAYNE STALEY and MIKE STARR all the more deeply. not to mention their fallen peers in CHRIS CORNELL and KURT COBAIN. rest in peace brothers.
DESUS & MERO is some of the funniest shit i have seen in years.
i know DESUS NICE & THE KID MERO represent a different voice in comedy and bring a much needed urban perspective to late night, but forget all that. they are just hands down funnier than the competition. and their takedowns of industry goons (cough, cough, DJ ENVY) are both savage and legendary.
in a perfect world these guys would have a network show, but sadly we dont live in that world. thus JIMMY FALLON. until then i have to hand it to SHOWTIME for outbidding VICELAND to bring these guys over.
their show is definitely worth checking out. you're welcome.
photograph by nacrowe
ani have long felt that PAUL REUBENS has not gotten the due he deserves in popular culture. like many other kids (and adults) of the 1980s and 90s, i was obsessed with PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE and its ingeniously constructed alternative world filled with talking chairs, globes and floorboards and a childish nymph of an adult who went on wild adventures at home with a kaleidoscopic roster of guests of every seeming variety, human, bovine, animated, and the list goes on.
rewatching it as an adult years later it still baffles me how great that show was on a production level alone. as is common knowledge now, REUBENS' show helped initiate/enrich the careers of various notable collaborators including LAURENCE FISHBURNE, NICK PARK, MARK MOTHERSBAUGH, PHIL HARTMAN, ROB ZOMBIE and TIM BURTON among countless others. it really is quite amazing what an eye for talent he had at the time.
as an adult i also appreciate the show's look as it incorporated a postmodern aesthetic in keeping with his CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS leanings and MEMPHIS GROUP use of contrasting colors color palettes and designs. this became a look of the 80s, but in his vision it allowed for a view of the world devoid of barriers and biases, wether they be of the religious, class, geo-historical or issues surrounding identity (sexual orientation, gender, race) variety. in this world all were welcome.
for me PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE is everything the 1980s wasnt politically. inclusive, artistic and valuing freedom. and by that i don't mean the personal freedom to discriminate or cast judgement on others (which seemingly in AMERICA is the only place where this passes as liberty), i mean the ability to live your authentic life free from discrimination and reprisal. in the 80s you had the AIDS epidemic and the failure of institutions like the REAGAN ADMINISTRATION and the CATHOLIC CHURCH to properly adress such, each using it as a hacksaw to parlay their own agendas revolving judgement and power. very JESUS-like indeed.
REUBENS gets a bad wrap because of his arrested at an adult theater, but really who cares. who did he hurt exactly? are we really that puritanical when it comes to sex (answer: yes). i think because of it his work promoting diversity and acceptance in youth culture gets criminally overlooked. not to mention all the great careers he helped initiate.
thats sad. because i defy you to watch any episode and not be heart-warmed by the inventive and invigorating nature of his classic saturday morning children's program. it still brings me joy over 30 years later.
LIVE IN THE K! PIT has an ingenious conceit. put an aggressive band on a small stage in the back of a LONDON pub cramped with hardcore fans and see what happens.
what happens is INTENSITY. far more than your usual live performance series fare. gotta thank KERRANG! magazine for conceiving nad implementing this concept because these videos are pretty killer, including the likes of TORCHE, BEARTOOTH, MASTODON (including guest vocalist SCOTTY KELLY of NEUROSIS), PARKWAY DRIVE, REFUSED, CANCER BATS and BARONESS among many others. enjoy.
here is a blast from the past. ever since MP3s took over the music business back at the turn of the millennium, long before streaming was a thing or even the iphone for that matter, there was a resurgence of interest in VINYL RECORDS. this was due to the warmth of that analog sound that just can't be replicated on a digital format. call it psychosomatic but we all know its true.
roughly a decade ago the television channel FUSE (remember FUSE?!) had a series of small segments called CRATE DIGGERS in which they interview producers, artists and musicians like AFRIKA BAMBAATAA, PEANUT BUTTER WOLF, HANK WILLIAMS III, PETE ROCK, JELLO BIAFRA, LORD FINESSE, DJ MUGGS, SHEPARD FAIREY and DAN THE AUTOMATOR about their vinyl collections and how they went about amassing them. its basically a love letter to the pursuit of new unexplored sounds.
definitely worth checking out.
photo by nacrowe
with the impending second bankruptcy of GUITAR CENTER likely to be finalized at the close of this month, it seemed as good a time as ever to look back at the live performance series GUITAR CENTER SESSIONS that they co-produced with DIRECT TV that took advantage of their iconic flagship HOLLYWOOD location.
it feels like the end of an era with their impending doom, but sadly they never took advantage of the internet and basically ceded that ground to competitors like SWEETWATER. it is mind-bogging that COVID knocked them out give that this lockdown period we've been living through has sold more guitars and instruments then any other period in history. just think about that.
oh well, at least we have these performances until they inevitably get taken down.
years ago i was in IOWA of all places at a job fair that was a total waste of time. i randomly met a couple who likewise struck out and we were trying to figure out whaet was worth seeing in what has to be one of the most boring places on earth. then it struck me, BUDDY HOLLY. he died in a plane crash not too far from CLEARLAKE where he played his last show. turns out of all things YOKO ONO was doing an interview at the venue so it was closed and i never got to step inside. i did get to see the crash site, which was pretty morbid in retrospect.
but the whole drive there and back to the fair with this couple we listened to NPR's program about the unexpected parameters of human knowledge that is RADIOLAB (WNYC, 2002-PRESENT). its hosts JAD ABUMRAD and ROBERT KRULWICH are both skilled speakers that play off each other and set up what seem like sound rationale arguments that are inevitably contradicted by recent cutting edge research and/or counterintuitive thinking by scholars and experts in the field.
basically it is a show about thinking.
if you arent familiar definitely take a listen. they are expertly produced with immersive sound effects and well-crafted scripts. you are guaranteed to learn something new, especially about topics you thought you had covered. totally interesting and any episode is worth investigating.
you're welcome in advance!
when AMERICANS think of public radio the dry, educational shows associated with NPR usually come to mind. these shows, much like their PBS television counterpart, are meant to enrich and cultivate thoughtful dialogue on a myriad of subjects.
this is not the BRITISH model at all. they have a celebrated station dedicated solely to news called the WORLD SERVICE, but they also have a number of stations dedicated to the arts, including BBC6 which is dedicated to modern ALTERNATIVE MUSIC (i.e. INDIE ROCK, TRIP HOP, ELECTROCLASH, ALTERNATIVE ROCK, INDIE POP, PUNK ROCK, etc).
the professionally mixed live performances are particularly well produced and include the likes of TRICKY w/MARTINA TOPLEY-BIRD, IGGY POP, THE PIXIES, LIZZO, JOHNNY MARR, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, BEAK> and STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS as notable past performers among many many others.
definitely worth a listen.
in the wake of the suicides of both CHRIS CORNELL of SOUNDGARDEN and CHESTER BENNINGTON of LINKIN PARK in 2017, a conversation about MENTAL HEALTH in the METAL community was long overdue. obviously in a music genre that seemingly openly cultivates an exaggerated, almost cartoon-like, depiction of masculinity, the idea of publicizing a sense of self-reflection and being vulnerable is quite revolutionary. and that was what this 2018 four-part video series produced by REVOLVER MAGAZINE sought to accomplish. raising awareness about MENTAL HEALTH treatment, as well as the adjacent issue of SUBSTANCE ABUSE (which really only exacerbates the former).
JOHN DYER BAIZLEY from BARONESS, JESSE LEACH of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, ZAKK WYLDE of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY/OZZY OSBOURNE and ROBBIN FLYNN of MACHINEHEAD all present testimonials about how they went about addressing issues surrounding their MENTAL HEALTH, whether that be ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR or issues of self-worth leftover from their formative years. the courage on display is astounding and it will no doubt pay forward in terms of raising awareness and elevating the consciousness of their audience.
not only that, i think this conversation will save lives. period.
i've written before and spoken on the air about the fact that the most impactful thing JAMES HETFIELD of METALLICA has ever done is being open about his issues surround MENTAL HEALTH and ADDICTION. when he returned to rehab in 2020, after years of sobriety since his previous stint in 2001, it took real bravery to take ownership and responsibility of his problems. and stop the machine to address such. the fact that his band supported such and didn't let financial or non-health related considerations influence his decision is a testament to their values and an example of human empathy. this has long not been the case. people will stay on the road so that the crew will get paid. because of that, the grind and pressures of the road and the music industry have claimed actual lives and anything that contributes to an atmosphere of less toxic masculinity in METAL is great, long-overdue thing.
if anything, i think it may actually assist in attracting a more inclusive and tolerant audience as well as fostering a more empathetic touring industry. how METAL would that be?
thank god for AMEOBA RECORDS.
no doubt this series was meant as a way to garner interest in the sheer sea of available for purchase records, tapes, cds, dvds, posters, books, zines and various merchandise at their flagship stores in HOLLYWOOD, SAN FRANCISCO and BERKELEY, but man is it still cool to see what cultural artifacts jazz up influential musicians.
i only went to AMEOBA in HOLLYWOOD once when visiting a childhood friend of mine in nearby ORANGE COUNTY (where i grew up pre-NIGERIA). AMEOBA for me was like visiting MECCA. it was a sacred place, they literally had everything. i remember i got an out-print (at the time) copy of PRINCE's SIGN 'O' THE TIMES (PAISLEY PARK FILMS, 1987) concert film for cheap. really too bad the place closed doors so some asshole could put up some condominiums. just what the world needs. regardless, id put AMEOBA up there with the greatest stores ive ever walked into, which come to think of it, the only one that comes close at the top of my head is the FNAC CHAMPS ELYSEE in PARIS.
anyway, its always cool to hear musicians talk about music, so below are the episodes with SUNN O))), GARBAGE, THE MELVINS, WAYNE KRAMER, DELTRON 3030 (DAN THE AUTOMATOR & DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN), JOHNNY MARR, MASTODON, CHUCK D, BILLY BRAGG and HIGH ON FIRE among many many other notable musicians, past and present.
this is probably one of the coolest things ive seen in some time. THRASHER MAGAZINE's youtube channel presents a series of skate videos that involve a mysterious mustachioed construction worker dude who holds boards, pipes and even some box-like contraptions to make himself the object skated on by his friends. there is no doubt a fair bit of brute strength and brutally awful decision-making in order to make these fever dreams a reality.
can't wait to see more. definitely check it out below.