Back from vacation

Had a few days off and headed to Oak Island, North Carolina.

Took a 4 mile walk on the beach and went to a couple book stores.

Spent the rest of the time chilling and catching up on some reading.

Right now I'm working on Brian Walsby's book, "Manchild: A Celebration Of Twenty Years Of Doodles."

If you don't know Brian Walsby's work and you're a fan of punk rock, satire and MAD magazine, you don't know what you're missing. Check it out here.

I'm digging "Feathers," the latest record by Dead Meadow.

It's got a definite psychedelic feel, but isn't too over the top. It sounds great with headphones and at times, reminds me of MBV's "Loveless."

I'm sure this record would sound even better if you were high or tripping.

But that goes for most music.

MP3: Dead Meadow - "At Her Open Door"
The Mice - "For Almost Ever Scooter" CD

Hats off to Scat Records for its re-issue of "For Almost Ever Scooter," which features an EP and LP of nearly overlooked recordings by The Mice.

This Cleveland-based band, led by Bill Fox (who released two solo albums on spinArt) wallowed in obscurity in the mid-'80s until now, remained a band that many spoke of, but few had actually heard.

Historically and musically, The Mice bridged the gap between the last good moments of college rock (R.E.M., The Replacements) and the beginning of the indie rock movement of bands such as Superchunk and Guided by Voices.

"For Almost Ever" was a 12" EP that boasted six killer tracks of energetic rock that come across as a mix between the Wipers' first three albums and early Superchunk. "Not Proud of the USA" is a riveting anthem while the leadoff track, "Downtown," is immediately familiar with its pounding drums, clever chord changes and a sense of urgency that conveys the sentiment that rock and roll does matter.

The "Scooter" LP features a slightly larger sound and booming production, but that doesn't detract from Fox's excellent songwriting, spirited guitar work and the band's confident pummel which sounds similar to Volcano Suns and at times taps into magical songwriting a la Robert Pollard. Highlights include the hooky "Bye Bye Kitty Cat" and "More Than I Can Talk About" which combines Ramones-esque velocity and bubblegum pop of yesteryear.

Few reissues of relatively unknown bands are this consistent in quality, let alone worth adding to one's collection. The Mice's "For Almost Ever Scooter" is definitely a must-have CD and I'm ashamed that it took me almost six months to finally get around to listening to these excellent recordings.

The Mice - "For Almost Ever Scooter" at
MP3s by The Mice at Scat Records.
McG's top 10 bands to watch in 2005

Here's a spiel I wrote for work about the top 10 artists to watch in 2005.

There are some obvious choices in there, but I also threw in some personal faves (Ill Ease, Last of the Juanitas) that deserve to strike it big this year.

Link: Artists to watch in 2005.
Movie weekend

I never thought "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" would be a good movie, but it is.

Sure, it has some elements of a typical stoner movie, but really it's more akin to a road trip movie condensed into one night.

I laughed my friggin ass off. It's not great, but it's really really good.

If you like retarded comedies such as "Napoleon Dynamite," then this flick might be for you. And if you're a heavy partying pothead, it's a must-see.
Cool grandmom who loved music, 94, dies

Anna Wolsoncroft (nee Welsh) was the kind of woman who never went to Center City Philadelphia without her hat, her gloves and her best clothes.

But she was also the kind of woman who loved Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."

"Her love for music went in all different directions," said Mrs. Wolsoncroft's daughter, Judy Cameron of Trevose.

"My kids thought it was so cool to have a grandma that loved that kind of music. She was just a really well rounded person. And her love for people let her be open to a lot of different things." Anna Wolsoncroft, 94, loved music
Rollins Band blast

And here's a few more from the Rollins Band:
(Click through on link to d/l file)

MP3: Henry Rollins - "Black and White" - This track, from Rollins' first post-Black Flag release, "Hot Animal Machine," is a logical extension of the metal-tinged punk the final lineup of Black Flag was spewing. Henry's youthful venom is still toxic and the music is a blend of mid-'80s DC hardcore and Los Angeles punk rock. Buy Henry Rollins - Hot Animal Machine CD

MP3: Rollins Band - "What Am I Doing Here" - Here's an aggresive track from "Lifetime" which was the Rollins first release under the Rollins Band moniker. Lyrically Henry hones in on the angst and emptiness that Los Angeles causes him to feel. Musically the band migrates somewhat from its punk roots towards a heavier rock sound. Buy Henry Rollins - Lifetime CD

MP3: Rollins Band - "Do It (Session Outtake)" - This is a bonus track from the remastered edition of "Lifetime." Musically and lyrically this reduced Rollins' philosophy to its essence. Get off your ass. Create. Live. Be. Killer stuff. Buy Henry Rollins - Lifetime CD

Henry Rollins discography at
Newark, Delaware trains continue to injure, kill pedestrians

In January 2005, a 33-year-old man was hit by a train behind the Deer Park tavern.

It was the second time he had been hit by a train in Newark.

The incredibly lucky man is still alive.

Just two weeks ago a UD student was hit by a train.

The student, who was walking along the tracks, suffered serious injuries, but lived.

Others haven't been as fortunate.

In September 2004, a UD freshman was killed on the trestle over Chapel Street near Cleveland Avenue walking home from a fraternity party.

Just this past Friday, a man was hit and killed by a train near the Deer Park.

The man was leaving the Deer Park and trying to cross the tracks to get to his car.

He ignored warning gates that had already gone down.

Not surprisingly, alcohol has been cited as a factor in several of these incidents.
So many people are being struck and either injured or killed by trains that Mayor Vance A. Funk III is considering diverting the trains away from Newark.

In other words, if the trains won't stop hitting people, the trains need to go.

No word on whether the mayor will embrace a more practical solution: Urging pedestrians to obey railroad warnings and reminding citizens to cross at designated locations only.

Link: Train incidents a worry in Newark

Link: Man killed trying to cross tracks

Link: UD student struck by train in Newark
More Rollins action

After I got finished reading Rollins' latest book, "Broken Summers," I wanted more.

So, I picked up "Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three."

The 2002 release features the Rollins Band mowing through 24 killer Black Flag tunes with surprising precision and plenty of velocity.

Henry sings on quite a few tracks, but the real attractions are the guest singers who Rollins lined up for this benefit CD.

Here are some of my favorites:

MP3: Keith Morris - "Nervous Breakdown" - The former Black Flag singer and Circle Jerks lead man has one of the most recognizable voices in punk rock. He's one of my fave singers of all time. As Rollins repeatedly points out in "Broken Summers," Keith Morris still has it. (Note: Click through link)

MP3: Ice T - "Police Story" - I really loved Ice T's collaboration with Slayer on the song "Disorder," and his take on this killer Flag song is almost as good. Don't know anything about his rap records, but he's got some venom in his voice on this track. (Note: Click through link)

MP3: Hank III - "No Values" - Another musician that I'm ashamed to say that I know little about other than Duane Dennison played with Hank III for a while. He rips it up on this early Black Flag fave. (Note: Click through link)

When you buy this CD you will be supporting funding for DNA testing for the West Memphis 3 and their cause.

Link: West Memphis 3 official site
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Lettuce Prey phones it in

Listen to one of my favorite songwriters, Lettuce Prey (AKA Mike Lenert), as he performs live on "Phoning it In" on BSR 88.1 FM.

Hosted by Nadav Carmel, "Phoning it In" features exclusive on-air performances conducted over the phone.

Past performers include The Microphones, Jolie Holland and The Mountain Goats.

Link: Phoning it In, BSR 88.1 FM
What's new in the music world?

I've been listening to a lot of good stuff lately.

Here is just a sample of some of it.

Esthero - We R In Need of a Musical Revolution EP - It's been almost seven years since Esthero's last album, "Breath From Another." She's one of the few females that does that whole trip hop thing that I can stomach. Actually Esthero is much more than trip hop - she hints at tropicalia, Hindi and world music on this recently released EP, which is a teaser for her album due later this year.

MP3: Esthero - "We R In Need of a Musical Revolution"
(click through link for MP3)

Prototypes - Tout le Monde Cherche Quelque Chose - Heard this French band play live last year on Terre T's Cherry Blossom Clinic and was blown away by their elementary brand of Blonde Redhead-styled rock. Live they have a punk snarl but surprisingly, their studio record is much more electronic-based, but still quite a good listen. The intro to "Danse Sur La Merde" reminds me of Elastica for some reason.

MP3: Prototypes - "Danse Sur La Merde" (click through link for MP3)

The Ruts - The Crack/Grin and Bear It - Rollins spoke about this band several times in "Broken Summers" and in my recent quest to listen to '70s punk bands I've overlooked (Eater, Damned), I checked this out. The Ruts only did one proper studio album ("The Crack") then an odds and sods comp of singles, outtakes and live recordings followed. The music is sharp and biting punk and although the band insists on incorporating reggae into their music, they do so in a tasteful manner.

MP3: The Ruts - Something That I Said (click through link for MP3)
MP3: The Ruts - Staring at the Rude Boys (click through link for MP3)
Things have changed

I never thought I would be getting paid at a professional job to write about 'American Idol.'

If you care about such things, you can read my recap of how the boys did and how the girls fared.

You can also read an American Idol blog written by yours truly.
Henry Rollins - Broken Summers

Just got finished reading Rollins' book, "Broken Summers," that came out last year. Really fuggen intense and awesome.

It's one of his best works by far because after 20 years of poetry, journals and internal psychic warfare, Rollins lays down all pretenses and speaks in a natural and direct voice.

Now in his early 40s, Rollins seems to have found a comfortable place for himself as a writer. While he occasionally goes off on tirades, his arguments against Amerikan culture and excess and the idiocy of the state of the world are right on the money and well presented.

The book begins at the end of a spoken word tour in 2002 and segues into some downtime where Rollins recalls his days in DC, offers perspectives on the music industry and gives readers a rare glimpse into his personal life, or lack thereof.

From there we quickly follow Rollins as he brainstorms, then executes a tribute album to raise money for DNA testing for the West Memphis 3. Whether one is pro-, con- or ignorant of the WM3 and their case, is irrelevant. The story of the making of "Rise Above: 24 Black Flag songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three" is a compelling read no matter where you land on the spectrum of how innocent or guilty the people involved are.

It's Rollins raison d'etre and fierce D.I.Y. spirit that fuels the project which evolved into an album featuring the Rollins Bands with various singers performing the music of Black Flag.

The remainder of the book chronicles the subsequent tour behind the album and is a nostalgic look back on the impact of Black Flag's music interspersed with Rollins' encounters with friends and idiot drunken fans on the road.

It closes out with Rollins back at home, discussing the disastrous Black Flag reunions shows and pondering the future while waiting for his next tour to begin.

Free the West Memphis Three
Henry Rollins official site