Review: The Replacements at Riot Fest Toronto, August 25, 2013

Before last night, I wasn’t going to write about the Replacements reunion at Riot Fest. My husband Matt and I traveled five-odd hours to Toronto simply as fans looking to see a bunch of musicians we both admire play a bunch of songs we love. But after the band’s way-too-brief 75-minute headlining set last night, I realized I had a few things to say.

I had no expectations going in, well aware of the band’s reputation as being a hit-or-miss live act. And I was afraid of being disappointed, that somehow the time away from the stage—especially in Paul Westerberg’s case—might detract from the show. Plus, with no practice video from the reunion to go by (save for a few tantalizing snippets on their Facebook page), no pre-show interviews and no reason given why the band decided to reunite now, the whole affair was shrouded in mystery. Continue reading

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R.I.P. Jason Molina

Courtesy of Secretly Canadian

Just a few weeks ago, during one of my many idle Internet searches, I was poking around about info on Magnolia Electric Co./Songs: Ohia frontman Jason Molina, who had all but disappeared from music several years ago due to unspecified health problems. I didn’t find anything new on his condition at the time, but today I perhaps discovered why that was: Molina had passed away over the weekend at age 39, of natural causes. Further digging revealed that an addiction to alcohol was apparently why Molina stepped into the shadows. I somehow missed that was the root of his struggles, which made me even sadder.

I was quite a fan of Molina and his many projects; Songs: Ohia’s sparse work was a very formative inspiration in my late college years, and Magnolia Electric Co.’s Fading Trails was a favorite soon after I moved to St. Louis. “Lonesome Valley” in particular hit me in the heart like a brick–so much so that I vividly recall going to see Magnolia Electric Co. open for Son Volt at the Pageant in St. Louis, despite being sick with a fever, because I had a desperate need to hear that song live. (They played it.) As a songwriter, Molina was so adept at capturing loneliness; that, coupled with an acute awareness of mortality and desolation, lent his music such an ache, it was hard to shake. His songs burned, rather than skimmed, the surface.

“Lonesome Valley”

In August 2003, I interviewed Jason for the alt-weekly Cleveland Scene, for a feature loosely tied to the fact that he was a Cleveland native. We talked a lot about his time here as a musician–and about plenty of other things, too. I found my entire transcription of that interview, and will post it when I have some time to clean it up. In the meantime, here’s text of that feature I turned in then (which somehow doesn’t seem to be online). Continue reading

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Interview: Cassadee Pope Before The Voice

As you might have heard, Cassadee Pope won season three of The Voice last night. While many people were introduced to her via the show, the lithe singer has actually been working in music for years now. In March 2010, I interviewed Pope–then the lead singer of pop-punk act Hey Monday, and a burgeoning star of the Warped Tour set–for Alternative Press. At the time, she was heading into the studio to record a full-length (which later became 2010′s Beneath It All EP). It’s interesting now to hear what she has to say. Read on: Continue reading

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Top 10 Of…Top Of The Pops

When I get bored, I turn to YouTube–specifically, to watch vintage ’80s videos. Often that leads me to clips from UK or European music shows, which tended to have the more obscure/weird performances. In that spirit, here are some of my favorite performances culled from the annals of time. These aren’t necessarily the best performances, mind you–just some I love.

1. Wham!, “Freedom” (1984)
A hotly contested debate: George Michael “Freedom ’90″ or Wham! “Freedom”? I fall into the latter camp–which means this video is a must-watch in my book. See also: Wham! rap from 1983, live on TOTP. CLASSIC.

2. Haysi Fantayzee, “John Wayne Is Big Leggy”
British music of the ’80s bred bands like this. Although best known for the mincing “Shiny Shiny,” this song was a truly peculiar specimen–like a proto-Sugarcubes or something.
Continue reading

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Review: The Dandy Warhols and 1776 at the Grog Shop, Saturday, June 9

The Dandy Warhols’ last Cleveland appearance before their Saturday night show at the Grog Shop was in 1996, opening for Love And Rockets at the Odeon. (This absence seems absolutely preposterous, but the band’s official gigography confirms this gap in shows.) Perhaps that’s why the show was sold out well in advance—and why those in attendance were itching to party.

More on that later. In the meantime, the eternally cool Portland quartet delivered a solid set which pleased the salivating crowd, mainly because the band stuck mostly to the hits. Continue reading

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Review: Radiohead and Caribou at Blossom Music Center, June 6, 2012

Photo by: Annie Zaleski

When Radiohead performed at Blossom Music Center in 2001, they played the Amnesiac cut “Like Spinning Plates” live for the first time ever. Frontman Thom Yorke played the song sitting down at a piano; the instrument had a fish-eye lens attached at head-level so that his movements—eyes-closed, beatific head sways mostly—were projected onto huge screens. Last night at Blossom Music Center, Radiohead again played “Like Spinning Plates”—notably, for the first time during this tour. Yorke again played the song sitting at the piano, and its watery chords flowed from his hands like rippling water. Continue reading

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Welcome to Wherever You Are

Months and months in the making, I’m launching a music blog. As the name hints, it’ll delve into that antiquated (and criminally overlooked) format, the cassingle. But it’ll also be a home for raves, faves, rants and nuggets from my journalism adventures of the last decade. Consider this blog a work in progress, in other words.

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