Jun 162012

It’s (almost) summer in the city; perfect weather for listening to Versus, a band I’ve been wanting to write about on RTH for a while now.

In one light, Versus were among the more prominent also-rans of ’90s indie-rock. As this article points out, they were maybe not as distinctive, unique and rock-crit-friendly as Pavement, Superchunk, Guided by Voices, and others. But they were reliable and breezy. They had a great handle on guitar parts that moved seamlessly between grinding and jangly. Their songs were often briskly rhythmic and effortlessly melodic—sometimes even heart-rending—without ever devolving into fussy, overarranged prock.

The band has always been led by its two singers, guitarist Richard Baluyut (right, above) and bassist Fontaine Toups (center). For most of the band’s existence, Richard’s brother Ed (left) has played drums. Arguably, the band’s best albums are the ones that featured another Baluyut brother, James (not pictured) on second guitar.

Maybe what I like most about Versus is the way they come across as cool and urbane and yet folks-next-door. This was the great thing about indie-rock, before it became all about beards, NPR, and acoustic guitars. Discovering and re-discovering Versus is like discovering and re-discovering the city all over again. Not a particular city, necessarily; just the idea of The City as a place where you can meet like-minded individuals, have your horizons subtly expanded and so forth. This music makes me want to go to coffeeshops and used bookstores and get a job in the doomed field of alternative-weekly journalism all over again.


Russ ♥ New York

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Jun 152012

Russ Irwin in a New York state of mind.

I’ve received yet another unintentionally hilarious press release. Or maybe it’s just me. That second sentence is especially potent. (And
grammatically a little ambiguous, although the comma makes it mostly okay, I guess.) Ah, the life of an Oliver!

Aerosmith Keyboardist Russ Irwin’s Love Letter to NYC

The *NY Daily News* premiered Aerosmith touring member Russ Irwin’s video for his first single, an ode to his hometown called “Manhattan” from his new solo record ‘Get Me Home.’ Irwin told them about the inspirations for his “retro modern piano record that takes a lot from the blues,” and his recent appearances on *The Real Housewives of NYC. *Read more and see the official video here: http://nydn.us/NulL6g

AOL’s Noisecreep spoke with Irwin about his early career and reveals that he co-wrote Aerosmith’s next single, “What Could Have Been Love” (from their forthcoming album ‘Music From Another Dimension!’). “It’s a hard rock ballad and it’s very McCartney-ish. I think people are gonna love it,” Irwin says. Read the full interview here: http://aol.it/OAffZL

Irwin is currently on tour with Aerosmith.

Looks like there’s more to Russ’ Real Housewives influence than meets this press release!

May 092012

I know we’ve discussed this guy before, how he’s an acquired taste for many of us, and for others one of the few examples of a musician who seems to improve with age.

It’s taken me years to develop a real of appreciation of Hitchcock. This is weird, given my love for many eccentric British songwriters. But I think I’m finally on my way, thanks to the most banal reason possible: A very basic, maybe even dumbed-down greatest hits album.

However, I have a request for those of you are already in the pro-Hitchcock camp. Recommend three (3) albums for me: one from the ’80s, one from the ’90s, and one from 2000 onward. I will listen to them on Spotify, and perhaps later purchase them.

Caveats: Don’t recommend any Soft Boys. I’m pretty sure those albums are already in our house somewhere. Also, I already have I Often Dream of Trains, so you can skip that one too. I used to have Jewels for Sophia. I thought it was pretty good.

I look forward to your responses.

Mar 292012

First, read this article: BBC Films joins RPC for Julien Temple’s Kinks feature.

Then, help out BBC Films, Julien Temple et al, by casting the Kinks bio-pic for them. Obviously, Ray and Dave Davies are key, but don’t forget everybody else, including:

  • Pete Quaife
  • Mick Avory
  • Shel Talmy
  • Rasa Davies
  • John Dalton
  • John Gosling
  • Clive Davis
  • Chrissie Hynde
  • Jim Rodford
  • Damon Albarn

… and on and on…

Include as many supporting players as you see fit. The screenwriters will also be keeping close tabs on your choices.

I look forward to your responses.

Dec 042011

I didn’t know about this ad campaign until I noticed it this evening, while holiday shopping in Center City. For the record, it doesn’t bother me that Bryan Ferry is now in H&M ads with his son. It just seems odd to me; really, Bryan should not be appearing in ads for clothes that I can afford.


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