Lou Reed's body of work goes back to the underground of New York City in the mid '60s. While the West Coast was doing acid, NYC was using speed: sunshine and beaches vs. dark, cramped basements and alleyways; bubbly art vs. intellectualism. Reed's music reflected that environment and the way he experienced it.
The Velvet Underground only sold 30,000 copies of its first album during its initial release. Brian Eno once said that all 30,000 of the people who bought that original pressing started a band. That quote is often misapplied to Velvet Underground's primary songwriter Lou Reed. But Reed has proven the misapplication correct, influencing many an artist during his post-VU career.
"This song is about being broke," Conor Oberst began. He peered down at the audience, tuned his guitar and finished, "I'm rich as fffuuuccckkk, so it doesn't directly apply to me."
It's been 30 years since Billy Bragg blended punk sensibilities with a lone guitar for his debut album, "Life's a Riot with Spy vs. Spy." In that time he's not only created a rich catalog of music, but he's also been a labor advocate, a protestor, a writer and playwright, a father, a collaborator -- most notably with Kirsty MacColl and Wilco, and one of the foremost keepers of Woody Guthrie's legacy.
Tim Armstrong is like a bizarre, punk-rock Woody Guthrie. Songs like "Harry Bridges" and "Sidekick" could have been written by Guthrie way back and frequently surpass anything in the Springsteen catalog.
The only thing little about the Little Big Bangs is how little they seem to care about creating an image. What they do seem to care about is crafting solid post-punk with socially minded lyrics.
Los Angeles experimental rockers No Age return with a thundering, challenging, thrilling new track, "C'mon, Stimmung"; even if you played this song quiet -- and why the heck would you? -- it would still be loud.