Tournament of Rock – Legends: The Police pod

The_PoliceResults: The past week provided ToR fans with about as much drama as the 4th quarter of the Patriots/Titans game, huh? In our most recent match the band currently famous for providing CSI theme music simply poleaxed some pretty good competition, making it four in a row for the favorites. The numbers: #3 The Who 82%; #9 AC/DC 16%; Queensryche 2%.

Maybe we can give voters something to think about this week. Let’s start in the Budokan region, where perhaps the greatest band of the New Wave hosts the Piano Man and arguably the most underappreciated artist in rock history. Continue reading

TunesDay: The best CDs of 2008, pt. 1 – the Gold LPs

Most years are pretty good for music if you know where to look, and 2008 was no exception. It’s a shame that you have to search so hard, of course – once upon a time all you needed to keep track of what was good in the world of music was a radio. These days it requires a little effort, though, and while I lost count a long time ago, I probably sampled a few hundred CDs in the last 365. Thank the gods for the Internet and a growing network of friends who make sure to let me know whenever they hear something worthy, huh?

This is part one of three. The Platinum LP Awards will be along soon, and that will be followed by the CD of the Year post. So here we go with last year’s Gold Awards for Very Good CDs. These are in alphabetical order, more or less. Band Web sites link to the band name, and if the CD is available via eMusic, that links to the CD title. If you want to purchase from eMusic, click on the link in the right column for a really good deal (as in lots of free downloads).

The 2008 Gold LPs Continue reading

TunesDay: it's a three-for-all

For those of you who have been digging on eMusic lately, we have a few more TunesDay Recommendifications for your consideration.

We’ll start with Jigsaw Days from The Well Wishers. This new release from Jeff Shelton (ex-Spinning Jennies) is among the top Power Pop releases of the year to date, and in addition to recalling artists like The Posies, Teenage Fanclub, Sloan, Supergrass and XTC, also has moments where it leans a bit heavier into the “Power” than the “Pop.” If you’re not familiar with contemporary underground pop, think Matthew Sweet meets Bob Mould (and if you don’t know them, just go to the darned site and click to sample). Continue reading

Pleasure songs

The last three or four years have seen a veritable explosion in New Wave- and ’80s-influenced bands. A few of these groups have found ways to take their influences and move their music forward (The Killers, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, The Strays), while most of the rest remain captive to the sounds of the bands they so clearly love.

But damn, some of the latter crowd are so good at it that I hardly mind how derivative they are. I mean, fantastic takes on things I’ve heard before are better than uninspired new efforts, right?

I recently tripped across one such example, Sweden’s The Mary Onettes. Continue reading

The inaugural Scholars and Rogues Interview (and our newest Scrogue): Graham Parker

The mid-1970s were a wonderful time for music lovers. For starters, exciting and innovative new music was popping up all over the place. And when it did, it actually got played on the radio.

The UK was especially fertile ground during this period, as scores of punk and New Wave acts emerged (many from the “pub rock” scene) in the most dynamic explosion of music since the British Invasion. One of the most outstanding of these was Graham Parker, who in 1976 released not one, but two instant five-star classics – Howlin’ Wind and Heat Treatment.

While some of his contemporaries (most notably Elvis Costello) became wildly famous, arguably nobody in rock history has posted a more enduring legacy of critical success. Continue reading