Ken Stringfellow - Soft Commands

Ken Stringfellow - Soft Commands
YepRock Records

Ken StringfellowAfter about 10 hours being out and about on the Chicago city streets, I found myself walking about 9 blocks home from a strange bus stop without my usual accouterments. Accouterments, being the ipod. In my silence of sirens, traffic and sprinklers I was given a good chance to reflect upon the hours of beaches, urban jungle, rare sites and general weekend merriment when I realized that I was humming. It took me a second to place the song, but it was 'For Your Sake' by Ken Stringfellow.

I thought to myself about the oddity of a full day of noises, films, conversations and how strange it was to have Ken's song pop into my head. That song was not what i had been listening to earlier in the day. It was nowhere near the top of my mind... but it was reverberating... and doing so of it's own accord.

This, I determined during the rest of my walk home, was the sign of blissful song writing. When the song could detach itself from the source and become so ingrained as to be your company in the darkness... the artist had done something right.


He's Baaack!

MorrisseyNo, not Chuckie... MORRISSEY! After having to cancel most of his US appearances this summer due to poor ticket sales for the Lollapalooza festival, the king of fop has finalized a US tour for this Fall. All the dates are available in our tour section. Moz is also booked onto The Late Late Show on what is to be the next-to-last taping with Kilbourn as the host (yeah, I don't know when that is either... oh wait August 26). According to the few hundred people who managed to get ticket's for Morrissey's only US show this year at Chicago's House of Blues... he's back in top form, even if his opening act The Killers did manage to set the stage on fire (literally). Then again most of those people paid upwards of $400 per ticket to see him, so we're guessing they're a little biased.


Curiosa Festival - Live

It's a few days after Sunday's incredible performance by The Cure. This would be the 5th time I've seen The Cure and I must say probably the best set list I've ever been privileged to hear. Wai Bong Ng said in his review of the NYC Curiousa event that "unlike many other bands, The Cure is always great live"... True!

I'll start from the beginning:


Glastonbury 2004

This was my fourth Glastonbury, and my third in the not-as-swish-as-you'd-expect-it-to-be backstage area. I was working the entire weekend, but I did manage to see a fair few bands, as you'll see below. This was my first "muddy" year, but it'd didn't really spoil anything apart from my hiking boots. If it started to rain while a band was on, everyone just put their hoods up. If it REALLY started to rain, then everyone rushed into the tents, which actually helped quite a few bands that would've otherwise been overlooked (namely, Buck 65).


PopKIDS Sunny Summer Reviews

Another lovely year of third grade in Brooklyn comes to an end in three days. The kids can't wait to splash in fire hydrants and eat bombpops until their mouths turn purple, and I can't wait to jump in the car and drive aimlessly around brooklyn, but we all had a really nice, happy year. Kids in several grades took time from their busy end of the year schedules to muse on their summer plans, cookies, marriage and the meaning of life.

After three years of interviewing kids about music, I want to take a moment that I should have taken a long time ago to acknowledge David Greenberger, the creator of Duplex Planet. Duplex Planet is stories and interviews from the nursing home in Boston where Mr. Greenberger worked for years. They've been on NPR and the comic books based on them, Duplex Planet Illustrated, are excellent. Check them out! Though kids were being interviewed during radio serials about all kinds of topics long before Bill Cosby was in the picture, David Greenberger's interviews of retirees about pop music inspired me to interview kids about it too.

~Sarah Allen


New Summer Line Up From Sub Pop

Pop music fans, this is for you. Sub Pop Records, the mighty indie-rock label of the Great North West has been in the process of a great metamorphosis over the last several years. Growing beyond the image of the Seattle grunge, and Nirvana, they have been increasing the number of pop acts. Bands like The Shins, The Beachwood Sparks, and Hot Hot Heat are becoming the standard fare. Here is the most recent batch of records from Sub Pop that will have pop-kids dancing with glee.


The Smittens - Gentlefication Now!

When was the last time politics shook itself into a cheery dance party? Even if partially hamstrung by the musical confines of Indiepop, The Smittens have got a unique enough set of beliefs and ideals to make them promising enough to watch out for.

The most engaging thing about this Vermont quintet is their "Gentlefication" manifesto sketched out in their liner notes as well as on their website. Gentlefication basically boils down to the belief that kindness and open-heartedness is infectious, and can help make the world a better place. Put in their own words, "being nice is a political act." It almost seems like the subject of a speech you would cringe to hear at a high school or college graduation, yet The Smittens are intelligent enough to realize that "being nice" is not something that requires you to sermonize or to secularize. Niceness has to start on a micro level with yourself, your family, and community in order to have any hope of reaching the macro level: the rest of the world. The band has taken to playing as many benefits as possible, include shows to support battered women's shelters, rape crisis organizations, lesbian and gay communities, and AIDS education agencies. There is definitely something more honest about this freewheeling brand of politics then the way current politicians tend to paint immaculate, caring pictures of themselves in order to sell their campaign and further a political career.


Coachella 2004

Coachella 2004 was my fifth Coachella. I have gone every year, and as the crowds grow, the festival gets more and more organized. Last year's big complaint was the three hours it took getting inside. Security was so tight and understaffed that you missed a bunch of early bands if you didn't get there before 11:00am. This year, however, they vowed to fix many of the problems with the previous festivals. With both nights sold out, let's see how they did...


Kraftwerk - Live

I'm still in awe.

Kraftwerk kicked off their North American tour last night in Toronto, and what a fucking show it was. From the second the lights dropped and the robot introduced the band with the morse code beginning of 'The Man Machine' behind it and the silhouette of the four men at their computers behind the curtain, I was stunned. And for over 2 hours, they never let up.


Pernice Brothers - Live

THE PERNICE BROTHERS rolled into town on this past Tuesday night with the Long Winters. Here are some of my thoughts on the show, which loosely assembled could be perceived as a review...