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Poised on the precipice of hip and mainstream, the lissome Rae is definitely a talent capable of joining disparate audiences, of putting the pieces back together in this hopelessly fractured music marketplace.
WEAKEND PLANNER IS DEFINITELY FEELING THE HEAT
No, Not the Miami Heat—the NBA Post-Season Is Over. It’s Officially Summertime, Kiddies!

TRAKIN CARE OF BUSINESS
1. Michael Walker, Laurel Canyon (Faber & Faber): A breezy summer page-turner that recalls those halcyon days when L.A. was the epicenter of the music industry and the counterculture, with the famed “woodsy” tumbleweed-and-eucalyptus-strewn thoroughfare from Hollywood to the Valley as its focal point. A journalist for the N.Y. Times and L.A. Times, Walker doesn’t add much to the legend, focusing as he does on sex and drugs and rock & roll, charting the demise of the ’60s “peace and love and marijuana/LSD” in a torrent of cocaine-induced ’70s paranoia and the hedonistic nihilism of punk, disco and freebase. Witnesses include usual suspects like hippie photographer Henry Diltz, resident groupie muse Pamela Des Barres and amusing ex-husband, English expatriate Michael, wacky entrepreneur Kim Fowley, one-time Turtle Mark Volman and latter-day band-aid Morgana Welch, all of whose anecdotes seem rather arbitrary, if colorful. Walker does manage to capture the era, but his explanation of its inevitable demise—a combination of Charles Manson, Altamont, Woodstock and, finally, the Wonderland Ave./John Holmes massacre—is rather by-the-numbers. In the end, a handful of people got very rich and most of them very fucked-up, and many others didn’t survive to tell about it. This book is testament to the fascination that period still holds, even if it seems as exotic to today’s generation as the Roaring ’20s jazz age did to boomers back then. —Roy Trakin

2. Taking the Jesus Pill @King King (6555 Hollywood Blvd., every Wednesday through Aug. 2, except July 12): Rock & roll has always had quasi-religious overtones, especially the brand of southern-fried country/R&B/gospel popularized by the South’s favorite son, Elvis Presley. This multimedia “southern gothic rock opera,” combining found film clips, paintings, a rock band and a two-act play about lust, sin, redemption and drinking, is the brainchild of Birmingham, AL-born musician Charlie Terrell, who released several albums in the ’90s on Warner Bros. and Pointblank/Virgin, and his wife, executive producer Polly Parsons, the only daughter of Gram Parsons, another southerner whose music combined a deep religious streak with roots-soaked country-blues and soul. It’s a simple boy-meets-girl/boy-loses-girl to her crazed preacher father, boy-regains-girl only to discover she’s his sister, complete with snake-handling, fervent sermons that borrow from John Lennon’s “God,” impossibly sexy dancers and the requisite fire-and-brimstone. Terrell serves as the top-hatted, bearded Satanic figure in shades, coolly commenting on the action with his crack Mojo Monkeys Band, performing songs that define the major characters such as “Johnny 3:16” and the Tom Waits jungle boogie of “Chicken-Shit Tina.” It’s an ambitious production, with mesmerizing performances by Michael Childers as the evil evangelist, who takes his sermons into the audience to great effect, a forthright Brandon Karrer as the heroic Johnny 3:16, Nikki McCauley as the duplicitous preacher’s virginal but provocative daughter Tina and the wonderfully Divine-like Irene Muzzy as her alcoholic, self-immolating mother Josephine. There are shades of Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and even Romeo & Juliet in the classic tale, setting the context for Terrell’s insinuating blues-rock. These days you need more than just a band and some songs...you have to create an entire universe for your music, which Terrell and Parsons have succeeded in doing marvelously. —RT

3. NBA Playoffs: Not to say I told you so—truth is, even after the Heat went up 3-2, I thought the Mavs might come back with two wins at home—but almost exactly what I said would happen took place when I predicted Miami in seven . In the battle of superstars, Dwyane Wade outplayed Dirk Nowitzki, whose series went downhill after he missed a clutch free throw down the stretch that would have given Dallas a commanding three-oh lead. After a very slow start, O’Neal held his own against the array of Mav front-liners sent to hack-a-Shaq him, while in the end, the Heat got key contributions from veterans like Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning and James Posey as well as the tenacious Udonis Haslem. Not to mention the wily Pat Riley out-coaching his game, but inexperienced, counterpart Avery Johnson. Of course, as exciting as it was, this year’s postseason was a constant reminder to diehard Knick fans of how far we have to go just to get to the bottom rung of the playoffs, which seems even farther away after owner James “Dunce” Dolan’s dunderhead move of canning Larry Brown as coach in favor of the completely overmatched Isiah Thomas. It has me dreaming of the bad old days of Richie Guerin, Jumpin’ Johnny Green and pitiful white center Darrall Imhoff, forever known as Wilt Chamberlain’s bitch. Oh well. —RT

4. Dave Alvin, West of the West (Yep Roc): This Downey native is an L.A. roots-rock treasure, a vastly underrated singer-songwriter who tackles a variety of California-born and/or bred tunesmiths, some well-known, like Jackson Browne (whose “Redneck Friend” here reveals its gutbucket blues sexual double-entendre origins), Merle Haggard (“Kern River”), Tom Waits (“Blind Love”), Los Lobos (“Down on the Riverbed”), John Fogerty (“Tramps and Hawkers”), Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter (a wonderfully drawling “Loser”) and Brian Wilson (taking “Surfer Girl” back to its street corner a cappella roots and plaintive melancholia). It’s to Alvin’s credit that he makes even the familiar songs his own, though he really shines on the more obscure material, like Kevin “Blackie” Farrell’s brooding, atmospheric “Sonora’s Death Row” and ex-Kingston Trio member John Stewart’s poignant “California Bloodlines,” which Alvin recalls listening to with his mother, who came from the Central California region outside of Fresno referenced by the song. By encompassing the psychedelic expansion of the NoCal Grateful Dead, the winsome hopes of the SoCal Beach Boys and the East Side blues of Richard “Louie Louie” Berry’s “I Am Bewildered,” the veteran of the Blasters, X and The Knitters creates a canvas as wide-open, varied and filled with both possibility and pain as the state that produced it. —RT

5. Supergroup (VH1): One more sign of the a-pop-alypse now. Surreal Life meets Rock Star and Survivor as five metal veterans move into a kitschy Las Vegas mansion to put together a band to play a show in 12 days. To say it’s a train wreck is a compliment, as aggro-egomaniac Ted Nugent rides herd on an addled Sebastian Bach, Biohazard’s tattooed love god (and paramour of porn star Tera Patrick) Evan Seinfeld sparks conflict by playing them off one another, Anthrax’s Scott Ian strokes his goatee, wondering how he got there, and Jason Bonham gamely attempts to stay out of the line of fire. Doc McGhee comes aboard as the manager, which is hilarious as he tries to organize the chaos into something resembling a plan, to little avail. Shamelessly voyeuristic, it’s still a way to give fans a peak into the process, and it could actually turn into a franchise. Imagine what would happen if they brought in Todd Rundgren, Kasim Sulton, Prairie Prince, Eliot Easton and Greg Hawkes... Whoops, it’s already been done and called the New Cars. How about a house full of American Idol losers, hosted by Brian Dunkleman? The possibilities are as endless as rock & roll itself which, come to think of it, has been pretty well exhausted if it’s come to this. —RT

6. Corinne Bailey Rae (Capitol): “The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same,” purrs this 27-year-old newcomer from Leeds, England, on “Put Your Records On,” the fast-riding single from her debut, already a hit in her native U.K. Compared to the likes of Norah Jones, Sade and Billie Holiday, Rae is that rare performer who could manage to crossover from Smooth Jazz and Urban A/C to the alternative crowd that’s embracing KT Tunstall’s similarly rhythmic funk of “Black Horse & the Cherry Tree.” Her high-pitched croon combines vulnerability with a sensuousness that recalls Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis” just as surely as it evokes Macy Gray. The horn-inflected “I’d Like To” and “Butterfly” are reminiscent of Roberta Flack’s collaborations with Donny Hathaway in the ’70s, while the surface noise of “Enchantment” and “’Till It Happens To You” mark it as an homage to old-school vinyl soul at its finest. Poised on the precipice of hip and mainstream, the lissome Rae is definitely a talent capable of joining disparate audiences, of putting the pieces back together in this hopelessly fractured music marketplace. And is there a more perfect warm-weather verse than “Summer came like cinnamon, so sweet/Little girls double-dutch on the concrete”? —RT

7. World Cup Soccer: I’m not quite a hater... In fact, back in the glory days of the fledgling NASL, the forerunner to the current Major League Soccer from the ’60s through mid-‘80s, I was a fan of the old New York Cosmos, owned by Warner Communications and run by Ahmet’s late brother Nesuhi Ertegun, who signed such international stars as Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. That team regularly sold out the 80,000-capacity Giants Stadium. My appreciation of the sport increased after several years of watching my daughter play club and then high school soccer, but I can certainly understand America’s lack of interest. For long stretches of time, it appears that nothing happens, but if you watch closely, there is all sorts of maneuvering and strategy that leads, chess-like, to scoring chances. In fact, the 1-1 tie between U.S. and Italy featured plenty of drama, including the teams playing down a man or two and a bloody elbow that resulted in an ejection. The sport’s popularity around the world, especially in Europe, is understandable, given the more contemplative, long-view of civilization held in the old country, where events don’t necessarily reveal their significance right away, but work into something in the long run. With the U.S. kicked out of the tournament by Ghana, my interest has certainly waned. I’ll have to latch onto a favorite if I’m going to spend any time at all on this, but while at the Spanish-language Entravision offices recently, I was duly impressed when everyone gathered for an impromptu party to watch Mexico play on the flat-screens in the conference room, while ex-Pistol Steve Jones literally wrapped himself in a Union Jack bath towel to celebrate England’s advance into the Round of 16. But if the U.S. continues to flame out in international play, the "beautiful game" called football by the rest of the world has two chances—slim and “nil”—of ever succeeding here as a major sport. —RT

8. The Feeling, Twelve Stops and Home (Cherry Tree/Interscope): This U.K. avant-MOR quintet has already scored a pair of hits in its homeland with “Sewn” and the current “Fill My Little World” evincing a sound that unabashedly evokes such pure pop for now people as Queen, Supertramp, the Cars, the Beach Boys and especially 10cc. The tunes from their debut, which will be released in the U.S. this fall, sound like harmless pop ditties until you dig a little below the surface to discover a song like “Sewn” is as sinister as the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” with lines like “You’ve got my heart in a headlock/You stopped the blood and made my head soft” and a creepy-crawly video that features the bandmembers literally being sewn together, with the thread seen running through their veins. What seems like a retreat is actually an aesthetic statement, glorying in glistening, Raspberry-like harmonies and lush melodies that sound like they could be outtakes from Pet Sounds or a Wings album. The results are delivered with a po-faced seriousness that hinges on tongue-in-cheek or camp, though, as heartthrob singer Dan Gillespie puts it in “Sewn,” “Gimme the song and I’ll sing it like I mean it/Gimme the words and I’ll say them like I mean it,” which he does, elevating this from kitsch to something a whole lot more affecting. Consider this the return of the Neo-New Romantics, finally providing an answer to the question, “Whatever happened to Spandau Ballet?” —RT

9. Booking Bands: This was a hot email URL that features a rather interesting literary exercise where names of bands are mashed up with books, as in The Invisible Manfred Mann, Fleetwood Macbeth and Captain Beefheart of Darkness, the three winners cited on the website www.coudal.com. Others in the mix: The Who Moved My Cheese, Catch 182, Horton Hears a Hoobastank, Of Mice and Men at Work, Bare Naked Lunch Ladies, The Agony and the XTC, Ramones of the Day, SidVicioushartha, The Necronomiconway Twitty, Courtney Love in the Time of Cholera, Jane Eyre’s Addiction, Abba Karenina, Bridge Over the River Jamiroquai, The Scarlet Pimpernelly Furtado, Even Cowboy Junkies Get The Blues, The Sun Also RZA, Into Thin Lizzy Air, Everything but the Girl is Illuminated, Tesla of the D’Ubervilles, The Faster Pussycatcher in the Rye, Doctor ZhivaGoGo’s, Of Human League Bondage, The Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Animals Farm, The Thorn Yardbirds, Elvis Costello and the Rules of Attraction, Slaughterhouse Jackson Five, The Chemical Brothers Karamazov, Blackalicious Like Me... Hell, you get the idea. Now make up some yourself. —RT

10. Gripe of the Week: We all know the joke about how Californians can’t merge, which is why traffic backs up for miles before intersections like the Ventura and San Diego freeways or the four-level consisting of the Hollywood, the Santa Ana, the Harbor and the Pasadena, etc. Getting onto a freeway is always an adventure, but that’s what the entry lanes are supposed to be for, speeding up so you can flow with the traffic, as the book says. What is really annoying is when someone speeds up instead of slows down while you’re trying to merge, like they’re trying to challenge you to a game of chicken, as you mutter underneath your breath, “Damn it—let me in already. I’ve got my turn signal on... What’s the effin' problem?” Ultimately, you end up slowing down and letting the a-hole in question pass, but the damage to your view of humanity is already done. Some people are just schmucks. —RT

 

CALENDAR
Friday, June 23rd
10:00am-7:00pm
Long Grove Strawberry Fest @ Routes 53 and 83 in Downstate Illinois: Try (deep breath here) strawberry shortcake, strawberry popcorn, strawberry donuts, fresh strawberry ice cream, homemade strawberry ice, strawberry salsa, strawberry smoothies, strawberry pie, strawberry daiquiris, farm stand strawberries and the piece de resistance—just-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries from Long Grove Confectionary.

6:30pm
World’s Ugliest Dog Contest @ Petaluma Fairgrounds: Despite what their owners may think, some dogs are just ugly. In fact, some mutts are truly hideous. But nothing quite compares to the winner of the World's Ugliest Dog, a "beauty" pageant for cosmetically-challenged canines held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma each June. If you happen to be in Petaluma, this is a must-see.

7:00pm
Flyleaf @ Loft at Center Stage, Atlanta

8:00pm
Kottonmouth Kings w/ (hed) pe and Subnoize Souljas @ House of Blues, Anaheim

 

Keith Sweat, Ginuwine and Joe @ Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City

Saturday, June 24th
10:00am-7:00pm
Great American Irish Fair & Music Festival @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre: Steering several months clear of the shenanigans related to St. Patrick's Day, the largest Irish-American cultural event in the Western U.S. takes place every June. The Irish Fair Foundation sponsors this annual event that includes multiple entertainment stages to show off everything from step and clog dancers to contemporary Celtic rock bands.

10:00am
Long Beach Bayou Festival: Featuring Zac Harmon and many others @ The Queen Mary Events Park, Long Beach

7:00pm
Journey and Def Leppard @ Nikon at Jones Beach, Wantagh, NY

8:00pm
30 Seconds to Mars @ Huntington Music Hall, Huntington, WV


The Fray @ City Lights Pavilion, Denver

Sunday, June 25th
8:00pm
Morningwood @ Axis, Boston

10:30pm
6ixteendays @ Club London at Boardners, Hollywood

Monday, June 26th
Hey, it’s Jennifer Kaizen’s 22nd birthday. She’s Je-c’s fiancée.

JE-C’S NEW-MOVIE RUNDOWN
Click
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, Sean Astin, Jennifer Coolidge, Rachel Dratch
Synopsis: A workaholic architect is faced with a dilemma: go on a vacation with his wife and kids or work overtime to land a high-profile design job. Saving him from making this choice is an eccentric Bed, Bath & Beyond product developer, who gives him a universal remote that allows him to rewind, fast-forward, slow down and pause his own life.
Thoughts: This movie looks like a lot of fun—plus it has a really good cast.


JE-C’S TOP MOVIES OF THE YEAR SO FAR

V for Vendetta: This is my favorite movie of the year so far, for many reasons. It's more than just a comic book adapted for the big screen; it’s a movie that makes a big political statement that we can all relate to these days. Definitely a movie that was slept on, and I advise everyone to check it out if you haven't yet.

X-Men III: The Last Stand: If this is the last one, it certainly satisfied my appetite. It had it all, including some incredible action sequences.

Mission Impossible III: OK, people are getting sick and tired of Tom Cruise, but if you can just get past him, this movie is actually really good. A lot of people are missing out because they’re so turned off by the star’s off-screen antics.

An Inconvenient Truth: The most important movie of the year… A MUST-SEE!!!

Nacho Libre: The funniest movie of the year. Jack Black rocks.


 

COUNTRY'S NEW KING
The Gospel of Luke (11/11a)
BIEBER BY CHRISTMAS?
How's that for a tease, Bieber Nation? (11/12a)
NEAR TRUTHS: MEET
THE NEW BOSSES
Not the same as the old bosses (11/11a)
CMA CENTERPIECE
CARRIE UNDERWOOD
This sure feels like her moment. (11/11a)
A TASTE OF RAINMAKERS II:
SARAH TRAHERN
It's a marathon, not a sprint. (11/11a)
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH KANYE
And lo, there was much earned media.
MOE, MARSHMELLO AND MONEY
The story of a "faceless" brand that got very, very big.
THE NEW WORLD OF A&R
The trap they all fell into.
GRAMMY NOMS
Who deserves consideration in the genre categories?
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