Better to Burn Out: A Farewell

Notes on Leaving

  Apparently, this is my 600th post on Now This Sound Is Brave; it’s also my last post as owner. As the song goes, it’s better to burn out than to fade away, but I think I did both. I don’t have the fortitude to recount the whole thing in new words, so I’ll steal from a personal post I made yesterday: “My music blog is set to turn four years old around the end of this month… but I’m thinking about shutting it down. I took an official hiatus from posting when I started my current day job in early 2013, but I’d slowed way down on writing before that. I thought the seasonal layoff from the day job would give me time to get back into the spirit, but the spirit seems not to be there for me anymore. I haven’t even listened to much music in the last few months. And very little in the way of new music (I listened to an old A-ha album a few days ago, and those songs are still bouncing around my head because there’s been nothing in the meantime to replace them). I did go much longer with the blog … Continue reading

Strummer Remembrance Day

Joe Strummer

    Joe Strummer, who we take as our patron saint here at NTSIB, died 11 years ago today. The above song, “Mega Bottle Ride” by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, ends with the line “And it’s time to be doing something good”, and it seems to me that one of the best ways that anyone can pay tribute to Joe is by doing good in his name.     A lovely example of that ethos is the Tumblr blog “What Would Joe Strummer Do?” A recent post on the blog itself beautifully sums up what’s going on there.   letsagetabita-rockin asked: Hello, Joe. Do you like the idea that there’s someone who lets people ask them rather serious questions on the internet and answers them as if they were you? This blog was started as a fun project, a bit of punk-rock silliness we could share with others. We didn’t expect serious questions, but we got them – and now, those questions are the reason we keep doing this. If people stop asking us questions, we’ll stop answering. In the meantime, there are people out there who have real questions and life-changing problems and no one to talk to … Continue reading

Tony Fitz: Cut Me Up

Tony Fitz - Cut Me Up

  Face front, true believers! I’m back in action! At least for the time being… As I’m on seasonal layoff from my day job through January, I’ll have enough time and brain power to contribute to the blog again, instead of just harassing you all on Twitter. The NTSIB crew (can it be called a crew when there are just two of us?) love taking part in the Couch by Couchwest festivities every year, not least because we always manage together some new friends who also happen to be very talented. This past CXCW got us acquainted with Tony Fitz when he organized a very lovely Irish showcase. Aside from all the behind-the-scenes work Tony does in production, recording, and sound engineering, he also makes music with his band Susie Soho. And in between everything else, he has began recording solo songs, releasing them on an as-ready basis, the first of which is “Cut Me Up”, which includes Ciaran Brady from Heritage Centre on drums, along with Jason Maher and Niall Campion on bass and guitar. Breaking my own rule of never comparing musicians, this song does slot easily beside Tony’s fellow countrymen the Frames in its laying bare the … Continue reading

The Replacements at Riot Fest Toronto

The Replacements at Riot Fest Toronto

  Everything you wanted, they were. So says our friend and Toronto musician Christian D. Christian saw the recently-reunited Replacements play at the Toronto Riot Fest date, and with all the debate flying around on whether the Replacements should reunite (spoiler alert: Too late! They already did), Christian wanted to get his take on things down into words, and he kindly let us post his thoughts.       I’m betting that, like me, a lot of the audience at Toronto’s Riot Fest, never got to see the Mats the first time around. For me, it wasn’t so much about “was it worth the wait”, but rather a chance to see what might have/should have been. Based on those songs, the critical accolades, and the snotty punk attitude, it always seemed like the Replacements should have been goddamned huge. “Best band of the ‘80s”, remember that? Maybe they were ahead of their time or too fucked up to play the game – whatever it was, it never really happened for them. BUT – the legacy looms large. I grew up on those albums, and the bootlegs, and all the stories of the brilliant band who’d show up too drunk to … Continue reading

On Joe Strummer’s Birthday: Reinvention

Joe Strummer

Time to raise a glass to NTSIB patron saint, Mr. Joe Strummer a.k.a. Woody Mellor a.k.a. John Mellor, who would have been 61 years old today. Joe had a nervous energy that never let him settle in one place, one role, one style, one identity for too long, as outlined in a new article from The Atlantic website Joe Strummer and Punk Self-Reinvention. When Joe passed away in 2002, he was in the midst of yet another renaissance with his young group of lads, the Mescaleros. Below is an artifact from that time, a full Mescaleros show filmed at the Roseland Ballroom in New York in 1999.  

Boxed Wine: Cheap, Fun

Boxed Wine feature

  If you missed CXCW last week, you missed out! (Except you didn’t because you can still see the whole thing on the site.) One of the stand-outs for me (aside from performances from our friend Kroyd of the Wind-Up Birds with his project Forgets, our friend Pete David of the Payroll Union taking a solo turn, and our friend Christian D. once again inspiring panty-flinging), was a band out of New Jersey called Boxed Wine, who not only played a great cover of Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks”, but also trotted out an original called “Boomerang”.     Check out their EP Cheap, Fun which includes “Boomerang” as well as two other energetic, catchy songs that will get stuck in your head without making you hate them.   Cheap, Fun EP (FREE if you put '0') by Boxed Wine   Boxed Wine @ Bandcamp Boxed Wine @ Twitter Boxed Wine @ Facebook

A Foreign Country: Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode

A Foreign Country is a non-regular series in which I write about music I dug in my youth and still enjoy now. The name comes from the L.P. Hartley quote “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”, because, while I do continue to enjoy some of the music I listened to in my early days, my tastes have changed since then (thank fuck for that) and even the songs I still like are heard through different ears.       Depeche Mode initiated me into puberty. This is an exaggeration, of course. I had already been a fan of Depeche Mode – then composed of Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Andy Fletcher, and Alan Wilder – for a couple of years when their album Music for the Masses was released. I was 14, and the album brought DM up so high in my estimation that they might have even had a chance of knocking Duran Duran from their throne as my favorite band. It was a great album, an evolutionary step forward in their career, rich and meaningful. And one of those meanings, the one that spoke loudest to my hormone-addled mind, was sex. In retrospect, though, … Continue reading

A Conversation with Pete David of the Payroll Union

Payroll Union 2

  In the three years that Now This Sound Is Brave has been going, I have come to think of some of the bands we cover as “my bands” – bands who have struck a singular chord with me and whom I have continued cover, excited to share news of their movements. If I had to rank “my bands” based on which ones hold the biggest place in my heart and spend the most time on my personal listening turntable, the Payroll Union would likely top that list. We’ve been covering the band since spring of 2011, and this year has been the most exciting in our shared history with the band yet.     This year has seen them touring the UK, beginning an exciting collaboration with historian Andrew Heath, and, best of all, releasing their first full-length album, The Mule & The Elephant . TM&TE is a more somber outing than previous Payroll Union releases – though more in sound than lyrical content as they continue to focus on the hard and bloody stories of early American history – but it is the most rewarding one so far. As Dr. Heath expounds upon in the album’s liner notes, … Continue reading

Mark Lanegan. Again. Some more.

Mark Lanegan by Sam Holden feature

“Riot in My House” – Mark Lanegan Band   Yes, I just made a “Why isn’t everyone a raving Mark Lanegan fan yet?” post a couple of months ago, but I just started a new day job, and Lanegan’s rumbling tones have been helping ease my re-entry at the end of the work day (the album version of that killer live track above is particularly good for shaking off the effects of fluorescent lighting and conversations with normal people). And there is a bit of news to include: Lanegan has collaborated with British multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood and the result, an album called Black Pudding, is slated for release on April 16. April 2 will see a deluxe reissue of Mad Season’s sole album Above and will include a track featuring Lanegan called “Locomotive”. You can hear the song at Rolling Stone. Mark will be opening for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on a run of Australian dates: Sat. March 2 SIDNEY MYER MUSIC BOWL Melbourne, VIC Sun. March 3 THEBARTON THEATRE Adelaide, NSW Wed. March 6 RED HILL AUDITORIUM Perth, WA Fri. March 8 RIVERSTAGE, Brisbane, QLD Sat. March 9 ENMORE, Sydney A few more songs on the way … Continue reading

Yamin Semali: Yamintro (Hello Again)

Yamin Semali feature

  Some hip hop from the ATL for you today. We get so many submissions from rappers who just spit straight over an old song, with no attention paid to rhythm or dynamics and little thought given to production, that when I come across an artist like Yamin Semali, who leaves some space for personality and clever rhymes over great production, I almost cry. Check out the video for “Yamintro (Hello Again)”, utilizing the classic Cars song, from Semali’s new album self-titled album, and keep any eye out for the cool Chevy-logo tailpipe.   “Yamintro (Hello Again)” – Yamin Semali   Yamin Semali’s album is available now via his Bancamp site and features John Robinson (Scienz of Life, DOOM, J. Rawls), Boog Brown (Mello Music Group), Chopp (The Smile Rays, Dillon), Blc Txt (King I Divine), and Gotta Be Karim (Black Spade, Do For Self), with production by Illastrate.   Yamin Semali @ Bandcamp Yamin Semali @ Twitter Yamin Semali @ Facebook