Previous month:
April 2005
Next month:
June 2005

The Dissociatives

The Australian music fans and critics have a secret. It’s not that they haven’t tried to tell the rest of the world; it’s just that we’re not listening. We’re too wrapped up in the UK invasion and the garage sound to hear anything else. Our talk here in the US music scene is consumed by how great we think the next Coldplay album is going to be or how Wilco and the Strokes are God’s gift to music. Gee, thanks Rolling Stone!

Meanwhile, the Australian critics have been touting a 5 Star masterpiece, the debut release from The Dissociatives. Is it really any good? Album of the year so far for me. So why isn’t anyone else in the US talking about it? It’s been out two months and you’re more than likely to find a promo copy of the CD in used bin than a new copy on a shelf in a store. It’s one of those that EMI agreed to release here but with no promotion or budget behind it. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons. But why haven’t those of us who have seen the Dissociative light been able to turn anyone else onto this brilliant and artistic pop gem? There are a few reasons that explain the reluctance of others to listen…First and foremost; it’s a new band by the front man from the group Silverchair. I didn’t want to mention that, because I’m trying to convince you to give this CD a fair shot, but it seems many have a hard time believing anything formerly associated with Silverchair could be good. Well, up until their last CD, I happen to agree with most that Silverchair sucked. But then something happened, after seemingly disappearing, they released one last album a couple of years ago called Diorama. It was a Beatle-esque and Jellyfish sounding power pop album with some string arrangements that sounded like something between the ELO and George Martin style. There were 2 really great songs on that album and the rest was just okay.  Then Daniel Johns, the lead singer and songwriter, left to start this band with production and electronics wizard Paul Mac. The result is nothing short of fantastic. Rolling Stone magazine (the Australian version) calls this record “A pop/rock record for the ages, to be placed up alongside your Beatles and Beach Boys discs." I happen to agree. The songwriting and melodies are definitely in that ballpark and combined with the adventurous electronic production this is a home run. The opening track is called We’re Much Preferred Customers and is somewhere in the neighborhood of OK Computer era Radiohead meets ELO. The vocals and the melodies are the strongest part of this disc. Beautiful hook-filled pop. It’s not at all derivative. This isn’t just another Beatle-esque or Brian Wilson influenced flash in the pan. This is both creative and original. The highlight for me is track 4, Lifting the Veil from the Braille. There are many great songs here and the lush and often layered vocals will amaze you.

The only complaint I have is the band name. I think that’s another thing that’s hurting the success of this record. The Dissociatives doesn’t exactly roll off of the tongue. The real problems though are that this doesn’t sound anything like the latest slew of UK bands and it has absolutely no promotion in the US. Who cares if Rolling Stone here in the States is too busy raving about the mediocre (at best) new ones from Springsteen and Weezer to give this the time of day? Listen to it anyway.

Cornerstone Florida, 2005

(Somewhere in the Orlando area)

I’ve been in Florida 2 days now and I still haven’t seen any alligators…plenty of Gator fans, but no gators. Speaking of Gator fans, the freaks are thick down here, especially at this festival.  They call it Cornerstone Florida. For those of you familiar with the main Cornerstone Festival in Illinois, this is really nothing like that. This is your urban city version and it’s much smaller but with much better weather. You’ve got freaks, geeks and everything in between. There’s nose piercing and kids with piercing where God never intended there to be holes in our bodies. It’s like Terry Taylor said, some of these kids look like they fell face first into a tackle box. But that’s typical of any hard rock music festival these days. The weirdness that really shocks you here is more about Florida in general or at least this part of Florida. From horrible drivers to tourist traps to a kid in a $150 pair of new Nikes standing in the median with a bright orange Halloween pail begging for money, and getting it, from cars jammed up at one of the 2 million traffic lights in a 5 mile stretch of road.

When people warned me about all of the gators down here, perhaps they were referring to Floridians in general, not just the animals.

I’ve talked to numerous people here that are locals and I always ask them if they like living in Florida, they’ve all responded in the exact same way, they say they hate it here. Humidity, bugs, gators and freaks. I can’t complain about the weather now though, it’s been perfect the past 2 days.

My family is at Disney World right now, while I sit in my booth at the festival, selling CD and DVD packaging to the bands and labels that are here. I’m wondering who’s better off, my family or me. I started to feel sorry for myself and was leaning towards feeling the fam’ had it better off than I, but then I fired up my laptop and realized they had a wireless network set up for the vendors…I’d say I’m now the lucky one, as I’m able to post this rambling verbage for the blog masses.

The line up here at the fest is pretty much hardcore and rock, but there are some bright spots, and two of my favorites are here, Mute Math and John Davis. Mute Math played yesterday and they were fantastic, even better live than their disc. John Davis is scheduled to play today. I’m hoping it’s with a full band. He’s amazing and his disc is probably going to be number one or two on my year-end top ten list. He’s the former lead singer and songwriter for Superdrag. If you don’t have his new solo disc, get it now, it’s self-titled and available in stores and online.

Starflyer 59 just showed up, so I’ve got to head over to their booth to say hi to Jason and tell them how much I love the new CD Singing Voice… and of course I’ll have to snag a copy of Franks new band, Headphones.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but all the hard bands here sound the same to me. Not much diversity there. That’s why bands like Starflyer and Mute Math stand out so much here.

Time to get back to work…make the rounds and meet the freaks.


It’s ironic that Porcupine Tree decided to call their new album Deadwing, considering it’s their most energetic, diverse and lively record to date. This group is lead by Steve Wilson, a great producer, songwriter and guitarist in his own right, surrounded by an incredible band. Starting in about 1991, Porcupine Tree has released numerous albums that have explored numerous styles, all the while maintaining a somewhat Prog sound with Pink Floyd and early Genesis leanings. But never before have they produced an album anywhere near the level of Deadwing. The songwriting and production here is the best I’ve heard from anyone in a long time. Steve Wilson should have put his production and mixing credit for this album prominently on the outside of the packaging. This record sounds so good. It’s a great listen on a good set of headphones. Going from the heavy guitar licks of a Dream Theater or early Kings X to the beautiful piano pop that sounds something like Keane or Coldplay. If you’re a pop fan and you like Coldplay or Keane, don’t let the prog comparisons scare you off, this is an album that rocks and has great pop songs like the amazing Lazarus. There are a few gems here that will satisfy the hardcore prog fans as well…the opening and title track Deadwing clocks in at over nine minutes and it has one of the most brilliant guitar solos I’ve heard in years, played by none other than Adrian Belew. This is a solo that would make Frank Zappa proud. My personal favorite on the album is called Shallow with a riff that gets in your head and rips through your skull…it’s a single if there ever was one. This is the hard rock song of summer to crank on your car stereo. Rock album of the year? I can’t imagine anyone putting a record out anytime soon that I would like more than this one.

Life with Louie!

Imagine our surprise when my mother-in-law called my wife and I to tell us that one of our favorite stand-up comedians and all around great guy Louie Anderson was going to be performing the next night in our hometown at the high school. It was a benefit with 100% of all the money from the tickets going to support a homeless program started by a local church. The only tickets available were Gold Circle seats. We love Louie so we went for it. Part of that deal was a meet and greet with Louie before the show. He told us that there's talk of his animated show Life with Louie coming out on DVD! We sat in the second row of the middle section. He was as funny as he's ever been and we really enjoyed meeting him. We've got the picture to prove it! Check it out:


New Fountains of Wayne!

There's a new double-disc due on June 28 from Fountians of Wayne! Out-of-State Plates is a collection of rarities and b-sides with two new tracks. There's a lot of material on these two discs that most fans won't have. I have a few of these songs, but most are very rare and hard to find, some I didn't even know about. That combined with the 2 new songs make this a must-have. Thanks to Andre the Musical Giant for this tip...

Read more about it here:


That’s right kids, there’s finally a new SELF album! The good news is, it’s free and you can get it right now! The bad news is, it’s not available on CD and it’s not the long awaited Ornament & Crime. It’s called Porno, Mint & Grime and they say it’s b-sides that he’s recorded over the last 4 years.

I know what you’re thinking, oh, great, more unreleased b-sides from Matt…where’s the full album? As Douglas Adams so eloquently put it…Don’t Panic! This album sounds as good as their official studio releases and most of it has never been available. There are a few songs that have been previously offered as MP3’s, but those are more complete and produced here, with longer time lengths as well. This is an incredible record in it’s own right. I can’t believe this guy keeps giving away these songs and no label will release his albums.

These tunes are amazingly well written and produced. This needs to be viewed as a brand new full on studio release for all you Self fans. For those of you not familiar with their music, this is as good a place as any to start. Download and burn it now. It comes complete with a zipped file containing full artwork & liner notes. This is some of the broadest and creative music Matt has done. The opening three tracks, Breakdown, With You and Summersound all have a classic Self feel to them, but then you have a track like Gotta Stop (Messin’ About) that’s a retro new-wave track in full-on Cars mode. On other tracks we hear some acoustic guitars, piano and other natural instruments mixed in with the cool electric guitars and keyboards that we’ve come to know and love from Self. Donating To Science sounds like, gasp, Jellyfish meets Self. I hate to invoke the Jellyfish comparison, as so many power pop reviews try to compare bands to them and it’s almost never an accurate description, but this song is so Jellyfish, yet manages to maintain Matt’s personal touches. Needless to say, it’s a favorite of mine.

Besides not being officially available on CD, I have two somewhat minor problems with Porno, Mint & Grime…first and foremost, the language. Some tracks (and their titles) lyrically resemble the trashy, foul, 'swearing to try and be cool' vibe of Gansta Rap. I’m no prude or legalist, and I’m not dissing rap, it just comes across as so blatantly crude and ignorant in this quirky power pop music that it’s bothersome. The other, minor problem here is length. If we’re going to view this as a new, full album and not a collection of throwaway b-sides, it’s a bit long. At 21 tracks, there are probably 3 or 4 clinkers in here that if left out, make this a much better album as far as quality and flow.

This is one incredible album and you should download it right now from the Self website using the link below. Then come back here and let us know your thoughts on it using the comments link below this post! It’s all free!

Get it here:

(Special thanks to musicologist Jim Worthen for the hot tip and link)