Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Concert Review: Wreckless Eric at Total Drag

Note: For whatever reason this never made my newspaper blog.

I truly believe that everybody who made it down to Total Drag on June 10th firmly believed the evening was an exercise of nostalgia. Wreckless Eric was playing a solo show at the venue, and we all thought he’d just play a few songs from his new album, “amERICa”, a few classics from his Stiff Records years, and we’d go home after hearing “Whole Wide World”.
Instead it was a night that was completely different. This was not a night of an old rocker going through the motions. It was an evening of pure rock and roll; an evening of performance art with a garage-rock flavor.
When the show began after a set from Rich Show and Mark Romanowski, things didn’t seem to be gelling for Eric. There was a lot of issues with his guitar pedals and effects, or so it seemed. What we didn’t realize is that Eric was attempting to find that sweet spot that was just short of feedback when he was playing “normally”. Eric even advised the audience that we would “understand” what he was doing in just a few minutes.
The setlist was somewhat similar to what I described earlier. There were plenty of songs from the most recent album, and there were a few classics. “Whole Wide World” was indeed played, but it was in the middle of the set.
There was much more than the expected songs, however. Eric pulled out a few tracks from some of his lesser-known albums. Most stunning was one of his last tunes of the evening. “33’s & 45’s” from 2004’s “Bungalow Hi” album could be described as Eric’s “Idiot Wind” as it’s an epic look at a breakup full of hurt feelings.  
How did Eric create such a memorable night? It goes back to those opening moments where he was fiddling with his pedals. He found that exact combination of pedals and amps that would play “normally” when he was standing completely still at the microphone but would feedback in certain ways depending on which way he or his guitar moved.
What Eric did with this feedback was nothing short of stunning. It was a combination of Neil Young’s “Ragged Glory” era, Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”, Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music”, and any album in the Sonic Youth catalog. The garage-noise bands of today could learn a thing or two from this man. Almost every song began or ended with layers and layers of different frequencies of noise, some times with Eric on his knees to create the sounds he wanted. More accurately, almost every song ended with these sounds and then blended into the next tune. It was almost like a 90-minute medley of Wreckless Eric’s best songs.
This wall of sound, or noise, was accompanied by Eric’s snarky observations of the record business, politics, lawyers, and Sioux City. He apparently hated his appearance in that city, including the Howard Johnson motel where he stayed. Eric especially hated that the venue he was playing at had the Sirius metal station playing as his warmup music. 
Eric loved Sioux Falls, though, and it wasn’t just an attempt to receive an “easy pop”. He was seen around downtown during the day, and he told a few stories about wandering around to Coffea and other establishments. He even joked that he may move to our little city and make a living playing outside various restaurants. 
It was a great night, and the majority of us was stunned at what we had just witnessed. Total Drag owner Dan Nissen even posted on Facebook the next day that it was “probably the best set I’ve seen at Total Drag yet”. High praise from the owner of a venue that has at least three shows per week.  
Yet I agree. Wreckless Eric is no dinosaur. He’s certainly more than “Whole Wide World”. In fact, he may be even more relevant now than he’s ever been. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Live Ledge #246: Covers

It's been quite some time since I put together a show of cover tunes. Yet I still wondered if I had enough material to actually put one together.
I certainly did, and the vast majority of these tracks are from recent releases. It's a wide range of tunes, from Fucked Up covering the Grateful Dead to Sturgill Simpson performing a Nirvana tune. Most impressive (to me at least) are the two tracks I played from a record I obtained just hours before tonight's broadcast. Who knew that former Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos had a new solo album? Who would have predicted it would be this great? I certainly never did.
It's no Sgt. Pepper, but Greetings From Bunezuella is great fun. Carlos and his famous friends (Alexandro Escovedo, Dave Pirner, Robert Pollrd, etc.) are clearly having a ball remaking songs by the likes of the Who, Dylan, and the Bee Gees.
The only non-covers in tonight's show are a couple of tracks recorded two weeks ago at the Wreckless Eric show. The almost two hour performance was fabulous, and I'm happy to share a couple of my favorite moments.
As always grab this from iTunes, Tunein, Stitcher, or...


1. Fucked Up, Cream Puff War
2. Wreckless Eric, Whole Wide World
3. Wreckless Eric, Semaphore Signals
4. Mick Harvey, The Man With The Cabbage Head
5. Colvin & Earle, Tobacco Road
6. Colvin & Earle, Ruby Tuesday
7. The Waco Brothers, All or Nothing
8. Lydia Loveless, When You Were Mine
9. Sturgill Simpson, In Bloom
10. Best Coast, Dumb
11. Beach Slang, About a Girl
12. Bun E. Carlos, Armenia City In The Sky
13. Bun E. Carlos, It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
14. Cheap Trick, The In Crowd
15. The Forty Nineteens, Moonlight Drive
16. The Lime Spiders, Save My Soul
17. The Chesterfield Kings, Street Fighting Man
18. Schlong, Rainy Days And Mondays
19. The BellRays, Living For the City
20. Julian Casablancas, White Light White Heat
21. Willie Nile, Sweet Jane
22. The Feelies, Barstool Blues
23. Melvins, I Want To Tell You
24. Dwarves, Brand New Cadillac
25. Gøggs, Billy Is A Runaway
26. Bruiser Queen, Black Coats White Fear
27. Naz Nomad & The Nightmares, I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)
28. Tycoons of Teen, And Then He Kissed Me
29. The Traditional Fools, Rumble
30. Mexrrissey, International Playgirl (The Last Of The Famous International Playboys)
31. Blowfly, Fakin' The Bi

Friday, June 17, 2016

Live Ledge #245: 1976

1976 may have been the most important year in music since the Beatles landed in America. As the 1970's progressed, the charts began to fill up with songs and albums that had little to do with rock and roll. I could go on and on here, but this opinion has been well-documented in rock history books.
But it was also an important year for you podcast host. This was the year that started with me in 7th grade and (obviously) ended in eight grade. That shouldn't be that much of a change...but it was.
I began the year as a typical male teen of the times - I knew nothing about music history and only liked what ws being played on the local rock station. Thus, bands such as AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Kiss were the main records played at not only my home but at all of my junior high buddies.
Something remarkable happened that summer, though. I have probably told this story a few times, but a bout of chicken pox coincided with the arrival of my first Columbia House box of records. Yes, twelve records for ninety-nine cents. To be honest, at eight or nine of these records were releases that I would now be embarassed to list. The other three, though, were life-changing. There was the self-titled debut of the Runaways, which featured "Cherry Bomb". More importantly, the very first Ramones album.
My life was changed, and it became even more subsersive when I saw a report on NBC on the Sex Pistols. Finally, the music of my life had arrived.
Yet at the same time I was also studying the history of rock and roll. I bought my first Bob Dylan album, "Desire", and fell in love with "Hurricane". The Stones' "Black and Blue" may not have been among their best, but it was the first new Stones album that I was ever aware of. David Bowie, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, and Thin Lizzy were also part of year's discoveries.
Tonight is dedicated to that year, and includes little bits of all of those types of releases. I'll be the first to admit that many of these I didn't discover until years later, but every one of these tracks were an important part of the ever-changing music industry.
As always, you can grab this episode from the usual sources, including iTunes or Stitcher, or...


1. The Runaways, Cherry Bomb
2. Bob Dylan, Hurricane
3. Warren Zevon, Poor Poor Pitiful Me
4. Tom Waits, Pasties & A G-String
5. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, American Girl
6. The Rolling Stones, Crazy Mama
7. David Bowie, Tvc15
8. Lou Reed, Kicks
9. Patti Smith, Ask The Angels
10. Peter Tosh, Legalize It 0
11. AC/DC, Live Wire
12. Aerosmith, Back In The Saddle
13. KISS, Do You Love Me
14. Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak
15. The 101'ers, Keys To Your Heart
16. The Flamin' Groovies, Shake Some Action
17. Blondie, X Offender
18. Graham Parker & The Rumour, Back to Schooldays
19. Nick Lowe, Heart of the City
20. Dave Edmunds, Here Comes The Weekend
21. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, Roadrunner
22. The Ramones, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
23. Richard Hell, (I Belong To The) Blank Generation
24. Television, Little Johnny Jewel
25. Buzzcocks, Boredom
26. Sex Pistols, Anarchy In The UK
27. The Damned, New Rose
28. Radio Birdman, I-94
29. The Saints, (I'm) Stranded
30. Pere Ubu, Final Solution

Friday, June 10, 2016

Live Ledge #244: Wreckless Eric

One of the thrills of my freelance newspaper gig is that every now and then I get to chat with artists that I truly love. These interviews more than make up for the mainstream "bro-country" acts or over-the-hill metal bands that I have to usually endure.
Wreckless Eric is one of these thrilling opportunities. I've loved him ever since I heard "Whole Wide World" as a teen in the late 70's. Since then, he's had a pretty eclectic career that's grossly underrated. Tonight's show is an overview of his entire career, from that early hit through his sadly-forgotten 80's releases under names such as Len Bright Combo and Captains of Industry, along with plenty of selections from his collaborative albums with his wife, Amy Rigby. Of course, there's also songs from his most excellent recent album, "amERICa". There's also quite a few covers of the song that Eric says "everybody has covered".
Of course, the show also includes my phone interview, which includes some questions that didn't make the ensuing article. To read what was included, click here.
As always, you can find this episode on Stitcher and iTunes, or...


1. Paul Westerberg, (I'd Go) The Whole Wide World
2. Wreckless Eric, Whole Wide World
3. Wreckless Eric, Semaphore Signals
4. Proclaimers, Whole Wide World
5. Wreckless Eric, A Pop Song
6. Wreckless Eric, Take The Cash (K.A.S.H)
7. Elvis Costelllo, Whole Wide World
8. The Pristeens, (I'd Go The) Whole Wide World
9. Captains of Industry, Julie
10. Len Bright Combo, You're Gonna Screw My Head Off
11. Len Bright Combo, The Golden Hour Of Harry Secombe
12. Le Beat Group Electrique, It's A Sick Sick World
13. Wreckless Eric, Birthday Blues
14. Wreckless Eric, Joe Meek
15. The Hitsville House Band, You Can't Be A Man (Without A Beer In Your Hand)
16. Eric Goulden, Gasoline
17. Die Toten Hosen, Whole Wide World
18. Wreckless Eric, Crying Waiting Hoping
19. Wreckless Eric & James Nicholls, Little Child
20. Wreckless Eric, The Crooked Beat
21. Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs, Murder In My Mind
22. Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby, First Mate
23. Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby, Walls
24. Wreckless Eric, Boy Band
25. Wreckless Eric, Days of My Life
26. Wreckless Eric, Several Shades of Green
27. The Wedding Present, Whole Wide World

Friday, June 03, 2016

Live Ledge #243: New Releases

Tonight's look at new music focuses heavier than usual on harder-edge rock and roll. We have the return of the Melvins, along with other rockin' bands such as The Backseat Angels, Hellfreaks, CFM, A Giant Dog, and so many more.
There's also some more pop-related tracks, though. Colleen Green, Twin Peaks, and a reissue of first release by Boston's The Connection. And, of course, there's also the surprisingly good comeback record by The Monkees. I don't think ANYBODY thought this was going to listenable. They've had a couple of other comeback records that nobody wanted to hear a second time. Yet, the combination of great songwriters (Rivers Cuomo, Ben Gibbard, Andy Partridge, Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller), along with simple production by Adam Schlesinger, has culminated in a record that actually sounds like those released in the original run of the band.
As always, grab this from the usual sources, including iTunes and Stitcher, or...


1. Car Seat Headrest Just What I Needed/Not Just What I Needed Teens Of Denial 2016 3:52 S 0
2. The Monkees, Birth of an Accidental Hipster
3. The Monkees, I Was There (And I'm Told I Had a Good Time)
4. Bruce Foxton, Round & Round
5. The Scientists, Shake Together Tonight
6. The Connection, Baby Doll
7. Tom Baker & the Snakes, Doll Eyes
8. The Right Here, Judge Me When I'm Sober
9. Mrs Magician, Tear Drops
10. The Coathangers, Dumb Baby
11. The Hellfreaks, Why Do You Talk
12. Leggy, Even Lana
13. Colleen Green, Cold Shoulder
14. Twin Peaks, Butterfly
15. Twin Peaks, Walk To The One You Love
16. Male Gaze, Got It Bad
17. Diarhea Planet, Bob Dylan's Grandma
18. Dumpster Babies, Formaldehyde
19. CFM, Brain of Clay
20. CFM, Glass Eye
21. Useless Eaters, Industrial Park
22. A Giant Dog, Sleep When Dead
23. Giant Peach, Your Blood
24. Summer Cannibals, Go Home
25. SWMRS, Harry Dean
26. The So So Glos, Kings County II: Ballad Of A So So Glo
27. The Traditional Fools, Do You Wanna Touch Me??
28. Indonesian Junk, Shelly, Shelly (Don't Break My Heart)
29. The Backseat Angels, My Baby Wants To Brainwash My Mind
30. The Backseat Angels, Teenage Rock'n'Roller
31. Failure Machine, Lonely
32. The Jesus Candles, Honey
33. The Coasts, I Was A Man
34. Watts, The B Side
35. Tiger Army, Firefall
36. U.K. Subs, Oligarchy
37. Melvins, Choco Plumbing