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"I wanted to step inside of the speakers and be that guitar sound somehow. Keith Richards and George Harrison, playing the Carl Perkins stuff."
--Anna Kramer
CD Reviews
The Bangles @ Variety Playhouse, 04/11/15 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steven Seachrist   
Guess how many years it's been since the Bangles re-formed after a 10-year hiatus? Wrong.  It's been 15 years. That means it is 25 years since they broke up in the first place. Is that possible? Is it possible they are still joyously making energetic power pop music for sold out crowds? Happily, the answers to those questions are yes.

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Dick Diver - Melbourne, Florida PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sven Gladray   
ImageDick Diver
Melbourne, Florida
[Trouble in Mind]

Get It at Amazon

I avoided this album for weeks thanks to the profoundly stupid band name – the same reason I’ve yet to give Diarrhea Planet a fair shake. My bad.

If asked to guess what kind of music a band called Dick Diver might make, well crafted jangle pop probably wouldn’t be among my first dozen tries. Nor would the quartet’s genealogy lead to such a conclusion; Bassist Al Montfort also plays in garagey post-punk outfits Total Control and UV Race, and producer Mikey Young (of the wonderful Eddy Current Suppression Ring) has become something of a Steve Albini-level standard bearer for the Australian DIY scene. All of which makes Melbourne, Florida a disarming surprise of the finest sort.

Melbourne, Florida is actually Dick Diver’s third LP. The last, 2013’s Calendar Days, was shortlisted for one of Australia’s top music prizes, yet this new one sounds like the breakthrough. This time out the quartet seamlessly works in horns and vintage synth washes, coming across as polished while never crossing the line into glossy. Drummer Stephanie Young’s voice helps in this regard – she contributes sublime harmonies yet her two lead turns (“Leftovers” and the Mo Tucker-esque closer “View from a Shakey Ladder”) reveal a strong accent and a timbre untrained enough to mark Dick Diver as staunch independents.

So do their lyrics. “There’s sick on your lapel, Daddy-O. That’s confidence,” sings one of their guitarists, Rupert Edwards or Alistair McKay (I’m not even going to pretend to guess which) on the acerbic “Percentage Points.” Or “You wake up wanting/ To be Tonya Harding” (I’m not sure why) on “Competition,” to an organ-drenched backdrop. It’s the most disquieting and trippiest track here, but no less compelling.

Elsewhere, the goods are delivered more smoothly. “Year In Pictures” is the best Crowded House song of the past 20 years, with a dollop of You Am I’s lost classic rumination on suburban ennui Hourly, Daily thrown in for good measure. The piano progression on “Private Number” sounds straight from the minor key Todd Rundgren songbook, and the drum-free “Blue Time” plays like a Chris Bell coda from Big Star’s #1 Record.

In other words, the overall package is reminiscent of the New Pornographers’ (or more accurately, solo spinoff AC Newman’s) paeans to a 1970s AM radio nirvana that in reality never existed. Other sound reference points would be Teenage Fanclub or Sloan – bands housing four songwriters, operating within a seamless framework of effortless sophistication.

That’s a lot of namedrops for one review, but my point is that they’re all good ones. Dive on in – the water’s fine.
Georgia Film News 04/15/15 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Clark   
ImageBall Ground, Georgia will apparently stand in for Mena, Arkansas in the new movie Mena, a true story set in the 1980s starring Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who becomes a drug smuggler for the Medellin cartel and later provides intel for the DEA and CIA. Doug Liman is directing, with Sarah Wright Olsen (Marry Me, Parks and Recreation) starring as Seal’s wife Lucy and Jayma Mays (Glee) playing Dana Sibota, Assistant Attorney General of Arkansas. Surrounding locations in Cherokee County are expected to be used as well, in addition to spots in Pickens County and Roswell. Production looks to begin in mid-May and last through early July.

Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Joe Alwyn and Garrett Hedlund (Unbroken, Tron: Legacy) have been announced as stars of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which has begun production in the Atlanta area. Newcomer Alwyn stars as the title character, a soldier returning from Iraq, where he survived a brutal firefight. In a PR move, he’s trotted out as a war hero during halftime at a Thanksgiving football game, shortly before he’s scheduled to return to active duty in the Middle East. Academy Award winner Ang Lee is directing the film, based on a novel by Ben Fountain. It’s already been shooting in Locust Grove, with upcoming scenes shooting at the Georgia National Cemetery and the Georgia Dome.

Not a remake of the controversial 1915 film by D. W. Griffith, although it promises to be polarizing in its own right, the slave-era historical film The Birth of a Nation is reportedly to begin filming in the Savannah area in early to mid-May. Armie Hammer (TV’s Gossip Girl and Reaper), Gabrielle Union (Being Mary Jane), Aja Naomi King (Emily Owens M.D., How to Get Away with Murder), Aunjanue Ellis (NCIS: Los Angeles, The Mentalist), Coleman Domingo (Selma), Roger Guenveur Smith (American Gangster, Final Destination), Dwight Henry (Beasts of the Southern Wild, 12 Years a Slave) and director/walking chip-on-shoulder Nate Parker (Non-Stop, The Great Debaters) are lined up to star in the film about black slaves in America going on a bloody rampage against whites. Just what we need to ease current racial tensions in the country…

Maribeth Monroe (Comedy Central’s Workaholics), Matt Walsh (HBO’s Veep) and Gal Gadot (the Fast & Furious franchise) have joined Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm and Isla Fisher in the cast of the suburban spy comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses, which is now starting its local production.

Christine, an independent feature film about a mid-70s TV news reporter struggling to maintain her integrity while advancing her career, will be shooting in Savannah April 20th through May.

Nina Dobrev has announced that the upcoming sixth season of The Vampire Diaries will be her last in the series. “I’ve just spent the most beautiful weekend on Lake Lanier in Georgia with…the cast and crew of The Vampire Diaries. I want to be the first to tell you that it wasn’t just a holiday celebration, it was a goodbye party,” she wrote in a post-Easter note to the show’s fans via Instagram. “I always knew I wanted Elena’s story to be a six season adventure, and within those six years I got the journey of a lifetime.” Meanwhile, her Diaries co-star Michael Trevino is starring in ABC’s The Kingmakers pilot, which has been filming in the Rome area. If that show gets picked up as a series, chances are he’ll be saying so long to TVD as well.

A new reality show from Relativity Television will feature several young couples in competition to fix up their respective newly purchased houses. Whichever couple is deemed the winner will win a “dream home.” I think Dream Home may even be the working title of the thing. Whatever the case… color me enthralled.

Sunday Best All Stars, the BET gospel singer talent search program, will be taping shows live in Atlanta on April 30th, May 4th and 6th. And, they need audiences. So if you’d like free tickets to one of the tapings (at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day), send an email to sbAllStarsTickets@gmail.com. Include your first and last name, contact number, email address and the day and time of the taping you’d like to attend. They’ll be in touch with you to confirm. Gospel star Kirk Franklin hosts the program, with Yolanda Adams, Kierra Sheard and Donnie McClurkin among the judges.

Here and There: The Entwined, produced and co-written by Clive Barker, looks to shoot in Atlanta May 25th through June 19th. Robert Hollocks is directing, but cast members have yet to be announced… The latest we’ve gathered on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is that the script is currently in development, and director James Gunn says it’ll begin shooting at Pinewood in Fayetteville next February… In Dubious Battle, James Franco’s all-star John Steinbeck commie adaptation, wrapped its area production by mid April… Season two of the USA Network’s marriage drama Satisfaction is ramping up production in Atlanta. Matt Passmore and Stephanie Szostack star.

The embarrassment that is Love & Hip Hop Atlanta makes its season four premiere April 20th at 8 p.m. on VH1, to be followed by the debut of a live weekly after-show, The Afterparty LIVE!, hosted by Big Tigger (Darian Morgan). Young Joc, Lil Scrappy, Stevie J, Kalenna and Karlie Redd are among the train wrecks polluting the cast.

Yet another film/TV studio is planned for the metro area, this one in Doraville at the old General Motors Assembly Plant. Envisioned as the anchor of a mixed-used complex that will also house offices, retail shops and restaurants, Third Rail Studios may be operational by the end of this year. The intention is to convert the existing 130,000 square foot factory building into soundstages along with offices and supporting vendors. Capstone South Properties and Integral Group are behind this studio project.
Flamin' Groovies, Part 1 (April.15 issue) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fred Mills   
ImageShake Some Action All Over Again!

Okay, all you list-makers and mixtape-compilers, what’s the one song that should be on every goddam list, mixtape or, for that matter, K-Tel compilation of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs… ever. Think for a sec. Okay, got it? You sure about that? Positive? Hah. You’re wrong. It’s not “Tutti Frutti,” “Roll Over Beethoven” or “Heartbreak Hotel.” It ain’t “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” either. How about “All Along the Watchtower”? Nope. “More Than a Feeling”? C’mon, you serious? “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? Puh-lease. I got a shotgun cocktail for you right here to put you outta your misery, pal.

How about a few clues?

“Words and music are vehicles a writer uses to convey an idea and/or feeling, and this is a shining example of when the perfect choice of lyrics and melody are utilized to bring a great idea to life.  This magical combination, along with a great performance, makes it a timeless, power pop masterpiece.“
– Fred Krc (Freddie Steady 5, Roky Erickson & the Explosives)

“The buildup of the beginning of the song, in its agitated quietude, lays the trap for when the riff comes in and coldcocks you.” – Peter Holsapple (dB’s)

“The greatest power pop song ever. Complex, compelling, poignant, defeated, desperate, soaring, incomprehensible - what else could you want? An entire religion in 4 1/2 minutes.” – Ira Robbins (Trouser Press)

“It is not the greatest power pop song – it may be the THREE greatest power pop songs all by itself!” – Eric Ambel (Del-Lords/Roscoe’s Gang/Steve Earle & the Dukes)

Boy howdy to that, Roscoe. We’re talking “Shake Some Action” by the Flamin’ Groovies. Hell, for nearly a decade, in these very pages, I penned an op-ed column called “Shake Some Action,” dutifully outlining many a musical obsession. And with that title, I also genuflected at the altar of the band who originally offered up the term shake some action via the song (and 1976 album) of the same name. Check those testimonials above; add to them the notation that your truly’s family has strict instructions to play “Shake Some Action” at my funeral; and know that to an entire generation of fans, critics and musicians, the Flamin’ Groovies will always represent something eternally pure, purposeful, righteous and right in the rock world.

***

“As the years went by, I would occasionally have people come up to me and want to tell me that it was that song for them. It didn’t pay the bills, but it seems we left a big footprint.”

That’s Flamin’ Groovies cofounder Cyril Jordan speaking, and not necessarily in an understatement. The Groovies did leave a footprint – by some reckonings (see above) an immense one – and for the past couple of years the San Francisco-born/based combo has been enjoying an unexpected revival powered by both old-school fans and newcomers to the cause. The group – Jordan (guitar) and cofounder George Alexander (bass), vocalist Chris Wilson (also on guitar) and drummer Victor Penalosa – is touring regularly, serving up sonic serendipity wrought by, yes, “SSA,” but also such timeless (and oft-covered) Groovies gems as Byrdsian jangler “I Can’t Hide,” rough ‘n’ ready garage growler “Teenage Head,” brawny Stones-styled anti-dope anthem “Slow Death” and innumerable dead-on covers of vintage early rock, R&B and Brit-Invasion pop nuggets.

“This is a second chance for us, man,” enthuses Jordan, a note of amazement creeping into his voice. You just never know about guys like us. We recorded all this stuff, and there’s a long, long paper trail, and sometimes, all of a sudden, these things happen for us. It’s amazing.”

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Flamin' Groovies, Part 2 (April.15 issue) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fred Mills   

ImageBetween The Lines:
Flamin’ Groovies Singer Chris Wilson Looks Back on the Band’s Classic Period


In the fall of 2005 I interviewed Chris Wilson from his home in England; at the time he was still somewhat estranged from erstwhile songwriting partner Cyril Jordan – intriguingly, he was also working on a Groovies-inspired project with some former members of the Barracudas – but he willingly discussed the Groovies salad days during the ‘70s. – Fred Mills

Going all the way back, tell me how Cyril snatched you away from your previous band in San Francisco, Loose Gravel.

In August or September of 1971, we had no bloody work, I was living on foodstamps and doing odd jobs, and I couldn’t survive like that much longer. I’d even arranged for my family to wire me some money so I could come home. We’d done a tour a couple of months before supporting the Groovies and Dan Hicks through the Midwest, and we’d gotten along pretty well. Cyril and I at the time had got on, we had a lot of the same influences – for example, we really liked Dave Edmunds. The word had gotten around to Cyril, Danny and George that I was about to leave, so they turned up at the flat and they said, “Look, we’re sort of having trouble. We’re not getting along with Roy anymore and we think there’s going to be a parting of the ways soon. Would you consider joining the Flamin’ Groovies?” At that time they had quite a record deal and all that, and I said, “Hell yes!”

Did you and Cyril start writing songs together immediately? Did you hit it off creatively?

Yeah, pretty much. The first song I ever wrote, I actually wrote by myself. It didn’t come out until years later – it’s called “All I Wanted” [on Now]. The first one that Cyril and I wrote, I think, was “Shake Some Action.” We didn’t use that right away either! Those things that came out on Skydog were also among the first things we wrote, like “Blues From Phyllis.” He mostly wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics.

In the United Artists period you still had what I’ll call, in general, a heavy Stones vibe. At that point were you already thinking about moving into the pop direction that would characterize SSA?

Not in a conscious fashion. Part of it I think was we began going through some personnel problems. Danny [Mihm, drums] wasn’t getting on with it. Cyril did want to get more melodic and do more harmony-type things, while Danny wanted to get more raunchy. James [Ferrell, guitar] was kind of undecided, and George would go with anything Cyril said. I was of two minds, but then I liked to sing and I liked what I was doing, so I sort of sided with them too. Then for some reason, in 1974, ’75, Cyril got this very strange Beatles fixation. Which, you know, I’ve always been a fan of the Beatles, and so were all of us. But Cyril had the strange thing of wanting to be them.

Not long after you hooked up with Dave Edmunds for the first time, right?

Yeah, and that’s a very funny story. When we’d tried to get signed to United Artists in 1971, the company didn’t want to know about us in Los Angeles. So our fan and head of A&R in London Andrew Lauder said that shouldn’t be a problem – I’ll get you a spot over here. We’d heard that Dave Edmunds had been producing, and of course he’d played and produced his own records, so we said we’d like to get him to produce. He said yeah, that’s no problem, he works with some of our bands. There were some Welsh bands on UA at the time. [Soon] we were off to Rockfield Studios in Wales. Strangely enough, Dave was sitting in the studio, and they used to get the music papers delivered at the beginning of the week, and he was looking at Melody Maker going, “Oh, who is this American group, the Flamin’ Groovies? They are recording at Rockfield.” And [Rockfield co-owner] Kingsley went, “Oh yeah, yeah, these boys are coming, American band, very rock ‘n’ roll apparently.” Dave read down a bit further: “Bloody hell, it says they’re being produced by Dave Edmunds!” He was chuckling when we first met him because he’d had no idea, and he wasn’t actually sure he’d do it until he met us. He said, “I know nothing about this and I’m fucking off!” But when he met us he thought, okay, I like these lads.

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