By: Keith Spera, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
December 28, 2012
In the larger world of popular music, 2012 will go down as a typical year – if by “typical,” you mean the usual parade of sky-high triumphs, stunning flame-outs, and assorted corpses, coronations, condemnations and just plain craziness. More than a couple New Orleans natives, Dr. John and Frank Ocean among them, factored in national story lines this year. Some of the year’s highs and lows:
Bon Iver, the Civil Wars, the Alabama Shakes and country music sibling act The Band Perry enjoyed breakout years. So did singer, songwriter and New Orleans native Frank Ocean, a member of the Los Angeles-based hip-hop collective Odd Future, who made headlines as one of the first, and only, major R&B/hip-hop artists to speak openly of a homosexual experience. His “Channel Orange” CD earned a slew of nominations for the 2013 Grammys, including album and record of the year.
Elsewhere, contemporary guitar hero and marketing genius Jack White stepped out smartly with his first solo album, “Blunderbuss,” which was destined for multiple year-end best-of-2012 lists. A Soundscan tally of 600,000 for Mumford & Sons’ second effort, “Babel,” helped the band avoid the dreaded “one-hit-wonder” tag.
Mouse-head deejay Deadmau5 became the first electronic dance music artist to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, certifying EDM’s pop culture status. The Mayans incorrectly predicted this as one sign of the apocalypse.
Miami rapper Rick Ross emerged as hip-hop’s self-declared bossman – he was the subject of a hilarious Rolling Stone cover story – while Nicki Minaj confirmed her status as rap’s reigning iconoclast with “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.” In the realm of indie hip-hop, Seattle-based rapper Macklemore and his producer/deejay Ryan Lewis’ “The Heist” entered the Billboard 200 at No. 2, thanks in part to the hit single “Thrift Shop.” The straight duo also earned national attention for the song and video “Same Love,” which supported gay marriage.
The year’s most left-field smash was South Korean rapper PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” The “K-pop” equivalent of “Macarena,” "Gangnam Style"'s popularity was fueled in large part by an oft-parodied viral video that has rung up more than one billion – that’s billion – views and counting on YouTube. It is now the most-watched YouTube clip ever – another Mayan sign of the end of days.
How to succeed in the music business: Demonstrating the value of hard work, determination, patience and radio-worthy hooks, decade-old rock-blues duo the Black Keys headlined its first arena tour. The duo’s “El Camino” album received an additional publicity bump when the NCAA used the Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling” as its Final Four theme song.
How to not succeed in the music business: The plug was pulled on the carefully calibrated fall promotional campaign and tour for Green Day’s trilogy of new albums after frontman Billie Joe Armstrong entered rehab. In October, fellow Bay Area guitar enthusiasts Metallica substituted for Green Day at the Voodoo Experience.
Fan pin of "The Limit" Circa 1981
By: Keith Spera, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
December 26, 2012 at 1:14 PM
The Limit reunite at Jimmy's on Dec. 28-29, 2012
Long before he sported Western shirts and a twang as the frontman of honky-tonk ensemble Ghost Town, Christian Serpas wore an entirely different musical identity. Back in the early 1980s, he wrapped himself in skinny black jeans and British flags as the bassist and singer in a New Wave trio called The Limit.
The Limit might well have remained a footnote in New Orleans music history had the band not recorded a four-song, 10-inch EP in late 1982. Much to Serpas’ surprise, that three-decades-old recording has found fresh life amongst new fans of vintage, and obscure, ’80s power pop.
Original copies of The Limit’s EP sell for more than $100 on eBay. Those songs have now been packaged with other old Limit recordings and re-issued on CD and limited-edition vinyl by a Texas indie label.
This weekend, Serpas and his former bandmates – guitarist Manny Reyes and drummers Justin Newbury and Jeff Oteri – will once again perform as The Limit as part of the New Orleans Punk Rock/New Wave Scene Reunion at the reborn Jimmy’s Music Club. On Friday, Dec. 28, the Limit joins the Models, featuring frontman Johnny Indovina, Stephi & the Whitesox, the Front and the Backstabbers at Jimmy’s. The reunion continues on Saturday, Dec. 29th with Sexdog, the Lenny Zenith Band, Waka Waka and Clockwork Elvis. Admission is free; show time is 8 p.m.
They specialized in curt, adrenalized power pop, all elastic bass, simple guitar hooks, and high kicks; in “Uh Oh” and elsewhere, Serpas seemed to channel the Cars’ Ric Ocasek. They pogoed their way through Jimmy’s, Jed’s, Tupelo's Tavern and The Showboat, a rock venue on Hessmer Avenue at the heart of Fat City. WRNO-FM, then the city’s reigning rock station, selected the Limit’s “Modern Girl” for inclusion on the station’s popular compilation album of local bands. Considerable airplay resulted.
In the spring of 1983, the Limit released its own four-song EP. By then, Newbury had left the band, replaced by Oteri (who is now the drummer in Ghost Town).
The Limit EP failed to generate much interest beyond New Orleans. Momentum stalled, Reyes quit, and by January 1984, the Limit was finished.
By: Shruti Chowdhary - Special correspondent to TheAdvocate.com
December 18, 2012
(Meriwether plays Saturday, Dec. 22, at Hangar 13 in NO & Friday, Dec. 28, at The Varsity in BR)
Being a rock band for almost a decade, Baton Rouge’s very own Meriwether has toured the country numerous times, been signed to a major record label and evolved through various genres of music.
The original members of Meriwether formed the band in 2003, and quickly found success rocking out at home and nationwide. The group was purely rock-centric then and drew a vast variety of people to their sound.
“Meriwether found a way to mesh and relate to everybody – people who like heavy music, singer/songwriter stuff, or softer catchier music,” Drew Reilley, creator and lead singer, said. “Everybody gets into different songs for different reasons. You might have this person singing every word of this song, and that person getting really into the next song.”
Sounds like the typical scenario so many bands seem to fall into. However, Reilley is confident of the longevity of his musical project. Having taken a long sabbatical from the university, Reilley graduated from LSU this month, making room in his schedule for what he really wants to do.
“I don’t see us quitting,” Reilley said “We play twice a month as opposed to 16 times a month, but I don’t see us ever stopping, no matter what. It’s too much fun. When the first two guys left the band, I didn’t play for three months. I went crazy.”
Original members Stefon Bergeron and Joshua Barbier left Meriwether in 2010. Current members of the band are Drew Reilley (lead vocals, guitar), Skip Angelle (guitar, vocals), Josiah Menard (keys, guitar, vocals) Brent Armstrong of High Top Kicks (bass, vocals) and little brother Bob Reilley (drums).
Bringing in new musicians has breathed new life into the band. Two years ago, Meriwether collaborated with local electronic duo High Top Kicks and formed a new group called Discovery Corps.
By: John Wirt - Music writer The Advocate
December 14, 2012
(Dash Rip Rock: 10 p.m. 12/15. Club Siberia, 2227 St. Claude Ave. NOLA)
Novelty anthem “(Let’s Go) Smoke Some Pot,” by New Orleans’ purveyors of rock mischief and mirth, Dash Rip Rock, caught the attention of MTV News in 1995.
A comic, punk-rock update of Danny & the Juniors’ 1957 doo-wop hit, “At the Hop,” the song became a national hit at college radio. Its notoriety endures to this day.Those who know Dash Rip Rock strictly through “(Let’s Go) Smoke Some Pot” may be surprised that the group released its 17th album last month.
Davis sees dual audiences for Dash Rip Rock in Louisiana. One audience takes the band relatively seriously. The other sees it through “(Let’s Go) Smoke Some Pot”-clouded glasses.
“They all show up and it’s a blast,” the grateful and quick-to-laugh Davis said. “But in other states and overseas, we’re taken a lot more seriously than we are around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. But my personality is one of humor and fun, so it’s a complicated relationship we have with Dash fans.”
Ben Mumphrey, whose studio credits include the Pixies, Frank Black and the Breeders, produced and engineered Dash Rip Rock’s new album at the legendary Studio in the Country in Bogalusa.
Mumphrey has been a Dash Rip Rock fan since his schoolboy days at Jesuit High School. The band’s ’80s performances for Tulane University’s outdoor concert series inspired him to write a fan letter to the group. He got a characteristically irreverent reply.
“They were just crazy young guys, really funny and energetic,” Mumphrey said.
By: Michael Farrar Special correspondent to theadvocate.com
December 13, 2012
Liam Catchings believes in second chances.
After he and his brother Ben lost $50,000 worth of stage equipment in the New Year’s Day fire at the Caterie bar in 2010 and their old band Barisal Guns broke up, the duo decided to rebound from their losses with a new endeavor, Liam Catchings and the Jolly Racket.
“I think it’s absolutely great,” Liam Catchings said. “You spent time learning things and none of that goes away, so now you have a little bit more perspective. You have a better idea of how you’re going to market yourself. Everything is fresh. It’s like having a second lease on life.”
During the Catchings brothers’ five-year run in the Barisal Guns, Ben (age 31) was the lead singer while Liam (age 27) played bass, but now it’s Ben who supports Liam as the new group’s front man.
The current lineup of Liam Catchings and The Jolly Racket is Ben Catchings (rhythm guitar, keyboards), Brian Blanco (bass), Paul Emden (lead guitar) and Liam Catchings (guitar, lead vocals, keyboards). The band does not have a permanent drummer.
Keeping things like the drumming spot flexible helps the Catchings brothers, who had to rebuild their previously uninsured music gear collection and find a new rehearsal space, which they customized for sound on a budget.
By: John Wirt Music writer-The Advocate
December 07, 2012
Baton Rouge progressive-rock band Twin Killers likes to perform in unconventional venues.
In April, Twin Killers played a multimedia show at the Manship Theatre featuring dancers, classical string players, backing vocalists and backdrop projections. Twin Killers and another local band, The Lazarus Heart, will appear in another unusual space, the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Friday, Dec. 7.
Twin Killers will utilize the planetarium’s 15,000-watt Surround Sound system and the space-oriented imagery that’s typically shown in the domed theater.
“I think the music calls for it,” singer Jessica Ramsey said of the band’s planetarium performance. “We’ve done plenty of smoky barrooms.”
“Not that barrooms are bad,” guitarist Andrew Martin added. “There’s a time for that, but we’re trying to encourage our audience to live in the music.”
Martin anticipates that the audience’s attention will be divided between music and the show’s visuals.
“We’re going to be more of a soundtrack rather than have all of the energy focused on us,” he said. “We’re hoping that people can get in a trance-like mindset.”
Twin Killers features Martin, Ramsey, drummer Jermaine Butler, bassist and keyboard player Jeffrey Livingston and, the group’s newest member, violist Ruth Navarre. Dave Hinson, a instrumentalist who arranges strings for the band’s recordings, also will perform.
The addition of Navarre’s viola to the group was a natural choice for the band’s atypical music.
“We wanted strings because the music is so dreamy,” Ramsey explained.
Psychedelic-era projections of the kind Twin Killers used at the band’s Manship Theatre show and use of the planetarium’s images are another enhancement that fits the music.
“Not necessarily sound wise but idea wise,” Martin said, “that’s my favorite era of music, the late ’60s, early ’70s.”
Creating complex music and performing multimedia shows in off-the-beaten-path places are ways for Twin Killers to distinguish itself within the local scene, Martin said.
By: CRISTINA JALERU - Associated Press
Alicia Keys doesn’t do half-measures. Her fifth studio album, “Girl on Fire,” comes on hard and fast, seemingly stripped but rich in sound, triumphant to the point of a cinematic epic scope. It’s her first release since marrying producer-rapper Swizz Beatz and the birth of their son, Egypt.
Keys’ name pops up buoyantly on all writing and producing credits of this 13-track record, a perfect mirroring of its title. But that’s no surprise. She does, however, collaborate with some new folks — including Bruno Mars, Frank Ocean, Jamie xx and Emeli Sande — and that helps make the album eclectic, while maintaining Keys’ signature — and stunning — sound.
The Grammy winner’s voice feels unstoppable and free, channeling the martial pop of Beyonce on “New Day,” the romantic flourishes of Toni Braxton on the Maxwell-assisted “Fire We Make” and the bewitching auditory imagery of Tori Amos on the album’s grand finale, “101.” Nicki Minaj adds her brand of edge to the title track and lead single, while Keys’ toddler, Egypt, pulls an adorable coda on the jazzy industrial “When It’s All Over.”
“Girl on Fire” feels organically fed with inspiration, from the drops of light of “Listen to Your Heart” to the weird urban sounds of “Tears Always Win” to the funky reggae riffs of “Limitless.” Keys is on fire, and burning all the competition. Pun intended.