My Life at Fufkin, Etc: A Year Of Reviews In Review
to believe, but it was a year ago when I first started reviewing music
for Fufkin.com. Amazing how things come full circle - to drive that point
home, Neil Finns latest album has only now been released for the
U.S. market (that CD, formerly One Nil and now repackaged with
two replacement songs as One All was one of my first reviews here).
Now that NotLame has released a marvelous two-CD tribute to the music
of Jeff Lynne, Im reminded that my other first Fufkin
review was Jeff Lynne as ELOs Zoom. Kind of nice the way
things perpetuate in the realm of music.
off, I want to thank our mentor and oft-under appreciated leader here
- Casey Fundaro (a.k.a. David Fufkin). His many hours putting together
Fufkin.com for your reading pleasure month to month go unheralded for
the most part - additionally, his integrity in putting across a writers
views sans interference guarantee the kind of music journalism thats
hard to find anywhere these days.
remains one of the few forums willing to provide intriguing features,
interviews and reviews of music (and writers) that might otherwise go
unnoticed. While major labels continue to ignore what people want, Fufkin
has its finger on the pulse of any number of artists that try to survive
independently, carving out a niche whereby their music finds a receptive
a sense, thats one reason I started reviewing. Always a champion
of the underdog and a major junkie for less-than-mainstream music, this
was a chance to give others a heads-up about what was spinning in my players,
setting my musical world aflame. Share the passion, I say, and you cant
go wrong. Again, my thanks to Casey for letting me do so in a very public
2001 I went international, speaking the praises of two big finds: Greg
Johnson, just an incredible singer/songwriter from New Zealand, and Taxiride,
an acceptable alternative to most native boy bands, four Aussies who write
their own melodic magic and make it work. I expect new releases are on
the horizon for both of these artists in 2002 (and in the meanwhile youll
like their latest efforts until then).
I returned to the U.S. to give some notice to some independents: Portland
Oregons The Minders, once part of the Elephant Six Collective, who
had some fine psychedelic retro sounds, Ohios Scott Gorsuch (who
I think has re-joined Lollipop Factory en route to an upcoming release)
and Derek Cintron, a talented singer-songwriter out of Florida.
2001 I unleashed my inner teenager and served up reviews of The DumDums
and Treble Charger, two finely melodic power punk pop units for those
eager to pursue more than just Green Day and Blink-182. U.K.s DumDums
have since disbanded, but continue to look for good things out of Canadas
work in New York City, in midtown. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning.
I was in my office and got a call from one of my employees at about ten
minutes of nine. He said he just witnessed the damnedest thing while crossing
Sixth Avenue downtown, that a low flying plane just hit the WTC, and thats
why he was going to be a little late getting in. No one knew what was
yet ahead on that horrible day of infamy.
turned on the radio and listened along with the rest of the world as worst
fears became realized. I started to get a slew of emails from concerned
friends near and far, telling me to get out of the city ASAP. By ten to
ten, our building was evacuated (bomb threats) and I had missed the chance
to flee: the city was in lockdown mode. No commuter trains were running
to get me home to my family in the northern suburbs, and frankly there
was little way of getting anywhere.
on the street, there was a throng of teeming humanity, moving forward,
confused, somewhat panicked and definitely unsure of what was coming next.
At that point the prevailing wisdom was to avoid landmarks as probable
terrorist targets. My office is right above Grand Central Terminal and
close to the United Nations. The traffic was at a standstill, not a taxi
or limo to be found. Cell phones werent working (the satellite had
been located atop one of the towers apparently) and the lines for pay
phones were often twenty to thirty people deep.
those of you who live outside of NYC, let me tell you this: you wont
find a friendlier place when the chips are down. In this ultimate test
of humanity, the people in the city came through big-time. People were
walking uptown and there was a spirit of camaraderie that gave one a renewed
sense of the goodness of humanity. Strangers talked to strangers, offered
assistance and reassurance in this time of ultimate displacement and anxious
fear; hearing a radio announcer give the address of where to go to donate
blood, people stopped, wrote it down and went to help in any way possible.
know youve heard it all before, and forgive my two cents worth from
this online podium. I was lucky that day, eventually I got home to my
loving family, but many did not. The events of September 11th changed
our world forever. My heart goes out to the family and friends of all
the innocent victims of the attacks. Let it serve as a reminder for all
of us to live life to the fullest.
October, when we all were trying to recover and make sense of what had
happened, I chose to think back to my August vacation in the Canadian
Rockies, and reviewed some fine music from our northern brethren, the
alt-country sounds of The Cash Brothers and the engagingly kinetic charisma
of the wonderful Hawksley Workman.
also got to meet and interview Glenn Tilbrook that month (for the November
Fufkin). He was busking at Grand Central, raising money for victims of
the WTC attacks and was in town partially promoting the UK in US
festival, partially promoting his new CD and accompanying solo acoustic
tour. The former Squeeze guy truly is (as he puts it) caring, sharing
and lovely. See him if you can; you wont be disappointed.
November I reviewed the latest from Yazbek, Jump,Little Children and Butterfly
Jones. In my humble opinion, you hit the jackpot with anything from any
of those three artists: Im a sucker for intelligent, melodic, well-crafted
songwriting. Sadly, we lost George Harrison that month.
also was the first-ever International Pop Overthrow festival to be held
in NYC. My kudos to David Bash et al for bringing this musical celebration
to the east coast during a time of much-needed healing. Highlights for
me included meeting with long-time email correspondent, powerpop savior
and great guy Bruce Brodeen. His Not Lame night at Arlene Grocery was
a wonderful night of good music for good people and the man
himself lived up to all expectations (extremely highly recommended).
night I got to eat pizza and chat with some members of Norways Badger,
met up with Cliff Hillis (congrats to you and Beth on your recent nuptials),
fellow Fufkineers Gary Pig Gold and Dawn Eden, and a good time was had
by all. The music was superb.
also had the good fortune to attend the IPO Smile Records night the following
Saturday at The Knitting Factory, where cold and rain did not dampen the
good spirits musically. While there were fine performances from the likes
of The Andersons, Sparklejets UK, Supremium, The Churchills and The Rosenbergs,
my ulterior motive was to meet (at long last) Fufkins own Casey
Fundaro, who allegedly was in attendance.
spotted Bruce Brodeen and spoke with him for a bit. He told me that Casey
was there and that I could find him because hes wearing this
leather jacket. With that to go on, I started my quest. I knew vaguely
what Casey looked like (I had seen his photo), but there didnt seem
to be anyone that really seemed to fit.
I was resolved not to let the evening pass without meeting the man behind
Fufkin. In a task that I knew might be horribly misconstrued, I set about
during act breaks, bravely tapping on shoulders of men in leather jackets,
asking them if their name happened to be Casey. Luckily I didnt
get punched by Kevin and all the others who, in point of fact, were NOT
Casey (but were outfitted in leather that evening). At the last set/act
break, I finally did meet Casey (a happy ending), though Im sure
he didnt realize all the pretenders I had to grill before finding
the genuine article
the advent of the holiday season, I reviewed two great McCartney tribute
CDs, as well as nifty comeback albums from The Knack and The Rembrandts,
and a lovely psychedelic compendium from Greg Watson, better known as
The Orange Alabaster Mushroom. I also had the pleasure of hearing The
Beatles White Album performed live by The Fab Faux at The Bowery
Ballroom. This amazing feat was a holiday treat for the ears, and an incredible
accomplishment for what surely is the worlds greatest Beatles cover
2002 was my examination of Christian crossover music, encompassing strong
efforts from Rick Altizer, The Elms and Switchfoot (all of whom are actively
working on new material as we speak). If youre a pop fan that hasnt
yet ventured into this arena, please do so. All three of these artists
have lots to offer with strong melodic pop.
relatively mild winter was spent trying to catch up with all of the great
music that people had recommended from 2001. As such, February reviews
were a mix of old and new. I recommended the highly touted release from
Dallas Sugarbomb, who had been cut loose from RCA, and came late
to the game discovering Adam Marsland and companys greatest Cockeyed
Ghost album yet, the often somber yet ever tuneful Ludlow 6:18.
own RockFour wowed me with their high-powered rock (I cant wait
to see them live) and I was equally taken with the great fun of sparklejets
u.k. and the great multimedia package that is Bamboo Lounge.
again mixed old and new (hey, Im still catching up on music from
2001), this time reviewing new releases from Bruce Witkins Supremium
and the high-powered musical fun of The Andersons! I played a little bit
of catch-up reviewing Chomsky (who really master some XTC-like sounds
of the early 80s) and the appealingly tuneful tales of romantic woe spun
by Eytan Mirsky on his latest Was It Something I Said?
busy month I spent a wonderful evening just talking about music and life
with musician George Usher (check out his superb release Days Of Plenty)
and also managed to get time in for an interview and dinner with Sean
Altman. We discussed his new release, the very catchy alt.mania
and his career to date, and I managed to capture the gist of it in Aprils
month I also got to review the latest efforts from two of my favorite
singer/songwriters: Mike Viola and Wes Cunningham. Both of these new releases
feature somewhat softer, more intimate music than their immediate musical
predecessors, yet both are well worth your listening efforts.
also had a chance to catch Adam Marsland performing solo live at a small
venue downtown as part of his recent four-month tour. While the crowd
in attendance could have been larger, it was a gathering of kindred spirits
and Adam rewarded us with original tunes and requests. It was inspirational
proof positive that its the music that matters, no matter what.
month I used this forum to convey the heartbreaking tale of Josh Clayton-Felt,
who lost his life to cancer but left us a legacy of wonderful life-affirming
music. I also had occasion to review Phantom Planet, a talented and well-connected
bunch that make good music while still finding their own unique sound,
the sophomore release from eclectic and entertaining popster Brendan Benson
rounded things out with a review of a new EP from Connecticuts The
Dent and the intelligent fun music of Belgiums quirky Pascal Deweze
and friends as Sukilove.
again, my thanks to Casey and all here at Fufkin.com for allowing me to
be part of this highly entertaining, intelligent monthly read about so
much music that might otherwise be ignored. My thanks to all the great
musicians out there, some whom I have had the good fortune to meet, and
many whom have given me hours of great pleasure through their aural art.
Your quest is a noble one, and I salute you all.
greatest thanks, however, goes out to you the reader, whomever you are.
I hope I may have helped steer you toward some artists and music that
you might not have known about otherwise. I always try to do whatever
research I can to try and capture the feelings the artist puts into these
musical efforts, and if I can capture my own enthusiasm for an artist
in the process, all the better.
often is a lonely art. Ive been happy to get positive feedback from
a number of the artists Ive reviewed, as well as the occasional
reader who has enjoyed a review or recommendation. Its not a science,
and musical tastes are a subjective thing (imagine my horror at realizing
a song I pegged to be about either masturbation or this artists
love sword turned out to be a tribute to a woman he loved and wanted to
this gentle nostalgia trip - I know its an indulgence, but Im
amazed at how its really been a whole year. Oh well, you live and
one hopes you learn in the process. And the best part is that the music
you feel so inclined, do drop me a note care of Fufkin.com. Its
always nice to know theres someone on the other side of the computer
screen. And thanks for letting me share a years worth of musical
picks - Ive had great fun writing them, hope youve had as
much fun reading them.
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