Scott and Jimbo. #Portland #wonderballroom #music #rock #ReverendHortonHeat  (at Wonder Ballroom)

Scott and Jimbo. #Portland #wonderballroom #music #rock #ReverendHortonHeat (at Wonder Ballroom)

The Reverend Horton Heat climbs the monitor for a guitar solo. #Portland #wonderballroom #music #rock  (at Wonder Ballroom)

The Reverend Horton Heat climbs the monitor for a guitar solo. #Portland #wonderballroom #music #rock (at Wonder Ballroom)

But the problem right now is that we have a surplus of rock records like {Grizzly Bear’s] Shields and a deficit of records like [the Black Keys’] El Camino. And I mean that in an ecological sense — even if you hate El Camino or mainstream rock in general, the dearth of this sort of music has made the entire system worse for all involved. In order for a band like Grizzly Bear to have any hope of getting on the radio, there needs to be a band like the Black Keys to convince the powers that be that listeners actually still care about rock bands. If a major label — particularly a label that can get you on the radio — is going to take a chance on a Grizzly Bear, there needs to be a Black Keys to make that investment seem feasible.

What rock music needs right now is more gateway bands. When I was a kid, I never would’ve heard of or cared about Sonic Youth or Fugazi or Guided by Voices had it not been for the alt-rock bands I heard on the radio and saw on MTV. The popular bands connected me with the less popular bands. In 1984, when Born in the U.S.A. put Bruce Springsteen on the same level as Michael Jackson and Prince, a rock fan could go from the Boss to R.E.M.’s Reckoning to the Replacements’ Let It Be to Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade to Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime to Black Flag’s My War.

It’s a different world for today’s 13-year-olds. But even now, casual music fans still listen to the radio and discover new artists via televised performances on middle-of-the-road award shows. The most successful rock band of the ’10s, Mumford & Sons, arguably had the biggest break of their career when they upstaged Bob Dylan at the 2012 Grammy awards. Maybe those young Mumford fans are now on a path that will eventually take them to Will Oldham, Mark Kozelek, Townes Van Zandt, and Leonard Cohen.

When I said earlier that indie has failed rock and roll, this is what I meant: Indie bands haven’t done enough to compete. The status quo in indie rock these days is to make records aimed directly at upper-middle-class college graduates living in big cities. Only a small handful of indie bands attempt to reach listeners who aren’t already on the team; even the really good records reside firmly in a familiar wheelhouse of tastefully arty and historically proven “college rock” aesthetics and attitudes that mean nothing to the outside world. The distance is also geographic: If you want to see most indie bands play live, it helps if you reside in New York City or Los Angeles, because the bands probably live there, too. Otherwise, you have to hope that your city — and by “your city,” I mean a city within a couple hundred miles of where you live — is one of the 15 to 20 stops on the band’s tour.

Steven Hyden, in the final part of his series “The Winners’ History of Rock and Roll”, encapsulates why rock music is in the doldrums: indie rock bands have abandoned the sounds, ambition and outreach that made rock music popular for a wide swath of people, and those sounds have largely been absorbed by pop & country acts (he checks Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, and Eric Church.) 

And this is largely correct: indie rock, for lack of a better term, cut itself off from a lot of hoary rock cliches it found unseemly, hoary, heterocentric, and sexist. Personally, I find this an entirely valid and necessary reaction to the excess of the “winners” of rock and roll. But it threw out a lot of the musical signposts and sounds that make rock and roll fun and made itself the province of well-off white kids who are either from urban areas or become college-radio types.

As someone who needed gateway bands on early 90s radio and MTV’s 120 Minutes to learn about the Minutemen, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Fugazi, the Afghan Whigs, Bikini Kill, the Pixies, Sleater-Kinney and numerous other bands that would change my life, I think this is a crucial point to make. What independent, DIY rock has made an admirable virtue has turned into an albatross — and its conventions need to be blown up as much as punk needed to blow up rock’s hoarier excesses.

I’ve enjoyed every chapter of this series so far. What Steven Hyden has done very well here is not so much focus on the bands themselves as how they either created or epitomized the landscape shifts in rock and roll. Led Zeppelin is the template for the sound, style, and behavior, Kiss takes it to the ignored cultural hinterlands. Bon Jovi expands to more female audiences. Aerosmith comes full circle on both sound and style to where it is largely two different bands based on decades. Metallica transitions from underground to mainstream in a larger-scale version of the “sellout vs. pure” debate that we associate more with punk rock than metal more often than not.

Here, Linkin Park is the last band before terrestrial, commercial alt-rock formats on radio lose their bearings. The Black Keys will be Hyden’s final entry next week. 

The only complaint I can raise is that U2 isn’t a focal point. But that’s probably because U2 is a bizarre, unusual chameleon across the past few decades, floating above whatever the rock thing is. It’s probably the same thing with Foo Fighters. 

Prince, “Screwdriver”

The Purple One with a new all-female backing band and it’s two-guitars-bass-drums and it rocks. Read more about the backing musicians here.

Via BuzzFeed.

My girlfriend not only noticed that the Mountain Goats were playing a week from Sunday but then went to the Aladdin Theater the next day to buy the tickets in person to save $22 in processing fees.
We’ve been dating for two months. If I don’t love this woman, then the day I know I do isn’t very far off.

My girlfriend not only noticed that the Mountain Goats were playing a week from Sunday but then went to the Aladdin Theater the next day to buy the tickets in person to save $22 in processing fees.

We’ve been dating for two months. If I don’t love this woman, then the day I know I do isn’t very far off.

Titus Andronicus - ‘A More Perfect Union’ (by XLRecordings)

The girlfriend and I are going to see them tomorrow night. I hope we still have faces after the rocking we shall receive. While I do not know the band that well, I have heard some of their songs, most notably this one, before and think $10 a ticket for a band this rockin’ is a wise investment for a Friday night.

Grohl behind the kit for QOTSA again? FUCK AND YES.
(via BBC - Newsbeat - Dave Grohl joins Queens Of The Stone Age on new album)

the Afghan Whigs’ set list by recording.

I can’t remember the exact order, so we’ll go by album:

  • Up In It: “Son of the South”
  • Congregation: “Conjure Me”
  • Gentlemen: “Gentlemen,” “Debonair,” “When We Two Parted,” “Fountain And Fairfax,” “What Jail Is Like”
  • Black Love: “Crime Scene Part One,” “My Enemy,” “Going To Town,” “Faded”
  • 1965: “Somethin’ Hot,” “Crazy,” “Uptown Again,” “66,” “Omerta,” “The Vampire Lanois”
  • Covers: “See But Don’t See,” “Lovecrimes”
  • Borrowed Bits From Other Songs: The Beatles’ “She Loves You” in “Omerta”; Prince’s “Purple Rain” in “Faded”

"Somethin’ Hot," "Omerta," and "The Vampire Lanois" were the encore songs.

I would have liked one more song from each of the first two albums, but it’s hard to quibble with that set list.

John Curley, holding down the low end with some of the most thunderous rumble I’ve ever heard out of a Rickenbacker bass.

John Curley, holding down the low end with some of the most thunderous rumble I’ve ever heard out of a Rickenbacker bass.

Rick McCollum and Dave Rosser. There are few things like listening to them recreate the multi-tracked slide guitar parts McCollum put on records in a live setting.

Rick McCollum and Dave Rosser. There are few things like listening to them recreate the multi-tracked slide guitar parts McCollum put on records in a live setting.

Here’s another Dulli shot for you.

Here’s another Dulli shot for you.

Greg Dulli, getting his stroll on. (at Wonder Ballroom)

Greg Dulli, getting his stroll on. (at Wonder Ballroom)

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, “Bottled in Cork”

Tell the bartender I think I’m falling in love.

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The Third Shift A vagabond who's made his home in the Pacific Northwest.

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