Tag Archive | rolling stone magazine

Recommended Listening: The Sheepdogs

Sheepdogs Self Titled Album Cover

Back when I used to eek out a few bucks writing about music, one particularly hard ass editor accused me of being “not a real Rock Critic.” This was likely due to my unwillingness to indulge in the widespread practice of pondering the sociopolitical leanings of a band in the context of a record review rather than just basing my critique on how the music sounded to me. I never really got that approach. I’m not interested in reading paragraphs of turgid, impenetrable prose and rock-crit wankery. Just tell me how the music sounds so I know if I want to buy the record.

Along those lines, The Sheepdogs are a band that’s easy for me to write about, because their music sounds amazing. This Canadian Classic Rock quartet (who in 2011 won a contest making them the first unsigned act ever to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine) have three independent albums under their belts and an EP released on Atlantic last year, but this record is their major label debut (produced by Patrick Carney of The Black Keys), and it’s beyond impressive.

“Laid Back” and “Feeling Good,” the first two tracks on the disc set the tone for the entire album: This is an exceptionally great feeling album of groove heavy tunes performed by a band that embraces an extremely lyrical approach to their playing. Lead singer Ewan Currie (whose voice has been compared to The Guess Who’s Burton Cummings) delivers the kind of quietly confident, effortlessly powerful vocal performance that is the mark of true natural talent. Guitarist Leot Hansen is doing wildly innovative stuff on the guitar while paying homage to tone masters such as George Harrison (“Never Gonna Get My Love”), Duane Allman (“Javelina!”) and of course Jimmy Page (“Sharp Sounds”). He’s amazing. Drummer Sam Corbett varies his drum feels to serve the song and his rhythm section partner, bassist Ryan Gullen holds down the bottom end while layering in adhesive hooks. This means that The Sheepdogs are just as vibrant and tight live as they are on disc, and you can’t say that about many acts these days.

What’s most impressive about The Sheepdogs is the band’s ability to integrate their influences so seamlessly that the songs are instantly familiar without sounding derivative. “Is Your Dream Worth Dying For?” feels pleasantly infused with tiny reminiscences of Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw The Light”, “While We’re Young” comes off like a revamped version of “Shapes of Things” and “In My Mind” captures the same kind of transcendent, euphoric quality as a song like Cream’s “Badge” without sounding anything like that song. As an aside, at least half these tracks indicate that The Sheepdogs should have a ready-made fan base in anyone who ever cited The Grateful Dead as a favorite band.

In their review of The Sheepdogs, Rolling Stone wrote, “Listening to the Sheepdogs is like having good luck finding classic rock stations on a long road trip.” I agree with that sentiment, but to me it feels fresher than that: as if it were possible travel back in time and actually hear new songs from a ‘70s band. It’s a refreshing reminder that the most vital benchmark of what constitutes good music is (or should be) that the music just sounds good.

Grade: A

Happy 68th Birthday, Jimmy Page!

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page on the Cover of Rolling Stone Magazine

Led Zeppelin Guitarist Jimmy Page turns 68 years old today, having been born on Janaury 9, 1944. Happy Birthday, Jimmy! You still rock harder than all the rest!

All Right Now: Remembering Paul Kossoff

“Fire and Water Must Have Made You Their Daughter…”

On this Date in 1976: Free guitarist Paul Kossoff died of drug-related heart problems on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. He was just 25 years old. Kossoff was ranked 51st in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” What a shame to lose someone so talented at such a young age.

Like a Complete Unknown: What it Means to Write for Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone Intern

Back in March of last year, my friend and fellow rock journalist, Nicole, phoned me up to read me an ad she’d just seen somewhere on line. “You’ll never believe this,” she says to me – which is what she always says when she’s about to hip me to something that’s totally ridiculous. “Rolling Stone is looking for writers just out of college to intern at the magazine for some stupid Reality TV Show!

The irony is, I didn’t have any problem believing it at all.

At one point in my career, when I was kicking the ass of the rock journalism world and editors were calling me at a fairly steady clip, I spent about three years writing CD reviews for Rolling Stone online. It stung a little bit that I was never able to penetrate the print publication, but once a couple of my friends started working at RS, I got over it. One woman, an intern who eventually cracked enough breaking news stories to secure a staff writer position, left after three years of banging her head against a glass ceiling. The other, hired as an associate editor, went out of his way to champion bands that actually wrote songs and knew how to play their instruments. He was fired after a couple of years when he refused to stop writing about good bands and just cover hip-hop “artists” and faceless, flavor-of-the-week wankers. I don’t know why I was surprised, considering the fact that I was once asked to remove the word “flanged” from a CD review because the editor did not know what the word meant. Another review of mine – a 50 word-count blurb on the latest Bettie Serveert CD – never ran because another editor felt I did not make enough references in my review to the band’s seven previous releases. In a fifty word review. Right.

And let’s not forget that Rolling Stone once fired the greatest living rock critic Jim DeRogatis, because he wrote a negative review of a Hootie and The Blowfish album. I wish I were making that up.
The Future of Music Journalism?

Here’s a brief encapsulation of what we’re likely in for on I’m From Rolling Stone, (Sundays at 10 PM on MTV) from Heather Havrilesky’s “I Like To Watch” column on Salon.com.

“Of course, how interesting would this show be if there were competent professionals involved? The first two episodes of I’m From Rolling Stone suggest that, just as spitty outbursts and drunken street fights are the main event on The Real World, any amusement we can find here is going to come from witnessing the flailings of young people about to bungle their first big job in a wide variety of ways. Russell, the only experienced reporter, is a smooth, intelligent interviewer and a solid writer, but he has a criminal history and it’s pretty obvious that they chose him because he appears to have a habit of slacking or quitting when the going gets tough. Krystal, a poet, not only seems likely to produce overwritten prose, but also romanticizes Rolling Stone to an extent that’s bound to make reality disappointing. Tika seems foolishly overconfident, Krishtine comes off as lazy and disrespectful, Peter seems to be a drunk, and Colin appears to have a pea-size brain and the poise of a nervous squirrel. In short, I’m From Rolling Stone is an exercise in sadism that’s so mean-spirited and condescending, it could only have been dreamed up by someone who works in the wild and wonderful world of magazines.”

Oh, awesome. Like we need another reason for people to not take journalists seriously. Honestly, this line of work is challenging enough with pathological douche bags like Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair fabricating news stories, getting fired from their respective publications and then getting book deals to reward them for their lack of character!

We don’t need Rolling Stone – a magazine I once worshipped and lionized to the point where writing for them was for many years my ultimate career goal – imbuing the TV viewing public with the indelible impression that we’re all a bunch of binge-drinking, air headed, unprofessional clowns. Jesus, way to shoot yourselves in the foot Rolling Stone!

CD Review: Supernatural Equinox by Outrageous Cherry

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Outragous Cherry CD Cover

Artist: Outrageous Cherry
Album: Supernatural Equinox
Release Date: May 6, 2003
Label: Rainbow Quartz

On its fifth album, Detroit’s Outrageous Cherry pull together a tight concatenation of influences; mingling old-school acid eaters (Stones, Byrds, Beatles) with modern genre revivalists (Dandy Warhols, Brian Jonestown Massacre) to wrap their signature noise-pop in a distinctive psychedelic overcoat. There’s a well-balanced, seductive ethereality to Supernatural Equinox that’s hard to resist. On the sunnier, Beach Boys-influenced tunes like “If You Want Me” and “Saturday Afternoon,” vocalist/songwriter Matthew Smith simultaneously pays homage to and parodies the 60’s with lyrics like, “It’s 1970 now/Flower Power is dead.” On the flip-side, OC doses the listener with the intense, acid-prog of “Psychic Wheels” (think BRMC) and a ferocious wah-wah pedal attack courtesy of “The Orgone Vortex.” Supernatural Equinox peaks out with “See You Next Time,” a raga-flavored, extended jam punctuated by processed backing vocals borrowed from Their Satanic Majesty’s Request. Turn on, tune in, trip out.

Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/outrageouscherrydetroit/
Official Website: http://www.outrageouscherry.com/

This article was originally written for Rolling Stone’s Online Magazine. Though Rolling Stone remains in print and online, this article is no longer a part of their archive and has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.

CD Review: 2 a.m. Wakeup Call by Tweaker

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Tweaker 2 AM Wake Up Call CD Cover

Artist: Tweaker
Album: 2 am Wakeup Call
Release Date: April 20, 2004
Label: Waxploitation

2 a.m. Wakeup Call is the second album from Tweaker (producer, remixer, ex-NIN drummer Chris Vrenna), following 2001’s The Attraction To All Things Uncertain. Continuing Vrenna’s fondness for conceptual works, 2 a.m. is a journey through nightmares, sleeplessness and a variety of nocturnal disturbances. Warm tones of piano and acoustic guitar moderate the expected electronic flourishes, taking the chill off songs exploring insomnia-inducing subjects like deep depression (“Worse Than Yesterday”), the manic mind (“Pure Genius”) and somnambulism (“Sleepwalking Away”). Framing Vrenna as a modern Burt Bacharach, 2 a.m. finds the composer crafting tunes for interpretation by other voices, though Vrenna had guest vocalists (including David Sylvian, Robert Smith and Will Oldham) write their unique lyrical visions for his mini-soundtracks. The results are surprisingly seductive. From the stark “Nights In White Satin” vibe of “Ruby” to Jennifer Charles’ opiated, candy floss croon on “Crude Sunlight,” Tweaker’s disquieting lullabies for troubled slumber provide uneasy listening at its finest.

Official Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tweaker_(band)

This article was originally written for Rolling Stone’s Online Magazine. Though Rolling Stone remains in print and online, this article is no longer a part of their archive and has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.

CD Review: Dirt by Mark Selby

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Mark Selby Dirt CD Cover

Artist: Mark Selby
Album: Dirt
Release Date: 2003
Label: Vanguard Records

After gaining notoriety for penning hits recorded by Kenny Wayne Shepherd (“Blue on Black”) and the Dixie Chicks, singer/songwriter/ guitarist Mark Selby earned his moment in the spotlight with the release of his own critically lauded, 2000 debut, More Storms Comin’. His exceptional sophomore CD, Dirt indicates that album was not just a fluke. Many of Selby’s songs (some co-written with his wife, Tia Sillers) give vibrant life to romantic ruminations he keeps in his head, (“Willing to Burn, ” “Desire”). Favorable comparisons to Gregg Allman permeate this disc, not only in regard to Selby’s lyrical blues-rock guitar playing, but also his visual songwriting and slightly rough-hewn but engaging vocals — especially appealing on the lead track, “Reason Enough.” Excellent flanged guitar adds a hypnotic undercurrent to the gorgeous title track, but never detracts from the song’s true grit. No need for bells or whistles here: the music does all the talking.

Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/MarkSelbyRocks/

This article was originally written for Rolling Stone’s Online Magazine. Though Rolling Stone remains in print and online, this article is no longer a part of their archive and has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.

CD Review: You’re Gonna Ruin Everything by The Maroons

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Maroons Youre Gonna Ruin CD Cover

Artist: The Maroons
Album: You’re Gonna Ruin Everything
Release Date: March 5, 2002
Label: In Music We Trust

The Pacific Northwest is the unrivaled breeding ground for the great plague upon pop music known as “indie rock”: the most un-melodic, uninteresting, unenergetic music this side of death. Yawn city. But The Maroons are a whole new animal in the indie rock zoo, in that they seem to be highly familiar with Mid-70’s rock (Sweet, T-Rex, The Kinks), the essence of which permeates their sophomore album, You’re Gonna Ruin Everything. Guitarist Jim Talstra’s Brian May-inspired guitar licks on “Can You Feel?” are spot on, while Mike Clark’s Three Dog Night-inspired keyboards (on the clever “Dance Floor Flirt,” for example) leave plenty of hook residue in their wake. Add a lead singer, John Moen, who sounds like the gay reincarnation of Marc Bolan, and you’ve got a bunch of tunes that would be at home on the soundtrack to Velvet Goldmine. If the Posies wrote a rock opera about the life of a Guided By Voices fan, You’re Gonna Ruin Everything might be the result.

Official Website: http://inmusicwetrustrecords.com/themaroons.html

This article was originally written for Rolling Stone’s Online Magazine. Though Rolling Stone remains in print and online, this article is no longer a part of their archive and has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.

CD Review: Perfumed Letter by Bill Mallonee

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Bill Mallonee CD Cover

Artist: Bill Mallonee
Album: Perfumed Letter
Release Date: August 26, 2003
Label: Paste Records

Singer/songwriter Bill Mallonee’s roots rest in the Athens, GA soil that nurtured college radio pioneers REM and underground stalwarts, Let’s Active. After releasing a dozen impressive albums with his country–folk rock project, Vigilantes of Love, Mallonee explores a classic pop sound — Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles (“She’s So Liquid) meets The Monkees (“Extraordinary Girl”) — while staying true to his love of heady, introspective lyricism on his excellent solo debut, Perfumed Letter.

Mallonee strikes his best balance of wistful and whimsical on the deceptively uplifting post-breakup song, “Your Bright Future.” Floating on a Foo Fighters-inspired melody, Mallonee keenly addresses lost hope and its subsequent resignation in the lyrics, “There’s a little piece of you I may never see again/There’s a bigger piece of me that’s simply vanishing.” With Perfumed Letter, Mallonee steps off from the Bob Dylan/Neil Young amalgam of VOL to find peers among Beck, The Eels and Mercury Rev.

Official Website: http://www.billmalloneemusic.com/

This article was originally written for Rolling Stone’s Online Magazine. Though Rolling Stone remains in print and online, this article is no longer a part of their archive and has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.

CD Review: “A Beginner’s Guide to the World’s Best Black Sabbath Tribute Band” by Hand Of Doom

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Hand of Doom CD Cover

Artist: Hand of Doom
Album: A Beginner’s Guide to the World’s Best Black Sabbath Tribute Band
Release Date: 2002
Label: Idaho/Retrophonic

Inspired by her visceral rock sensibilities amid MTV-spawned Osbourne’s-mania, former Hole/Smashing Pumpkins bassist, Melissa Auf Der Mauer formed Hand of Doom, a just-for-fun Black Sabbath tribute band, with friends Nick Oliveri (Queens of the Stone Age) and Pedro Yanowitz (ex-Wallflowers). Hand of Doom played three sold-out LA club gigs and captured the live magic of those shows for A Beginner’s Guide to the World’s Best Black Sabbath Tribute Band — your eight-song souvenir of these three enchanted evenings. This disc includes awesome, note-for-note renditions of “Paranoid,” “Fairies Wear Boots” and “War Pigs” — where Ozzy really went for the lyrical stretch, rhyming “Masses” with “Masses.” Auf Der Mauer’s vocals are especially beguiling on a mesmerizing version of “Changes,” which provides space to clear the sonic palette. Hand of Doom perfectly captures Sabbath’s dark majesty and this recording just sounds amazing. A fitting way to observe the Sabbath.

This article was originally written for Rolling Stone’s Online Magazine. Though Rolling Stone remains in print and online, this article is no longer a part of their archive and has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.