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Happy Camper

Feelingcov

Last year The Dissociatives came out of now where with my favorite album of the year. I raved about that one and I still love it. There’s no guarantee that there will be a gem like that every single year, but usually there will be that one great album that comes out of nowhere to top my year-end list. I think I have found this year’s gem. I know it’s a little early, but wow, this is a great one. And when I say, “I found it” what I really mean of course is that Jim Worthen found it for me. He turned me onto the Dissociatives and now The Feelings. He’s an expert when it comes to music and new releases; and more importantly he’s an expert on my personal music tastes. That’s why we call him the Musicologist. It’s what he is and it’s what he does, although his abilities may frighten those who are unaccustomed to this type of genius.

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The Feeling are 5 young lads from London (England) who have stunned listeners with their amazing 70’s pop influenced debut Twelve Stops and Home. Reviewers have been quick to compare them to 10cc and Jellyfish. The Jellyfish comparison is tired and overused and there will never be another Jellyfish, so I’m not going to go there. However, the 10cc influence is obvious on a couple of tracks, along with everything I’ve ever liked about 70’s pop, from The Beatles and Wings to ELO. Twelve Stops and Home is filled with layered vocal harmonies, piano and hooks, along with classic album rock guitar solos. Few releases make me as happy as this one… it’s a blast to listen to.

Right now this album is only available as an import but you can order it for about $18 through Amazon. The word on the street is that it’s going to be released in the U.S. sometime this fall.

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You can also check out the bands website:

http://www.thefeeling.co.uk/


Terry Taylor and Pat Robertson

Together at Cornerstone! This was a great bit! I was there for some of it. Good stuff. What does songwriting guru and alternative rock legend Terry Scott Taylor (Daniel Amos, Swirling Eddies, Lost Dogs, etc.) have in common with TV Preacher and political hack Pat Robertson? I'm not sure, but this is a great video of Terry showing Pat around the Cornerstone music festival...good times:

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This video comes to us from the highly creative and increasingly suspect independent film maker RoyZoner. Roy now resides in the UK. His blog is what most people would call some kind of wonderful...check it out here: http://freedonuts.typepad.com/

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Two Incredible New Albums

Keanecov

There's a brand new Keane album coming out next week and that's a big deal for those of you that loved their debut as much as I did. Piano driven brit pop at it's best! The new one is called Under the Iron Sea and you can listen to the whole thing right now! You can stream it here: http://www.myspace.com/keane

I've listened to it all the way through once, and so far I would say it's at least as good if not better than the first one! It comes out June 20th.

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Villaincov

Another candidate for the most beatiful pop record of the year has just been released, but this one doesn't have the big marketing push or budget that Keane has. Jamie Randolph is a new artist on a brand new independent label called Marauder Records. I've got to hand it to them, this is one incredible debut release. Villain is a great album. From the music, which is exceptional, to the album packaging design, which is almost as good as the music itself. But the real story here are the vocals and the songs. Strong melodies over piano, strings and acoustic guitar with vocals that actually have a bit of the Keane-Coldplay vibe, but with a more American bent. This is one of the strongest debuts by a completely independent artist and label that I've ever heard. I would highly reccomend this release to anyone who is into beautiful acoustic pop. Jamie is a step above most of the singer-songwriters out there and his voice is killer. Paste Magazine should be all over this release as it's right in line with what they cover and better than 90% of what was on their last CD sampler. Two of my favorite tracks are "Not Crazy" and "Wine Kings." For audio samples and more information go here:

http://www.villainthealbum.com/

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You Gotta Tap

Internet videos are all the rage now…funny clips, short films and music videos are all over the web. People are constantly emailing the links and talking about them. I typically don’t pay any attention, like the jokes people send me…I write it off as spam and trash it. There have been a few cool and funny videos on the now popular www.youtube.com site but I don’t have time to look at everything. However, if I get a link or referral from someone who I respect, who normally doesn’t email me with jokes, videos and other spam I will take the time to look at it. Here’s one that my very hip and media savvy mom sent to me (yes my mom!) and wow is it cool! There have been numerous videos floating around the net using the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you will see it first hand in this video). This one is different though. This brand new video is far more clever and fun and the music is great! The music has an Art of Noise vs. Blue Man Group vibe to it. This video is from EepyBird, part of The Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments:

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CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO!

UPDATE: Yes, this is really Mentos and Diet Coke. NPR did a story on it here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5458431

and you can read more about how they did it here: http://www.eepybird.com/science1.html


New Music for the Sountrack to your Summer!

CtcovThere’s a brand new studio album from Cheap Trick! Yeah! While it may not be their best or break new ground, it’s a great album and a perfect soundtrack for the summer. Rockford is classic Cheap Trick full of hooks and fun. It gets better with every listen and there are a few songs here that should be candidates for your summer mix or best-of-the-year compilations, including a couple of my favorites “Come On Come On Come On” and “Welcome to the World.” There’s a heavy dose of The Beatles and ELO influence that we’ve come to expect from the best Cheap Trick albums, fused with their brand of American rock…check out “Dream the Night Away” and “One More Day.” This is the best thing they’ve done since One on One in the 80’s. Enjoy!

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Other NEW RELEASES YOU MUST HEAR:

Oppencov

Oppenheimer – Quirky keyboard oriented pop. This album came out of nowhere and was a big surprise. Well written, hooky songs are the theme here…check out “This Is Not A Test” which is my current candidate for catchiest song of the year.

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Dmcov

David MeadTangerine – This is a great Americana meets Power Pop album!

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Deliver Us from Evelyn

Deliver_us_cov

There's a new novel out that's loads of fun and you can read the first chapter right here! Author Chris Well really delivers with his latest crime novel Deliver Us from Evelyn. In the past I've referred to Chris as "a poor man's Tim LaHaye" but now I have to take all that back. Seriously, this is a great book. Check it out:

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Chapter One:

Sunday night. April 23.

On his last day of this life, the Right Fair Reverend
Missionary Bob Mullins checked the party dip. Just stuck
his finger right in there, pulled some glop free, stuck it in
his mouth and sucked.

Hmm, good dip.

He wiped his saliva’d finger on his jacket, popped the top
off a can of Pringles, shuffled a neat row of curved chips
onto a Dixie brand paper platter.

There.

Setting the can down, he stepped back from the
secondhand coffee table in the middle of the shag-
carpeted office, looked at what his party planning skills had
wrought. And he saw that it was good.

He went to the stereo system across the room, selected a
CD. Personally, he would have preferred something by the
Rolling Stones, maybe
Exile on Main Street or Beggars
Banquet
-- muscular, honky-tonk rock ’n’ roll you can get
drunk or stoned to, depending on your mood. He could
really go for the bluesy wail of “Tumbling Dice” right now.

But the music library here offered none of that. Besides,
his marks -- that is, the members of his “flock” -- held
certain expectations regarding what music was appropriate
for a prayer meeting. Especially in a small armpit of a town
like Belt Falls, Illinois.

(Who names a town “Belt Falls,” anyway?)

The ladies would be here soon. Then Missionary Bob
could use his people skills, honed from his years of
"ministry," to good effect. Would lead the group in a
spontaneous (but carefully planned) evening following “the
Lord’s leading” -- some Bible, some hymns, some ministry
time. A carefully rehearsed prayer, a combination of wails
and pleas, which experience had shown to be a very
effective prelude to the passing of the offering plate.

Swept up by the rush of maudlin and spiritual emotion, the
ladies would cough up plenty.

“Yea, but there are those who do not have it as
comfortably as we do,” he found himself practicing, fiddling
with chair placement in the circle, maneuvering pillows on
the couch. “Poor children who do not have the food or
clothing or shelter such as we take for granted.”

He double-checked the handy photos on the table. The
orphanage in Mexico went by a lot of names. It would not
do for the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins to
get all weepy-eyed over JESUS AMA A LOS NINOS
PEQUENOS and then whip out a photo showing a bunch of
tiny brown faces smiling under a banner that said
CHILDREN OF HER MERCY ORPHANAGE.

Following the fiasco in the last town, he’d played it cool
once he got to Belt Falls. (Really, who brings a wagon
train across the frontier, breaks ground on a settlement
and says, “From henceforth, this shall be known as
‘Belt Falls’”?)

Ever since Andrea -- his partner, his companion, his ray of
light -- had got Jesus, she'd stopped helping with the
scams. Stopped helping him fleece the flock, so to speak.
She laid it on thick enough,
It is appointed unto men once
to die, but after this the judgment,
and all that.

He tried to smirk it off, tried that face that always brought
her around, but it didn’t seem to work anymore. Whatever
had got hold of her wasn’t letting go.

Missionary Bob would never admit it to anyone, least of all
himself, that the dividing line between success and failure
began and ended with Andrea. When she was working with
him, the scams worked like butter.

But then she got religion and the whole machine went up in
flames.

Not that Missionary Bob got the clue. He kept working his
games, town to town, each new gambit failing, each new
town harder to crack than the last.

Once he set up shop here in Belt Falls (don’t even get him
started about the name of the town), he took his time
getting to know the people. He found them to be a small,
close-knit community, smugly going to their church
services.

Smug, but not that pious -- it did not take much effort to
plant sufficient evidence that the only pastor in town was a
raving drug user, maybe even a dealer. Not enough
evidence to get the man convicted -- even the hick sheriff
saw it was a weak case -- but the hapless pastor had to
make only one phone call to the wrong deacon asking for
bail money before word of his
unholy lifestyle rushed
through the congregation like wildfire.

In the eyes of God and the law, he was probably an okay
guy. But once a congregation chooses to believe the
worst, a preacher may as well pack his bags and move on.

Missionary Bob had even heard tell of one particular
church, somewhere in the Midwest, where the members
had booted the pastor because he'd had the temerity to
wear
short pants to a church potluck.

Yep, hell -- if it existed -- would be packed to the lips with
smug, busybody churchgoers who ran their preacher out
of town because he had worn shorts to a church potluck.
Or, as in this case, was the victim of circumstantial
evidence planted on him by a traveling huckster.

He stood and straightened his dress jacket. Felt a bulge in
his left pocket, was surprised to discover a coaster with the
face of Jesus on it.

He looked around the office, befuddled. When had he
picked this up?


You don’t have to lift anything here, he reminded himself.
You’ve pretty much lifted the whole office already.

Missionary Bob, in what used to be the hapless pastor’s
office, heard steps echoing from the foyer, somebody
clomping up the stairs.
My, my, thought the Right Fair
Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins, t
hese ladies do need to
lose some weight, don’t they?
Whoever this was, she was
pounding the stairs to wake the devil.

He stopped fidgeting with pillows and stood up straight,
getting into character. Thinking of his plan, his mission,
remembering the correct accent and speech patterns of a
Right Fair Reverend Missionary, an accent as specific and
undeniable as the drawl of New Orleans or the wicked
blueblood of Boston.

There was an insistent pounding on the door, a battering,
really, if he had stopped to think about it. But he was too
wrapped up in the character of a Right Fair Reverend
Missionary. He slapped on a toothy grin and opened the
door. “Welcome, child, to -- ”

It was a man. A. Large. Man. A grizzled bear towering over
him, bloated flannel shirt cascading out of pants where
they were almost tucked, tractor cap on his head declaring
EAT ROADKILL. The grizzly bear pressed his flannelled
beer belly against the Right Fair Reverend Missionary,
leaned down from on high and belched, “I’m Darla Mae’s
husband.”

The Right Fair Reverent Missionary Bob Mullins broke
character and cursed.

The rest of the confrontation was like a dream, a
nightmare of slow motion, the bear smacking him, a freight
train to the skull, tossing Missionary Bob across the room.
Hitting the coffee table as he went down, elbow in the dip.
The grizzly roaring, storming in, Missionary Bob on the
floor, scrambling backward, away, fleeing in the only
direction he could, farther into the room. The angry
husband kicking the table over, party snacks flying, dip
spattering across the bookcase.

As Missionary Bob kicked to his feet, always moving
backward, until the wall stopped his escape, one question
kept flashing through his mind:
Is this about the fake
antique Cross of James or is this about the adultery?


Either way, his back against the wall, this grizzly man
bearing down on him, Missionary Bob was out of options.
The giant man, his eyes red, had barrel fists clenched and
ready to swing, like jackhammers.

There was a noise behind the grizzly, at the open door.
“Missionary Bob?”

One of the ladies.

The enraged husband turned at the voice. Missionary Bob
took his one and only chance, grabbed the stone head of
Moliere, clubbed the grizzly across the side of the head.
The man stumbled backward and fell.

Missionary Bob, fueled by anger and fear and blind, stupid
adrenalin, kept clubbing, again and again. The man on the
floor now, blood streaming from his head. Missionary Bob
clubbing him with the bust again and again. On his knees,
on top of the man, clubbing him again and again and again.
Finally, adrenalin loosening its grip, Missionary Bob
became aware that the man was not moving. Clutching air
in hot, painful gasps, he dropped the bust to the carpet.
Felt something wet on the side of his face, wiped it with his
sleeve, saw blood smeared on fabric. Not his own blood.

Gasping, wheezing, he looked up and saw the witnesses,
ladies pooling in the doorway, staring agape at the Goliath
on the floor, downed by the David with his stone.

© 2006 Chris Well

You can order the book here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0736914064/obviouspop-20

You can find out more about the book and the author here: http://www.studiowell.com/ChrisPage.html