RIP: Gruntruck’s Ben McMillan

Ben McMillan (Gruntruck, Skinyard) passed away on January 28 at the age of 47 after a lengthy battle with diabetes. Damn, that sucks! I’m pretty sure that at some point I interview Ben around the time ‘Push’ was released (1992) and they were touring with Alice in Chains and the Screaming Trees.

Here’s Gruntruck’s “Crazy Love” video.

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Ben left a pretty tragic message on his MySpace page in December. He must have known he had precious few days left.

Folks~ This is the first real printed word I have done in years. I’m motivated because of our Divine Maker who, I thought I had exhausted surely on Dec. 3rd 2007, when for another life dance, I was once again called out on the floor to shake it up for all those I have loved & cost , to the place we will all volchange-turn, for eternity- On Dec. 3rd my kidneys quit operating & again, I was given hours to live. Only those who take the time to know me out/in ICU, know the contract will be unsigned till my maker wants me. I spend most my time writing music & doing art but, I bet you wouldn’t know about the music. I’ve outlived the keggers & ego bonfires. I would rather be a good chair, comfy & plastic velvet-covered for hygiene & looks, but some sort of ground is more than fine. I’m keeping this short because I don’t want to exhaust you. Please though, write me on my space & if I go because, well, I’m wanted… I’ll be fine. I go to my friends and those I’ve never met. Janis, Miles, Jeff buckley, Angelo, Valentino, Nico, John, George, and Mr. Fred Astaire. Peace & Fight On. love to you and yours, ~Me, Ben

Warrant reunion a go?

2007 saw Van Halen, The Police, and Led Zeppelin (among others) reunite. It looks like we’ll see the original lineup of Warrant get back together in 2008 (yeah, I know, it’s not the “original” lineup but it’s the lineup that got signed to a record deal and put out a few albums together). There has been no official word yet – for the past 2 years the Warrant lineup has included ex-Black n’ Blue singer Jamie St. James while Jani Lane has been performing as a solo artist – but the William Morris Agency, one of the leading booking agencies in the rock business lists Warrant as a client AND has a brand new photo of the band WITH Jani Lane.

Because the reunion hasn’t officially been announced, there is no word on tour plans or a new album though both are likely. The last time this lineup recorded together was in 1992.

LOST returns

Just about the only non-music content you’re going to get on comes in the way of discussion about LOST. The new season starts this week and, if you’re like me, you might need just a quick refresher before season 4 kicks off.

This recap, produced by ABC, covers the first 3 seasons in rapid fire succession in 8 minutes and 15 seconds (815 … get it?)

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While season 3 started off slowly – yes, I’ll admit that I thought maybe it had jumped the shark – the last half of the season was some of the best TV I’ve ever seen. If you remember, the last episode (“Through the Looking Glass”) introduced the concept of flash-forward and it totally caught people off guard.

It seems like the writer’s have thought long and hard about how season 3 was slow out of the gate and they’ll be picking up where that season dropped off which should make for a pretty intense first episode of season 4, titled “The Beginning of the End”.

Here’s a sneak preview of what’s in store for this season (at least for the first 8 episodes that were filmed before the writer’s strike).

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There are, of course, a million fan sites out there dealing with LOST. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ve probably already found one or a few that you visit often and trust. My favorite is which hosts a weekly podcast recapping the previous week’s episode and offers some insight into what might be going on and also reveals some spoilers. If you’ve got time before the first episode, I’d recommend checking out Lostcasts most recent podcast, episode 59, “Theory Cast”. It’s a little more than an hour long.

DOWNLOAD: LOSTCasts 59: Theory Cast

And while you’re at it, if you missed Matthew Fox’s interview in Entertainment Weekly a few weeks ago, it’s post on the site. There may be some things that could be construed as “spoilers” but Fox doesn’t give too much away.

Free Music Friday

The Gutter Twins “Idle Hands” (Dulli + Lanegan = Amazing)
Black Mountain “Tyrants”  (Pink Rebel Sabbath Club)
Grand Archives“Torn Blue Foam Couch” (ex-Band of Horses!!!!!)
Monade“Regard” (featuring Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab)
The Helio Sequence“Keep Your Eyes Ahead” (great song but not even the best on their new CD)
Say Hi“Northwestern Girls”, “Toil and Trouble” (MySpace top 8 includes Nada Surf, Plus/Minus, Bishop Allen among others and for obvious reasons)
No Kids“The Beaches Are All Closed” (Dancey indie-pop)
The Autumns“Boys” (LA band = J.Buckley meets Brit shoegazer pop)
Kelley Stoltz“Your Reverie” (’60s-style pop ala The Beatles, The Monkees)
The Heavy Circles“Henri” (Edie Brickell + Harper Simon, son of her husband, Paul)
Why?“Close to Me”(Cure cover), “The Hollows” (Any friend of Hood is a friend of mine)
Miguel Miggs“Fire” (featuring Junior Reid (Faze Action Afrotronic Re-Rub))  
Imaad Wasif with Two Part Beast“Oceanic” (folkie, J.Buckley-ish)
Faunts“Memories of Places We’ve Never Been” , “M4 (Partt.1)” (synth-gazer)
Castaneda“Pixels” (DCFC with balls)
The Ruby Suns“Tane Mahuta” (Disney soundtrack meets Vampire Weekend-covering Paul Simon)
Excepter“Kill People” (don’t worry, I don’t get it either)
The Epochs“Opposite Sides” (sample-filled indie (trip)-pop with falsetto vocals)

The Mountain Goats are NOT playing at SXSW

It’s that time of year, where seemingly every band announcing tour dates has a stop (or four) in Austin scheduled for SXSW week in mid-March. And for bands that don’t have tour dates listed during mid-March, well, they are ripe for SXSW rumor fodder. So, for those keep scorecards at home, The Mountain Goats have released tour dates in conjunction with the release of ‘Heretic Pride’ (out on Feb.19 on 4AD) and will be forgoing Austin in favor of touring the East Coast (multiple dates in Boston and New York that week).

DOWNLOAD: “Sax Rohmer #1”

19 – Anchorage, AK
22 – Vancouver, BC, Richard’s on Richards
23 – Seattle, WA, Neumos
25 – Portland, OR, Doug Fir
26 – Portland, OR, Doug Fir
27 – Eugene, OR, WOW Hall
29 – San Francisco, CA, Bimbo’s

1 – San Francisco, CA, the Independent
2 – San Francisco, CA, Bottom of the Hill (matinee)
4 – Los Angeles, CA, the Troubadour
5 – Los Angeles, CA, the Troubadour
13 – Northampton, MA, Pearl Street
14 – Boston, MA, Museum of Fine Arts
15 – Boston, MA, The Middle East
18 – New York, NY, Webster Hall
19 – Brooklyn, NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg
20 – Philadelphia, PA, First Unitarian
22 – Washington, DC The Black Cat