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

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Weekend Distractions

And yet another surprising win for the Amazins' - beating the Marlins and Dontrelle Willis 6-1...with Kaz 'close your eyes and pray it finds the strikezone' Ishii on the mound. Mike Piazza actually got three RBIs off of two opposite field hits, meaning he probably won't bat in any more runs for at least 2 weeks. Good pitching, timely hitting, the 2005 Mets can be formidable when everybody elects to do their job.

Being at my childhood home in Connecticut for the weekend allows for several distractions that can't be found in my East Village (Stuytown actually...) apartment. Like the "VH1 Hits" and "MTV Hits" channels, which aren't on Time Warner Cable and actually play nothing but videos, sans commercials. I got to see the new Kelly Clarkson and Backstreet Boys videos back to back. While not nearly as strong as "Since You've Been Gone," "Behind Hazel Eyes" is wonderfully bombastic in all the right places, and is still far better than it has any right to be; even if this time her around band comes closer to biting Evanescence than Interpol. I can't remember the name of the new Backstreet song, but it's the epitome of a 'mature' comeback ballad--overcooked with somber piano pounding and a huge string section. Lots of fire and car scenes in the video too. Meh.

And then there's the X Box; something that you think you'd be more likely to find in the apartment of a 25 year old than at his parents' house, but Dad sure does like his sports video games. MVP Baseball 2005 is the latest incarnation of the popular EA Sports franchise, and it's tons of fun, and quite weird in a variety of ways. Firstly, it comes packed with "EA Trax," so you're constantly being fed lame mainstream indie songs from the likes of Hot Hot Heat, The Zutons, Bravery, and Dropkick Murphys (did Gammons have a hand in this?). Strangely enough, the misogynist swill of Louis XIV's "Finding Out True Love Is Blind" actually sounds kind of decent when it's accompanied by Carlos Beltran going yard against Miguel Tejada in Home Run Derby.

Even stranger, there's batting 'mini games' where you can tee off against pitchers and earn points by hitting targets and hitting the ball to the proper field. Before you do this, you can choose the delivery of the pitcher you're up against, and you're given the option of a variety of well known arms with recognizable wind-ups like Kevin Brown, Pedro Martinez, Dontrelle Willis, Derek Lowe, and the like. Maybe about 25 in all. Fair enough. Would you believe that one of these supposedly famous pitchers is Jae Seo? Wonder what wiseass Mets fan slipped that one past the beta testers? They utilize his 2004 wind-up; the deliberate one where he swings his arms over his head en route to giving up tons of runs. He's still way better than Victor Zambrano this year, and he's still languishing in AAA. Bummer.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fridaaaaay

So The Woods finally hit shelves fo' real this week, and a solid majority of the reviews have been rather complimentary, as it should be. I stick by my 94. Of the negative reviews, one was more or less conservative whining from a fan who fears anything resembling change, while Anthony Miccio's review over at Stylus was borderline irresponsible. Sorry, but I feel strongly about this band, and when somebody references Creed in a Sleater-Kinney review and then proceeds to lash out at the band for leaking the album four months in advance and then asking folks not to listen to it minus the artwork(as if this was under their control at all), I get annoyed. The Woods also has nothing whatsoever to do with that last dying grasp at relevancy known as St. Anger. Miccio liked the new Stephen Malkmus, and now I feel dirty for liking it too.

Holy shit, did the Mets just win back to back games against a first place team? Last night they did it with twelve runs, this night, just one. Pedro Martinez pitched another typically fantastic, 10 strikeout game, and he actually got a fully deserved win for once, if no real run support. One run courtesy of a Cliff Floyd double was enough, and Braden Looper got a shockingly sweat-free 1-2-3 save. The Braves lost tonight too. After the unabated hell of being a Mets fan earlier this week, the Amazin's are still only 3 games out. Crazy. This is why I love baseball, even if rooting for the Mets is far more stressful/Job-like than it has any right to be.

And speaking of crazy, it still really, really sucks to be a Cubs fan right now. Does any major league starting pitcher have worse luck than Mark Prior (and against the Rockies no less)? What kinds of ladders does this guy walk under on his way to the ballpark? One can only hope that Mr. Rusch has finally come into his own as a reliable #3 starter (yikes).

I can see definitely see this band Art Brut having a bit of a Franz Ferdinand-type year in 2005. They're British, catchy, and cheeky as all hell. Their debut album Bang Bang Rock and Roll reminds me a lot of The Buzzcocks and early Violent Femmes; simplistic, extremely catchy, and actually quite hilarious. It's been ages since a rock album had me laughing out loud on the subway, but hearing "Good Weekend" for the first time made me do just that, to the curiosity of all passerby. The song where the lead singer brags about "sipping Hennesey with Morrisey" is a little lame, but the (relatively) old single "Formed a Band" is still ace, even with cleaned up sound.

I have to go to a wedding on Sunday. This is the first 3-day weekend I've had all year, and the last until the 4th of July. I work really hard. What inconsiderate moron schedules a wedding on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

"I Spent a Sunday Wastin...."

The only thing more utterly infuriating than watching the Mets' young infield completely waste a typically excellent Pedro Martinez start againt the Yankees? Utterly horrendous managerial decisions to follow-up said infield gaffes. Decisions like pitching to Hideki Matsui with two outs, an open base, and old man Williams, batting .233, on deck. A frustrating, and all too predictable end to the first Subway series....made even more so by the fact that it looks like the first place Marlins are surprising no one by sweeping the powerhouse known as Tampa Bay. Meh.

At least Boston has seemingly managed to take advantage of Atlanta's now awful bullpen. Equally awful? Listening to Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren call the game on TBS. Seriously.... does Pete check for evidence of Skip's pulse between innings? I realize that Skip's been doing this thing for thirty years and his late father is the legendary Cubs announcer, but Skippy makes Ralph Kiner sound like Howie Rose. Soundwise, this is like watching bowling. Which is not to say I'd still rather hear either of the TBS guys every day for the rest of my life versus three hours of Tom Seaver (if not Fran Healy). Matt Clement's sinker is nasty through 8.

So yeah, a Sunday afternoon Mets loss that shouldn't have been such is demoralizing...but beat the Braves and Marlins next week, and all's forgiven.

(And to all Belle and Sebastian fans who may have been insulted, I'm well aware that the title of this post is not the actual lyric of that song)

Stereogum just drew my attention to a blog where someone is keeping track of their progress in studying for the July 2005 California Bar Exam. Fun blog, and a neat idea that I can sympathize with because I did the exact same thing last summer, only for New York. The California Bar Exam is arguably the hardest in the country....methinks that blog will have fewer and fewer posts as July approaches (or at least it ought to!). Good luck. Get it right the first time!

Ever Get the Feeling U2 Spend Too Much on their Light Show?

Say what you will about the larger than life, preachy, every-man rock cottage industry that has been U2 for the past 13 years or so....they seldom fail to give you your money's worth onstage.

Last night was my second time seeing U2 at Madison Square Garden; the first (and only) was in June of 2001 on the first leg of the 'Elevation' Tour (what an innocent time that seems like now). I may have enjoyed that gig a bit more; which probably has more to do with the thrill of seeing U2 for the first time than any noticeable drop off in quality between the two shows. The two constants at every U2 show are (1) unbelievable lights and (2) a multitude of corny human rights/equality preaching courtesy of Bono. Both are expected, and in the context of a sold-out, BIG rock show, neither is unwelcome. Bono's earned the right to devote 4 minutes of stage time to a disembodied voice reading clauses from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights verbatim and another 3 to emphasizing the 'cross, crescent, Star of David' bandana that he wore for most of the show. No problem. But playing "Vertigo" all the way through twice? Rajeev from OneLouder told me this was a throw back to their earlier days when a lack of material found them playing "11 O'clock Tick Tock" twice in a set, but that was out of necessity, no? Eh, still a fun tune to hear in a live setting, and I guess not unlike the time I saw Ween play "The HIV Song" twice in one of their sets.

For those who've been paying attention to sets on U2's recent tour and were hoping for some surprises being it's The Garden and all....few were in store. The encore did feature what appeared to be an impromptu take on "Gene Genie," b/c Bowie was "in the house," but save the seldom played "Original of the Species," the set was in keeping with most of the shows on the tour. Opening with "City of Blinding Lights" was an excellent idea, giving the band plenty of opportunies to show off the huge 'LED lights/beaded curtain' thing that was the main lighting rig, while of course using tons of hot white lighting during the "OH YOU LOOK SO BEAUTIFUL TOOOONIGHT!" part. "Love and Peace (or else)" from the recent How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was a definite show highlight, using lots of red light and strobes, and seguing cleanly into a version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" that made far more sense in context than when I saw it in June 2001. The run of Acthung Baby songs in the first encore was a masterstroke; capturing the information overload aspects of the Zoo TV tour while giving The Edge an excuse to do the awesome extended wah-wah jam tacked onto the end of "Mysterious Ways"--band's been playing it that exact same way since 1992, and it's still my favorite part of a U2 show. Even though everyone knew it was coming, the 'old-school' portion of the show with "Electric Co." and "An Cat Dubh/Into the Heart" was very solid, and it was nice to see "Running to Stand Still" returned to the set--even if it now appears that Bono wants it to be about human rights as opposed to heroin addiction.

And for all the bombast, things still were less than perfect, which was somehow refreshing. One of the LED light rigs actually got jammed during the first encore, holding in place for the last half hour of the show and making things more difficult for those behind the stage. The Edge's guitar cut out for at least 5 seconds during "All Because of You", and Bono's voice was noticeably ragged for the first half of the evening; forcing The Edge to step up and sing a few of his parts here and there ("Miracle Drug" and "Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own" in particular).

Cheesy as hell? Of course. Extremely fun? Absolutely. They're U2. Other bands aren't.

(speaking of which, Kings of Leon opened the show, and were very good, but suffered from being extremely loud. So loud that the finer subtleties of their songs, which makes the majority of Aha Shake Heartbreak a quality record, were impossible to make out, and the show just fell into a guitar heavy morass. Still, their rhythm section is tight as hell, and I'd be curious to see them at one of their own gigs.)

A few photos....our original seats were actually waaaaaay back in the 300's section with a giant overhang obscuring just about everything. But we did not stay there for too long...kudos to the ushers for not kicking us out of the walkway.














Friday, May 20, 2005

Yeah.

Watching Subway Series baseball while munching on Lucky Burger and drinking Miller Lite causes people to do strange things....like spend $6.99 on iTunes purchasing Steppenwolf's Greatest Hits for example. "Born to Be Wild," "Magic Carpet Ride," "The Pusher," and "Don't Step on the Grass Sam" are all kick ass biker songs, and there's probably at least 3 decent songs from the remaining 12, so $6.99 seemed like a deal. The Mets lost this matchup; mostly on their inability to cash in with runners on base, and some horrendous fielding gaffes. Kaz Matsui must spend his time off the field walking under ladders. Even when he starts to come out of his slump, and crushes an RBI double to left-center, he still finds the time to blow an easy inning ending double play that lead to two Yankee runs. Going tomorrow, followed by U2 at night. That's what I call a Saturday.

Right now, what sounds like a vinyl rip of the upcoming White Stripes record Get Behind Me Satan is playing on ye old iPod speakers. This sounds way more like the Stones' Beggars Banquet than it should have any right to. Lots of piano and marimba. No duds on tracks 1-7...color me impressed so far.

My promo copy of Sleater-Kinney's The Woods showed up in the mail yesterday. Check for my CMG review of same next week. Getting promo packets in the mail is always fun because the label tries really hard to sell the band to folks like Entertainment Weekly writers and college radio programmers in the Midwest, so in addition to the usual label fawning, The Woods pack comes with a 4 page essay from Rick Moody as to why the band kicks so much ass. Very nice, but take a cue from the Joe Perry Project and "let the music do the talkin'." I'm not going to waste too much space here to explain why The Woods is the greatest rock album to hit shelves since...uh, the last Sleater-Kinney album because I can do that on Cokemachine. But the girlfriend was stone faced serious when she thought my speakers were busted 3 seconds into the first song. ROCK!

Way sleepy. Check back at some point for a U2 breakdown!




Tuesday, May 17, 2005

New York Gets What They Deserve....

It took awhile to set in that I was actually about to witness a Nine Inch Nails show last night at the Hammerstein Ballroom. It began to come into focus after hearing the lead singer of sometimes inventive/often excruciating, goth-piano rock duo The Dresden Dolls announce, "we'd like to thank Trent Reznor for this opportunity." Weird.

And I'll never admit to being the world's largest NIN fan either; familiar only with the Broken EP, The Downward Spiral, and their singles, but willingly paid up for MMM's extra ticket when he offered it, knowing at the least that the show would not be boring.

And it wasn't. You want lights? How about constant strobes, white hot lights, and a variety of colors not unlike the rig used on Radiohead's Summer '03 tour? Smoke machines? Check. Screaming girls in black tank tops utterly yearning to have sex with Trent Reznor even though they all know he wrote a song about acquiring VD? (MMM's observation, not mine) Check. A skinny, smack addled lead vocalist dressed in black? Not so fast....like David Gahan and Duff McKagan before him, apparently Reznor has traded the needle for dumbbells (or if you're a conspiracy theorist, juice) because dude's huge. He still stalks the stage like a madman, jumping on his guitar player, chucking the mic stand, and wasting numerous bottles of Poland Spring on the first few rows, but his newly cut frame can't help but give his tunes a little more authority.

Despite a sizable contingent of females in the audience (at least 50/50, maybe even 60/40), this was a testosterone heavy gig. OL , MMM , and yours truly had a nice view from the mezzanine, which was cool because there was an unobstructed view of the stage, and a nice take on the sweaty moshing madness occuring below. The band opened with the second song off the recent (and very good) With Teeth, and the audience wasted no time in proving to Reznor that they had actually bought the new album, shouting every word of the expletive laden chorus. There were only 4 songs played off that record (and not even the best one, "Only"), which was a little disappointing because it really is a solid effort that would work onstage. But what the show lacked in newness, it made up for in back catalog, containing all of the expected hits, songs with one word titles like "Piggy" and "Suck", and an unbelievable version of "Gave Up" from Broken that was chased by a crowd-friendly run of "Hurt," "Wish," and "Head Like a Hole." Trash stage, end show, no encore necessary. ROCK.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Walking in Battery Park is quite scary, and not very sensible either.....

My job is located about a 30-second walk from Battery Park, and 9 times out of 10, I'm not there on a Saturday. But when the workload gets heavy, I'll squirrel myself away at 26 Broadway, listen to the Mets lose one-run ballgames, and do some legal stuff. The Financial District is generally a ghost town on the weekends, but when the weather's nice, throngs of tourists hop the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island and whatnot. These folks buy fistfuls of tiny Statute replicas, crappy pro-NYC t-shirts, and faux-Yankees caps; all of which are sold by numerous vendors in the area. Actually witnessing live humans buy this stuff gives me the creeps for some reason.

If one were to view the boxscores for last night's and this afternoon's Mets/Cards matchups without actually knowing who was pitching, they'd be forgiven for simply assuming that Tom Glavine was behind today's 7-6 loss, and Pedro Martinez hurled last night's 2-0 gem. T'was actually the other way around, and for once I feel fortunate to have had tickets to a Glavine game. Despite giving up five runs, two HRs, and being essentially without his trademark command for the majority of his 6 innings, Martinez still only picked up a no decision because Scott Speedman-lookalike Mark Mulder was equally ineffective. Martinez actually had a chance for the win, until the usually rock-solid Roberto Hernandez uncharacteriscally coughed up two runs in the eighth. Eh. He's human. Also human is the otherwise 'red hot' Mike Cameron, who struck out with men on 2nd and 1st to end the game (off Jason Isringhausen no less....famous for being perhaps the only Met in history to call front-office man Jay Horowitz a 'Jewboy' and contract tuberculosis). Hopefully Kaz Matsui's base-clearing triple is a sign of better things to come.

The online publication I scribe for is completely enamored with Spoon's new Gimme Fiction, as is just about every other reputable publication you can name. So why do I find it so dull? The first track, "Sister Jack", and "I Summon You" are all pretty excellent, but the rest of it just strikes me as overly simplistic and a little stale. Mind you, I didn't have this problem with Kill the Moonlight or Girls Can Tell. Call it "minmalist rock" if you will, but I just hear a lack of ideas and repetitive riffs. "I Turn My Camera On" is the one track everyone seems to adore, and even after forcing repeated listens, I still think it's one of the album's weakest songs; a lame take on the falsetto vocals employed in the Stones' "Emotional Rescue" made no better by a two note bassline repeated to the point of annoyance. It's just not funky. It should be noted that the whole of Gimme Fiction still sounds like Abbey Road compared to the new Weezer, which Pitchfork rated about .4 too highly.

Of similar concern is Separation Sunday from The Hold Steady, heralded by The Village Voice as a front-runner for Album of the Year, and single-handedly responsible for resurrecting classic rock (?). It's a decent record, but let's not be afraid to call it what it is; spoken word rants over faceless bar-band rock n' roll, okay in small doses, excruciating for more than 25 minutes.

The new Caribou record The Milk of Human Kindness is fantastic, and I eased my guilty conscience by purchasing a bona fide copy of it this afternoon from Other. While listening to the excellent, build-up, tension and release tactics employed on "A Final Warning," it dawned on me that I had heard this track somewhere before. Something by Neu!? Can? Oh yeah....the hot jam flowing out of "Piper" from the Phish show on 12/12/97 in Albany, NY. Dan Snaith is a closet hippie. It's ok; Phish shows never got better than they did in December of 1997. TMOHK is all about crazy drums fills and misty-eyed keyboard grooves. One of the best things I've heard this year.

I also felt bad for playing the crap out of the new Sufjan Stevens before it's July release, so I picked up his Greetings From Michigan record too.

And wouldn't cha know, but the new Nine Inch Nails is far better than anyone would have a right to expect it to be. But Reznor already makes about 15 times as much money as I could hope to see in my lifetime, and I'm paying through the nose to see him on Monday, so I can live without giving him my 15 bucks. I'm assuming he feels differently though....

Brooklynvegan drew my attention to what is apparently a questionably funny joke from Brooklyn based doom metallers Type O Negative. A link in the comments section on BV's site seems to establish that it's not 4 Real; fortunate considering how much the Bloody Kisses record kicks ass. Kinda tasteless, even for them, and especially in light of Dimebag Darrell's passing.





Sunday, May 08, 2005

Sometimes I get to Listen to New Music....

When I'm not cursing at WFAN or making New York a kinder, gentler place for landlords and their rent-stabilized tenants, I get to listen to stuff. Stuff like.....

The National - Alligator - This is one of those bands that I'd been aware of for months without ever actually having heard anything by them. In fact, when I wanted to go see Palomar at the Merc a few months ago, the gig ended up being sold out because unbeknownest to me, the National were the headliner, and I guess they've got a following. CMG gave their new record a positive write-up, and Rajeev at OL recently said that they sound like Tindersticks; which can only be a positive thing. He's right. They do sound a hell of a lot like Tindersticks. The lead singer only sings in a seductive baritone, and nearly every song has the sexy, sloooowcore R&B feel that's practically been trademarked by the aforementioned Brits for the past 14 years or so. Unlike Tindersticks however, The National can actually do uptempo and rockin' without sounding embarassing. Eerie, sexually charged lyrics too. I think I'm going to like this record.

Mercury Rev - The Secret Migration -Been out in the U.K. for awhile, comes out here in two weeks. I wanted Pitchfork's review to be wrong, but they're actually on the money for once. Johnathan Donahue has finally turned into a bonafide dirty hippie. Migration mostly lacks the mystery and darkness that made Deserter's Songs awesome, and All is Dream tolerable; instead trafficking in wide-eyed, hippie, new-aged crap-some of which The Magic Numbers would have a hard time digesting. Sample lyric - "In the wilderness, nothing is what it seems/In the wilderness, life is but a dream!" Bernard Sumner is taking notes.

Sufjan Stevens - Illinois - I feel more than a little dirty writing about this because it doesn't hit stores until July (something I was not aware of when a leak came my way). But it's nothing short of fantastic. 74 minutes long, and I have yet to completely digest the second side because songs 1-12 are so good. To be honest, this is the first SS album I've ever listened to; having been scared off by his tendency to embrace his Christian faith and the simple fact that the new wave of indie-folk generally isn't my bag. But I need to hear more, and everyone tells me that Greetings From Michigan is also excellent, and similar in it's use of dozens of instruments, female backing vocals, and mid-fi production. Must pick that up. "Jacksonville," "Chicago," and "Casimir Pulaski Day" are among the greatest songs I've heard this year.

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - I like the Grateful Dead. Ryan Adams likes the Grateful Dead. This sounds like The Dead. Easily his most palatable effort since Heartbreaker.

The Raveonettes - Pretty in Black - An impulse buy on the part of the Girlfriend on the same trip that I impulsively bought the National record. I generally thought of these guys as a more gimmicky, Scandinavian answer to the White Stripes with a Phil Spector obsession, but this is surprisingly excellent after a few listens. Generally speaking, the "E! Online" reviews hosted at Metacritic are remarkably stupid and over laudatory, but their review of PiB stating that Quentin Tarantino has a soundtrack to his new movie actually makes a little sense. There's spaghetti Western sounding ditties not unlike the Nancy Sinatra tune that opened up Kill Bill Vol. 1, more than a handful of Spector-esque tributes (Ronnie even chips in at one point), and a variety of styles and sounds far more expansive than anything on their first two albums (well...a full length album and the mini album that was Whip it On). Time will tell if it sticks, but so far, I like.

Sitting on the hard drive.....Nine Inch Nails, Caribou, Architecture in Helsinki.....




Dave likes our record. Das should make us happy. It does not.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mother Nature's a bitch

It's ten minutes past midnight, and the Mets just beat the Phillies 10 minutes ago 5-1 on the strength of another very solid Pedro start, a 4-5 Reyes performance, and most importantly, what Howie Rose told me was a towering 3 run HR from Carlos Beltran. Cliff "arguably the hottest hitter in all of baseball right now," (Rose's words, not mine) continued to be just that, going 2 for 4 with a stolen base and increasing his hitting streak to what I believe is 18 games. Huzzah!

I'm unquestionably a little biased, but I have very little negative to say about the WFAN radio duo of Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. Especially the latter, who also happens to be a rabid Beatles collector, and whose call of Todd Zeile's second HR in last year's Mets/Phils game on June 2nd (the one where Zeile tied it with a HR and hit another in his next at bat) was arguably the finest display of unbridled enthusiasm/fandom that I've heard on a radio broadcast. And he calls a hell of an Islanders game too.

Notice how I said ten minutes past midnight. This was either the slowest nine inning game ever, or one severely delayed by rain. The over two hour rain delay, plus the winds and 45 degree weather, was enough to send my freezing ass back home on the 7- train before this game got underway. My seats were directly behind home plate (upper deck though), and I always relish me a Pedro start, but not at the expense of being as incredibly uncomfortable as I'm guessing most of the crowd was at this game. Inclement weather didn't stop me from blowing 12 bucks on a beer and a sausage though....

I'll never consider myself to be a rabid Weezer fan. I own all of their records, and like everybody else, would easily place Pinkerton among my favorite albums from the latter half of the 90's, but I never collected Weezer singles or adorned my college dorm room with a gigantic blue flashing "W" like some dudes I knew at Rutgers. It's unquestionable that neither the Green Album nor Maladroit come close to being as solid as the first two Weezer records, but I never sold them back, nor would I refer to them as being offensive.

I've heard the leak about a half dozen times at this point, and must say that Make Believe is the first Weezer record to be so utterly horrendous that I would place it into the "offensive" category. It's predictable as all hell, and even more annoying. Song 3 ("This is Such a Pity"...that's the actual title) makes me physically ill, and if fans thought that "Beverly Hills" was a crap single (which it is), second single "We Are All On Drugs" will have them jumping off of a bridge. I'm guessing that Make Believe will get 4 stars in Rolling Stone, and hopefully the shit reviews it deserves from everybody else. Cuomo should've called it quits after Pinkerton.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Value and rock shows....

Mucho apologies for the utter lack of posts last week. One would be surprised how difficult it can be to find a free 25 minutes or so, and blogging at work is generally verboten. Still, laziness also played a bit of a role. The Mets are tied 3-3 with the Nationals in the 7th, but let's concentrate on more musical exploits this time around.

So yeah, I'm assuming that most folks in the blogger universe are going to see New Order at the Hammerstein this week. I opted to pass considering the roughly $95 price for two tix before service charge. Last night I saw Stars at Southpaw ($15.00), seeing Decemberists on Wednesday ($17.50), and just bought tickets for Sleater-Kinney at Roseland ($21.00). So essentially I can see three relatively young, exciting acts for the price of one New Order show. Nothing against New Order, whose latest record Waiting For the Siren's Call is surprisingly solid, but until I make a little more scratch, sacrifices must be made (then again, I still probably would have gotten shut out). Hope you're down with the man who wrote "here comes love, it's like honey!" vocalizing "She's Lost Control."

Speaking of Sleater-Kinney, shame on you if you haven't visited their recently updated website yet. Take the quiz, download the new single, read the blog, but just make sure the volume on your computer is low because the first thing you'll hear is the LOUD power chords from opening Woods track "The Fox." Not safe for work without the mute button. You've been warned.

Regarding the Stars show at Southpaw...it's a shame the battery on my camera was completely shot because the "mezzanine" level really allows photo-ready bloggers to take some fantastic shots. I've only seen five shows at that venue, and while I remain in love with the Southpaw baseball cards in the men's room (Sid Fernandez....nice), sightlines, and variety of Brooklyn on tap (Mmmm...Pennant Ale), they have got to do something about the air conditioning there, or lack thereof. Always a hot box. I'm a big supporter of Stars' recent Set Yourself On Fire, and the band essentially played all of the good songs off of that record, plus a smattering off of their prior release Heart (nothing off of Nightsongs...not even their Smiths cover). Lots of crazy prancing and witty stage banter from frontman Torquil Campbell (apparently every Stars song is about 'fucking'), and they somehow managed to cram seven musicians onstage. While their performance was very tight and energetic, the show suffered from a weak sound mix, placing too much emphasis on the snare drum and too much volume overall ; making for a bit of a shrill din. Still, the interplay between Campbell and co-vocalist/guitarist Amy Milan carried the day, and their infectious energy on songs like "Reunion," "What I'm Trying To Say" and show opener "Set Yourself On Fire" was much fun to behold. It's refreshing to see so many people enjoy such an unabashed pop outfit, and I won't hesitate to check them out again. The next time for New Yorkers will probably be Summerstage as the opening act on a Decemberists/Death Cab For Cutie bill, and I could see myself attending that show, if leaving before the headliner comes on.

I'm a bit slow to report on this, but I joined members of OL , MMM , and peephole at the Tribeca Film Festival showing of 9 Songs last week, which for those out of the loop, is the latest film from 24 Hour Party People director Michael Winterbottom, and promises the viewer hardcore sex with hardcore live Brit-pop. And well....yeah, that's what the viewer gets. The music scenes were far more engaging than the sex scenes; the latter of which seemed more than a little awkward and borderline creepy....like walking in on your sister in the act. But the live performances (BRMC, Von Bondies, Super Furries, Franz, Primal Scream, among others) were well shot and extremely well mixed; Elbow actually looked like a totally kick ass band. The couple in the movie consists of a British dude and an American girl who leaves him at the end of the movie. Eh, no big loss. What kind of girl willingly goes to see Elbow and the Von Bondies but stays home when SFA is in town?

Far better was the TBFF showing of Punk Attitude, the latest in what seems like a long line of movies to explore the 70's punk explosion and the players therein. What made this movie better than most was a very large amount of interview footage, some interesting live performances, and an emphasis on seldom covered acts such as The Screamers, X-Ray Spex and The Slits; the latter being a big influence on Sleater-Kinney and whose frontwoman, Ari Up, appeared to have been on some really good shit during her interview portions. Just when it seems like the movie is running a bit long, it jumps ahead some 15 years or so, and the last 25 minutes is a jumbled mess as it somehow tries to reconcile hip-hop, the 80's, Nirvana, and nu-metal in...uh....25 minutes. Regardless, better than most rock docs., and worth it for Henry Rollins's spot on imitation of every Limp Bizkit song at the end of the movie ("if I was a 17-year old, I'd be like...yeah!"). And apparently, part of being punk rock is having really lousy dental hygiene; I have never wanted to brush three times daily as much in my life after witnessing the chompers on all the interviewees in this movie.

And yeah...back to using "Arial" for my font.