The Prototypes

Merely listening to Paris’ The Prototypes requires a number prerequisites, and if “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” doesn’t ring any bells with you, I’m afraid it might be a lost cause. The opening notes on “Je Ne Te Connais Pas” reminds me of something from The Breakfast Club, gutted, renovated and rejuvenated. As the current wave of electronic rock continues to evolve its becoming increasingly interesting to see how much of the old 80’s keyboard and synth can be used before a band loses any hope of having a unique sound. The Prototypes borrow just enough to sound familiar, but thankfully rock hard enough to make you forget all about the 80’s.

The Sky Drops

Delaware collective The Sky Drops take an unlikely hypothetical question and answers it. While sitting around, a group of herbal aficionados might touch on some musical intellectualism from time to time and question whether or not stoner rock can flow seamlessly into a melodic pop-guitar crunch. A hypothetical response to such a question could be Monika Bullette and Rob Montejo’s “Now Would Be.” The group introduces a steady flow of dark guitar before reverting back to the lighter pop harmony. Refining post-grunge rock has been an unsuccessful recipe for many bands, but The Sky Drops seem to incorporate just enough of its surrounding tastes to make it work.

Hurra Torpedo

Norway’s Hurra Torpedo is unquestionably the world’s leading kitchen appliance rock group. What does that mean exactly? Well, it’s fairly self-explanatory, riffage and, uh, stoves and stuff. The Oslo band plays a solid brand of rock & roll with just enough shtick to pull of a solid rock show. As if Turbonegro-like cockiness doesn’t make the grade, ass-slap beats and randy guitar quivers help fill out the formula.

Mikaela's Fiend "We Can Driving Machine" Review

Seattle's Mikaela's Fiend is a two piece noise rock band comprised of cousins, Chris Ando and Donnie Shoemaker. A while back when the trend was to delve into the deeper extremes of noise and move away from the typical riffage and harmonization or hard rock and metal, along the lines of The Locust, I often wondered what drove musicians into these patterns. Was it because of a blossoming hatred towards anything with a remotely mainstream image or sound? If that's the case, then how did The Dillinger Escape Plan create such a following; or other harder, noise or math based rock/metal bands which are signed to faux-indie labels? With Mikaela's Fiend, however, it seems that the trend has given birth to a new breed or musician, basing their composition on more recent stages of the music. Ando, 19, and Shoemaker, 17, formulate their sound as a testament to the noise rock that has been key the last few years, and do so as a fourth, fifth or even sixth generation punk band.

Throughout We Can Drive Machine it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish one untitled track from the next until track 7, which teases harmonization before it leveling off and fading away into the rest of the album. Unlike the rest of the album, however, "Untitled #7" seems momentarily influenced by punk music unlike the other tracks on We Can Drive Machine which hint at punk's rebellious nature. And what follows is an energy and insight into the noise which it evolves into, a sign of what could be. Whether it be deemed noise, avant or experimental rock, the music finds itself as one of the true remaining rebellious forms of music, embracing some of the purest ideals of the original punk movement. Like much of modern rock, noise rock has been played out and taken to prior extremes which leave it little room for growth. But unlike much of modern music, and unfortunate for Mikaela's Fiend, this brand of noise rock is undramatic, overly pretentious and generally unlistenable.

Victor Scott

Scott, a London-born Vancouver musician, plays to the amusement of the ears within the context of a variety of genres. Before taking a seven year detour into the wonderful world of jazz guitar Scott found himself longing for more musically, and it was this search that brought him to John Zorn, Daniel Johnston and Negativeland during his college-age-years. It seems that his influences have rubbed off nicely as his songs range from light rock-based electronic to folk-country surfer music to up-tempo pop rock. Oh, and of course, “like every other musician, Victor wishes he was in Deerhoof.”

Guiltmaker "Driven By Arms" EP Review

Guiltmaker is a band made up of former Florida-based hardcore bands and fall somewhere in between whatever is considered to be emo these days and indie rock. Shaun Drees and Dan Radde conceived the idea for the band and began work in 2004, eventually filling empty spots with former band-mates, and as for the band’s mission statement, “Guiltmaker was established with big hopes of delivering something noteworthy to today’s indie rock scene.”

The 4-song Driven By Arms utilizes the not-quite-screaming not-quite-singing style of vocals underlined by driving high guitars. Ultimately however the band lacks the depth that many contemporaries within the post-hardcore scene seem to have. Blending songs lyrically and musically can be effective if the theme offers something sensational, but in this case, unfortunately the band performs a played-out sound which might not exactly cut it as noteworthy in today’s indie rock scene.

The Submarines: Declare A New State! Review

Longtime Boston natives The Submarines have a history every bit as unique as the duo's sound. Blake Hazard attended Harvard (oh, and her great-grandfather was F. Scott Fitzgerald) met John Dragonetti through his job at the time, putting albums together for HepCat, A&M; and Sugar Free records, and the two began collaborating from there. Now living in Los Angeles the two grew closer while Dragonetti recorded Hazard's Little Airplane and playing for each other's bands. A four year romance which took the duo across the world collapsed however as both Hazard and Dragonetti moved to Los Angeles to further their group. Each spent countless hours writing songs; hate, pain, love, joy, both finding themselves hopelessly attached to something. Coming together again to record what they had written in Dragonetti's studio, it sparked, and both understood that they were meant for each other. And so goes the myth-like tale of The Submarines.

Declare a New State! wanders through a variety of sounds. "Hope" sounds like much of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and "Brighter Disconnect" makes the most of minimalist harmonica and drum machine. "Modern Inventions" leads to a unidentifiable aural sensation through its synthesized strings and encompassing harmonies. "It goes from hopelessness to a certain kind of optimism - an optimism that's more realistic" says Hazard of the album. This track is a key example of that turnaround in the album's lyrics, which somehow remind me of a really good Urge Overkill song, toned down and prettied up. It leaves an effect the exact moment it kicks in.

All leading perfectly into "The Good Night" which ultimately questions what there is between the two. Hazard concludes the song by singing "I'd have waited a lifetime for a sign only to fall apart when love arrives, but we're coming home." These lyrics encompass the beauty and themes of the album, reconciliation, compromise and love. Nothing lends itself a better fit to the album than these words, which, in all truth, were never meant to be heard. The album was meant as something that the duo were compiling for their friends, as a sort of marker on the relationship. But as Declare a New State! reaches the public, it brings new meaning to the words, new depth to the sounds, and hopefully new avenues for The Submarines, and a story that undoubtedly deserves to be heard.

The Lovely Feathers "Hind Hind Legs" Review

What an odd thing it is to compare other people of the same age to yourself, isn't it? In my high school, someone a year ahead of me was drafted into the NHL. Nationally, the trend becomes bleaker. Lebron James was born over a year after I was. I can barely spit out "necessity" and the winner of the 2004 National Spelling Bee was a 14 year old, spelling "autochthonous." And if that isn't the worst of it, I can always look to The Lovely Feathers. The Montreal quartet consists of (3) 23 year olds and (1) 21 year old. Not to say that the boys haven't practiced countless hours...but...what I wouldn't give for a little natural ability, y'know.

I dread making the comparison to other Canadian Francophone bands, but...I must. The Feathers play a tremendous set of songs along the lines of (....my teeth just clenched...) Wolf Parade; playing a blend of spastic, outrageous tracks, each of which cling to you a little more than the last. As one can tell, with my simple comparison to Wolf Parade, the band is hard to describe. Let's try again. "The Only Appalachian" comes off as a Sonic Youth that, instead of diverging into melody from time to time, play the opposite roll and tease anarchic guitars. It would be too easy to take a shot, saying something to the extent of The Lovely Feathers sounding like a version of Franz Ferdinand that actually had balls and actually played some solid rock and roll from time to time. It would be rude of me to say that, and I won't go there. But if someone else to were say such a thing, I would not disagree. Do those comparisons offend less? Either way, the band touches on something unique.

On the other hand, could the band just be fakes? It is clearly noted that they only started playing in 2004, well after the bands previously mentioned had made it "big" in the scene. I mean, what kind of band plays music that sounds like the bands that they like to listen to? Don't most true musicians stop listening to music so as not to be artistically influenced by any outside sources? Well, no - no to all of that. The Lovely Feathers take all of the garage that used to be "the it thing," and speed it up. They add a load of unconventional tangents, and abnormally funny lyrics. But if listening to a faux-chic, neo-hipster band of Canadians that rock isn't your thing, The Lovely Feathers might not be for you.

ASG

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina's ASG bow down to whomever it is that may be the king(s) of rock these days, spouting influences along the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Janes Addiction and In Flames. You say wild, I say yes. I am loving the snowballing boom of great deep south flavored un-stoner rock. What am I talking about? Taking it back to the days of Budgie...but that's not entirely fair because I never much liked Budgie. How about sped up Kyuss? Naw, that's not fair either. Pretty big shoes to fill. How about we stick with the band's motto, "feelin' good is good enough." If that can't help get your boots wet, heaven help.

The Vines "Vision Valley" Review

At the peak of the garage-rock revival, "Get Free" took The Vines to a state of stardom that most bands could only dream of. And after leaving a mark on every city, fan and reporter while touring the band shot back with the lackluster album, Winning Days. Despite an ongoing deal with Nissan to use the album's first single "Ride," Winning Days was far from impressive and can generally be considered a text book example of a sophomore slump. It didn't seem to have the same power or the same fun energy; the band just wasn't the all there. What followed? Public violence, band members resigning and lead singer Craig Nicholls being diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. It seemed that the band's 15 minutes of fame had expired in what was a tragic downfall that left remaining members confused and with little hope for the future.

This I believed, myself, as many people did around the world. With word that a new album was being released, the thought struck my mind that The Vines hit it big and burned out, didn't they? Vision Valley suggests that the answer to that question is emphatic no. Incorporating toned down, slightly matured music which still dazzles while occasionally relying on moments of relaxed acoustic fretwork, the album brings the band to its musical summit. Ultimately there is a running musical theme within the album, which I find both questionable and brilliant at the same time, that pokes out in a variety of points. That being that this is a Beatles album. The questionable: From time to time, an album is played, and it passes in one of my ears and out the other. And from time to time it is carelessly easy to point out just exactly which pieces of that album are borrowed from The Beatles. "Candy Daze" is one of these tracks as it makes little attempt to hide any parallel to The Beatles. It is a complete throw-back to the down-strumming, pre-psychadelia Beatles songs. The brilliant: The album has many fantastic songs and "Candy Daze" is one of these. And it has company.

Vision Valley can be viewed as not simply a modern interpretation of past sounds, such as The Beatles, however, but a modern reinterpretation of The Vines. Tracks such as "F*k Yeah" show a third wave of The Beatles; focusing on the brilliant interpretation and expansion of The Beatles that Nirvana played. "Dope Train" forces you to bob your head from side to side, in a Beatles-esque manner, then reminds you of who The Vines are as the guitars slowly erupt. While the band was undeserving of much of its early popularity it was also undeserving of some of the aftermath. Vision Valley serves as a reminder of that the band was and is good, and also, and more importantly, it serves as a surprisingly solid album from a band you may or may not want to remember, The Vines.

Ornament

It's hard to say whether or not comparisons are generally a good thing. In one way, comparing two bands or musicians can give an audience an understanding of what to expect with unknown music. On the other hand, comparing Ornament's "At The Gates" to much of what was on Moby's Play could be taken in an entirely negative light. However I am of the understanding that this is a huge positive (no matter how sick people were of the album after every song was licensed for a commercial). With a tremendous resume of solid electronic music (ie: not dance/club) the UK's Ornament allows me to reminisce on what actually drew me to the genre in the first place.

Priestess

Let's play a quick game: Wolfmother is to Australia as Priestess is to...Canada. The Montreal band one of a few is helping to give me the feeling that retro metal is coming back into fashion. There's always been something about stoner rock that gets me down. It tends to seem far less melodic at times than a good old fashioned solid rock song. That's where Priestess come into play. The band jams hard while incorporating gruntless, tight vocals. But who am I to say anything about hard rockin', right? Well, the band toured with Motörhead and were voted Montreal's Heaviest Act by the Montreal Mirror...seems I'm not cat on the block who thinks they're rad.

"Invaders" Review

Kemado Records's Invaders is an explosive 18-track release which comes as a culmination of a just as many stoner-rock bands as it does different hard rock sounds. With a variety of previously unreleased tracks from bands like The Sword, Comets on Fire and Big Business combined with hard rock mainstays such as Pelican and High on Fire, Invaders comes as one severe punch to the eardrums after another.

When confronted with such a solid line-up of bands, all seemingly with similar sounds, it can be easy to lose sight of each individual's contribution. Big Business delivers the track "As the Day Was Dawning" as one which would generally be considered straight up stoner-rock. But as the album begins to develop it becomes easy to hear just how different these bands are. Sometimes it may be a subtle difference and sometimes it may be along the lines of Black Mountain's "Behind The Fall," which introduces an organ, sax and hollow post punk vocals. Sure, The Sword contributes the powerful "Under The Boroughs," but it is quickly counterbalanced by Dungen's "Christopher;" a crazy, tripped out song with crunching guitars that serve as a base for an over the top organ and flute silhouette.

There are a variety of moments, hidden and blatant, which truly gives Invaders its character. On one hand we have Darren Daulton's favorite band, Warhammer 48k, who have a direct link to an astral projection site on their MySpace page. And on the other, we have a track contributed from grunge-darling J. Mascis' side project, Witch, entitled "Rip Van Winkle." Continuing with the theme, Witchcraft offers a blazing live track "Queen of Bees" that serves as one of the ultimate riff songs on the compilation. However, the vocals sound like something along the lines of The Chipmunks singing "The Immigrant Song;" which isn’t inherently bad and may be just crazy enough to work. There's also a sense of humor to some of the lyrics on the album, such as Torche's "Mentor," "This little piggy was electrocution..." It's ok, we're laughing with you (I just hope you're laughing too).

Recent hard rock mainstays Pelican give the album its quietest track, "Ran Amber," which ultimately ends up being the best. Its near 9 minutes of drawn out un-fury give an example of how it's possible hard rock even if it's not cranked to 11. The always amazing Wolfmother adds "Love Train" and the instrumental "The Loge" comes as a track from The Fucking Champs, who never cease to amaze. When looking at the scene in general, the compilation gives a fairly broad view of some of the good, the bad and the unnecessary. Though it's generally hard to overlook the bad, Invaders offers up a lot of the good.

Nathan Asher and the Infantry

Raleigh, North Carolina's Nathan Asher and the Infantry blend a unique brand of dim rock with a hidden Moog-like essence that serves to lure you in until you are captured in lyrical fascination. Winner of not only the 2005 John Lennon Song Writing Contest (Electronic) but The 2005 Great American Song Writing Contest (Rock/Alt), the band have already found immense success in a facet of music which many could only dream of, songwriting. While the band might have first seen its roots form in 1993 Asher comments, "ten years down the line, the seven kids will meet as young adults in a cul-de-sac in North Raleigh. Something different will be born. Something greater than all of them: Nathan Asher and the Infantry." Maybe a little presumptuous, maybe a little truthful, but it sounds interesting, doesn't it?

The Raconteurs "Broken Boy Soldiers" Review

"Remember a time when all was not fine and up from the dingy sewers came four lousy thieves who flourished like trees behold The Raconteurs." Or so reads the CD cover from the inaugural release from this Detroit-based band entitled Broken Boy Soldiers. The group is a culmination of Detroit musicians, including solo artist Brendan Benson and White Stripes front man Jack White, along with bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler from the Cincinnati-based band The Greenhornes. Don't go throwing around "super-group" however as the band stresses that it’s simply "a new band made up of old friends."

How fitting that the first song (and subsequent single) on the album, "Steady As She Goes," was written on a whim, by a few friends just hanging out. The Benson & White written tune encompasses the basis for the group, being that of an alternate inspirational outlet. As the band came together, and songs were written, something unique happened along the way: The Raconteurs went from a side-project to a full-steam-ahead all-consuming band. And oh, how it shows.

The first Raconteurs track, "Steady As She Goes," is a sonic presentation of things to come; just as much musically as lyrically. The song incorporates a theme of curious love hindered by uncertainty and external factors. Love is an insane thing at times as "no matter what you do, you'll always feel as though you tripped and fell." The lyrics aren't overly simplified for sake of drab poeticism, however, but like much of the album, out of necessity. As "Hands" follows these sentiments it becomes clear that the purpose isn't to lyrically dazzle, but present universal emotions in a way that can be wholeheartedly enjoyed.

What makes the album so powerful isn't merely the inclusive lyrics that allow the listener to identify with any and all feelings expressed, but the absolutely amazing sounds that accompany them. Broken Boy Soldiers starts as any perfect rock album should, with an explosion; which fails to fade off. With the aforementioned "Hands," "Broken Boy Soldier" and "Intimate Secretary" the album doesn't allow even a second for you to catch your breath. It should be made a point, however, that the grandeur to the album isn't found merely in the booming, explosive tracks, but in those which subtly arouse the senses. "Together" is an oddly funny track along these lines. The lyrics present step by step instructions to the perfect relationship, and the slow, almost funky organ gives it a certain "Sunday morning love" kind of feel. Whatever a Sunday morning love is exactly, I don't know, just go with it.

"Level" falls back into the distorted, shockingly good rock that lets the band combine its members’ talents. It simply allows the sounds to ooze together without losing sight of any member’s individual talent. "Store Bought Bones" shreds through a seductive guitar solo backed by some sort of mutated, bottlenecked Detroit blues. A measure of the album can be found in how the tracks that seem to flow together the best are the furthest from each other on the album. The poppy, bouncy "Yellow Sun" follows "Store Bought Bones" and shows what exactly you're dealing with when you listen to the band. The Raconteurs might not be a super-group, it might have started as merely a few friends having fun, and its inception might have not even been taken all that seriously. What resulted however is one of the most concise, all encompassing rock albums that has been released for some time.

The Eighteenth Day Of May

There's a fine line between folk and rock and it's becoming ever foggier for me. London's The Eighteenth Day of May might exemplify what I mean by this. Using instruments such as the classic autoharp and the viola along side the bass and guitar, the band harkens back to a sound that reminds me of a lot of Canadian classic rock. Heavy autoharp seemed to be somewhat of a trend in the scene but as the sound progressed and time went on it gradually vanished. I suppose that's where my distinction of what's folk and what's not comes into play. Nonetheless, The Eighteenth Day of May are a band worthy of both titles and worthy of your time.

Jemina Pearl & Jonas Stein (of Be Your Own PET) Interview

Be Your Own PET is one of the most exciting bands I’ve heard recently. The group of teenage rockers got together at the Nashville School of the Arts in 2002 and have already played some of the world’s most exclusive festivals and shows. Recently I was able to bounce a few questions off of guitarist Jonas Stein and singer Jemina Pearl about future performances, the new album and the Nashville scene.

How was the recent experience with your European dates, what kind of reaction did the band get?

Jonas Stein: We were selling out our gigs and several ambulances would appear throughout the night to take injured kids to the hospital.

Jemina Pearl: Europe was a lot of fun. I didn’t know if people were going to be very familiar with our music, but every night there were people dancing and calling out their favorite songs. It was totally awesome.

“Adventure” is the catchiest track I’ve heard all year, and the video is a complete trip. I love how much fun you all seem to be having in the video. What else can we expect to hear with the upcoming album?

Jonas Stein: Adventure is the “Catchy” track of the album, the rest of the album is more of a blow to the head.

Jemina Pearl: The next single is “Bicycle, Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle.” It’s about riding bikes and kicking ass. The video is directed by our friend, Monty Buckles, who also directed the “Adventure” video.

What kind of scene is there right now in Nashville and are there any other local bands we should be checking out?

Jonas Stein: Yeah you should check out The Mattoid, Forget Cassettes and Faun.

Jemina Pearl: There’s not really much of a scene here in Nashville. There are a few good bands here. One of my favorites is a band called Party Cannon. They always put on a really good show!

Having already received excellent feedback from appearances at Reading/Leads, Glastonbury, and SXSW what is the next big event the band looks to conquer?

Jonas Stein: We’ll be at Bonnaroo this year, maybe we’ll try to make the stage collapse.

Jemina Pearl: We just played Coachella. That was pretty cool. We’re about to do a month long tour of the U.S. in June. Then we’re playing some more festivals in the U.K and in the U.S.

If you knew you were going to be playing your last show, who would you love to share the stage with?

Jonas Stein: Pearls and Brass and The Black Lips.

Jemina Pearl: The Black Lips because they’re the best band around today.

Mellowdrone "Box" Review

Los Angeles-based Mellowdrone has most definitely seen its fair share of drama leading up to the release of Box. Whether is be Venezuelan-born guitarist and lead singer Jonathan Bates' impeding series of meetings with record executives or lead guitarist Tony DeMatteo's near fatal car accident, the band has had to take steps to ensure that something positive would come out of a mess. With the reactionary "And Repeat," which comes as a direct mockery of those who were hindering him, or "Limb to Limb," which is a healing song co-written by DeMatteo, Box attests to the feelings and events that have led those in Mellowdrone to where they are now.

"Oh My" has an amazing, catchy chorus with a droopy bass line and the production knob turned up to "10." One of the most pleasant trips on the album, "Fashionably Uninvited" takes dark lyrics which question the usefulness of life, and mask them with a beautiful melody. Bates likens the song to a David Lynch movie, "Lynch is a subversive genius because he is a master at filming something creepy in a stunning way. This song is a lot of fun because it has a nice, happy melody washing over dark lyrics." Ultimately, though the album begins to find itself wading in slow synth-ballads like "Four Leaf Clover" and "Beautiful Day." These tracks follow some of the high points on the album and unfortunately begin to suck some energy and flow out of their predecessors.

The melodic high and low points begin to further balance out into a slower pace as the album sinks into its later tracks. Fusing synth with down-tempo beats becomes common place and the music starts distracting from the lyrics. The moderate rock "Bone Marrow" attempts to reignite the album but the energy that was so abundant at the start wears thin as Box concludes. Bates' comments on the work of David Lynch seem more at this point that ever. Lynch's work was criticized as it commonly became misunderstood and misinterpreted due to the abundance of complexities and drawn out themes. While the context of the lyrics is sometimes "creepy," as bates puts it, the slow, almost distressing tone the music is what is more noticeable. Even if the album were to be a mere mask of underlying themes Box could easily have been a motivating opportunity to express its message had it continued the energy hinted at in its high points.

Tingsek "Tingsek" Review

Malmo, Sweden native Magnus Tingsek's self-titled debut album is a celebration of soulful Scandinavian lounge-rock. Tingsek, though only 27, got his musical feet wet long ago, playing various instruments with his brother while growing up. The two sang Depeche Mode and Beatles to each other and Magnus slowly grew into a wide variety of instruments. After turning a local library cellar into a temporary studio the two continued to play and Magnus began improving his skills at the guitar, bass and drums. And as you can tell with Tingsek, Magnus's voice matured and expanded dramatically. After lending his talents to a number of garage bands Magnus began improving his skills at the pedal steel guitar and eventually played in support of Willie Nelson, playing with his daughter Paula.

But Tingsek is by no means similar to anything Willie Nelson, not country, reggae, or anything in between. Nor is he similar to anything I've heard coming from Sweden in general. The album starts out with the up-tempo "Egoflow." The blending of a soft trumpet with a smooth organ presents opportunity for drums to lead the song without using a strong guitar piece. Tingsek follows suit with many of the following tracks, incorporating multiple horns, various percussion instruments, a piano and strings to produce an amazingly smooth, emotional groove. "Nothing, Nobody, Right & Wrongs" introduces congas to accommodate a lighthearted guitar as the harmony-heavy track progresses; a very beautiful, simple example of Tingsek's wonderful songwriting.

"Lazy Days" lifts you to a place far away, a small coffee house, where no one really drinks coffee. In the corner a small electric organ is set up next to a microphone and onlookers clap the beat. The rolling emotion captures everyone as more customers chime in and a flowing sound forms throughout the room. The emotion is perfectly captured throughout this album but certain spots, such as "Lazy Days," have a way of sucking you in and making you forget that anything else is going on around you. "This Room" is a fine showcase for Tingsek's voice as it gives an amazing sound that reminds me when Wayne Shepherd was just breaking onto the scene. The local radio announcers kept commenting on how unbelievable it was that such a voice came from such a young white kid. Magnus Tingsek falls along those lines to me. By looking at him, it's hard to understand what to expect. But after hearing him, I'm starting to understand what old Willie must have known all along.

David Bowie "Serious Moonlight" DVD Review

Initial hesitation to the teeth-grittingly-bad Davie Bowie of the early ‘80s that lived in my head shortly gave way to the real David Bowie of 1983 mere minutes into the footage. The Bowie I saw was powerful, sharp and even funky; I was witnessing the David Bowie who I never knew existed. There has always been some sort of hesitation for me when it comes to Bowie in terms of rock history and his place in it, with most of my reluctance stemming back to the Bowie of the '80s. David Bowie, as I had always thought to have known, had lost his great innovative style during this time period and now many of my generation might only know the man as a reference from The Wedding Singer or from the lackluster electronic albums he’s released in years past. It's for reasons along these lines that it always seemed as though Bowie's downturn was during the '80s, and the Serious Moonlight period to be exact. As hinted at earlier, however, I was oh so wrong.

The concert itself, filmed at Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibit Coliseum, blazes through a set list which touches on hits from all stages of his career; "Life on Mars," "Space Oddity," "Young Americans," and "Golden Years." The concert also highlights "China Girl," "Cat People" and "Let's Dance" from the 1983 Let's Dance album which Bowie was touring in support of at the time. All are played with an energy and bounce that was previously unfamiliar to me when thinking of David Bowie. The backing band for the tour included the late drummer Tony Thompson (Chic, The Power Station), current Saturday Night Live musical director Lenny Pickett and among others, long time Bowie guitarist, Earl Slick.

The supplementary documentary Ricochet follows Bowie through his travels in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. We witness as Bowie immerses himself in the local culture, diving into ancient architecture, opera, cuisine and medicines. What's fascinating is how truly Westernized some parts of Asia were already becoming. Ricochet documents a group of young boys who play in a Bowie tribute band as they try to scrounge enough money to afford to see the show. There are a variety of humorous situations as well. In Singapore, a taxi driver explains how drugs are viewed by the government as horrible enough a crime to merit execution. He further explains to Bowie that chewing gum has been outlawed; culture clash to say the least. Further along, during an interview, Bowie fittingly suggests that he sees himself leaning towards more synthesizer based music in the future. Could 1983 have lead to his downfall after all? Not likely. But for the sake of discussion, and to save face, 1983 was the start of a superstar’s downfall (but not really).

Barb Yuhas (of I Object) Interview

The openly pro-choice, anti-war I Object is a band which looks to perservere within the DIY East Bay scene fueled by the recent release Teaching Revenge. After a bit of a line-up change the band has settled on a solid four piece and are about to embark on a two month tour of Europe. I had the opportunity to ask lead singer Barb a few questions about the European hardcore scene, self-censorship and more.

What is the significance behind the name "I Object?"

Barb: The name I object came from a song but also the significance of the name is that we are a band that is very vocal and outgoing about issues we find important by addressing them thru lyrics and at our shows.

As you're heading overseas for your upcoming tour, do you have any preconceived perceptions about how the hardcore scene overseas differs from that of your East Coast scene?

Barb: We are unsure what to expect from the hardcore punk scene in Europe. We have heard only great things about the treatment and respect of bands visiting there. I've heard there is more of a focus on taking care of bands through preparing vegan food and other ways of appreciation that I think the USA needs to start focusing on more.

The I Object website has a link supportive of Indymedia.com which seems to acknowledge a lot of non-mainstream news stories and your songs have overlying statements confronting and questioning apathy. What differences are there between that of the punk community and others when it comes to activism and voicing personal opinions?

Barb: The DIY scene, be it punk or any other, needs to focus more on communication. The way I was introduced to the DIY punk scene was through activism and punk being intertwined. As I get older I notice mostly they are not connected at all, which is a sad thing. Also I think lyrics sheets are very important and bands are finding less importance in including them in releases. A lot of bands I know who write great meaningful lyrics never speak of them while playing and I think most of that is because of how hard it is to open up to a huge crowd for fear that someone will shoot you down or just talk over you. Public speaking for anyone takes time and it's such an important fear to overcome because music is about the message.

The message touched on in "Lay It Out" explains the album cover in my opinion. Could you explain a little further the statement taken from the I Object website "I have wasted far too much time trying to get my point across without stepping on people's toes and crossing the line?"

Barb: When confronting issues at a show or in a ‘zine I have always thought of a way to address it without upsetting anyone directly. And I have become so fed up with dumbing down my point to cater to those people. Stating a problem and saying this is screwed up and how it shouldn't be tolerated and ways to keep that crap out of our lives isn't an opportunity to put it nicely. The album cover is a great example of it. It’s gory, potentially inappropriate, and has a strong point about bad learned behaviors and how people act how they were taught. And it’s about negative reinforcement. I am sure there will be people who miss the point and thought we were just trying to be 'extra punk' by having a cop being stabbed on the back cover. It's not that at all.

From a musical standpoint, the album squeezes 16 songs into 19 minutes and completely encompasses a traditional hardcore blueprint. Are there any bands currently in the scene that are experimenting with this recipe and finding success by breaking the "mold?" Furthermore, have I Object ever tried to step outside of the conventional sound?

Barb: We definitely end up disregarding how a song should be written part for part. I think as a result of this we appeal to more than just the 'punk scene' and cross over into hardcore elements as well. I find myself relating more to bands lyrically than musically. We tour with bands all the time and the last one was a power violence band which is funny because we were so musically different. We are compared to bands of today sometimes but it's usually on a female vocalist level.

The Subways "Young For Eternity" Review

The Subways are a young band from England that epitomize modern DIY principles. After releasing a series of successful singles and 7"s the band began recording using a home studio and uploading their songs to the internet. Within no time The Subways were being praised by the late John Peel and playing prime festivals like Glastonbury and Reading. Recently the band has found success in America, appearing on The OC on a number of occasions and experiencing a great amount of praise from a stint at SXSW. The three-piece group bring a raw feeling to a familiar sound with Young For Eternity; a strange marriage between Liam Gallagher and The Vines (please don't take offense to either of those references until I can explain myself).

Through the album there comes a feeling that something explosive is coming out of these barely of age rockers (of age in the States at least). It's from this feeling which comes the second of my two references, The Vines. There may not be many people who feel the same way, but when The Vines first hit it big in the States, the band had such a phenomenal sense of power while maintaining an unconcerned, remote profile. The comparison comes before the drugs and booze hit too hard, before the press hard taken their share and before the fans became bored with the MTV darlings that had once had a certain spark. That version of the band is what I hear when I hear Young For Eternity. The Subways grow from a solid bond from within that has allowed them to develop a tight, unbending energy. And for good reason, guitarist and lead vocalist Billy Lunn is engaged to bassist Charlotte Cooper. It was Lunn who started the band with drummer, and half-brother, Josh Morgan. That's what one might call one hell of a closed knit circle.

I found myself in a pub in NYC this January speaking with a few guys who quickly revealed themselves as English. It had always been a question in my head as to whether Oasis was really as big as The Beatles. As the jukebox played on, my new friends' opinions were made clear. Oasis, they told me, were as big as The Beatles. To a generation being raised on Oasis, it might be hard not to find a little Morning Glory flowing through you from time to time. Such is the case with songs like "No Goodbyes" and "Mary" in particular. The latter even sounds like something Gallagher might have penned, creating a story through long drawn-out British wails while blending with the short, choppy Noel-esque strumming. There's a definite maybe (bad joke?) as to whether these similarities are really there or just in my mind, but what is certain is that The Subways deliver an album full of raw youthful energy.