J-Pop just breaking new gate: Saturday Video Roundup with BabyMetal, Band-Maid and Dir En Grey

It was a big week for Japanese Pop. Turns out SONY has signed Metal/GirlPop fusioneers BabyMetal, with designs on taking over America. And earlier in the week I discovered Band-Maid. It only seemed right that I’d share all this, plus a little bonus, with our readers.

Let’s start here.

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Music and Popular Culture

“Goodbye,” from The Well Wishers: Saturday Video Roundup

Greetings from the Pop Underground – here’s a track from one of my best CDs of the year…

Those who follow along know that I have a weakness for “Power Pop” – that retro, guitar-driven genre originally practiced by the likes of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Badfinger, Big Star, The Who, The Raspberries, and others of that ilk. You don’t hear it much on the radio, sadly (although Foo Fighters have been on a roll of late) – we’re talking about a largely underground movement here – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as dynamic as ever.

One of my favorite practitioners of the craft, The Well Wishers, released a new CD this year. It’s called A Shattering Sky, and like everything else Jeff Shelton has done in his various incarnations (WW, The Spinning Jennies, Hot Nun), it’s packed to the rafters with ringing guitars and melodic hooks and positively viral earworms – if you’re like me this disc will be buzzing around in your head for days. Continue reading

“Evil Eye” from Snake Rattle Rattle Snake: Saturday Video Roundup

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake had the release show for their new CD, Totem, last night at the Gothic in Denver. Jeez, I wish I could have been there. I think the disc officially drops this week, and thanks to a free preview the other day, I can say without reservation that this is one of the top releases of the year – and it’s been a hellacious good year.

Here’s the first video.

Happy Saturday, yo.

Two perfect indie pop songs by Veronica Falls: Saturday Video Roundup

Many of us quest for the perfect pop song. There are any number of candidates for the title, too – I could probably spend the day rummaging through my iTunes and come up with dozens of worthies.

What’s amazing is that I have discovered two more, and they’re back to back – tracks #2 and 3 on the new Veronica Falls CD, Waiting for Something to Happen. Check out “Teenage.”

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Dir En Grey: Japanese Metal from Hell (Saturday Video Roundup)

Godzilla ain’t the only hardcore badass from Japan.

I’m not the Japan expert around here – that distinction falls to blogger, poet, photographer and Japanophile extraordinare Dan Ryan – so I won’t pretend that I know anything about J-Pop. It just felt like a nice day to do something a little different for SVR, and I’ve been thinking about Dir En Grey for the past couple of days.

They’ve been around for a number of years and seem to have evolved through some changes (both musical and visual), so you can surf YouTube and find a range of styles – everything from a sort of melodic Metal that we might associate with, say, Queensryche, to moments that, more than anything, remind me of Tool, to hell on Earth horror Metal that would scare the piss out of Lordi, to straight-up Nu Metal. I’m not so much into the weasels-ripped-my-throat-out brand of singing, but hey, you might like it.

So let’s get our J-Metal on, shall we? We’ll start with “The Final.”

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Beat the Meetles: Beatles mashup mania (Saturday Video Roundup)

The Beatles have collaborated with some of the world’s most popular artists through the years.

Mashups have become their own art form, and perhaps nobody has been more important to perfecting the genre than The Beatles. Take their famous collaboration with Motley Crue.

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The grimm reality of Matthew Grimm: Saturday Video Roundup

It’s Matt Grimm Day at S&R and we’re celebrating music with a social conscience. Join us?

Matthew GrimmWe love great bands and artists of all stripes around here, but by now it’s probably no secret that we’re champions of the overlooked genius. I don’t know. Maybe I’m projecting because I think more people ought to pay attention to me and as such I identify with those who don’t get the credit they deserve.

Whatever. My personal narcissism issues notwithstanding, our friend Matthew Grimm is a recording artist whose talent merits the attention of a very large audience. Continue reading

St. Paul & the Broken Bones: Paul Janeway may already be one of the greatest Soul/R&B singers in history (Saturday Video Roundup)

“I have seen the future of music and the name of the band is St. Paul and the Broken Bones.” – Rosanne Cash

Photo by David A. Smith/DSmithImages

Otis Redding. James Brown. Wilson Pickett. Marvin Gaye. Smokey Robinson. Al Green. Stevie Wonder. Van Morrison. Sam Cooke.

And now, Paul Janeway.

Sometimes I make bold predictions. Sometimes they might sound a little outlandish, and my friends will encourage me to step away from the ledge. Maybe this is one such time, but I don’t think so. I recently discovered a band called St. Paul & the Broken Bones, and have very quickly come to suspect that in front man Paul Janeway we’re seeing the early days of a legendary talent. Continue reading

RIP JJ Cale: a brief remembrance

JJ Cale is dead at 74.

Many years ago I worked as creative and production director at a radio station. Cale, on tour, was scheduled to play a local venue and that venue, one of our clients, wanted to run a series of spots promoting the appearance.

Simple enough. These kinds of ads were fairly boilerplate – you developed maybe 15 seconds of copy with the whos, whens, wheres and so forth, and intercut it with 15 seconds of clips from the artist’s most famous tunes. Which is what I did, obviously making generous use of “After Midnight” and “Cocaine.”

Shortly after the ad began airing the owner of the station loomed into my office, wondering what the hell I was thinking. Ummm. What? We’re a family station (which was bullshit, but never mind) and you’re promoting drug use! Get that off the air.

I had absofuckinglutely no idea what he was talking about. You have to understand something. I have worked with and for some bad people in my career, but this guy was without question the most evil, fourth-rate, stupid piece of shit in the lot. If you put a gun to my head and told me say something nice about him, the best I could do is that since he was such a fat bastard, when he died he’d provide nourishment for a greater than average number of worms.

Turns out the problem was “Cocaine.” His dumb ass thought it was a pro-drug song. Really?

If you wanna get down, down on the ground; cocaine.

No, seriously?

If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on; cocaine.
Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back; cocaine.
She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie; cocaine.

Okay, I can see that if you weren’t born with enough intelligence to process subtlety and nuance you might miss that it was an anti-cocaine song, but how do you turn it into an advocacy tune?

Unless, you know, you’re only listening closely enough to make out one word and that’s all you need.

I was forced to recut the promo and for the remainder of my brief time at the station was probably regarded as some kind of back-alley drug dealer and perhaps even pimp. No, wait – if he’d thought I was a pimp he’d probably have wanted to know if I could hook him up for a discount.


Sorry. Apologies for the ranting. JJ Cale was one of the great ones and he never got a fraction of the credit he deserved. It’s a shame that his death calls to my mind that particular scumnozzle.

Thanks for everything, JJ. Ride on.