Rave’s Raves: December, 2005 and year-end list

RAVE’S FAVES (on the air)

Art Brut (various), Hard-Fi, The Strokes, Gorillaz, Franz Ferdinand (various), The Subways, Arctic Monkeys (various), She Wants Revenge, Living Things, Ladytron, Morningwood, Avenged Sevenfold, The 88 (various), Nightmare of Your Life, The Briefs, Paul Van Dyke, Coldplay.

Above songs are singles unless otherwise noted. Art Brut has become one of my favorite new bands. This is an import but they’re getting played by some trend-setting stations and DJ’s. The group is very British — maybe too much so for major American success, but I expect they’ll see a domestic release in 2006 (see live review below). Hard-Fi‘s “Cash Machine” just gut a huge add at L.A.’s KROQ where it’s getting loads of requests. I hear no reason why mainstream alternative stations can’t play it, and I expect big things for this track early next year. I wrote earlier that Hard-Fi came into LA as an opening act and left people talking about them for weeks. I understand that Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn is working on new Blur material. As much as I enjoy the Franz album, I’m not sure they have a follow-up single unless they try the softer “Eleanor.” The Subways from England are gaining national airplay while L.A.’s She Wants Revenge are getting spins and requests at all three L.A. rock stations. Their “Tear You Apart” sounds like a harder Interpol and is now starting to spread to other markets. Meanwhile, Arctic Monkeys debuted at #1 in the U.K. and are gaining domestic import play. Their full-length album will be released in early 2006. See their live review below. Living Things were produced by Steve Albini and are now Top 25 in national airplay. The metal-laced Avenged Sevenfold are also doing very well. The 88 are growing on me. I’ve friends who absolutely swear by this Brit-sounding band from L.A.  Indie 103.1 is high on cool melodic tracks by The Briefs from Seattle and Vancouver’s Nightmare of Your Life. Electronica DJ Van Dyke finally has a tune accessible enough for rock radio consideration. Honorable mentions go to Magic Numbers and Goldfrapp. The Numbers are developing a nice little cult and it looks like the British dance/electronica/rocking Allison Goldfrapp may become a star. I hear that some people in London are calling MadonnaOldfrapp.”

RAVE’S TOP FIVE AIRPLAY FAVES AND
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF 2005

#1. Insert your favorite Green Day song here.
#2. Franz Ferdinand: “Do You Want To”
#3. Graham Coxon: “Freakin’ Out”
#4. Kasabian: “L.S.F.”
#5. The Strokes: “Juicebox”

Green Day surpassed everybody this year. Everything about them was top-notch and it was all done with integrity as well as passion. “Holiday” was the best airplay track for me, but the whole album was consistent. Their latest achievement is that the 9-minute “Jesus of Suburbia” is now a radio hit. I wrote that the Franz single had enough hooks to fill a closet. It turned out that this delightful tune didn’t have “the hook,” as the single only achieved moderate success. The Coxon and Kasabian tracks provided warm Spring and Summer vibes while The Strokes‘ “Juicebox” shows promise for their January 3 CD release. The Strokes say that they dashed to the studio as soon as they came up with that riff. Honorable mentions go to “Black and White Town” by Doves, “Trashcan” by Raveonettes, and LCD Soundsystem‘s “Tribulations.”… Favorite CD’s were by Bloc Party, Franz, Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian, Go! Team, Spoon, Nine Inch Nails and LCD Soundsystem… The most memorable live shows by baby bands were Arcade Fire, Art Brut, and Arctic Monkeys. No alliteration intended, I swear!

STATE OF INDIE ROCK

The genre continues to grow and the music’s fine, but sales simply aren’t following through. No 2005 albums came close to the success of the 2004 Franz and The Killers releases. Popular as the new Franz CD is, it’s in danger of dropping completely off of the Billboard 200. One must hope that touring and continued airplay will maintain some momentum for the guys. Indie still needs to find a way to develop attitude and to connect with more rock fans. If something is too British or too quirky, it seems to literally fall on deaf ears. Maybe it’s telling that none of my Top Five would have landed in 2004’s Top Five. The more predictable emo and metal stuff continues to work. Good bands like My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and Avenged Sevenfold continue their assaults while the more established harder artists remain on top.

LIVE

L.A.’s Spaceland hosted the U.K.’s hottest new band, Arctic Monkeys. I think these guys are for real, and most of the packed crowd responded well. The Monkeys are high energy with good playing, good looks, and good songwriting. They’re rough around the edges, but at 19, there’s time for them to grow. While they don’t currently have a “Take Me Out” or a “Somebody Told Me,” they have the potential to write one. British teens look at these guys as a band that they can call their own. San Francisco’s Every Move A Picture opened. Just signed to V2 and in the vein of The Bravery, they’ve grown by miles since I saw them last December. This gig alone should have made Spaceland’s week, but England’s Art Brut made their L.A. debut the prior night. Leader and ex-goth Eddie Argos doesn’t sing or rap; he usually converses in speaking tones. The band is good and the tunes charming. Argos seems like the kind of bloke who comically trudges around his flat in underwear and thongs, with a unique take on everything. A magic moment came when they played their hooky “Movin’ To LA.” They’d waited 7 years to play it in L.A. and the crowd made it worth the wait for the band. I hope Art Brut sign a U.S. deal because they deserve a shot even if they’re not mainstream. managed to catch the effervescent Hot Hot Heat at The Roxy in Atlanta. I still feel this is a nice band that needs to continuing growing in all regards with their next release and tour, in order to really become a major factor. It was back to Spaceland to see The Vacation. This local band has gotten heavy Indie 103.1 support and achieved Rave’s Faves status. Their album will be released in March on producer Rick Rubin‘s label. These guys show promise in the studio, but the live show lacked feeling. In my last edition, I inadvertantly omitted the October Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show at Hollywood’s Avalon. I’ve wanted to see BRMC for a long time and found them to be a great live band. Most of us in the crowd were disappointed if not surprised, that the set mirrored their mellower third album. The few harder, older tunes were by far the highlights. Perhaps this softer album and tour are setting them up for better things. The band continues to increase it’s profile. As L.A. movie producer/D.J./writer Chris Carter puts it, BRMC are not predictable, as they might have become if their third album was more like the first two highly-acclaimed but unsuccessful harder albums. There is still a strong buzz following Nine Inch Nails‘ triumphant appearance at the two-night KROQ Almost Accoustic Christmas.

80’S COLLEAGUES

Thomas Dolby never toured much, but he’s playing three late-January SoCal dates with the English Beat and Dramarama. This will be a rare treat for his fans, and I’ll see him at L.A.’s House of Blues. Thomas says he’ll go solo and play six or seven older tunes, including “Leipzig and Flying North.” He may link some unique equipment to his softsynths and build the grooves as he goes along… They say every rocker over 35 remembers where he was the night John Lennon was killed. I was at the home of The Knack‘s Doug Fieger and (his) Sharona when the bulletin interrupted Monday Night Football. We were devastated, of course. Lennon’s impact was massive, but Doug modeled his life after him in some ways so the news hit Doug even harder. After a period of mourning, we headed out to have the best dinner we could have in order to celebrate Lennon’s life and music. I remember that the restaurant was eerily quiet. Doug has always been extremely articulate, and I felt almost as if I was sharing the experience with a relative of John’s.

…and…

If you read this before Christmas, make sure you check to see if Uncle Joe’s Rockin’ Christmas is being broadcast in your town. It’s always a treat and you won’t want to miss it. It’s hard to believe these Raves have been around for eight years; and thanks to Uncle Joe for hosting this column since the late 90’s! I wish you great holidays, and let’s hope for loads of great music in 2006. Please write with your input, and please remember to put “Raves” in the subject line of any message you send. Until late February…

RAVE ON!!!


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