Minor Alps is the collaboration between Juliana Hatfield and Nada Surf‘s Matthew Caws, and for some reason that was not enough to make me rush to listen as soon as it became available, fool that I am. The music they’ve made together is everything you might hope for, with their complimentary voices providing airy harmonies throughout simply great songs.
They’ve just released a new video for the song “Waiting For You.” Directed by Emilie and Sarah Barbault, and filmed in Paris, the video follows a man and a woman wandering the same spots, but continually missing each other.
Check out the video below, and look for the full album Get There, available now.
The members of Ringer T began playing together in middle school, before life led each member to different corners of the country. But diaspora hasn’t slowed them down. With four full-lengths under their belt, the band is holding steady. And the fruits of their long distance relationship are pretty impressive. Walk It Straight is an easy, approachable melody that has a weary sweetness a la Wilco, Grandaddy or Nada Surf. It’s mellow stuff, but still packs an emotional wallop. In The Easy Road the band carefully layers sparse piano and acoustic guitar for a purist approach to longing. Let Me Be Your Man is more plugged in, but not by much. With electric guitars, drums and a male back-up chorus, the band engineers a rousing love song that will rattle your heart. If anything, Ringer T shows that wearing your emotions on your sleeve can be pretty badass.
Lana Del Rey’s SNL performance
There’s no arguing that Lana Del Rey has a beautiful voice, but there’s also no arguing that she is gangly as all get-out. The torchy chanteuse made her television debut on Saturday Night Live last weekend, and it turns out she’s quite a polarizing performer. Juliette Lewis initially dissed Del Ray, saying it felt like watching a twelve year old in their bedroom. But the next day Lewis woke up singing a different tune. Decide for yourself if Del Rey is fresh and yummy or wiggity-wack by watching her performance below.
Trent Reznor, Flaming Lips, Radiohead protest Internet legislation
Musicians are up in arms this week over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA)”two bills making their way through Congress that will allow the government to block access to sites accused of copyright infringement before their court date. The Lonely Island, Nada Surf, MGMT signed this online petition, while Radiohead and Flaming Lips posted anti SOPA and PIPA banners on their Web sites and Twitter profiles. We’ll see if star power can move mountains, or at least Capitol Hill.
Jay-Z hasn’t retired the b-word after all
This week numerous media outlets reported that Jay-Z had released a poem announcing he’d given up the word bitch in honor of his daughter, Blue Ivy. Turns out, the whole thing is a crock of bitch (hey, if he’s not retiring it, then neither are we). Jay-Z will still be going H.A.M. when it comes to profanity, which gives us a sneaking suspicion of what Blue Ivy’s first word will be.
Kate Bush stalker breaks in to propose
When Kate Bush sang Let me into your window in her song, Wuthering Heights, little did she know one day a fan would let himself into her window in an ill-fated attempt at a marriage proposal. Police arrested Frank Tufaro after he broke into the reclusive singer’s home with a $4,500 engagement ring. Bush wasn’t home at the time, but we’re guessing her answer would have been no.
Elton John and husband get catty with Madonna
Madonna won the Best Original Song at the Golden Globes on Sunday, much to the dismay of Sir Elton John and his husband, David Furnish. John was nominated for his song, Hello Hello from Gnomeo and Juliet, but lost to Madge’s Masterpiece from W.E. That pissed Furnish right off, and he let everyone know it on his Facebook page. You can read the rant here, and see a screenshot of Elton John’s sourpuss during Madonna’s acceptance speech.
Diddy loses another battle in the vodka wars
Page Six is reporting that P Diddy lost his cool once again when patrons of a pre-Golden Globe party were prohibited from drinking his Ciroc vodka because the event was sponsored by Grey Goose. Not that anyone was asking for Circoc, mind you. Maybe that’s what he was really mad about. Get the rest of the gossip here.
- Lookout! Records going under
- Sinéad O’Connor seeks treatment for depression
- Merle Haggard hospitalized
- Santigold blasts Katy Perry and Lady Gaga
- LL Cool J to host GRAMMY Awards
- Adele defends relationship on Web site
- Miley Cyrus buys boyfriend a puppy
- Bruno Mars cleared of cocaine possession
- Paris Hilton recording song with LMFAO for new album
- Kanye West recites poem about MLK Jr.
- Rihanna goes green on vacation
Once the domain of super-serious, straight-up cover bands like Sticky Fingers (The Stones), Crystal Ship (The Doors) and the thousands of Beatles covers bands who flourished after the Broadway musical Beatlemania made it cool to be faux, the world of tribute bands has evolved along with every other musical movement. From the weird and marginal (Mini Kiss, a band of little people who lip sync to Kiss recordings) to the ultra professional (Bjorn Again ,the highly successful traveling fake-Abba stage show), tribute bands are multiplying and diversifying.
In the post-millennial, post-irony era, it is difficult to enjoy even our guilty pleasures without some conceptual tweaking that allows us to feel that we are in on the joke. So while the more serious tribute bands continue to rake in literally millions of dollars per year from ticket sales, a whole crop of acts have emerged that combine off-kilter performance art with sing-a-long élan.
One popular trend in this direction is the stylistic mashup”like New York City’s Tragedy, who play heavy metal versions of Bee Gees songs; Beatallica, a seamless blend of thrash metal and Fab Four pop; Hoboken’s Skanatra, who apply a spirited blue-beat to the Ol’ Blue Eyes repertoire; and Hayseed Dixie, whose bluegrass renditions of hard rock classics”and elaborate fictional backstory”have kept audiences chuckling for over a decade.
An offshoot of the hybrid tribute act is the gender switch”e.g. Hell’s Belles (femme AC/DC), Deva (double-X chromosome Devo tribute), Lez Zeppelin (All girls, all Zeppelin), We Got the Meat, (Portland’s all-male Go-Go’s) and The Pretty Babies, the all-girl Blondie tribute band led by New York singer/comedienne Tammy Faye Starlite, who was an actress before she turned to musical comedy.
I like to play characters, says Starlite, who also plays Mick Jagger in the hilarious all-female Rolling Stones act, The Mike Hunt Band. I guess I’d call myself a ˜performer’”like Liza, but less sequined. And unfortunately, with fewer opiates.
Inhabiting the persona of Debbie Harry, Nico or Mick is like doing a great play. The singer is the lead character, and the songs are the lines.
Then there are the less theatrical but still high-concept acts. Former Guided By Voices member Doug Gillard (now mainly a solo artist) has recently begun playing in Bambi Kino, a Beatles tribute with a twist: their song selections and playing style directly copy the early-˜60s, Hamburg-nightclub-playing era of the band, during which their set lists were mainly pop covers and a few primitive originals. Although the group, which includes Nada Surf’s Ira Elliot, doesn’t assume fake Beatles identities, they do aim for sonic authenticity.
Says Gillard, We try to avoid more modern guitar chord voicings, licks, and drum fills in favor of period-appropriate styles”which is a challenge. There’s an appeal for us in really inhabiting the music and the era we’re playing songs from.
Aside from the artistic challenge, and the potential to make some money, what motivates tribute artists to do their thing? Singer Cathy Cervenka heads up the New York-based Cathyland rock collective, which puts together tribute shows for their favorite ˜80s artists, demonstrating both great devotion and dashes of amiable camp. A recent gig had Cervenka performing, with gusto and supple vocal skill, Pat Benatar’s breakthrough Crimes of Passion album with a strong backing band in full ˜80s spandex array.
There’s nothing more fun than getting to play your favorite songs onstage with your band, says Cervenka, for an audience of fellow fans, who know every word and guitar lick of every song.
She adds reverentially, It’s a very communal experience.
By Paula Carino
Paula Carino is a musician and writer based in New York. She’s written for AMG, American Songwriter and contributed to the Encyclopedia of Pop Music. She’s also a yoga teacher and authored the book Yoga To Go.