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Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Return of Our Prodigal Son

Back in 1986 I met a person who changed my life forever. It wasn't a girlfriend, or a teacher. It wasn't a cop or a priest. It was a DJ. A humble club DJ. His name was Matt Pinfield. Through the the music he played and the scene he created at the Melody I became the person I needed to be. I spent the next six years having the best time anyone could possibly have, listening and dancing to great music in a great club.

Sadly, that time had to come to an end and I moved to CA for my post doc at Berkeley. Matt and I stayed in touch regularly by phone, and hung out when I visited my NJ life from time to time.

In 1994, I got a real job and moved to central New York. By now Matt had left New Brunswick for good for NYC and MTV. With both of us busy full time, we didn't get to hang out much.

Over the next few years I got married, moved back to NJ, and had two boys. Matt got very busy in the music biz, flying everywhere, meeting everyone. He moved to California, then back to NYC, busy as ever. Though only an hour away by train, we didn't see much of each other. But every once and awhile I'd call him and actually reach him, and we'd talk and laugh as if it where 1990. We were still brothers.

I always hoped that some day we'd be able to hang out more, like in the old days. Now to a small degree, we can. Matt is now host of VH1's Top 20 video countdown, and I can see him at my house every weekend. he looks healthy and happy, doing exactly what he was made to do. He's the same old music hero I met 20 years ago, but now I get to share him with the whole country. Matt's gone through a lot and paid a lot of dues to get to this point, and he's earned it.

Here's to the guy who means so much to so many who were so incredibly lucky to have been able to hang out with him for so long. Welcome home.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

TICKET GIVEAWAY: The Chilling Details in Asbury This Saturday

Timing is everything, but this time I've gotta make do with what I've got...

The Chilling Details are a fine band that calls Asbury Park, NJ their home. I latched onto them just this week, in time to schedule a song of theirs on the next installment of the Altrok Radio FM Showcase. (Y'know, Fridays at 10:00 PM on 90.5 The Night, right?)

And, as it happens, this very same band is playing The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ as part of the Comic, Art, and Music Armageddon on Saturday (that's April 29.)

So here's the problem: they've offered me tickets to give away. And so I shall. But since I can't do it on the radio (the show's pre-recorded, and nobody's there to answer the phone - I demand my Friday nights free, dammit) I'll be giving them out here.

How are they? Really really good. I'm playin' 'em, aren't I?

You can get a taste of what they're about at their MySpace page (where, in fact, you can download "GoGo", the song I'll be playing.)

Now then: you want those tickets? Sure ya do. Here's how to get 'em...

Go to the Feedback page and tell me "I Want The Chilling Details", and give me the name you'll have on your ID and an e-mail address I can reach you at in case something fizzles. Tell me if you'll be taking an extra person, and who that is - I've got five tickets (not five pairs) to give away, and I'd like to accommodate you if you've got a partner-in-crime.

Good luck!

Since this is a giveaway, there are disclaimers: Tickets will be given on a first-come, first served basis, and after the five tickets we've got are given away, there will be no others given out. You will be notified by us if you win. You'll be picking them up at the Stone Pony ticket booth. is not responsible for the tickets themselves, the quality or existence of the show or of the venue, or indeed of Asbury Park itself. After we tell you you've won, you're on your own, and if it all goes to hell in a handbasket in any way, we're not at all responsible for it. We're just humble website operaters, and know nothing of this so-called "outside world" of which you speak.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Verlaine Signals

Must bring Tom Verlaine to everyone's attention.

Tom Verlaine's guitar playing inspired me to keep practicing. When everyone else around me, my fellow high-school and college students playing guitar in the mid-to-late 70s, set up camp in separate nations: powerchords or endless noodling or aspirations of very sophisticated jazz or cookie-cutter pop, Tom Verlaine's unique guitar playing gave me hope. Anyone who loves guitar or investigating the roots of new wave, modern and indie rock who doesn't already own or hasn't already heard the album Marquee Moon by Television, the critically acclaimed, popularly ignored band Verlaine co-led with Richard Lloyd, should run buy it to obsess over it for awhile. (The solo albums "Tom Verlaine" and "Dreamtime" are gems, too.)

Television were the first rock band to play at CBGB ? which after all stands for Country, BlueGrass and Blues; were the ones who figured "What the hell, we need a place to perform, even if the place isn't for rock & roll bands, what do we have to lose?, let's just ask."

Because members of Television approached CBGB owner Hilly Kristal, everything changed. New artists were given more chances, and new ideas became much more plausible in the realms of modern rock, punk, alt-rock, indie rock and related styles. Without that one small act of bravery, our modern musical universe would undoubtedly have turned out looking and sounding very different.

As I type, I'm listening to songs from Verlaine's first new album in over a decade, Songs and Other Things, from a page at, his label's site, where one can stream all of "Songs..."' 14 tracks. Listening to new Tom Verlaine makes me very happy. Bring "The Day On You" or "Shingaling" up on your monitor speakers and become very happy too.

This is a laid-back set by and large, without much of the fire I'm used to. But as I readjust my expectations to hear what's there, I realize that if one listens not for blazing licks, but listens like one does to tasty blues tracks ? that is, immersed in the flow of choosey riffs and solos but floating on the strong, fluid backbeat ? it works. One key reason I adore Sleater-Kinney's The Woods is that it's influenced by Television's (and so Verlaine's) sound; it echoes & revives Verlaine's way of straddling rock's tributary streams, standing on an edge between multiple genres, at a point where art and pop meet, minimalism and realism time-share, the sound of a new, true-to-self musical signature is forged. You can hear best what Sleater-Kinney borrowed on Verlaine's new songs "Heavenly Charm" and "All Weirded Out".

Bottom line: I love this guy.

Like another Jersey guy releasing a new album (Bruce Springsteen's "The Seeger Sessions" comes out the same day! [I think]), Verlaine, born in Morristown, NJ, and Springsteen have both released new music this week which shows their age -- but in a good way.

Verlaine plays Bowery Ballroom in NYC on May 18.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Altrok Radio Music Update #114

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:

  • The Young Knives
  • Stereolab
  • Little Man Tate
  • The Kooks
  • SOUND team
  • The Flaming Lips

Plus we've got newly-added music:

  • Bellaparker - Instead
  • Crystal Skulls - Baby Boy
  • Duels - Animal
  • Field Music - You're Not Supposed To
  • Ciaran Flynn - Stay The Night
  • I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - At Last Is All
  • Ima Robot - Creeps Me Out
  • Last Charge Of The Light Horse - Cartwheeling
  • The Little Ones - Cha Cha Cha
  • The New York Dolls - Dance Like A Monkey
  • The Presets - Girl And The Sea
  • Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs - And Your Bird Can Sing
  • The Wedding Present - I'm From Further North Than You (Klee Remix)
  • Zoppo - Exboygenius

Our Newly-Added Classics:

  • ABC - Tears Are Not Enough (Original Single Version)
  • The Dickies - Rosemary
  • Brian Eno - Backwater
  • The Europeans - Animal Song
  • The Hoodoo Gurus - Poison Pen
  • Inspiral Carpets - This Is How It Feels (Extended Mix)
  • November Group - We Dance
  • Polyrock - Love Song
  • Patti Smith - Dancing Barefoot
  • The Sun And The Moon - Peace In Our Time

Monday, April 17, 2006

Altrok Music Update #113: The WLIR Infiltration Continues...

For those tuned into Eastern L.I.'s 107.1 (a.k.a. The World Famous WLIR) Sunday night, you won't need any further description from me about the fun I had with Cody, Danielle and Steve (not to mention their mysterious engineer) on Subculture Live. Cody asked me to bring a bit of the classic FM106.3 flavor I keep fresh here at Altrok, and I was more than happy to oblige - after two snow-aborted attempts earlier this year, that is. (This one almost didn't get off the launch pad, either, since it took me almost four hours to get to WLIR Broadcast Central. I don't believe I've ever spent that much time in Staten Island before...)

For those keeping score, I was able to cajole Cody into playing APB (a track recorded live at Malibu!) as well as Gang Of Four, Sexbeat, a newer track from The Fall, a much newer track from The Knife and A Bigger Splash (specifically, August 1984 Screamer Of The Week "I Don't Believe A Word".)

Again, many thanks to Cody, Danielle, Steve and Engineer X (anonymous only because I have a memory like a steel sieve - my apologies!) for making me feel so welcome - and here's wishing that if there is a next time, the traffic somehow magically disappears.

Of course, all fun and games aside, there's the constant flow of new adds to the Altrok playlist, and attention must be paid...

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:
  • Mylo
  • The Flaming Lips
  • Protokoll
  • Autons
  • Tommy Keene
  • Morrissey

Plus we've got newly-added music:
  • APB - Shoot You Down (Live at Malibu 1989)
  • Arctic Monkeys - Still Take You Home
  • The Crimea - White Russian Galaxy
  • Dirty Pretty Things - Bang Bang You're Dead
  • Elle Rae - Six Months In A Leaky Boat
  • The Hyphens - Turn It Up
  • Islands - Rough Gem
  • Klaxons - Gravitys Rainbow
  • The Knife - Neverland
  • Letters & Colours - Chase The Bull
  • Little Man Tate - What? What You Got?
  • Oh No! Oh My! - I Have No Sister
  • SOUND team - Your Eyes Are Liars
  • Spinto Band, The - Oh Mandy

Our Newly-Added Classics:
  • Age Of Chance - Kiss
  • Blue In Heaven - Julie Cries
  • Joy Division - Warsaw
  • Lords Of The New Church - Dance with Me
  • Peter Murphy - All Night Long
  • The Selecter - On My Radio
  • Simple Minds - Changeling
  • Stiff Little Fingers - Nobody's Hero
  • Sting - If You Love Somebody Set Them Free (Torch Song Version)
  • The Truth - Exception Of Love

There's about 4000 songs rattling around our library now (your average rock station has about 500) and every day brings a new selection.

Want a piece o' that? Tune in!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A World Without Pitney

Last week I heard the news about Gene Pitney's death shortly after the radio show. It was also around that time I heard about the tragic death of Wonder Stuff drummer Martin Gilks.

Both deaths came as a shock. Pitney was in the midst of a world tour and had died in his sleep the night after a successful gig in Cardiff, Wales. Gilks died shortly after his motorcycle accident on Sunday, April 2nd.

I was recently amazed to discover that Pitney was still touring on a regular basis. He's one of those singers with a very unique voice. I still don't know how much of it he had during these later years. Nonetheless, his string of hits in the '60s are very eclectic and really added a nice charm to the already charming mid-'60s hit feast.

Gilks was someone I got know through numerous meetings when The Stuffies toured the states. I was there at their 1st NYC gig at The New Ritz when Matt Pinfield went up after the show to meet everyone. After that it was a match made in heaven. Pinfield made New Brunswick, "Stourbridge Central." (Stourbridge, being their hometown located in the midlands of England.)

Loads of memories were made during the quick run of the early '90s when the band came through, either on tour or during promo visits. Most of the time we saw Martin was when the band was playing. Most of the socializng was up to Miles and Malc (the guitarist).

Still, Gilksy left a mark as one of those rare cool British musicians who always said hello and gave you some time to tell him how much his band meant to you. You know he didn't take it for granted. As a drummer, he was a machine (well, he did have 2 legs of the 8-legged Groove Machine). His stamp is all over their records, especially the early albums when the energy was palpable.

Gilks was part of the band's 2000 U.K. reunion, but did not take part with the reformed band that toured the states last year behind a new album. It was the only letdown of that U.S. tour.

Gilks was 41. Sir Gene Pitney was 65.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Worth-Your-Time Podcasts: Jersey Beat

Jim Testa at Jersey Beat, no stranger to having new and interesting music cross his desk, has carved out enough time to turn some of it into a podcast. You can check out the results here:

For those who know Jim, no further description is necessary. For those who don't: get to know Jim.

Altrok Radio Music Update #112

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:
  • The Vals
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Guillemots
  • Veto
  • The Clutters
  • Graham Coxon

Plus we've got newly-added music:
  • Autons - Snakes
  • The Concretes - Chosen One
  • The Dresden Dolls - Sing
  • Drones - Baby2
  • The Flaming Lips - The W.A.N.D.
  • Tommy Keene - Warren In The 60's
  • The Kooks - Naive
  • Morrissey - The Father Who Must Be Killed
  • No Pasaran! - Broad Street Trestle
  • Protokoll - Risen
  • The Radio Dept. - The Worst Taste In Music
  • Ranier Maria - Life Of Leisure
  • Stereolab - Vodiak
  • The Young Knives - Here Comes The Rumour Mill

Our Newly-Added Classics:
  • Crossfire Choir - Nation Of Thieves
  • The Hoodoo Gurus - Bittersweet
  • The Jam - Going Underground
  • Leisure Process - A Way You'll Never Be
  • Les Enfants - Shed A Tear (There You Go)
  • Let's Active - In Little Ways
  • Our Daughter's Wedding - Lawn Chairs
  • The Residents - Kaw-Liga
  • Secret Affair - Do You Know
  • tv21 - Snakes And Ladders

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

It's April And The Show Must Go On

This past weekend was a personal and musical funfest with The Flashcubes, where a lot of old great habits ceased to die. Rock and roll flailing away with Paul Armstrong singing about glue, Arty Lenin singing about a Girl From Germany, Gary Frenay still nailing the rip of Todd's "Couldn't I Just Tell You" on "No Promise" and Tommy Allen playing the tar out of "Do Anything You Wanna Do" and "Walking Out On Love." The 'Cubes brought it home and they ruled.

The other upshot of this reunion was the obligatory 3-piece gig the night before with Gary, Arty and Tommy (as The Neverly Brothers) where they do 3 sets of covers and originals, all unrehearsed. There, I got to hear some new Arty material that's as great as he's ever written and some amazing '70s pop covers like Artful Dodger's "Silver & Gold" and The Raspberries' "It Seemed So Easy."

Deeper details about the late Nikki Sudden came from 'Cubes roadie and Yeah Yeah Yeah comrade Matt Mac Haffie, who knew Sudden back in the day and had friends who stayed in touch. It's not a pretty picture. Google Sudden and you should be able to find out. Mac Haffie also told some wild stories about the recent Neighborhoods reunion which sounded like they must be the band to catch before they decide to stop again.

The Flashcubes are finally beginning work on another project, beginning with a recording of The Move's "Hello Susie." Let's just say it may be the greatest cover version of all time. I've seen it live and it's quite the spectacle.

More Festival Goodness In The UK...

Since Glastonbury's taking the year off, there's room for one more (honey) ... and nature abhors a vacuum (at least the one I have to keep getting fixed) so here's the date to save:

July 14-16
Henham Park Estate, Suffolk, UK.
(That is, positioned near the most easterly English coastline between Southwold and Aldeburgh, for those inclined to fire up Google Earth.)

They say to "expect Music, Art, Comedy, Film, Literature, Theatre, Performance Art, Dance, Sculpture, Workshops, Restaurants and Waiter Service Bars." (Because I can't get 'nuff of them Waiter Service Bars.)

More info, including a link, as it becomes available...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Altrok Radio Music Update #111

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:
  • Noisettes
  • The Grates
  • Brakes
  • The Rogers Sisters
  • Sparks
  • About

Plus we've got newly-added music:
  • Blackbud - Heartbeat
  • deSoL - Blanco Y Negro
  • The Dresden Dolls - Dirty Business
  • The Flaming Lips - Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
  • Tommy Keene - Eyes Of Youth
  • The Kooks - Eddie's Gun
  • The Koreans - Keep Me In Your Mind
  • Morrissey - You Have Killed Me
  • Mylo - Destroy Rock & Roll
  • The Mystery Jets - Alas Agnes
  • J Poland And The Pilots - Airplanes
  • Transfusion M - Still On My Mind
  • Veto - Reset
  • The Wonder Stuff - Tricks Of The Trade
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cheated Hearts

Our Newly-Added Classics:
  • Stewart Copeland And Stanard Ridgway - Don't Box Me In
  • The Danse Society - Wake Up
  • The dB's - Neverland
  • The Fall - There's A Ghost In My House
  • Moving Units - Between Us & Them
  • Pixies - Where Is My Mind
  • The Pretenders - Time The Avenger
  • The Psychedelic Furs - Aeroplane
  • Translator - When I Am With You
  • Ultravox - When You Walk Through Me

Please Look At Our Advertisers (Or The Website Gets It)
Congratulations, you've found the hidden text.
Welcome to, also available at and Here's where the remaining listeners of several fine radio stations have retreated, regrouped, and built a replacement strong enough to stand on its own. It builds on the independent legacy of New Jersey's FM106.3, New York's WPIX and WLIR, Oklahoma's 105.3 The Spy, the pre-buyout mindset of KROQ, WBCN and WHFS and of every other alternative station that was destroyed at a moment's notice - not because they weren't making money, but because there was bigger money to be found elsewhere.
We've stood by as truly independent alternative rock radio died. Sure, something called "alternative" took its place, but we know for sure that anything that "tests well" with soccer moms just ain't alternative. (Even if some of us happen to be soccer moms.) So we've taken matters into our own hands.
This really is independent alternative rock radio, visible here at and audible at our web radio station. It has the classic music that fired our passions back in the day - or that we maybe only heard about from our elders - but it's mostly made of the new music that does precisely the same for us now. We're paying attention to scenes all over the world, watching the energy build, and waiting to see what it creates. Wherever it happens, we'll make sure you can hear about it here. We've been slowly building all this since 2001, and now that you've noticed us, we're glad you're here.
Of course, it's only here because you want it to be here, and it can only stay if you help it along - especially by checking out our advertisers (they support us) and by listening (the more that listen, the more visible we are.) Please use the "feedback" link above to let us know whether it works for you, and what you want it to be as the future unfolds. (And if you need help hearing it, let us know that, too.)