By Samir Shukla
Age of Uncertainty (Autumn Tone) is the third album from Athens, GA band Muuy Biien. It was recorded by David Barbe, a producer, sound twister and legend among indie rockers. The dozen songs are a potent mix of punk, krautrock, post-punk and bluesy darkwave. In the opening track "Moral Compass" the band and singer Joshua Evans weave a brooding and layered track that showcases their loose blend of guitar rock, which, this song especially, is reminiscent of the Birthday Party (Nick Cave's early band). The guitars throughout the album are controlled, but take off on their own when the song begs it. "The Clocks" is an especially dark number and evokes some of the best works of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds while remaining wholly original. "Mara" is a finger-snapping song lodged about midway through the album and changes the tempo while acting as a pivot for the remaining songs. "The Sound of a Trenchcoat" is a jazzy instrumental that could be a scene backdrop in a B&W film noir or even a David Lynch film. "Robbed" is a bluesy slow burner holding its own territory. The title track "Age of Uncertainty" opens with a sustained note and flows into echoed vocals and acoustic guitar that's got a psychedelic aura as it builds and fades away into the ether. "Skeleton Tissue" tosses keyboardish treatments around a bass line while the song is sung with spoken vocals reminiscent of Mark E. Smith and The Fall. Just after a few listens, Age of Uncertainty is, at this late in the year, elbowing its way into my top 25 recordings of the year.
Originally published in Creative Loafing Charlotte on December 7.
By Samir Shukla
A good film score can help visualize scenes from a film even though you haven't seen it. Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto's score to the film Nagasaki: Memories of My Son (Milan Records), directed by legendary Japanese director Yoji Yamada, is such a piece of work. It is sparse in orchestration yet expansive in creating a visual backdrop to a film I have only read about: A mother who lost her son in the Nagasaki atomic bombing and he returns as a phantom and communicates with her throughout her life until she passes away. There are 28 tracks on this score that range from jarring noise, somber piano pieces, and swaying woodwinds. The track "August 9th 11:02 am" — the day and time the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki — is a short burst of noise echoing the screech of the bomb and the explosion sounding like a hard rainfall of death. It gets under your skin.
Other pieces, some are very brief but just as evocative, create varied backdrops for the different scenes. The sequential compositions portray the sad poise of ordinary people who lost loved ones in the fireball but survived themselves, and their lingering emotional injuries. The poignancy of the score is bookended with somber strings as well as dissonant noise that I'm sure not only adds gravitas to the film, but also stands as a lovely piece of music on its own. This is essentially an instrumental score, either reserved or unnerving with occasional drones or repetition, while the human voice is sparsely used. This film score is another chapter in Sakamoto's eclectic, decades-long and vast musical output.
This review was originally published in Creative Loafing, Charlotte on November 23.
(Photo credit Jannie McInnes)
By Samir Shukla
All four members of the Canadian rock combo Sloan are singers and songwriters. It's a collaborative effort that's democratic and creative.
Andrew Scott (drums), Chris Murphy (bass, vocals), Patrick Pentland (guitar, vocals), and Jay Ferguson (guitar, vocals) formed Sloan in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1991. These musicians have made fab records over the past 25 years while maintaining this creative partnership. It's a lesson we should learn while the band is on their current tour through our unhinged post-election America.
They are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their album One Chord to Another with a tour and specially-packaged vinyl box set. The guys will play the entire album in the first set and then launch into a second set of hits and fan favorites.
Sloan's democratic creativity was fully showcased on their last recording, the double LP Commonwealth released in 2014 on NC-based Yep Roc Records, which featured the songwriting prowess of each band member once per side on the vinyl — for CD and digital, just think a quarter of the recording each. The record is a prime example of the diverse voices that gel so well, the fluid individuality merging into one. There are feedback-laden songs, pure three-minute pop ditties, jangly guitars, sweet harmonizing and experimentation. Scott's side is a single 18-minute song while the other three sides highlight each persona that becomes one with their interplay.
I asked Jay Ferguson recently how four songwriters work so well together.
"(Commonwealth) was kind of an anomaly in our career, we are probably one of the few bands that can do that because everyone is a singer and a songwriter. Generally, when we make a record, everybody kind of writes and contributes," he said. "We usually try to make it that if there's 12 songs on the album, everyone gets three songs. If anyone is like 'I only have two songs,' then usually someone can pick up the slack. It doesn't really go through a process like a vote or anything amongst ourselves, everybody kind of brings forward the songs they want to do the most.
"Chris and I get together the most ahead of time so he would know my demos and I would know his and we would chime in like 'You know I really like that song' and Chris would be 'I like this one of yours or less of this one,' and that's sort of an encouraging way to go. Other than that it's sort of like here's your quarter of the real estate of the record and you can do what you want and we just try and sequence it after that happens in the best way possible."
Ferguson explained how the bandmates might come into the recording process with ideas on how one song might flow into the next, but for the most part, they're in charge of their own specific projects.
"We're not all in the studio at the same time, sometimes in groups of two or groups of three. So often it's very Beatles' White Album where Paul's in one studio doing 'Why don't we do it in the road?' and John is in another studio with Yoko cutting up tapes. It works a little bit like that, although we only have one studio. So it's democratic but everyone still gets to rule the roost on their quarter of the real estate."
For this tour, the focus is on the album One Chord to Another.
That album was first released on the band's own Murder Records two decades ago when they parted ways with major label Geffen after a couple of records and went the indie route. It was soon picked up by The Enclave label and became a smash in Canada, while bringing Sloan further attention in the States as a power pop combo to be reckoned with. The have steadily released music ever since, including a just-released Christmas 7" with two original songs.
Although I sold their records in the '90s at my record shop, Sloan flew under my radar. I played their records but didn't quite dig into them as I should have. Now, as I flip through killer song after song on the eleven studio albums that stream on their website, I realize how much of shame that was.
Sloan will perform at the Visulite in Charlotte on Thur, November 17.
This article was originally published in Creative Loafing Charlotte on November 16.
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have scored Mars, the new National Geographic Channel Original Series. The series premieres on Monday, November 14 on Nat Geo.
Listen to it here:
Photo by Susana Millman
By Samir Shukla
This is the second time I have interviewed the master of the tabla, Ustad Zakir Hussain. It's always a quandary to interview someone who has such a vast history in music. You want to ask him questions that he has likely answered a thousand times. But Zakir Hussain is a down-to-earth musician. I posed questions that I wanted to ask and he answered them in detail, just like the first time I interviewed him a few years ago when he was touring with his Masters of Percussion.
His musical history is legendary. He has connected with musical traditions around the globe and performed with musicians as diverse as Herbie Hancock, Bela Fleck, Mickey Hart, John McLaughlin, Ravi Shankar, Bill Laswell and Charles Lloyd. It is an exhausting list of musical masters who have also benefited from performing with Ustad Hussain.
Hussain is slated to perform in the Carolinas in early October with Niladri Kumar, a brilliant and accomplished sitar master. This pairing is a gift to lovers of Hindustani music. It will be a top-notch performance exploring India's North Indian classical music that harks back centuries.
According to the program notes I received, “This concert will present an exploration of Indian music, both ancient and cutting-edge, combining a traditional classical offering with a collaborative exploration of the raga and tala systems. The concert will begin with a rendition of a classical raga performed on sitar by Niladri Kumar and accompanied on tabla by Zakir Hussain. This piece will commence with a full alaap by Niladri Kumar in the Hindustani classical tradition, presenting and expounding on the raga. The concert will also include a tabla solo piece by Hussain, and will conclude with a contemporary performance based on the folk melodies of India."
These performances are the classic duet interactions where the musicians are so in tune with each other that they practically read each other's minds. Hussain's tabla will open a world of sound while Kumar's sinewy sitar resonates sounds both meditative and jubilant, depending on the moment.
Here's a portion of my recent chat with Zakir Hussain.
I asked him to talk a bit about this performance. He said “this will not be a Masters of Percussion or anything like a fusion performance. This will be a detailed classical performance. I don't get to do many performances like this so it's nice to be able to have this opportunity. Let's see if I can still keep up with these young punks (laughs while referring to Niladri Kumar)."
Kumar is lightning fast on the sitar. “Yeah, to put it mildly, he is 2 point something gigawatts of power. There's power there but also great attention to the traditional requirements. He's a very special combination of traditional values and their validity in the modern world of music. He can play in both worlds comfortably and with the same amount of confidence."
When I asked him if his and Kumar's work with fusion as well as varied musicians and genres brings more fans into the traditional Indian music fold, Hussain explained, “You know music must move forward. If it doesn't it'll stagnate. Therefore, you must found new avenues and language to express this traditional form. You have to speak in various tongues to be able to get the music's point across. You must deal with what's out there. And whether that helps you, I would say yes because for myself I would have to say my association with a lot of Western musicians and like jazz musicians or percussionists or drummers has really enhanced my ability to be able to play my tabla in a more I would say global manner. And so I'm able to take compositions and interpret them in a way where a drummer could understand it and easily document it to be able to execute the same information on his drum or a conga drummer could do it…and adapt those compositions to be able to work in the world of jazz, rock, pop or hip hop or whatever. All these interactions have allowed me to understand languages of expressions and that allows me to expand my traditional expression into those forms. I'm sure Niladri is having similar experiences, having invented a new instrument (zitar), playing funk music or playing in films and Bollywood, doing all that stuff. It develops you as a more complete performer and representative of the art form to be able to discover ways in which the sitar (or tabla) has never been played. And therefore discover what your instrument is really fully capable of."
Of all the genres of music you have played with, which one has personally challenged you most, I asked.
“Strangely enough, Western classical music. The reason why I say that because jazz and Indian music are somewhat distant cousins and also Celtic music. They all have elements of improvisation and therefore spontaneity plays an important role in the musical expression. In that way you are somewhat on familiar ground. If you understand the language of the music you are interacting with then you can speak the language and are able to fit in more easily than you would with music that is totally opposite. So when you think about Indian classical music as an improv form of music and western classical music which is a fixed form of music and has an element that Indian music does not have which is harmony and counter point where four notes are played at the same time, and then you suddenly end up with a 95-piece orchestra and you have to figure out that you are not just interacting with one or two musicians who are just as ready to be spontaneous and improvise in the musical form you are connecting with. But more like this (an orchestra) has to be fixed. It has to be written and different parts have to be handed out to all these many musicians and now you are thinking of all these things and in that sense it's much more challenging. I used to think it was easy but recently I had to write a tabla concerto in a full orchestra and it was a big challenge to make that happen."
When asked what he thought his legacy will be or what he wants to leave behind, he talked about his ongoing work of standardizing the “gharanas" (the regional schools) of Hindustani music. He said he wants to “Gather all the elements of all the gharanas and combine them into one system of study." The gurus of different gharanas have different styles and modes of teaching, and Hussain wants to simplify that. He is working with other musicians and gurus to create a codified manner of studying classical music much in the manner that Indian classical dance was codified in “Natya Shastra" or loosely interpreted as Study of Dance.
When I spoke with him, Hussain had just returned from Japan. They both performed in Kyoto, Japan in early September in front of Indian religious leader Morari Bapu. “It was a gathering of Buddhist and katha oriented priests of India, and what I was supposed to do was go there and say a few words about music and its association with spirituality and then a performance. I asked Niladriji (to join me) and he said yes and so we went there and did that. And now I go back to Japan to Tokyo next week (mid-Sept). I have a concert. I'm opening a new concert hall that they have built and they wanted to start it with my tabla solo. It will be a traditional solo recital.
This fall he is touring with Niladri Kumar. He returns to India in January and will perform in Rajkot and then in Amdavad at the famous Saptak Music Festival, where he has performed numerous times in the past.
This is the running legacy of Ustad Zakir Hussain, a troubadour of Indian music, an all-around performer.
Zakir Hussain and Niladri Kumar Concerts:
**Sat, October 8 (8pm) at Page Auditorium – Durham, NC
**Sun, October 9 (4pm) at Halton Theater – Charlotte, NC
**Mon, October 10 (7:30pm) Peace Center for Performing Arts Gunter Theatre – Greenville, SC
By Samir Shukla
Niladri Kumar is an amazing young sitar player. He hails from a lineage of five generations of sitar players and trained under his father and guru Pandit Kartick Kumar. Niladri Kumar will perform in two North Carolina cities in October with the legendary tabla master Zakir Hussain. Kumar is a total master of the sitar and invented his own electric version of the sitar called Zitar. He has lent his sitar and Zitar prowess to numerous films over the years including Baahubali, Aashique 2, Dedh Ishqiya, Dhoom 2, and Paheli. He has also worked with guitarist John McLaughlin and Talvin Singh, among many others. And of course he is currently touring with Zakir Hussain. Kumar says the performances in North Carolina are strictly North Indian traditional classical music with the classic sitar and tabla duo. The shows are essentially “don't miss" affairs for anyone who loves Hindustani music. Here is a short chat with Niladri Kumar.
Can you give a brief bio of your background and musical journey?
I learnt sitar and the music to be played on it from my father Pandit Kartick Kumar. My fore fathers were all sitar players from Dhaka erstwhile east Bengal and I am the fifth in the generational line of sitar players. The rest of me is available on www.niladrikumar.com. Please do have a look and read and I hope it would be worth your time.
You are performing with Zakir Hussain in North Carolina on Oct 8 and 9. Who are the other accompanying musicians, if any?
Yes. It's a big honor and blessing to be performing alongside the legendary Ustad Zakir Hussain ji. This concert is just a duo of tabla and sitar. A traditional North Indian classical concert.
Talk a little about this current tour with Zakirji. What can we expect?
For any musician of my generation and others it's an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to perform with Ustad Zakir Hussain ji. For me especially, I feel humbled and special at the same time. As you are all aware of the genius of Zakir ji, you sure can expect that in abundance and I hope to play the sitar to try and keep time with him.
What is your assessment of the current state of Indian classical music in India as well as the rest of the world?
It's a question which has different answers at different levels. But to keep it precise Indian classical music is the music of this land and as long as we cherish being who we are this music will always be there and also prosper and spread its fragrance to different corners of the globe. This music has this very special introvertish quality of happiness within, it almost makes you dance not necessarily outwardly and physically but more importantly within your being. So as long as any form of music survives in this universe, Indian classical music will be with it.
How do you see yourself, or what role do you play in bringing Indian classical music to the young digital generation? In essence, how do you create new fans of traditional music?
That's a good question. How do you create new fans? A big part in a musicians life goes in firstly carving a niche among the already fans of this traditional art form. And then try and create interest among the non initiated is almost a job for another life but has to be done at the same time. I feel that somehow the young new generation is extremely smart and they get it very quick but it's important to be able to speak and relate to them in a language that keeps their interest alive in it. We are at a time which is somewhat like a crossroad where although we are in this digital age with this wide huge reach but the numbers of Indian music being consumed is dwindling instead of growing. So somewhere I feel a huge gap is being created and before its get too far and wide it's imperative that we have to keep the tradition alive through innovation.
Who are your veteran music heroes as well as younger musicians that you admire?
There are far too many to give in a few names. It's not fair to leave some for the need of word space. I have had numerous Heroes who I have not just admired but even followed and try to emulate.
Will you be playing the Zitar at this concert? Give a brief description of the Zitar.
No. I am not playing the Zitar. I am going to play only the Sitar. The Zitar is an electric sitar and is a result of following a passion and dreaming of a world which only existed in my dreams. Someday it might be reality.
What are your current projects or recordings?
I am working on a couple of albums simultaneously and have been going to and fro on it for various reasons. Hopefully will have something to release by this year end.
Anything else you would like to tell the audience in North Carolina?
Firstly thank you for asking me these questions and hope my answers will create an interest for you to come and witness the greatest magic in music of our times the one and only Ustad Zakir Hussain.
Ustad Zakir Hussain and Pandit Niladri Kumar will perform on Sat, October 8 (8pm) in Durham. The concert is organized through Duke Performances. Tickets are now on sale via tickets.duke.edu. They will both also perform on Sun, October 9 (4pm) in Charlotte. The concert is organized through IPAAC (www.ipaac.org). Tickets are now on sale via tix.cpcc.edu.
News Note: In a vibrant, ever-changing city like Charlotte, North Carolina, there are establishments that keep us grounded, like roots placed firmly in the dirt. The Double Door Inn is one such place.
Charlotte’s Home of the Blues since 1973, the club has hosted many stars on its intimate stage throughout its 43 years. Eric Clapton performed here to an audience of fewer than 100 people in June of 1982. Stevie Ray Vaughan played in October of 1979.
In 1994, the Blues Foundation (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards) named The Double Door Inn Club of the Year, for their work to keep the Blues alive. In 2002, The Avett Brothers recorded their second album, Live at The Double Door Inn. A decade later, they were performing at the Grammy Awards.
Countless bands in the region owe their start to brothers, Nick and Matt Karres, and The Double Door Inn. For every Buddy Guy, Steve Earle, John Hammond and Koko Taylor who graced the intimate stage at DDI, there are a dozen Lou Fords, Federal Bureaus of Rock & Roll, and Rank Outsiders; local and regional bands who played weekday nights regularly and developed loyal fan bases at the only place in town that offered live music seven days a week.
Chances are if you live in Charlotte and are a fan of Zydeco music or Ska music; Americana or even Reggae; you saw it performed first at The Double Door Inn. There are countless Double Door Inn tales of first-dates, celebrity sightings, guest musicians, careers launched, and at least one wedding held there. But like so many other live music venues in our fair city—such as Kidnapper’s, The Pterodactyl Club, Chop Shop, and Tremont Music Hall—The Double Door Inn will soon go silent.
The good news, unlike many of the aforementioned clubs, is that there is still time to keep the music alive at The Double Door Inn, if only for five months or so; as the official closing date is January 2nd, 2017. Some remarkable musicians are already booked to revisit The Double Door stage and others will be announced soon.
With that in mind, four longtime Charlotte residents are partnering to produce the "official" documentary about the fans, the staff, and the performers that have made The Double Door Inn a Charlotte Institution. With an endorsement from club owner Nick Karres, Kim Brattain, Rick Fitts, Chuck Bludsworth, and Jay Ahuja have already started recording interviews and performances to “show and tell” this important story. The documentary will be called "Live from the Double Door Inn."
A Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund and produce a keepsake Blu-Ray DVD preserving the performances and memories of Charlotte’s legendary home of the Blues in 1080 HD has launched at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/172392859/live-from-the-double-door-inn-a-documentary.
(News Notes are edited press releases sent by publicists, labels, bands, or musicians)
News Note: The Deaner Album is the debut album from The Dean Ween Group. Dean Ween - aka The Deaner - recorded the album in several locations but finished it at his dedicated studio facility in Lambertville, NJ, across the river from his native New Hope, PA . The band will be celebrating the album's release with U.S. tour dates in October with their friends the Meat Puppets opening. The Deaner Album will be released on October 21.
Listen to "Mercedes Benz" from the album here: https://soundcloud.com/ato_records/the-dean-ween-group-mercedes-benz/s-EixZR.
On The Deaner Album, Dean brings his love of classic guitar rock to 14 original compositions (including four instrumentals) that echo everything from classic rock to cracked country to the quirky mix of soul, funk, metal and punk that defined Ween. "My tastes are very mainstream; I love Jimi Hendrix and Santana and Zeppelin, but my ears are always open," The Deaner says. "P-Funk, they're right up there with the Beatles. That's what my influences were - that and punk rock - and I wanted all that in this album."
"I got inspired about two years ago when I started this band and it hasn't dried up yet," he says. "I'm starting to realize what I want to get out of the Dean Ween Group and it's just more of all the good things I've ever liked about the records I've made. It's a solid record. I don't care if people like a record or not. If I know I put a lot of work into it, then I can live with it forever. I have no regrets musically about anything I've ever done... Ween, Moist Boyz, Chris Harford, whatever. And I got there with my record. A lot of work went into it and I hope it translates when you hear it."
"After Ween stopped, I put my guitar down for almost a year," Dean says. "I'll never do that again. I'm so into practicing and writing and being good at my craft right now. I'm back in playoff shape. I write and play and record all day, every day, and I'm going to keep it there for the rest of my life."
Another huge change for Dean was moving into his own studio, converted from an old chicken coop in the woods of Western New Jersey on a patch of land donated by a friend's father. "I think finally having my own studio has been a big part of why this record is as good as it is," he says. "All the gear I've acquired over the years that's been in storage and my garage and my attic, it's all in one place now. Every guitar I've ever bought, every amp, every pedal, every effect, all in one place and it's all getting used all the time. I'm there pretty much all day, every day, all night, every night, doing something - recording, practicing, mixing. It's in the country, in the woods, nobody can hear us, and I've got a sound system in there powerful enough to power a big club. And you can go outside in your underwear and smoke a cigarette or blow off a grenade and nobody's going to hear you."
Dean Ween Group Tour Dates w Meat Puppets as openers
10/18 Omaha, NE: The Waiting Room
10/20 Milwaukee, WI: Turner Hall*
10/21 Royal Oak, MI: Royal Oak Music Theatre
10/22 Cleveland, OH: Beachland Ballroom
10/24 Louisville, KY: Headliners Music Hall
10/25 St. Louis, MO: Delmar Hall
10/26 Kansas City, MO: The Record Bar
10/28 Aspen, CO: Belly Up
10/29 Jackson, WY: Pink Garter Theatre
10/31 Missoula, MT: The Wilma
(News Notes are edited press releases sent by publicists, labels, bands, or musicians)
Alice Cooper kicks off his gig at Carolina Rebellion, May 2016
(Photo by Samir Shukla)
By Samir Shukla
It is summer. It's the full sun, skin sizzling, cannonball into the pool, July time of summer. The school year has faded and kids are doing what kids have been doing during summer vacations for decades. I reminisce about my youthful summer days about this time of year every year, if for only for a moment. Sometimes it's as long as my kids' patience holds listening to their old man's oft-repeated summer tales.
This year, especially, after attending a recent concert, the wondrous summers of past come to mind. A couple of classic songs during that concert opened the flood gates of memory.
Rocker Alice Cooper's anthems “School's out for Summer" and “I'm Eighteen" had faded from the musical memories of late, until I saw Cooper perform live in early May this year at the Carolina Rebellion music festival in Charlotte.
The unmistakable opening guitar riff of “School's out for Summer" immediately transported me back in time to high school days. The guitars, bass, drums and Cooper's snarl lodged in my head and jumped back to the days of AM and FM rock radio stations.
High school was, well, high school. For me it was informed, among other twists of fate, by the experience of my family arriving as immigrants just a few years earlier. My high school years were split between the last couple of years of the 1970s and the first couple of years of the 1980s. A decade ended and another began. I also spent nearly half my high school years in New Jersey and the second half in North Carolina. In the political arena, it was the time when southern peanut farmer and Governor Jimmy Carter was upended by the Cali smooth actor and former Governor Ronald Reagan in the battle for the White House.
The juncture of the two decades, the juncture of the Yankee north and the mellow south, the juncture of India and America, the political discourses of the left and right, Bollywood and Hollywood, desi music and hard rock, all meshed into the mind of a skinny high school kid.
We were kids as kids were, singing along to the rock anthems of the era while listening to them on the crackly radio sitting in our living rooms or cars, learning to argue politics, and for recent immigrants like me, coming to grips with our Americanness while trying to hold on to our heritage, the otherness.
When Alice Cooper and his band blasted through those two songs during the concert, I felt the earth actually revolve under my feet. Maybe it was the cheap beer, but mostly it was the music, the words, and the fragments of memory coming into focus.
High school days that began in New Jersey and ended in North Carolina reverberated yet again on that recent May evening with Cooper's summer anthems pinging back and forth among the teens and the pony-tailed old geezers, all rocking and singing along. A couple of forgotten high school classmates seemed to appear for a moment in the dusty outdoor venue, as if a mirage, singing along with me about end of school and beginning of summer. About “living in the middle of doubt," as Cooper sang in the song “I'm Eighteen."
The tribulations and good times of those formative high school years all condensed for a moment into that live jam. The mirage ended the minute the songs ended. The forgotten classmates, the mirage, swirled away into the dust and the darkening night. It was time and space spinning, fading and reappearing, rocking along with the old and the present.
It was almost exactly thirty-five years since I graduated from high school and heard Alice Cooper perform the songs live for the first time.
Radio ruled in high school. It was our escape. There was no internet, of course, or cell phones or social media or digital streaming instantly playing back songs on demand. We were recipients of what the DJs would play on our favorite stations. It was a time when calling the station and requesting a song meant something when they actually played your request. Every day I would tune in to different stations listening to rock music. I absorbed Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Queen, among many other bands, to formulate my high school soundtrack.
The Clash, Bob Marley, and the Ramones would help complete that soundtrack that segued into college years. Among those bands and rockers crept Alice Cooper.
I remember riding in a friend's beatup car in early high school when “School's out for Summer" came blasting out of the speakers. I felt my head jerk back and forth as my friend bore down on the accelerator in sync with the guitar riffs. It was the first time I heard that song and it was instantly added to the soundtrack.
Yeah, in those endless summer days of youth, you felt you were never going to get old. The 30s were way far away enough, forget thinking about your 40s and 50s. They were never going to happen. In high school you would live forever. Old age was far in the distance.
Music connected the dots and lines of youth; it spoke the sound of humanness. It still does and always will. Any concert or performance I go to, I close my eyes for a few minutes and see if the music alone takes me somewhere. No flashing lights or the tightly coordinated dancers or the performers' clothes or their hair or their antics matter. I tune out the visuals. If the music alone lifts me off the ground, it is the only thing that matters. If it takes me back to a beloved time, a crazy time, a sad time, a happy time, or further into the future of possibilities, that's what matters.
The soundtrack of high school was irreplaceable in the formative imaginings and dreams of youth. Oh, how those lyrics and warm music touched and affected the psyche, to create memories that reawaken decades later.
So crank the phone or computer, the car radio or whatever that you listen to music with today. Turn it up loud. School's out for summer. Indeed.
News Note: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' sixteenth studio album, Skeleton Tree, will be released on September 9. Skeleton Tree began its journey in late 2014 at Retreat Studios, Brighton, with further sessions at La Frette Studios, France in autumn 2015. The album was mixed at AIR Studios, London in early 2016. The first opportunity anyone will have to hear any of the songs from the album will be to watch One More Time With Feeling, directed by Andrew Dominik. The film will screen in more than 650 cinemas across the world on September 8, immediately prior to the release of Skeleton Tree the following day. Originally a performance based concept, One More Time With Feeling evolved into something much more significant as Dominik delved into the tragic backdrop of the writing and recording of the album. Interwoven throughout the Bad Seeds’ filmed performance of the new album are interviews and footage shot by Dominik, accompanied by Cave’s intermittent narration and improvised rumination. It is filmed in black-and-white and color, in both 3D and 2D.
(News Notes are edited press releases sent by publicists, labels, bands, or musicians)