Rock and Roll Reads

Rock and Roll in Greece

Greece. The birthplace of democracy. The home of the Olympics. Idyllic islands drenched in the Mediterranean sun. We all have our own particular images of Greece but home of some fine rock and roll is probably pretty far down on the list. I was curious about the rock and roll scene in Greece so I asked Nikos Panakos of Green Cookie Records (a label I have featured in the past) if he could point me to anything of interest and he sent me back a wack of sites to check out. Here is a small sampling of what there is out there. Keep in mind that a lot of them are in Greek (go figure!) so it might take a bit of Google translating for things to make sense (although a lot of these sites have English sections) but hey, where’s your sense of adventure? And make sure you have your operating system disc handy, as you will be constantly prompted to load Greek fonts on your computer. Do it once and be done with it.
We will start our Greek odyssey at The Greek Knights of Fuzz, a very cool site specializing in “the modern Greek beat scene.” Nikos particularly recommends The Last Drive as a band that inspired him when he first got into rock and roll. The article “Modern Greek Beat Scene” is a great overview of cool Greek garage rock and roll and a fascinating read.
A great way to get your bearings in any scene is to read some of the local e-zines and magazines and Greece has a couple of interesting ones. The biggie is Babylon Rock and Roll but it’s typical of a run of the mill, although exotic looking rock mag. More interesting to me is Butterfly, Sonic Playground and Thee Cave (specializing in Garage Punk and based out of Athens). All really cool. I was clicking madly on every link, downloading Greek fonts and MP3s and having the time of my life. Sense Magazine is also pretty cool but it is being discontinued so enjoy it while you can.
As far as bands go there are some really cool bands that I have added to my global rock and roll jukebox (alright it’s just my iTunes playlist but it sounds cooler). First up is The Earthbound which Nikos describes as the “sound of the desert.” Really cool and exotic, this Athenian band’s choice of covers for their self-titled debut album were a song by Kyuss, a traditional Cuban song and “Aint Got No Home” by Woody Guthrie! Very eclectic and very cool. Broken Seals out of Thessalonica are another band that I am enjoying. They have a bunch of MP3s on their site from their “Kings and Queens” album which are great. And get ready to break out the Ouzo when you hear the pump of the Farfisa organ of the Frantic V who are an absolute Grecian garage rock and roll blast. I could just imagine listening to them on a hot summer night on some Greek island. That would be unbelievable! Finally, you cannot talk about Greek rock and roll without experiencing a band which sings in Greek and that’s where Xaxakes come in. Even if you don’t speak Greek, the universal nature of rock and roll will make that less of a problem and more of an opportunity to experience something a little different. It’s what makes listening to music worthwhile but at its core Xaxakes is still rock and roll. Really fun, cool stuff.
Finally, here is a quick list of some Greek rock and roll record labels. I have already mentioned the fine folks at Green Cookie but Nikos also suggest:
· Studio 2– Only Greek bands but hey, this post is all about Greek rock and roll!
· Cannonball 666– Greek indie punk!
· Pop Art– Interesting pop and electronica
· Wipeout Records– Cool indie rock and roll
· Action– 60s revival records and Greek bands

If any of this has whetted your appetite for Greek rock and roll then I urge you to go and visit Green Cookie Records and peruse their bands and the links on their site. There are some really cool bands and labels operating out of Greece that I plan to spend a bit more time investigating and I have really only scratched the surface of Greek rock and roll but it is obvious to me that the Greeks like to rock so I will be paying closer attention to this part of the world in the future. As a matter of fact, I think we should organize a Rock and Roll Report Greek Travel Extravaganza to visit this amazing country and experience their rock and roll delights first hand! And while we are there I suppose we should check out some of their other amazing cultural history. Until then, grab a Souvlaki and pop some Greek rock and roll into the CD player and have a ball. Isn’t this fun? It puts a whole different spin on what you thought Greece was all about.
Thanks Nikos for the tips. Keep up the great work and keep Greek rock and roll alive and kicking!

Rock Biz

An Indie Paradise in North America

Imagine a place where 90% of the music industry is governed by indie record labels and where they embrace technology and the Internet instead of trying to sue it out of existence. Imagine a place where the music industry nurtures their musicians and promotes them with intelligence, tenacity and creativity to a public that is accepting and even a little daring. Imagine a music industry that is difficult to define because the musicians refuse to be pigeonholed to any one specific musical genre. This is not utopia friends, this is the reality that is the music industry in Québec. I might be exaggerating a little bit for effect but the music industry in Québec, a French music industry, is doing quite well in an ocean of North American English. At The Digital Crossroads is a fascinating article that details what it is that the music industry in Canada’s only French majority province is doing to ensure it’s survival in this day and age of P2P file sharing and the pervasive influence of American culture. Very informative and certainly a hopeful sign for those looking for a ray of light in an industry dominated by the major record labels. Read the story soon as I believe the link expires in 14 days.

Live Rock and Roll

Go North Young Music Fan!

Naturally after going South by Southwest, the only logical thing to do is to go North by Northeast and attend the 10th anniversary of the North by Northeast Music Festival being held in beautiful Toronto, Canada this June 10th to 12th. I have applied for media credentials so we will see if The Rock and Roll Report will be there moblogging live from the festival amongst the drunken hoards of music biz types and rock and roll paparazzi. Stranger things have surely happened.

Live Rock and Roll

South by Southwest Festival Wrap-Up

Despite the fact that I was not there, Music Dish writer Linus Gelber of Home Office Records serves up the scoop on what happened at the South by Southwest Music Festival. He has broken it down by day with some pithy comments and all around astute observations:

Day 1: Running Before the Storm
Day 2: A Living Legend Because He Says So
Day 3: All Walter Under the Bridge
Day 4: The Trish is Back
Day 5: The Finish. Saturday Night’s All Right
I hope to be there next year to stumble my way amongst the indie glitterati myself but this summary is certainly the next best thing to being there. You’re exhausted just reading it. Still sounds like fun though.

Rock Radio 2.0

The Rock and Roll Report Radio spotlight is on: The Wild World of Robby Russell

Robby Russell plays great “1960s and early 70s forgotten gems of mind bending Garage, thumping, blasting Punk Rock with those unknown psychedelic nuggets you probably don’t even remember dabbled in” on WPMD (a great station by the way) every Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00 PM and Mondays 6:00 – 8:00 AM. Absolutely great, fuzzed out sonically overloaded rock and roll that is unstoppable! Expertly assisted by Nurse Cherill, this is very cool stuff and a really great way to take your mind off some of the drivel that you hear on the radio today. Highly recommended.

Odds & Sods

The truth is out there. The 10 best rock bands ever.

MSNBC writer Eric Olsen (also of Blogcritics fame, check it out) has penned an article entitled The 10 Best Rock Bands Ever- A purely subjective list of the groups that changed music forever and of course rock and roll fans have already begun to debate it in earnest. Olsen is playing it both ways by calling his article “The Best Rock Bands Ever” but then adding that subjective sub-title but still, overall the article is very well written even if you don’t agree with his list. Here it is for your debating pleasure with my comments following:

1. The Beatles – As far as influence goes it’s hard not to argue with this one.
2. The Rolling Stones- The band that wrote “Satisfaction” and launched a thousand garage bands. Of course they also did “Far Away Eyes” but a safe bet to be somewhere in the top 10.
3. U2- Jury is still out on this one for me but what do I know. They did tour with a giant olive so that must mean something.
4. The Grateful Dead- Top 20 maybe, top 10? Don’t think so.
5. The Velvet Underground- Good pick. Hard to believe that they were ignored throughout their whole career.
6. Led Zeppelin- They finally get their due. Their influence is greater than most people would like to admit.
7. The Ramones- Another great pick. They were excellent on The Simpsons.
8. Pink Floyd- I like Pink Floyd but top 10? Another top 20 band perhaps.
9. Bob Marley and the Wailers- I love Bob Marley but I don’t consider him and the Wailers to be a rock band. Bob Marley is in a category all on his own.
10. Sly and the Family Stone- Top 20 at best.
If you are looking at lasting influence, I think perhaps The Band, The Sex Pistols, The Byrds, The Mothers of Invention, Nirvana and maybe Springsteen have done a lot to influence the course of rock and roll but there are undoubtedly many more. If you are looking at who is “the best” well that’s so subjective as to be almost meaningless. For me it probably changes every week depending on the mood I’m in. A fun argument to be sure.
But wait there’s more! For the same price MSNBC throws in the top 10 rock and roll songs. Yes that’s right, here they are just for your reading pleasure:
1. (I can’t get no) Satisfaction- The Rolling Stones
2. I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Beatles
3. Respect- Aretha Franklin
4. Like a Rolling Stone- Bob Dylan
5. Hound Dog- Elvis Presley
6. Johnny B. Goode- Chuck Berry
7. I Heard it Through the Grapevine- Marvin Gaye
8. Born To Run- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (the most underrated rhythm section in rock and roll)
9. Smells Like Teen Spirit- Nirvana
10. Hey Ya- Outkast
All great songs but only “Hey Ya” hasn’t stood the test of time. Let’s check back in 5 years.

Artists and Bands

Now this is rock and roll! Maximum R ‘n R

Hailing from Toronto, Canada Maximum R ‘n R have been described as delivering “high octane rock ’n’ roll slathered in beer and pizza grease that would make you swear they’re from some place like Calgary.” Now with a description like that, how can you go wrong? You can download the track “Switchblade” from their website as I suppose the nachos entrée before the beer and pizza but make no mistake, these guys are the real deal. Pass the Tums please.

Rock and Roll Reads

Cool Site Spotlight: Tiny Mix Tapes

Want to listen to something different but not sure what to listen to and have no idea where to start? Check out Tiny Mix Tapes for a really cool solution to your problem. Not only do they have a lot of great news, reviews and suggestions, they also have the amazing Automatic Mix Tapes Generator which allows you to send in a “style, genre, emotion or phrase” and the staff at Tiny Mix Tapes will generate a playlist to suit it. The latest one generated is “You Keep Cutting Your Hair Shorter and Shorter in an Attempt to Show That You Have Control Over Your Life and Are a Mature Individual but Really You’re Just a Spaz With No Direction.” A true classic. Very original and very cool. Check it out.

Rock and Roll Reads

Helter Skelter to close. Thousands of students of rock and roll literature mourn its’ passing.

Helter Skelter Books of London, England is sadly closing their doors. No doubt in my mind that Helter Skelter was the source for quality rock and roll books but spiraling rental rates have sealed the fate of this fine literary establishment but fear not, the publishing arm of Helter Skelter will continue with their newest release, a re-release of the classic The Beach Boys: Surfs Up ready to go. Sadness tinged with hope, a good sign in these troubled times.

Record Labels

The Rock and Roll Report Record Label Spotlight is on: Mint Records

Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Mint Records is a great historic Canadian independent record label featuring bands like The New Pornographers, the infamous Evaporators, Duotang, The Smugglers, The Sadies and a bunch more too cool to list. I really love this record label and I think that you will to. If in doubt, you can always sample before you buy at the Mint Jukebox. Buy a couple of CDs and then plan your trip to the majestic VanBC for the 2010 Olympics! Break out the snowboard and iPod and get ready for some Minty fresh fun.