Saturday, January 21, 2012

Michael Fremer Album Review

Sky Full of Holes
(new release)

Fountains of Wayne

Yep roc Yep 2247 180g LP

Produced by: Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger

Engineered by: Geoff Sanoff

Mixed by: John Holbrook

Mastered by: George Marino at Sterling Sound

Vinyl Cut by: A. Nonymous



Store Gone, Fountains Still Spew
by Michael Fremer
December 01, 2011

Named for a now defunct Northern New Jersey, Route 23 lawn furniture emporium (bought my chaise lounges there!), Fountains of Wayne has been making consistently tuneful and erudite observations about just plain folks since 1996 when they released their eponymous first album on Atlantic Records. The core was then and is now, the delightfully bratty-voiced Chris Collingwood and his multi-instrumental partner Adam Schlesinger.

But you probably already know that, having consumed with great pleasure the rest of the group's witty, melodic, easily digestible musical output. And if not, why not?

Having grown up a short Q44 bus ride away from Utopia Parkway, the group's second album and also having lived in "Hackensack," a song from the group's third album Welcome Interstate Managers I feel somehow oddly connected to these guys. I certainly share their sense of humor. But enough about me.

1999's Utopia Parkway concerned itself generally with teenaged angst, but more specifically, the awkward period of time between physically and mentally moving out of one's childhood home and establishing one's adulthood. Catchy couplets, hummable melodies and enthusiastic reviews didn't translate into huge sales and Atlantic dropped them.

They carried on with 2003's Welcome Interstate Managers containing another collection of irresistiblly tuneful tales mining with even greater precision the same subject matter, including the MILF anthem "Stacey's Mom," the inside the quarterback's head "All Kinds of Time" and the played against type sincerity of the Paul Simon-ish "Valley Winter Song." Another great album with zero filler.

It takes these guys a college education's worth of time to produce a new album, which brought about 2007's very fine but somewhat less memorable Traffic and Weather and now 2011's Sky Full of Holes.

This one finds the duo diving, not just dipping into the Difford/Tilbrook playbook, with a more acoustic flavor than usual, backed by guitarist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young. The connection between Fountains and Squeeze's mid-tempo tunefulness has always been there, just more understated than here. Here it's upfront on the opening hilarity and chaos of "The Summer Place," a song about the comings and goings on an island vacation home and a women who "ran away (from home) back in '78," meaning the songwriting duo has trained its eyes on a forty-something instead of a twenty-something.

"Richie and Ruben" (rhymes with a partnership that don't know what its doin') concerns a duo, friends since the seventh grade, that doesn't do well in business, first with a restaurant and then a boutique. "Acela" breezily observes people on the Amtrak to Boston, while "Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart" is in the wistful, end of summer melodic mode Fountains does so well.

"Action Hero" looks at a middle-aged guy living a banal but stressed-out suburban family life who gets by imagining himself a leaper of tall buildings. In other words, the subjects have now made the jump from in-between adolescent time to full fledged adulthood. The side ends with a nostalgic look back at a couple's 1998 Caribbean vacation. No country mentioned, but sounds like Jamaica.

There's a wonderfully resigned "road song" that dips into "Valley Winter Song" territory written to the one who stayed home in which Collingwood self-deprecatingly sings "And I know that I'm no Steve Perry." As side two rolls along, the brattiness gives way to the sincerity of "Workingman's Hands" that could end up in a Home Depot commercial, followed by the equally sincere, Springsteen-ish "pick yourself up" song "Hate to See You LIke This." "Radio Bar" picks up the pace but the lyrical and musical mood is '70s nostalgic.

The "Firefight Waltz" gets downright soft and cuddly, while the album's closer, "Cemetery Guns," which contains the album title within its lyrics, indicates a profound seriousness signaling either the end of the road or a turn onto a new one for Fountains of Wayne. Either way, the album ends with a weighty sputter not a frothy flash. Fans won't want to miss this latest tuneful installment whatever it signals for the future.

The recording and mix are serviceable and well organized digital, probably Pro-Tools. Its quite listenable by today's standards but that's about it. While George Marino mastered the files, the label wouldn't pay Sterling's lacquer cutting rate and I have no idea who did the honors. The 180g pressing was excellent and the record was in a nice paper and rice paper sleeve within a well-presented jacket. A glossy one sheet presents the lyrics. The free MP3 download includes bonus material not on the album as well as a free Yep Roc musical sampler.

Thanks to Michael over at for the exclusive rights to reprint this material. Stop by for more reviews and features.

©2011 & Michael Fremer - - All rights reserved

Reprinted by Permission

Vinyl Record News & Music Notes

great article about some lost treasures being reissued!

Homespun vinyl


Bringing rare albums to collectors worldwide, Secret Stash Records truly is a secret in its hometown - except to its faithful volunteers

On a recent Monday night, when most men were at home watching football, a dozen male music geeks crowded into an Uptown Minneapolis office for a three-hour volunteer work shift. Their mission: Hand-package 1,000 vinyl copies of a record that came out 41 years ago and was largely forgotten.

Welcome to the cult of Secret Stash Records.

A two-year-old Minneapolis label with an especially strong following in Europe, Secret Stash finds old, long-out-of-print albums that it reissues to rare-vinyl-seeking record nerds around the globe. Its releases have ranged from Peruvian funk to Ghanaian R&B to '70s porn-movie soundtracks.

Read the rest at


For the Record

Dust off your turntable. Vinyl is back.

by Jennie Wood

The Nielsen Company and Billboard released their 2011 Music Industry Report in January 2012. The report included some positive news: total album sales were up for the first time since 2004. One obvious reason was the still-rising popularity of digital music. Digital album sales broke the 100 million mark for the first time, up nearly 20% from 2010. Three genres, Jazz, New Age, and Electronic, doubled their digital album sales. A second, indisputable reason for the increase in sales was Adele's blockbuster album, 21, which became the first record since Usher's Confessions in 2004 to sell more than 5 million copies in one year. A third and less obvious reason was, for the fourth consecutive year, vinyl album sales increased. In fact, more vinyl albums were purchased in 2011 than any other year since Nielsen SoundScan started keeping score.

Vinyl in a Digital Age

In 2011, vinyl album sales reached 3.9 million, up 36% from 2010. Of all those vinyl records sold, 67% were purchased at independent music stores like Chicago's Reckless Records. Having worked at Reckless since 2008, Rebecca Crawford has seen a rise in vinyl sales. When asked why she thinks vinyl sales have increased, she said, "It is primarily due to the 'digital age' of downloading music causing CDs to dramatically decrease in value. Many people will buy CDs, burn it, and then sell them back."

Crawford also said the renewed interest in vinyl was due to a younger generation discovering it for the first time.



this from our friends at

Deerhoof/David Bazan Split 7"+Instant MP3 Out Now!

DeerBazan is the latest in a series of collaborative 7"s featuring guest vocalists singing self composed lyrics and vocal melodies over a Deerhoof instrumental.

Side A features David Bazan (Pedro the Lion, Headphones) on Deerhoof's "No One Asked to Dance" (from Deerhoof vs. Evil).

Side B features Bazan's re-working of the Headphones classic "Gas and Matches."

Limited edition of 2000 on clear blue vinyl.

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Deerhoof/David Bazan DeerBazan Clear Blue 7" + Instant MP3 -- $5

Deerhoof Reveille LP+Instant MP3 Out Now!

Reveille, Deerhoof's fourth full-length, is the first to feature guitarist John Dieterich (Gorge Trio, SWAPS) -- joining Satomi Matsuzaki and Greg Saunier.

Now available for the first time on 180-gram light blue vinyl.

All orders receive an INSTANT full-album MP3 download at checkout.

Deerhoof Reveille Light Blue LP + Instant MP3 -- $14


in an expanded music history for january 21st:

Born on this day in 1939, DJ Wolfman Jack. Master of ceremonies for the rock 'n' roll generation of the '60s on radio, and later on television during the '70s. Died of a heart attack 1/7/95.

In 1957, at Universal Recording Studios in Chicago, Chuck Berry recorded "School Day," backed by guitarist Hubert Sumlin, bassist Willie Dixon, and drummer Fred Below. The session(s) were produced by the Chess brothers – Leonard and Phil. It is one of his best known songs and is often considered a rock and roll anthem. It was first released as a single and later appeared as the lead track on Berry's first album, After School Session.

In 1957, Elvis Presley began filming his second movie, his first in color, "Loving You," co-starring Lizabeth Scott, Wendell Corey, Dolores Hart, and James Gleason.

Also in 1957, country music singer Patsy Cline was the winning contestant on "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" program on CBS-TV with her performance of "Walkin' After Midnight."

In 1959, the Kingston Trio, one of the foremost groups behind the folk music craze, receive their first Gold record for "Tom Dooley", a folk song based on the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

In 1964, Peter and Gordon record the Lennon / McCartney tune "A World Without Love."

It was released as their first single in February 1964, reaching number one in the UK Singles Chart in April. The song was written by Paul McCartney and attributed to Lennon–McCartney. The B-side was "If I Were You" written by Peter and Gordon. In June 1964, "A World Without Love" topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. It was included on the duo's debut album in the UK, and in the US on an album of the same name. It is one of two songs written by Lennon–McCartney to reach number one in the US by an artist other than the Beatles. The other is "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by Elton John.

"A World Without Love" is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

McCartney did not think the song was good enough for The Beatles. Prior to giving the song to Peter and Gordon, he offered it to Billy J. Kramer, who rejected it.

McCartney described John Lennon's reaction to the song: "The funny first line always used to please John. 'Please lock me away –' 'Yes, okay.' End of song." Lennon said of the song that "I think that was resurrected from the past....I think he had that whole song before the Beatles....That has the line 'Please lock me away' that we always used to crack up at."

This song was never released by the Beatles and the only known recording of the song by any member of the Beatles is the original demo of the song performed by McCartney which is now in the possession of Peter Asher.

In 1965, over 3,000 screaming fans met the Rolling Stones and Roy Orbison at Sydney Airport when they arrived for a 16 date of tour in Australia and New Zealand.

In 1966, Beatle George Harrison married his long-time girlfriend, fashion model Patti Boyd, whom he met on the set of the Beatles' first movie, A Hard Day's Night. She would leave an unfaithful Harrison in the mid-'70s and hooked up with Eric Clapton, who would write the song "Layla" about her. Those two would marry in May 1979, but split in 1988.

In 1967, Davy Jones began recording Neil Diamond's "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" with studio musicians and Diamond's producer Jeff Barry. Although Jones was the only Monkee involved in the recording, it was released six weeks later as the next Monkees single and earned them their third Gold Record.

European single cover
In 1968, Jimi Hendrix recorded his version of the Bob Dylan song "All Along the Watchtower" at Olympic Studios in London. Rolling Stone Brian Jones and Dave Mason from Traffic both played on the session. The Hendrix version, released six months after Dylan's original recording, became a Top 20 single in 1968.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience began to record their cover version of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" on January 21, 1968, at Olympic Studios in London. According to engineer Andy Johns, Jimi Hendrix had been given a tape of Dylan’s recording by publicist Michael Goldstein, who worked for Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman. "(Hendrix) came in with these Dylan tapes and we all heard them for the first time in the studio”, recalled Johns. According to Hendrix’s regular engineer Eddie Kramer, the guitarist cut a large number of takes on the first day, shouting chord changes at Dave Mason who had appeared at the session and played guitar. Halfway through the session, bass player Noel Redding became dissatisfied with the proceedings and left. Mason then took over on bass. According to Kramer, the final bass part was played by Hendrix himself. Kramer and Chas Chandler mixed the first version of "All Along The Watchtower" on January 26, but Hendrix was quickly dissatisfied with the result and went on re-recording and overdubbing guitar parts during June, July, and August at the Record Plant studio in New York. Engineer Tony Bongiovi has described Hendrix becoming increasingly dissatisfied as the song progressed, overdubbing more and more guitar parts, moving the master tape from a four-track to a twelve-track to a sixteen-track machine. Bongiovi recalled, "Recording these new ideas meant he would have to erase something. In the weeks prior to the mixing, we had already recorded a number of overdubs, wiping track after track. [Hendrix] kept saying, ‘I think I hear it a little bit differently.’” The finished version was released on the album Electric Ladyland in September 1968. The single reached number five in the British charts, and number 20 on the Billboard chart, Hendrix's only top 20 / top 40 entry there.

Dylan has described his reaction to hearing Hendrix's version: "It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn't think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day." In the booklet accompanying his Biograph album, Dylan said: "I liked Jimi Hendrix's record of this and ever since he died I've been doing it that way... Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it's a tribute to him in some kind of way."

This version of the song appears at number 48 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and in 2000, British magazine Total Guitar named it top of the list of the greatest cover versions of all time. The song also had the #5 spot on Guitar World's 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.

In 1970, the Elvis Presley film 'Change of Habit' was released. It would be his last movie except for documentaries and concert films.

In 1978, the soundtrack album 'Saturday Night Fever' started a 24 week run at No.1 on the US album charts, it went on to sell over 30 million copies world wide, making it the best selling soundtrack album of all time.

In 1982, B.B. King donated his entire record collection of over 20,000 discs to Mississippi University's centre for the Study of Southern Culture.

In 1983, bassist (Ramblin' Man) Lamar Williams, of the Allman Brothers Band and Sea Level, died of lung cancer at 34.

In 1984, soul singer Jackie Wilson died aged 49. Wilson suffered a massive heart attack while playing a Dick Clark show at the Latin Casino in New Jersey on September 29, 1975, falling head-first to the stage while singing "Lonely Teardrops," and had remained in a coma until his death 8 years later.

In 1984, Yes hits number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with their only Top Ten hit, "Owner Of A Lonely Heart". It reached #28 hit in the UK.

In 1987, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts the Coasters, Eddie Cochran, Bo Diddley, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Bill Haley, B.B. King, Clyde McPhatter, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Smokey Robinson, Muddy Waters, Hank Williams and Jackie Wilson. Bruce Springsteen inducted Roy Orbison into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1989, Bobby Brown went to #1 on the US album chart with 'Don't Be Cruel.'

In 1989, Phil Collins scored his seventh US #1 single with "Two Hearts."

In 1989, six weeks after his death Roy Orbison started a three-week run at No.1 on the UK album chart with 'The Legendary Roy Orbison' collection.

In 1989, Steve Wahrer, drummer and vocalist for the Trashmen on their 1964 hit "Surfin' Bird," died of throat cancer at the age of 47.

In 1996, Cannibal and the Headhunters lead singer Francisco Garcia died at the age of 49. The group's biggest hit was "Land Of A Thousand Dances", which reached number 30 in 1965.

In 1997, 'Colonel' Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager and agent died of a stroke in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 87. Born Andreas van Kuijk, a Dutch immigrant who changed his name as soon as he arrived in the US, Parker never applied for a green card and feared deportation his entire life. He briefly managed country singers Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow.

Also in 1997, songwriter Jesse Levine died of kidney failure aged 58. Co-wrote, "Knock Three Times" and "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" both US & UK #1's for Dawn in the early 70's.

In 1999, blues singer/songwriter/Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Charles Brown died of congestive heart failure at age 76.

In 2002, 81 year old Peggy Lee, best known in the Rock era for her 1958 version of "Fever", passed away after suffering a heart attack at her Bel Air, California home. Lee worked with Benny Goodman, Randy Newman, Quincy Jones and was nominated for 12 Grammy Awards, winning Best Contemporary Vocal Performance for her 1969 hit "Is That All There Is?" and had charted 46 times from 1945 to 1969, ten times in the Top Ten. She had suffered a stroke in 1998 and had been battling heart disease and diabetes.

In 2010, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry issued a statement that said global government legislation is essential to the survival of recorded music. The IFPI said that "Copyright holders cannot hope to micro-manage the behavior of every consumer" and "there is a growing threat to local artists posed by piracy."

Some of the musicians celebrating birthdays today include: Richie Havens (1941), Mac Davis (1942), Billy Ocean (1950), Chris Kilmore (Incubus) (1973) and Benjamin Moody (Evanescence) (1980)