Art Brut & Reviews of Tool and Grandaddy

This Saturday night on Sound Opinions British imports Art Brut take a break from their first US tour to visit the show. Also, Jim and Greg review the latest releases from progressive metal band Tool and indie rockers Grandaddy.

Art Brut
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Music News

First up in the news the sentence handed to Daniel Biechele, the tour manager of the band Great White. Biechele was ordered to serve four years in prison and three years probation for setting a fire in a Rhode Island nightclub in February 2003—a blaze that killed 100 fans and injured twice that number. This was the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. The ruling represents a compromise between the defense and the prosecution, who were originally seeking a ten-year sentence. Meanwhile. victims’ families are awaiting the trial of the club owners, to take place later this summer.

Another court case also made news this week. In the battle between The BeatlesApple Corp. and Apple Computer over trademark infringement and their shared apple logo, the judge ruled against the Fab Four. The band was contending that Apple Computer and its iTunes Music Store had breached a 1980 trademark agreement by expanding onto their turf—the music industry. However, the judge, who does own an iPod, responded that even a moron in a hurry, could tell the difference between the two companies. Now we just have to wait and see if the Beatles will finally release their songs to the online music retailer. Hopefully this will not confuse any of the morons in a hurry out there.

There was also an update on Keith Richards’ health status, which was discussed last week. After a mysterious fall on the island of Fiji, Richards was admitted to a hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. On Monday, after complaining of headaches, he underwent an operation, which, according to his publicist, was 100% successful. The Stones’ camp has not said how he fell or what the operation was for, but reports speculate that it was to drain blood from his skull. A spokesperson has, however, denied that there was more than one surgery or that Richards suffered any brain damage. Fans can expect to see the guitarist touring in June, and back to his old, randy self in no time.

Grant McLennan, frontman of Australian indie rock band The Go-Betweens, died in his sleep earlier this week. The singer/songwriter was 48. Greg discusses how The Go-Betweens, who were going strong up until McLennan’s passing, were not necessarily commercially successful, but were very influential in the 1980s. Musicians like Bono and Morrissey and members of bands like R.E.M. and Coldplay have all sung the praises of McLennan and his partner Robert Foster. Many listeners will only know the band from their hit Bachelor Kisses, but Greg points out that the songwriting pair penned many wonderful pop songs that were full of emotion and humanity. He chooses to play Bye Bye Pride, and prompts listeners to pay attention to the oboe solo.

Art Brut

This week’s guests are the members of Art Brut: Eddie Argos, Ian Catskilkin, Jasper Future, Mikey B., and Freddy Feedback. Sound Opinions was anxious to get these Brits on the show after seeing them play at the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX. The band, which got its name from a French theory of outsider art, was in Chicago as part of its first U.S. tour, and just released its first album, Bang Bang Rock and Roll, in the U.S. earlier this week.

After lead singer and songwriter Eddie Argos warns the kids to stay off the crack, we hear a bit of music by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Richman was a major influence on Argos as a songwriter. Argos explains that his career as a musician did not really come easily. After his former bandmates all left to go to university, Argos moved to London for a second try. But there were not many takers, because, as Argos explains, he is not much of a singer and can’t play an instrument. Lucky for us, an inebriated Argos was able to convince a few people to join him, and so emerged Art Brut.

What Argos may lack in singing talent and musical ability, he certainly makes up for in personality. In the vein of singers like Damon Albarn and Lou Reed, Argos knows that attitude, wit and a voice are more important than formal training. That voice comes through in songs like Formed a Band, where he expresses delight in the sheer act of forming a band. Why not? he explains to Jim and Greg. Why can’t we get on Top of the Pops? People who have seen the band (who tours in a 40-foot tour bus) play live know that is a valid question indeed.

Just Like the Fambly Cat Grandaddy

Just Like the Fambly Cat

Jim and Greg get back into serious critic mode to review two important new releases. First up is Just Like the Fambly Cat by indie rock group Grandaddy. This is the fourth and final album for the Californians, as singer/songwriter Jason Lytle decided to dissolve the band during the making of this record in favor of a simpler life. The conflict between modernity and nature has been a major theme in all of Lytle’s songwriting. A key to understanding this is the band’s hometown of Modesto—while it is surrounded by the beautiful Northern California landscape, the city is also a victim of homogenized, suburban sprawl. (Its motto even boasts Modesto as the city of Water, Wealth, Contentment and Health Modesto also has an eerie connection to two of the most infamous crimes in recent times: Both Lacey Peterson and Chandra Levy hail from he city. So, Jim and Greg understand why Lytle might want to leave. And they both agree that this album is a beautiful note to go out on. Just Like the Fambly Cat gets two Buy Its.

10,000 Days Tool

10,000 Days

On a completely different note, progressive metal band Tool also has a new album out. 10,000 Days is the band’s fourth album, and it debuted at number one on the Billboard Chart. Tool’s commercial success is surprising considering the band’s lack of self-promotion: They rarely get radio or MTV play, seldom do interviews, and perform practically in darkness. They are almost anonymous, yet have a huge cult following. Jim and Greg imagine this is because of the band’s progressive rock vibe. They appeal to fans (especially teenagers) who love complete albums and desire to spend hours and hours mulling over one band’s work. But, Jim points out, unlike prog rock groups like Rush and Genesis, Tool’s music is lacking hooks. It’s nü-metal side kind of ruins the package for Jim and Greg. Therefore, despite the fun 3-D packaging, 10,000 Days only gets a Trash It from Greg and an reticent Burn It from Jim.

Jim

The opportunity to play Desert Island DJ goes to Jim this week. Inspired by his discussion with Eddie Argos from Art Brut, Jim chooses a song by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers to add to the Desert Island Jukebox. The Modern Lovers, who were hugely influenced by the Velvet Underground, would all go on to be a part of great projects: David Robinson started drumming for The Cars, Jerry Harrison played keyboards with Talking Heads, and Ernie Brooks went on to play with a number of bands, including Rhys Chatham’s guitar army ( discussed a few weeks ago). Richman took some bizarre turns, promising to only play music fit for a baby’s ear, but the band’s 1976 self-titled debut remains a masterpiece, according to Jim. He understands why Argos was so inspired by Richman’s songwriting. Both men salute the everyman dweeb who struggles with getting girls and respect. While Roadrunner is perhaps the band’s best known song, Jim decides to go with She Cracked as this week’s DIJ pick.

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