Monday, May 31, 2010


Well, The Drive-By Truckers' The Big To-Do may finally have some competition for my favorite album of 2010! I am really into the new Black Keys album, Brothers.

I'd actually been listening to a bunch of older Black Keys albums (including their last one, the excellent Danger Mouse-produced Attack & Release), because I thought I was going to see them open for Pearl Jam (it didn't happen, because I had to work late). Luckily, I did get to see part of thier in-studio performance at the offices where I work.

I've really enjoyed the band's progression from gut bucket blues duo (kind of like Hound Dog Taylor, but with one guitar instead of two) to something a bit more modern (but not too modern) and with a different kind of funk to it. This album kind of reminds me of the late great Chris Whitley, if he had been a bit funkier. I wish he did an album like this when he did Rocket House (although I love that album).

There's a profile of the band in a recent Rolling Stone (with either Mick Jagger or Keith Richards on the cover). At the end, there's a funny part, where they mull over other popular artists of the moment, including Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber (who neither of them are familiar with), Bo Bice and Band of Horses (who also opened for Pearl Jam on this tour). 15 seconds into Band of Horses' album, the dude complained it was boring. That made me laugh, even though I kind of like BOH.

I realize at this point that if you are one of No Expiration's readers who isn't as familiar with post-'80s music as I am, you might be getting lost. So, let me break it down for you.  If badass dirt-floor blues with '70s style funk appeals to you (and it should), you should check out this album.  You'll like it.  If you do, just start going backwards and pick up their older albums, starting with 2008's Attack & Release. You'll thank me. Here's a video of the singer, Dan Auerbach, peforming at the SIRIUS XM studios last year. These guys are a great band, and I think they will be around for a long time, so pay attention.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


When Peter Gabriel first announced his Scratch My Back album of orchestral covers, he also mentioned that he'd be curating a collection called I'll Scratch Yours, with those same artists covering Peter's songs. But he's actually taking a more modern approach: releasing one digital "split-single" each month, with a song from Scratch My Back, backed by a reciprocal cover by the artist he is covering. The problem is, iTunes hasn't promoted these singles at all, so you have to know to look for them.  That's why I'm here.  I have them all (so far), let me tell you what I think.

Also, I have to say that when I discussed this album on SIRIUS XM OutQ's The Morning Jolt With Larry Flick, I was kind of not into the album, which is odd for me, as I have enjoyed every Peter Gabriel album up until this point. Taken as a whole, it can be kind of slow and pretentious. But taken as singles, I like it better. I've warmed up to it a bit.

Anyway, the first split single featured Magnetic Fields' frontman Stephin Merritt covering "Not One Of Us" from Peter's third album. It's probably the best of the covers so far.  It has some added emotional context because it was recorded right after California voted against gay marraige. I am not a Magnetic Fields fan, but I was impressed by the song. Plus, Peter's cover of their "The Book Of Love" is maybe my favorite song on the album, and that inspired me to get the original, which I like. I prefer Peter's version, actually.

The second was Paul Simon's cover of the classic "Biko."  I actually love this one also.  I think it is the best thing Paul Simon has done in ages. He's singing and playing a moving song on acoustic guitar.  It sounds like it could have been his song.  (In contrast, I did not like Peter's cover of Paul's "The Boy In The Bubble," one of my favorite Paul Simon songs).

Next was Bon Iver's version of "Come Talk To Me," a song that originally featured Sinead O'Connor from the excellent Us album. Bon Iver one of the indie rock bands that I've heard in the past few years that I've kind of enjoyed. "Come Talk To Me" is one of my favorite Peter Gabriel songs, and Bon Iver really take it somewhere else, but I like this new interpretation. Peter's version of Bon Iver's "Flume"?  I think it would work well in an indie film, but I don't love it on its own.

Lou Reed covered Peter's "Solisbury Hill."  Supposedly, Peter wrote this after leaving Genesis to start his solo career, so I figured Lou Reed would identify with it.  I am a fan of Lou's, but I didn't dig his version of this classic. Meanwhile, Peter's verison of a relatively recent Lou Reed song, "The Power Of The Heart," was positively moving.  It's a side of Lou Reed most people aren't familiar with.

The latest release is Elbow's "Mercy Street," an under-appreciated song from So. The singer sounds  bit like Peter Gabriel in parts, I think the version is pretty good. I don't love Peter's verison of their "Mirrorball." This is my least favorite split single so far.

Peter's website reports that next month we'll get David Byrne's cover of "I Don't Remember." It's one of his more rocking songs (it's from the classic third album), I'm interested to hear what Byrne does with it.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Here's what you need: a band whose music works equally well in the summer and for Halloween. Trust me, this is what you need! Luckily for all of us, Zombina & The Skeletones exist. I've been listening to them for a while on Little Steven's Underground Garage, and tonight I decided to buy some tracks on iTunes.  And I ordered thier Monsters on 45 compilation. Really, really fun band: find out more about them at their website. I will definitely be bringing this group onto The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick on SIRIUS XM OutQ. If you're just trying them out, go on iTunes and pick up "Red Planet" and "Zombie Hop."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, about once a month I go on SIRIUS XM’s The Catholic Channel’s Busted Halo show to talk about music. Tune in at about 7:20 pm ET on SIRIUS channel 159 and XM channel 117. Thursday nights are “Faith & Culture Thursdays” and we usually talk about a certain artist. We've talked about Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Cliff and even Black Sabbath before. Tonight, we're revisiting U2, who we've talked about once.

There are lots of other artists who I want to discuss on the show... so why am I going back to U2? Well, this week, Team Busted Halo is celebrating Father Dave Dwyer's ten year anniversary as a Man of The Cloth, and many of the topics that they are discussing this week are on that topic.  So, in 2000 when a (very) young Dave Dwyer was ordained -- obviously a huge transition in his life -- U2 released an album that marked a transition for them, the classic (and in my opinion, their last classic), All That You Can't Leave Behind. After the busy sounding, dark, disco-y, decadent, dense, cynical albums of the '90s (all of which, I must say, I loved), ATYCLB marked a return, musically and philosophically, to the U2 of yore, circa Unforgettable Fire, Rattle and Hum and especially The Joshua Tree. It's an album that resonates with me in a big way, a decade later, and I hope it does with you as well.  It meant a lot to me the day it came out, and seemed eerily prescient post-9/11.

I'll "dedicate" my appearance on this show to my good friend, fellow U2 fan, singer-songwriter and documentary maker, Benjamin Wagner, who will become a Dad any day now (to clarify, He will be A Father Named Ben, but not "Father Ben") .  He's gone through some decadence in his day too. But if there's anything in these dark days to inspire optimism, it's the fact that such a great guy and his lovely wife are bringing a new life to this troubled planet. Or as Bono might say, an "original of the species." While I'm on the "shout out tip," I'll also send this one out to Bono himself: as most people now know, U2 is postponing their US tour to 2011 due to Bono's back surgery. As (I thnk) Questlove once said, I'd rather have it right than right now. I want Bono to be at 100% when I see U2! Anyway, this should give Ben and Abbi time to book a babysitter!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am ET I go on the SIRIUS XM channel OutQ. I am a weekly contributor to The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick. Tomorrow morning, Larry has a full dance card, so to speak, so I won't be on the show.  I will be back the next week with some truly spectacular rock and roll music.  I don't know exactly what I'm bringing - right now I have so much stuff, I will probably divide it up into two weeks, and I'm not sure what stuff I'll bring each week. Let's just say that there's lots of great new music, and newly released old music out there. It's great for summer!

I may be going on The Catholic Channel's Busted Halo Show on Thursday night , and if I do, I'll let you all know. I'm still figuring out what I'll talk about there, but I have one or two great artists that I'm deciding between.

One other bit of news: I apologize for not posting as much as usual.  I've been taking online classes at night which have been taking up a bit of time, but I promise to try and get back to a post a day.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


People can be cynical about arena concerts, and I can understand that sentiment. Yes, there can be a big disconnect between the artist and audience, and oftentimes the thousands of fans at a large arena get herded like livestock. I get it.


Some artists just figure that it's part of the deal to go along with it. You get big enough to play arenas, the lack of connection is part of what comes with the deal. But what if you got to that point because your fans felt some kind of real connection with the band (as opposed to just liking some of the band's songs). Arguably, no one has handled the problem as well as Pearl Jam (maybe Bruce Springsteen). I've seen Pearl Jam probably about 20 times since 1992 (at the Limelight!) and I've always appreciated the way they respect the fact that there are people paying to hear them perform. For a few years, they seemed to struggle with the conundrum and Eddie Vedder didn't always seem happy on stage.  I'm happy to say that it seems like he's gotten over this in the past few years.

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to see the band three times this week: once in Newark, and twice at Madison Square Garden. At one of the MSG shows, Eddie had a beam of light reflecting from his guitar into the audience. He slowly moved the guitar so that that beam of light touched every seat in the audience. It's more than just a cool looking effect, it's him acknowledging every single person in the crowd. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but it's a cool gesture.

A few numbers: they played 76 songs over three nights, with only six songs being played all three nights: "Alive," "Do The Evolution," "Lukin" (although the last night featured a very different, slower verison), "The Fixer," "Unthought Known" and "Just Breathe." Quite a few rare tracks over the past two nights, including "Sweet Lew" (Jeff Ament on lead vocals!) and "Black Red Yellow" (which I'd never heard them play before), "Hunger Strike" (with Band Of Horses' Ben Bridwell on guest vocals), and lots of cool covers: The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" and "The Real Me," The Ramones' "I Believe In Mircales" and The MC5's "Kick Out The Jams."

But really, what it was about was this: they emptied the tank every night. They played great songs, and made it worth everyone's while (and money) to come more than once (which I'm sure many people did). They played the songs that hooked us in the first place, but their latest songs from last year's Backspacer showed that the band is as vital as ever ("The Fixer" isn't just one of my favorite songs, it's becomming my mantra!). I'm always amazed by how great they are. Yes, Eddie Vedder is one of the best frontmen in music. Mike McCready is one of the rock's great underrated lead guitarists, and his heroics prevent the band from descending into boring indie rock pretension (he happily runs around the stage, striking excellent poses with classic rock guitars: Fender Strats, Les Pauls, a flying V and even a double neck Gibson like what Jimmy Page used to use).  But the other guys hold it down.  Stone Gossard, as I mentioned, is a guy you would want in your band.  He plays every instrument, but is rarely flashy, is a riff playing monster, and really holds everything together. Jeff is a great bassist, he can play in any style. And PJ fans can thank god for Matt Cameron, the perfect drummer for the band. He also adds the occasional great song (like "You Are") and great backing vocals too.  I can't wait to see him back in Soundgarden later this year, but I hope he never leaves PJ. And of course touring Hammond player Boom Gaspar is a great part of the band also, giving them an even more timeless sound.

Night 2 at MSG was the last night of the US tour. Then, they have some European dates and then Matt is doing the Soundgarden tour. I think Stone is doing another Brad tour and album, and I guess Eddie will do solo shows.  But when Pearl Jam tours again, I'll be there. I want my moment in the spotlight again!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I'm kind of surprised by how sad I feel about the death of Ronnie James Dio. I can't act like I'm the biggest fan, and I hadn't listened to him at all for about two decades, up until he rejoined Black Sabbath (aka Heaven & Hell). 

I was moved by the tributes by his Sabbath/Heaven & Hell bandmates Tony Iommi, Vinny Appice and especially Geezer Butler. I say "especially" because Geezer, a lyricist, is a sensitive soul who expresses himself really well with the written word. Also, because I think he and Dio had problems at first: when Ozzy Osbourne was Sabbath's frontman, Geezer was the lyricist.  When Dio came, he wrote his own lyrics, and I think that may have led to tensions.

I was also moved by a tribute written by, of all people, Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield. Sheffield is a kitch-loving hipster (as far as I can tell) but also a very good writer.  Still, I was like, "Not now!" when I saw his name next to the headline "Farewell, Dio: You Got To Bleed For The Dancer."  It was actually a moving tribute that pointed out that Dio's song "Invisible" in which he empathized with gay teenagers, which was unusual, not to mention risky, for a straight heavy metal icon in the '80s. There's tons of great Dio tributes out there, but that one really stuck with me.

Even Ozzy Osbourne issued a brief statement.  Who knows, maybe this will hammer home the point that life is so finite, and inspire Ozzy and Tony to end their dumb lawsuit.  I'm not saying they need to reunite, they should just go back to being pals. But I'm glad that in Dio's final years, he got to play to huge crowds with Tony, Geezer and Vinny. We should all be able to go out doing what we love.


I was surprised to see that Alice In Chains is playing a gig with Stone Temple Pilots this weekend.  It turns out it is one of those kind of lame radio station spring concerts, that they use to force bands to play in exchange for airtime.

Still, as I wrote about a while back in a post called "Sour Boy," I mentioned that when STP first hit the national scene, I heard people saying they ripped off Pearl Jam.  I saw their first video for "Sex Type Thing," and didn't get the comparassion.  They were like an Alice In Chains tribute band. Then I saw "Plush" and understood why people thought they were ripping off PJ.

I feel bad hating on them. Frontman Weiland has some serious issues.  I just read an interview with him in the new Rolling Stone. He mentioned that he still drinks sometimes.  That's just sad.

Anyway, AIC are doing a much cooler tour later this year, with Mastodon opening.  I definitely want to catch that show.


Most Ozzy Osbourne fans know that Oz is getting ready to release a new album, Scream, next month. It features a brand new band: the guitarist's name is Gus G. and the new drummer is Tommy Clufetos (formerly of Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper's bands) and returning on bass is another former Rob Zombie guy, Blasko. Ozzy says that long time guitarist Zakk Wylde was making the record sound more like his band, Black Label Society, and drummer Mike Bordin is of course touring with the reunited Faith No More. Ozzy is also headlining an eight date Ozzfest, which will also feature Motley Crue and Rob Halford.

But for the old school fans, here's a really exciting bit of info. Ozzy is releasing 30th anniversary editions of his first two solo albums, Blizzard Of Oz and Diary Of A Madman. Why is that exciting?  Well, a couple of years back, Ozzy and Sharon were in a legal battle with the rhythm section from those albums, bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake. Sharon is a formidable enemy, and in response, she had Ozzy's then-current rhythm section, Mike Bordin and bassist Robert Trujilio, re-record the bass and drum tracks, and re-issued the albums like that. I didn't dig that, and neither did lots of other fans. I don't know what the lawsuit was about, and I don't care, don't mess with history like that. Anyway, now they're reissuing the remastered albums (the only albums featuring the legendary Randy Rhoads, who should get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a sideman) with the original rhythm tracks.


Last night I saw Pearl Jam for the first time in... well, in about a half year. What can I say, I love the band!

Pearl Jam have hit a stride in their career where they are a weird cross between The Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen.  Like The Dead, they can tour when they want to, with or without a new album, play any song from their catalog and have radically different shows every night. And like Bruce, they are at a point where they are so finely tuned that they empty the tank every show, are able to be spontaneous, and on any given night might be the best band in the world.

While this show wasn't as epic at the Halloween show in Philly, it was pretty awesome.  (To be fair, that show was, as mentioned, on Halloween, it was the final event at The Spectrum before it was to be torn down, and right across the parking lot was the final game of the World Series, between The New York Yankees and The Philadelphia Phillies. It really felt like the center of the earth that night).

The biggest surprise was a cover of "Jersey Girl" - that was when I took the above photo... you'll notice Stone Gossard is not playing guitar - instead he's rockin' the tambourine. I've seen Stone play bass and even drums (with Brad) but this was the first time I've seen him tap the tambourine. But there were other great moments with rare tracks: "Footsteps" was my highlight, but it was also great to hear "Alone" and "Brother." Also great (and kind of rare): "In Hiding" and "Whipping."

I was fortunate enough to have gotten fan club tickets for the show - which placed my wife and I in the eighth row, center, on the floor, the best tickets I have ever had for Pearl Jam, and some of my best tickets ever. I have tickets for two other PJ shows this week, at both shows we will be in the upper upper upper level. It was great to watch the band that way. Eddie Vedder has become a great band leader, when you're close, you can really see it.  I think that at one point, Stone resisted that, but now he seems OK with it.  I think that Stone is such a generous musician and a real team player.  I mean, playing tambourine on "Jersey Girl!" He kind of does what the song requires, even if it is just strumming an acoustic.  He lets Mike McCready take all the solos, but he and Jeff Ament are kind of the glue that holds the whole thing together. Of course I gotta mention Matt Cameron.  I look forward to seeing him later this year with Soundgarden, his style with Pearl Jam is so different.

If you've never seen Pearl Jam, you should make it your business to see a show. If you've never seen a rock and roll show (although if you haven't, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog), you should go see Pearl Jam. They really are as life-affirming as a rock and roll band could be.

I should mention the opening band, Band Of Horses. Their song "No One's Gonna Love You" was my second favorite song of 2008 (after only Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler"). They were really good, they remind me of The Band, and not just because of their colonial beards. And also My Morning Jacket. What is it with the beards! I don't know that I would pay to see Band Of Horses on their own, but they were a good opening act. Eddie joined them for a song, and frontman Ben Bridwell returned the favor by joining Pearl Jam for "All Along The Watchtower" (but he sort of was out of his weight class trying to rock out).


Tomorrow morning at 9 am ET on SIRIUS XM OutQ, I will be talking about some classic albums from rock history. The Stooges just reissued Raw Power, restoring the original mix (done by David Bowie). I will compare it to a re-release that came out over a decade ago, that was mixed by Iggy Pop (which I prefer). I'll also talk about the reissue of Judas Priest's classic British Steel.

Plus, I'll be talking about new albums from The Hold Steady, Hole and The Dead Weather.

Monday, May 17, 2010


A recent issue of one of my favorite magazines, the UK's Uncut, had a cover feature on the 50 best out-of-print albums.  Their number 1 would have been my pick as well, Neil Young's 1973 classic Time Fades Away. It's never been available on mp3 or CD.   I don't even know that it was ever released on cassette or even 8 track! Vinyl or bust!

It was recorded live in concert, but it is all new songs.  It features mainly the same guys that Neil used on his prior album, Harvest, but what a difference a year makes. Where Harvest was his biggest hit ever, Time is totally different.  As I think Neil put it, "the middle of the road became boring, so I headed for the ditch."

But why has it been out of print for so long?  One reason, I think, is because they don't have a board feed of the audio, just what the cameras captured, so it is hard to remaster the audio.  More likely, it is that Neil has referred to it as his worst album, which is weird.  I think it is a great album. It really is a reaction to the mellow, post-hippie, west coast thing I think.  It's ragged and glorious, to borrow the term that Neil would later use for an album title.

So where do you find it?  At anywhere that sells used LPs.  Or google it.  But do check it out, it is worth your time and money. 

DIO - R.I.P.

I am really sorry to hear that heavy metal legend, Ronnie James Dio, passed away this weekend.

Dio in 1985 was my second big rock concert (Rush was the first a few weeks earlier). At the time, Dio only had released two albums, but of course Ronnie James Dio had his catalog of Rainbow and Black Sabbath songs to pull from as well. I remember hanging out with my friend Joe at the White Castle afterwards with a blown mind, talking about all the great songs we just saw him performed, including Rainbow's "Man On The Silver Mountain" and Black Sabbath's "Children Of The Sea." There were lasers, huge lights, it was loud, it was awesome.

Not everyone knows that before he was a metal icon, he was Ronnie Dio, doo-wop singer. You can buy "Gonna Make It Alone" and "Swingin' Street" by Ronnie Dio and The Prophets on iTunes. He was good at it, and I bet he looked back on his doo-wop era fondly.  Years later, he started his band Elf, which was kind of blues based "hey baby" Stones rock and roll. "Sit Down Honey" is also available on iTunes. It's cool, but like when he was singing doo-wop, he didn't really stand out, it doesn't quite "click." 

It turns out that that Stoney, bluesy kind of rock that Elf was playing was also not satisfying to guitar god  Ritchie Blackmore either -- so he quit Deep Purple, hired the members of Elf (minus the guitarist, of course) and formed Rainbow. That's where you first hear Dio becoming that frontman that influenced generations of metal singers. After three albums RJD left to replace Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. Singing with Blackmore meant he would be compared to Purple's singers (Ian Gillan and David Coverdale). That couldn't have been easy.  But replacing Ozzy in Sabbath! What a ballsy move, even though he is technically a better singer. Dio has never lacked confidence, and that has served him well. The two albums he did with Sabbath were righteous and rocking. But soon he took drummer Vinnie Appice and formed Dio.

Dio kind of encompasssed a lot of what people made fun of in "dungeons and dragons" type metal.  I admit, I made fun of it, and so did lots of other people, especially in the '90s.  But really, the guys from Soundgarden and Alice In Chains were fans.  The other night, Pearl Jam played a mix tape of Dio, Rainbow and Sabbath after the opening act before they hit the stage. And Mike McCready threw a bit of "Heaven and Hell" into "Alive." It doesn't matter what artists were influenced by him though.  Few metal artists were ever so singular in their vision, so confident in their identity.  Slayer and Motorhead come to mind, very few others.

When Dio reunited with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Appice a few years ago as Heaven & Hell, I revisted his career, and realized that it is pretty awesome.  And although it took a few years for his musical identity to really coalesce, once it did, he never veered from who and what he was, and for that he deserves respect. Not many people held it down for metal the way he did.  He also had a great sense of humor about it, appearing in videos with Tenacious D (they wrote a tribute/parody called "Dio," but he had a sense of humor and enjoyed it).  He even cameoed in their film.

Dude, you don't have to hand your cape and scepter to anyone. Rock on, Ronnie James Dio.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I'm a big fan of Sarah McLachlan, and man enough to admit it! I first hear her song "Hold On" on the No Alternative compilation in 1993 alongside  Smashing Pumpkins, The Beastie Boys, Uncle Tupelo, Soundgarden and Patti Smith. I hadn't heard of her, and was pretty knocked out. It didn't seem like she fit in, but the CD was on Arista, which was her label, and you know how Clive Davis is!

Anyway, I picked up her next album, Fumbling Towards Ecstacy, and was really really knocked out.  Every song worked.  She reminded me a bit of Tori Amos (and yes, Kate Bush) but really mostly Peter Gabriel.  I enjoy a lot of the music that she's done since then, but nothing has moved me as much as that album. I have always felt that her music has encompassed both joy and sorrow.  But never really fun.  Her new song, now available on iTunes, "Loving You Is Easy," changes that. It's got a bit more rhythm (and sounds like she has been listening to Aimee Mann, not usually an icon of fun). It's not a secret that Sarah divorced her ex-husband/ex-drummer a while ago, and there was a lot of sorrow on her next songs: "Don't Give Up On Us" and "U Want Me 2," both from her greatest hits album Closer (from 2008). But on this new song, she sounds like she's moved on, and feeling pretty sexy.  Good for you, Sarah. It is from her next album, Laws Of Illusion, which comes out June 15. So, to review: she's single, has a new album, and is about to headline the reactivated Lilith Fair tour, which a bunch of other ladies. I wonder if she'll be leaving a trail of male NPR loving groupies across America (and Canada). Just kidding, Sarah fans!

I've had the pleasure of interviewing her - she isn't really how you would think she'd be.  When the camera is off, she curses a lot! On her records, she comes off like a character in a book, or like Cate Blanchett's character in Lord Of The Rings, but in person she actually seems quite normal and level headed. She's also even better looking in person!

When Closer came out,  I filmed her performing in the SIRIUS studios.  It was just her, her tech, and I in a studio.  As a fan, it was pretty amazing to be in there, and I don't take for granted how much that opportunity would have meant to so many of her fans (who are much more hard core about Sarah than I am, admittedly). Here's one of the songs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Well, from what I know about search engines, this post will get more "clicks" than any No Expiration post so far. Sorry for the deceptive title! I'm doing an experiment to see how this goes. Actually, a lot of music writing is sadly dictated by Search Engine Optimization - like writing about, say, Lady Gaga, just because lots of people are searching her.  That's not how No Expiration rolls, son! 

Anyway: tomorrow morning on SIRIUS XM OutQ at 9 am ET, I'm going to be talking about the new album from The New Pornographers, reissues from Duran Duran and also MGMT's latest.

MGMT's Congratulations has been a bit controversial among fans. After the fun, synthy sound of their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, they decided to go all Neil Young post-Harvest, and bee-line from the middle of the road to the ditch. They've kind of gone on record saying that they were uncomfortable becoming pop stars, and that inspired the sound of the new album which is more Flaming Lips than Lady Gaga. I enjoy the album, even if I don't totally agree with the contrarian line of reasoning. Then again, "rock" acts tend to have longer shelf lives than pop acts. Even Perez Hilton called them out for their attitude, pointing out that "there's nothing wrong with playing to arenas of people who want to listen to your music." Neil Young did the right thing when he veered from the mainstream after Harvest, time will tell if MGMT veered off of a cliff or not.

Duran Duran are releasing deluxe reissues of their self titled debut from 1981, and their third album, 1983's Seven and The Ragged Tiger. And also the 1985 side project Arcadia. Each reissue has two CDs (with lots of demo versions, remixes, BBC sessions and the like) and an accompanying DVD. I haven't gotten through all of it: I admit that on OutQ, I'm not giving a comprehensive review, it's more that I'm informing everyone that this stuff is out there and giving highlights. I'm more of a "greatest hits" fan when it comes to the double d. A lot of people dissed them back in the day, because they were a bit effeminate. But they had some funky tunes, starting with the singles on the first album, "Girls On Film" and "Planet Earth," which are still my favorite two Duran Duran songs.

Finally, The New Pornographers. Since I don't generally "buy into" what indie rock people make a big deal about, I was late to this band. Until I heard the song "Sing Me Spanish Techno" a few years back. The new album has more of a crunchy guitar solo: A.C. Newman, one of the main guys in the band has said that he wanted to combine Black Sabbath with The Fifth Dimension, which is a good idea. I like the songs I've heard so far.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


So, as I've mentioned, No Expiration is now on Twitter! I'll be posting all sorts of news and using the blog as more of a place to recommend stuff.

Here's what I tweeted about today, in case you missed it. Trent Reznor's new group is called How To Destroy Angels, and an update to my tweet: you can download their song "A Drowning," at Amazon.

I also link to stories about Massive Attack's upcoming tour, Roger Waters' upcoming tour, Heaven & Hell cancelling their tour due to Ronnie James Dio's health, a comic book about Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig and more.

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This morning on SIRIUS XM OutQ's The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick, I talked a lot about music that you'll hear if you listen to SIRIUS XM Outlaw Country. In my opinion, it's a great year for the genre: albums from legends like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard have been great. But it's not just about the icons, there's lots of new(er) artists also, including The Drive-By Truckers, who have put out my favorite album of the year so far, The Big To-Do

Another contender for my favorite album of the year is Reckless Kelly, I love thier new album Somewhere In Time. I wasn't that familar with them: I'd heard their music on Outlaw Country, and I knew that they backed up Steve Earle on his cover of Warren Zevon's "Reconsider Me." But when Outlaw DJ Dallas Wayne was talking about the album so enthusiastically, I felt I had to check it out and it did not dissapoint. They are from the Austin scene, and the album features all songs written by another guy from that scene named Pinto Beckett. This is one of those albums (like The Big To-Do, or, last year, The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre) where there are just so many great, great songs and I had a hard time choosing. I love the two songs that we played today: the opener "Little Blossom" and "Bird On A Wire," but I wish we got to "You Hold The Bottle, I'll Hold The Wheel." I hate to call it "country-rock," because that term brings to mind The Eagles. RK aren't as ragged and raw as the Truckers, but they definitely aren't as pop as Henley and co. But Somewhere In Time does have lots of catchy songs, and it's almost a shame that it isn't a bit more slick: you almost could imagine this on country music radio among Brad and Kenny and Carrie and Keith. Not quite, but almost.

I can go on describing this album for you - I'm not the greatest record reviewer. Let me instead put it this way. You know that I love discovering artists who are "new" to me, but I don't actually discover many that I like. Hearing a few songs on the radio made me want the album, and now the album is making me want to check out their older material (I've in fact bought a few songs from their last album, Bulletproof, and I'm digging that also). If last year I introduced you to The Cocktail Slippers and you liked them, this might be my one big new favorite thing this year. Check them out, you might dig it too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am ET I go on the SIRIUS XM channel OutQ. I am a weekly contributor to The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick. This week I will be talking about country music.

At the risk of sounding like I'm pimping the company I work for, I should mention that most of this music is stuff that you can hear on the SIRIUS XM channel Outlaw Country, which was one of the reasons why I subscribed in the first place (before I even worked there!).

Elizabeth Cook, in fact, is a DJ on the channel. She's a great reason to wake up in the morning: she is so entertaining to listen to. Add that to her music, and she's a star in the making. So listen to her now, so you can brag to your friends when she's a big star next year! Really, though, her music is great. She reminds me of Loretta Lynn or maybe Dolly Parton. She's able to do total ass-kicking songs that are funny ("Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman") and then heartfelt ballads that really hit you ("Heroin Addict Sister"). Her new album, Welder, comes out next week.

Reckless Kelly is a band who, like The Drive-By Truckers, I would not have gotten into without Outlaw Country. Great, great southern rock band. Their new album, Somewhere In Time, is a tribute to a songwriter named Pinto Bennett -- all the songs were written by him. There are just so many great songs on the album. They are so catchy, you can almost hear them on a mainstream country format (but not quite).

Willie Nelson's new album is called Country Music, and was produced by T-Bone Burnett. My opinion? It's another great (or maybe classic) Willie album. But you know I love Willie. By the way, while you can hear him on Outlaw Country, you can also hear him on his own channel, Willie's Place. Tomorrow night, Willie's Place will broadcast - live - Willie's concert from the Manhattan Center. At this show, and this show only, he'll be backed up by T-Bone's guys, who played on Country Music, as opposed to Willie's usual "band of gypsies."

I'm not sure what else we'll get to.  I have one track from Merle Haggard's new album I Am What I Am (I gotta be careful after the Johnny Cash American VI album didn't go over well a few weeks ago). A couple of tracks by Dallas Wayne, another Outlaw Country DJ who is also a singer/songwriter, The Court Yard Hounds (sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire of The Dixie Chicks), and The Drive-By Truckers again: what can I say, The Big To-Do is my favorite album of 2010 so far.


Don't worry, I'm not announcing "Jazz Odyssey!" First off, I want to thank everyone who reads my blog. Those of you who contribute in the "comments" section, thank you so much, I really appreciate it. I've been thinking about ways to make No Expiration a bit more useful, and how to incorporate twitter into what I do. So, here's what I'm going to be doing from now on. For breaking news stuff: I'm gonna tweet about it. Follow me here! The reasons I am doing this are kind of twofold.  One: I don't write on this blog during business hours, since I am at work. So I will be tweeting stories (with my commentary in 140 characters or less) throughout the day if I have time to do so. Today I tweeted about Neil Young's upcoming album (produced by Daniel Lanois!), Primus' upcoming tour, the Rush documentary that just won an award at the Tribeca Film Festival, how the floods in Nashville are affecting the Grand Ole Opry, and other stories on Jack White, Trent Reznor and more.

I'm going to use the blog more for my recommendations: records, new songs available on iTunes, cool magazines, DVDs, concerts, etc. And occasaional editorials. So, basically the news is on twitter - and these days, for better or worse, twitter kind of dictates the speed of news - and reviews and features are here. So, to paraphrase the great band, I hope you like my new direction.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


So, as promised, I'm posting my "40 Reasons To Get Exicted About Music," in response to Rolling Stone magazine's recent cover story. It turns out that I agree with half of theirs.  Here, then, are twenty of my reasons to be excited.

Bob Dylan. Not including his recent Christmas album, he has released four classic albums in a row: 1997's Time Out Of Mind, 2001's "Love & Theft," 2006's Modern Times and last year's Together Through Life, which was my favorite album of 2009. Plus, his concerts are getting good again. It's just inspiring how great he is, as he approaches the big seven-oh. Plus, he's been allowing Sony Legacy to put out great releases from his vault.

Speaking of approaching the big seven-oh, there's also the legend, Solomon Burke.Two weeks ago, I talked about Solomon's latest album, Nothing's Impossible, on The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick on SIRIUS XM OutQ, and people loved it. The man still makes incredible albums, and has been doing so since his 2002 record, Don't Give Up On Me.

The Underground Garage. Anyone who reads No Expiration, anyone who listens to me on OutQ, or anyone who talks to me about music ever, knows my love for the Underground Garage, which I write about often. As someone who has not been interested in music radio for decades, the Underground Garage got me back into it. You can hear new and old music, famous bands, obscure bands, brand new bands that haven't gotten to the pop culture radar yet, well know songs, rare tracks, and it doesn't discriminate by race or sex. In fact, I don't think you'll hear more female fronted bands, or all girl groups, anywhere else. The Underground Garage, in fact, introduced me to one of my favorite bands, The Cocktail Slippers. Other bands it turned me on to: The Boss Martians, The Hawaii Mud Bombers, The Jessica Fletchers, The Woggles, The Chesterfield Kings, The Charms, The Contrast, The Grip Weeds, and more. These are some of the best bands you haven't heard of. I hear tons of great new music on this channel all the time.

I need to mention The Cocktail Slippers again. Their last album, Saint Valentine's Day Massacre was one of my favorite albums of last year. I can't wait to hear what they will do next.

Everyone knows that Little Steven Van Zandt runs The Underground Garage, but he is also the force behind Outlaw Country, a truly awesome channel, that combines every generation of country music, with a sort of rock and roll spirit. It seems pretty crazy that there aren't radio stations that play Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams in high rotation. Luckily, Outlaw Country does. They've also introduced me to some great artists, including Reckless Kelly, (DJ) Elizabeth Cook and one of my favorite bands, The Drive-By Truckers.

The Drive-By Truckers deserve their own entry! Their new album, The Big To-Do, is my favorite album of 2010 so far. They've been doing their thing for over a decade now, and I'm glad that people are starting to notice.

Speaking of the Truckers, they played on Bettye Lavette's last album, The Scene Of The Crime. What an inspiring story this lady has. She's been working for decades, almost having breaks a few times over the years, and finally in the mid-00's, Anti- Records (owned by Epitaph, they have also put out records by Tom Waits, Solomon Burke and Joe Henry) gave her a deal, and now the world is starting to get to know her. Better late than never: what a voice. She is a great song interpreter.

Another great singer/song interpreter with an inspiring story is Miss Sharon Jones. She started getting her first break in her 50s! Her new album I Learned The Hard Way is really great. She loves old-school sounds so much, it's like the last few decades haven't happened, but her songs are great, so it's cool (the same could be said of Jack White).

And yet another great singer/interpreter with a great story is former Band drummer/singer/mandolin player Levon Helm. A couple of years ago, Levon was on the brink of bankruptcy, foreclosure and was staring down cancer. Today, he is healthy, does really popular concerts at his home (which wasn't foreclosed), tours, and has made two great albums.

The Stooges. One of the best bands of all time. They are finally getting the credit they deserve. And they are touring. They will destroy bands one third of their age.

Robert Plant. For years, his ambition seems to outreach what he was capable of as a solo artist. Then he let go of a bit of control, worked with Alison Krauss (and, it must be said, producer T-Bone Burnett)and put out a true classic with Raising Sand. Now he's working on a solo album (he doesn't rule out another album with Alison though) but he's sticking in the Americana vein: he's got Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin in his touring band, and Buddy is producing his next album.

Bruce Springsteen. Although I didn't love his latest album, Working On A Dream, I thought that Magic was a classic. I think Bruce still has classics in him. His latest tour was maybe his best yet. The E Street Band is one of the best combos in the world. And Bruce can still turn around and so something great with his other group, The (Seeger) Sessions Band or as a solo acoustic artist.

Talib Kweli. I think he is one of the best MCs around, I like his solo music, I like what he does with Hi-Tek in Reflection Eternal, and I hope that he and Mos Def do another Black Star album that lives up to the first one. Honestly, I don't care if Jay-Z retires, I hope Kweli makes music for a long time.

Two more reasons together: Aimee Mann and Ben Harper. Two of the best songwwriters in the world. They are always honest, make no concessions to anyone, and keep putting out great albums. Actually, I'll add Steve Earle to that.

Jack White: I write about him often, and it is a running joke on Larry Flick's show that I keep coming up with ways to play his music on the show (Larry isn't a Jack White fan). For all three of his bands, and for his great label, Third Man Records. Jack was my "Artist of the '00s."

Kanye West: he is a commerical hip-hop artist whose music I sometimes like and he keeps things interesting!

Roger Waters taking The Wall on tour. I wasn't old enough to go to concerts when Pink Floyd toured for The Wall!

Green Day: because they can rock Broadway, do a guitar hero game, tour stadiums and still do club shows as Foxboro Hot Tubs.

Those are my reasons: here are the Rolling Stone reasons that I was down with: U2's tour, LCD Soundsystem, concerts sound better than ever today, Them Crooked Vultures, Chuck Berry still performing, concert tickets are sometimes under $50 (I have to look for more sales like that!), T.I. is out of jail, M.I.A., "cloud based music," Tom Morello still fights the power, great tribute bands (I'm kind of iffy on this, I don't really see too many tribute bands, although I kind of want to check out The Fab Faux), Keith Richards is writing an autobiography, Mike Campbell rocks out on the new Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album, The Gaslight Anthem (cool young punk rock band), The Roots, country newcomer Jamey Johnson, vinyl sales tripled since 2006, R-Bone Burnett's productions and artist vaults with lots of great stuff in them (Dylan, Springsteen, Young).