Saturday, October 07, 2017

The National @ Forest Hills Tennis Stadium

The National; Daughter
@ Forest Hills Tennis Stadium
Forest Hills, NY - October 6, 2017

The National have come to play. While some of their peers (much beloved) are already nostalgic for themselves in keeping with their rock nerddom, these fellas who used to be a "Brooklyn band" but are now a project of globe-spanning artists continue to look ahead. This is a recurrent theme but not without healthy doses of looking back. Their seventh album, Sleep Well Beast, is almost completely detached from that cringe-inducing genre label "chamber pop" thrust on the band (not totally incorrectly, far from it) when they reared their heads with Alligator and Boxer.

In fact, it may be too far removed. The new record features enough tracks with beeps and boops that one wonders if the Devendorfs were even around for some of it and hell maybe even one of the two Dessners. But no matter, come live time the five are still in cahoots along with their usual accompaniment of friends. And though they continue to look forward with their sound, they are also maybe for the first time a ROCK BAND, which is to say looking back to how they got to play music in the first place. The swagger, the showmanship, the recognition that they are a known commodity and not a secret hip thing playing a flower shop on Cortelyou Road. New material "Day I Die", "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness" and "Guilty Party" are HITS in a Universe in which this kind of music would still be a hit. It could even turn out to be the case in this Universe.

They even do covers now. For this stop they too felt the need to acknowledge the Ramones (as others who play this box have done before). In keeping with the style of the time, they whipped out "The KKK Took My Baby Away".

And this was the other crossroads: the context for this half-quietly political band took them back and forth. "Fake Empire" has a different meaning now than it did 10 years ago. Ditto for "Mr. November". Berninger even found a way to recharacterize "Bloodbuzz, Ohio", wisely assuming a large chunk of the massive crowd were fellow Ohio ex-pats, urging them to go back and reclaim their homes from the hostage situation currently unfolding in this tattered Republic.

And while some of the new sounds and the crowd chatter and the demographics all scream "YACHT ROCK DAD ROCK" much sooner rather than later, if there is a band who is going to work it well and still be their own thing, it's the National.

Serious, shy but game English (with a twist of Swiss) outfit Daughter were a fine compliment to the headliners, mixing that...dare I say it...chamber pop (kind of) with dashes of pop-rock when applied.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Summer 2017

Superchunk - Up Against the Wall
Kevin Morby - 1 2 3 4
Teksti-TV 666 - Silmät kiinni ja kädet ristiin
Future Islands - Ran
Now, Now - SGL
Jamie Wyatt - Wishing Well
Waxahatchee - Never Been Wrong
Lo Tom - Overboard
Shout Out Louds - Oh Oh
Dan Croll - Bad Boy
Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs - Tough
Chemtrails - Deranged
Sweet Spirit - Pamela
Sheer Mag - Meet Me in the Street
Daddy Issues - Locked Out
Chuck Prophet - Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins
Boneyard - Fink
Surfer Blood -  Matter of Time
Low Cut Connie - Dirty Water
The Paper Kites - Electric Indigo
Trouble - Snake Eyes
Wolf Parade - Valley Boy
Jenny Johnson - Solar Eclipse
Coco Hames - I Don't Wanna Go
Les Big Byrd - Two Man Gang
Hoops - Rules
Los Colognes - Flying Apart
Old 97's - Good with God
Cody ChestnuTT - Have You Heard from the Lord Today? (feat. Raphael Saadiq)
White Reaper - Judy French
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Hope the High Ground
Bash & Pop - Not This Time
The Buttertones - Matador
Spiral Stairs - Trams (Stole My Love)
Father John Misty - Total Entertainment Forever
Joey Dosik - Game Winner
Buyepongo - Vamos a Gonzar
Downtown Boys - Lips that Bite
Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton - Wildflower Blues
Rodney Crowell - It Ain't Over Yet
Jesse Malin - Meet Me at the End of the World
Lee Ronaldo - New Trim - Old Fashioned Kiss

Father John Misty - Pure Comedy

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Lost Bayou Ramblers @ Joe's Pub

The Lost Bayou Ramblers
@ Joe's Pub
New York, NY - September 29, 2017

From Lafayette, Louisiana to Lafayette Street came the Lost Bayou Ramblers, a Cajun rock syndicate highly recommended by a fellow barfly and native New Orleans boy. Perhaps they can do for their sound what the Pogues did for Irish music and they should: the fellas' put on a show mixing straight Cajun sounds with more lumbering rock dirges. They capped it off with an unplugged set walking the circumference of Joe's Pub, stopping for a round at the bar upon which they stood and offered cheers.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Seaport Music Festival: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists; Jean Grae; Azar Swan

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists; Jean Grae; Azar Swan
@ Seaport Music Festival
New York, NY - September 9, 2017

Admittedly it was looking grim. The revived Seaport Music Festival was moved from the large pier to the cramped corner outside the old Fulton Fish Market. The bands looked more like they were to be background to bros and broettes drinking their $15 dollar cocktails at the Massive Bank Sponsored Drinking Area while tourists made their way to Perfume-drenched Clothing Chains. Azar Swan, with their dark dreams and industrial-strength intensity definitely stood athwart the confines but the vibe was still suspect to say the least.

Then came Jean Grae.

Backed and sidekicked by Quelle Chris, Jean Grae confronted the awkward setting head on by...confronting everyone with their own awkwardness. It was a brilliant punk stroke to smash this plastic to smithereens and make it real. And she pulled it off. More than borrowing from her other kinds of work to pull in the crowd and displaying her eclectic world-of-20th Century Music education (more evidence later), Jean suddenly made this a proper show.

Ted Leo has a new solo-driven album, The Hanged Man, his first with his own name in many years. It's a strong record. But to take it out live, he needed his reinvigorated "expando band" Pharmacists. The band was T I G H T Tight. "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" was given new life with a saxphone smoothness and later that saxophonist, Adrian (sp?) took that instrument to those wonderfully discordant New York places. Other gems from Hearts of Oak, including "The High Party" and the title track, were full of the classic Ted Leo oomph but with a fresh burst of soul. The new material worked well with the gang, namely the killer "Anthems of None", "You're Like Me" and "The Little Smug Supper Club". Jean Grae made an appearance early on the track she sang on the record - "Can't Go Back" - which made for one of the highlights of the night. Ted went the troubadour-route (and of course had to talk about it) for "The Nazarene" and the excellent "Lonsdale Avenue". He made note of using an acoustic guitar solo but thought nothing of it later for "Bottled in Cork". By the time it all ended with "Little Dawn", the sharply dressed Ted and his sharply crafted band had delivered a show to be remembered for a long time to come.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets @ Lincoln Center

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets; Cut Worms
@ Lincoln Center
New York, NY - August 5, 2017

Nick Lowe brought those surf rock scallywags Los Straitjackets to Lincoln Center Out of Doors as the bandshell to put an old time rock n roll and country stomp on his classics from Jesus of Cool and Labor of Lust and elsewhere, including "Half a Boy and Half a Man" and that song asking what's so funny about you know what and all that.

Los Straitjackets were also given free reign to do their instrumental level best and kicked off the encore with the 60's Batman theme the way it was meant to be played.

Cut Worms out of Brooklyn very clearly take from the Nick Lowe school of songcraft, playing devout 60's power pop of the British and American variety, a slight hint of 70's country and just straight up Nick Lowe style work which exactly pulls from those sources.

Friday, July 28, 2017

C.W. Stoneking @ Mercury Lounge

C.W. Stoneking; Moist Paula's Bliss Station
@ Mercury Lounge
New York, NY - July 27, 2017

One of the genres attributed to being performed by C.W. Stoneking is "Hokum". And that is apt. There's a definite act to the otherwise authentically executed blues and rags by this Australian enigma. Like many a white boy before him, CWS wants to live of the life an American Southern Blues Man, at least on stage. If he can pull it off without being cringe worthy then hats off to him. And he pulls it off. So hats off to him. With a fine backing band and a repertoire of delights, C.W. turned an early show that could have been done in 40 minutes into a full peak-of-the-night event.

Fellow Australian Moist Paula brought her baritone saxophone to lead her Jazz combo Bliss Station for a serene set chock full of stories and a cover of the Seekers.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Of Pancakes and Baseball

It started out fine enough. Another night in the reliably friendly confines of minor league baseball even in this most cosmopolitan of American cities. The OLD time part of town still gets its moments and minor league baseball is one of the few left that not only serves to entertain that old time set, but bring a slight mix of the newer ilk. It’s all a bit corny and full of shtick (and if you’re a baseball purist, the shtick is a distraction) but it’s fun.

In fact, the shtick had seemed a bit toned down this year. It wasn’t as loud as it used to be, certainly nothing like previous years when fans were asked to scream at the top of their lungs to celebrate that a popular low to mid-price chain restaurant now served as one of their frozen pretend-to-be-homemade dishes a quesadilla, and to scream to the sound of the “Gangam Style”, even well after that song’s sell-by date had expired.

The crowd was the usual sort on a relatively off night. More old timers than gentrifiers. More baseball “experts” and wannabe comics than…just about anyone else. A few birthday groups. One church group led by a priest. I particularly enjoyed one self-styled expert who looked like Bug Eyes in Do The Right Thing who had a whole row to himself while he coached the visiting team, paying no attention to the professionally paid ballplayers being officially managed from their dugout. Later it turned out the group of fans behind him were his family, which was a relief since a couple of the home team fans in the row in front of him did not enjoy his hands-on approach to fandom and thought him a loner maniac.

A particularly notable moment occurred when a visiting team player failed to make a cool catch and the crowd, who should have been generally unsympathetic gave him their support for his effort, because after all this is minor league ball, in a division particularly designed to bring up rookies on their way to the majors so the stakes are low for the club standings but high for all individuals involved. It was a heartwarming piece of American baseball beauty.

Then came the pancakes.

Unprecedented to seasons past that I have observed, the home team’s promotions department (generally considered to the best in its field) came up with an idea that one visiting batter would be the “Free Pancakes Batter of the Night”.  Punny now that I am writing it down but I don’t even know if they intended that. What they did intend was to rev up the crowd with the possibility that if this randomly selected up-and-comer strikes out three times, the whole crowd is going home with vouchers for free pancakes at the newly opened nearby location of yet another chain restaurant popular with the Common Man.

As it unfolded over the course of the night, a couple of things became apparent. First it was not immediately clear to the crowd that there would be vouchers. At least some of the crowd thought there were hot pancakes ready to be whipped into existence for distribution pending a third strike out. This no doubt amped up the tension. Second, as the visiting team was the “rival” team from across the water, there was a sudden vested interest in seeing a batter from this particular team go down in the name of free pancakes. The earlier support for individual success was smashed to bits.

The player struck out once without notable observation. But this did cause the proverbial “blood in the water”. Now the free pancakes were all the more possible and the crowd could sense it. The next at-bats now had stakes. The crowd had skin in the game. Pancake skin. The second strikeout occurred with a few pitches that all seemed legitimate but one had to wonder now that maybe some of the pitches would have been called balls instead of strikes elsewhere but this is not provable and I don’t want to accuse the umpire of conceding to increasingly angrier mob (nothing had happened to cause an angry mob, it was the notion that the prize existed at all gave the crowd a sudden bit of menace).

Then came the next at-bat. Late, late in the game. And it was a close game too. A chance for this kid to shine for his team and boost his prospects. The crowd wanted none of it. They just wanted pancakes. Old time louses who before were cracking one liners now were hurling profanity-less invective (this is still a family friendly place, meaning, at least in America, as long as the vulgarity is low and the nudity is non-existent, any sort of moral position is acceptable, including and especially the chance for free gluttony). The batter was clearly affected. And sure enough, he went down looking and that never goes down smooth in baseball but it certainly looked bad now. And the player let the ump know it. A rare occurrence in this level of pro ball. A Major League style dispute. But it had to end quick as the kid had no standing, especially with the crowd now at fever pitch celebrating the victory of the earning of the free pancakes.

With the struggle over and the free pancakes assured, the crowd resumed its interest in the overall game and in the night out in general. But a little later, a couple behind me, who could best be described as each sounding like Edith Bunker (including the man), had a moment of clarity. Before we get there, it should be noted that these folks do not necessarily represent the entire crowd who wanted those pancakes. They were just the ones in earshot and by earshot I mean speaking everything very loudly no matter the topic. They were only rivaled in sound by the aforementioned Home Plate Coach Bug Eyes. Earlier in the night, they felt a personal connection with the Beer Man vendor several rows below them. The vendor made it known to all which beers he had. The lady in this couple shouted “Don’t talk about beer. I want a Coke. Do you have Coke? Come on I wanna Coke!” He waited her out, finished his beer sell (still being tasked with stopping to let the world know whether or not he also possessed Coca-Cola), and went up to her and yes indeed he had Coke. This came at a price so uttered. The price shocked the woman and she turned down the Coke. I was surprised at her surprise as I had gathered from their general disposition that the couple was no strangers to professional sport outings and professional sport outing prices. Sure enough she changed her mind and bought the Coke. One had to wonder if this was some kind of ritual like at movie theaters where similar samples of the Common Man remark with outrage at concession prices only to then pay them, as if they had no agency in the matter, specifically the ability to change their mind about acquiring said concessions.

The couple was heavily invested in the affair of the pancakes and so was particularly celebratory in the minutes after the acquiring of the pancakes was confirmed. They also were of the camp that believed the pancakes were imminently to be delivered. But then spoke the man:

“Hey wait a minute. Maybe I don’t want pancakes. This is a baseball game. Maybe I want hot dogs.”

The woman: “Yeah. You’re right. I don’t want pancakes now. I want hot dogs. Come on we want hot dogs!”

This last utterance reminded me of her earlier whiny “come on” when she was in need of the carbonated cola drink.

At this I was at my emotional last. The game was ruined. I was already perturbed having earlier been accused by a little child of having cursed. I was waxing on to friends about the above referenced toning down in “shtick” which the child heard as “shit” and told me as such: “You said SHIT and you can’t say that!” I feigned concession at the state of affairs as the child appeared to be about to burst a blood vessel which I chalked up to excitement at their first sporting event which they had screamed about earlier, or due to a consumption of sugar (perhaps one of those much desired Cokes), or some kind of hyperactive condition, or a combination of some or all of these possibilities.

Now with the blood lust for the pancakes having not only decimated my “toned down shtick/shit” observation but also the very fabric of what it means to enjoy a professional sports outing, including and maybe even especially such a low wattage one, I was feeling low.

Then came the fireworks show with the patriotic numbers of all kinds…including a very vengeful country one of some kind that appeared to call for violent retributions…also came Hulk Hogan’s “Real American” theme song which didn’t bother me as much and certainly must have pleased the fan with a Hulkamania shirt who I witnessed walking around earlier.

Something was amiss. Something IS amiss. Is it me? Is it the pancakes? Is it the outside world? Recent current events? Am I really going down the path of “the current wanna-be despot in the White House and his ravenous and depraved supporters have ruined my night out”? Am I seeing that gold-plated fascistic hatemonger in the words and cries of working class types yearning for free pancakes? Did the shallow patriotism at the end of the night seal that deal (The level of patriotic display in American sports after 9/11 has never come down and some of the earlier displays in the night are perfectly fine, especially in this town and the aim of those particular displays)?

Maybe. Maybe not. One thing is for sure. Give the people their free pancakes. Or else.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Spring 2017

Jamie Wyatt - Wishing Well
Sleaford Mods - TCR
Split Single - Untry Love
Teksti-TV 666 - Silmät kiinni ja kädet ristiin
Hiccup - Teasin'
White Reaper - Judy French
Future Islands - Ran
Chuck Prophet - Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins
Ryan Adams - Do You Still Love Me?
Old 97's - Good with God
Lo Tom - Overboard
Chemtrails - Deranged
Bash & Pop - Not This Time
Alex Lahey - Wes Anderson
Father John Misty - Total Entertainment Forever
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Go Robot
Low Cut Connie - Dirty Water
Dude York - Black Jack
Jens Lekman - Evening Prayer
The Weeks - Talk Like That
The Paper Kites - Electric Indigo
Charly Bliss - Percolator
Aimee Mann - Patient Zero
Los Colognes - Flying Apart
Coco Hames - I Don't Wanna Go
Spiral Stairs - Trams (Stole My Love)
The Buttertones - Matador
Hoops - Rules
Nikki Lane - Jackpot
Surfer Blood - Matter of Time
Scott H Biram - Long Old Time
Fink - Boneyard
Conor Oberst - A Little Uncanny
Benjamin Booker - Witness  (ft. Mavis Staples)
Japandroids - Near to the Wild Heart of Life
DJ Premier X Miguel - 2 Lovin You
Hater - Mental Haven
Mipso - Coming Down the Mountain
Ron Gallo - Young Lady, You're Scaring Me
BNQT - Restart
Waxahatchee - Silver
Hanni El Khatib - Paralyzed
Pokey LaFarge - Must Be a Reason

White Reaper - The World's Greatest American Band
Bash & Pop - Anything Could Happen
Future Islands - The Far Field

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bash & Pop @ The Bell House AKA The Night Tim Kaine Came to Town with Tommy Stinson

Bash & Pop; Jason Loewenstein Band
@ The Bell House
Brooklyn, NY - May 19, 2017

Tommy Stinson recently reformed his brief mid-90's Replacements-"hiatus" project Bash & Pop, with notable help from, among many worthy others, Steve Selvidge, once of Lucero and more recently of the Hold Steady, thereby establishing a firm Minnesota connection between two iconic bands if you're into the whole iconic punk-inspired bands from Minneapolis spanning a bridge of 20 years type thing.

Last year, when the fate of the Republic seemed assured, it came out, as an unexpected delight, that the Democratic Party Vice-Presidential nominee, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, kept his birthplace of Minnesota in his heart by telling the world (in a way) once upon a time that his favorite album was Let It Be of the above mentioned Replacements.

After the Calamity which appears to have fallen, maybe, said Republic, Tommy Stinson investigated this claim and found it to be true. The fellas recently jammed together down in the Commonwealth.

So it had to be on this night, with Tommy sending the word out early on the social media, that the good Senator would be present and he was, breaking out the harp with Bash & Pop upon them taking the stage, with crucial help from a local boy done good, Jesse Malin to sing Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land". They got everyone together right off to say a few things: first, to mourn the loss of Chris Cornell, a blow so hurtful one cannot dwell upon it much now here except to acknowledge the loss; second, to recognize that the man on stage in this extremely stunningly surprisingly intimate setting even by the standards of the Bell House, that if all things were right, should be the one on call to lead the whole damn civilization if unfortunately need be and who would have, in absence of that, ably assisted in shepherding the ship of state; third to celebrate said man's daughter graduating from a local institution of higher learning; and fourth and not least, to recognize that Woody Guthrie of Oklahoma wrote that truest of true songs "This Land is Your Land" but did it not out of Oklahoma but here in Brooklyn.

And if that wasn't enough, Tommy led his Bash & Pop after that through a pulverizing set of rock n roll glory.

And if that also wasn't enough, witness Tommy rally the audience post-set, after piss-break, to look you in the eye and say "we're not done yet!" and then storm the top of the front bar to do an acoustic number, then walk back, bump into the Senator who insisted their respective daughters meet each other and then it's the Senator who sticks around for pictures and handshakes, overwhelmed by the love and support from the intimate crowd, while the non-rock-star-rock-star goes back to the dressing room.

And it happened in Brooklyn.

Which is to say it happened on this planet Earth. For as immense and staggering you may think the world is, you will occasionally get a reminder like this that there are only so many people who are or have been. And whatever perceptions one may have of roles and one's place in the grand scheme of things, remember: it is one beautiful little blue and green ball in a vast universe and you never know when the state of everything and the state of a little old thing called punk rock n roll may become entwined. And all you have to do is nod your head, drink it all in, and remember you were there.

Jason Loewenstein of Replacements-peers Sebadoh (which is to say pal of Lou Barlow, member of legendary Dinosaur Jr) led his band in an opening alt-rock set of some renown it must be said.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

U.K. Subs @ Berlin

U.K. Subs; Riots; Scene of Irony
@ Berlin
New York, NY - April 8, 2017

Charlie Harper brought his modus operandi to NYC and delivered as expected, highlights being of course "Stranglehold", "Tomorrow's Girls" and "Warhead", not to mention "New York State Police".

Riots are a hardcore band out of Oslo and the lead singer has the decency to wear an FC St. Pauli hat, emblem of the most important sport organization in the world, especially in these trying times.

Scene of Irony are veterans out of St. Louis and their lead singer had the audacity to wear a real swingin' suit replete with patches of great bands of yore, including the headlining act this very night. Their hard whippersnaps of sound culminated in a cover of Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized".

Crowd was classic, all sizes, shapes and shades, and legitimate. Punk lives...?

Early 2017

Nikki Lane - Jackpot
Sleaford Mods - TCR
Split Single - Untry Love
Chuck Prophet - Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins
Japandroids - Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Son Volt - Back Against the Wall
Iggy Pop - Gold
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Go Robot
Sam Roberts - Lake Effect
Alex Lahey - Wes Anderson
Ryan Adams - Do You Still Love Me
Scott H. Biram - Long Old Time
Surfer Blood - Matter of Time
Dude York - Black Jack
Ron Gallo - Young Lady, You're Scaring Me
Karen Elson - Distant Shore
Laura Marling - Wild Fire
The Pooches - Another Evening, Another Town
Nouvelle Vague - I Wanna Be Sedated
Tickle Torture - Full Court Press
decker - The Holy Ghost
Conor Oberst - A Little Uncanny
Kevin Morby - Beautiful Strangers
Lee Fields & The Expressions - Make the World Better
Geowulf - Saltwater
The Weeks - Talk Like That
ahem - Honeybee
Hiccup - Teasin'
Honeyblood - Ready for the Magic
Preoccupations - Stimulation
Hippo Campus - Way It Goes (live)
Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah - Crazy Conscious
Chicano Batman - Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)
Paper Kites - Electric Indigo
Metal Haven - Hater
Alejandro Escovedo - Heartbeat Smile
4th Curtis - Chick
Tennis - My Emotions are Blinding
White Lies - Morning in LA
Strand of Oaks - Radio Kids
Jens Lekman - Evening Prayer
Hiss Golden Messenger - Biloxi
Hanni El Khatib - Paralyzed
Minus the Bear - Last Kiss
Angelic Milk - Rebel Black
NxWorries - Scared Money
'The Courtneys - Silver Velvet
Bread & Butter - Desperation
Holidae - Darkest Shade
Gringo Starr - Get Closer
The Frightnrs - Nothing More to Say
Cage the Elephant - Cold Cold Cold
Joyce Manor - Fake ID
Aimee Mann - Patient Zero
Farewell Milwaukee - Hurt No More
Goldfrapp - Anymore
Los Campesinos! - 5 Flucloxacillin
Lady Wray - Do It Again
The Olympians - Sirens of Jupiter
Gavin Turek - Good Look for You
Allah Lahs - Hereafter
Hazel English - Make It Better

Scott H. Biram - The Bad Testament
Ryan Adams - Prisoner
Japandroids - Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Craig Finn - We All Want the Same Things

Friday, March 31, 2017

Boss Hog @ Mercury Lounge

Boss Hog
@ Mercury Lounge
New York, NY - March 30, 2017

Boss Hog has never felt like a side project of Jon Spencer but rather more of an occasional concern for the dynamic and compelling Christina Martinez. But as their sound has trounced its way over the last couple of decades, Boss Hog now sounds more blues than BLUES EXPLOSION ever has. And those decades matter. Boss Hog still represents that gritty fantasy of an alternate New York 90's, smarts and sex and all those other little bits of badassery which are as natural and steady to this husband and wife duo as hydrogen is to the Universe.

And they know it. Wait a while for a Boss Hog record? No problem. A short tour? Sure. A 45 minute set? Why not? Leave 'em wantin' more for another few years.

Side question: why was the one refrain prerecorded on the best song of the night?

Surfbort are classical in the hardcore sense, short snaps of melodic noise fronted by a wonderfully awkward gangly spastic goofy woman.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cock Sparrer; Street Dogs @ Warsaw

Cock Sparrer; Street Dogs
@ Warsaw
Brooklyn, NY - February 11, 2017

Cock Sparrer exist in something like an alternate dimension. They are less well known by long miles than the foundational punk bands of the mid and late 1970's but the ones who do know them worship them as perhaps the greatest band in the world and - not unlike the Sex Pistols - that's really truly based on one album, Shock Troops. Once someone hears that record, they fall into it and never escape. But if that doesn't happen, a punk fan may only hear of the band on the periphery of the genre, skirting the edges of their existence like one may skirt the rim of a black hole, never crossing over into the pull of the immense gravity.

Looking every bit their early 60's as British punks of their time would, these iconic working class blokes recapture the youth and vigor of their songs and maintain their creed of being away from the fray of image and clannishness that plagued and haunted their peers over 30 years ago. This isn't to say that there is a grand indifference. There is just enough, especially these days, to merit a small affiliation for what's good and right to keep in your pocket for yourself, a soundtrack for action, even if this part of the action is getting together with friends and keeping yourself sane with a good time. There is a reason "We're Coming Back" is the show closer.

Of all the songs from Shock Troops and their larger body of work, the one that may speak best for these days is the one they kicked the night off with - "Riot Squad". A brilliantly written story of a small time hood who failed at being a big time hood so decided to join the police for the most cynical and sociopathic of reasons, Cock Sparrer, in just a few minutes back a few decades ago, uttered a warning and reminder of how quickly our lives can get away from us so keep your guard up. As lead singer Colin McFaull said at the end of the night - "stay safe and love each other".

Street Dogs have been Mike McColgan's going concern for 15 years now and the Dropkick Murphys' founding singer still rallies the crowd with his forthrightness and soul. I don't know who the hardcore guy was who came up from the crowd for one song, if anyone knows, leave a comment.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Squirrel Nut Zippers; Davina and the Vagabonds @ Highline Ballroom

Squirrel Nut Zippers; Davina and the Vagabonds
@ Highline Ballroom
New York, NY - January 7, 2017

It was a frozen wasteland outside but Hot as "Hell" inside (sorry) as Jimbo Mathus brought a reignited Squirrel Nut Zippers to New York City in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the hit album. "Put a Lid on It" and "Hell" led the many beloved fables from Hot, but this now New Orleans based outfit (with help from a local vocalist - name please if you read this and know) also delved into later classics like "Ghost of Stephen Foster" and "Suits are Picking Up the Bill" and also showcased some new tunes for a new record which, if the talents of the current brass (and everything else) are anything to go by, will be just fine. Or perhaps one is already being brainwashed by Jimbo's personal physician and fiddle/saw player, Dr. Sick.

Meanwhile, SQZ nearly got one-upped (or four-upped) and had the show dang near completely stolen from them by opening act Davina and the Vagabonds. A fitting compliment with their own smashing way with Dixieland Jazz, these Twin Cities mischief makers led by the compelling and hypnotic Davina Sowers also work up Soul and Rhythm and Blues with panache and depth.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Top 25 Songs of 2016

25: Wons Phreely - Stars (feat. The Horses)
24: Basia Bulat - Infamous
23: Seatones - Chandelier
22: M. Ward - Girl from Canejo Valley
21: Beach Slang - Punks in a Disco Bar
20: Bob Mould - Voices in My Head
19: Barrence Whitfield and the Savages - I'm a Full Grown Man
18: Sleepwalkers - Run Right Back
17: Bad Bad Hats - Shame
16: Thunderbitch - Eastside Party
15: TacocaT - The Internet
14: Rogue Wave - California Bride
13: John Doe - Go Baby Go (ft. Debbie Harry)
12: Kristin Kontrol - Show Me
11: Weaves - Tick
10: Joseph - White Flah
9: Laura Stevenson - Torch Song
8: Caveman - Never Going Back Again
7: Fast Romantics - Julia
6: Little Scream - Love as a Weapon
5: The Jungle Giants - Skin to Bone
4: The I Don't Cares - King of America
3: TacocaT - I Hate the Weekend
2: toyGuitar - Is It True?
1: Bleached - I'm All Over the Place (Mystic Mama)

Autumn and the Rest of 2016

Geowulf - Saltwater
Joyce Manor - Fake I.D.
Decker - Holy Ghost
Farewell Milwaukee - Hurt No More/Figure You Out
Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker/Seemed a Better Way
The Frightnrs - Nothing More to Say
Tickle Torture - Full Court Press
Lee Field & the Expressions - Make the World
Norah Jones - Carry On
Ahem - Honeybee
Bleached - I'm All Over the Place (Mystic Mama)
Holidae - Darkest Shade
Sleepwalkers - Run Right Back
TacocaT - The Internet
C.W. Stoneking - Jungle Swing
Kristin Kontrol - Show Me
Weaves - One More
Joseph - White Flag
Angel Olson - Shut Up Kiss Me
Honeyblood - Ready for Magic
Alice Bag - Programmed
Preoccupations -  Stimulation
Mr. Little Jeans - Stitches
Bread & Butter - Desperation
Middle Kids - Edge of Town
STRFKR - Open Your Eyes
The Pretenders - Holy Commotion
Field Mouse - The Order of Things
American Wrestlers - Give Up
Kristin Kontrol - Show Me
Sam Vicari - Contact High
Terry Malts - Seen Everything
Tres Leches - Get Off
Haley Bonar - Called You Queen
The Persian Leaps - See Me Unaware
Van William - Revolution (ft. First Aid Kit)
Total Slacker - Olympus Hills
Sonny Knight and the Lakers - Sooner or Later/It Had to Change
NxWorries - Scared Money
Strand of Oaks - Radio Kids
Beach Slang - Punks in a Disco Bar
Kid Runner - Give Me Something to Love
Pixies - Um Chagga Lagga
The Pooches - Another Evening, Another Town
The Julie Ruin - I'm Done
Nick Waterhouse - It's Time
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry - Midnight Special
Tickle Torture - Full Court Press
Field Mouse - The Order of Things
Hot Hot Heat - Kid Who Stays in the Picture
John K. Samson - Post Doc Blues
Ethan Burns - 22 Knots
Seratones - Chandelier
Muddy Magnolias - Brother What Happened?
Elayna Boynton - Honey I Told You
The Heavy - Miss California
Conor Oberts - Tachycardia
Tift Merritt - Dusty Old Man
Jenny O - Cheer Up Free Your Mind

Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
The Frightnrs - Nothing More to Say 
Norah Jones - Day Breaks
Joyce Manor - Cody
The Heavy - The Hurt and the Merciless
Haley Bonar -Impossible Dream
Caveman -Otero War
C.W. Stoneking - Gon' Boogaloo