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

Friday, March 25, 2005

Birthday Wishes...

To Tommy Glavine who turns 39 today. Only 38 wins to go to reach 300 dude!

OneLouder reports that tickets for New Order, May 5th at the Hammerstein Ballroom go onsale next Friday (April Fools day in fact). Between that show, and Decemberists at IP the day before, the first week o' May is looking fun indeed.

Completely off topic from music and/or Mets baseball, March 25th holds an interesting spot in the hearts of landlord/tenant lawyers like this blogger, or NYC history buffs w/ a taste for the macabre. March 25th is the day that Triangle Factory Fire broke out in 1911, as well as the day of the tragic Happyland Social Club inferno in 1990. There's memorials going on in the city right now as we speak. Don't say SoF never teaches you anything. Back to work....

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

First Impressions....

Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze - Listened to the first half about 4 times, second half (as in, beginning with "Someone's In the Wolf") twiece. Better than I would have expected. I don't miss Nick Oliveri at all. There's a run of songs in the middle of the record...."Burn the Witch," "In My Head," "Little Sister," "I Never Came," and the aformentioned "Wolf" that's practically flawless in terms of both hooks and badass geetar playing. I find it hilarious and a little unsettling that Josh Homme actually utters the word 'p-ssy' in the rockin' kiss off "Broken Box." I mean, with that title, I guess it should be expected, but it comes out of nowhere.

The Decemberists - Picaresque -Listened to it all the way through twice. I realize that the phrase 'first impressions' is a little silly considering this leaked ages ago, but good soldier that I am, excepting "The Infanta", I had never heard the record until its release yesterday. This appears to be pretty great too. Far more dynamic than the band's prior releases with nary a reason to press the skip button. Heavier instrumentation, a couple of songs that sound like instant Decemberists classics ("The Bagman's Gambit," "The Infanta," "Sixteen Military Wives"), and of course, not one, but two sea shanties chockful of accordion tailor-made for the next sailor's ball. I always find it interesting how high Colin Meloy's vocals are mixed on Decemberists records....you can really digest all of the lyrics on the first take.

That's it for now....

Sunday, March 20, 2005

March sadness.

They say a fool and his money are soon parted. I'm forced to agree, if only because the words "new" and "Woody Allen movie" have been synonomous with "shit" for the past six years or so, and I still went and saw Melinda and Melinda this weekend. It was better than Curse of the Jade Scorpion, but my roommate tells me that Meteora is a 'way better' record than Hybrid Theory too. Oh, to have been living in NYC back when the Woodman was as consistent as these guys.

The Mets homepage would lead me to believe that this afternoon's game was interesting as spring games go, but I still couldn't watch it due to the Time/Warner, Cablevision impasse. So long as they've kissed and made up by opening day, I won't complain too much. I think I will be forced to complain about the Jason Phillips for Kaz Ishii deal though. In addition to the inherent difficulties of having two guys on one team named Kaz, Phillips had seriously gotten his act together this spring, was equally adept at playing 1b or catcher, and caught virtually every game Tom Glavine pitched in 2004. Ishii will be a serviceable 5th starter, and puts up reasonable workhorse numbers, but I still don't think the Mets are putting nearly enough faith in Matt Ginter, and correct me if I'm wrong...but doesn't this mean that after Mikey goes down in the first week of the season, our savior is a career .212 hitter who once had troubles with Johnny Law for spousal abuse?

Pour a little for the Connecticut Huskies, who capped off a very up and down season with an embarrasing defeat at the hands of N.C. State. Having spent his formative years living in Connecticut, this blogger is bummed at seeing the Huskies get knocked out this soon, only if because up until a few years ago , they were the closest thing that CT natives had to a full blown professional sports team (pour a little for The Whalers too). Granted, it's not like UCONN didn't win it all last year, but living in Connecticut is boring, and Husky-mania always gives those in the Nutmeg state a little something to be excited about come March. Not so much this time around.

A crazy work schedule kept me from writing anything about the Doves concert last week, and Brooklyn Vegan has already included a fine page that compiles reviews from just about everyone I attended the show with, so I'm not going to say much about it now, except that it was very good and I agree with most of what's already been said. Regarding the Magic Numbers though...my only exposure to them prior to the Doves gig was via their vocalizing on the latest Chemical Brothers disc, and based off of their voices alone, I did not expect them to look like the considerably furry hippies they are (I'd provide a website, but you try googling 'magic numbers' with any degree of success). They were all excellent musicians and singers (especially the bass player...super tight!), but in terms of schmaltz....let's just say they make Belle and Sebastian sound like Fugazi. Hope you have a high tolerance for songs about love!

Decemberists, Queens of the Stone Age, M.I.A., and the Yo La best of all coming out this Tuesday = me eating lots of ramen noodles Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Cheers.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Say it ain't so....

As was basically expected based off of the acquisition of Miguel Cairo and surprisingly able backup shortstop Chris Woodward, the Mets went and released Joe McEwing yesterday. "Super" Joe was a fan favorite based off of his drive, can-do attitude, and ability to play a bunch of positions, if not his bat. Sort like Rudy at Notre Dame, McEwing had the heart and soul, if not the stats. Despite batting something like .450 against Randy Johnson, Mets fans couldn't help but groan when the man stepped to the bat, if only because the man was a light-hitter. And just when he started to get a bunch of playing time last year, and improve his stats, his season was ended on a take-out slide by some rookie punk on Colorado. At least the Mets let him have two weeks before the start of the season to find a new home. Like Old Yeller in the backyard, SoF views this Mets move as bittersweet, but necessary, and for the best.

As an aside....couldn't resist anymore and found a copy of Sleater-Kinney's The Woods yesterday. It's supposed to be a noisy record, but supposedly the "official word from Sub Pop" was that the version I was hearing was unmastered. I question this slightly, if only because many folks have said that so-called "official" versions of the record also appear unmastered, but that's what the band was going for. But there's "noisy" and there's "sounds like Bleach-era Nirvana demos with Jason Everman" noisy. This copy of The Woods is the latter, and I can't believe that the band, or Friddman, would've have rubber stamped the record sounding like that. I listened once and took it off the drive. Cheers.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Back, back, back....

It's been nearly a week since SoF has been updated, which I attribute to an absolutely brutal work week (and this one could be just as bad). I have never valued the weekend so much in my young existence. Apologies.

Despite Mets spring training games being on for nearly two weeks now, this afternoon was the first time I was actually able to watch one, on account of it being on the WB. I treat spring training games on tv like all tv golf that isn't The Masters or U.S. Open; interesting for about 30 minutes, then pleasant background noise. Studly pitcher Kris Benson hurled a very solid 4-innings, and Tom "fuck modesty" Seaver didn't annoy me nearly as much as he usually does, probably only because I was just grateful to watch baseball on the tube again. He and Ted Robinson spent the entire afternoon discussing Tiger-hall of famer Al Kaline; more or less oblivious to what was happening on the field.

One of my closest friends from high school plays bass in a Providence, RI based ska-pop/college-y rock band called Zox. Though I'm not a huge fan of the genre, Zox is very good at what they do, and they played a fine gig at the Tribeca Rock Club this past Saturday. The TRC is hardly one of my favorite venues; structured like a railroad-style apartment and featuring surly older barmaids who do not give you your 6 dollar Heinekens with a smile. Fortunately, they seldom book any bands that I'm dying to see (mostly jamrock and middling blues bands), and the crowd is always comprised of drunk kids about seven years younger than I, which I find amusing. I'm assuming they don't card.

I've been listening to the Kaiser Chiefs record for about a week now (officially out this Tuesday), and I'm convinced that people who claim to enjoy Brit-pop, but have an aversion to this band need to lighten up. It's as pure a single-oriented Brit-pop record as I've heard in some time. Immaculate production, and every song is baited with multiple hooks. Minimal depth, but maximum pogo-action. I'm bummed I didn't get a ticket to their Bowery Ballroom show.

The NY Times printed a very interesting article (registration required) today about a new music venue opening in April on 2nd and Avenue C called "The Stone." The operation is run by John Zorn, and sounds to be very much in the vein of Tonic should that place be forced to call it a day. Apparently all of the ticket money is going directly to the musicians, and the only thing they plan to sell onsite is exclusive live CD's (eg, no booze).

Finally, I just finished reading the Anthony Kiedis autobiography Scar Tissue, a book that I, rest assured, would have never purchased had the girlfriend not thought it cute to buy me a copy for Valentine's Day. It was actually a rather amusing read in a guilty pleasure sense, although I have to wonder how AK was able to remember all of the stuff that goes on in the book, considering that he's either shooting up or smoking crack cocaine every three pages (it's to his credit that he didn't seem nearly as fucked up in RHCP Behind the Music). I won't give too much of the game away for those that think they might be interested in reading, but I will offer this-I had no idea that "I Could Have Lied" is basically about Kiedis's failed attempt at bedding Sinead O'Connor ("Flea and I loved The Lion and the Cobra, and she was this tough bald chick in combat boots"). Now I think I need to read Marilyn Manson's autobiography.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Statute of Frauds = Metal Manic

We here are open to all types of music at SoF, but we're entitled to likes and dislikes, and 8 times out of 10, those likes seldom include theatrical bands of the nu-metal ilk. But we're not eliteist, so when my roommate asked me two months ago if I wanted to pay 40 bucks and go see Slipknot at a hockey arena in New Jersey, I said "eh, why not."

For those out of the loop, Slipknot are eight beefy dudes from Iowa who play a considerably theatrical blend of classic speed metal and the not-so classic rap metal kind; buoyed by ferocious drumming and the typical unintelligble metal growl of vocalist Corey Taylor. They all wear costumes and masks, refer to each other by numbers 1-8, and have a fiercely rabid fanbase who refer to themselves as "maggots." Rock!

There were two opening bands at this show-Shadows Fall and Lamb of God. It was pleasing to know that both bands were firmly entrenched in the more old-school vein of Slayer and Sepultura than say, Korn. No whining about how Daddy abused them when they were little, no horrible rapping; just unintelligble screaming. Both bands featured crazy, Dave Lombardo-styled double kick drum action, fleet-fingered leads to complement heavy riffage, guitarists with long hair who were able to whip their locks in perfect time to the music, and most importantly, no DJs. Lamb of God seemed to have ever so slightly more variety to their sound-including a willingness to play in 6/8 time, but Shadows Fall was the better of the two groups; if only for vocalist Phil Lebonte's 5-foot dreadlocks and timely shout out to "our fallen brother, Dimebag, fucking Darrell!" (this is also the guy who refused to cancel shows even when he had laryngitis, saying that 'if Curt Schilling can win the World Series with a bloody ankle, then I sure as hell can sing with laryngitis.' Shadows Fall are from Massachusetts) I guess it's an unwritten rule in metal stage patter that you aren't truly metal unless you drop an F-bomb in between every other word. But I guess real metalheads are some truly crazy fucking motherfuckers, so it's ok.

If there's one thing to be said about Slipknot, it's that they at least have a sense of humor. Entitling a song "People=Shit" is funny enough, but the humor is taken up a notch when the song is accompanied onstage by two large monitors that quite literally spell out that People=Shit. Same goes for the song with the chorus "If you're 555, then I'm 666!!!!" But maybe the funniest thing about the band is how they have 8 members, yet only 5 of them really do much of anything other than run around and hump the two extra drumkits that the band has set up on the sides of the stage (imagine if the Mighty Mighty Bosstones had two extra dancers in addition to Ben Carr, or Radiohead had multiple Ed O'Briens). Actually, of the three extraneous members, one contributed some muted DJ scratches (ugh), and the other two guys occasionally played their drums as opposed to climbing on them; but the five dudes making the music could stand to make more $$$ per gig if they streamlined the operation a little bit.

It's unquestionable that the 'Knot have serious chops-especially drummer Joey Jordison, who was given a drum solo where his riser was lifted up and spun around a'la Tommy Lee or Palmer from Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They're loud, fast, and demonic sounding; this was the first concert I've ever attended where devil horns were raised and it wasn't meant to be ironic. Some of their newer songs have some ever-so slightly melodic sectons with proggy tendencies, but not enough so to make you think Mike Piazza is a fan. Speaking of fans, Slipknot seem to appreciate theirs; hauling out their double platinum record plaques in between songs and thanking "all of you maggot motherfuckers for making this possible" while stating how "they're honored to play for the fans, and not the other way around." In all seriousness, it was sort of touching.

All in all, a surprisingly good time. But once is plenty.

Most definitely 666.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Into the Woods

So yeah....I suppose that SoF has very gradually morphed into a sort of Sleater-Kinney fansite, not unlike MMM slowly becoming an Underworld fansite. S-K played the Mercury Lounge last night, and once again this evening. Had this been 2004, I would have gone tonight in a heartbeat-but I didn't work 11-hour days in 2004.

In addition to a handful of (relative) oldies, S-K's set last night consisted of their entire upcoming record The Woods, which I think I've only refrained from illegally seeking out because I've had access to a relatively crisp soundboard copy of their NYE set (essentially the new album) for some time now. Just about everything consistently said about the new material; raw, psychedelic, bass-heavy, Grateful Dead-influenced, is true. Carrie actually seems to play honest-to-goodness barre chords from time to time, and Corin's guitar now sounds capable of playing super-low basslines. And there's mucho fuzz. What some of the new songs lack in speed, they make up for in oom-pah-pah, evidenced by the fact that Janet is allowed to go off now more than ever. OneLouder put it nicely in their review of the show when commenting that Janet owns the new material. Drum fills all over the place. Painfully heavy drum fills. There was literally a point during the punk-rock bridge of new song "Let's Call it Love" where I felt like my skull was about to cave in. I may be mistaken about this-but Janet looks like she uses purposely over-sized drumsticks, which always calls to my mind Tommy Chong behind the drumkit during the "Rockfight" scene in Up in Smoke.

Speaking of "Let's Call It Love," it's the one new song that would appear to be S-K's largest concession to the hippie set as it's apparently always followed by dissonant improvisation that leads into the new song "Night Light." If you were marking this on a Maxell Casette tape, it would read "Let's Call It Love" -> Space Jam -> "Night Light." Not unlike "Help on the Way" -> "Slipknot!" -> "Franklin's Tower" or "Estimated Prophet" ->"Eyes of the World" for all you Deadheads out there. Sorry if that was lame, but the new Sleater material has me extremely excited; if only because it seems to bridge my unabated love of their sound with so many of the late 60's psychedelic acts that I worship.

The not-so new tunes included takes on "O2", "Get Up", "Sympathy" and maybe two others I can't recall, but it's actually a little difficult to imagine much of the older material co-existing with the new songs; so different are their sounds. Some of the tracks on One Beat sort of hint towards the rawness of the songs on The Woods, "Light Rail Coyote" in particular, but it will be most interesting to see a non-small venue Sleater-Kinney show (this June most likely) where they're not purposely showcasing the new album as much as they are now.

Despite me supposedly taking a bunch of pictures, the one below is the only photo that came out well enough to worth posting. Still can't believe The Woods doesn't really hit until May 24.

Secular Jewish female rockage

Death by drumming

This ain't the full scale Sleater-Kinney concert review I'm sure some may have been looking for, only because I refuse to do another crappy write up at work. More will likely be forthcoming in the evening hours, but suffice it to say, with regard to the new material- JANET, JANET, JANET. Yeah.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Of Baseball and Indie Rock....

It's considerably crappy outside in NYC, but I'm assuming the temperatures in Port St. Lucie, Florida are far cheerier. At any rate, the Mets open up their "Grapefruit League" exhibition games tomorrow afternoon against the team formerly known as the Montreal Expos. I'll be at work, but I'd be watching at least the first three innings if I was home. I find that even the most diehard baseball fans (including myself) have a difficult time making it through more than 3 innings of an exhibition game (on tv anyway). The marquee guys play maybe the first two....and then you're stuck with the guys with the nameless uniforms numbered 79, 63, 87 and the like. 'Now playing 1st....number 95'

Regarding the musical portion of this post, I'm sure this will be old news to many, but for some reason it only dawned on me this morning on the subway that the Yo La Tengo song "Moby Octopad" is mostly about falling asleep on the couch with the Mets on. YLT never prints their lyrics, and the groovy whispers of the tune focus more on atmosphere than lyrical substance. However, its clearly audible that the chorus begins with "8 oclock the lights are on at Shea" and ends with "Huskey makes the turn and heads for home." I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One was released in 1997; Butch Huskey was the Mets starting first baseman in 1996 (and 1997).

It's no secret that Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan are hardcore Mets fans. With this in mind, I was a little disappointed when Georgia asked me whose number I had on when I was wearing a Leiter jersey at their Hanukah shows this past December. But when I mentioned it was Leiter, who had just signed with the Marlins, she completely redeemed herself by immediately saying- "ah. fuck him." More proof that this is Yo La Tengo's world. We're just fortunate enough to live in it.