Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Blue Republic's Best In Music: 2005

This year’s recognition of the best in music comes with some nice changes. First and foremost is an acknowledgement that I am not a music magazine or legitimate critic with access to every album made in a year. So this is recognition of the best music that I’ve heard. I don’t attempt to break down the music by genre but clearly the music is based on rock n roll and pop music. Lastly, I have done away with the lame Nominees and winner…I simply list the top for each category with a special acknowledgement for the one or two best.

2005 imitated 2004 in that there was good rock n roll music if you knew where to look. Mainstream radio is as dead as Dillinger. Low-end of the dial stations provided some relief (WFMU provides two of the best Rock N Roll shows in the country – Cherry Blossom Clinic and Teenage Wasteland while Little Steven still does his thing on mainstream syndication), and the music snob magazines and webzines offered some kind of directory. The internet at large provided the biggest resource for discovering new music. You may be expecting me to say but you’d only be partially correct. Plenty of bands showcased their talents through their own sites. Above the web, the best tool is live shows. Touring gets the name out there, especially for opening acts.

The truth is, there was no major music shake-up in 2005 and there was no focal point from which to pontificate, unless you count the prevalence of indie pop as the definition of rock music by critics and the popularity that dance-rock has developed. But really, it’s anarchy out there. And that’s a good thing.

Best Artist with new album in 2005:

The Decemberists – Picaresque

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For the second year in a row, an alternative to garage rock and blues is the best record of the year. While there are plenty of good garage rock acts, the truth is that it’s becoming harder for these acts to separate themselves and stand out. It takes something special and different to be remembered. Last year, it was Blanche. This year it’s the Decemberists. While Sufjan Stevens and Bright Eyes grab all the critics’ lists with their indie pop domination, the Decemberists took Indie pop a step further. Unlike their kin, Colin Meloy and shipmates can offer crisp, foot-tapping melodies. And going a step further than his peers, Meloy’s lyrics are of a literary and creatively rich world unlike any other. A lot of indie poppers have thematic qualities to their music, but none sell theirs as convincingly as the Decemberists. Picaresque is the definition of lush and beauty without getting soppy and overdone. Meloy’s voice may be hard to get into at first, but somehow the vocals manage to get more entwined with the music as you keep listening. And you will keep listening…Picaresque sticks around like a little mole…just digging away at you, till you give in and praise the name of Meloy. Listen to two tracks off Picaresque (“16 Military Wives” and “Engine Driver” and 2 other Decemberists songs here.


Scott H. Biram – The Dirty Old One Man Band

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As said above, it’s hard for a lot of these garage rockers to stand out. Biram bucks that trend and not only stands out, he beats the shit out of everyone else. The most appropriate album title of the year, the Dirty Old One Man Band showcases Biram’s ability to burn past the solo-act trail in a cloud of dust. Ferocious blues guitar and damn-near metal vocals make for the ultimate definition of foot stomping (and providing a good distraction of the inane lyrics that are almost exclusively about women as “chickens”). And just when you think this is all Biram offers, he spins out an acoustic hillbilly shuffle or even a touching ballad (“Wreck My Car”). Listen to some Biram here.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

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The overnight indie sensation of 2005, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah self-released a record that through a couple of online reviews, particularly from Pitchfork, led to biggest buzz out of New York since the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Unlike the Yeah Yeah Yeahs first full- length album, this self-titled little dealie actually delivered from beginning to end. A solid, consistent record, Clap Your Hands’ little odyssey recalls the vocals of David Byrne (like many of these New York acts do) with music best described as a more chipper version of the Pixies crossed with the more radio-friendly sounds of Modest Mouse (which basically just means “Float On”). And I’ll say this just for the sake of saying it: Anyone who thinks the Shins are good should get an education and get this record. Alex Ounsworth and crew actually have something worthy to offer: a great chill record that doesn’t put you to sleep. Being the first (and so far only known) Philadelphia-Brooklyn combo does lend some bias. My Space

The Detroit Cobras – Baby

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It was a good year for Bloodshot Records. In addition to Scott Biram, the little label picked up the latest release from Rachel Lee Nagy and Maribel Restrespo, which had already been released in Britain. The Cobras are of the school of thought of not changing a thing and for them that works brilliantly. Whichever guys back up these two ladies always seem to make for a fun record. If Baby stands out for any reason, is that it has the first ever originally written song from Rachel and Mary. The silly, short, and rather pointless “Hot Dog (Watch Me Eat)” joins excellent rediscoveries of obscure classics like “Weak Spot”, “I Wanna Holler”, and “Mean Man”.

The Dirtbombs – If You Don’t Already Have A Look

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By all accounts, let’s face it: The Dirtbombs are pretty much the greatest band in the world right now. They take chances, they try new things, and yet still sound like the same band. They are a workhorse in the studio and live without resorting to uninspired material. And though this double album is a compilation of all the singles and extras over the years, the cover says it all: The current line-up, the line-up of the last year and a half, 2 years, is the line-up. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just how it feels. It also helps to have seen them (a personal record) 5 times in one year. Not every track is exactly perfect, unless you like a lot of bombardment and distortion, and then the compilation is indeed truly perfect. I dare anyone to hear “Here Comes That Sound Again”, “The Sharpest Claws”, “Candyass”, “My Love For You”, and “All My Friends” and challenge the supremacy of Mick Collins and company. Listen to various Dirtbombs songs including a live “Candyass” here.

The Hard Lessons - Gasoline

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I almost wanted to join the hipster and rock snob chorus of saying “Detroit is over”. But two things need to happen…first, there needs to be a scene. And a scene is something that comes and goes in a city already used to scenes. A bunch of folks just playing tunes in one city hardly qualifies as a scene. It’s just a community that’s part of a music tradition. And the second thing that needs to happen is avoid a band like the Hard Lessons. They manage to keep the spirit going. Auggie, Ko Ko, and the Anvil are not only 3 of the nicest folks you’ll meet but also 3 of the hardest working rockers out there. Constant touring with their furiously intense performances, the trio manage to also soothe the soul with some…well…soul, as well as some pop. Their debut record is a lot of fun and surprisingly eclectic. Keep up the good work, kids. My Space

The King Khan & BBQ Show – King Khan & BBQ Show

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Certainly the best purely garage rock record of 2005, the self-titled debut of the latest incarnation of Mark Sultan and King Khan is what rock n roll is all about and no two ways about it. Loud, raw, crunchy, if there is any problem with this record is that it is sometimes too out of control. Boasting two of the greatest rock songs ever, the original “Fish Fight”, and Mark’s original “Shake Real Low” (which showcases his amazing vocal ability), the dynamic duo could be forgiven for getting a little out of hand. Take Chuck Berry and Sam Cooke, mix them together in the dirtiest garage you can find, and out comes King Khan & BBQ.

The Knitters – The Modern Sounds of the Knitters

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This album should be credited merely for existing, let alone for being good. The country version of X would have to really deliberately try to stink…so they didn’t. Some cotton pickin’ fun from what would be a novelty album if the musicianship weren’t so damn good.

The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan

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Yes it is a good album. Any musical act more popular than the White Stripes couldn’t make this album on their best day with personal help from God. But yeah the streak is over. It almost pained me to not think of this record as the best of the year. It simply wasn’t. It’s solid, if not quite consistent. It offers friendly catchy pop amidst truly alternative rock numbers, and does sport one pure blues song. It’s everything and anything, an Alpha and Omega of the mind of Jack White. But for the self-imposed rules of the Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan tested those rules and almost broke them. It came too close. This is the Icarus album. It also ironically has the distinction of sporting songs that go in reverse: The songs that seemed catchy and great at first lose their flavor while those that took some time getting used to really prove to be the best of the album. Go to to sample the album.

Dooley Wilson – Tuff Break for a Hand Job

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Who is this guy? This Ohio blues crooner came from the musical collective that eventually spawned the Soledad Brothers. Wilson stuck to this pure Delta Folk blues mission and it paid off with flying colors. It’s safe to say no one has heard of this record except for a special few. We are the privileged and the proud.

Best Song/Single released by a band, group or duo, in 2005:

Electric Six – Radio Ga Ga

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Maybe the greatest cover ever. I hate the original. Queen’s worst. I am sorry but that’s how I feel. Electric Six, however, took this song from the ashbin of history and turned that wretched ballad into a head-banging, hip-shaking song that should have been the number 1 single around the world. Disco-Rock at its finest, “Radio Ga Ga” is full of that energy that makes E-6 so unique. Watch the video.

The King Khan & BBQ Show – Fish Fight

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As already mentioned, this is one of the greatest songs ever. I don’t care how much you like rock, what kind of rock you like, if you don’t like this song, you don’t deserve to live. Simple as that. A catchy riff that won’t drive you insane in a bad way, a Chuck Berry-ish rhythm, and BBQ’s vocals in gruff mode, Rock N Roll music never sounded so good…and it’s 2005! Watch the video

The Rolling Stones – Rough Justice

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Believe me, I didn’t expect this either. Usually, when the Stones put out a new album there is always a song or two to remind folks why the Stones are who they are. But it’s been quite a long time since a Stones album received such large praise, and it’s certainly been a very long time since the Stones released a single that deserves award recognition. In typical “back to their roots” fashion, the Rolling Stones unleashed the rockin’ blues beyond all expectations in 2005 (it helps when there are no expectations – yes that’s a pun goddammit). “Rough Justice” belongs in the Stones’ all-time pantheon of great tunes. It’s been a generation since the Rolling Stones released a single that can actually excite people. The best thing they’ve done since Some Girls, hands down. Watch a live performance.


Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club – Shuffle Your Feet

Ditching their psychedelic pop rock for blues-gospel roots music, BRMC were maybe the most surprising act of the year. This single displayed the new sound better than any other cut on the record. Listen here.

The Caesars – It’s Not The Fall That Hurts

Getting airplay on Little Steven’s Underground Garage following the commercial success (literally) of “Jerk It Out”, this single again shows the Caesars’ knack for hauntingly good vibes. The garage symphony sounds of this Swedish export make them standout in an increasingly crowded field. Watch the video here.

The Darkness – One Way Ticket To Hell (And Back)

As much as I loved the Darkness’ debut album, and as much credit as I gave their musical talents, I never doubted they would be a one-album novelty wonder. And well…I was pretty much right. The new album has too much filler and theatrical bombast, but the first single is one of the few tracks that stand out. It’s the Darkness at their most fun without the pretentiousness. Ok a little bit of pretentiousness. But so what? It’s the Darkness. Listen and watch the video.

The Decemberists – 16 Military Wives

Though Picaresque is not a singles album by any stretch of the imagination, the Decemberists could not have let this one slip by. Powered by an effective video (see below for more), “16 Military Wives” takes America head-on with substance and merit. Watch the video in Quicktime.

The Downbeat 5 – Dum Dum Ditty

Another Little Steven chestnut, Boston’s Downbeat 5 offered this garage throwback that deserved more attention than it got. Also, it provides a nice little tongue twister when pronounced with the band name. Listen to this Little Steven episode to hear the song.

Franz Ferdinand – Do You Want To?

Franz Ferdinand quickly rose to the top of the Dance-Rock ranks after their first smash album. The second album offers more of the same: a handful of hot numbers amidst filler, and once again the singles are killer. This first single is the best on the album and though it’s really just another version of “Take Me Out”, there is something about these Scottish boys that makes this repeat visit worthwhile. And let’s just be honest…with rock no longer capturing the public’s favor, if Franz Ferdinand is the biggest commercial rock act out there, it’s nothing to really complain about. Listen here.

The Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot

One of the better Franz imitators (no offense guys), the Kaiser Chiefs tested the limits of a catchy song turning into annoying monstrosity. Fortunately, as it is rock, this song did not get the play it could have gotten even 10 years ago. Therefore, it is saved from its own annoyance. It gets you dancing…good enough. That’s rock n roll. Listen here.

The Raveonettes – Love In A Trashcan

The Raveonettes remain an uneven band. Their debut EP was too droll. The follow up full length was a happy pop masterpiece. They’ve contributed the best modern Christmas song of their generation. This year’s full-length, “Pretty In Black” felt like a failure. It lacked the consistency of the previous record. But you wouldn’t have known that from the first single. “Love In A Trashcan” picked up where the last album left off. A smart first single. Click the official site’s video section to see the video for this song.

The Resistoleros – Rock N Roll Napalm

Yet another Little Steven track, this rather hardcore band offered this balls-to-the-wall punk fit. It wasn’t a great year for hard rock, so it needed something, and this was it. Listen here.

The White Stripes– Blue Orchid

It’s funny how things worked out. When this song first leaked, I questioned it as to whether it was indeed the Stripes. I thought it was Prince. No foolin’!. And I didn’t like it as a Stripes song. Yet for a song I didn’t like, I was sure listening to it a lot. And now, while I define all of Get Behind Me Satan as I defined this song, I no longer think the song fits the album’s definition, and is actually a true White Stripes song, even with Jack’s surprising vocals. Watch the video.

Best Song/Single released by a Female Artist in 2005:

Amy Rigby – Dancing With Joey Ramone

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It was a rather weak year for solo females in 2005. There was no Norah Jones-ish ingénue to dominate, nor was there some more popular mainstreamer to offer decent tunes. It was a year for indie pop females, if it was any kind of year at all for women. Amy Rigby’s ode to the Greatest Misfit of All Time, a song that seems to itself be a misfit on Rigby’s album, and except for the topic would be a misfit on Little Steven’s show where it got heavy play, is touching enough to warrant the title of Best. Check the recent Little Steven archives to find the song.


Kathleen Edwards – In State

Rising Indie Pop star Kathleen Edwards had this suitable single played on stations such as WFPK in Louisville. Listen here.

Missy Higgins – Scar

Another WFPK favorite, this song isn’t really the best Missy Higgins has to offer, but for single release it works just fine. And to think, I wouldn’t have given this track the time of day if she hadn’t opened for Blanche and the Ditty Bops. Listen here.

Best Song/Single released by a Male Artist in 2005:

Ryan Adams – Let It Ride

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Brendan Benson – Cold Hands, Warm Heart

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Usually when it comes to solo artists, it’s easier to pick one single for best of the year while the band category is too packed with different sounds and styles to pick just one. This year was too tough in the solo male artist field. And ironically, if Ryan Adams and his fans in the critics’ world knew of my award, they’d chastise me for not giving credit to Ryan’s band, the Cardinals, who share billing with him on all three of his albums released in 2005. Well…tough. It’s still Ryan’s show. Cold Roses was not the perfect brilliance a lot of folks have made it out to be…it’s impossible to make a double album flawless. Several songs, however, are up there with Ryan’s previous best work. “Let It Ride”, as the album’s single, deserves its role. It’s what all alt-country should sound like: a touching vocal leading a solid rock rhythm. “If I Am A Stranger” probably showcased Ryan’s vocals off better, but “Let It Ride” is the consummate singer-songwriter hit. Go to to sample it.

Meanwhile, just when it looked like Ryan was going to walk away with this damned thing, Brendan Benson came along. The Alternative to Love is far from perfect, but this single would fool you in a heartbeat. Soft in its pop way without being a soft-pop piece of trash, “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” deserved to be a bigger hit than background on some car commercial. Benson’s vocals are outstanding as a strong pop riff drives the song. This is simply the kind of song that gives you the warm fuzzies. Watch the video.


Beck – Girl

Mr. Hansen was back at it in 2005, and this deliriously catchy alternate rock hit was the just the thing for the summer. The official site has the video.

Jack Johnson – Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Jack Johnson’s understated cool needs no change, and this single was a good affirmation of a job well done. The video.

Best New Artist in 2005:

King Khan & BBQ Show

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Yeah this is unfair, I know. Neither of these guys are new artists (especially to the small cult following that has known them for years), and they’ve even played together in the past (The Spaceshits). But I will utilize the power of the technicality (they’ve never teamed before as this duo and under this name) to give them the award. Sue me. I don’t care. If you could make rock n roll as good as these two guys, I may listen. Until then, go to hell.


The Hard Lessons

It’s all worth it for “Milk & Sugar”, a pop song that they give their all on the record and live. But the good news is, there is more to the Hard Lessons than one song. The album proved it and the live act proved it.

Missy Higgins

Australian waif Missy Higgins won some kind of national contest (that wasn’t some American Idol-type show, important to note) and is a fast-rising star. This is what pop music is supposed to sound like: a dash of soul, a dash of dark balladry, and a dash of folk. A potpourri, if you will. And don’t let her adorable beauty make you biased in any way. At least, try not to.

Best Live Act in 2005:

Bands of Detroit (The Avatars, Blanche, Demolition Doll Rods, The Detroit Cobras, The Dirtbombs, Electric Six, Gore Gore Girls, The Hard Lessons, Nathaniel Mayer, Outrageous Cherry, The Sights, The White Stripes)

The musical community that comes out of Detroit is so cavernous and perpetual it would actually do injustice to credit one or two bands. Pretty much every Detroit band I saw this year in New York (except a couple who shall go nameless) gave it their all (ah fuck it…the Von Bondies phoned their performance in, and Brendan Benson was too small to play Keyspan Park). As many of these guys interact and mix, it’s like one big disorderly family. The Avatars would be the greatest rock-pop band in the world if they could put a full album out already. Blanche is still unlike anything else out there and remain America’s best-kept secret. The Dirtbombs are just the greatest period. The Demolition Doll Rods’ lack of clothing would be a distraction if the music weren’t so good. The Detroit Cobras are the consummate garage band while Electric Six should be the biggest band in the world if people had taste. The Gore Gore Girls are intentionally campy fun while the Hard Lessons represent the future of live Detroit rock. Outrageous Cherry’s psychedelic pop proved that Detroit acts continue to offer something new with each incarnation. Nathaniel Mayer may not seem to fit in this with crowd, but considering who backs him up, he’s a welcome patriarch (maybe grandfather is a more appropriate title). The Sights’ organ-pop rock couldn’t be finer, and there’s this other duo, who don’t really seem to be part of this family anymore…until you see them live and know that Detroit is the only place the White Stripes could have come from. Why? See and hear for yourself.

The Greenhornes, though not directly from Detroit, are so meshed in with some of these characters they deserve a more than honorable mention. Three other bands worth noting: The Comes Ons remain Detroit’s best band to not come to New York. It’s high time already. Check out this year’s single “Higher” in addition to the previous albums for evidence. It would also be a crime to not mention the Prime Ministers. played “Sunday Volume” on their podcast this year, and though this band was not seen live here, and though this song was not a single by any definite sense, it would be wrong to let this slip by: “Sunday Volume” is the best bar band song of the year. The Sirens, meanwhile, would offer the glam rock fun that the country needs if they would tour outside of Detroit. Let’s go people!


The Black Keys

This may be hard to believe, but one band – ONE band – nearly stole the title of Best Live Act from the Detroit bloc. The Black Keys define blues-rock. For those that felt abandoned by the White Stripes’ latest experimentations, or just wanted the best in blues-rock, one needs look no further than Akron’s greatest export (better than rubber!). Dan Auerbach’s expert guitar work and deft vocal work would be sufficient enough for anyone but then Patrick Carney has to come along and pound on the skins. Perfect.

The Decemberists

As if having the Best Album of the Year wasn’t enough, the Decemberists also offer a surprisingly high key live act, displaying their musical craft in fine form while relishing in the rock n roll aura of live performing.

Holly Golightly

The durable, diligent Miss Golightly is a blues queen live. And always having Bruce Brand around is a double plus.

King Khan & BBQ

What more can be said of these two? Live wise, it’s like a little localized AC/DC Sam Cooke party in your house.

Living Colour

A 3 hour spectacle, it’s amazing how Living Colour can still entertain a large crowd at Irving Plaza while managing to still play CBGB’s like it was 20 years ago.

Mondo Topless

After a couple of years of total regional domination, Mondo Topless seemed to take a breather in 2005, but before they did, they put on one hell of a show at the Trash Bar in Brooklyn.

Southern Culture on the Skids

Cornball gimmick? Sure. Rock N Roll fun? Absolutely. Get hungry and get down.


While they put out a new record with the Knitters, John, Exene, and DJ got together with ol’ Billy Zoom to put out a new live X record and tour Eastward again, including a monumental return to New York City. A night so good that people of all political persuasions were happy together; X’s show at Roseland could not have been better. There is something about seeing them live…hearing X live…not even live on a record…but live…actually being there…that makes an X show so superior to just about all other things. In fact, I can’t think of anything superior. So there.

Also worth noting the live performances of the Caesars, the Ditty Bops, Reigning Sound, and Triple Hex. It was a big year in terms of live gigs…I had so much fun this year it’s hard to keep track of it all…but these 4 acts more than did their share.

Best Music Videos

I am doing this category for the first time and not very seriously. But from what I saw:

Brendan Benson – Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Maliciously funny to watch the abuse of animated little cartoons during such a sweet song.

The Decemberists – 16 Military Wives

Rushmore meets the Bush Administration. Nuff said.

The White Stripes – Blue Orchid

As darkly sexy a video can be, right to the disturbing final second. And Jack’s Scarlet Pimpernel look actually fits for once.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

What's Your Favorite Color, Baby?

Living Colour; Danielia Cotton & The Pistoleros
@Irving Plaza
New York, NY – December 17, 2005

New York legends Living Colour finished up their 2005 short tour and for that matter, probably finished up my 2005 concert year. The band offered a stunning set that lasted nearly 3 hours, showcasing their talents for mixing of pop, hard rock, prog rock, punk, funk, and thrash metal. A lot of the music didn’t personally appeal to me but the musicianship of the quartet is supreme. Lead singer Cory Glover still hits the high notes with shocking precision and he’s certainly the most soulful singer to front a band that mixes the Beatles, the Clash, and Slayer. And he’s got a kick-ass fedora to boot. Vernon Reid is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. ‘Nuff said. Bassist Doug Wimbish is the band’s secret heart, making the bass the equal of Vernon’s guitar. In addition, Wimbish does all the effects that make Living Colour a complete experience. Drummer Will Calhoun is the final piece of the puzzle, demonstrating his talents in a 15-minute drum solo that serves as the break before the encore. There has never been anything quite like Living Colour and there never will be again.

Opener Danielia Cotton displayed the same eclectic nature as Living Colour but rather than pile all it on at one time, she does it song by song. Backed by fellow New York rockers the Pistoleros, Cotton has a seductively charming voice. When she sings hard blues, she rivals Shemeika Copeland. When she does pop, she outshines Michelle Branch. When she does country, she sends Shania Twain straight to hell (is that even a relevant reference point anymore?). She covered Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” with grace. But when she was doing pop, rather than the hard blues, the songs were a little uninspired. She finished off by prefacing the last song with “You’ve never heard a black Puerto Rican girl sing this song before” and as it was AC/DC’s “Back In Black”, she’s probably right. Ironically, Living Colour was arguably the first all black Rock band to do that song when they covered it on their last album.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tomorrow Night's Horton Heat Show...

Will be total Rock N Roll. Not only is there a threat of freezing rain turning Brooklyn into a sheet of ice before, during, and after the gig...the New York City Transit Workers Union is set to go on strike at 12:01AM Friday, right around the time Horton will be doing the encore. That means, New Yorkers stranded in the freezing rain...cabs? Park Slope is not cab country (in other words, it ain't Manhattan) and there is even talk of cabbies doing a brotherhood strike for night 1.

Transit workers, while I generally support their demands, should not be allowed to strike in New York, just like the Police and Fire departments. Public transportation is too vital...especially in this town where it is needed 24 hours a day (7 million people right the subways every day - 7 million!). But if they do it, we'll all be ice skating home from the Psychobilly Christmas tomorrow night. Oy.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005


X; Juliana Hatfield
@Roseland Ballroom
New York, NY – December 9, 2005

It is pretty ridiculous to call any one band or artist “the greatest of all time”. There is just too much music and too many artists for one person to proclaim such a thing. But let’s not mince words…if there is one band that would get that title, that does deserve that title, the one band that comes closest to living that ultimate title, it’s X. If the first four flawless albums weren’t enough, the live show solidifies it. And the fact that it’s been 25 years since Los Angeles debuted, and that X is still sounding fresh and better than anyone else, is more proof of their supremacy.

It’s been 20 years since X has played New York…that means for all intents and purposes, Billy Zoom never left the band. And thank goodness. With grace and ease, Billy plays like a madman without ever breaking a sweat. Wearing a Ramones t-shirt as he delivered the licks that made X the ultimate complete band, Billy Zoom was embraced by New York as he deserved. John Doe and Exene Cervenga sound better live and in-person than they ever do in the studio or on a captured live recording. DJ Bonebrake continues to make the case for being the greatest drummer of all time. That’s one claim I will defend to the end.

Tim Robbins introduced the band and came out to sing on “The New World”. Other songs played include: “You’re Phone’s Off the Hook (but you’re not)”, “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline”, “Soul Kitchen”, “Sugarlight”, “The Unheard Music”, “The World’s A Mess, It’s In My Kiss”, “Beyond and Back”, “In This House That I Call Home”, “Year 1”, “The Hungry Wolf”, “Motel Room In My Bed”, “Riding With Mary”, “Devil Doll” and “True Love”.

Juliana Hatfield, who I only unfortunately caught the last 10 minutes of, offered more than decent alternative country rock with John Doe helping out on the last song.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

The Night They Drove Dixie Up

Reading this blog, one may assume that I am not a fan of the South. And in many ways, I am indeed not a big fan. But like any region of the country, it has positives and negatives (though I always feel the South brings the criticism on itself in its unique efforts to show off some of their positives). Among the many positives of the American South is of course blues music and pure old folk and country music. Rock N Roll came out of the blues, met up with the old country via Sun Records and thus was born rockabilly. Rockabilly revivals come and go but one of the mainstays is one of the greatest things ever produced by the South...the band that invaded Brooklyn last night.

Southern Culture On The Skids; Triple Hex
Brooklyn, NY – December 4, 2005

Legendary rockabilly surf rock trio Southern Culture On The Skids invaded Brooklyn playing their tongue-in-cheek trashy songs with a goodtime vibe and more importantly, expert skill. Guitarist Rick Miller and bassist Mary Huff trade surprisingly on-key and strong vocals with ease while they wail on their instruments, and drummer Dave Hartman pounds away on the skins as happy as a child but skilled as the long time musician he is. The gimmicky look and antics make you hungrier than anything else, but none of it matters because the music is so damn good. Local openers Triple Hex were a perfect compliment to SCOTS, offering a slightly darker, purer rockabilly feel, recalling many of X’s best songs. SCOTS and Triple Hex would both fit nicely on bills with X and Reverend Horton Heat…and fittingly enough, both those bands are playing New York in the coming days.

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