Great News: After being shuttered since 2019 — initially to undergo major renovations, with the closure extended by the Covid pandemic — legendary concert venue Irving Plaza is reopening later this summer, with its first concert of this decade scheduled for on August 17th. You can read more about the history of the club, and what to expect inside post-renovation, as well as see a line-up schedule, at This Link!
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Nomiees (Image Source)
According to the odds-makers at Sports Betting Dime, the Foo Fighters (-400), Jay-Z (-350) and Tina Turner (-200) have better than even odds to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year when the Class of 2021 is announced in May. Both the Foo Fighters and Jay-Z appear on the ballot for the first time. Turner was previously inducted for her work with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue but has yet to be inducted as a solo artist. Devo (+110), Todd Rundgren (+150) and The Go-Go’s (+175) are the most likely to join them.
Here’s a look at the odds for the 16 nominees to be inducted as part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2021 from the oddsmakers at @SBD. By the way, if fractional odds confound you, whichever artist has the lowest number – less than a value of 1 being ideal – is the favorite to win.
1. Foo Fighters: -400 (1/4)
2. Jay-Z: -350 (2/7)
3. Tina Turner: -200 (1/2)
4. Devo: +110 (11/10)
5. Todd Rundgren: +150 (3/2)
6. The Go-Go’s: +175 (7/4)
7. New York Dolls: +233 (7/3)
8. Fela Kuti: +250 (5/2)
9. Rage Against the Machine: +250 (5/2)
10. Carole King: +275 (11/4)
11. Mary J. Blige: +300 (3/1)
12. Iron Maiden: +400 (4/1)
13. Dionne Warwick: +450 (9/2)
14. Kate Bush: +500 (5/1)
15. LL Cool J: +700 (7/1)
16. Chaka Khan: +800 (8/1)
(-400 = bet 400 to win 100. +250 = bet 100 to win 250)
Sometimes, the only criteria for assessing “good music” is that the music sounds good. And this sounds really good to me. Sharing a common language is not necessary for a band’s music to cross over when it captures a splendid sense of wistfulness and melancholia the way Israeli rock trio Vaadat Charigim does on its video for the single “Odisea”; a marvelously dreamy sepia-toned journey of a young girl riding her bike through the mysteriously deserted streets of Tel Aviv on what could be any late Summer afternoon. A subtle, post-apocalyptic vibe develops as the video progresses, especially when you consider that Tel Aviv is the second most densely populated city in Israel. And while the final “money shot” is somewhat unnecessary, the clip’s brief red and blue highlights seem to indicate that you might see something slightly hidden if you popped on a pair of 3-D glasses. (Hey, why not try it if you have a pair laying around the house?)
While Vaadat Charigim is apparently being lumped into a “Shoe Gaze” category by rock critics, the music sounds to me to be too lush, to the point of being almost fugue-like, to fall firmly into that category. Vaadat Charigim remind me very much of another excellent Israeli band, Rockfour, who sing in English but still manage to maintain an identifying sonic vibe that indicates they aren’t from around these parts. The group’s no-doubt excellent debut album, The World Is Well Lost, was released on November 12th, 2013 via Burger Records (cassette), Warm Ratio (vinyl), and Israeli label ANOVA (CD/digital). Find out more about Vaadat Charigim at This Link. Enjoy!
Vaadat Charigim are a trio consisting of Juval Haring (guitar+vocals), Yuval Guttman (drums) and Dan Fabian Bloch (bass). Photo by Goni Riskin.
Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone Keep The Zombies Alive
The Zombies have been hailed as the best original British Invasion act touring today that isn’t fronted by Mick Jagger, and I’m going to have to agree with that. At age 66, I’d venture a guess that Zombies’ front man Colin Blunstone’s breathy vocal stylings and faux orgasmic ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ on the band’s legendary hit, “Time of The Season” probably still get him laid. What a set of pipes that guy has! Even his speaking voice slays me. Blunstone and Keyboard player/songwriter Rod Argent may be the only original Zombies’ members present from its sixties incarnation, but for all intents and purposes, this band is the real deal, with Blunstone and Argent having enlisted top shelf musicians to bring their beloved classic sound to the fans. In the live band, bass guitar and backing vocals are handled by the very adept Jim Rodford, a career-long friend to the original Zombies as well as a founding member of Argent and bassist for The Kinks from 1978 – 1996; quite a pedigree! Rodford’s son Steve is the band’s current drummer, with Tom Toomey, who joined in 2010, on lead guitar. I’m not one to generally be swayed by a nostalgia act, but this incarnation of The Zombies is truly a band for all Seasons.
The capacity crowd at City Winery was clearly in the house to hear the hits and I doubt anyone left feeling disappointed. Drawing from its tiny, three-album back catalog – including 1967’s untouchable Odessey and Oracle – the band packed the evening with hits, favorites, covers and tunes from various members’ solo careers, as well as a new CD of all original songs, Breathe Out, Breathe In, just released in celebration of the band’s 50th Anniversary. Also in honor of that landmark event, City Winery had bottled a special vintage of Sauvignon Blanc (see photo below), which was sold at the shows to enjoy during the performance or to take home as a souvenir/collector’s item!
This is a bummer. Torry Castellano (aka “Donna C”), drummer for The Donnas, has been forced to quit the band and completely retire from playing drums due to a chronic, severe shoulder injury. I interviewed Torry several years ago and she was lots of fun. This is really a shame, as not only are The Donnas an awesome band, but I know how passionate drummers are about their craft. No one wants to be forced into retirement due to an injury, but her decision makes sense considering that she was faced with having to choose living without pain over pursuing her art. You can read Torry’s heart-felt statement to her fans at this link. Good luck Torry, you will always continue to rock in my book!
As the past is reinvented to serve present needs, modern pop music continues to suffer from an absence of historical revisionism dating back farther than last Tuesday. It’s not such a mystery why anyone over the age of 17 (wait, make that ‘anyone with taste,’ which is not always a given) would probably rather listen to music from 20, 30 or even 40 years ago than anything currently stagnating on “the charts” – which haven’t been interesting or relevant since you were an egg. That’s why it’s so refreshing to be able to moderate my regular listening sessions of Love’s Forever Changes and Mania, the lone album by Australia’s The Lucy Show (remember them?) with liberal doses of New Jersey’s best, not-well-known-enough band, The Grip Weeds. A rocking quartet comprised of brothers Kurt and RickReil (drums and guitar respectively), lead guitarist Kristin Pinell and bassist Michael Kelly, The Grip Weeds play psychedelic garage rock in the vein of classic sixties icons such as Love and The Byrds, while one-upping modern genre revivalists like The Three O’Clock, Jellyfish and The Smithereens. And, lucky you, they have newly released a double CD called Strange Change Machine, which is crammed with awesome songs to make your head spin and your heart skip a beat.
A double disc release is a rare thing these days, especially one as strong as Strange Change Machine, which contains a stellar selection of 24 tracks – all but one original compositions! We’re talking all-killer-no-filler here: a phrase I don’t think I’ve used since Queen was putting out new albums. The lone cover, a faithful interpretation of Todd Rundgren’s classic “Hello, It’s Me” adds a layer of lushness while maintaining the original’s understated, bittersweet melancholy. I was fortunate to catch a live gig by the Weeds a couple of weeks ago on the Friday that also happened to be the birthday of Sir Paul McCartney and they totally kicked ass. I know I’ve already declared MGMT’s Congratulations to be the best album of the year, but I’ll readily add now that Strange Change Machine is riding that CD’s coattails for how much it is loved and enjoyed by me. Making for excellent summer listening, I strongly recommend adding this gem to your collection as soon as possible. Strange Change Machine is available from iTunes and for download or purchase on Amazon.