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

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Didn't see this comin....(yeah right)

It's like the late Michael Hutchence once quipped, "sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked." The Aaron Heilman that the NL East knows and loves made an unsurprising return to form in the Mets' 9-2 whupping at the hands of the Fish a few hours ago. Heilman is an incredibly frustrating pitcher to watch in that flashes of brilliance are simply marred by his utter inability to keep the ball down. When he keeps it low and movin', he's unhittable. But nearly every fifth pitch simply dies in the heart of the strike zone. I feel like I could hit those pitches. If nothing else, he did make Carlos Delgado look like the bitch that he is on more than one occasion.
While I think it's certainly possible that Josh Beckett peaked early, when he's on, it's like watching Eric Gagne reborn as a starter (I realize the latter began as a starter....but you know what I mean). 96 mph fastballs chased by 74 mph curves on the corners. Gets plenty wild from time to time, but most of the time....yikes.

Even more depressing is that due to the continuance of the Time/Warner blackout, I was forced to watch the game at Reservoir at 11th and University. Common sense dictates I can't hit the bar every night, and between last night's romp and tomorrow's Pedro action, methinks I picked the wrong night. Reservoir is actually a decent place to catch a game. It's not a Mets bar, but it's not not a Mets bar, lots of tvs, and the jukebox is packed with bands that I never listen to anymore, but get a kick out of hearing because I loved them sophomore year of high school (e.g. Blues Traveller, Black Crowes). And it gets me nostalgic because it's right around the corner from my law school alma matter. But regarding the Time/Warner, Cablevision debacle....don't these people (esp. Jimmy Dolan) fear hell?

First Impressions on highly awaited new singles from big bands-

White Stripes - "Blue Orchid" - Sounds a lot like DFA1979. Not the monster "Seven Nation Army" was, but still pretty bad ass once you get used to Jack White's falsetto.

(quick interruption based on the television...is it just me, or should VH1 Classic be renamed to 'endless stream of mid-80's Depeche Mode videos?')

Coldplay - "Speed of Sound" - "Clocks" part-deux, only happy. Pretty decent nonetheless. Safe as milk choice for a first single.

Springsteen - "Devils and Dust" - Not even sure if this is the first single or not. Starts mellow, builds big. Good enough, but kind of melodramatic, even for him. I thought Brendan "super AOR sheen" O'Brien's production nearly ruined his last record, and the production unfortunately sounds wholly similar here.

(television interruption...the Stop Making Sense version of "This Must be the Place (naive melody)" on VH1 Classic. Nice. Maybe it's not all DM videos. UPDATE- now the B 52's "Legal Tender" is on. sweet.).

That's all for now....

Monday, April 18, 2005

Burn, Baby, Burn....

No sooner do I get home from seeing Ash at the Bowery than I learn that despite staging a now all too typical late inning rally capped by a Cliff Floyd jack, the Mets lost to the Phillies 5-4. Kaz Ishii walked 6 batters, and at one point supposedly threw 11 balls out of the strike zone in a row, but most half-way decent teams can overcome 5 runs. When was the last time the Mets got more than 5 runs? Methinks the home opener. Could be wrong. Kinda sad.

Ash played a very solid set of their high octane power pop; consisting mostly tracks off of their relatively recent (new in the U.S., 10 months old in the U.K.) disc Meltdown, plus the expected U.K. hits (e.g. "Burn Baby Burn," "Shining Light," "Girl From Mars" etc.). While peppy frontman/eternal teenager Tim Wheeler is a suitably energetic frontman, it's lead guitarist Charlotte Hatherly who steals the show, partly because she gets to play the best riffs, mostly because she's hot...especially when her bangs get in her eyes. The venue was only about half full for Ash's set, which is unsurprising considering how incredibly poorly they've been marketed in the U.S., but still unfortunate because their best songs are tailor-made for losing your shit. I'm sure the U.K. audiences give them the enthusiasm they deserve, but not so much here.

NYC whipping boys/New York Magazine subjects du jour The Bravery performed after Ash, but I didn't see 'em. Although I was more than a little curious to see if they were really as awful as purist Brandon Flowers would lead you to believe, I wasn't about to find out at 11 o'clock on a school night. And this is from someone who thinks that "Honest Mistake" and "Fearless" are actually somewhat decent little tunes.

Oh yeah, the Mets lost yesterday too, at the hands of Florida hard thrower and Beavis look alike A.J. Burnett. I only mention this because Dave O'Brien spent several minutes in the booth discussing how Burnett is unique amongst ball players in that he has a variety of body piercings (O'Brien knows this how?) and his favorite band is Marilyn Manson. So much so that while lesser players label their bats with either their own, or female names, Burnett's bat really and truly says Marilyn Manson on it. He has another bat labelled Zombie (maybe in reference to White Zombie? Quit livin' in 1996, dude). Granted, Marilyn Manson probably does come off as fairly revolutionary in the clubhouse boombox among the more common likes of 50 Cent and Toby Keith, but somehow I can't help but think we need The Spaceman now more than ever.

Likes Marilyn Manson, fastball hits 98 on the gun.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sheff's a bitch.

Right now the Baseball Tonight gods are praising Gary Sheffield for his "restraint" in only taking a single violent swipe at a drunken BoSox fan in right field who may have been reaching for the ball, or for Sheff's dome. Hard to tell. Actions after the swipe included a weak throw to the infield, followed by Sheffield getting up in the dude's face, and said dude getting rightfully ejected. The right field wall in Fenway is close enough to the field that drunken fans can do these sort of things. BoSox won by the way, beating Randy Johnson 8-5.

I will always be of the belief that barring an extreme situation; such as the ugly KC Royals incident from two years ago or say, when a solitary fan literally charged the mound against this former Met, part of being a professional athlete means realizing that you make far too much money to take out your frustrations on fans. Drunken fans can be assholes. Suck it up and show a little restraint. The 'heat of the moment' argument always rings hollow to these ears. Sheffield's brief outburst will probably only get him a slap on the wrist, and wasn't nearly as heinous as Artest-gate or that chair throwing incident with the Texas Rangers last year, but he's still a bitch.

The only reason that I mentioned the Sheff thing before discussing the Mets' 4th win in a row, is that the Amazin's game was kinda boring. This could be because I was forced to listen to it on internet radio, but seldom has one team done so much with so little. Hardly any of their 4 runs were the result of balls leaving the infield, but rather Jose Reyes's killer speed, poor Astros fielding, and Johnny Franco's complete inability to keep his former team from scoring on him. Should have bowed out gracefully, dude. Whatever. A win is a win, though a little long ball action would be welcome. Expect a loss tomorrow night (Heilman). And oh yeah, Mikey still sucks.

Saturday ought to be a motherfucker....2 dollar tickets for Pedro/Leiter at 1:00 and then Thurston/Kim at 7:00. Better stock up on Red Bull.

Am I wrong for thinking that "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare All)" by Type-O Negative (Brooklyn stand up!) is one of the greatest goth-metal songs ever?

Quit hatin' on me, Dave.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"Next Year Is Waiting Until the 8th Inning...Every Game."

Well....it may be too soon in the season to say that the title of this post always holds true, but damn if opening day at Shea wasn't similar to the Pedro/Smoltz battle that preceded it. Two (former?) aces locked in a pretty decent pitcher's duel, and the Amazin's once again waited until the 8th to blow the game open with a 5-spot. Differences between yesterday's game and Sunday would be that Glavine left in the 6th, creating the opportunity for Manny Aybar and Dae-Sung Koo to immediately cough up a two run lead (do I hear Heath Bell?), and that the long ball was completely absent. But timely pinch-hitting (Cairo and Anderson...both batting .667 if memory serves), woefully inept outfielding (courtesy of the Astros), and a classic Johnny Franco performance allowed the Mets to carry the day. Not to be lost were 2 very clutch hits from Kaz Matsui (to make up for some of the saddest looking hacks this side of Al Leiter), and consistently awe-inspiring (well....by Mets standards for the past 7 years) 1st base work by Dougie M. No way in hell Piazza or JP would have made half of those plays last year.

Shea is still a viral cess pool, opening day still brings out the dirtiest Mets fans imaginable, the price of hot dogs has increased, and for some reason the magnetic calendar is a heck of a lot harder to read than it was last year. Either that or I'm going blind. Let's Go Mets.

A job well done.

Piazza and Beltran have been known to take many forms.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Weekend Notes....

First, some kvetching.

It's official; the second season of Deadwood now makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER.

Normally whatever cloudy state my mind is in from watching the aforementioned show can be helped by watching the very entertaining Boston Legal on ABC at 10, but the latter is on an all too long hiatus to make room for Grey's Anatomy, which SUCKS. Imagine Scrubs, except not spine-splittingly funny, overlong, and melodramatic. Supposedly Boston Legal is going to take a Monday night slot when it comes back later this month. Not the worst of ideas....nothing worth watching on Mondays otherwise, and seldom any baseball games.

Finally, I just learned that the Coney Island Siren Festival is on Saturday July 16th. I'm a groomsman in a wedding on the 16th. This is the danger of having "friends" who don't listen to good music.

Now for some good news. The Mets finally played a game this season that didn't suck. Pedro Martinez would appear to be 4 Real, pitching a complete game 2-hitter with 9 K's. It was almost for naught; aging starter, turned closer, turned starter John Smoltz struck out 15 (!) Amazin's and gave up no runs until the floodgates opened with a Carlos Beltran dinger in the 8th, followed by the same from Cliff Floyd and David Wright.

John Smoltz is one of the few members of the Atlanta Braves who I can't really say I dislike. He loves the game, is well-spoken, and is a shoe-in for an ESPN 'Baseball Tonight' job when he decides to call it quits. Still, anyone who goes on record as voting for Dubya "because he's a man of character" deserves to lose a game where he strikes out 15 batters (then again, hating Republicans and cheering on baseball players is hypocrisy on the level of hating drugs and cheering on rock musicians, so maybe I should just shut up).

And speaking of rock musicians, yours truly finally got to see The Fiery Furnaces this past Saturday at the death trap that is Webster Hall. Even though the place has seemingly increased in size since I was last there, and they widened the entrance doorway to the main hall, the horrendous exit situation (narrow, only one, lots of stairs) will still leave the audience fucked beyond fucked should a (heaven forbid) Great White-like fiasco occur. Someone with some influence should speak up.

But as for the show....t'was interesting. I literally hadn't seen the band live since they opened for Sleater-Kinney back in the summer of 2003, and while that show featured two drummers and Eleanor Friedberger on guitar, only one drummer this time, and Eleanor was restricted to vocals, while her brother handled all the axe work. Furthermore, it was really obvious that Eleanor had a serious head cold, and her voice was reduced to a ragged croak by the evening's end. The set itself was wholly different than last Thursday's Northsix gig chronicled by OneLouder andMMM; completely in the "medley" mode that they've done in the past--which is to say comprised of bits and pieces of all of their songs, somehow strung together in one hour long chunk. Songs get played faster, slower, backwards, louder,...you'll pick out a lyric here, a Wurlitzer hook there, etc. This is all held together by a drummer who acts like Animal from the Muppets, but all too often gets stuck playing a basic 4/4 when he can't figure out what else to do.

This musical approach was appealing, and would have likely been more so had Eleanor not completely lost her voice. However, lots of the melodies inherent in the Furnaces' best songs get buried in the guitar heavy mix, and Matthew Friedberger's over-reliance on effects becomes grating over time. Melody was in short supply; pummeled into submission from the guitar heavy assault, only giving way when Matthew took over on the Wurlitzer Electric Piano; an instrument which was responsible for delivering many of the recognizable hooks and/or transitions. The medley lasted around 50 minutes, and was followed by two encores consisting of some new songs, and "Here Comes The Summer" from their recent EP. All in all, a fun time, made even more so from seeing the confused faces of the Webster Hall 'regulars' who were there for the Saturday night "singles auction." gross.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Dead-ly Widsom

We here at SoF have two passions, that of music, and that of (Mets) baseball. We're also not ashamed to admit that we like the Dead. With that in mind, I direct the reader to this long celebrated short essay about the similarities between Dead shows and baseball games by David Gans, longtime host of the nationally syndicated Grateful Dead Hour. His contributions to the Dead community over the years can allow me to look past the fact that when I got a chance to interview him back in college, he was less than nice (I had to pay for the long distance call to Oakland, CA too).

While I'm reluctant to beat a dead horse, if this afternoon's Mets game was a Grateful Dead show, it'd have been a gig from the summer of '85; known for otherwise good shows ( by 80's Dead standards anyway) that were often completely derailed at the end by the band's frequent decision to encore with "Day Job," a horrendous short lived pop tune that was thankfully retired by '87. Yeah.


"It's only Game 1 and I'm already completely fed up" - SoF's roommate.

That basically sums it up.

Generally speaking, 12 K's from your starting pitcher, 3 HRs from your starting lineup, and 4 RBIs from your young, studly centerfielder, is more than anyone could ask for on opening day.

But Mets will be Mets will be Mets, and nobody should be overly surprised that Braden Looper, who spent most of the spring getting shelled, lost the game on back to back jacks in the bottom of the ninth. They say that once surly Pedro has changed his ways, but ten bucks says they don't sit next to each other on the plane ride to Atlanta later in the week. And to think of all the wasted time spent on MLB Gamecast. Someone get Ugie Urbina on the phone stat.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Long time, no posts.

Last week was a bit of a wash for SoF....which I blame on another intense workweek, and the fact that I was sick for at least half of that workweek (bit did I stay home? hell no).

Mets baseball officially kicks into high gear tomorrow, and for now it looks like angry New Yorkers will have no choice but to listen to it on the radio. It goes without saying that this is seriously fucked up. I was hoping that tomorrow's game just might have been carried on ESPN so I could tape it, but such does not appear to be the case for New Yorkers. Looks like I'm taking a long-ass lunch break at 2:15 to enjoy the satellite dish at the TGIFridays near my work tomorrow. Mmmm....overpriced Cobb Salad....

Jason at the ever reliable Always Amazin' has some thoughts about who the Mets opted to keep on the active roster, and I agree with more or less everything he says. Unless there's something I'm blissfully unaware of, holding onto Felix Heredia while shipping Matt Ginter to Detroit seems like a horrific idea, and 3 lefties in the BP strikes me as excessive. When Heredia gets battered like cod fish, hopefully Wille/Rick will realize that Heath Bell is merely a phone call away. I too would rather see Victor Diaz warm the bench than Marlon Anderson, but I'm guessing he'll get his swings in sooner than later.

Music wise, one band that's been in extremely heavy iPod rotation as of late is these four dudes from Greensboro, NC calling themselves TigerBearWolf. I don't deny that this is a really stupid name for a band, but like the carnivorous animals that comprise their namesake, this record is completely ferocious. Think of Fugazi on a serious Deep Purple kick, or At the Drive-In reborn as a biker band. Maybe neither of those descriptions sounds overly appealing, but let it be said that the album rocks with a purity unlike any I've heard in quite some time. Credit is due to Amir Nezar, a fellow CMG writer responsible for turning us all on to the band. His review of the disc features some MP3s for download, and can be read here. These guys play the Knit a week from Tuesday, but I think I might wait for the hopefully inevitable Mercury Lounge gig, only because I've come to find that I'm usually far too tired to enjoy Tuesday night shows from bands that aren't named Yo La Tengo, or Sleater-Kinney.