Unrescuable Schizo feature: Check out our FAVORITE 30 SONGS OF THE 2000S.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another free Obama concert - This one's for real

Earlier this month, the much-anticipated free Vampire Weekend concert in support of Barack Obama fell through just two days before it was to happen, disappointing tons of yinzers. Now, there's another Obama event scheduled: Local faves Rusted Root will play at Heinz Field tomorrow night.

For details check out this article, which humorously notes that attendees will receive free hot dogs. Well, now I'm sold!

I like Rusted Root but I don't think I'll be attending. It's just too cold out and I'm a bit under the weather. But for anyone going, I highly recommend following up the show with a trip to the Cabaret Theater on Penn Avenue for a night of political commentary and comedy, courtesy of local comic geniuses John McIntire and Gab Bonesso, Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman, and others.

Read the details here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Guns N Roses

The new Guns N Roses single "Chinese Democracy" has been released. It does sound like classic G'N'R, which is a good thing, and though it's nothing earth-shattering, it is a quality rock song.

But even if the album turns out to be a masterpiece, it's still not G'N'R. It's just Axl. I take offense at calling this a Guns N Roses album.

Nonetheless you can stream the single here: http://www.q1043.com/pages/news/gunsnroses/

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Beatles Cirque du Soleil documentary

All Together Now, a documentary about the Beatles' Cirque du Soleil production, will be screening at more than 150 theaters nationwide tonight.

According to a release, All Together Now offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of LOVE; the Cirque du Soleil production and the Grammy-winning music created for the show. The music was produced by Sir George Martin and his son Giles, who creatively reshaped and repurposed music from The Beatles' catalog to create a unique new soundscape. The film features interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison, Sir George Martin, Giles Martin and more.

It will be screening at Carmike 10 in Pittsburgh. View the documentary trailer here. Find a list of theaters that will be showing the film here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Single reviews: October '08

This is Britney's big "comeback" song. But I thought her big comeback was supposed to be last year? I guess every song she puts out now is considered a comeback. This song just set a record by shooting 96-1 on the Billboard singles chart, but I don't get what the fuss is about. The chorus basically consists of Brit repeating the word "womanizer" over and over, and the verses are sung in such a low voice that you can't make out anything she is singing. It's just boring. And it's not even a great song to dance to, so, unlike her recent singles "Break the Ice" and "Piece of Me," it can't be redeemed by being dance club-worthy. Grade: C-

WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: Whatever You Like

"Weird Al" is back, this time parodying T.I.'s rap song of the same name. Al's version is about the failing economy: "We can clip coupons all night/Baby you can have whatever you like." It's not just unfunny; it's totally stupid. This is probably Al's dumbest parody of all time - well, except for "I Want a New Duck." Grade: D

I adore Taylor but this song is so ordinary, it's almost shocking that it was chosen as the first single from her sophomore album. Could this really be the best track on it? It's schlocky and doesn't have much of a hook. If this song were on Taylor's debut, it would be the 7th best track on the album. Grade: C

I'm not a huge hip hop fan, but the past couple of months have been exciting, as Lil Wayne and T.I. have dominated the charts. Wayne currently has seven songs inside Billboard's top 40, becoming the first artist to achieve that feat since the Beatles. Wayne and T.I. are joined here by Jay-Z and an auto-tuned Kanye, as they exchange boasts. These guys are the Mount Rushmore of hip hop, so hearing them on the same track (atop a sample from M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes", no less) is a treat. Grade: B

Are we human, or are we dancers? No, it doesn't make sense, but it's catchy, and provides the Killers with a welcome comeback single. The Bruce Springsteen vibe they went for on the last record has been replaced with synthesizers and a dance beat, and it works. Grade: B+

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No one wants a tune about the 100th luftballoon

Just sharing a couple of photos from last week's Okkervil River concert at Mr. Small's. I opted against writing a full review since I've done that twice already this year, but I will say they weren't as good as when they played at Lollapalooza and when they opened for the New Pornographers. I'm thinking that has to do with the length of the set - it's easier to have a high-quality show when you're playing for only 40 or 60 minutes, but when you have to fill 90 minutes, that's more of a challenge. (That's another reason why I love festivals: Shorter sets = higher quality!)

This show didn't really pick up steam until near the end, with "Lost Coastlines" and "Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe." It was good, but nothing to write home about.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I got paid $900 to eat cantaloupe...

It's time for an overdue review of the Mitch Hedberg CD, Do You Believe in Gosh?

First off, for those who have Mitch's two previous discs, this one certainly doesn't measure up in terms of the number of laughs. But of course, this CD is a collection of jokes Mitch was working on at the time of his death - it wasn't intended to be the finished product.

Most of this material was already circulating on the Internet, so Mitch completists won't find a ton of new stuff here. The best way to look at Gosh is to think of it like a B-sides album.

That said, there are some classic Mitch moments:

If I had a dollar for every time I said that, I'd be making money in a very weird way...

I got New Balance shoes on, but they're old, so I might start falling...

You know back in the days of the guillotine, they never got to the two-bladed guillotine, like Gillette. 'One blade comes down and picks your head up, the other blade slices through'...

I want a chicken thumb. They most be accumulating - no one ever orders them.

One time I was supposed to be on David Letterman, and it was the same night that Madonna was on, and Madonna went long so I got bumped. But I got to eat cantaloupe backstage so it was still cool. It was already cut up into bite-size pieces. I got paid $900 to eat cantaloupe. That's fucking unprecedented! I rubbed that shit in my dad's face. I said, 'You've never been paid that much to eat cantaloupe. You always have to do it for free!'

I ran some Evian water through a filter, the shit disappeared. It was so fucking pure!

I had a piece of Carefree sugarless gum and I was still worried. It never kicked in!

If you have dentures, do not use artificial sweetener cause you will get a fake cavity.

I asked directions to the store, this guy said, 'Well that's just a hop, skip and jump away.' Well, that's not how I'm getting there. You got directions for those who are walking?

I want to go to a lake and put tea bags in there, like a hundred of them, for a week. And then I'm gonna tea ski.

I was at the airport, I put my bag on the x-ray machine. I found out that my bag has cancer. It only has 6 more months to hold shit.

I taught myself how to play guitar, which was a bad decision, cause I didn't know how to play it. So I was a shitty teacher. I would never have went to me.

A fly was very close to being called a land, cause that's what it does half the time.

I never had a piggy bank, but one time I had some bacon that tasted an awful lot like change.

I'm selling t-shirts after the show. They don't have my name on them, they're just Hanes 3-packs.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Interview with Taylor Hanson

Hanson, 2008: Isaac, Zac, Taylor
(photo credit: Laura Thompson/CBC)

Interview by Scott Shetler

Admit it - you loved MMMBop. In fact, you still do. It's been eleven years since that flawless pop single tore up the charts, and in that time the Hanson brothers have all married and had children, while continuing to record together on their own 3CG label.

On their current Walk Around the World Tour, Hanson have invited fans to join them in a mile-long walk before each concert to raise money for poverty and AIDS research in Africa, among other causes. Their most recent effort, 2007's The Walk, is a socially conscious rock album partly inspired by a trip to that continent.

Hanson will be performing at Carnegie Library Music Hall in Homestead on Monday. Taylor Hanson, now 25 and a father of three with a fourth on the way, called in to chat with us about The Walk campaign, battling corporate record labels, and what's it like being spoofed on Family Guy and SNL.

Let me ask you about The Walk campaign. What inspired you guys to get involved with poverty and AIDS issues in Africa?
The main reason was because we took a trip to South Africa with a group of people that we respected. Some friends in our hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma, donated some medical technology to a hospital in South Africa, so we just went there to learn. When we went to Africa, it struck us how much our generation is being affected and being wiped out by AIDS. It’s unlike any other disease because you’ve got mothers and fathers of the working class dying, you’ve got grandparents raising grandchildren. What’s also unique about the challenge is the fact that there are more ways to make an impact than there’s ever been before.

So that was the initial feeling and inspiration, and it was inspiring to see there are already so many people that are providing solutions we really need. We need individuals to internalize it and say, ‘This is my problem and it’s something I can be a part of helping to heal.’

You’ve been inviting fans to walk with you before each show. What have you taken away from those experiences?
What we’ve learned, more than anything, is everybody needs encouragement and that continual reminder that they have the power to make a difference. It’s an age-old concept to say “you can do your part,” but everybody gets sort of caught up in whether they really can. What we’ve been trying to impress upon people is that these walks are walks for action. The people who are coming, it’s about empowering them to do more, and to recognize their ability to reach people. I’ve been really encouraged by how many people say, ‘I was supportive of you guys and I was into what you’re doing as a band, but being a part of the walks and being part of this outreach has kind of sealed the connection even more,’ because we’re really doing something together.

The Walk is your second release on 3CG Records. How have things been going for the band on your own label, vs. being on a major?
The music business itself has really shifted since we were signed. Most of the record business is still run by this corporate mindset, which came into play in a big way after our first record started to become really prevalent. The difference in the music business now for us is that we are navigating a new business and we are taking ownership of all of our masters. As far as our day to day work, it’s a challenge to balance all the things that we’re doing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way right now.

After record company mergers Hanson were moved to Island Def Jam. They rejected a lot of your music and you ended up leaving the label. What exactly were they looking for from you?
You’re dealing with a big corporation, a rap label that suddenly is working with a band they wouldn’t have signed from the beginning. It was the same kind of pattern that’s happened with hundreds of bands over the last several years – whatever’s happening at the moment, at the top of the charts - ‘Okay, let’s work with that producer. Okay, let’s work with this writer.’ The idea of chasing hits is really all that was going on. It was corporate people afraid to say, ‘Hey, this is what we want.’ There wasn’t a vision in that company for what the band was supposed to be doing.

When Middle of Nowhere came out you kind of got lumped in with the Spice Girls and the fabricated boy bands, even though what you do is obviously different. Do you still have to fight against the fact that when people hear the name Hanson, they might have these pre-conceived notions?
There’s always the potential that association could still be there, because at the time when we came out there was a wave of more pop music, and obviously what we did was more pop than the grunge music that was being played at the time, or right before us. So I think inherently there’s going to be an association with that time period. But as we go forward, it’s really a question of just doing what you’re doing, making great records you’re proud of. As far as people having pre-conceived notions, I think the only way to sort of dull them is to continue to make records that you feel passionate about and let the true colors of what you are come through.

That period of your life, when you were doing Oprah, Letterman, award shows, one tv show after another, with screaming girls everywhere - from an outsider's perspective it seemed like a crazy whirlwind of a time. Is that how it felt for you, being in the middle of it?
Yeah... we had incredible experiences when the first record launched. It definitely was a whirlwind of sorts. It was very surreal and having the experiences we had for the first time can definitely be kind of an out-of-body experience (laughs). That being said, at that time, we felt like that was where we wanted to be. It was kind of everything we hoped to accomplish, so it was a great privilege.

You guys lost a Grammy to Jamiroquai, which I always thought was a miscarriage of justice. Would you agree?
(Laughs) Well, I wouldn’t be one to bestow credit on our own music looking backwards, but it was an honor to be nominated. I know that may sound like a cliché but it is obviously an honor. I will tell you I know a lot of people that I respect, that said, ‘MMMBop was the song of the year - how could that not get a Grammy?’ But we’ll leave that to other people to say. It’s totally an honor to have that on your list of accomplishments, and hopefully in the future there will be others like that.

Something I’ve always been curious about – Gregg Alexander had that song with New Radicals where he threatens to kick Hanson’s ass in (“You Get What You Give”). A few years later, you ended up writing with him. How did you guys hook up, and did you give him any grief about that lyric?
Yeah in fact, we did. We worked with him because we thought there was a mesh between what he was doing and our sensibility. His name came up and he kind of reached out to us, and we were excited about it. You know, it’s kind of a funny pop culture reference. He claims he was talking about “Beck Hansen.” It definitely sounds like ”Beck and Hanson” though.

I know you guys enjoy those pop culture references – being featured on Family Guy, Saturday Night Live, and so forth. Which of the skits and spoofs of yourselves is your favorite?
First of all, you have to laugh at and with random references on shows because it really is such a big compliment. Regardless of whether you’re being made fun of, it’s a compliment to have people aware enough that it’s actually funny. One of the things that I thought was kind of absurd but really funny was a skit done years ago on MAD TV that was spoofing us as being over the hill after years and years. We were releasing a new song that was called “Ling Ling.” It was just awful, and pretty hysterical.

Finally, what’s the breakdown of newer material vs. old in your live show, and what can fans expect when they see you play in Pittsburgh?
A few things. There’s a special project that’s coming out called Take the Walk - it’s a coffee table book, and we have five new songs that we recorded for it. So in the show we’ll be premiering some brand new songs from this EP. Plus, you’ll hear a bunch of tunes from The Walk. We mix it up with songs from each album and we’ll be throwing in some cover songs that we haven’t performed in the past. I always feel like a concert is your opportunity to almost comment on your own music by showing people where your influences are, and it’s an opportunity for you to share new things with your audience. We can’t wait for the show.

Hanson will be performing at Carnegie Library Music Hall in Homestead on Monday, October 13. Find them online at www.hanson.net or www.myspace.com/hansonmusic.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tunes, and such

The Streets

A quick handful of MP3s that are worth checking out... chances are you've seen these elsewhere but if not, grab them now...

MP3: Okkervil River - Lost Coastlines (from The Stand-Ins)
MP3: Lykke Li - Let it Fall (from Youth Novels)
MP3: The Streets - Everything is Borrowed (from Everything is Borrowed)
MP3: TV On the Radio - Golden Age (from Dear Science)
MP3: Ben Folds & Regina Spektor - You Don't Know Me (from Way to Normal)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

American Music Awards...

Does anyone care about the American Music Awards anymore? Dick Clark's pop music award show has been out of touch for years now. Recently it was announced that Jimmy Kimmel would be hosting this year's program again.

Pink and the Jonas Brothers are the first performers announced. The nominees have not been revealed yet. I'll keep an eye out for them, so that I can rip them.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Further details on the Vampire Weekend show

EDIT: This concert has now been canceled without explanation.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Vampire Weekend is headlining a Free Voter Registration Concert this Saturday at Carnegie Mellon University. The event goes from 4 to 10 pm, with local acts Lohio, Life in Bed, and Dirty Faces performing starting at 6 pm. Advance tickets are not required, but are helpful to avoid long lines, since folks will be registering to vote as they enter.

See the official press release here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Pittsburgh concerts

10/9 Okkervil River & Crooked Fingers @ Mr. Small's
What a difference a month makes. October is shaping up to be a terrific month for concerts in the city, headlined by the Okkervil River appearance at Mr. Small's. The Austin indie rock troupe opened for the New Pornographers in April (see review here), then blew us away with an even more impressive show at Lollapalooza. Can they possibly top that? It will be difficult, but they've got a whole new album of material to present - The Stand-Ins, released on September 9 to much fanfare.

10/4 Vampire Weekend @ Carnegie Mellon University
It's not just a Vampire Weekend show. It's not just a FREE Vampire Weekend show. It's a free Vampire Weekend show as part of a voter registration drive for Barack Obama. Thank goodness Pennsylvania is considered a swing state - New York isn't getting shit like this! I wasn't sold on these preppy sweater-wearers at first, but now their diverse debut CD is shaping up as a potential Album of the Year contender for 2008.

10/17 Freezepop @ Mr. Small's
Freezepop has been one of my favorites of the electropop genre for some time. I'm not sure how well their music translates to a small theater like Mr. Small's, but it's worth finding out. I just found out this band has songs on Rock Band and Guitar Hero... what's up with that? Shouldn't the bands on those games actually be known by someone outside of a small cult audience?

10/21 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ Brillobox {SOLD OUT}
Two years ago you would've killed to be at this show, but then CYHSY's blog-generated buzz died. Now, they're just another indie act trying to make it big. Though their second album fizzled out almost instantly, they still have "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood," in which singer Alec Ounsworth expresses his concern for the well-being of child stars, in a wonderfully meandering, drunken tone.

Others to keep in mind:
10/1 The Queers @ Belvedere's
10/4 Langhorne Slim @ Club Cafe
10/13 Hanson @ Carnegie Homestead Library
10/14 Toadies @ Diesel
10/14 Tim Reynolds and TR3 @ Hard Rock Cafe
10/15 Family Force 5 @ Diesel
10/17 Kelly Clarkson & Reba McEntire @ Mellon Arena
10/18 Tom McRae @ Club Cafe
10/20 Alejandro Escovedo @ Club Cafe
10/20 Atmosphere @ Mr. Small's
10/21 NOFX @ Club Zoo
10/23 Joan Osborne @ Mr. Small's
10/24 Matthew Sweet @ Mr. Small's
10/25 Matisyahu @ Mr. Small's
10/28 Scary Kids Scaring Kids @ Mr. Small's