Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Coffee Grinds #7: Gingerbread-Peppermint-Eggnog Twist Flavored Grinds - YUM!

Some seasonal scrapings from the burnt bottom of our coffee pots. Enjoy!

• Please, please stop trying to give old Christmas carols "hip" and "cutting edge" arrangements. I'm not a  purist, it just sounds like crap and never works.

• I'm really tired of indie bands all trying to look like lumberjacks. DUDE. You play a mandolin and you sing about tea cups. You're NOT a lumberjack.

• Q: What' determines if a song is considered "dated" or "definitely of its time"?
  A: Whether the person you ask likes the song.

• Definition of frustration: When you go to buy a personalized keychain or mug, and they have every name under the sun, even the oddball ones, but they don't have yours. "What? They have Glenniford and Glenncort but they don't have Glenn??? What the HELL!"

• Most people believe their intelligence is "above average," which is a statistical impossibility. Also, smart elitists annoy me because I keep thinking that, metaphorically speaking, even the smartest ant on the anthill is still pretty freakin' stupid.

• Last night, my seat on the bus was broken and wouldn't recline, so I asked the bus driver to "pop-a-wheelie" the whole way home.

• Never listen to mean-spirited critics. Most of them have no vision to speak of, and since they can't see yours, they only want to tear it down.

• Dear TV and internet: Please stop asking for my "comments" or "feedback" and acting like you care what I think just because some marketing guru told you that you need to be more "interactive" in the era of social networking. You don't care what we think; I don't care what I think; and I CERTAINLY don't care what Joe Blow down the street thinks.

• Definition of irony: Michele Bachman said she wanted to return "character" to the White House. When asked twice (TWICE!) if she meant to suggest that President Obama lacks character she dodged the question while basically insisting she's a straight shooter of character who "says what she means." Okay, so if you're such a straight shooter who "says what she means" why the hell doesn't she ANSWER THE QUESTION?

• Which reminds me, candidates constantly saying that "people are sick of politics as usual" IS politics as usual.

• 2012 is almost here. Hey Def Leppard! That "Armageddon It" song ain't SO FUNNY NOW is it? IS IT?!?!?!?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Going My Way? We're All Going the Same Way...

Here's the Skye vocal mix of Glenn Page's tune, "Life Goes Past." It's a bit different from the previous versions, and I think the overall mix is a bit better. Let us know what you think!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Somewhere, in an alternate universe, The Beatles stuck it out for one more album. They spent all of 1970 recording, and in 1971 they released the album "Far From the Tree" with this disjointed, but excellent, track listing...

Side 1

1. What Is Life?

2. Jealous Guy

3. It Don't Come Easy

4. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

5. My Sweet Lord

Side 2

1. Maybe I'm Amazed

2. Imagine

3. Mother

4. Isn't It a Pity?

5. Photograph

6. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm Surprised if These Don't Exist

Here's a list of things I made up without checking on the internet. If most of them don't exist somewhere in some form, I'd be very surprised. Some of them I think should exist, if they don't already. Some of them are probably just pretty bad ideas all around.

* A retro 80's metal band called "Snake Oil."

* A cheap knock-off of Eternity Perfume named "A Really Long Time."

* A super-hot hot sauce called "Tongue DEPRESS-er"

* A brand of flat soda sold in an 8 oz. can called "A-Cup"

* A skinhead punk band named "Extreme Prejudice."

* A brand of condoms named "Carrier Barriers."

* A brand of shaving razors called "WHOA! That was CLOSE!"

* A super-caffeinated beverage for students staying up all night to study called "Cram!"

* A comic book about a former member of the military who becomes a superhero and fights for justice using the moniker "Colonel of Truth"

* A series of buttons above your car stereo which, when pushed, dispenses all kinds of snacks and hot or cold beverages in the area by your armrest. It's called "Dashboard Concession-ALL"

* A "deliciously addictive" sugary breakfast cereal named "Crack of Dawn!"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

You're a Poet, and You Didn't Even Realize It!

Have you ever stopped and thought about the way certain words - ones with no apparent etymological connection or shared background - sometimes end up in close proximity to each other over and over mainly due to the fact they just happen to rhyme and both relate to some shared aspect of our experience? I don't mean words that share a root word or words like biology and anthropology which are both fields of study ending in "ology."

I'm talking about words which rhyme AND, through fate or luck or chance, relate closely to the same concept. Pairs like "danger" with 'stranger" (the former is something the latter is likely to be); "float" with "boat" (the latter hopefully does the former); "fire" with "desire" (the latter can rage out of control like the former); and "pestering whore" with "festering sore." (Well, you get the idea.)

What happy accidents these were! How serendipity! No one ever set out - as far as we know - with the intention that vessels that travel on water would rhyme with the thing they need to do. It just worked out that way! And it gave rise to sayings like, "Whatever floats your boat!" I find that pretty damn interesting, myself. Of course, if somehow boats had come to be called "borts" or something like that, we wouldn't have that nifty expression. We'd have to find some other expression to fit the thought, maybe with totally different objects. Or maybe we'd find a different word to rhyme, like "whatever supports your borts!" Similarly, we might use our alternate words for expressions that didn't have (readily apparent) rhymes before. A simple saying like "Ships are safe in harbor," for example, could easily be supplanted with something along the lines of "Keep borts in ports."

Think about how different music would have been if the word for "heart" was "heet"! Instead of "start" and "apart," every damn song would have rhymes like "sweet," "beat" and "when we meet." Obviously, this would become just as annoying as all the "apart" and "start" songs, but I like to imagine these alternate scenarios. Actually, you don't have to imagine - it seems reasonable to assume that different languages have given rise to different cliched rhyming couplets.

What if the English word for "heart" was "orange"???!!!  Then what would we do?!!  Would we all suddenly turn into Rush and only write about stuff like free will and Tom Sawyer and "AWWWW salesman!" because nothing freakin' rhymes with "heart"?  Even Rush would have to change their song to "Closer to the Orange," and that just doesn't have the same ring to it. As it is, we only get two ordinary words that rhyme comfortably with "love" ("glove" and "above"), so we can't really afford to lose "heart" too!

It's also interesting how certain eras bore certain rhyming expressions. For example, no one in the 1800's would have said, "Be cool, stay in school!" because "cool" had not come to be regularly used that way until well into the 1900's. But once it DID happen, we got really COOL rhymes like, "Be cool, fool!" and "Cool is the rule!" Back in the 1800's (if people even cared about rhyming phrases in everyday parlance) we probably had to say stuff like, "Verily, act merrily!" and, man, that's just not cool. Maybe people had to say things like, "Stay temperate, always be a gent" and that's kind of lame. Plus, it's not a very good rhyme.

Thank god someone started using "cool" as a slang word! Do you think he (or she) stopped to think about all the potential rhymes 'cool" would spawn? Maybe he was leaning toward "icy" instead of "cool" but his more forward-thinking buddy said, "Hey, I rule, you drool, so use 'COOL' instead of 'ICY'!" This guy was so prescient that "cool" even rhymes well with slang no one could have anticipated, like "tool" as a pejorative term! Or maybe the person who pioneered the use of "tool" as an insult was equally rhyme-conscious? Either way, how lucky we were to have these amateur Frosts in our midst.

What does this all mean? Not much, I suppose. It's just intriguing how the cosmos played out with regards to language and how easily things could have been different. A little something to chew on the next time Bon Jovi rhymes "fight" with "right" for (seemingly) the one trillionth time.

Later, amphibious reptiles.

Monday, August 29, 2011

American Songwriter Magazine Honorable Mention

Glenn Page is pleased to announce that "My Life in Pictures" won an honorable mention in the September/October issue of American Songwriter Magazine's Amatuer Lyricist contest. This is something they run every other month and we're told they get tons of entries, so let's all congratulate Glenn on his accomplishment! Here are the chosen lyrics:

My Life in Pictures

Verse 1:
I saw your face in a picture frame
Turned around and the scene had changed
One fleeting vision come and gone
I boxed you in and tried to make it last
Spent my days living in the past
Why can’t this river be a pond

Where water portrays an image so clear
Untouched by the waves unbroken by tears

My life In pictures
That's where I long to be
Everything’s perfect
And nothing ever dies
My life in pictures
I'm watching the scenery
And somehow it’s worth it
‘Cause you never say goodbye
Oh, but this ain’t the way I pictured My life

Verse 2
Holding on to a photograph
Wondering what it was that made you laugh
Was it derision? I don’t mind
‘Cause in my head I told a joke
Made you smile with the words I spoke
And we went walking for awhile

Oh, then you took my hand and said you would stay
I can almost believe it happened that way

(Repeat chorus)

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words
Sometimes the words aren’t really true
And even though the camera doesn’t lie
Why’s it telling me / I belong with you?

(Repeat Chorus)
This ain’t the way that I pictured our life
Lyrics Copyright 2008 by Glenn Page
Check out more from Glenn here!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grinds, #1: The Transparent Bid to Boost Sales with a Pointless Reboot and a Snappier, Shorter, "Cooler" Name

* I want a car that's shaped like a blue triangle - so it'll match the little pointer thing on my GPS.

* Speaking of the GPS, when it hasn't been updated and it doesn't know there's a road where I'm driving, I like to look at the little arrow spinning around on a black screen and pretend I'm either (a) 4-wheeling though the woods while campers scream and run for their lives, or (b) on a lost spaceship travelling through the negative zone where there are no stars for millions of light years.

* Newsflash: After issuing a statement that this month's cover photo of Michele Bachmann is not unflattering, Newsweek released a sneak preview of next week's cover, which seems to feature an ailing Alan Greenspan. Oops, sorry, it's Heidi Klum.

* I'm glad that no one has those "baby on board" signs in their car windows anymore. Now I can slam into people with gleeful abandon safe in the knowledge that no infants will be harmed.

* You know things are getting out of hand when Woody Allen movies start getting released in Imax 3-D.

* My plan as a musician is not to create anything meaningful or lasting or important; my plan is that 25 years from now a sudden surge of random nostalgia will kick in and everyone will think I'm alot better than I am, just because they heard me while out on their first date or the first time they made french toast or something. THEN I'll cash in on the never-ending parade of boxsets and deluxe remasters!

* I'm angry, because the salesman SAID he was selling me the whole kit and kaboodle, but when I got home I discovered it was only the whole sha-bang. At least it wasn't the whole 9 yards, then I would have been really mad. Especially since I was buying rulers.

* Saw a commercial this morning in which 2 cheerleaders (via bad special effects) literally catapult a third cheerleader over an orbiting space shuttle! A tiny disclaimer at the bottom said - I'm not lying - "Do not attempt." Thank god they stopped me. ‎"I think we can make it this time guys... if we try just a LITTLE HARDER... here we GO... HUMMMMMMMMMMMMPH!!!!! Ah, damn. Still a few million miles short."

* Here's a game I never understood: Flashlight tag. How do you win? I don't think Carl Lewis in his prime could have done it. "HA HA! I GOTCHA!" "Aw, sh*t! I couldn't outrun a beam of light... I suck!"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Coffee Grinds Part 5: A New Beginning (More Random Gunk Scraped from Our Coffee Pots)

* My idea for a detective show: A mother who has a hit cooking program and her chef daughter who runs a restaurant get involved in murder cases and decide to open a detective agency on the side - It's called "Hard Boiled." (as in "hard boiled detectives.") Okay, it's not the best.

* Aren't you tired of people walking around at work with (just) t-shirts, shorts, sneakers and no socks? Okay, I dress "casual," but there's a difference between "casual" and DRESSED LIKE YOU'RE GOING TO A GODDAMN PHISH CONCERT.

* If someone at Nick Jr. or Cartoon Network or Disney isn't developing an animated series called "Baby Gaga - The Young Adventures of Lady Gaga" then someone's not doing their job.

* I just traversed the fabled "Perilous Gauntlet of Trying to Avoid Eye Contact with Strangers" - otherwise known as the excessively narrow hallways at work.

* ‎THE PERFECT SONG: After years of research - across hundreds of cultures and social strata - a top team of MRI specialists, biologists, neurologists, psychologists and physiologists have scientifically proven that the human brain recognizes one series of pitches as the perfect melody - and it belongs to "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora. After announcing their findings, they killed themselves in a mass suicide pact.

* Modern-Day Afflictions, #478 - Acute Green-Recyclo-Complex:- The paralyzing fear that someone will spot you putting your empty carton of apple juice in the wrong recycling bin because you can't figure out which of 46 garbage cans is the right one to put it in to, or, even worse, that they'll spot you giving up and running into the bathroom where the cannisters have no marking for recycling.

* Here's an argument that never seems to persuade me: "Well, they said the same thing when we were kids, and LOOK AT ME, I turned out FINE!!!"

* Which do you suppose is ugliest: a face that could stop a clock, a face made for radio, or a face only a mother could love?

* 311th Law of Pop Music, sub-dictum k: Approximately 47.6 percent of all pop songs you hear and immediately go, "GOD! This song SUCKS!!!" are the same songs that, in three weeks time, you will be telling anyone who'll listen, "You KNOW, this song has REALLY grown on ME!" as you play drums on your steering wheel and crank it loud enough to render people deaf three counties away.

* Just think - 5 years ago, before I had a facebook account, I would have had to make it through the entire day WITHOUT knowing what that guy I worked with at Pizza Hut for three weeks in 1986 is having for lunch today. I shudder just thinking about it...

* Actually, THIS is the alternate universe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

10 Types of Open Mic Performers You're Sure to Encounter

1. OVERPLAYED CLASSIC ROCK GUY - Sure, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, James Taylor and Van Morrison are legends. But enough is enough! You might think you've heard "Brown Eyed Girl" or "Carolina in My Mind" enough to last you 889 lifetimes and a few millennia into your final death, but this guy sure as hell doesn't think so - you need to hear them a few thousand more times! Who cares if there are literally thousands of well-known, phenomenal songs in the history of Western music? Let's break out "Ohio" or "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" one more time! Yes, when you hear those wailing, plaintive harmonica notes, you know yet another rendition of "Heart of Gold" is on the way, tempting you to dunk your face directly into your scalding-hot, overpriced coffee drink.

Performing Skill: 6 out of 10
Creativity: 2 out of 10
Crowd Approval: 8 out of 10

2. WAILING, JAZZY, SUNDRESS GIRL - Holy crap! This girl can really sing! This open-mic performer is blessed with an amazing set of pipes and, by god, she's not afraid to use 'em. Her pitch is dead on, and she effortlessly belts out standards like "At Last" and "Unforgettable" LOUD ENOUGH to blow down the back wall of the coffee house. She's humble and sweet and makes you want to slit your wrists for ever thinking you could warble your way through any song with more than a 3 whole-step range. You won't mind the loud singing, but you may not hear the oncoming traffic as you walk home later in the evening.

Performing Skill: 9 out of 10
Creativity: 6 out of 10
Crowd Approval: 10 out of 10

3. RAMBLING, QUITE POSSIBLY MENTALLY ILL GUY - This is the "musician" that gets up and "sings" three "songs" which are completely atonal - and not in an experimental avant-garde sort of way. In fact, the words sound more like someone reading the local paper's editorial section backwards. Come to think of it, there's a good chance that's what it is. This fellow is the single most powerful argument against the democracy of the open mic, but no one will say anything because, well, they're scared sh*tless.

Performing Skill: 10 out of 10 - in creeping people out
Creativity: Maroon out of Chimpanzee
Crowd Approval: N/A - More like abject terror mixed with a singular desire to avoid eye contact.

4. THE BAD CHECKS - Three self-involved musicians and/or singers (x, y, and z) who arrive together and, by going up individually AND in every possible combination (x plays guitar while y sings; y and z both sing with no x; all three go up together, etc. etc.), manage to keep coming back, thereby turning the three-song-per-artist limit into a four-hour (albeit spread-out) Springsteen-final-night-at-the-Garden-length extravaganza.

Performing Skill: 5 out of 10 - but only when you add the three together.
Creativity: 3 out of 10
Crowd Approval: 7 for the first set, plummets to 2 by the time they hit the stage for the 6th or 7th time.

5. AMERICAN IDOL WANNA-BE - Her friends told her she should be on Idol! Her mom told her she should be on Idol! Her teachers told her she should be on Idol! There's only one small problem: She sucks. And you're the only one who knows it, so you get to listen to her bleating "Jesus Take the Wheel" heinously off-key to a grand total of 8 people (three who are her relatives).

Performing Skill: 1 out of 10
Creativity: Negative 8 out of 10
Ego: 578 out of 10
Crowd Approval: 7 out of 10, except for you

6. DEADHEAD OUT-OF-TIME - He's a young man of only 17, decked out in flip-flops, cargo shorts and a tie-dyed t-shirt. He sports trendy, barely-there facial hair, smells vaguely like oregano, and while he does enjoy more recent jam-band Phish, his heart truly belongs to the Dead. How this is possible, no one knows, considering the band passed their artistic zenith almost 25 years before he was born, but there he is, trotting out such chestnuts as "Casey Jones," "Ripple" and "Uncle John's Band." No "Shakedown Street," though.

Performing Skill: That's not what it's ABOUT, MANNNN
Creativity: Depends on what sort of a night he's having
Crowd Approval: 10 if they had some, er, "oregano" earlier that evening. 4 if not.

7. THE POET - Ah, yes, we DO all try to indulge the poet, don't we? Haha! That cute little limerick about coffee was sort of cute, but uh oh, now he's doing his magnum opus... oh no... he's got reams and reams of pages... how long does this thing go on? Are we going on 10 minutes for one poem here? Is this supposed to be profound? I guess that part was important, he just used a really bad curse word... oh, there it is again. Maybe it's the name of the poem. Sigh. What's all this stuff about birds in maple syrup? Man, I really need to read more poetry... maybe I'd appreciate this stuff more...people are laughing, I guess THEY get it. Damn it!

Performing Skill: 7 out of 10
Creativity: 8 out of 10
Crowd Approval: 8 out of 10, because we don't want to look like idiots

8. MEGA-MONSTER-EXTENDED -VERSION GUY: Closely related to The Bad Checks (See #4), this is the cat who was told there's a "three song limit." (as opposed to a time limit) so he's going to turn every song into "Inna Gada Davida," even if it kills him and you. Sure you'll be sitting there thinking, "I could have sworn `Take It Easy" only has 3 verses, not 27," but that's your tough luck.

Performing Skill: 5 out of 10
Creativity: 2 out of 10
Crowd Approval: They're usually on the verge of rioting by verse 22

9. INSTRUMENTAL GUY - With rapturous intensity and a nuanced touch, he executes beautifully sculpted and tender lead lines on his classical guitar, breathing new life into vintage melodies. With each delicate note, some say it's as if this virtuoso is channeling the gods of music themselves. In other words, bathroom break.

Performing Skill: Off the charts
Creativity: 10 out of 10
Crowd Approval:  6 out of 10, the philistines

10. THE SENSITIVE SOUL - He trots out every top 40 love song (or quasi-love song) from the last 10 years - stuff like "You're Beautiful", "Your Body Is a Wonderland", and "Apologize." If things get really rough, he'll whip out a "She Will Be Loved." Anything with the wavering, aching falsetto in the chorus will do, really. As long as it gets him laid.

Performing Skill: 9 out of 10
Creativity: 1 out of 10
Crowd Approval: 10 out of 10 (women) 0 out of 10 (men)

Photo by: Brian Richardson

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Special Guest Blog: Leo Zaccari Reviews "Crows and Doves" by Rabbit Velvet

Track Listing:

Right Now
The Sun Rose Grey
Flying Over London
Haarlem Haunt
Beautiful Things
Love Everlasting
Blue Waves
Out of the Rain
Twilight to Sunrise
Anything Else
Pearl Diver

Rabbit Velvet is the newest project by Danielle Kimak Stauss, formerly of the band The Lost Patrol. A word of caution: this is not an album that you throw on and listen to while you clean your room or balance your checkbook. No, this is a well-crafted masterpiece that demands your undivided attention. The album unfolds like a psychological thriller; like imaginative faeries from some aquamarine universe constructing a lush heavenly daydream filled with shimmering rain storms and ruled by a stunning muse.

“Crows and Doves” opens with a blaring klaxon which creates a sense of urgency that is offset by the relaxed sweet rhythms of “Right Now”. Stauss spells out C-A-R-P-E –D-I-E-M juxtaposed with an up tempo drum beat that suggests a carefree attitude but belies a darker hidden tone. Why are we living for today? Is it because something bad is about to happen tomorrow? And did that shadow just move?

The album slithers on to “The Sun Rose Grey”, a surreal blend of Lalo Schifrinesque spy guitar entangled in a cocoon of synth and driven by relentless staccato percussion. It’s one of the many songs that you will want to enjoy again and again.

The horns of “Flying Over London” signal a departure of sound and tone. One gets the feeling of absolute freedom while soaring over a sleepy London at daybreak before the city awakens to the quiet desperation of every day life.

Another standout is “Haarlem Haunt”, a dark love song where Stauss’ vocals are a wraithlike delicacy that nimbly lure you deep into a fever dream from which you will never want to leave.

“Twilight to Sunrise” sounds like the angelic lost companion to “Days of Future Passed”, happily nestled between “Forever Afternoon” and “Time to Get Away”. Although this album does not quite have the magnificent scope of “Days”, the creative energy and the sheer opulence of Stauss’ voice makes up for the lack of an orchestra. Her vocals are pure shadowy liquid passion, like a thing alive; haunting, seductive and elusive.

There is so much to enjoy on this album. Stauss has created a brilliant work that harkens back to a time when people sat and listened to an album. So if you are looking for an album to listen to, and I mean really listen to, the way people used to sit down and listen to a vinyl record; then this album is for you.

More About Rabbit Velvet!

-Leo Zaccari teaches History at Brookdale Community College, Kean University, and Ocean County College. He once knew someone who once knew David Bowie. In his spare time he writes. A lot.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gee, That Sounds Familiar... (The Four Songs)

Speaking as an amateur musicologist, I'd like to share with you a fun little piece of music knowledge. In fact, not a lot of people know this, but every song ever written - EVER - is basically a variation of four songs that already exist. They are (in no particular order) as follows:

* Maple Leaf Rag - Scott Joplin
* Symphony #40 in G Minor (Molto Allegro) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
* Disco Duck - Rick Dees
* Greensleeves - Traditional

Yes, it's true. Any song you can name can be traced directly to one of these four songs. "Ramblin' Man" by the Allmans? Greensleeves with a little hick attitude. "Too Shy" by Kajagoogoo? It's clearly the Maple Leaf Rag with spikier hair and nifty synthesizers. AHHHH, you hear it now that I've pointed it out, don't you? It's so obvious in retrospect.

It should be noted that some esteemed music theorists have argued that "Missing" by Everything But the Girl needs to be added to the list, but those people are major sh*theads, because that song is really just Mozart's Symphony played backwards (badly) with dumb lyrics.

Now that you know this amazing fact you can whip it out at your next party to stun and amuse your friends - instead of whipping out what you usually do to stun and amuse them.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Review: Duran Duran, "All You Need Is Now" (What's the Date Again? 1981 or Thirty Years on?)

AWWWWWWWWWWWW YEAH!!!! Look out you Lumineer-lovin' mother-****s, because Duran MOTHER-F-ING DURAN are back, and you better SAVE A PRAYER because they're breaking out the blue eyeliner and their big, billowy, new romantic shirts just so they can ride gigantic new-wave YACHTS straight through your indie-music-addled mother-f***ing BRAIN!!!!!!!!! 


Okay, maybe I'm getting a little carried away here, especially since Duran Duran themselves are now technically an "indie" band (LeBon has even grown the de rigueur beard). I can’t help it though; after listening to their 2011 album, "All You Need Is Now," I'm left with the vivid impression that the original wild boys feel like they've got something major to prove this time around. Not that they don't always try to kick a little musical booty, but with the release of "All You Need Is Now" they seem like a band with a renewed sense of purpose who - dare I say it? - sound HUNGRY. (Get it? Hungry? GET IT?????)

From listening to recent interviews, this newfound focus appears to be the direct result of the band - with the additional guidance of producer and avowed DD fan Mark Ronson - playing to their core songwriting strengths while muting the label-mandated trend-chasing that all but sunk recent efforts like 2007's "Red Carpet Massacre." Ronson's stated intent going into this project was to craft an imaginary follow-up to the album that, for many, remains Duran Duran's commercial and artistic zenith, "Rio." (I think he also went out and beat up RCM co-producer Justin Timberlake for good measure.) 

So the question is, did Ronson succeed in his goal? Well no, not exactly, but you know what? It doesn't even matter because "All You Need Is Now" is an album that sounds less like the imaginary sequel to "Rio" ("Circus Circus"?) and more like a bunch of songs written specifically FOR "Rio" or the debut album. A lot of the musical DNA is the same; you've got beautiful minor-key chord progressions swathed around melancholy melodies. You've got semi-cryptic lyrics from Simon. You've got weird-ass s**t burbling out of Nick's synthesizer. You've got John's bass going BOINK!!! Da-BOINK!!! BOINNNNK!!!!!!!!!! every three seconds like it's threatening to f**k Roger if he gets too close. And baby, this is all good news. Well, maybe not for Roger, but you get the idea.

At least half the songs here call to mind specific tracks from the band's early years: "Girl Panic!" echoes the hedonistic pulse of (naturally) "Girls on Film," right down to the dramatic synthesizer blasts and tribal drum fills; "The Man Who Stole a Leopard" and "Before the Rain" recall the eerie creep of "The Chauffeur"; "Being Followed" and "Blame the Machines" mirror the sci-fi-ish dread of "Planet Earth"; "Runway Runaway" and "Too Bad You're So Beautiful" race along on the same currents as "Rio"; and "Leave a Light on" is the obvious love-child of the one-night-stand in "Save a Prayer."

What saves most of these tunes from being mere knock-offs though, is the sheer kick-assed-ness of the Durans' songwriting chops, which Ronson has shoved squarely to the forefront here. "Being Followed", for example, is quite possibly the coolest song Duran Duran has written in, oh, 5,000 new moons. "Before the Rain" is downright haunting, teeming with sadness, loss and regret (even if I don't know what the frig it's about exactly - death? depression? a long line at the drive-through?). These aren't some wishy-washy watered-down rewrites; these are modern-day counterparts that stand proudly on their own.

Granted, one could argue that "All You Need Is Now" does lack a certain thematic cohesiveness, with the feel of each song vacillating wildly from track to track. Hell, "Other People's Lives," which comes immediately after the dreamily seductive "Man Who Stole a Leopard," (one of the album's highlights) is practically PUNK ROCK, for Christ's sake. (Well, as close as Duran Duran gets to punk rock, that is. We're not talking the Exploited here.) While some may see this as a negative, let me explain why the album's eclecticism works in the band's favor. 

Duran Duran's 1981 debut was bound together by the icy waves of claustrophobic new-wave noir washing over its eight tracks, while "Rio" sustained a quasi-religious exoticism for the duration of the album (translation: it's about chasing hot chicks through the jungle). The new album, on the other hand, is ostensibly about "living in the moment" and coping with the modern world, but actually functions as more of a Duran Duran smorgasbord. The album succeeds because whatever they sacrificed in terms of consistency of mood and color they more than made up for by letting us gorge ourselves on a big, messy sampler platter of their all-time tastiest home-cooked recipes and treats. And there is definitely A LOT to dig into on this album. (“Is anybody HUNGREEEE???”)

Okay, so what's NOT so good here? Hmmmm...well, while there are no outright stinker-oo's on the album, I do have a few minor quibbles. For one, I'm not that crazy about "Safe (in the Heat of the Moment)," which sounds like one of those tunes that Simon and company whip out whenever they're trying to prove they're the world's most awesomest dance band, or something. It features Anna Matronic (of the Scissor Sisters) doing a cute little rap that she intones like the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish singing bass ("What if it were YOU hanging on this wall? What if it were YOU; you wouldn't be laughing at ALLLLLL...") and kind of feels like a late 80's outtake with more cutting edge production. That said, I know there are a lot of fans who enjoy this sort of thing and the song is inoffensive enough. I suppose the next time I'm dropping E at a club in Ibiza at 4 in the morning it'll do just fine. 

"Mediterranea," another track that never quite clicks for me, is the one song on the album which probably hews a little TOO closely to the early Duran Duran formula. For whatever reason, I just can't stop thinking of "Save a Prayer" whenever it comes up in my player. In fact, it vaguely reminds me of one of those production CD's where musicians emulate popular bands just so the owners of Jimmy's All-You-Can-Eat Crab Strip CafĂ© can rip off "Hungry Like the Wolf" without getting their asses sued. "Mediterranera" isn't bad, per se; it just never really "burns the ground" and it's one of the weaker cuts here.

But screw that! Let's not dwell on a few minor missteps when we've got almost an hour's worth of awesomely revitalized Duran Duran music. YEEEEE-HAAAAAAAAA! You can tell the guys put a lot of blood, sweat and runny mascara into this one, and it makes for a seriously rewarding listen that stands up to multiple plays. You seriously got to hand it to them; despite the naysayers and critics calling them empty-headed mannequins and trying to get them to lay down and die for THIRTY YEARS, Duran Duran keep swinging, keep fighting, keep trying to prove their artistic worth and relevance. And I say more power to them. F**k the critics.

Besides, mannequins never really DO die, do they?

*** ½ (three-and-a-half out of five stars)

Notable Tracks: "Being Followed," "Girl Panic!", "The Man Who Stole a Leopard," "Runway Runaway," "Before the Rain."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Coffee Grinds, Part IV (In Which We Fight the Russian Coffee in a Taste Challenge)

Another generous serving of random gunk scraped from the bottom of our ever-brewin' coffee pots!

* Things that Puzzle Me, #237: The filmmakers who think a dubious pedigree will entice me to rent their latest lame movie... "From the Co-Producers of 'Furry Vengeance' and one of the writers of "Sorority Boys 2" comes... TOTAL S**TFEST!!!!" Yeah, I'm all over that.

* There will never be a "next Beatles" (or Michael Jackson, or Elvis, or whoever) until people realize the "next Beatles" wouldn't sound LIKE the Beatles.

* I love the pitter patter of the rain on the windows... It means the neighbors won't hear me stealing stuff from their toolshed.

* If we were all brains in jars, people would start worrying who had the biggest, shiniest jar and wondering if they could have work done on their saggy frontal lobe.

* I'm sorry, but this is is what we'll be doing for the time being. I always do things for the Time Being, because I'm afraid he'll cast us back into ancient Rome where we'd have to fight to the death like gladiators or something.

* I was thinking today how awesome it would be if obituaries were honest: "Marty Shnookmeyer died today. He was a real a-hole and most people won't miss him. And he owes me 50 bucks."

* You know you're old when you go to complain how bad music is "nowadays" and you single out bands that hasn't even been considered "nowadays" since like 2004, at the latest. "GOD, THESE KIDS WITH THEIR... THEIR... SUM 41 AND EVANESCENCE!! WHAT ARE THEY LISTENING TO???!?"

* Laws of Work, #786, AKA: "First Rule of Ironic Inverted Response to Workload": Someone asking you to do 100 things when you're busy ALL DAY is 100 times LESS annoying than someone asking you to do ONE tiny little thing when you're completely bored and looking out the window. "OH COME ON!!!! THIS GUY WANTS ME TO BRING HIM A FILE!!!! RIGHT WHEN I WAS ABOUT TO GET MY FIFTH CUP OF COFFEE!!!! COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

* Regarding the bathroom stalls at work: I'd love to know who the geniuses are who keep leaving their ten page "book reports" (or whatever the hell they are) in the slot for disposable toilet seat covers. (A) I don't want to read that garbage and (B) They can't carry it five feet to the garbage can when they come out of the stall?

* Have you noticed that whenever someone else starts singing "Happy Birthday" and you try to join in that it's always in some insane key you would never sing it? "What the hell is this? A Flat??? Come ON!!! I'm a C sharp man..."

* 16th Law of Pop Music Irony, subset axiom f: Every huge band that suffers a backlash and is decried as supremely uncool will eventually (after a period that is 9.5 times the length of their chart reign) be re-evaluated and hailed as "cool" again by hipsters and original fans alike.

* ‎100 % true story: My girlfriend and I just had a fierce debate over whether OJ should have no pulp or a little bit of pulp. I was on the side of no pulp, and it went something like this: "No pulp!" "A little bit of pulp!" "No pulp!" "A little bit of pulp!" Finally I had to say, "What we have here is clearly a case of pulp friction."

* Culinary Mysteries: (1) Cereal tastes better when cold milk dribbles down your chin. (2) PB&J sandwiches taste better cut in half. (3) Yogurt tastes better in a single-serve cup rather than scooped from a tub. (4) Revenge is a dish best served cold, maybe with a side of lightly steamed veggies, and preferably a red wine.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Critics Are Raving: "HOLY CRAP!!! This Guy is TERRIBLE!!!!"

Press Release from Glenn Page Music, for immediate release:

All 27 of Glenn's Albums have been digitally remixed and remastered and are READY TO BE LAUNCHED on an unsuspecting and unreceptive public!!!!

The critics (especially those coprorate whores over at Rolling Stone)cried,"NOOOOOOOO! GOD, NOOOOOOOO, YOU SADISTS!!!" - but we did it anyway! That's right; all 27 of Glenn's Albums have been digitally remastered and are going BACK INTO PRINT!!!!

Our "Glenn-storians" have been working tirelessly around the clock (Hey, we're in a recession, people take whatever work they can get) to complete this comprehensive (but musically incomprehensible) deluxe remixing, repackaging, and re-issuing of Glenn's TWENTY-SEVEN legendary albums! WOO-HOOO!!!

Yes, even the cruddy out-of-print ones that really sucked or the ones Glenn recorded when he was SUPER high and thought he was turning into a giant golden bird are all HERE!!! Remember when Glenn thought it was a good idea to cover the sweet ballad "Waterloo Sunset" and turn it into some unholy crunk-techno-fusion thing??? YUP! It's here, and thanks to the miracle of digital remastering it's even more noxious and in-your-face than ever.

Mark your calendars, because you won't want to be anywhere NEAR a record store or digital downloading service when All 27 of these babies flood the market this summer and then clog up your local bargain bins for years and YEARS to come. Yes, these are dark, dark days for the music industry, my friends; it's really come to this.

Here's a full list of Glenn Page albums getting the royal re-issue treatment!

1. Meet Glenn Page! (1965)
2. It's That Crazy Glenn Glenn Sound (1965)
3. Here's Glenn Page! (1965)
4. Ding! Time for Glenn (1965)
5. Glenn, Glenn, GLENN! (1966)
6. Groovin' with Glenn - Again (1966)
7. Surfy Wurfy (1967)
8. Glenn Page: Sorry, You Can't Get a Restraining Order to Stop Me from
Releasing Albums (1967)
9. Glenn Page: Babe, I Feel Like Wearin' a Tuxedo on the Album Cover (1968)
10. Flaxen Flute and the Coconut Carnival of Love Bursts (1968)
11. Glenn Page: One Non-Charting Single and 14 So-So Album Tracks (1969)
12. Glenn's Revenge (1970)
13. LIVER THAN LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (1970)
14. Smoke Signals from the Weeping Valley of the Wounded Wolf: Songs from a
Higher Consciousness (1972)
15. Bored Waitress Refilling My Coffee in a Dusty Brown Cafe (1973)
16..GLENN-ZY! (1975)
17. Hey, I Was Born by the Gritty Part of the Jersey Shore Too, Ya Know (1976)
18. Glow Stick (1979)
19. Robot Crying Nuclear Tears (1981)
20. Sharkz at the P-a-a-a-a-a-rty! (1985)
21. Maturity (1988)
22. Glug (1993)
23. Paging the Hits: 30 Years of Glenn Page (1995)
24. Torn from the Pages: Unplugged and Way Too Talky (1998)
25: Can't Do Anything Else at This Point (2002)
26: A Page of History: The Overblown and Unwarranted Anthology (2005)
27: i-Phoenix (2008)*

And don't forget, ALL these albums feature liner notes jam-packed with revisionist musical history that makes Glenn second only to The Beatles, plus a buttload of BONUS tracks culled from the original masters (masters which Glenn would surely have tried to burn in the street back in the day if he'd known anyone would have had the utter audacity to tack them onto the ass-end of his albums, thereby tilting the overall quality balance from "passable" to "pretty freakin' dire.")

In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait for these 27 smoking hot re-issues to hit the stores and burn them down with the SHEER FORCE OF THEIR BLAZING AWESOMENESS, well, you can always stop by Glenn's channel and groove to some of his more recent tracks like "Doggy Lullaby," "Cosmic Orphans," "The Face," or "Run."

But buy the reissues too! Glenn's 5000-cookies-a-week lifestyle isn't cheap, ya know.

And don't forget, Glenn has even MORE new music on the way in 2011! (This guy doesn't know when to quit.) So tell your friends! Tell your mom! Tell your dealer! Tell your mom's dealer! And SUBSCRBE (If you haven't already) to Glenn Page's music channels:

Glenn's YouTube Channel

Glenn's Facebook Channel


Glenn Page Music and Chloe the Chihuahua Industries, Inc.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Quick Swim in the Sea of Music with Nick "Sea of Otters" Ciavatta

* Borrowed from sister blog, Tune Tipster! *

If you only know Nick Ciavatta from his many appearances in bars and clubs throughout New York and New Jersey, you could certainly be forgiven for thinking that the singer/songwriter's speaking voice is as booming loud and in-your-face as his performing voice. In truth, the impressive way Ciavatta has, for over twenty years, utilized his industrial-strength vocal cords to belt out sardonic songs about prima-donna-ish rock stars and lawn-obsessed misanthropes belies the soft-spoken and gregarious personality lurking beneath the surface.

Talking to him in person, one quickly realizes that Ciavatta is about as friendly and down-to-earth as they come, and it's easy to hear why people are eager to recruit his rich, warm tone for everything from Sears and Clear Eyes commercials to voiceovers for the Charlie Rose show. He is, however, an artist first and foremost- one who's not only out there performing his own stuff, but also playing midwife to other up-and-coming musicians by interviewing them on his website or featuring them at his weekly open-mic show in Jersey City.

In the spirit of that generosity, we asked Nick to share some of his songwriting methods and insights with Tune Tipster. Here's what he had to say:

Tune Tipster: Your songs have been described as a mix of folk and punk. Is that blend intentional? Do you find that to be an apt description?

Nick Ciavatta: I’m not sure if anything about my songs is intentional-they are all just happy accidents, as far as I’m concerned. As far as a label for my music goes, it’s been described as Folk/Punk, Alternative Funk, and even Alt Pop. I like to think of my style as “Experimental Uptown Jugband Stomp.”

TT: OK, that's one I've never heard - definitely sounds like a niche genre. (Laughs.) Okay, well, how about your lyrics? They seem to be far more thought-provoking and satirical than the average rock song. Where do most of your lyrical ideas originate?

NC: Thanks. To be honest, I really wish I knew where they came from. Not to sound mystical or anything, but after I write a song I often wonder where the hell it came from. I ask myself, “Did I really write that?” I wrote a song called “Disclaimer” years ago and didn’t realize until relatively recently that the song was actually about myself and this phase in my life. Pretty freaky, huh?

TT: Very freaky! So, do you write your lyrics before the music, vice versa, or both at the same time?

NC: That’s a great question, and it varies. For the most part, I mess around with a musical theme and then write the lyrics-usually in a 20 minute session. But, I’ve also written entire songs in my head before I even pick up an instrument, which sounds more impressive than it actually is. I’ve also set my poetry to music as well, so I guess the short answer is that it varies.

TT: Have you ever had to throw away or re-work words you really loved simply because they weren't gelling with the music?

NC: Absolutely-I’ve actually had to scrap entire songs because I didn’t think they were any good, or perhaps they sounded too much like another song. I’ve probably scrapped as many tunes as I’ve kept. I find that I am more focused now than I was when I was younger and tend to only write when I really feel that I have something interesting to say.

TT: With that in mind, how do you know when you've written a good song? What do you consider the finest song you've ever written, and why?

NC: Wow-that’s a tough one. I’d like to say that I judge a song by audience response, but there’s more to it than that. When I debut a song at a gig and I don’t get fruit thrown at me, I consider it a win. Other than that, it really just goes by the way I feel when I play it. If it feels good to me, it’s a keeper. I think, and some may disagree, that the finest song I’ve ever written is “Anti-Social Butterflies” because I think almost anyone can relate to it, and it feels really good when I play it.

TT: Do you set aside time to write, or is it pretty much whenever inspiration strikes?

NC: I wish I could be so organized, but it really is whenever inspiration strikes. Unfortunately my muse keeps strange hours.

Find more artists like Nick Ciavatta at Myspace Music

TT: While I agree that "Anti-Social Butterflies" is your finest moment, I think "Dressing Room" is probably your "poppiest" song - in the best possible way. Did you make a conscious decision to write a more accessible tune, or was it merely a happy accident, as you say? Do you ever set out to write a "hit" song, for lack of a better word?

NC: Believe it or not, I actually wrote “Dressing Room” in the actual dressing room at CBGG’s in NYC many years ago. There was another band in there that was going on before us and they spent about an hour doing their hair and makeup; yes, it was at the tail end of the hair metal days. They looked very glam, but forgot to tune their instruments, and thus sounded like crap. I wrote that song about them and other musicians who care more about fame and getting laid than their music. I don’t think I’ve ever set out to write a “hit”, but I would be thrilled if one of my songs achieved such status. I think the closest song I have to a hit would be “Life Without Pills” which everyone seems to love and request.

TT: Lots of your songs have unusual chord sequences and unique chord configurations. Is that the Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart fan in you, or is it something else?

NC: Another great question! I suppose I am influenced by Zappa, who was brilliant, but I was writing songs before I really got in to Zappa or Beefheart. I was influenced by bands like Queen, King Crimson and the Beatles and Stones as a young guitarist. I would have to say the two biggest influences on my guitar style would be my Uncle, Ren Selvaggio, who was my first guitar teacher and mentor as a child. He was a jazz player in the style of Django Reinhardt or Les Paul, and I think that’s where I first learned about strange and wonderful guitar chords. My other mentor as a child was Buzz De John, who helped me refine my style. I owe a lot to both of them, and learned a lot, not just about music, but life in general from them.

TT: You used to play a lot of shows on the Jersey shore, but now you're primarily based in New York and Jersey City. Do you find a difference in the feel of the crowds? Has it forced you to alter your material or your playing in any way?

NC: I did play a lot on the Jersey Shore and in NYC and Hoboken back then and I love all the crowds. The great thing about the NYC, Jersey City, and Asbury Park music scenes is that the crowds are so open-minded and accepting of original music. I haven’t had to change a thing about the way I play, and wouldn’t even if I were asked to.

TT: Will Sea of Otters (Ciavatta's band before he went solo) ever "swim" again?

NC: We actually are currently swimming under the name “New Otter Review” these days, which features Pat Lally, my cousin and partner in crime on guitar and vocals. Pat was in Sea of Otters and we have thought about doing a Sea of Otters reunion show with former members in the near future. Keep checking Friggin Fabulous Radio Dot Com for updates!

TT: Don't worry, we've got it in our favorites. (Laughs.) Finally, what's the best advice you can give up-and-coming songwriters?

NC: My advice is to network, network, network! Use My Space, Facebook, YouTube and Linked In to your advantage and find someone that is dedicating to constantly updating your social networking status. It’s also helpful to hook up with a great publicity firm such as Cyber PR, who will work really hard to get your name out there. Oh, and get your music on a Ford or Campbell’s Soup commercial as soon as you can!

Find out more about all things Ciavatta here!