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

Monday, February 28, 2005

Random tidbits...

Comin' at cha on a snowy Monday evening. That means tomorrow is new release day. Among some of the notables?

Doves - Some Cities - I purposely didn't wear out my purloined copy to give me something to look forward to. Doves' third album isn't quite as deliciously moody as it's first, but also isn't nearly as dull as most of side B of The Last Broadcast. They'll never get the full on Coldplay treatment in the States, but they can still demand upwards of $100 bucks for a pair of tickets to their sold out, upcoming Bowery gig.

Manic Street Preachers - The Holy Bible - 10th Anniversary Edition - Interesting that there's a 10th Anniversary Edition of a record that was never officially released in the U.S. I'm looking forward to picking this up because in addition to remastering the tinny U.K. recording, it includes the unreleased U.S. mix, which is reportedly far heavier. Despite liking the most recent Manics record, Lifeblood, very much, I won't argue that nothing they've ever written can measure up to the very angry tirades within THB. Remember-this was before disturbed, Cobain-esque gutiarist Richey Edwards disappeared off the face of this earth, and he's responsible for such luscious couplets like "He's a boy/you want a girl so tear off his cock/tie his hair in bunches/fuck him/call him Rita if you want!"

Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams - White people love Jack Johnson. He makes Dave Matthews look like Chuck D.

50 Cent - The Massacre -Wasn't this supposed to be called The St. Valentine's Day Massacre? I think the single "Disco Inferno" sucks, and Rolling Stone gave it 4 stars. Proceed at your own peril.

Mars Volta - Frances the Mute -I didn't entirely dislike the first Mars Volta record because I'm a Rush fan, and it did have at least 7 minutes worth of serious riffage. But this one got a 2.0 from the 'Fork. And Cokemachineglow scribe Chris Alexander has informed me that it's "the worst album ever." I'm intrigued enough to find it for free somewhere. RS gave this 4 stars too. David Fricke no less.

Speaking of Pitchfork, they were kind enough give an impressive 4.5 stars to the lead off track on Sleater-Kinney's forthcoming The Woods (which I honest to God have yet to hear), but then the reviewer has to squander his good will with some throwaway line about how up until this point, he'd would never had called S-K "fun." Me neither dude. Sleater shows are up there with root canals and the DMV. Smarmy bastard.

Onelouder isn't kidding when they say that the new Dead Meadow record, Feathers, is a quality effort. Their 70's laced, psychedelic sludge rock has been making my ear buds a far more interesting place to be for just under a week now.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Snap!

The sound you hear is a collective chuckle from all intelligent music aficianados.....

Back to the Future.....

No posts for the past few days = ridiculous working hours/general tiredness/can't bill blogging to the client. My apologies.

OneLouder told me yesterday that The Futureheads are already booked to play Webster Hall in the not-so distant future. I loved them at Maxwells 3 months ago, and I decided to see if they could repeat the magic with their Bowery Ballroom show two days ago.

Futureheads are an excellent live act. They're very comfortable with themselves onstage, (lots of audience banter, jumping up and down, smiling etc.) and they have a knack of making the weaker (relatively speaking) tracks on their album seem like classic hits (e.g; me saying to myself-'this song is great! so why do I always skip it on the record?').

That said, the Bowery gig wasn't quite as electrifying as the Maxwells show; one reason being is that they actually seemed to benefit from being piled on top of one another in Hoboken, if that makes any sense. They're just four average dudes, and while they brought a relatively interesting light show this time around, they at times seemed to be struggling with stage presence. Furthermore, the first 15 or so minutes of the set (about 55 minutes) was plagued with sound separation issues-the guitars seemed too muffled and quiet, and there appeared to be a level of urgency that was lacking. More or less the same setlist as before-all of the record except the acapella track, two b-sides, and a very good new song called "Aria" that sounded rather Police-esque. It's worth noting that they came onstage to the strains of "Bohemian Rhapsody." The audience was treated to hearing the whole song up until the "I see a little silhouette...." portion, at which point the band came out and kicked into "Le Garage." Cute. All in all, a fun time with a justifiably hyped band, but I think I'm going to wait until some new material hits the street before seeing them again. David Fricke was clearly enjoying himself.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Disco-rama

The title is not in reference to the sketchy Greenwich Village CD stores known for low prices, surly service, and the sinking feeling that all of their merchandise fell off the back of a truck, but rather a current exhibit at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts that I took in this weekend w/ the Woman, as well as members of OneLouder and MMM.

Originally exhibited at the Experience Music Project in Seattle and supposedly curated by ex-Spin Magazine scribe Eric Weisbard and journos Ann Powers and Julianne Sheppard, it was impressive to say the least; overflowing with random minutae ranging from the electric basses used by Chic, to typed letters lamenting the closing of exclusive gay disco "Flamingo," to a collection of vinyl albums said to be responsible for the disco backlash (e.g. "Sesame Street Fever," a Marilyn Chambers record, "Disco Duck" etc.). And that barely begins to scratch the surface.

This particular Saturday afternoon featured a two hour long panel with a number of figures instrumental to the disco boom, including "Godfather of Disco" and gay activist Mel Cherren, Flamingo founder Michael Fresco, and Studio 54 publicist-extraordinaire/Behind the Music-talking head Carmen D'Alessio.

Boiled down to its elements, the panel consisted of older folks fondly recalling the good 'ol days of the legendary Paradise Garage and gay club staples such as The Saint and The Gallery, while completely condemning any DJs that don't spin three-minute songs with vocals. Everything other than the latter was lumped in as mindless "boom boom" music. I took the aforementioned phrase to encompass the collective experience of paying 40 bucks to wait in line and dance to WKTU beats with most of Northern New Jersey at places like Crobar and Avalon. Fair enough. But if there was downside to the panel, it was that the panelists were completely dimissive of the fact that there's plenty of modern day DJs with enough talent to make today's intelligent clubbers just as elated as the panelists were back in their day (at times it felt like my father constantly telling me how virtually everything I listen to nowadays is completely terrible when compared to the Beatles and/or Stones).

However, one significant difference that the panelists touched on involved the fact that inventive clubs are all that much more difficult to keep active today due to the harsh economic climate and extreme expense of keeping them open (thus the ugly transition to bottle service). Despite some of the negative vibes on the part of the panelists, the afternoon was still well worth it as a glimpse into a bygone era told by its participants, as well as a few priceless memories regarding such things as Madonna's debut performance at the Paradise Garage (it's one thing to refer to use the N-word onstage if you're Gloria Gaynor...but not if you're a relatively unknown "small white bitch").

Yeah. Back to work on this lovely federal holiday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

And that's when I showed her my German Short-haired Pointer...

Get your mind out of the gutter. The title is actually a reference to the breed of the victorious canine at the recent Westminster Dog Show, sort of like the Superbowl for dogs. I was pulling for Knotty the Bloodhound, as the hound group hasn't had a winner in 22 years, but at least there were no Toy Poodles in contention this time out.

In the category of random rock shows that I think I want to attend, Wreckless Eric plays Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ on March 10th. You may remember him as the Drury-esque, aging British punk who sat in with Yo La Tengo for the third night of their recent Hanukah run. His slightly off-key rendition of Blondie's "Sunday Girl" in response to Ira Kaplan's request that they "play some songs written by Jews!" was golden. Will YLT repay the favor at his gig? I'm sure it will be amusing to find out.

Pitchers and catchers report to St. Lucie for The Amazin's today. Not quite as exciting as it sounds, but still music to the ears of baseball starved office dwellers like this blogger. Will Grant Roberts put down the bong long enough this year to pitch more than 4 2/3 innings? Time will tell. I'm pulling for Heath Bell to land a bullpen spot if only b/c his wind-up is unique, his fastball hits the mid-90's, and those sideburns. I'd find a picture of said sideburns if I wasn't doing this post at work.

The Charlatans UK have never shied away from generously lifting from others' songs...their "Just When You're Thinking Things Over" is a blatant rip of the Stones' Exile-era "Torn and Frayed," "Here Comes a Soul Saver" jacks the riff from Floyd's "Fearless," and there's a few others I can't recall. But perhaps the most obvious of all dawned on me while on the subway this morning; "The Only One I Know" = Deep Purple's "Hush." Useless music knowledge to be sure, but is there any other kind?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Chekkit

Apparently Sleater-Kinney is none too thrilled about folks downloading copies of their upcoming record.

Fair enough, but one must ask, what's the deal with Sub Pop's part sending out promo copies three months in advance? If the sorry bunch at Billboard is allowed to hear advance copies of the record, one could assume in this day and age that everybody else will too. I can't help but think that Jonathan Poneman and Co. may have dropped the ball with regard to the release date on this one.

I always said that if I was in a kick ass rock band, I would be annoyed, and yet at the same time rather flattered that people cared enough about my record to download it three months in advance. The Sleater make a variety of good points in their website posting. Whether or not this will make me any less likely to listen to it early, especially with the knowledge that I plan to purchase it, and give it a glowing online review (provided its as good as I think it will be), is up for debate.

Of jazz organ and female rockage....

Firstly, if you're interested in learning about the history/shows of the short lived Fillmore East I mentioned in the last post (and you should be) this site is very handy and informative.

I think it's kind of sad that I only learned about last week's passing of jazz organ legend Jimmy Smith by reading about it on the All Music Guide. Nicknamed "The Preacher," Smith had his contemporaries (Jimmy McGriff, Brother Jack McDuff), but it was he who clearly put the Hammond B-3 on the map in the late 50's via several recordings on the Blue Note label.

However, his best known work probably remains the track "Root Down," if only because it's been covered a number of times, most notably by the Beastie Boys. The latter essentially sampled everything on that song except the organ part for the well known Ill Communication track, endearing it to thousands of youth who probably failed to realize that the bassline wasn't theirs. The original recording can be found on "Root Down! Live!," a West Coast gig from 1972 on the Verve label. I reccomend it extremely highly, as it's a session of 70's organ jazz so piping hot that it'll fry your speakers. The Root Down bassline remains one of the best ever to this day, and the cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" is also muy caliente. R.I.P. dude.

Finally, although they have yet to post anything regarding this, I was informed earlier today by Onelouder that Sleater-Kinney's The Woods has apparently leaked, and is making the rounds. I'm old enough to fondly recall a time when the first time I heard new music was on the official release date...making Tuesday anticipation all the more strong, but will I listen to this record ahead of it's May 24th release date? Damn right I will.

Monday, February 14, 2005

"The Dead are alive....the Dead are alright, with me..."

The above quote was taken from "Stones" off the most recent Sonic Youth record. If there's any band of erstwhile indie-rockers who knows about the Grateful Dead, it's probably Sonic Youth; if only because Lee Ranaldo is supposedly a huge fan, and the Youth are one of the few bands that garner mad respect among the peeps, yet improvise their asses off onstage (e.g. they jam while managing to avoid the dreaded 'jamband' tag).

I make no bones about loving the Grateful Dead. I traded hundreds of tapes in high school and college, and in terms of being extraordinarily prolific songwriters (until the 80's anyway) with unbelievable chops, the Dead are in a league of their own. I could write paragraphs about this provided I wasn't wasting time at work as I type.

The point of this post is to commemorate the fact that 35 years ago, the Dead played two days worth of completely legendary shows at Bill Graham's East Coast baby, the long defunct Fillmore East. It was located on 2nd Avenue and 6th street next to Moishe's Kosher Bakery; a cheesy bar called "Ike" is there now, in addition to the Emigrant Savings Bank. But if you look up, you can still clearly see the brickwork that used to comprise the theatre. 2-13/70 and 2-14/70 have since passed into lore for Deadheads, being a pair of amazing shows featuring career-defining performances of what many 'Heads consider to be their most sought after tunes, "Dark Star," "That's It For the Other One," and their cover of Bobby 'Blue' Bland's "Turn on Your Lovelight." It's a transcendent experience, captured in a very nice Soundboard version on the mail order only "Dick's Pick's Volume 4"- the Dick's Picks series comprising crystal clear recordings of killer shows-named for recently deceased Dead archivist Dick Lavatla (It's sort of like porn in that I think they're up to Volume 31 now or something). You don't get the effect of the legendary "Joshua Light Show" that accompanied most shows within the Fillmore's three year (I think) existence, but whadya gonna do.

At any rate, the Valentines Day shows of 1970 deserve to be remembered, and serve as a fantastic jumping off point for anybody interested in anything remotely Dead related. You don't even need to be stoned to enjoy it.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Where were you when they we're gettin' high? (e.g. fell off the face of the Earth?)

Oasis tickets for their 6/22/05 show at Madison Square Garden go onsale to the public tomorrow morning. Was Irving Plaza booked that night? Maybe the lame-o Aussies in Jet can help fill some of those seats, but this is just a little silly. I saw the Brothers Gallagher play to a half full venue of Black Crowes fans at the Oakdale in Wallingford, CT a few years back, and their live show kinda loses something fierce when its not accompanied by 100,000 lager louts singing along. And this is coming from someone who thought that both Be Here Now and Standing on the Shoulder of Giants were both decent (never bought Heaten Chemistry).

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Nailz.

Happy 42nd Birthday Lenny "Nails" Dykstra! Easily the most entertaining centerfielder ever to wear a Mets uni, and probably the best (until this season anyway....:-).

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

VH1 Classic + iTunes = $$$

Seriously...they should have an iTunes Music Store page that synchs up directly with whatever happened to be on VH1 Classic All Request Hour that day. Apple would rake it in. Somehow I managed to survive for the past twenty-five years without ever owning a copy of The Fixx's "Red Skies," but iTunes just makes it too goddamn easy to purchase. Only now do I realize how much vocalist Cy Curnin sounds like The Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield. Other totally superfluous yet homehow completely necessary iTunes purchases? Beck's "E-Pro" single (Beck on autopilot with heavy guitars, still pretty great) and Elvis Costello's recent "Monkey to Man," another song I probably would have never heard were it not for VH1 Classic's "Classic, Current" portion, where old videos are chased by new ones. I've yet to find any other way to see the Cure videos from their latest album.

On April 17th and 18th, Ash and The Bravery are are playing Bowery Ballroom. Ash is an Irish band who play overdriven, excellently produced power-pop, and have a bazillion hit singles across the pond. Their latest effort Meltdown has been out over there since June, but will only see a U.S. release in March (come to think of it, their 2001 release Free All Angels was treated the same way). I would wholeheartedly reccomend that fans of vintage Weezer or Fountains of Wayne check them out. The last time they had a two night run at Bowery was in April 2002...the opening act for night 1? Interpol (night 2 featured South if you're curious). That was my first time seeing Interpol, and to tell the truth, I thought they were Joy Division rip offs and I hated them. I have since changed my tune, as I love both of their two records...just goes to show a live glimpse can sometimes be deceiving. I hated the Secret Machines live before I heard their record too.

As for The Bravery, while I find their singles catchy, I'm gonna paraphrase David Lowery and say that "what the world needs now is another glammy, 80's aping, disco-rific, Strokes-ian band like I need a hole in my head." I think the two bands are actually trading off the headlining spot over the course of the two nights. The hell with that; when The Bravery write their "Shining Light" they can headline. But not until then.

Not only is March 2nd the first of Sleater-Kinney's two nights at the Mercury Lounge, but also the Mets' first spring training game against Montr...I mean, Washington. My cup runneth over March 2nd.

But as fate would have it, March '05 is in general a hell of a month at the Merc. Is it just me, or has the quality of their bookings seemingly increased over the past two years?

March 4th - Calla and Palomar
March 8th - Stars
March 12th - Menomena
March 13th - Magnapop (a reunion show!...I just remember their 1994 120 Minutes song "Slowly, Slowly" ripped off the chorus from Violent Femmes' "Kiss Off")
March 21st - The Go! Team
March 24/25 - Dead Meadow / Jennifer Gentle (a BYOB show...bring your own bong)

I apologize for not hyperlinking any of these bands, and apologize for a dearth of posts. My new job makes me very lazy when I'm not at the office.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Gruffage....

Contrary to what most of the blogosphere would have you believe, The Arcade Fire shows did not constitute the only worthy NYC gigs this week. Practically slipping under the radar was a rare solo performance from Gruff Rhys, frontman for completely friggin' awesome Welsh popsters Super Furry Animals. That last collection of adjectives can give you a fairly good concept of my considerable love for this band, and in terms of making inventive British pop albums that manage to be cohesive and yet crammed with singles, no other UK act from the late 90's, early 00's has come close. They've released six full length albums since 1996, and while you really should purchase every one, the recently released singles comp. Songbook is a good place for neophytes to get infected (but if its unavailable, buy Radiator instead).

The show was at Tonic, and was billed as one of the first in what I hope is a number of benefit shows to raise dough for the venue's several problems. Gruff just released an all Welsh language solo record in the UK, but it's not currently set for a U.S. release (although pretty easy to find on your choice of P2P software). The setup consisted of him and a guitar, a handful of crappy 80's synths, an electric gutiar tuner (aka-"electric bagpipes"), and a sampler. Even better than his cheery pop songs was his banter in between those songs; translating his Welsh lyrics, discussing how he plays his left-handed guitar right handed, passing the mic to the audience to get sampled barnyard noises, entering and leaving to a horrendous 80's synth take on "Just the Way You Are"....the man possesses a low key charm and self-deprecating manner that's impossible to dislike. Practically everything was off of his new Welsh record; the exceptions being the Roman Roads song off of SFA's Mwng album, and an English language number called "Colonize the Moon," which was akin to the acoustic portion of "No Sympathy" off of Rings Around the World and may or may not be an unreleased SFA song. The evening was clearly helped by my party being in the front row- part of the fun being from watching Gruff fiddle with his myriad machines- but it was as charming a performance as last night's Arcade Fire gig was intense. The new Super Furries disc supposedly hits in May. Be afraid, be very afraid.


Note the football scarf


80's keyz.


that walkman is reportedly playing "the single most played song on Welsh national radio ever."

Dang....

Far be it from me to have a quick chuckle at another's misfortune, but this is just too much. Check for more gooey goodness at Gerard Cosloy's site. Mmmm....time for lunch.

Why bother going into too much detail....

...because there's really not much I can say about last night's Arcade Fire show that won't already be said by 800 NYC area bloggers with more time on their hands than I :). But suffice it to say, in terms of living up to the hype constantly so heaped onto their live show, the band delivered and then some. The Arcade Fire do things in a live setting that most bands don't attempt; like pretending to beat up on each other with drum sticks and whacking the heck out of random cymbals and stage monitors while screaming, despite the fact that said cymbals aren't miked and can't really be heard outside of the first row. As cliche as this sounds-they really appear to feel their music, man. Any one member of the band always appears to be freaking out with his/her eyes rolling in the back of their head at any given time. Usually two members, actually. Everyone trades instruments, everyone onstage appears to be playing the set like their lives depended on it, and yeah, David Byrne came out for the "Naive Melody" encore. I'm still not in love with the way AF plays this song-they can't quite emulate the utter bounciness so crucial to the original-but their effort is laudable. Man, David Byrne is old....his hair is so shockingly white you'd think he actually supplements it with white dye or something. All told, a fantastic show from a band that has plenty of potential to do even greater things.

Oh yeah, openers "Man Man" were plenty interesting as well, at least for a half hour (then they got annoying). Think Tom Waits meets Black Dice meets a backwoods version of Out Hud. Wierdo kids from Philly emulating Southern hicks with multiple percussion sets onstage and a bearded guy who played trumpet, clarinet, and flugelhorn. I have to hear their record.