Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On lead guitar, Mr. Creed Bratton

Continuing with The Office theme, some interesting information came my way this weekend.

This may not be news to everyone, but it recently came to my attention that Creed Bratton -- the actor on NBC's The Office that plays a fictionalized version of himself, also named Creed Bratton -- was once the lead guitarist of the late 60s and early 70s California pop-rock outfit the Grass Roots. Turns out he was born William Charles Schneider, later changing his name to Chuck Ertmoed when his mother remarried, before adopting this latest incarnation.

A search of some of the Grass Roots' stuff will reveal at least half a dozen hits you've probably heard, and no doubt some you're pretty familiar with. For example: "Let's Live for Today" (na na na-na-na-na let's live for today, hey-eyyy), "Temptation Eyes", "Million Miles", "Sooner or Later" ("sooner or later, love is gonna getcha / sooner or later, love is gonna win..."), the list goes on. Their catalog is actually quite impressive, if a little formulaic and processed.

For Office fans out there, apparently there was a scene in the "Booze Cruise" episode where Michael plays the guitar on the boat. He sucks, and Creed ends up grabbing the guitar and surprising everyone with how well he plays. Also, in a deleted scene from the "Product Recall" episode, the reporter from the Scranton paper apparently recognizes Creed from his days with the Grass Roots. There are also various references to some hippie-ish traits -- his marijuana use, for example -- but nothing's really ever been addressed in an episode proper.

Creed Bratton - "Beatin' Round the Bush" (live, WMA file)
The Grass Roots - Various Songs (stream)

We wholeheartedly concur...

...with Matt Berninger of the National. We don't normally like to steal too much material from other bloggers, but Six Eyes is one of my favorites, and he's got a good interview with Berninger up now. I was reading it and stumbled across something that made me smile:

Six Eyes: Any fascinating books, movies, TV shows,
websites, records, etc., that you could point our readers in the direction
Matt Berninger: I still think BBC’s The Office is
one of the greatest works of art of the century.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Indie Rock Throwdown: John Roderick vs. The Hold Steady

As I'm sure many of our readers know, Bonnaroo took place this last weekend in the sweltering heat of Manchester, TN. The lineup was as diverse as ever and featured some notable acts including the recently reunited Police (!) and by most accounts went down rather well. While none of the Rockists themselves went, we were able to keep up with the action via friends, family, and fellow bloggers. While these reviews tended to focus on good times and good vibes, there was at least one attendee who was not afraid to throw down the gauntlet. MSNBC contributor and Rockist in Residence, John Roderick of the Long Winters, was live blogging the event for a feature called "Bonnaroo: Music, Heat and Craziness from Tennessee". Despite the whitebread title, the blog - as would be expected from Roderick - was informed, well-written, at times biting, and often downright hilarious. Check out this segment from his review of Widespread Panic:

If I owned a VW Bus, and my bus was having mechanical trouble, I would be so psyched to run into the guitarist of Widespread Panic out on the road. He looks like he must be the greatest VW mechanic in the known world. In fact, all the members of Widespread Panic could claim to be able to fix my bus and I would believe them, except maybe the guy who looks like a diamond merchant that plays the congas.


Unfortunately, it’s far too late, in my life and in this evening, for me to be able to get into the music of Widespread Panic. Perhaps it is that my heart does not have the spirit of love in it to connect with the music on a higher level. Perhaps it’s that I haven’t eaten enough tempeh, cumulatively. Perhaps it’s that they haven’t changed keys yet, and I’ve been watching them for a half an hour. Either way, I tried, I gave it a shot, but it was like listening to paint dry.

My whole point though, hence the title of this post, was to talk a little bit about Mr. Roderick's review of The Hold Steady. Before I do, though, let me just say that we love both The Hold Steady and The Long Winters dearly - we're not taking sides...

His review of Craig Finn and Co. was...how do you say...less than flattering. While he acknowledged that their live shows are full of energy he goes on to say that their music is full of s**t. Wow. Way to put it out there. He continues:

But after a song and a half, I’d lost track of the number of total rip-offs in their tunes, so much so that their set played like a medley of the greatest hits of the E Street Band, Bad Company, Foreigner and Styx. As played by your uncle’s friends.

The funny thing here is not that he dislikes The Hold Steady, but rather that he condemns them for being derivative when in later posts he heaps praise on blues-rockers The White Stripes and Black Keys. Again, I love both bands, but they're as unabashedly derivative as The Hold Steady, and maybe more so. Anyway, this isn't a new argument against them - we've heard it all before. It's old news. But, this?:

I felt like I was at a dot-com Christmas party and a bunch of drunk webmasters got up on stage to jam, with the company cut-up rapping their mission-statement out of a three-ring binder. And everyone at the party said, “Whoa, those guys are actually good. They should form a band.”


Perhaps Roderick's rant was meant to be divisive and hipsterish, or maybe he does really think Craiggers and Kubs are hacks, but regardless it was a pretty entertaining read. I encourage you to check out the rest of his posts as they are equally as enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Rockist Goes to Washington?

I work in Government Affairs, a world where meaningful overlaps with Rockism are few and far between.

But a Congressional update email I received Monday brought me an unexpected surprise. First on the list of agenda items for Monday was this, House Resolution 154:

Recognizing Stax Records for enriching the Nation's Cultural life with "50 years of soul"
The resolution was put forth by Congressman Stephen I. Cohen, a freshman Democrat from the 9th District of Tennessee -- specifically Memphis and environs. For those of you who don't know or don't care, this kind of thing happens every day. Some are somewhat meaningful tributes to particularly historic events, others simply rename post offices after local public servants.

So is Congressman Cohen a devout Rockist, or just a casual fan trying to win over some voters? Further research revealed that it is in fact Black Music Month, so that's probably part of the timing.

We here at TRS plan to reach out to Congressman Cohen's office to see how he feels about Big Star (could be a deal breaker), who was sorta distributed by Stax, but in the meantime, a few tunes to celebrate the glory and influence of Stax Records:

Booker T. & the MG's - "Time is Tight"
Otis Redding - "Shake"

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rockist Update!

Hey, it's been a while since I've rapped with y'all, but I'm back with some excellent news for those of you DC-dwellers. TRS has noticed that the summer tour schedule has been looking kinda weak (The National, Wilco and the DBT shows notwithstanding). Well, worry no more, young rockist, because Oregon's Blitzen Trapper, fresh off a tour with The Hold Steady and a Best New Music designation at the 'fork, are coming to The Rock and Roll Hotel on July 22. Awesome, you say? It couldn't get any better, you say? You say wrong, amigo, because it gets better, a whole lot better. Their tourmate for this little jaunt is none other than Nu-Glam sensation and Rockist Society favorite/obsession, David Vandervelde! We can't contain ourselves either...

Yeah we know it's a Sunday, but with the a.m. country-rock of Blitzen Trapper and the glammed out Vandervelde, this is shaping up to be the best show the 1970's never saw. So, put on your big boy pants, take down a sixer, and do yourself a favor - be there.

Blitzen Trapper - "Wild Mountain Nation"

David Vandervelde - "Murder in Michigan"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This Week in Video

I realize it's been a while since the last video post (well, we have been slacking on all aspects of the blog, our apologies). I know most of you were wondering how to go on. Wonder no more.

Sometimes you feel like the upper right and sometimes you feel like the lower left. This video from Blue States will make you think twice about the consequences of that last sip of coffee. Oh, and ladies, keep an eye on the upper right for a special treat.
Blue States - "Allies"

Ahhh crap. I just realized The Comas played last night at DC9 even though it was advertised here. I guess I'll have to rely on AOL to give me my fill. There's nothing like satisfaction though online corporations.

The Comas - "Red Microphones"

My latest obsession, The Twilight Sad, has not left my playlist in over a week. It's like listening to The National crossed with Interpol crossed with a kilt. The Rockists are planning on checking them out at Sonar on 7/17. Be sure to check out their other music below the video.

The Twilight Sad - "And She Would Darken The Memory"

The Twilight Sad - "Walking For Two Hours"
The Twilight Sad - "Mapped By What Surrounded Them"

Thursday, June 7, 2007

All Roads Lead to Duck: The National - Boxer

There's nothing like a new album to get you through standstill traffic. The Rockists took yet another road trip. This time it was to OBX (or the Outer Banks for you less dignified folk). Thinking we could beat traffic the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend by leaving at 1pm (didn't happen) we waited hesitantly to start Boxer until after our Sonic trip. Realizing that it wouldn't happen for at least 2 hours (it took 4), we hooked up the iPod to hear the rhythmic piano chords of "Fake Empire."

Following up Alligator shouldn't be an easy task. After listening to the first two songs you can sense the natural progression of their music (the constant crescendo into horns in "Fake Empire" and the off beat percussion with little more than monotone lyrics in "Mistaken for Strangers"). On first listening, though, the rest of the album was a little disappointing. There aren't any balls out, heart on the table rock songs like the ones that peppered Alligator (which is what drew me to The National in the first place). The vocal melodies seemed lazy and unenthusiastic. Hell, there are even pitch problems in "Start a War." Maybe I'm wrong and Matt Berringer likes singing in a sliding diminished key, but it just isn't pleasant to my ear.

Now, before you crucify me for hating on these guys. Like Mr. Holland with John Coltrane, the more I listen to the album the more it grows on me. I now think it's a fantastic release. I think the musicality of "Ada" finally sold me on the album. So there you have it. I like it.

Oh, and the Outer Banks is gorgeous this time of year.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Rockist Holy Grail, Part I

Thought it might be a good idea for a recurring feature to feature a couple mp3s that are exactly the type of thing every card-carrying Rockist is looking for when he/she decides to troll the mp3 blogs for free tunes.

The two we have here are covers -- which, themselves, are debatably un-Rockist, but whatever -- that score very high on the TRS authenticity meter. They're both the kind of songs that you never expect to find, but are always elated when you come across them. Check 'em out:

Camper Van Beethoven - "Pictures of Matchstick Men" (Status Quo cover)

I once wrote to Ween to suggest they cover this song. To my knowledge, they've never taken me up on my suggestion, but CVB have beat them to it. The violin kinda takes the weird, psych edge off, but this was always one of my favorite mid-late British Invasion singles.

Arcade Fire - "Five Years" (David Bowie cover)

Actually also heard the Polyphonic Spree do their own spin on this one and liked it more, but since this one came as a total surprise when they did it at First Avenue in Minneapolis a couple years ago, it gets the nod. The ultimate epic opener done by a band that's pretty familiar with them.

And just for good measure...

The Hold Steady - "Against the Wind" (Bob Seger cover)