Archive for the ‘Pop’ Category

RJMJ - Glamping

“Glamping is a portmanteau of glamorous and camping and describes a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with ‘traditional’ camping.”

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And now that you know what Glamping properly means, we finally have a sound to associate with it as well, in the form of Roger Joseph Manning Jr.’s new solo EP of the same title. So, let me first ask, how do YOU know about Roger and his many sonic contributions to the universe? Maybe you recently discovered a tiny mad scientist keyboard madman on a tour with Beck? Or…maybe you have hung on since his college rock indie days back in the late 80’s when he joined Beatnik Beatch with Andy Sturmer? For me, it’s what happened after Beatnik which put Roger on my radar at a very young age, that project was Jellyfish. Ask me about that another time if you already don’t know of how that band changed my life. Roger has been turning out music for 30 plus years at this point. Whether he’s doing session work, or pushing the envelope with one of his own original bands or giving us polished and scrutinized solo work…whatever it is, he’s certainly giving stellar efforts.

So…let’s discuss Glamping, cause for this moment, that is why we are here. This is Roger’s first new solo recording in about 10 years. And his agenda, as far as I know, was to put more solo music out for the last few years but he had gotten caught up with some other cool work outside of his own – Last Winter RJMJ surprised us all with an absolutely unreal Pledge Music campaign which would coincide with the release of Glamping…to get it out, to get it in the hands of music lovers and beyond. This was no regular run of the mill campaign. With this, came a peek into Roger’s world a bit. Video updates while on tour with Beck kept a smile on our faces, a glance (literally) into his closest as he sold off Jellyfish clothing from the early nineties (WOW!) Pieces of gear he was parting with, chances to hang and record shop with him and a slew of other fun and juicy bits to be involved with. Hardly 48 hours had passed on that campaign and a number of components had sold out. Roger considered it a huge success and I know was very touched by the response. And, because of that very reason he has promised more solo music, sooner than later. This whole thing also allowed him to reissue his first two records which both had Japanese releases and under the radar domestic ones as well. There is a lot to get into here and I don’t want to veer off course too much more…

So, again…Glamping. This 4 song EP is quite an appetizer to what will hopefully be followed soon by a main course. A contribution that leaves you with a belly rumbling, it whets a pallet that had been starving for a taste for nearly a decade. The perfect and pristine songwriting in which Roger has painted himself into a decadent corner for so long does not disappoint. An avid fan of the 70’s, Mr. Manning certainly wears his heart and influences on his sleeve for this one, maybe more than ever(?) It’s a very focused and streamlined collection of songs. Perhaps the fact that there are only four songs this go round didn’t leave much room for the wackier more experimental stuff to creep in. What you have here is four delicate yet deliberate songs keen on love, playful on adventure and confident in delivery. The production is clean and smooth with Roger doing the bulk of the work with a little help from some amazing friends. Brother Chris (the Witchdoctor himself) is present with some assistance in the vocal department and helping in general to bring all of this out of RJMJ. Jason Falkner plays some guitar, Bleu McAuley sings a little, Lyle Workman plays a bit of guitar too…it’s a cavalcade of radical folks curating a really unbelievable set of tunes that ends just a bit soon. These songs are sang so sweetly, it always sounds like Roger has a smile on his face when he sings and that attitude really comes across here. First track, “Operator” is a cute and clever song sprinkled with a dash of loneliness, “Operator, I need a favor…could you take some time, I’m in need of a connection in the worst way, so don’t say goodbye.” A song possibly too smart for it’s own good! Next up is “Funhouse”, which is appropriately titled as it is probably the most playful of the set, sounding like it could easily transport you to the carnival with just a little imagination. It is also, the only song which Roger writes the lyrics to completely on his own, the others have Chris Price assisting or handling them in full. Third track, “Is it All A Dream?” is my personal favorite, it’s just such a beautiful song with a chorus that you’ll be singing for days, a perfect pop song with hook, line and sinker. The EP ends with the longest in the collection, “I’m Not Your Cowboy”, a modest song about a modern man who simply knows his place and graciously accepts his role as a non-superhero. Perhaps the most complex of the songs, “Cowboy” is triumphant and ends the release big. The musicianship throughout is top notch of course. I just wish in the end that Roger had handled all of the lyrics on his own. Either way, can’t wait for more original music from Mr. Manning!

Listen to first track on Glamping, “Operator” below!

ALSO, If you have extra time, check out this great conversation I had with Roger a few years ago in which he drops many hints about Beck, Glamping and a bunch of other cool stuff!

This is version 2.0 of our show from 2 weeks ago. We had some issues with including the songs in the original cast and the video was taken down a few times. So…we finally got around to making a version that includes none of the music unfortunately. We wanted to make sure we still got this episode up as it was important to us, although it is not as it originally should have been heard we are still very happy with the content. So, here we are giving this episode a second life. Enjoy. Rest in peace, Prince.

The original post on the blog can be seen/read here:

Episode 10 original post

(P.S. – THE VERSION WITH THE MUSIC CAN STILL BE HEARD OVER AT SOUNDCLOUD WHILE YOU HAVE THE CHANCE! Episode 10 ORIGINAL WITH MUSIC)

Episode 9 is now up! And…it’s an absolute trip. We hung out with Alt-Pop monster TRYST and were literally laughing seconds in. We talked Music and influences, complained a bit, laughed some more, and…ate some weird macaroons. Give this a listen and share a laugh with us while you get to know a bit about this fantastic artist. Listen, Share, Repeat!

*ALL MUSIC USED WITHIN THIS PODCAST IS PROPERTY OF THE ORIGINAL WRITERS.*

DL FOR FREE ON SOUNDCLOUD!

M-S-G EP. 9 TRYST

M-S-G Episode 5 02.16.18
Last week I had the opportunity to sit down and talk, I mean…really talk with my friend Andee Blacksugar. After many years of knowing each other we finally got to have a conversation almost 10 years in the making. And the best part is…you get to be a part of it.
Listen & DL Free on SoundCloud
A phenomenal and in depth interview. Andee reveals some tips and insider info as well as a little glance
behind the Blacksugar curtain.
We talk hard about music, songwriting, influences and much more!
*ALL MUSIC USED WITHIN THIS PODCAST IS PROPERTY OF THE ORIGINAL WRITERS.*

M-S-G Episode 4 02:09:18

This is the first of our Episodes so far that is guest free and the first “feature” episode. I dive deep into band, AAA Battery and singer Spookey Ruben. I had a blast doing this go round and it was also a big test for me as I had to make sure it was interesting enough to keep you guys listening to me! Aside from the great music here of course. LISTEN AND SHARE!

*ALL MUSIC USED WITHIN THIS PODCAST IS PROPERTY OF THE ORIGINAL WRITERS.*

 

Listen on SoundCloud

 

pete-burns-%22sex%22

This past Sunday (10/23) the weird world of entertainment lost Pete Burns. Just 57 years old, the androgynous pioneer suffered from a massive cardiac arrest as confirmed by his manager Monday morning. 2016 hasn’t exactly been a banner year as far as deaths go (and hell, a large number of other things too, let’s face it).

A perpetual diva and an entity all unto himself Burns rose to commercial stardom in 1985 when his group Dead Or Alive released the album Youthquake dead-or-alive-%22youthquake%22-covercontaining the mega hit “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, which, up until his dying day would continue to remain a meal ticket for the singer as well as a nail in a coffin of a very tumultuous career. When I first discovered Dead Or Alive I was much too young to really understand the endless concept and art that went behind Pete and DOA. As I got older and of course began to really understand Music and Art and obsess over it more and more, Dead Or Alive really did stick out to me. It wasn’t even so much the kitschy music as it was so obviously Pete Burns at the helm of this often bizarre and confusing outfit which I wound up loving. His outlandish behavior and looks over the vast many years made people love or hate him. Not knowing him personally I’d imagine there really was absolutely no in-between. I even missed a chance to see Dead Or Alive play at a beach club once because I was too young to get in. I did indeed try to sneak in after being turned away but got caught. I didn’t want to risk catching any heat from the large security men, me being a young boy with weird hair, eye make-up and a bright polkadot shirt on.

Clearly addicted to plastic surgery, even after his very first botched nose job. Burns continued to have extensive work done, “Getting a new face is like buying a sofa”. His lips were destroyed and rebuilt, he had several rhinoplasties and beyond…way beyond. Apparently no part of his body except the soles of his feet went untouched by needle or knife and his entire earnings were spent on destroying and rebuilding his looks, even selling off the rights of his songs to do so. pete-burnsSelf esteem issues were obviously present in a man who was indeed once beautiful and possessed a voice so powerful it would rumble your floorboards. What can really be said about Pete Burns that he already hadn’t said or done anyway? Not much. There were few as blunt and daring and fucking Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know as one Pete Burns. He showed us all what it meant to truly let your freak flag fly. His outlandish behavior, outfits and commentary on the UK’s version of reality television show Big Brother brought him back into the mainstream. Train wreck or not, you couldn’t take your eyes off him. Bending genre and gender to the point of utter shatter he was truly a force of nature. Whether he was burning American flags in Texas or bridges with record labels, he did it with such a grandiose flair that was uncompromised and next to few if not none.

Icon? Yes. Lunatic? Probably. One of a kind? Absolutely. It’s a shame that another colorful character had to be taken away from us in this very confusing year. Pete may have been impossible but he shared with us the fact that you can do YOU no matter what…but again, at what cost? Money, relationships…your face? I’d dare say that few will ever be as brazen. So, thank you Pete, whether is was brave or just plain crazy I’m hoping you’re shit kicking the afterlife on glitter platforms…”I just keep a hearing, you runnin’ on up my stairs but you’re not there”…R.I.P.

“People always want to know – am I gay, bi, trans or what? I say, forget all that. There’s got to be a completely different terminology and I’m not aware if it’s been invented yet. I’m just Pete.”

Staring at this blank slate, trying to figure out where and how to start to describe the record that is Modes Of Transportation Vol. 1…It won’t be an easy task and I have certainly been procrastinating…

Just a few weeks ago the 20th Anniversary of this wacky masterpiece landed in my mailbox. I was certainly ready, willing and able to consume. Spookey and his music have been a major part of my life for a very long time. I’ll never forget first hearing his sounds. I was sprawled out on the floor doing homework watching Much Music for the short time America had the Canadian music network, which at that point was far superior to MTV and brought a vast many bands into my life. Initially I wasn’t quite sure what the hell I was hearing. It sounded like a cartoon about a boy going through puberty at first. But, it was a genius at work, yodeling like a crazy cat over an almost mechanical sounding bubblegum indie pop apocalypse. The song and video I am referencing is, “These Days Are Old”. This was the lead single off the record. Some years had passed since the release of the album when I first caught wind of it, and I was very lucky to have done so. Shortly after that I had it in hand and played it for everyone, equally perplexed, but who also went on to claim it as one of their favorite recordings. Anyway, enough whimsy, let’s tackle this Anniversary Release!

Spookey, Modes Vol. 1 20th Anniversary Cover

It’s beautiful, dense and very well crafted. This reissue is not some mediocre thing thrown out there to capitalize on an artist’s most successful venture. It’s calculated and lovingly delivered. What you get here is a Remastered “Modes” with 4 bonus tracks and lots of expanded artwork including a very touching and inspirational forward by Canadian songstress, Esthero. After reading her words I found that her story was kind of similar to mine. Accidentally discovering Spookey and being, well, somewhat confused at first. But then…obsessed. Seems textbook.

“We all have records we like – love, even…lots of them…but there are only so many you can KNOW.”

And well, she’s right. There has not been a single thing this guy has put out that I haven’t loved. Not like, but love. That’s pretty rare with a big catalogue and rare still with artists you really dig. To me, Spookey is very consistent.

The nicely remastered “Modes” follows the same track order from the standard release opening up with the few foreboding seconds in “Terra Magnifica” which sounds like your going to get something horrifying but then immediately turns into something beautiful with a cavalcade of instruments and a children’s choir only minutes in. It sets the bar pretty high and the theme only continues throughout. Next up is lead single “These Days Are Old” which I already waxed poetic about earlier and probably includes one of the best and most eloquent nylon string guitar solos you may ever hear. “Crystal Cradle”, colorful, fun, cute…”Running Away”, one of the most straight forward Alt Rock songs on the record. In whole it’s truly an adventure, and presented with more clarity than ever. I’d love to do a track by track, but I gotta leave you with some mystery. Just remember this when you get up to the conceptual “Life Insurance” delivered in 3 parts.

 

It came out on TVT in 1995 and was hailed as Pet Sounds for a new generation. It’s back and STILL from the future.

I didn’t even get to the bonus tracks! The first of four is “Knife In The Water”. It’s classic Spookey Ruben; it’s the bonus level, the 1-Up…the heart container! An absolutely brilliant contribution and you wonder why it was initially left off of the original record. My only guess is that the lyrical content is somewhat dark; a murder mystery of sorts. That’s followed by “Machine Language” which at first could be likened to a lost Nine Inch Nails tune. Before Spookey went solo he was in a thrashy, experimental math rock kinda band called Transilience. This track leans more to that era of his work. Next up is “This Truth” which has a more cool jazzy on the beach kinda vibe. Finally putting the period on this edition is a live cover version of the Pilot classic, “Magic” which lends itself greatly to Spookey’s diverse vocal range.

Spookey!

SPOOKEY!

I personally cannot say enough about this artist’s installment of aural pleasure other than the fact that it’s thankfully getting another breath of fresh air. If I could complain about one thing, and I use the word complain lightly, is the fact that “The Lonesome Mule” was left off this version, which appeared on the Japanese release from ’96. The fact that it also appears on Ruben’s Rarities collection Welsh Rarebits from a few years back makes it forgivable.

Anyways, art like Spookey Ruben’s is one of a kind. Much like Prince, Spook is that special, and his return has just begun. Look forward to a monster year from this very special songwriter.

(Also sink your teeth into Modes Of Transportation Vol. 2/What’s A Boy To Do? And Modes III, coming soon)

https://spookeyruben.bandcamp.com