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

Friday, July 22, 2005

Fun, yes...but a riot?

I seriously overrated The Kaiser Chiefs' Employment when I reviewed it for CMG a few months ago. It's not a bad record; its actually quite enjoyable in small doses. But it suffers from a serious lack of dynamics in that the band only seems to know how to play in the red, even at slower tempos. They've only got one song, and it's an extremely energetic one.

That being said, "I Predict a Riot" is still as great a single as I thought it was back in January, so when a buddy said he had an extra ticket to see the Kaiser Chiefs at Webster Hall this evening, I took him up on the offer.

To call Webster Hall a wee bit disgusting in the summer is a bit of an understatement. The place is a fucking sweatbox with ventilation approaching the 4 train at rush hour when the train is stopped and the AC's been turned off because someone's fallen onto the tracks. Add bright white lights to the equation, and it's worse than being in Midtown at lunchtime. Thank god I don't have to go there again until the New Pornographers come around in October.

As for the Kaiser Chiefs themselves, their live show is not unlike their record; energetic, crowdpleasing, and more than a little bit cheesy. Frontman Ricky Wilson looks like Philip Seymour Hoffman circa-Scent of a Woman, and is really the only member of the band who does anything other than simply stand in place. But he attempts to compensate for the other dudes by much jumping up and down, frequent microphone tossing, and shouting "We are the Kaiser Chiefs!" in between most of the songs. A corny, albeit amusing moment ensued during "You Can Have It All" when Wilson pulled a giddy woman by the name of Jane out of the crowd for a slow dance. As for the songs, the band pulled out virtually everything off of Employment, one song I didn't recognize, and closed with the raucous (even by their standards) B-side "Take My Temperature." But basically, there ain't a heck of a lot to say about a Kaiser Chiefs show. You can sing along to most of their songs, they know how to work a crowd, and at 55 minutes, they didn't linger so long as to become offensive. Too bad the same can't be said about the venue in which they performed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Back from the dead.....

According to Blogger, SoF hasn't been updated since the 4th of July. That's seriously uncool, and I apologize. Blame it on crazy work hours, the fact that I can't really do this at work, and a general lack of time to simply sit down in front of the computer and type (and when I do get that time, it usually ends up being funnelled into CMG.

Speaking of Cokemachine, the other writers' tendencies to locate album leaks online, coupled with my general lack of self control, has resulted in me recently hearing several albums that are scheduled to be released in September, and all of which I would have waited for the release date with baited breath were this 5 years ago. Upcoming discs from the Super Furry Animals, My Morning Jacket, Dandy Warhols, and The New Pornographers have all somehow ended up on my hard drive, and while I'm not exactly complaining, it's sort of a sad reality that the excitement stemming from feverishly anticipated Tuesday release dates doesn't really exist anymore. I can tell you with absolute certainty that both Pearl Jam's VS. and Rush's Counterparts were both released on Tuesday, October 19th, 1993 because that day was amongst the most awaited in my young life. Fortunately, at least three of the four aforementioned albums are unsurprisingly fantastic--the jury's still out on the Dandy's record because at first blush it sounds way too similar to their older material (i.e. lots of "Boys Better" re-writes).

It's been awhile since I've had a quiet evening at home where the Mets actually won a game. Chris Woodward may look like a martian when he removes his batting helmet, but homeboy has been nothing if not clutch. Kris Benson also had another excellent outing, essentially cementing himself as the team's true #2 starter, but still got an ND due to the fact that game wasn't decided until the 12th.

Apologies for the short post (I'm exhausted), and apologies for the lack of content for the past two weeks.

Monday, July 04, 2005

"And I heard it in the wind.....and I saw it in the sky...."

"....and I thought it was the end. I thought it was the 4th of July."

The above lyric is taken from the morose Soundgarden classic "4th of July" off of the Superunknown disc. I'm sure there's a lot of songs entitled '4th of July', but the only immediate ones to come to mind are the latter, and that way gloomy U2 instrumental off of The Unforgettable Fire.

I can only think of two songs offhand entitled "We're An American Band;" the Grand Funk Railroad classic, and the Yo La Tengo drone towards the end of I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Never though, did I ever think that I would hear those two songs played back to back, but that's exactly how Hoboken's finest kicked off their hour long set at Battery Park this past evening...opening with the YLT tune, and then paying tribute to Homer Simpson's favorite band before dropping a spritely "Stockholm Syndrome" and a mournful "Tears Are In Your Eyes."

Considering the last two YLT shows I witnessed included their 'Sounds of Science' gig and their mostly acoustic show at Tonic, it was mighty refreshing to see a straight-up, Ira/Georgia/James electric set for once. The outdoor acoustics on the lawn were quite solid, as was the show itself. Highlights included a slightly revamped "Autumn Sweater" with a different bassline and jazzier organ riffs, a version of "Cherry Chapstick" that was plenty noisy, if a little too speedy for its own good, "Little Eyes", "Tom Courtenay","The Summer", and an extremely noisy and drawn out final song which I did not recognize, but was still plenty satisfying. Tribute was paid to NYC with a second encore of "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker." A relatively minor YLT gig in the grand scheme of Yo La Tengo, but highly satisfying nevertheless.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks played too. My only prior live SM experience was listening from the parking lot at a Radiohead show in Montreal that we arrived considerably late to, but I was impressed with his set. Relatively heavy on his Pig Lib album compared to the recent Irving Plaza show, part of the fun of seeing Malkmus live is hearing the fun he has with his vocal parts, as well as the improved basslines on just about every song. Things began with the somewhat surprising appearance of "Dynamic Calories" (a/k/a the first song on the Pig Lib live bonus EP), followed by the future SM classic "Do Not Feed the Oyster." Only "Church on White" and "Jojo's Jacket" made an appearance from the first SM album, but in addition to the lion's share of recent Face the Truth songs, concertgoers also got Pig Lib tunes "Water and a Seat", "Animal Midnight", "Dark Wave", and "Witch Mountain Bridge"; utilized somewhat oddly as the set closer. There was also some humor in abundance when the first five seconds or so of "Loud Cloud Crowd" was played, only to be abandoned with a "let's not bother with that one today" from Malkmus. I was happy to hear that the "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" keyboard riff from the studio version of "It Kills" was perfectly replicated onstage.

Laura Cantrell kicked off the festivities with a very pleasant set of cosmopolitan C&W that went nicely with my Whole Foods prepared salad. And is it just me, or is Battery Park not used nearly enough for outdoor shows? The lawn is easy to get to, very nicely shaded, bathrooms weren't a problem, and the sound was surprisingly excellent. God Bless Matador Records indeed. A very pleasant way to spend a holiday afternoon.

(and the Mets beat the Nationals! Only 9 games out of first bay-bee!)