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JUNE 27, 2006
NYC

I got to New York this morning and staying in Bklyn. My posts might be sparse, but that's because I'm out looking for new things.

I did hit a lot of music in Chicago last weekend and did an interview with one of the blogosphere's favorite bands -- so keep your eyes posted for that in the next few days.

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JUNE 24, 2006
Quick Update: The Changes

Thechanges_1
Last night, the Changes and Office shared a bill at the Darkroom in Chicago. Office was, as always, wonderful. One thing I did notice that they weren't wearing their signature suits. When I mentioned this to drummer Erica Corniel, she quickly replied that it was "casual Friday!"

The Changes came on right around 11 pm and it was immediately obvious that there was something different and more serious about their playing. They were tighter and more polished than I've ever heard them, putting a new spin on some older tunes and introduced a couple of new songs from their forthcoming CD. After the show, I heard some serious music snobs commenting that they're never heard the band sound so good. It's a good sign that late 2006 could belong to this band.

Speaking of the new CD, I just got a voicemail from lead singer Darren Spitzer that the CD has gone through its final mastering and he's ready to play it for me.

So, I wish I had more to report but until I hear the music -- which I hope to post MP3s here -- just know that the boys are ready to blast off and are truly geeked about finally releasing their first full-length CD.

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JUNE 21, 2006
Live Review: Radiohead Chicago June 20, 2006

Radiohead_liveI wanted to call this post "Toilet Trained and Dumb," when I heard Thom Yorke sing that great and poignant line in the first encore opener "My Iron Lung." Now I know it's not protocol to begin a live show review by talking about what the band did for the encore, but who said a review had to follow any particular criteria?

This thought crossed my mind while reading some reviews of recent Radiohead shows. The critics talk about the band's flair and artistry with gorgeous prose, describing songs in intricate detail, not necessarily making me want to hang on every word, but fast-forward to the end.

For me, I don't necessarily need to know every little detail about a live show, just the big parts.

And tonight's second Radiohead show at Chicago's Auditorium Theater had a lot of big parts.

For starters, the band walked onto the stage in darkness to the familiar sounds of overdubbed computer-generated chatter. Next, a dark screen behind the stage fell to the floor revealing about a dozen non-symmetrically shaped video screens projecting the band's live performance throughout the night. Shadowed in black and white, Radiohead's moving, singing, playing images reminded me of a 1950's film noir revealing layered scenes from a murder mystery -- and this was its soundtrack.

As has been reported, the band pulled out about nine new songs throughout the night, many of which show yet another level in the band's ever-expanding, experimental repertoire. But two in particular, "15 Step" and "Bangers 'n Mash," got me into a groove that reminded me the boys had just been to Bonnaroo. I forget that Radiohead, hailed as a champion of experimental space rock, can really boogie down. Thom Yorke was doing a little bit of the hippie, hippie shake, especially on "Bangers" when he was cutting loose with a tambourine. The guy has a great amount of jiggle and soul in his little British body -- and Phil Selway's funky drumming helped kick up the dust.

Interspersed throughout the two-plus hour, 23-song set were a mix-up of tunes from all their albums -- "Airbag," "2+2=5," "Street Spirit," "No Surprises." But, and here's where we bring things full circle, it was during the two encores that the Auditorium Theater saw 14 years of fantastic music come to a head. "My Iron Lung" -- BAM. "The Bends" -- BAM. "Myxomatosis" -- BAM BAM. Crunchy licks. Haunting Vocals. Scintillating percussion. Not to mention Jonny Greenwood. Need I say more?

I've had the pleasure of seeing Radiohead now three times -- all in small venues (Chicago's Metro, the Rosemont Theater and now here). Every time was as big and powerful as the last because the band can make the largest space fit into their enormous presence. And while Thom has been known to be a little mopey and not always talkative to audiences or the press, he created an atmosphere where it was obvious he didn't want to be anywhere else tonight. He danced and cavorted, smiled and gleamed and looked out into the audience as if to say, "remember this moment. we're all lucky to be here sharing this night."

And for the few thousand of us inside the space, we nodded in total agreement.

(thanks to Green Plastic for posting the set list so fast.)

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JUNE 19, 2006
Interview: Dave Matthews

Davematthews

Sipping a beer at Heathrow International Airport in London last month, Dave Matthews took some time to chat with me. The front man for one of the most successful touring bands in history was relaxed, mellow and soft-spoken while he discussed this summer's tour, the band's new recording studio in its hometown of Charlottesville, Va., and plans for a new album set for a late '06/early '07 release.

This interview was originally done for the Associated Press in story format, but you can read the entire un-edited back-and-forth below. Or, just stream it and have it on in the background while you're working.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Q&A with Dave Matthews:

SomethingGlorious: How long have you been in England?
Dave Matthews: About a week. We have a new record deal. We got all the territories outside of the U.S. back from BMG. We have a fresh outlook here and I've been coming over and meeting people and talking and introducing myself to promoters and publishers over here. I did a few shows and some recordings. I took advantage of being here and did some small solo acoustic shows.

SG: Why don't you tour England and Europe that often?
DM: It's just more than anything because what has driven our career is touring touring touring. It started with a van. It did focus very much on the U.S. and Canada. Our relationship with the record company came out of that. We've always been off kilter a bit or on a different page with BMG International for obvious reasons. There's always been this strange attempt or methods of trying to get us over here. It's always made us hesitant. Now I think we're all much happier with the way the approach V2 records is dealing with us here in Europe. We're still with Sony/BMG in other areas. Now it's more of a humble approach to let people discover us as opposed to coming in with trumpets blaring. Some music works well that way. Our music, it makes me feel kind of gross. IT didn't work in the states that way so ...


More Q&A after the jump...

Continue reading "Interview: Dave Matthews" »

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JUNE 16, 2006
Interview: Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional

Carrabba

After spending two years writing and recording his latest album, Dusk and Summer, Chris Carrabba, lead singer and brainchild of emo-rock outfit Dashboard Confessional, is finally getting ready to bare his soul to the world once again.

The album, set for a June 27 release, paired Carrabba with music-industry stalwarts Don Gilmore (Pearl Jam, Linkin Park) and Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan, Paul Oakenfold), who split production duties on the project. It also features, "So Long, So Long," a collaboration with Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz.

Carrabba will spend his summer doing a "classy" club tour, hitting spots like Radio City Music Hall and the Chicago Theater before embarking on a larger arena tour in the fall.

I spoke with Chris, who was a sweet, funny, engaging and entertaining guy. He truly loves what he does and can't wait to get back out in front of his fans, some of whom accuse him of "eye sexing" them. Don't know what it is? Read on and find out.

Want to hear the unedited interview? Listen to it instead.

----------------------

Q&A with Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba (originally appeared in the AP):

SG: Why did you spend so much time writing this album?
CC: Because they let me [laughs]. I wanted it to be as good as it is now. I knew exactly what I wanted from it and I took a good amount of time making the record.

MORE after the jump...

Continue reading "Interview: Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional" »

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Live Review: Madonna @ United Center 6/14

Madonna_cross Madonna's Confessions tour hit Chicago last night -- the first of four sold-out shows -- and it was worth the price of admission (although at those prices, I wouldn't have minded a little a/c, but Queen Madge apparently had strict instructions to keep it off so it wouldn't damage her vocal chords.)

I knew we had great seats -- section 1, row 14 between two catwalks. When she came through town two years ago, the catwalks were raised above the audience so I assumed it would be the same. But as we walked down onto the floor and realized that our seats were literally smacked-up next to the floor-level center catwalk, we knew life was good. I'd seen Madonna three other times in my life and this would -- no doubt -- be the most surreal experience.

And it was. Madge -- and her troop of dancers -- were literally within 5 feet of us as they walked, swayed, danced, roller skated, jumped and sang down the catwalk. We were so close that I swear I saw some Botox holes in her forehead!

As for the show, it was a well-executed, visually stimulating production. Fuck that, it was intense. It was mind blowing. It was dramatic, political, emotional. For a 47-year-old mother of two, Madonna looks hot as hell and can move in ways most people only dream of. She has the flexibility of an 16 year old but with the attitude of a woman who's earned the right to call herself the most famous woman in the world.

As for the music, she delivered (except on a couple of lip-synced songs). She opened with "Future Lovers" and came down in a massive disco ball (see picture below) and went into Donna Summer's "I Feel Love." She paraded through most of the songs on her new album, mixing in old favorites like "Erotica," "Lucky Star" and "Like A Virgin," where she straddled a stationary saddle, bucking on it up and down.

She rocked out with her electric guitar during "I Love New York" and donned a John Travolta Saturday Night Fever-esque white suit while sampling "Disco Inferno." And ended the show in true disco diva fashion with the over-the-top party number "Hung Up." To my surprise and dismay, she didn't play "Holiday," her one real staple in every tour. Why? Not sure. Bummed was I? You bet.

Madonna has always been one to use her forum to speak her mind -- and this she did over and over. She took on our world's leaders, flashing their images across the screen and eventually comparing Dubya to Hitler. And during "Live to Tell," where Madonna hung from a cross (see above), a timer counted up to the number 12,000,000 -- signifying the number of African children orphaned by AIDS. And during "Forbidden Love," she had topless male dancers stand in solidarity -- and she joined them -- showing her continued dedication to the gay community.

Whatever you say about Madonna's antics, the woman is the consummate performer. At the end of the day, she will always deliver, because if she can't, she might as well hang up her unitard and high heels. But for now, she's bringing it -- in full force.

Madonna_dball

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JUNE 15, 2006
Review: Keane "Under the Iron Sea"

Keane_undersea

It's hard to tell whether Keane is lashing out at the ills of the world or crying out from the personal conflict caused by fame. But on their new release, Under the Iron Sea, the follow-up to the five-million-selling Hopes and Fears, the romantic piano popsters tackle new territory: dark and angry.

But, being Keane, it only can be so morose since undertones of sonic hope shine through the lyrical pain and confusion. Like Editors, whose debut The Back Room pits grim content against poppy music, Keane experiments with that equation.

"Atlantic," the dark album opener, sets a mysteriously eerie tone, but the album quickly rebounds – sonically, at least – with its upbeat first single, "Is It Any Wonder?" The whole of Iron Sea is a moody back-and-forth commentary on the band's whirlwind success. "Hamburg Song" nods toward the dramatic and grandiose while "A Bad Dream" displays an emotional breakdown. Fortunately the hopeful "Crystal Ball" and dreamlike "The Frog Prince" tie things together to remind us that things are seemingly OK in Keane land.

It's almost hard to imagine life being difficult for these guys when they present their turmoil in such a gorgeous package. Whoever said misery had to be dark and ugly? It surely wasn't Keane.

Check out MP3s at iTunes UK store (it's not released in the US until June 20).

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Newsmap

Newsmap_1The Newsmap is a cool app that gathers news headlines pulled from the Google news aggregator and displays it in a visually stimulating treemap. The news is broken up by both time and category (sports, entertainment, business, tech), with the most current, pressing news laid out in larger format. You can even click on each headline to launch the story in a separate browser window.

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JUNE 14, 2006
Introducing WingmanDaily

Wingmanlogo
The latest project that I helped launch and am the editor of is WingmanDaily, a daily email newsletter for men based in Chicago. Wingman delivers a daily report on what is fresh, hip and cool for men -- gadgets, style, grooming, nightlife, health/fitness and more. Wingman focuses on one item each day -- and we never accept payment for editorial. This week, we've already talked about JLindeberg for Puma golf shoes, Sonos digital music system and Task Essential eye cream -- and there are already great items in the archive.

Check it out and register.

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Stelton i:con biz card holder

Icon_bizcardLaunched in the 1960s as a tableware design collective, Danish company Stelton has championed stylish lifestyle products for the last half century. Stelton has brought style and function to homes with their line of stainless steel products, including tea and coffee pots, cocktail shakers, bottle openers and serving knives. They just introduced a new line called i:cons targeting on-the-go, stylish movers and shakers. My favorite pieces in the line are the ergonomic charcoal business card holder and money clip. You can pick up the items at a few stores in North America or online at UnicaHome.

via JoshSpear.

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