NO!: BOB MOULD (#437, SEP 19 2008).
Bob Mould's set was odd. It wasn't acoustic, and it wasn't solo, but it also wasn't a full-band set -- it was him on electric guitar and also a bass player. I'd guess the song arrangements were just like normal, except with no drummer or second guitarist.
This first tune comes from the first album by Mould's post-Hüsker Dü band, Sugar. Despite a lot of critical praise, Sugar never burst through like the early 90's bands featuring other 80's college rockers like Cracker or the Breeders. It was clear that the audience at this show appreciated their tunes as much as the rest of Mould's catalog, though.
NO!: THE BOX SOCIAL (#436, SEP 19 2008).
Among the Box Social's new material is some revamped old material, such as this tune that appeared on their self-released EP Golly Gee Whiz! (old school fans take note, they've also brought back "Rooney and Vlad"). Of those older tunes, this one with its lullaby-ish structure is easily the one that fits this setting the best, though I appreciated the way they reconfigured some of the rhythm section moves on "Hot Damn!"
NO!: THE BOX SOCIAL (#435, SEP 19 2008).
There was a reasonable but not great crowd at this show (it started at 5:00 on a Friday, so I'm sure plenty of people just couldn't get there) and I heard that the Neko Case show later in the evening was about the same; hopefully that kind of Friday attendance was enough to make the Forward Fest a success. The shows we went to were not only a lot of fun, but also great exposure for the many local acts that opened most of them.
NO!: THE BOX SOCIAL (#434, SEP 19 2008).
The first Forward Music Fest was held in Madison last weekend and the Box Social -- or some of them -- kicked things off with an acoustic set opening for Bob Mould. Frontman Nick Junkunc started the show by himself and was later joined by guitarist Nick Woods for a variety of new and old material that fit the stripped-down arrangements well and seemed much appreciated by the early crowd.
Imagine if, instead of having on-court officials, NBA games were played like street games -- you call your own fouls. Fans watching at home would undoubtedly get into heated disputes about whether contact was made on a particular play, and if so, how much was too much. The sports press would talk about which players tend to honest about their calls, who tends to take dives, and so on. They'd also probably spend a lot of time looking at replays, doing Around the Horn-type discussions about particular plays, and generally presenting the basketball-following public with a framework through which to understand this now-odd sport.
Now let's say one day in this alternate NBA, Kermit Washington coldcocks Rudy Tomjanovich. Literally adding insult to injury, he flat-out refuses to acknowledge the act as call-worthy. With nobody in a position of authority over the contest, there's nothing to do but continue playing, careful to avoid the bloody and near-dead Tomjanovich lying in the middle of the court.
I put it to you that Kermit Washington is running for president on the Republican ticket, and that he's counting on our traditional reliance on the honor system to keep anyone from noticing what he's done. The question of what is the motivating drive of campaign journalism is the absolutely central issue to the mockery John McCain is making of this election. Every word out of his campaign -- whether from him, Sarah Palin or one of his surrogates -- is a bald-faced lie. If the point of campaign journalism is to inform voters, they need to confront this garbage much more strongly than they have been; indeed, that the fairly tepid response to McCain "stretching the truth" has been so well received in the liberal blogosphere is kind of embarrassing. McCain is lying to the public about anything and everything, constantly; a press that doesn't point this out in unambiguous terms is helping him.
NO!: TOADIES (#433, JUL 31 2008).
This is the minor follow-up hit the Toadies had way back when, and despite the raucous reaction that "Possum Kingdom" got during the regular set, there was probably even more anticipation for this one. It's a pretty great song -- although I think Hell Below/Stars Above has a lot that are better and didn't get nearly the crowd response -- and was a terrific cap to a show that I'd have never guessed would be so excellent.
NO!: TOADIES (#432, JUL 31 2008).
The encore featured a lot of classic rock songs being teased and generally a healthy dose of goofing off. The band did a great job of working the crowd, capping the night with a encore that was as varied as their set had been.
NO!: TOADIES (#431, JUL 31 2008).
Generally speaking I'm not a fan of these little two-minute instrumental bits, either to lead off albums or as interludes. This one is no exception. I always skip it when listening to Rubberneck and it seemed like an aberration in the set. Now I guess it's an aberration here, too.
NO!: TOADIES (#430, JUL 31 2008).
Well, as it turns out, I don't have any better things to say about the new album than I did two days ago, because I haven't listened to it at all since then. This lead single isn't great, but it's decent and does the job of making me want to listen to more in general.
NO!: TOADIES (#429, JUL 31 2008).
I loved the Toadies' commercial failure of a second album, and I also liked their first one a lot, but it was still just two records in the 13 years preceding this year. And yet somehow the Annex was packed to the gills from the very beginning of the night -- maybe the biggest crowd I've ever seen there -- with people who would cheer for album cuts like this one from Rubberneck. I'll be really interested to see what happens with their new album if they've still got this kind of support all over the place.
NO!: TOADIES (#428, JUL 31 2008).
If ever there's been a band that got the full major-label roller coaster, it's the Toadies. After scoring a major modern rock hit with "Possum Kingdom," then a smaller one with "Tyler," their would-be second album was trashed by the label and their follow-up didn't come out for six years. Then they totally collapsed and broke up.
Now, astonishingly, they're back with a new record, and this is the first track on it. It fits well with their old stuff on stage, but I haven't listened enough to say whether that's true in the studio. By the time I post the next new song, maybe I will have!
NO!: THE WHIGS (#427, JUL 31 2008).
The Whigs' second album, Mission Control, got a lot of early buzz, but I found myself brushing it off after a couple listens. I appreciated their updating of the early 90's college rock sound (which is happening a lot lately -- see also the Hold Steady, Presidents of the USA, System and Station, and Dinosaur Jr., who are essentially updating themselves) but just couldn't get into most of it. The one song that stuck out was the soft, loopy "1000 Wives," one of the few from the record they didn't play at this show. But then the whole thing started growing on me somehow, and even though I still don't love it, there are definitely quite a few good tunes on there. On top of that, their live set was a lot of fun, making me appreciate the album all the more. Hopefully they've got a fourth Madison visit on their schedule sometime soon.
NO!: THE WHIGS (#426, JUL 31 2008).
For a band from Georgia, the Whigs play Madison an awful lot. This was, I believe, their third Madison show of 2008 in support of their second album, Mission Control. They had a fun, loose vibe on stage, as demonstrated on this cover of a song by Dutch band Bingo Trappers. It seemed like they included it in their set just because they really like the song, sort of off-the-cuff. "OK, here's this song we like by a band from Amsterdam." Fun stuff.