Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dansettes 2.0: The Nouvellas and The Sweet Divines

The Pipettes debacle of a couple weeks ago really made me realize that I miss the Dansettes :(

But no fear, the gang has gone on to two new dynamite acts:

The Nouvellas, already mentioned on this blog before, will be at the Norton Records Christmas spectacular at Southpaw on December 15. They'll be joining the Reigning Sound, the A-Bones, and "Handsome" Dick Manitoba, the greatest New York glam punk rocker turned bartender on Ave B.

The Sweet Divines will be kicking off on January 18 at Magnetic Field.

And maybe one day we can get both acts to open for Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. What the heck.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Starting Out In The Evening

After years of playing the most evil of villains (notably - or least notably - Skeletor in the Masters of the Universe live action bomb), Frank Langella has mellowed in his senior years, portraying Bill Paley as a wise boss in Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck, and having a bit of fun as Perry White in last year's Superman Returns. But this year, Langella takes it a step further, playing an aging New York professor and obscure novelist, Leonard Schiller, in Andrew Wagner's Starting Out in the Evening. Despite the fact that Schiller is a rather distant, removed, introverted type, he is naturally the most warm, inviting, and friendly character that Langella has possibly ever played. He is certainly the first sympathetic character that Langella has ever played - but that usually comes with the territory of the lead role, something Langella has never had the privilege of playing often.
The story: Langella's Schiller is surrounded by two women, one stronger than she should be, and one weaker than she should be. The former is grad student Heather Wolf (uncreative last name) played by Lauren Ambrose, an obsessive fan of Schiller's, seeking to write her master thesis on him. The latter is Schiller's daughter Ariel, played exceptionally by Lili Taylor. Ariel finds herself her father's primary caretaker, and as both she and her father come to grips with the ramifications of their respective ages, there is the requisite bit of family drama. Heather only complicates matters.
The script is eventually predictable, and the film score is atrociously melodramatic, but this is an actor's movie, and the three leads make the most mileage out of it. Indie New York is Taylor's stock-in-trade and she only gets better and better. Like Langella, she is playing against type by playing a rather conventional person in a rather conventional setting, and it makes her flex her chops all the more. Ambrose at first comes off insincere and creepy but then it is quickly apparent that is her character, and she's playing it as she should. The unease, the tension, of her presence around Leonard and Ariel, is the grease of the film, and she makes it work.

Above all, there is Langella. He transitions into Leonard with ease and grace, and he elicits the emotions of an old man accepting he's old with a combination of austerity and affability. You don't want Leonard to be bothered by Heather, but after Langella's done, you hope that Salinger and Pynchon are this pleasant.

It remains to be seen if there will be Oscar buzz for Langella for this role. It is more likely that he will garner a nomination for his work next year when he returns to playing pure evil, an evil more evil than Skeletor...Richard Nixon.


Monday, November 26, 2007

More Public Radio Rock N' Roll: Ween, Electric Six, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, and the 1900's

NPR's All Things Considered Sunday had Ween (Gener has a voice and temperment made for hosting on public radio, let alone being a guest on it - successor to Ira anyone?)

Electric 6, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, and the 1900's were heralded on this week's Sound Opinions as part of their "Buried Treasures" of the year episode.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Artist of the Week: Ween

La Cucaracha sounded awful the first time, but good the second time, and fantastic the third time. In other words, typical Ween.

Friday Saturday Terminal 5 Boognish Be There

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

  • Have you noticed the new Con Edison energy saving ads on the subway? The first 8 tips are all facts. The 9th tip is an opinion. Who's to say laptops are the twice the fun of desktops? Who? Those awful laptop keyboards say otherwise.
  • Truffaut's The 400 Blows was a window into the life of a family that should never have been. Prescient.
  • I don't know who this Ingrid Michaelson is but she's selling out every show she's playing and well in advance. I better investigate before I lose my Indie cred.
  • It's a good thing I finally checked out and really like My Bloody Valentine. It helps maintain my Indie cred. But seriously, good stuff.
  • Vampire Weekend broke the record earlier this year for fastest rising band of all time (then again, perhaps the Fratellis actually owned that record). None of it matters now: Black Kids smashed all sorts of records this past month. The next blog-hyped band will be someone who simply hits one note, and then some hipster blogger will say "brilliant", and said band will be playing the one note at Madison Square Garden five days later.
  • None of the above was fair or accurate, so to distract you here's this REAL presidential campaign ad:This is why Huckabee is surging on the Republican side. He's an extremist right wing religious fundamentalist with a warm heart and a great sense of humor: in other words, he's Ned Flanders. And really, who wouldn't want to vote for Ned Flanders?
  • Don't ever eat at the Ben Ash Delicatessen on 7th Ave and 55th st. Worst customer service in history. A hair in my drink and the waitress got mad that I pointed it out. And then making me wait after eating my overpriced, tasteless meal, only to be asked if I wanted my check, no coffee or dessert offering. And then - worst and most awkward dining moment in my life - standing over me to see what tip I leave her, as if to intimidate me into leaving her a good tip because she knew I had bad service. A bully.
  • Labels:

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    The Hold Steady Top of the Pops Art Brut Top of the Pops 1990s Top of the Pops at Terminal 5

    The Hold Steady; Art Brut; 1990s
    @ Terminal 5
    New York, NY - November 21, 2007

    See here's the thing: By all logic, the Hold Steady should NOT be good. A bar band? A constant focus on Craig Finn's life from 15 years ago? The same topics, phrases, and conventional rock styles repeated over and over in each song? This should be considered right awful uninspired garbage with an exceptional and bizarre level of self-obsession. But lo and behold, this is one of the most fun, most wonderful, most joyus experiences in the world today. Whether it be the belt of house shaking rockers from their 3 records, or the shoulder-embracing ballads, this drunken love fest is beyond reproach. There is something disconcerting about the beer swilling (and whiskey swilling and wine swilling) men on stage singing about their days of yore with a hindsight of years gone by...and their youthful reflections below them, gorging on the very excesses Craig sings about. And yet, it is a time so unabashedly glorious, it slays hyperbole with ease. After all, let's not kid ourselves: life is a cycle and there would be no point in the Hold Steady if Craig looked upon his past with total, evangelical, regret. So let the kids do what they must and each will figure out their own road. And as they do, let "Hot Soft Light", "Stuck Between Stations", "The Swish", "Chips Ahoy", "Massive Nights", "You Can Make Him Like You", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "South Town Girls", "First Night", "Stay Positive", and "Killer Parties" be their soundtrack for better or worse.

    Art Brut has become something of a comedy band. The new projector screen full of funnies insures that ("TWICE" flashing over and over after Eddie Argos' proclamation of how many times he's seen his brand new girlfriend naked was the highlight). But damned if they don't provide bitching solos, stomping hooks, and headbanging fun. Eddie's run through the crowd was marred only by the crowd's shocking lack of enthusiasm (who'd a thunk the Art Brut fans would be much calmer than the Hold Steady fans) but when the man sang "hey ho, let's go!" in ode to New York's greatest, you knew where the band's heart lay, in the right spot. "18,000 Lira", "Pump Up The Volume", "Direct Hit", "Good Weekend", "My Little Brother", and particularly "Modern Art" worked best.

    1990s opened the show with that slap dash good time 3 chord dancey rock n' roll that made them the buzz of CMJ. Distant cousins of Franz Ferdinand (the band, not the archduke), this Scotch-led trio proved a time tested hallmark of a great band: making the album filler sound Not perfect. Like Art Brut after them, there was some unavoidable "enough already" moments, but, when you take in all 3 bands in one night, it makes you lament, yet again, the state of popular music today. And that makes you feel old, which is exactly what the point of these 3 bands is not. Well maybe that is the point of the Hold Steady. Who knows. Walk around and drink some more and then find out.

    An SPTV Special

    The extended Hold Steady introduction before "Hot Soft Light", with more Morricone, is available here.

    Photos (all awful, not my fault though, tell Craig and Eddie to stop moving around so much!)

    Fantastic Hold Steady and Art Brut photos by Jason Bergman

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    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    Recent Radio Highlights

    The Hold Steady and Art Brut live from the 9:30 Club

    Tommy Ramone on Soundcheck:

    Citizens Band on Soundcheck:

    Via Audio on Fair Game

    Orba Squara on Fair Game

    Looker on Steve Lamacq

    Ravens & Chimes on WOXY

    Scotland Yard Gospel Choir on WOXY

    This is not recent, but the band recently played again, so check this out in the meantime, Pela on KEXP

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    Monday, November 19, 2007

    The New Hives Record: The Pennypacker Perspective

    With The Black and White Album, the Hives put themselves right into the crosshairs of the two sides of the great never-ending debate in music: to replicate more of the same that has worked in the past, or to be bold and try new and different things. It should be noted that the anticipation for more of the same was not at the same level of enthusiasm as it was for Tyrannosaurus Hives, the Swedish rockers' last and fairly good album, the follow-up to the stupendous Veni, Vidi, Vicious. While in 2004 it was great to hear the Hives retain most of the three-chord melodic garage from the previous record, 2007 did not hold the same.

    So it was in the band's favor to make a record that was different than their past, in order to stay relevant. And indeed, the band did just that. The Black and White Album is at times a radical departure for the band. And it turns out that decision was the wrong one. After the initial and familiar strains of "Tick Tick Boom", the album is a pretty slick, overly produced, overly polished, bit of tripe. This should then indicate that the Pharrell Williams tracks are the culprit but one of them, the unoriginally titled "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S." is one of the least bad ones. "Try It Again" and "Won't Be Long" are the only two decent tracks besides the lead-off. And the latter especially showcases what the Hives should have tried to do more of: Experiment with "Howlin'" Pelle Almqvist's reduction of the "Howlin'" while retaining the all-out but concentrated fury of the last two records. He sounds like a completely different character at times and it's refreshing. Too bad these were the exceptions on an LP of misfires and lost opportunity.

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    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    Artists of the Week: The Hold Steady & Art Brut

    This week, we're revisiting two bands previously spotlighted, one going way back to the old Blue Republic MySpace days. But it's not like you haven't heard about them in a long time, they practically live on this blog. The Hold Steady remain one of the most fun bands in America (and probably Europe for that matter) and maybe the most fun band to hit the big time in a very long time (in this day and age, obviously "big time" is a relative term but deal with it). Art Brut's irresistible punk-ish rock n roll doesn't have the bar band atmosphere of their new friends, but their well-played authentic Englishness is a mighty equivalent. And let it be stated here and again soon: there hasn't been a tour with two such chatty, verbose, and happy frontmen (don't let that picture deceive you) on the same bill maybe just about ever. This will all be proven on Wednesday night, Thanksgiving Eve, at Terminal 5 when the Hold Steady, Art Brut, along with the 1990s, bring the house down. Get there early.

    Hold Steady's "The Swish" (before the days of the one and only Franz Nicolay)

    Art Brut's "Good Weekend" (before the days when Eddie shaved)

    And for the heck of it: 1990s.

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    Almost Like An Actual Union Meeting: Scotland Yard Gospel Choir @ Union Hall

    Bling Kong; Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
    @ Union Hall
    New York, NY - November 17, 2007

    I'm not exactly sure what Bling Kong is supposed to be but the cute girls singing upfront with the backing band is getting old fast and even with, or maybe especially because of, the garage rock feel of this particular set up, it doesn't really work that well. Also, the whole art house concept thing around it seemed a bit much. And there were balloons. I hate balloons. A lot. In fact, if it wasn't for the balloons, I'd have probably liked it.
    A second night of SYGC (instant band initial status is always a good sign, unless you're CFK or whatever) and they kept it up. This is a band to dance to, or take in lyrically, or both. Some of the peppier, even punkier stuff when meshed with horn, give off that old ska-punk vibe, which by all accounts, should not be a good thing but they make it work very well without overly recalling that sound, scene, or the annoying asshole college roomates who wouldn't shut up about that genre of music some five years after it was popular but then 2 weeks later switched to going on about rave music. On the other hand, Fishbone was really good so if there are a few moments of recalling Fishbone, what's to complain about? In other words, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir is very good.

    Insta-Clip 2
    Insta-Clip 3

    Side-note: Union Hall is pretty much the defacto stop for Chicago bands. The Changes, the 1900's, and now SYGC have all played there. I hope these Chicagoans realize there isn't actually a union using the joint? "Welcome, brothers of Local 643. As you know, our president, Chuckie Fitzhugh, ain't been seen lately. We're all prayin' he'll turn up soon, alive and well." (Source)

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    Saturday, November 17, 2007

    Return of Double Giggage: Electric Six, Uncle Monk, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

    Electric Six; The Willowz
    @ Bowery Ballroom
    New York, NY - November 16, 2007

    It could not be resisted. With the previous gig being so early, and the Bowery Ballroom so close, how could a seventh Electric Six show be passed up? Sure, Horton Heat was in town, sure VHS or Beta were doing their own dance-rock thing, sure there were a ton of great gigs in the night but there is only one (or six, rather, or actually when you really think about it, nine or ten) Electric Six. It was well worth going. For possibly the first time in seven reviews, not counting any possible drunken blackouts, Valentine and the gang did "Electric Demons in Love". From the first record, the second track, the one that truly establishes the band as Disco Metal and arguably remains their finest song. Forget "Danger! High Voltage!". This is the track that should have been the hit and should have made this band as big in the U.S.A. as it is in Europe, if not bigger. But speaking of bigness, for the first time in about four or five reviews, the show was not sold out and packed to the gills, and the mosh pit (featuring only some of the regulars) was more subdued for larger portions of the show than previously. Could the U.S.A. Six Success have peaked? Or was everyone home because of the news Valentine broke? That Larry King had died? (Dick did seem actually serious about it but of course as we know now, Larry is alive and well. Cleveland, Hello!) Anyway, this is one of the best, if not the best, Electric Six performance ever reviewed and not just for "Demons". Exuberant, extra saucy highlights also include the new "Dance Pattern", the classic "Dance Epidemic", "I Buy The Drugs", "Future is in the Future", "Improper Dancing", and "Rock n Roll Evacuation", which had Valentine's latest political ramblings, that while New York will have to (probably) pick between its current senator and its former mayor for President, that as poor as that choice is, it's all better than Bush. And finally, after years of ranting by D.V., we got one good, fist-shaking wail of "Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuush!" Loved it.

    Dude, I don't know what it is about the Willowz man. They look like they should be doing some country bumpkins from hell thing, some Little House on the Prairie meets Black Sabbath type deal, but they really just do garage. Maybe it's the singer's voice? Maybe it's a lack of substantive follow through on the opening licks? I don't know. They aren't that bad, but there is something definitely missing. But kudos to them, they were fun to laugh and dance with in the balcony during the Six set. But word of caution guys: When people in the audience heckle you, do not taunt them and threaten to fight them. It is unbecoming. Especially when you have a charming gal in the band.

    Uncle Monk; Scotland Yard Gospel Choir; Used To Be Women; Alec Scott
    @ Knitting Factory Old Office
    New York, NY - November 16, 2007

    So yeah this is the first review of a living, breathing Ramone. The last original Ramone no less. Tommy Erdelyi performed his sincere, fun, and frankly, good, bluegrass duo material. There's not much to wax on about it. It was straight forward mandolin and acoustic bluegrass. By Tommy Ramone. You can't beat that.
    Scotland Yard Gospel Choir are a great Chicago bar band that do it in a folky and stompy fashion. Lots of Indie pop sensibilities but with a nod to the more basic elements of good live rock. It's official by the way, Chicago has arrived. The city is now teeming with great bands and its an eclectic brew. The next few years ought to be a lot of fun.
    Used to be Women seem to want to be an alt-country, contemporary hard rock mix but they sound more like the latter and it's a little unorganized and not in that good, punk way. It's kind of hollow.
    Oh, Alec Scott. Alec, Alec, Alec. You are true to your soul, I'll give you that. It was something to hear this young acoustic soft pop-folk performer talk in length to the audience about his songs, especially when he lectured the crowd about the merits of Michael Moore and how he was inspired to write "The White House Is Corrupt" because of the big man. Now, political debates about Moore aside, the point here is that Mr. Scott talked to the crowd as if the crowd had no idea who Michael Moore is. This was the first clue that young Alec has a lot to learn. Later, he feebly tried to get the crowd to sing along. And then finally, he nervously rambled on about the sound guy, his two bandmates on bass and sax respectively, and himself. And that's just it. He was nervous. I hope. Anyway, this Dave Matthews thing he's going for needs more metaphor and poetry if it's going to work. If you're going for a Woody Guthrie, tell-it-like-it-is approach, just do that. Pick and choose, young friend. Pick and choose.

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    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    No Country For Old Men

    The Movie of the Year...and maybe...maybe...the decade.


    The Pipettes at the Blender Theater

    The Pipettes; Nicole Atkins & The Sea; Monster Bobby
    @ Blender Theater at Gramercy
    New York, NY - November 12, 2007

    This pains me to write. But it is what it is: This was an awful show. The Pipettes, for all their polka dot goodness and British attractiveness, were out of tune, out of sync, and just plain bad. The backing band was soulless, devoid of the heartfelt soul (and the musical talent) mandatory for making 60's girl group rock good. This sounded more like a rejected act from Pop Idol, rather than a true homage to Dusty Springfield, the Ronettes, and such. It appears my recent slight was well founded after all.
    Nicole Atkins & The Sea's unexpected second review on the blog in less than a month was unnecessary but it did back up some basic truths: Nicole's voice is exceptional and she is a real charmer. But the songs range from the dull to just OK.
    Monster Bobby, according to what is seen on the internet, is the band leader for the Pipettes but I sure didn't notice him on the stage. His own solo opening appeared at first to be a comedy act, and that was fine, but it dragged after a bit, especially when the songs themselves - 1 and 2 minute folk-disco pop ditties - didn't seem to be comedy oriented. Make up your mind, old chap.

    I don't know...maybe I shouldn't have seen No Country For Old Men before going to the gig. :(

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    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Dirtbombs Used In Movie Trailer

    "Chains of Love" is used in this trailer for an otherwise tepid-looking Miramax release:

    Ben Blackwell wrote of the Cannes festival adventure.

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    Artist of the Week: Yo La Tengo

    It's a packed week of gigs, particularly on Friday night when Horton Heat (with Hank 3), Electric Six, VHS or Beta, and Polyphonic Spree (with Rooney) all have gigs in town. But also on that night, in the sold out dominion of the Music Hall of Williamsburg will be the Hoboken 3 known as Yo La Tengo, towering over all with their consistent 2-decade spanning motif. This is also good prep for their annual 8 nights of Chanukah concerts at Maxwell's next month.

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    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    The Webster Hall Conquests of Josh Ritter

    Josh Ritter; Eric Bachman
    @ Webster Hall
    New York, NY - November 9, 2007

    About a year ago, in the previous incarnation of this blog, it was pretty well established that Josh Ritter's Animal Years was the Album of the Year. That title hasn't held up but no matter - that record showcased what is solid truth: The native of Moscow, Idaho is one of the most accessible but authentic singer-songwriters around. His songs are easy, almost light as the breeze, and in many ways, he's a conventional type. But there is depth, substance, relevance, and skill in all his work. His effervescent nature is the steam engine of this cross-country folk-rock machine. And his band is full of character (the bass player's whiskers included) and all told, it is a whole heck of a lot of fun.

    Eric Bachman is a part-folkie, part-grimey bluesman with a wide palate. He recalls a range from Tom Waits to Sam Beam. He just needs to iron out the wrinkles in blazer. That's not metaphor. He really needs an iron. That coat was really wrinkled.


    Video coming

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    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    Holly Golightly on Fair Game


    It's her real name!

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    Call Them Simply...The Cardinals

    And with that, Ryan Adams announces the big news that, in a way, was meant to be. The next record with the gang will simply be under the banner of the Cardinals, and the songwriting and singing will be shared equally between Ryan and Neal. If one needs more proof of how much Ryan loves and respects the band and the work he does with them, he's decided to record his own material solo, away from the Cardinals label. In other words, the Cardinals now stand as a complete project, and maybe not even the side project, but the primary project.

    And oh yeah, Ryan aims to be working soon with Slayer.


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    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    On The "Special Collaboration" In Re: The New White Stripes Songs

    It's Dylan.

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    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Return of the Hong Kong

    I caught this band in '05 and didn't think much of them at the time (and made some wrong assumptions too) but time passes and views change, and now, unlike a lot of other bands of the mid-2000's, this band actually has come back (Tralala was the most recent to fall by the way side).

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    Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

  • I think someone thinks I'm a racist. DAMMIT NOT AGAIN.
  • Wristcutters: A Love Story has not enough Waits and too many dopey lines. But it's still better than it's been talked about. We Own The Night has not enough Brighton Beach exteriors and way too many dopey lines and it's not quite as good as it's been written about.
  • WFMU Record Fair finds: Live Costello bonus 7" from the original Armed Forces LP, a London re-issue of "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Norton Records goodies - the new Black Lips/King Khan & BBQ split Christmas 7", the Ramones, the A-Bones, and Andre Williams doing "Daddy Rolling Stone". Also: Belafonte doing "Day-o", Benny Goodman, and Phil Phillips' "Sea of Love". Finds I did not buy: Carrol O'Connor sings, a Dexy's Midnight Runner's 7" that wasn't "Come On Eileen", and lots of Wings.
  • Giant raw tuna dumpling = significant amounts of happiness.
  • Why do weight scales give different stories? Can't we get some unified narrative around here?
  • I'm showered and blue-blazered (well, black-blazered, but let's not get picky). Now all I need is some shoes and slacks and we'll be slick.
  • Sigh...hey, if YOU are reading this, get in touch with me...

  • Labels:

    Band of Horses @ Terminal 5

    Band of Horses; The Drones; Tyler Ramsey
    @ Terminal 5
    November 4, 2007

    Band of Horses played their biggest show ever and they did it in style. Another band that benefits from brevity, the Northwest-turned-South Carolinian collection of beardos play symphonic pop-rock in short bursts. If they went long, or approached jam band territory, this would be bad. The crowd had a lot of frat boys and wannabe-hippies, presumably all because the band has a song called "Weed Party", and critics zero in on simplistic lyrics, but the music of Band of Horses is targeted, really, at sophisticates and those looking to escape for a little while into some forest of deep, thoughtful sound. The band is more mature than they are given credit for.
    The Drones are an aptly named quartet from Melbourne. At first, this isn't a pejorative. The intense-sludge harkens back to some of the better 90's grunge and Radiohead moments. But after about 15, 20 minutes - and this is a trend lately - it was enough. One gets the idea. It went on for another 20 minutes or so but it felt like they were on for over an hour.
    Tyler Ramsey is a pleasant bluesy finger-picker from Asheville. His music obviously sounds better in a small club rather than the massive swirls of Terminal 5, but it worked.

    Gig Review Archive

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    An Interlude with Flogging Molly

    After all that Flogging Molly referencing in the Gogol Bordello review, it's only fitting:

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    Sunday, November 04, 2007

    Artist of the Week: Band of Horses

    South Carolina-based pop-rockers Band of Horses are a classic illustration of the blog band. Their debut last year made them all the rage, and critics quickly latched on to the blog hype. Then this year, with their second record amidst a line-up change, the slight, subtle shift in sound drove the blogosphere into a foul mood. The inevitable backlash and "sell out" mania set in. So what's the real story? Find out tonight at Terminal 5.
    The Funeral

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    The Shock and Awe of Gogol Bordello at Terminal 5

    Gogol Bordello
    @ Terminal 5
    New York, NY - November 3, 2007

    Much like Flogging Molly's Dave King, Eugene Hutz an immigrant to these shores, and he's retained the musical heritage of his nationality to mesh with hardcore punk. But unlike Flogging Molly, Hutz takes Gogol Bordello further in its aesthetic. He and his band ham it up with displays of fashion and spectacle, to the point where it is border-line gimmick. And frankly, Hutz would just be Borat if he wasn't the real deal. And it is with this authenticity, this legitimacy, that Hutz makes Gogol Bordello such an overpowering, overwhelming force. And this mandate is articulated in what is perhaps the most dominating aspect of the Gogol experience: the fans. There can't be many, if any, other crowds that are this intense on such a wide scale and in such a wide breadth. Hipsters, punks, artists, Russian clubbers, old folks, young folks, teens, druggies, drunkards, fashionistas...everyone was at this thing. And just about everyone was bouncing off the wall. From the front to the back, all points in between, the entire floor - hundreds of people, if not over a thousand - was a pit. And it wasn't so much a mosh pit as it was a pit of dancing and mass movement. Every hand up in the air. Every single one. And everyone jumping. And the most intense crowd surfing possible. It was all very much like the wedding fiesta Hutz yearns for in his critique "American Wedding" (by the way, anyone who sings about marinated herring is automatically one of the greats of the age). Hutz is the messiah of these meshugganah. And it is hypnotic.
    But except for exquisite outburts like "Start Wearing Purple" and "Wanderlust King", all this star-bursting energy starts to take a pretty quick toll. The dancing luchadore (who sometimes seems to think he's in Papa Roach rather than Gogol Bordello) and the girls and all the rest can only go so far. The tension between Hutz's authenticity and the gimmicky excesses is strong. It's a memorable, awe-inspiring experience, but it's almost too much. These gypsy punks - sometimes more like gypsy pirates than anything else - lead a very rockin' ship of state. But it could tip over at any minute.

    Some more evaluation of Terminal 5: If you don't get there early, the only good views are in the back of the floor, by the back bar. And the sound is awful back there. Utterly awful.

    Gig Review Archive

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    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    November 2007 Concert Calendar Highlights

    -Four nights in a row at Terminal 5 put the new venue into the big time starting tonight: 2 nights of the Decemberists, then Gogol Bordello, then Band of Horses.

    -Josh Rouse lights up the Blender this Friday and Saturday while Josh Ritter does it at Webster Hall a week from Friday.

    -Carina Round has a month-long Wed residency at the Living Room for most of the month but she makes a stop over at Zebulon on Sat 11/17.

    -Talk about contrasts: The Pipettes on Mon the 12th at Blender and Reverend Horton Heat with Hank 3 the next night at Highline.

    -The Hold Steady and Art Brut and 1990's all together at Terminal 5 on Wed the 21st. Could be the show of the year...

    -Some guys named Gene and Dean Ween. Last day of the month. Again, Terminal 5. Fiesta!!!!

    -Also this month: The Sonics, Sea Wolf, VHS or Beta, Electric Six, the Woggles, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Battles.

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    Halloween at the Hammerstein with Ha...Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

    Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
    @ Hammerstein Ballroom
    October 31, 2007

    Holy unexpected show reviews, Batman!

    It figures. On any given night in any town in North America, Ryan Adams can be known for donning chain mail and doing his best Danzig impression. But at the hyped-up Halloween night concert in New York City, all the holiday hoopla emanated from a lonely little jack-o-lantern atop the piano, and some costumed people in the crowd. For Ryan, it was just another show. At least just another show for this tour - meaning, a 3-hour plus marathon (I left at exactly the 3-hour mark when he started up yet another ballad).
    The sheer immensity of the show felt like a ton of weight pressing down after awhile. And the song selections - about 60% balladry - started to bring on a case of the sleepies. But when Ryan and the band sizzled, they sizzled. The Cardinals are so good by this point, they make Ryan songs their own. And when Ryan and the band back-up guitarist Neal Casal on his lead, you'd almost instantly forget who's the main man up there. While the band knows all of Ryan's material, they excel at the last record they cut with him, Easy Tiger. Like at that fantastic, intimate show at the Hiro in June, "The Sun Also Sets" and "Two" sounded exquisite.
    So it may not have been bizarre, goofy Ryan at his maximum, and it may have been like trying to run through mud, but there is no doubt that Ryan Adams & The Cardinals are the cream of their crop. And other cliches. Awwww yeah.


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