Where NY music fanaticism and NY Mets fanaticism need not be mutually exclusive. Next year is now, bitches!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

"U.S and A! U.S and A!"

What I've learned after spending five days in swingin' London?

-Compared to New York, the cabbies are rather aggressive. Despite being far more knowledgeable than their NYC counterparts, they will not hesitate to mow you down if you jaywalk.

-The Tube is much cleaner, faster, and idiot proof than the Subway.

-You know how the confusion brought on by the streets of the West Village can baffle even the most hearty New Yorkers? All of London is like that (thus the knowledgeable cabbies). You're screwed without a map, and you'll still probably get lost b/c the streets are a little lacking in the signage department.

-The Tate Modern is wholly different than the Tate Britain and vice versa.

-Despite everything being extremely expensive due to the lousy dollars/pounds ratio, record stores still have some amazing deals on 'back catalog' albums by popular artists. While recent stuff isn't exactly cheap, you can buy new copies of fantastic albums like Ash's Free All Angels and The Pixies' Trompe Le Monde for three pounds each.

-You can say the F-word on non cable television

-Welsh rock trio Mclusky has a far larger fanbase in the U.K. than they do in the States.

Getting back to that last observation, I spent last Friday evening catching the aforementioned band at the University of London Union (ULU); an 800 person venue that can probably be best described as a room similar in look and width to the Knitting Factory mainspace, but goes back very far a'la Roseland Ballroom. The place is apparently an honest to goodness student union when bands aren't there, so it's decorated with all kinds of college fliers and advertisements and whatnot, which is kind of cute. A pint of Carling (which I guess is the U.K. answer to Budweiser) was 2.50 (5 bucks U.S.).

Mclusky is an excellent band oft compared to the Pixies or Jesus Lizard; probably the latter due to their steam roller riffage and miles deep, Albini-produced bass, and the former on account of their tightness, obnoxiousness, and vocalist Andy Falkous's spastic screaming. Try to imagine three Welsh lager louts getting particularly rowdy after a football match and donning guitars, and you kind of get the idea. I've seen them at the Mercury Lounge before, and the place was half full by the end of their set, with the crowd displaying the usual arms-crossed, hand in pocket hipster tendencies. In contrast, the London gig was sold out, and comprised of college kids and local punks stage diving and moshing in a manner that had far more to do with jumping up and down repeatedly than beating the crap out of each other. If you've ever seen the Pixies DVD documenting the band's first London gigs in 1988, the crowd action was similar to that. It was also the most fun I've had at a rock show in ages, as much for the crowd enthusiasm and music as the band's hilarious stage banter between songs.

No sooner do I get back into town when Lee Jenkins reports that the Mets have offered Pedro Martinez a 3-year, 38 million dollar deal. File this under something that will never come to fruition, but it's at least impressive to see them pulling out the stops for once. All told, Martinez would probably end up being a lousy fit for Queens due to his sensitivity, serious eccentricities, documented dislike of Piazza (should he stay put that is), and the simple fact that Shea Stadium is built over a hellmouth. Somehow none of this takes away from the fact that I would still salivate over the concept of Pedro in a Mets uni. Whatever. This is so far away from actually happening that it's barely worth speculating over.

Billboard is reporting that former Midnight Oil singer Peter Garrett spent an evening in an Australian hospital after a mysterious collapse. Here's hoping he slept well as those hospital beds are rumored to be extremely fiery.

The Manic Street Preachers are proof that while being a huge, and fiercely pretentious rock band from the U.K. is usually the fast track to American success, the key word is 'usually.' Despite the fact that I haven't unequivocally loved any of their albums since 1996's Everything Must Go, I've always been fascinated by their virtual anonymity in the States, and that one of their founding members used to carve slogans into his arm with a razor before disappearing off the face of the earth.

2001's Know Your Enemy, is 5 good songs surrounded by 11 horrible ones, and is quite literally one of the worst albums I own. But for some reason I bought their very recent Lifeblood anyway (across the pond that is; I'm guessing a U.S. release isn't imminent), and it's surprisingly excellent. Their poppiest effort to date with lots of 80's keyboard flourishes and Peter Hook sounding basslines, and better for it. Check out bassist Nicky Wire's Top Ten Lists. Always an obnoxious contrarian, he apparently thinks that Small Time Crooks is better than Annie Hall.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Hye-Ayh-Tus

Hey all. SoF is taking it's ugly American ways to the U.K. for a few days, so no new posts until Tuesday. Here's hoping Al Leiter never dons a Mets jersey ever again, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Whadya Buy For the U2 Fan Who Says Has "Everything".....?.

Wow wa wee wah. I just looked at the 446 song tracklisting for the new U2 Digital Box Set on iTunes. $150, which considering you get 446 songs, I guess isn't that bad a deal. The majority of U2 fans will already have the albums themselves, but there's also a full length 1981 show from The Paradise Rock Club in Boston (where this blogger saw the Polyphonic Spree last year with half of OL and MMM) and an Irish New Year's show from 1989. Of course these two goodies fall prey to notorious "Album Only" status, so it's not like you can cherry pick that hot live version of "Stories for Boys" for a measly dollar without being forced to buy the other songs.

As for those other songs? B-sides galore, and about 63 remixes of "Discotheque," "Lemon," and "Mysterious Ways," including about 4 versions of the "Mysterious Ways-Solar Plexus Remix" alone. Oddly, this is the rare situation in which Paul Jokenfold knocks 3-D and Mushroom on their collective asses; the Perfecto remix of "Mysterious Ways" is far better than the "Massive Attack" remix IMO (at least that's what I recall when I had them both on my laptop 7 years ago).

Monday, November 22, 2004

I Lose!

All the footage of the free U2 show I saw on tv made it look really cool, and had I been more patient, I probably would've gotten in no problem. Dang. At least they didn't play "Crumbs From Your Table," (see U2 Log) which is probably my favorite song off the new record. I got a burger and went and saw Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education instead. It was boring.

Monday Tidbits....

There's very little for me to say about Eli Manning's performance last night that hasn't already been said by a hundred better sports blogs and major publications; except that he showed enough promise to suggest that he should have taken over the QB slot far earlier than Week 10. Manning throws the ball far harder than Warner and with much more purpose. He keeps his cool in the pocket, and is seemingly able to adjust when need be. His inability to read the zone blitz was certainly "a rookie mistake," it's hardly his fault that there was something like 12 dropped balls in the 1st half, and the 4th quarter 'Roughing the Passer' call on Carlos Emmons which resulted in giving ATL a new set of downs was unquestionably bullshit. Giants fans have something to look forward to for once.

The NFC is collectively horrible this year. Were the season to end today, the Giants would still be able to clinch a Wild Card spot with their 5-5 record. Too bad three of their next four games are against the Eagles, Ravens, and Steelers.

Coolfer isn't kidding when they say that U2 has taken pre-release hype to exotic new lengths with their new record. According to U2 Log, the band began the morning with an impromptu gig on the Columbia U. mall before slowly working their way down to their Brooklyn show, making stops along the way on the back of a flatbed truck. Times Square was supposedly rocked. Rumors that they were going to rock the Stuyvesant Town Oval at around lunchtime were unfortunately just that.

I spent 2.5 hours this afternoon going to DUMBO for the 'secret' free U2 show, standing in line, and then attempting to find the York St. subway stop (an adventure in and of itself) when I realized that nobody was going anywhere, and the band wasn't supposed to hit the stage until 4:00 anyway. I've seen poorly planned free events in my life, but this was particularly egregious; a little surveying found roughly eight separate lines from eight separate streets, all converging at two tiny gate entrances each staffed by one dude with a yellow highlighter. There were different lines for those who printed out their 'e-tickets' vs. the 'general public', and neither the cops nor the organizers seemed to have any idea what was going on.

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that while I think their new album is very good, I just don't like U2 nearly as much as say....Wilco or Sleater-Kinney to have warranted standing around in the cold with throngs of people I didn't know. If nothing else, soundcheck was very audible, and listeners were able to make out what sounded like the Edge fooling around with riffs from the new songs. This included a full band version of "Vertigo" sans vocals at about 2:30 (mixed in with the rumble of the Q train on the Manhattan Bridge).

(a quick check of U2 log supposedly claims that the band was located on the Manhattan Bridge at 3:45, but I most certainly heard Vertigo playing, so maybe it was tech guys or something.)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Lazy Sundays.....

The good thing about Big Blue having the 4:00 slot is that it gives Giants fans a few extra hours of blissful ignorance, while allowing them to feel super fortunate that they aren't rooting for Gang Green. How bad are the Jets without Pennington? Tune in later for an Eli analysis.

ESPN reported yesterday that Kris Benson has finally signed with the Mets for a three-year, $22.5 million deal. Ok by me. Dude's got an excellent change-up and slider, as well as a fastball in the low 90's when he's not suffering from a tired arm. His stellar starts outweighed his horrendous outings by just enough to lead me to believe he's got the trappings of a potentially excellent #2 man.

Furthermore, his website is one for the ages, letting you know that his favorite song is Pink Floyd's "Learning To Fly", while dispensing pearls of wisdom for aspiring young pitchers like-

GET AHEAD with first pitch strikes. If you don't get the first pitch over, MAKE SURE secondpitch is a strike. A 1-1 count is better than a 2-0 any day.

And

Don't forget to concentrate a little extra on 0-2. Make the pitch a little more un-hittable, no pitcheror manager likes an 0-2 hit! Damn right.

Wise words from the man married to FHM Magazine's 'Hottest Baseball Wife.'




My man loves the high fastball on 0-2. Posted by Hello

Friday, November 19, 2004

So Who's Gonna Play RF Now?


This news isn't as good as, say, Sammy Sosa getting hit by a bus, but still positive as far as Mets fans are concerned IMO.

Backman's Blues

ESPN's Pedro Gomez sits down with Wally Backman to get his side of the story.

Methinks that Backman has been majorly screwed.

Here's my question - does the man have any legal recourse?

One of the first things that first year law students learn in a contracts class is the doctrine of promissory estoppel. While a little difficult to explain outside of the context of a law classroom, the concept is as such; if Backman relied on the D-backs' promise that the job was his, changed his position in life based on such reliance ("relied to his detriment"), and the D-backs should have reasonably expected Backman to rely on their promise, then he may be entitled to a settlement of some sort. For example, what if Backman passed up other managerial jobs or sources of income based on his sure shot with Arizona?

Let's look at the facts--Backman was wearing a D-backs jersey at the hiring press conference, every media outlet reported that he had the job, and the D-backs even said they would stick with him 100% after the allegations came out, allegations of which they were completely unaware of until reading the NY Times, even after having Backman coach in their minor league system.

It should be noted that Backman never signed a contract. However, promissory estoppel is designed for situations in which there is no such contract, but the promisee relies on the word of the promisor to the point where it would be deemed inequitable for the promisor not to honor their agreement. In other words, an agreement in which one side completely had the rug pulled out from under their feet.

There's obviously other issues at stake; foremost being Backman's honesty in the interview process. But I don't think it's unrealistic to think that he might have a case. Thoughts?

Kings of Leon and Kings of Ireland....


Firstly, who caught The Walkmen rockin' the Bait Shack on the O.C. last night? Loyal viewers were rewarded with two live renditions of "Little House of Savages" and "What's In It for Me?" as the soundtrack to Seth's charming, yet bumbling inability to win Summer back. Both songs are off of Bows and Arrows; a solid album which will probably receive no year end consideration b/c it was released in January.

I'm watching ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" right now, and William Shatner's on. I didn't know he was 73. Dude looks really good for 73.

The Kings of Leon made the NME swoon back in 2002 with their debut record Youth and Youngmanhood. It makes perfect sense as to why the British hype mags fawned over these guys; they were Southern-bred brothers (and a cousin) with tight-fitting t-shirts and 70's facial hair playing that durrrty brand of 'garage-rock' that was all the rage two years ago. A "Southern-Strokes" if you will. All told, I sort of liked their first album because it only cost me $7, and had a handful of decent rock tracks to get you fired up for a night on the town. But I always figured that they were a one-trick pony incapable of expansion.

Kings of Leon have just released their second album, Aha Shake Heartbreak, in the UK, but it doesn't hit American shelves until February (see also - Dandy Warhols). Regardless, I've heard the album in its entirety, and must say that I'm very surprised as to what an improvement it is over the original. Whereas the first KoL record was essentially a bunch of classic rock singles designed for instant gratification (a Stones-riff here, an Allmans lick there), the new one has actual depth, is almost suite-like at times, and requires multiple listens to sink in. The listener immediately realizes he's in for something different with opener "Slow Night, So Long;" the first 40 seconds of which sounds like the introduction to "Love Will Tear Us Apart." It almost sounds as if KoL decided to ditch the faux-Skynryd-isms of their last record, and spend their free time boning up on the indie-essentials that they might not have had much exposure to in their formative years (Pixies, New Order, Gang of Four etc.). The majority of these tracks are surprisingly wank free; built off of simple riffs and Santiago-esque lead lines, and designed to be digested as an entire record as opposed to single songs (not that there aren't any stand out cuts). A surprising sophomore effort from a band of which I was not expecting much. Respek.

Despite it not officially being released until Tuesday, I managed to find a store yesterday willing to sell me U2's How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb, a few days early. After having listened to it about three times through, I agree with my colleagues at one louder, that it's far hookier and much less forced than their last two records. I would even use the word "strident," as the signature Edge guitar sound is all over the place, and perhaps with the exception of the quiet, hymn-like "One Step Closer," nearly every song could be a single. For a song that's been played to death, I'm still shockingly not sick of "Vertigo," and with its insistent RIFF and soaring chorus, second single "All Because Of You" could easily be as big. "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" is far less cloying than the ballads off of All That You Can't Leave Behind, and the driving "City of Blinding Lights" (not to be confused with Zappa's "City of Tiny Lites") has all the trappings of a U2 classic. The biggest problem remains Bono's now forehead slapping lyrics ("Some people get squashed crossing the tracks / Some people got high rises on their backs" jigga what?), but how many 24-year old bands can sound this confident on their 11th (counting Rattle and Hum) studio album? Anybody else think that the last two minutes of "Original of the Species" sounds like the Wonder Years-version of "A Little Help From My Friends"?


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"9 Times!!!"

The title refers to both Ferris Bueller's absentee record and the number of times that the Mets will play the Astros in 2005. New York Mets 2005 Tenative Schedule

While the schedule is indeed 'tenative,' there's never been any changes to the tentative schedules of yesteryear, so I'll take this one at it's word. Some strange things going on here. In addition to the unprecedented move of the Shea opener being against Houston, the Mets play them 9 times, while all other non-division rivals are given the customary 6 or 7 matchups. The extra helping of Astro is apparently made possible by New York having one less interleague matchup than it did last year. Why Houston were made the lucky recipients is beyond me. Maybe it's to allow Hernandez to shed more light on Game 5 of the '86 NLCS, which Jeff Pearlman correctly referred to as a tension filled evening "lost to history" in his book The Bad Guys Won!!!

And speaking of interleague, things get stranger when the Subway series kicks off at Shea in mid-May, and doesn't conclude in the Bronx until a month later. The Mets square off against the AL West this year, just like in '03. After the CentraI last year, I figured that match-ups against the AL East would have been in the cards for '05, but maybe MLB nixed this for fear of conflicting loyalties based on how many Mets fans threw their full weight behind Boston this past October (SoF included). But at least there'll be some kind of dramatic Rick Peterson subplot when the Mets head to Oakland....(doubly fun if the Mets can nab one of the Big Three this off-season).

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

This Just In....


SoF annoints Annie's "Chewing Gum" as the best pop song of the last year, and maybe the last five years. If this song doesn't force you to dance the robot, you're clinically dead.


I don't want to settle down, I just wanna chew gum. Posted by Hello

"Cover your balls...'cuz we swing kung fu."

According to Billboard, Billyburg's own TV on the Radio were the recipients of 2004's Shortlist Prize with their record Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes. Bandmember Kyp Malone apparently accepted the award by altering reporters to the fact that TV on The Radio "are not Damien Rice;" an offhanded slap at the Starbucks-friendly, MOR crooner who was last year's winner. Malone's got a point; his band has far more hair than Rice, and you won't be hearing the paranoid rumble of tracks like "King Eternal" or "Bomb Yourself" alongside your mocha frapp anytime soon.

Frankly, we here at SoF are more than a little surprised. Released way back in February, Desperate Youth... is not without a handful of good cuts, but is ultimately more heat than light, and easily the most esoteric album of the nominees (and it's not like it even contains their Pixies cover...that's on the Young Liars EP). SoF would have figured Franz Ferdinand to be a shoe-in, with Wilco and Loretta Lynn tagging closely behind, but sometimes the dark horse wins out. Wonder if there were folks in Vegas who actually bet on this...?

Leits Out?

As was expected, the Mets declined Al Leiter's $10.2 million option in favor of a $2.1 million buyout. While the Mets have expressed interest in re-signing Leiter for a final year at a lower price, there's already speculation that the Yankees may snatch him up.

To which I say, let them do it. Leiter's been an unquestionable bright spot on the Mets for the past seven years, and with his numerous contributions to charity, would actually appear to be a decent human being (Republican support aside); something you find all too seldom in the majors nowadays. How much influence he did or did not have in the ill-fated Kazmir trade is up for debate, but considering the ungodly mess which constituted the Mets front office circa '04, it would be foolish to place too much accountability on one pitcher.

That said, while he could have benefitted from a little more run support in the second half of last season, when I think of Leiter '04, the phrase 'smoke and mirrors' comes to mind. Never has a pitcher with a 3.21 ERA gotten himself into more onbase trouble than Leiter did in the second half of the season. Nicknamed 'MacGyver' by his team for his uncanny ability to escape the protoypical bases-loaded jam; I'd be more apt to call him the 'King of the 4 and 2/3rds inning.' He's 39 years old, spent a good portion of last season injured, and suffers from high pitch counts; something which the Mets bullpen most certainly can not afford. Put simply, his control and velocity are a far cry from what they were in '98-'00. He relies on his breaking stuff more so than ever, and on the rare occasions that his fastball isn't way outside, it usually tops out at 88.

The Yankees have a dire need for a left-handed starter, and are far more likely to put up the run support that Leiter would have appreciated over last season. They'll pay him more too. While I personally have no desire to see the Yankees improve by filling a void, if disposing of Leiter creates an avenue for Barry Zito becoming reunited with Peterson, I'll gladly get my #22 jersey re-lettered.

Monday, November 15, 2004

So it Shall Be Written...

....so it shall be done. The future of the Giants begins on Sunday. It's about 'friggin time.


No love for Mondays....

It's no big secret that Mondays for the most part suck. Unlike Tuesdays, they actually have a 'feel,' but it's not a great one. One surefire way to guarantee that Monday will suck even more is if your football team has lost the day before.

I was unable to watch a single second of yesterday's Giants game because I had to attend a family gathering, and this turned out to be ideal. The problem with Giants '04 is the same problem that's seemingly plagued them for the past 3 years; they always play up to the level of their competition, which explains how they're able to kill Green Bay and Minnesota on the road, but lose to Chicago at home.

According to ESPN, Kurt Warner was sacked six times, the Giants committed 10 penalties for 97 yards, Emmitt Smith actually made two running scores, and Jeff Feagles ripped a page out of the Madden '05 playbook with an incomplete pass on a curious fake punt play. Say what? Rooting for the '04 Giants has so far resembled nothing so much as rooting for the '04 Mets; brutally grim pre-season predictions, enough pleasant surprises to keep things interesting, and then reality settles in. That being said, the NFC is so shaky this year that a team with a 10-6 or 9-7 record would seem capable of nabbing a wild card spot, but Big Blue is once again impossible to get excited about.

And what's worse....I spend all week looking forward to William Shatner's understated comic brilliance as Denny Crane on Boston Legal, only to find it pre-empted by the mainstream garbage known as the American Music Awards. That blue-eyed soul man from Maroon 5 was literally mocking me on the television as I clicked over at 9:58. John Mayer probably hates that dude for stealing all of his tail.


I do love me some white college tail. Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 14, 2004

R.I.P. Homeboy

From Yahoo! News. Bummer.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


In livelier days. Posted by Hello

Friday, November 12, 2004

Don't Think It Doesn't Happen....!

And I thought I was having a shitty day....my concerned mother just informed me that a girl I graduated high school with was sued yesterday by the RIAA. Her crime? Acquiring nearly 1,500 songs via KaZaa, and apparently sharing the files with everybody as opposed to clicking the box that lets you hoard those MP3s for yourself and yourself alone. KaZaa is for amateurs, but this still sucks. Too bad I'm not in a sympathetic mood.

Curses...foiled again!

ESPN Baseball has reported that yesterday's General Managers meeting resulted in a 15-15 split as to whether to keep exploring the subject of instant replay. In other words, they're not going to. Commissioner Selig seems to believe that "the humanness of the umpires is part of the game." I respectfully disagree.

Umpires are in the game for the sole purpose of officiating, and officiating correctly. Being human, they will make mistakes. If instant replay can correct these mistakes, then so be it. I'm thrilled that the umpiring crew in the ALCS managed to make the correct calls after feverishly confering with one another, but I also can't imagine such conversing happening during the regular season, where it's just as important. I could care less about the egos of major league umpires. Somehow the NBA, NHL and NFL scoring officials have all made do (and just think--Robbie Alomar will never have to use an ump as a spittoon ever again).

Almost as depressing is Sam Borden's report in the NY Daily News that-

Sosa is a player that Minaya covets, but others in the organization are leery of adding him because of his injury history and attitude. That didn't stop the Mets from talking with the Cubs for a second straight day, though, fueling speculation that Sosa could wind up at Shea.
"Once you get to a second meeting, things can happen," Minaya said, speaking generally about the progression of trades.


A guy I went to law school with spent his entire life as a diehard Yankees fan, even going as far to spend a summer interning with the YES Network. But after the Boss went and blew 32 million dollars on Jose Contreras, my buddy was so completely fed up and disgusted that he could root for the Yankees no longer.

That may strike some as a little extreme, especially considering that Contreras was obviously not the first player that Streinbrenner ridiculously overpaid. But should the Mets be foolhardy enough to actually acquire Sammy Sosa, I just may have to follow suit.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Let's See That Again....

I'm a bit slow on this apparently, but yesterday ESPN reported that a topic at this afternoon's GM meeting was going to involve whether or not to introduce the element of instant replay to major league baseball games. It would not be used for balls and strikes, but rather on close plays in which intelligent minds could differ.

The faction that is staunchly against using instant replay in baseball usually runs along the lines of not wanting to dishonor years of "tradition," an argument, which if taken literally, suggests that both the electric scoreboard and dissolution of the Negro Leagues have proved damaging to the game.

If this blogger had a dollar for every time he referred to C.B Bucknor, Angel Hernandez or Mark Wegner as a "dirty, blind, Mutha******," he'd no longer have to work for a living. Every Red Sox fan who nearly fainted from the unspeakable tension of watching the umpires confer in ALCS Game 6 can relate. There's no justice when millions of fans can view an instant replay in their own living rooms and clearly see that a call was blown. Baseball players would be less likely to throw tantrums, fans would feel vindicated, and umpires would no longer need to fear for their lives (as much). There's practically no downside to using instant replay in baseball. I'm not exactly sure who has the final say in such decisions, "tradition" goes a long way in the majors and the umpires themselves will throw a fit, but the fact that this was even a topic at the GM's meeting is encouraging. SoF says thumbs up.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Little Bit of the U.K. in Tribeca....

Only recently did it occur to me that this blog contained very, very little of the food promised within its mission statement. Let's rectify that.

Last weekend, as part of a Downtown Dining $20 price fix deal, the woman and I tried out this relatively new British place on Warren Street fittingly entitled "U.K. New York." I supposed their M.O. is that they deal in stylish updates of British pub food; not unlike The Spotted Pig or Cafe Topsy, both in the West Village.

The place has only been open for just under 6 months, and it seems as if they're still trying to figure out the decor. The dim yellow lighting and basic wooden chairs upon a tile floor were nothing to get excited about, nor was the music; a three disc mix of Brit-pop lightweights (Travis, Coldplay and Robbie Williams if memory serves).

The food however, was very solid and extremely filling. My 20 dollars got me a delicious appetizer of roast beef with horseradish sauce encased in Yorkshire pudding, a very large trifle for dessert, and the main course of "Toad in a Hole;" a bacon wrapped Cumberland sausage (not unlike the "pig in a blanket" for you Yalies) encased in Yorkshire pudding with mashed potatoes. Not exactly healthfood, but everything was very tasty and warm. Although this wasn't included in the price fix, I also had a $10 cocktail called a "Pom," which I seem to recall was Chardonnay mixed with pomegrante juice, and club soda, garnished with raspberries. It was worth every penny.

The biggest problem with the evening was the extremely slow service. It took us nearly two hours from being seated to getting the check, and the relatively small dining room was only 3/4 full. The hostess offered up many apologies and an explanation to the adjoining table, but I was unable to make out what she was saying. Ultimately, the slow service was to our advantage because finishing our meal faster would only have meant being forced to catch more of Pitty Sing's set at Maxwells (see earlier post).

Would I go back? Or better yet, would I go back knowing that the average main course without the price fix dinner is about $20 by itself? Probably not. While everything was tasty and satisfactory, I can think of many places I'd rather spend $20 on a main course, and to spend that sort of dough on updates of British pub food seems a bit excessive. Furthermore, the woman's chicken in cider sauce wasn't nearly as appetizing as my main course; featuring a considerably meager slab of white meat amongst boring vegetables. The Spotted Pig has more hipster atmosphere and Cafe Topsy is less expensive. I give U.K. New York another 6 months.

This Just In....James Murphy Has Impeccable Taste

One Louder has kindly posted a link to a short New York Magazine interview with DFA head honcho James Murphy. You can read the interview at the above link, but one portion bears mentioning in full:

NY Mag: Why has the LCD Soundsystem record taken so long?

Murphy: Because I didn’t want to put any of the singles on the record. I felt like that was . . . cheating. You have the singles and you can’t wait for the album, and the album comes out and it has all of the singles you already have. That feels disrespectful. But if you’ve never heard the band before, it would be silly to lose that chunk of history. So I made two CDs: the album and a singles compilation of six songs. There’s also a last song, which is specifically designed as a last song.

NY Mag: What constitutes a last song?

Murphy: They erase the record. You know “Good Feeling” by the Violent Femmes? That’s a crushing last song. After that, you have to hear the whole record again.

Seeing as the Violent Femmes' debut has the distinct honor of being SoF's favorite album of all time, it warms my heart to know that Murphy thinks it kicks ass too. However, the irony of his statement is that while "Good Feeling" is indeed the 'last song' on the initial vinyl and cassette pressings of the album, it was reissued in the late 80's on CD with two European B-sides at the end; "Ugly" and "Gimme the Car." Therefore, there's a whole generation of Femmes fans who never got to experience "Good Feeling" as the 'last song,' something which irritated the band to no end. This was rectified with Rhino's 2002 reissue of the album, which comes loaded with live tracks and studio outtakes, as well as bass player Brian Ritchie's liner notes stating that because of the bonus tracks, "our original intent was thwarted in pursuit of commercial goals." Scandalous!

As a side note, the print version of the James Murphy interview on pg. 122 of New York magazine also contains a cute "Ask a Record Clerk" mini interview with Craig Willingham, the music manager of Mondo Kim's on St. Marks (A.K.A. that dude with the dreadlocks who always gives me dirty looks when I try to sell back promo CDs).

Revin' Up the Mercury As it Were.....

The kindly folks at Fluxblog have posted a new track ("Across Yer Ocean") from Mercury Rev's upcoming The Secret Migration. The album isn't supposed to hit the streets until January of '05, but has supposedly already leaked.

Of the last two Mercury Rev albums, 1998's Deserter's Songs is an undisputed classic which put producer Dave Fridmann on the map (I call it The Soft Bulliten for grownups). Its follow-up, 2001's All Is Dream, was pretty damn good, although it found the band milking the previous record's formula with diminishing returns.

The iTunes music store also features a pre-release single from the upcoming record called "Secret For a Song." Both the iTunes and Fluxblog tracks sound exactly like what you would expect from Mercury Rev; hazy majesty with Jonathan Donahue's helium vocals. There doesn't seem to be any stylistic changes from the last two records whatsoever, but it helps that both of the new songs sound pretty great regardless (especially "Secret For a Song" which is heavy and beautiful like Deserter's Songs "Funny Bird" was). Nobody does the rural psychedelia thing like Mercury Rev does, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Definitely looking forward to hearing more.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Random tidbits....

Every now and then the New Musical Express will refrain from over-hyping bad bands in favor of reporting musical news that eludes American journalists.

I didn't attend R.E.M.'s November 4th show at Madison Square Garden because they'll need to make a record better than Around the Sun before I drop another 50 bucks on one of their shows. But this one might have been interesting. NME reports that the band performed the unprecedented act of opening the show with "It's The End Of the World As We Know It" and opted for the political side of their repetoire including the seldom played "Welcome To the Occupation" and "Cuyahoga," simply introduced as a "song about Ohio" to massive booing. Michael Stipe barely addressed the audience at all, save something along the lines of "I really have nothing to say. I'll let the music do the talking." You'd think that the election results would have set the stage for a uncharacteristically sneering rendition of "World Leader Pretend," but this wasn't on the setlist.

Largehearted Boy is reporting that the Drive-By Truckers are playing the Bowery Ballroom on December 31st and January 1st. These guys make fantastic records, but I'm unfortunately always out of town whenever they hit Manhattan (which is a ton).

That said, I don't think I'll be seeing them this time either as I've already got Wilco tickets for 12/31. In fact, I'm guessing that a lot of people who would be interested in this DBT show have Wilco tickets for the 31st (the two bands should join forces at MSG). While there's nothing in theory stopping me from seeing DBT on 1/1/05, I'm assuming that general tiredness from the previous night's rock action will likely keep me away. Poor planning guys!

Back to the Future

This past Saturday night, the woman and I had the pleasure of seeing British hype band The Futureheads at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ. I'm always shocked to go to bars/clubs in New Jersey nowadays and see that people are still allowed to light up. The NYC smoking ban wasn't put into effect all that long ago, but once you've gotten used to it, it's hard to go back (and it really was an excellent idea in retrospect).

Prior to the Futureheads going on at around 11:30, concertgoers were made to suffer through opening act Pitty Sing, who really could be the worst band working the local club circuit now. I thought they sucked when I saw them open up for Metric and South back in February, and the three songs I caught at Maxwell's didn't exactly do much to change my mind. Not so much a post-punk revival band as a really lame parody of a post-punk revival band, Pitty Sing sounds like a bad version of The Stills; not exactly a quality act to begin with. Granted, sometimes live performances can be deceiving; I only warmed up to the Secret Machines and Interpol after sitting down with their records, but rest assured that this is not the case here.

The Futureheads made the wait completely worthwhile. Their debut album has already firmly entrenched itself in my year end Top 10, and their live show is extremely energetic and tight. The Futureheads were one of the opening acts on the recent Franz Ferdinand tour, but they were generally forced to hit the stage so early (say, 7:30) that few FF fans actually witnessed them. The two bands are similar in that they're both highly energetic groups owing a great debt to 80's post-punkers like Gang of Four (whose Andy Gill produced a Futureheads track or two), the main differences being that The Futureheads tend to sing about human interaction (sample lyric "you are a decent person / and you have a function") as opposed to girls, and The Futureheads lack a distinct frontman as all four members sing; often on top of one another, often like a college acapella group.

But whereas an acapella concert was always the last place that you'd find this blogger on campus, the skill with which the Futureheads utilize their vocals is borderline incredible, and creates a unique sound unheard anywhere else in indie. Each song is literally composed of nothing but vocal hooks, and the pacing of their live show is relentless and drag free; a tidy 45 minutes in which the only pauses were for witty stage banter and the occasional tune up. The sold out crowd appeared to echo my sentiments as the amount and duration of post-show cheering was far more than I'm used to hearing at the typical Maxwell's gig. I'd be surprised if they ever played there again, but I would certainly not hesitate to go. Wogwon!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Don't Let The Door Hit 'cha On the Way Out.....


Wow. mlb.com has just reported that no less than 4 days after being hired, Wally Backman has been fired as the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks on account of his checkered past. Looks like you can take the Met out of '86, but you can never take the '86 out of the Met.

Various sites have reported this week that Backman's troubles with DWI, domestic violence, and recent bankruptcy only came to light after he was hired by Arizona, who supposedly knew nothing about his past before reading about it in the NY Times. Say what?

Should Backman have opened his mouth during the interview? Probably, although he certainly would have jeopardized his chances at acquiring the position in the process. But this can't help but raise dozens of questions over exactly who's in charge of performing a simple background check in Arizona. In this blogger's recent experiences, criminal records are looked for, can be easily found, and may or may not have an impact on job hiring. Backman's certainly had his problems, but Arizona obviously hired the guy for his managerial skills, because apparently no one had the nerve to question him about his conduct off the field. Such information would not have been difficult to find. Firing him now strikes me as a pathetic face-saving measure from an incompetent front office that should know better. Who in the world isn't subjected to a background check these days?

Eh....What the hey.....

From Lee Jenkins in this morning's NY Times Sports(registration required)

Although Randolph did not have an answer for what immediate improvements could be made to the club, he did admit that he could use some help. In discussing his coaching staff, Randolph acknowledged the possibility of hiring at least one former manager, preferably with National League experience, and mentioned that he has already contacted Tampa Bay's Don Zimmer, Randolph's predecessor as the Yankees' bench coach under Torre.

Hmmm....I hear Randolph's tapped Horsemen 3 and 4 for the vacanies at hitting and 3rd base coach as well.

On the other hand, can you image a better target for Hernandez's relentless sarcasm? He might actually let Healy off the hook for awhile. The possibilities are limitless.



Thursday, November 04, 2004

I'm Mr. Brightside?

I finally managed to get my grubby little hands on the recently released DFA Comp. #2, and my stereo is blaring a sleazy disco bassline while a creepy voice intones "I....took off....my overcoat" as I type. This was supposed to have been released two days ago, but none of the fine indie establishments I tend to frequent had a copy on Tuesday, leading me to believe it was pushed back (as opposed to sold out, which is virtually never a problem). When I asked the guy at Other Music where it was last Tuesday, he calmly told me I could pick it up on Thursday, while shooting me an ornery glare indicating that I was only the 300th person that day to ask the same question. I've only listened to a handful of tracks on the first disc so far, but talk about an embarrassment of riches....

Is anybody else psyched for the season premiere of the O.C. tonight? I know I am.

On the topic of the O.C., unavoidable "buzz" band The Killers seem destined to have one of their songs grace a climactic kiss scene in the new season. I have to admit that despite being bombarded with it, I've been listening to their song "Mr. Brightside" a bunch, although I liked it better when it was called "Special K" by Placebo. I haven't heard the entire Killers album outside of the singles, but my spies tell me that Hot Fuss also resembles a Placebo in that its basically three great singles surrounded by complete crap. Placebo were always a great singles band that could never sustain an entire record. This is in sharp contrast to bands like Blur and Pulp who released incredible albums that just happened to also contain great singles. Maybe The Killers are the new Placebo. Maybe I'm just bored.

Big Willie Style


As was expected, the Mets have hired 11-year Yankee coach Willie Randolph to be their new manager. Checkit at ESPN Baseball. With Matt Galante gone, the Mets are going to need a 3rd base coach too. Can Paul O'Neill be far behind? Homeboy used to play in the NL!

SoF doesn't see this as such a big deal. Randolph's been a coach for over a decade, has enough NL experience to comprehend the art of pinch hitting, and isn't exactly a stranger to the back page onslaught that comprises the New York sports media. But would it have killed the Mets to get a dude who hadn't spent the past 11 years in the Bronx?

Meanwhile, Mets CF Mike Cameron has recently gone on record as saying that he'd be more than happy to move to right field should the Mets acquire Carlos Beltran. Cameron needn't worry.





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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

(sigh)

Politics generally will not be the order of the day in this blog, but sometimes it's unavoidable. A blogger friend recently told me to approach the recent election like the ALCS; attempt to be as emotionally detached as possible, and then maybe be pleasantly surprised. Very true, and yet completely impossible to do. I'd be lying if I said I haven't felt incredibly nauseous for the past 12 hours or so. Expressing my actual feelings on this blog right now would probably border on the offensive, so I'll keep it simple and just say that it's days like this I thank my lucky stars that I live on the east coast. The re-election of President Bush is both sad and incredibly embarrasing.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

'Slackin Sammy....

I've bled blue and orange for as long as I can remember, but if the Mets front office really and truly picks up Sammy Sosa in the offseason, I'm buying a satellite dish and rooting for the BoSox fulltime.

This column from ESPN's baseball page does a fine job of summing up my feelings on the matter.

"Pay Me Now....Lay Me Down!!!!"

Well now...I spend the last post kvetching about the dearth of decent releases today, and then a quick check on iTunes reveals that this is in fact the release date of Awake:The Best of Live.

In all seriousness, Live's Throwing Copper is a fantastic album of mainstream "alternative-rock" that sounds just as good today as it did in 1994. I remember buying it on Memorial Day weekend of that year, after having seen the video for "Selling the Drama" on 120 Minutes (sensing a trend?), and listened to it a ton. It's incredible how many singles were released from that album and how long it lingered on the radio....I spent the summer of 1995 at golf camp in Pennsylvania, and the van that drove us to the golf courses featured a radio that only played one station. That one station only played three songs the entire summer; Matthew Sweet's "Sick of Myself," Sponge's "Molly," and Live's "All Over You." And how overplayed was "Lightning Crashes"? Dang.

Unfortunately, Live kind of went south with their next record; the 'dark,' mucho self-important Secret Samahdi, which was sort of like U2's War without any good singles or political import. This, added to the fact that the radio stations that had once championed them were now playing Korn records, would keep Live from ever approaching the success they had with Throwing Copper. It also didn't help that frontman Ed Kowalcyzk seemed intent on becoming the next Bono, but the best he could manage was a more palatable alternative to that guy from Creed.

The tracklisting on their hits record reflects this--five songs from Copper (including "Pillar of Davidson," which I always skipped), just two songs from Samahdi, three each from their not terrible fourth album The Distance to Here and debut Mental Jewelry, and a smattering of everything else, including a new song and a timely Johnny Cash cover.

Throwing Copper has sold over 4 million copies, while Live's most recent album, the pathetically titled Birds of Pray has moved about 120,000. Now they play theaters and colleges whereas they once rocked hockey stadiums. But they're still a far better band than most would have you believe.

Tuesday is New Release Day....

It's actually pretty slim pickins in terms of interesting new releases today, which is just fine b/c I'm guessing that the must-have "DFA Compilation #2" is going to cost a pretty penny at three-discs. But I can think of fewer 3-disc sets that sound more worthy than this one; with its combination of (previously) vinyl only singles and new, unreleased tracks from such DFA mainstays as The Rapture and The Juan Maclean. Checkit.

Billboard is reporting that the new Chemical Brothers record, Push the Button, is set to be released on January 25th, which if I'm not mistaken, is practically three years to the day since 2002's Come With Us was released. Single "Galvanize" is set to be released a week earlier, and features a guest rap from Q-Tip, who seems to be spreading himself a wee bit thin these days. Here's hoping the former Tribesman's contributions this time around lean more towards Chappelle's Show than Around the Sun.

Just when you thought that Keyshawn Johnson couldn't make himself anymore unlikeable...

DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!!!!!!!!!!



Monday, November 01, 2004

This is Wally's World....We just live in it.

ESPN Baseball is reporting that former Mets second baseman Wally Backman was recently hired as manager of the Arizona Diamonbacks. Statute of Frauds wishes Backman good luck, something he will certainly need considering Arizona's 51-111 record last season.

Here's also hoping that the fortunes of Arizona starter Brandon Webb improve in 2005 because a 25-year old with a 3.59 ERA deserves to have a far better record than 7-16. Never underestimate the importance of run support.

"Monday...I'm All High...."

Anybody else manage to get Wilco tickets this morning? Fortunately, I had far better luck with the MusicToday ticketing system this time around than I did when I attempted to get Irving Plaza tix a few months back. Considering the talent involved, and the fact that people would pay 65 dollars to see Wilco even if Sleater-Kinney and the Flaming Lips weren't on the bill, this almost strikes me as a bargain. It's nice for once to know what I'm going to do on NYE two months in advance....

Speaking of Sleater-Kinney, tinymixtapes is reporting that they recently signed to Sub Pop, and their upcoming record (Spring 2005) is going to be produced by modern psych guru Dave Fridmann. Hmmm. Just the guy to flesh out those 10 minute noise-o-rama jams that S-K was previewing on their last tour. I am extremely curious to hear the finished product.

This past Saturday night was spent celebrating Halloween a day early at the Tribeca Grand. The performance in question? DFA head honcho James Murphy's live band project - A.K.A. LCD Soundsystem. Despite having gigged sporadically for nearly two years, the latter won't release their debut album until January '05, immediately eliminating it from all Best of '05 lists b/c nobody remembers what came out in January/February, good or bad (Built To Spill's amazing Keep it Like a Secret was a victim of this). They have, however, released a number of fantastic singles.

As the pictures will show, my party was extremely close to the stage, making my customary earplugs all the more valuable (anybody who goes to concerts should wear earplugs. There's no reason not to). General tiredness compounded with not wanting my ears to turn to mush found me and the woman leaving only after five songs, but what we saw was fantastic. Murphy is very charismatic as a frontman, and his band is nothing if not tight. The songs we witnessed included such LCD standards as "Beat Connection," "Tribulations," and "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," as well as a spooky Halloween reading of Danzig's "Mother," a song which I'm guessing found its way back into Murphy's consciousness from watching the Red Sox (i.e. Keith Foulke) last week. If I were to guess, I'd say that onelouder and megamegamega should also have something to say about this show later in the day, so check 'em out.




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