The Beatles - “When I’m Sixy-Four” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
Queensrÿche - "You" (Hear in the Now Frontier, 1997)
I quite like the groove on this one. You know, this album really isn’t as bad as everyone made out back in the day. Sure, it’s Gen X, Alternative Queensrÿche Lite, but what the heck were they supposed to do at the time?! Most of the dinosaur acts that tried to continue in their post-grunge, pop-metal/prog-metal genre are gone these days anyway. Well, I guess you could argue that Queensrÿche is gone too.
At The Drive-In - "198d" (This Station Is Non-Operational, 1999)
One of my favorite ATDI tracks. Delicate yet screamy, it has just the right mix of what I liked about this band.
Queensrÿche - "Sacred Ground" (Q2K, 1999)
In contrast to the previous ‘Rÿche tune, here’s one from an album I remember liking (and playing) quite a bit when it came out, but it hasn’t aged as well. Not that it’s that bad. It’s just that there’s not much here to grab you. I think the big difference is DeGarmo. This was the beginning of the long, slow, painful march to the end.
Whitesnake - "Young Blood" (Saints and Sinners, 1982)
I’m not too familiar with this one, but it seems a little weak to use as the album opener. Supported by several quotes from then guitarist Mickey Moody, this is the sound of a band that was tired, broke, frustrated, out of ideas, and ready to throw in the towel.
Bob Mould came alone, except for his 1987 Lake Placid Blue Fender Stratocaster. We provided the Epiphone Blues Custom 30 amp, which he promptly cranked. Needless to say, he announced his own Tiny Desk Concert without using the paging system.
Mould isn’t a shy man — his power chords will tell you that — but he’s humble and gentle. Many know Mould from his days with Hüsker Dü, an awesome punkish band from Minnesota that laid the groundwork for the Pixies and more. His subsequent work with Sugar managed to do something none of his other records did so well: Copper Blue sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
Beauty and Ruin is solo album No. 11 for Mould, and as you can hear from these songs, he’s all amped up and ready to go. Sweaty and happy, he makes “Makes No Sense At All” his final calling card — classic Hüsker Dü.
Anthrax - “A Skeleton in the Closet” (Chile on Hell DVD, 2014)
Great song, great sound, and former Shadows Fall guitarist Jonathan Donais does an admirable job at mimicking Danny Spitz’s solo, but he definitely needs to loosen up and move a little more. And I very nearly had a seizure from all the fast-cut split-screen nonsense.
Premier Guitar's John Bohlinger met with Tommy Emmanuel, AM, CGP at Artisan Guitars in Franklin, TN for an epic 43-minute one-on-one rundown of his gear. They discussed his signature Australian-built Maton guitars, the sparse gear he uses to get his huge sound (a Boss TU tuner, an AER Pocket Tools Colourizer, and an AER Compact 60 amp, just in case you’re wondering), and his real secret weapons: his hands and soundman Steve Law. We also get a taste of Tommy’s immaculate playing as he talked about his style and how it and his gear inform one another.
Tommy has to be one of the nicest and most humble guys in the business, mostly because he doesn’t see it as a business but as his life’s mission and purpose. If you have the time, I highly recommend watching the entire interview.
Jars of Clay - "The Chair" (The Long Kiss Goodnight: Music from the Motion Picture, 1996)
Decent soundtrack tune from one of my favorite CCM artists. For what it’s worth, I never saw the movie.
Eureka Machines - "The Story of My Life" (Do or Die, 2008)
Eureka Machines is one of my favorite musical discoveries of the last 5 years. Do or Die is a great album; frontman Chris Catalyst is a song-writing machine who has enjoyed stints with The Sisters of Mercy, Mariachi El Bronx, AntiProduct, and Ginger Wildheart; and EM have built a rabid following via their DIY ethic and grassroots efforts while remaining virtually unknown by the public at large. If you haven’t checked these guys out, you need to do so.
Iron Maiden - "Remember Tomorrow" (Iron Maiden, 1980)
Maiden had some great tunes on those first two albums, but then Bruce came along blew it all away for me to the point that I forget he’s not their original singer. It’s nice to revisit the Di’Anno years from time to time.
KISS - "Christine Sixteen" (Love Gun, 1977)
The older I get (coupled with the fact that I have a daughter), the creepier this song gets.
Keaggy, King, Denté - "Isle of Skye" (Invention, 1997)
Cool, mostly-acoustic instrumental from three of the best guitarists in the CCM music scene, at least at the time of its release.
Nickel Creek was made to sing and play around a single microphone, so a Tiny Desk Concert seemed inevitable. All it took was a reunion tour — celebrating 25 years of Nickel Creek — to make it happen.
All three of the band’s remarkably talented core members have been to the Tiny Desk before. Chris Thile is a veteran, having played the Tiny Desk with friend and guitarist Michael Daves, then later in the same year with Yo-Yo Ma and others in a project known as Goat Rodeo. When The Decemberists performed a Tiny Desk Concert, Sara Watkins was there to play her fiddle and sing. Her brother, Sean Watkins, was also at the NPR offices earlier this year with the marvelous singer Tom Brosseau.
The trio, backed here by bassist Mark Schatz, has no equal. Nickel Creek has been doing this on and off since its members were kids, and what blows me away is the comfort and ease with which they navigate their instruments. That skill, and the creative force behind it, is a joy and a thrill to witness.
The rock and roll geek Michael Butler gives us a track-by-track review of the eponymous debut release from the latest “supergroup” to hit the scene, the Empty Hearts. In this episode, Michael outs the Romantics as one of his guilty pleasures, reveals his love of frontman Wally Palmar, and explains how a tasty solo from Cars guitarist Elliot Easton can elevate a track from a +½ to a +1 in the scientific Rock and Roll Geek Grading Scale.
I was excited on my first listen of The Empty Hearts, but afterwards I was a little meh about the whole affair. Michael’s enthusiasm during this podcast has given me the kick in the pants I need to give this album another chance. Maybe it will do that for you, too.
Premier Guitar's John Bohlinger talks guitars and gear with Def Leppard's Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell and their respective techs Scott Appleton and Dave Wolff, as well as Rick Savage's tech Roger Veage. For more information and lots of photos, visit the video's accompanying article.