"Love Is Rain," the new album from The Badlees, will make its radio premier this Sunday night at 7 p.m. on 102.3-FM,The Mountain. Fans across the country can also listen online at 102themountain.com. My weekly radio show, "Music On The Menu Live," usually runs from 8-9 p.m., but we're extending it to two hours for this one, and we'll be hitting the air at 7.
The Badlees, everyone at the station agreed, are worth it.
Bret Alexander, the principal songwriter in the band, will join me on the show to talk all about the new album, and just for good measure, we'll also be spinning a few of the band's past hits and a few nuggets.
In next week's issue of The Weekender, editor Mike Lello — also a fan of the band — will have a feature story on the group and the new album, and I'll have a full review of "Love Is Rain" in my "Music On The Menu" column. And on Wednesday, Oct. 14, The Cellarbirds — featuring Alexander, Paul Smith and Ron Simasek of The Badlees — will perform live at The Woodlands as part of the Mountaingrown/Weekender Original Music Series.
Simply put: We've got you covered.
I, like countless others, simply love this band's music. Always have. And that's led to quite a few stories. In fact, I recall about 10 years ago, people would always ask me if I thought the film "Almost Famous" reminded me of myself. There were certainly some similarities. A young music journalist takes a particular interest in a promising upcoming band, spends a lot of time covering them, and a friendship is born. And yes, some of the scenes in the film reminded me a bit of The Badlees and myself in the '90s. But there were also some very big differences.
I was 25 when I first met The Badlees, not 17, like the writer in the film. I'd seen lots of rock and roll by then and thus wasn't so easily impressed. But I was very impressed with The Badlees, right from the first time I saw them. My love for the music came first. I became a fan based on the incredible quality of the albums. It was only later, well after those first impressions, that I got to know the guys. I also found the Lester Bangs character in the film to be annoying. He was a well-known music writer who tried to mentor the younger writer and always seemed to be lecturing him about the boundaries of journalism.
I couldn't relate to that at all. Even when I was young, I did things my way. I probably would have told Bangs to buzz off, to not take himself so seriously, and to remember what The Stones had said: "It's only rock and roll."
My job was simply to tell people about great rock and roll.
I supported The Badlees then and do it now because they are one of the best bands I've ever heard. Album for album, track for track, I'd put them right there with a group like U2. As a songwriter, Alexander comfortably sits at the table with Springsteen. And as a music journalist, and as simply a fan, that's an incredibly exciting thing to stumble upon. One of the most famous reviews in rock music history came from Jon Landau, who in 1974 wrote "I have seen the future of rock and roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen." He was moved. He was inspired. That's how I felt in 1995, the first time I heard The Badlees "River Songs." And I still feel the same.
"Love Is Rain" is a remarkable album. And I still want people to know that we've got a guy living here in NEPA writing Grammy-worthy songs that would get Bruce and Landau to perk up in their chairs. I'll get into that a bit more in next week's issue, when I review the album. But in the meantime, you can read my little version of "Almost Famous" on The Weekender Web site, where we've archived all of the stories I've done on The Badlees, all in the order they first appeared in the paper.
No personal stories here. Maybe I'll save some of those for another time, or the book someday. Linked here are simply our interviews with the group, our reviews of their albums and their shows, quotes from the fans when they topped our readers' poll, and the ups and downs of what I feel is America's best band. You can check 'em all out right here:
And for an early listen to "Love Is Rain," tune into 102.3-FM, The Mountain, on Sunday night at 7 p.m.
We really think you'll like what you hear.