Monday, July 21, 2014

Johnny Marr to release 'Playland' on October 7

I am thrilled that Johnny Marr has another album coming this year. His first solo album 'The Messenger' was one of the best albums of 2013 and I'm hopeful his sophomore effort is just as great...

Johnny Marr has announced the release date for his second solo album Playland,which is set for release on October 7 via Warner Music Group, and available for pre-order now on iTunes and Amazon. Last year, the legendary guitarist for The Smiths enjoyed a monumental start to his solo career with an abundance of critical acclaim (including the honor of being named NME's 'Godlike Genius') for his Top 10 debut solo album The MessengerMeanwhile, his shows were celebrated for his ability to combine the best of his new material with select highlights from The Smiths, plus others from his extensive back catalog.

Johnny Marr's upward trajectory continues unabated with the release of Playland. Work on the album commenced in London in spring 2014 as soon as the year of touring in support of The Messenger came to a close. It finds Marr continuing the creative connection that was forged on The Messenger with collaborator and co-producer Doviak, as well as the other musicians who performed on the album and accompanying tour.

As Johnny states,"When 'The Messenger' came out I kept on writing. I liked that the band had a momentum going on tour and a connection with the audience, and I thought that energy would be good to capture on the new record."

Written around a common theme of "songs that move at the speed of life," 'Playland' captures much of the spirit that made The Messenger so memorable with energetic, post-punk songwriting complemented by Johnny Marr's characteristic guitar style, thought-provoking lyrical ideas and poised vocal phrasing. "It's important to sound like your environment and on this record that's London and Manchester," he adds. "The feeling of the cities and the people make it into the music."

The title Playland is inspired by Homo Ludens, a 1938 book by the highly influential Dutch cultural theorist Johan Huizinga, which explores the concept of play as a precursor and principal element of cultural development.

One of Marr's favorite performances of 2014 to date came when he performed at the premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in New York City. His contributions to the film's soundtrack (scored by Hans Zimmer) included a songwriting collaboration with Pharrell Williams, while he also performed the closing credits theme song "It's On Again" with Alicia Keys andKendrick Lamar on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Johnny toured extensively in support of 'The Messenger' with highlights including three sold-out shows in Manchester; major London dates at The Roundhouse and the O2 Shepherd'sBush Empire; as well as festival appearances including GlastonburyReadingLeeds and T in the Park. His next UK headline tour includes his largest London solo headline show to date at the O2 Academy Brixton and also features a homecoming show at the O2 Apollo Manchester.

"Playland" track listing:
1.) Back In The Box
2.) Easy Money
3.) Dynamo
4.) Candidate
5.) 25 Hours
6.) The Trap
7.) Playland
8.) Speak Out Reach Out
9.) Boys Get Straight
10.) This Tension
11.) Little King

His current UK tour schedule runs as below:

13 - Lincoln, The Engine Shed
14 - Southend, Cliffs Pavilion
15 - Bexhill, De La Warr
17 - Wolverhampton, Civic Hall
18 - Cardiff, Great Hall
20 - O2 Academy Bournemouth
21 - Cambridge, Corn Exchange
23 - O2 Academy Brixton London
24 - Bath, Pavilion
25 - O2 Apollo Manchester
27 - O2 Academy Glasgow
28 - O2 Academy Newcastle
29 - O2 Academy Leeds

Visit Johnny Marr online:

Yes' "Songs From Tsongas - The 35th Anniversary Concert" coming to DVD, Blu-ray, 3-CD on September 23, 2014

Long-time fans of YES will be more than thrilled to get "Songs From Tsongas - The 35th Anniversary Concert" when it is released on Sept. 23. Here is the media release including the track listing for the various formats, and a look at the cover artwork for the title too!


New York, NY (July 21, 2014)-- Eagle Rock Entertainment is proud to announce the September 23 simultaneous release of Yes’ Songs From Tsongas - The 35thAnniversary Concert - Special Edition on 2DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Formats, and the first ever release of Songs From Tsongas as a 3-CD set. 
The Special Edition of Songs From Tsongas contains two different concerts from Yes’ 35th Anniversary Tour in 2004, the last tour to feature the classic line-up of Jon AndersonSteve HoweChris SquireRick Wakeman and Alan White. In addition to the originally released Songs From Tsongas show, this DVD is packed with an additional 70 minutes of never-before-released highlights from Lugano. Songs From Tsongas offers a fantastic set list of favorites and rarities including “Going For The One,” “Roundabout,” “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” “And You And I,” “Starship Trooper,” “Wonderous Stories,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Yours Is No Disgrace,” “Ritual,” “Turn Of The Century,” and many more captured here in all their glory.
Disc One of the Special Edition DVD contains the whole concert from the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts, previously spread across two discs. This epic show features tracks from across the band’s career including an extensive acoustic section (tracks 11 – 18) and some tracks that have rarely been performed live. This entire concert is featured on the Songs From Tsongas 3CD.
Disc Two features a very different concert on the same tour filmed at Estival in Lugano, Switzerland. This outdoor show has a stripped down stage and full on rock versions of the acoustic tracks from Tsongas while the crowd wield a multitude of umbrellas against the pouring rain, which is clearly not preventing them having a great time!
As a Bonus Feature, the DVD includes another track “Ritual,” also filmed at the Tsongas Arena, and an insightful interview with legendary designer and Yes collaboratorRoger Dean who created the brand new stage set for the shows.
Songs From Tsongas – The 35th Anniversary Concert is an incredible collection that no Yes fan should be without!
Eagle Rock Entertainment is the largest producer and distributor of music programming for DVD, Blu-Ray, TV, Audio and Digital Media in the world.  Eagle works directly alongside talent to produce top quality, High Definition and 3D programs, both concerts and documentaries, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, Queen, The Doors, Jeff Beck, U2, Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney and Ozzy Osbourne. Eagle is a Grammy Award winning company and has received over 30 multi-platinum, over 50 platinum and over 90 gold discs, worldwide.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has offices in London, New York, Toronto, Paris and Hamburg.

Follow Eagle Rock Entertainment at:
Special Edition DVD, Blu-ray:
Disc 1 - Songs From Tsongas
1) Intro/Firebird Suite  
2) Going For The One  
3) Sweet Dreams  
4) Your Move / All Good People  
5) Mind Drive Parts 1 & 2  
6) South Side Of The Sky  
7) Turn Of The Century  
8) My Eyes  
9) Mind Drive Part 3  
10) Yours Is No Disgrace  
11) The Meeting (Piano Solo)  
12) Long Distance Runaround  
13) Wonderous Stories  
14) Time Is Time  
15) Roundabout  
16) Show Me  
17) Owner Of A Lonely Heart  
18) Second Initial (Guitar Solo)  
19) Rhythm Of Love  
20) And You And I  
21) Every Little Thing  
22) Starship Trooper
Disc 2 - Live In Lugano
1) Intro/Firebird Suite  
2) Going For The One  
3) Sweet Dreams  
4) Your Move / All Good People  
5) Long Distance Runaround  
6) The Fish  
7) Owner Of A Lonely Heart  
8) And You And I  
9) Starship Trooper  
10) Roundabout
Disc One:
1) Intro / Firebird Suite  
2) Going For The One  
3) Sweet Dreams  
4) Your Move/All Good People  
5) Mind Drive Parts 1 & 2  
6) South Side Of The Sky  
7) Turn Of The Century  
8) My Eyes  
9) Mind Drive Part 3  
10) Yours Is No Disgrace
Disc Two:
1) The Meeting (piano solo)  
2) Long Distance Runaround  
3) Wonderous Stories  
4) Time Is Time  
5) Roundabout  
6) Show Me  
7) Owner Of A Lonely Heart   
8) Second Initial (guitar solo)  
9) Rhythm Of Love
Disc Three:
1) And You And I  
2) Ritual  
3) Every Little Thing  
4) Starship Trooper

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chicago XXXVI NOW Album Review

Listen to more samples and get NOW here

Veterans and Newcomers Featured on Outstanding New Releases

By Robert Kinsler
Summer 2014 continues to yield musical pay dirt thanks to the far-flung talents of singer-songwriter Morrissey, heartland hero John Hiatt, Americana trio Puss n Boots and synthpop outfit Magic Man.
Artist: Morrissey
Title: World Peace Is None of Your Business (Harvest/Capitol)
You might like if you enjoy: The Smiths, Morrissey’s previous solo albums
Tell me more: It would be impossible to find an artist as adept as Morrissey at tapping into their biggest self doubts and fears while also being able to confidently poke their finger into the collective eye of humanity. The former Smiths frontman may be 55, but sings with the nuance and force of someone half his age on his new disc World Peace Is None of Your Business. There is simply no subject off limits and just about everyone will likely be offended somewhere along the way; the title track questions the success of mass protest and even voting, the decidedly-Smiths sounding “Staircase at the University” looks at student suicide, while “The Bullfighter Dies” champions the bull over the matador. And the music across the disc is glorious, with an intoxicating mix of alt rock, flamenco, post-punk and art damage providing the perfect backdrop for the confessional icon to sing away. Information:
Get the deluxe version of 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business' here

Artist: John Hiatt
Title: Terms of My Surrender (New West Records)
You might like if you enjoy: John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Nils Lofgren
Tell me more: Keeping it real is in John Hiatt’s DNA. One of America’s greatest living songwriters, his newly-released Terms of My Surrender marks another essential sonic incursion by the Indiana native. Mortality is tackled on “Long Time Coming,” probing look at faith via the acoustic blues of “Face Of God” and haunting gospel-tinged Delta ode “”Wind Don’t Have to Hurry.” The beautiful title track looks at love with depth wonderfully at odds in an age where the world seems to live for the moment. A much-recommended deluxe edition of Terms of My Surrender (available via includes a bonus DVD with a live performance by Hiatt captured at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tenn in 2013. Information:
Buy 'Terms Of My Surrender (Amazon Exclusive: CD + DVD)' here

Artist: Puss n Boots
Title: No Fools, No Fun (Blue Note Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson, Catherine Popper
Tell me more: Noted singers Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper having been working together since 2008, but only now have released a full-length LP. No Fools, No Fun showcases the three talented artists (dubbed Puss n Boots) playing a variety of instruments and singing with tangible warmth. Among the best songs on the wonderful collection is a sparse acoustic take on Robbie Robertson’s “Twilight,” a high kickin’ country foray on the original Norah Jones gem “Don’t Know What It Means” and a haunting translation of Neil Young’s classic “Down By the River” recorded live. Information:
Purchase 'No Fools, No Fun (Amazon Exclusive - 2 Track Bonus Version)' here

Artist: Magic Man
Title: Before the Waves (Columbia Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Phoenix, Passion Pit, the Postal Service
Tell me more: New England-based Magic Man is more than simply another entry on the burgeoning neo-New Wave synthpop movement. The group’s Columbia Records debut Before the Waves boasts the upbeat indietronica-pop of “Out of Mind,” decidedly melancholy-rich strains of “It All Starts Here” and melodic perfection of “Paris.” Produced by Alex Aldi (Passion Pit, Holy Ghost!), “Before the Waves” is bound together by Alex Caplow’s shining vocals. Information:
Purchase 'Before the Waves' here

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sights and Sounds: Elvis Presley, writer Ben Wener, Johnny Winter, Ted Nugent, Pistol Day Parade

Happy Friday everybody. Here is your morning roundup...

Photo: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
In 1970 - after spending much of the 1960s making movies - Elvis Presley made a highly-celebrated return to the concert stage. Elvis: That's the Way It Is is a long-unavailable documentary that looks at Elvis' rehearsals and road back to music that is being remastered by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Click here to see the trailer and learn more.

As many Southern California-based readers know, long-time Orange County Register pop music critic Ben Wener left the newspaper last month voluntarily as part of a buyout that impacted approximately 75 writers, editors and photographers at the publication. Fortunately, Ben continues to write on a freelance basis (welcome to my world...) and has had several reviews published in the Hollywood Reporter. You can read his review of several jazz greats who performed at the Hollywood Bowl on July 17 including Boz Scaggs here. You can read his review of Steely Dan's July 12 concert at The Forum here.

Johnny Winter at the Doheny
Blues Fest in 2012. Photo: Bob Steshetz
Sadly, I never saw Texas guitarist Johnny Winter at the height of powers, and actually only watched a bit of his set at the Doheny Blues Festival in May 2012. But his impact on the blues scene, including influencing a number of blues fans, was notable. Read the nice celebration of his legacy penned by Randall Roberts in the Los Angeles Times here. Billboard also has a nice appreciation of the guitarist, who died while on tour earlier this week.

I think one of the lessons of the loss of giants such as Winter is that if you have a chance to catch a legend in concert, don't wait. For example, over the years I have sought out to attend to attend shows to catch aging masters before time ran out. John Lee Hooker, Link Wray, Joe Willie "Pintop" Perkins, James Brown and Glen Campbell are among the other greats I caught live not long before they stopped performing or were taken from us far too soon...
Ted Nugent on July 14.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Finally, I caught the forever loud and proud Ted Nugent for the first time (okay second time; I did catch him as part of a brief Damn Yankees reunion at the NAMM show in 2010. You can read my coverage of that in The Orange County Register here) when he performed at the second night of his two-night run at the City National Grove of Anaheim on Monday, July 14, 2014. I had heard that his political rants were the norm, so I expected that. But to the 65-year-old Detroit rocker's credit, he sure played the heck out of his guitar and seemed pumped up from start to finish. From his high-powered opening ("Gonzo") to the satisfying night-ending one-two punch of "Cat Scratch Fever" and an extended "Stranglehold," I did come away with a somewhat deeper appreciation of his powers playing the electric guitar.
Pistol Day Parade in Anaheim on July 14.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

I was also very impressed by the opening band, Detroit-based Pistol Day Parade. The band, whose hard-rocking straight ahead approach recalls 3 Doors Down and Chris Daughtry impressed early with the infectious "Better" and not long after with the power ballad "Where I Lay." The quintet closed with the ultimate sing-along, the catchy "Rockstar's Girlfriend."
Visit the band's official Web site to learn more.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sights and sounds: David Bowie, St. Vincent, Natalie Merchant, X goes acoustic, Eagulls cover Stone Roses

Good morning everybody. It's not quite Friday, but getting ever closer! Here is your morning jolt of music news...

David Bowie may release more new music (wouldn't that be great!). Pitchfork has the scoop here.

St. Vincent performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame induction ceremony for Nirvana in early 2014.
St. Vincent recently performed on a Live on Letterman Webcast that  you can watch here. The rising singer-guitarist is currently on tour with upcoming dates in Maryland (tonight) and in Chicago (on July 19). You can see all the dates here.

The Chicago Tribune has a report that Natalie Merchant has postponed her tour due to illness. You can read more here.

This weekend legendary Los Angeles punk outfit X will pull off a first, performing an acoustic-styled set. While the band will undoubtedly be hitting it full board while opening for Bad Religion at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, CA tonight, the troupe will take the acoustic road in a full-length set at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown (located in the high desert a few hours east of Orange County and Los Angeles counties). Read Vanessa Franko's story in The Press Enterprise here.

Watch Eagulls cover the classic Stone Roses cut "I Wanna Be Adored" here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Inbox Update: Michael J. Nelson, The Beatles, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Duncan Sheik, Polaris Music Prize

The Beatles will be the subject of a forthcoming
 documentary focusing on their early years.
Here is your Wednesday morning buzz to help get you through the day...

Michael J. Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame steps outside of his well-known role of riffing bad movies (and even some arguably good movies via Rifftrax) to opine on some of his favorite music. An interesting and fun read!

Director Ron Howard is set to direct a documentary chronicling the early years of The Beatles, specifically when the Fab Four was a touring outfit. You can read all about the project courtesy of USA Today here.

Read the history behind a dozen of "Weird Al" Yankovic's most classic music videos.

Who knew?! Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik has penned tunes for an American Psycho musical! Rolling Stone has all the details here.

Finally, the semi-finalist roster for this year's Polaris Music Prize includes Arcade Fire, Chromeo and Drake. Pitchfork has an article here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Valley Downs to open for legendary Shoes on Saturday, July 19th

This just landed in my inbox a few minutes ago. Sadly, I am in SoCal this weekend and not in Evanston, Il or I would definitely be @ Space for sure! 

Hi Kids!

Just a reminder, we are playing with Shoes in an WXRT show this Saturday 7/19/14 at Space in Evanston.  It's early, all ages and sure to be a great time.

This is almost a year-to-the-date of our 2013 Shoes show at space. If you missed that one, now's your chance. If you were there last year, you know that Space is simply one of the best music rooms in the country and what a special night that truly was.

The tables are all sold out, but there are still some general admission seats available You can learn all about the bands, the venue and how to buy advance tickets (delivered directly to your email or held for will-call) at 

We are thrilled to have the chance to once again play with our all-time favorites, Shoes. If you check out you can listen/hear/read all the latest about one of rock's most important bands and see why publications like Billboard, Rolling Stone, LA Times, Goldmine (and countless others) herald Shoes as critic's darlings.  Or you can read about their run-ins with rock history in their recently released biography (strongly recommend reading about their meeting with Gene Simmons of KISS!). Their latest release, Ignition, made several Top 10 lists and supporting performances included stops in NYC, Ravinia, a pre-release tour of Japan and a series of shows at SXSW.

The Valley Downs will also be debuting our latest new song The Prettiest Girl In Salem and will have a limited number of CD singles of our song Prison (Ain't No Fun For A Girl) at the show. We are wrapping up mixes on the full length release right now.

We hope you can make it out for this special show and want to once again thank Shoes, WXRT and Space for having us part of what promises to be another very memorable evening.

Happy Summer!
The Valley Downs

Saturday 7/19/14 at 8PM
WXRT Presents
The Valley Downs
1245 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60202  (847) 492-8860 (for venue info and tickets)
All Ages!

Valley Downs are:
Marianne Galassini
Christian Peterson
Todd Rusin
Mike Galassini

Sights and Sounds: "Weird Al" Yankovic, Garth Brooks, Jenny Lewis, Blink-182

Good morning everybody. Here we go...

"Weird Al" Yankovic has issued the first music video for his #8videos8days project, a delightful and fun video for "Tacky," a reworked version of Pharrell's monster-hit "Happy." Watch it here.

Garth Brooks is set to embark on a world tour with Trisha Yearwood. News today reveals the pair will kick off the tour with a performance at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL on Thursday, Sept. 4. Tickets can be purchased on beginning at 10 a.m. (CST) on Friday, July 25.
Jenny Lewis has premiered the video for her new single,
"Just One of the Guys" via

California singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis has premiered the music video for her new single "Just One of the Guys," which can been seen exclusively on today. The video stars Kristen Stewart and Anne Hathaway. "Just One of the Guys" is the first single from Lewis' forthcoming album The Voyager, which is set to land on July 29, 2014.

Finally, Poway, CA-spawned hero Blink-182 is set to release a new album. Read all the details courtesy of USA Today here.