Monday, March 31, 2008

The Future of Music Video? Launches In A Week

There are some real highlights to what the biggest impact on the visual media of music since the birth of MTV:
  • The Pixies documentary Loud Quiet Loud
  • Jay Reatard live at the Cake Shop
  • The Thermals on an NYC rooftop
  • A Place to Bury Strangers live at Death by Audio, along with a tour of the premiere underground Williamsburg venue
  • An interview with Robyn, the Scandinavian pop singer who was a summertime mainstream bubblegum hit ten years ago but is an Indie hipster darling now.

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Dream Ticket: Oasis and Ryan Adams

How about this? The man that covered "Wonderwall" is going on a short tour with the band who originated "Wonderwall".

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Dream Ticket: The Raconteurs and the Black Lips it really a dream ticket? The Black Lips, much beloved by the hipsterverse for the last year, really only have about 4 or 5 good songs and the rest is wasted by their sloppiness and general lack of class. The Raconteurs are of course the Raconteurs but just a couple posts below it was established just how yucky the new LP is. And the show is at Terminal 5, the place to be that also happens to have awful acoustics. So really...dream ticket?

Yeah dream ticket. Jack White is going to wail on the guitar. The Lips are going to have fun. The crowd should have fun. Dream ticket it is.

Terminal 5, May 30

Update: Dream Ticket? No. 40 dollars? 40 dollars (pre-fees mind you) to see the Raconteurs? At Terminal 5? Are you kidding me?

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Yo La Tengo Opened for the A-Bones at Magnetic Field

Friday night, as part of Magnetic Field's closing week blow-out, Yo La Tengo - under the name "the Condo Fucks" (there's that word again) - opened for Brooklyn rockabilly legends (and band manifestation of the ultra excellent Norton Records company) the A-Bones. The comments section of that BV post reveal some interesting conflict going on about who got in and how.

Tonight is the last night for Magnetic Field - ever.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Consolers of the Lonely: The Pennypacker Perspective

To be done in the style of a Donald Rumsfeld monologue:

Is the sophomore album by the supergroup known as the Raconteurs good? No. What's wrong with it? Almost everything. Is it really that different from the first album though? Sure and not in good ways. How so? The first album was a delicious little slice of 70's power pop, classic rock hits, and sweet, simple balladry while this album is a big, heapin' chunk of AOR filler. Could I be more specific than that? Sure - the vocals sound bored and dull, the power chords are lost in some kind of a panoply of mush, the song structures just aren't where they should be. Is this the end of the Raconteurs? No of course not - I know you read this and think "henny penny, the sky is falling" but look - mistakes were made, words were said, it takes two to lie, one to lie and one to listen but there is almost no doubt that when heard live these songs will sound better - "Five on the Five" sounded excellent when it was performed during the first album tour. Is anything on this album worth listening to? The first half of "Salute Your Salution" is pretty much on target and "Hold Up" is as good as the album gets. Is that it? The middle third of the record actually holds up OK but it is bookended by such trifle that it doesn't really matter. Is it possible I may like this album someday? Anything is possible - just like loving an album on the first couple listens may eventually lead to hating it down the road or liking some parts and hating other parts of an album may switch - the problem with album critiques is that they are read as being a constant, never accounting for the possibility of a change of mind somewhere down the road. Is this the worst music Jack White has ever been involved with? Almost - he did produce Whirlwind Heat's first record and well, while a free people are free to do whatever they want, like looting, that's just one bit of music that is probably just unforgivable and I think the American people understand that. Thank you for coming.

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The Hard Lessons @ Union Hall

The Hard Lessons; The Sterns
@ Union Hall
Brooklyn, NY - March 28, 2007

This just in from the front: the Hard Lessons are still one of the hardest working and energetic bands in all of rock and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Miss Ko Ko Louise possesses pristine yet sweltering vocals, the Anvil drops the sticks on the drums like hammers (fittingly enough) and of course Augie leads the proceedings with his chop busting guitar skill. A lot of the songs seem to have a new punchy, pugnacious sneer to them - the band sounds more punk than ever on some songs - but there is still that smiling shine to the whole affair, a warm hearted embrace from the trio onstage to the fans in front of them.
The Sterns tap into the essentials for making good pop-infused rock songs but there is something slightly amiss - either the band gives off a negative vibe or they're just not skilled enough or the equipment was just not in their favor this night. Still, there is something there, it just needs to be finessed a bit.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Gotham City Development Update

It's been a busy last few days in the world of NYC development, primarily in regards to the Atlantic Yards and the Hudson Yards. There's also been a big step back in the future of building a new Penn Station. Haberman laments the stagnation on some of these projects and more importantly, on the ever slowing pace of needed MTA infrastructure improvement. It wouldn't be a crime if the Nets don't get an arena in Brooklyn (don't worry, they will) but it will be a travesty if the 2nd Ave subway line is never built. And forget this writer's own daydreams of extending the G train to Coney Island and building an underground connection between the Atlantic Ave mega-station and the C/G stop at now looks like the big, gorgeous Fulton hub will not happen. Shame all around.
WNYC had two segments on the Yards situation yesterday:

In other news, a city legislator wants to make "Gotham City" the official nickname of New York:

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She & Him Sells Out Quickly

Nuts - an hour after the tickets went on sale proved an hour too long. Z & M will be at the Hiro on April 21st.

Zooey was on Fresh Air yesterday.

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Edison Eats It

Awhawhawhaw, 17 years before Thomas Edison thought he brought the first recorded voice into history via the singing of "Mary Had A Little Lamb", a Frenchman named Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville recorded 10 seconds of a woman singing "Au Clair de la Lune". He used a phonautograph.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Langhorne Slim on Letterman


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Does It Offend You, Yeah?

This band took its name from a line from this show.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SP Philly Easter Sunday Roundup - Frightened Rabbit,. Bodies of Water, Sons and Daughters

Frightened Rabbit, Bodies of Water, Sons and Daughters
@ Johnny Brenda's
Philadelphia, PA - March 23, 2008

Last Sunday was Easter, and like a good lapsed Catholic I skipped Church, oversaw an egg hunt, had dinner with the family, and then beelined it to Fishtown for a rock show that could have raised the dead.

I had a great night at Johnny Brenda’s; the bands went 3 and 0 on a pretty diverse bill, and I even discovered a new beer. Also, I got there just as the music was starting so that was pretty cool as well.

Let’s start it from the top…

Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit were fresh off a slew of shows at SXSW, and I have to wonder where the concept “showcase” applied more, here or down in Texas. The crowd, obviously more familiar with the bands to come, was somber as the band set up on stage. The area right in front of the stage was forbidden ground; hipsters hid in the corners and under the balcony with crossed arms and glowering eyes.

The band would have to win over the crowd one jaded soul at a time, and from the opening bars it seemed they would be up to the task. The jangly guitars and rolling pastoral feel of their recorded work translates live into furious strumming and urgent rhythms, creating a wall of sound that subtly turns and shifts underneath the guitars and vocals.

The changes are smooth and almost subconscious; as the unrelenting rhythm engulfs the room, its persistence becomes almost a mantra - hypnotizing like a raga, or a Philip Glass piece.

Early on the band broke the ice by explaining the treacherous tasks that lay ahead for those brave enough to pre-order their new album: “you get a code that you enter on the website,” we’re told, “then you must cross the troll’s bridge and answer his three questions.” They also chatted a few times with a fan who, as he did at their Philly show last year, kept requesting Neil Young songs.

But the lynchpin was the music, expertly and energetically played. The staid crowd loosened up, tapping toes and nodding appreciatively. Halfway through the set the band unleashed a modified train beat that sounded like a cut from Led Zeppelin III filtered through Wilco and Radiohead. The nodding turned to head bobbing, and the space in front of the stage began to fill up.

By the time Frightened Rabbit played their final song, the crowd had moved forward en masse, more head bobbing, more toes tapping. Arms uncrossed and people finally started to dance.

Frightened Rabbit’s sophomore LP, The Midnight Organ Fight hits stores April 15th on FatCat Records. The band’s hasn’t quite broken stateside yet, but this disc has a pretty good chance of changing all that.

Bodies of Water

Where the hell was this band when I was in high school, listening to Jefferson Airplane and wondering if anyone made good music anymore? I posed this question to their keyboardist after the set; she said she never thought of the comparison until someone else had made it a few weeks prior. “We didn’t even play the one where I do a real Grace Slick [vibrato]” she told me, and punctuated it with a throaty, fluctuating “whoaaaaaaaa.”

The band’s trademark is undoubtedly their vocals – most of the time all five members are singing, either in unison or harmonizing. Along with the aforementioned Airplane, there’s also a Mamas and The Papas thing going on with the group vocals and folky, psychedelic sound.

The band started out with a multi-part number, one that threatened to be a yawner, but quickly picked up the pace and kept changing every few minutes or so. Think King Crimson with far less wankery. From there, the band played long songs, alternating between mood-setting minor key movements and songs that frequently changed tempos and parts.

Bodies of Water have a good sense of timing, playing instrumental passages and freakout sections long enough to mesmerize, but cutting them off just before they start to get old. My only complaint was a long, rambling onstage dialogue about how their set is like a “choose your own adventure” book. It threatened to derail the momentum, but the chatter was kept short after that. I was also told later that the band does actually make up their set lists on the spot, so more credit to them for their ability to feel out a crowd.

I picked up the band’s disc, Ears Will Pop and Eyes Will Blink, and was surprised to find that their recorded work focuses a lot more on the gang vocals than instrumental passages, and that said vocals were colored with a bit of 70’s kitsch. However, once my ears adjusted the album proved an interesting listen – imagine Isis interpreting Godspell, or maybe Brian Wilson’s Smile.

I couldn’t say that that Bodies of Water is for everybody, but anybody that has an appreciation for 60s vocals and harmonies and analog sonic landscapes will find something to enjoy here.

Sons and Daughters

What to say about this band, really? Their album, This Gift, doesn’t do any justice at all to their live show.

Visually they’re stunning – guitarist Scott Paterson resembles a young Brian Setzer, drummer David Gowlooks a bit like Paul Siminon. Off to the side, Ailidh Lennon is nearly emotionless behind her bass, eyes as dark as her jet black hair. The centerpiece, of course, is vocalist Adele Bethel. Adorned in glitter and a retro miniskirt, she slinks sexily around the stage like a debauched Ronnette.

This was easily the most energetic live show I’ve seen so far this year. Sons and Daughters fleshes out their New Wave-informed garage rock with a little bit of rockabilly and a whole lot of energy. The backline is steady and solid, pounding out perfect backbeats or charging like a freight train while Paterson riffs like crazy and occasionally trades lines with Bethel. Somehow I think that this is what people in the 50s envisioned what rock n roll would sound like 50 years later.

There’d be more to this review, but halfway through the set I put the notepad down, descended from the balcony, and wandered into the middle of the crowd for maximum exposure. There’s not much more to say anyway, expect to go see the band when they come to your town.

Bonus! Midnight Movies

Assumedly in the spirit of the holiday, there’s an Easter Egg on Midnight Movies’ website – check out their Band page for a quirky little video.

I finally got around to checking out their cover of Nights in White Satin. The Moody Blues and I go way back; my high school band even covered this one at our talent show senior year.

I’m a big fan of what Midnight Movies does, and Gena Olivier’s sultry vocals are the freakin’ cat’s ass (yes, that’s a compliment, and also the worst pull quote ever). However, I didn’t dig this track as much as I would have liked. The band’s a bit stilted in waltz time, but they did manage to pick up some steam and get some nice moves in during the second half of the song.

At any rate, if you haven’t picked up Lion The Girl yet, I recommend it as one of my favorite finds of 2007. I’m currently awaiting my mail-order copy of their eponymous debut; something to hold me over until their EP comes out on vinyl.

(Just for kicks, here’s an MP3 of the aforementioned high school band take on Nights: - thanks to John Ciocci - -for digging this one out of the archives!)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Holy Buttons

It seems the way it goes in music these days, a word or an idea is repeated in band names - think of the bands that used "republic" or "states" a few years ago, or all the wolf, bear, and deer bands out now, among other animals, and there is even another Vampire band out there besides Weekend. In the latest round, the word of choice is a rather notable one, a vulgar one, one that has challenged mainstream publications in their printing habits and some radio stations in their broadcasting abilities. And in this particular pairing, they couldn't sound further apart.

Holy Fuck:

Fuck Buttons:

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Karl Pilkington Won't Do Another Podcast

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Sons and Daughters @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Sons and Daughters; Bodies of Water; The Brunettes
@ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY - March 21, 2008

Glasgow's Sons and Daughters are hard to peg down. They seem to dance around a few genres but never fully take a step into each pool. There is an undercurrent of hard country to all of it (and it certainly bubbles over during a summoning of Johnny Cash) but combined with a wisp of 80's rock and a little disco at some songs, the overall package sounds something like a definitive, solid, incarnation of what modern rock is supposed to sound like (are you listening, Foo Fighters?). Lead singer Adele Bethel's voice shimmer and shines in a live setting, hitting every note and taking some notes to new places in the spirit of gutsy rock n' roll.
Bodies of Water may be from California but they sound like they're from Texas. They may be be four people but they sound like the Magnificent Seven if the Magnificent Seven were a rock band instead of a posse. Seriously - every song sounds like a gang riding into town to save the day. The entire band sings together on every song adding even more of an urgency to the western march rhythms that penetrate every song. And it works. By the end of the set, it was addictive.
The ultra charming Brunettes, from New Zealand, know that there is a fine line between acceptable cute and unacceptable twee. They safely, and securely, stay in the cute end of the pool (second swimming pool analogy this review!). Consisting of six, sometimes seven, members, and playing just about every instrument under the sun (lead charmer Heather plays just about every single little tiny instrument ever made, it seems). Yes they can be symphonic and lush, which is par for the course with cute-pop, but they also mix things up. No two songs sounded remotely alike. The opening song even began with a sort of swampy, eerie, sludge. This is a band that seems on the verge of being utterly predictable but they manage to surprise you at almost every turn.
Brunettes Insta-Clip

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Dream Ticket: The Dirtbombs and Mondo Topless

Philadelphia, Johnny Brenda's, Thu April 10th. Classic.

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SP-tone News!

  • The new video for Black Kids' "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" features a reworked version of the song for a new single release, and it sounds awful, especially the lead singer's voice (I could care less what his name is right now, he stole my friend's image).
  • Well the secret's out. Zooey is playing Glasslands on Monday night. DON'T COME.
  • Langhorne Slim is going to be on David Letterman on March 26th!
  • After a recent ranting about children's punk acts, Pennypacker was disturbed to learn the opening slot for the Dirtbombs Bowery show has gone to local kid-punks Care Bears on Fire. On the one hand, it's not good. On the other hand, they are called Care Bears on Fire!!!
  • De Novo Dahl and the Orion Experience are now opening for Jesse Malin at the Bowery Ballroom on April 26th.
  • Drug Rug has been added to the Long Blondes' shows in May.
  • The R.E.M./Modest Mouse/National June 19th NYC venue has been announced: MSG

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sonic Parthenon Philadelphia: The A.K.A.s @ The M Room

We're starting out a new feature here on the blog, reporting from people other than Pennypacker. The first volunteer to the SP staff is Jack Firneno, drummer for SP faves the Yarrows and now instantly the head of the Sonic Parthenon Philadelphia Bureau. I encouraged him to take on the alias Winthorp D. Huffnagle but he declined. Speaking of aliases, here is his first report:

The A.K.A.s; Jena Berlin
@ The M Room
Philadelphia, PA - March 18, 2007

The A.K.A.s

Last night was the record release party for The A.K.A.s' new album Everybody Make Some Noise! on Metropolis Records. It's a consolidation of the band's strengths, a crunchy, riffy brew of art punk and swaggering garage rock, and features some surprise guests - most notably a cutting (and mercifully brief) monologue from Jello Biafra on the anti-consumerism "Everything's a Commercial."

The only other time I'd seen the band was about a year ago at a small show at Long In The Tooth, a great record store in Philly. Unfortunately, I was behind the amps for the set and I couldn't hear one word that front man Mike Ski sang (the music was solid, though). This time I was positioned pointedly in front of the band, but the perils of small clubs persisted and Ski's slightly nasal, slightly sloganeering vocals hardly cut through.

Other than that minor quibble the set was great, and the 400-plus shows the band's played has paid great dividends. Onstage the A.K.A.s are a ball of tightly controlled energy that releases in quick blasts, be it via Ski and guitarist Vegas Davis looming over the audience, or bassist Justin Perry occasionally punctuating his lines with stomps and kicks.

While the backline's not as flashy, drummer Chachi Darin and keyboardist Josie Outlaw are constantly moving and propelling the music forward. Unlike other drummers I've seen mistake brute force for loud drumming, Darin can come down hard on the skins without choking the sound, and Outlaw is always dancing to her striking Farfisa keyboard lines.

The room was jumping, but as a side note we also had to contend with the kind of moshers that Mr. Pennypacker likes to point out whenever we argue about whether or not a pit is appropriate. Personally, I'm a fan of some well-contained lunacy, but last night just wasn't the time or place. There was already a fight during Jena Berlin's set, and also a girl in a wheelchair positioned at the side of the stage.

During the A.K.A.s' set, a small pit broke out and quickly dissipated - save for one fat bastard who seemed to take the crowd's cue to knock it off as an affront to his manhood. He kept careening towards us and then ricocheting dangerously close to the girl in the wheelchair, getting more rowdy as a couple of us pushed him away and slammed him into a wall. But cooler heads prevailed, and one dude had a quick word in the guy's ear (he used the same tone I do when I tell my two-year-old to quit acting up in a store). Said d-bag looked up with a dazed "I still eat glue" look on his face, did the math, and slunk off.

But despite a few small setbacks it was a great night. The M Room may not be as well-known a venue as Johnny Brenda's down the street, but the A.K.A.s definitely made the place their own and I think some of their energy wouldn't have been as appreciated had they been playing a stage four feet above the ground rather than two.

The A.K.A.s will be back on the road next week, and are coming to the Knitting Factory on May 1st. If you're looking for some high energy, garage punk it's a show to see.

-Jack Firneno

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The Come Ons Officially Disbanded

Well, nuts. The greatest band from the old Detroit scene to never really break out on its own in the music world at large, the Come Ons, officially disbanded today, though the trio had not been a functioning unit for some years.
What is left behind is an impressively thorough catalog by a band that never really got around much and really should have. The first two LP's - the self-titled and Hip Check! were perfect bits of dancey-soul rock n roll though each with their own unique tempo. Everything on the self-titled is a hit but "Whatcha Got?" and "I Get So Excited" slightly slip ahead as the standouts, whereas on the funkier, sexier Hip Check!, "Mesmerizer" was the real highlight of highlights. The second pair of LP's took the band in different directions and most of it worked completely and all of it was substantive. One track on The Ghetto Years was reworked for the follow-up (and ultimately final) LP, Stars: "FKS". The Stars version is just about one of the single greatest recordings ever done, a definitive stamp on the pop balladry of this decade. It showcased the band's ability to write the perfect song.
The spirit lives on through MoPop Music, where the latest single is a collaboration between Come Ons frontgal Deanne Iovan (also of Detroit pop duo Sunshine Doray) and Britain's favorite troubador, Mr. David Viner. Meanwhile, drummer Pat Pantano continues to drum for the Dirtbombs, not a bad gig at all.
Live footage from Carambo Karlsruhe:

The video for "Complicated":

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Surprise! The Hold Steady @ Hard Rock Cafe

The Hold Steady
@ Hard Rock Cafe
New York, NY - March 18, 2007

Here's to sudden discoveries of relatively unannounced, semi-secret corporate promotional gigs full of free booze and a free band, namely the Hold Steady.
The new material sounds great, much more textured and solid than in November. The now-classic catalog is fresh and ferocious. The band seemed in good spirits and Craig, just by looking skinnier than ever, is an inspiration. The 21 and over crowd cut down on the up-front crowd antics but that didn't stop a 50-year-old from giving Craig a ball cap and then crowd surfing. Yeah, "elderly hipsters <3 href="">Insta-Clip playlist

Photos by Pennypacker:

Photos by Phils_fan:

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Monday, March 17, 2008

The Raconteurs Announce Next Album...One Week Before Release

Gotta give it to 'em (Check the news section). In order to put a stop the time honored tradition of leaks, early listens, early reviews, and the general idea of "build up" (and the modern addition of spoiling build up though said leaks and such), the Rac attack have announced the sudden release of their new record, Consolers of the Lonely, just within the last couple hours. The album is out a week from tomorrow in all legal, available formats in stores and online.

This is kind of neat, a little variation on Radiohead's experimentation with new ways to release music in this digital, pirate age. BUT - it wouldn't be a Jack White thingamabob without some sort of long winded, proud explanation, once again ol' Jackie standing on a soapbox and shouting something or other. I'm just ribbing the guy. He cares about something. It's cute.

But whatever - new Raconteurs album. Suddenly. How Exciting.

Also suddenly exciting...(see next post)...

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bell X1; David Ford @ Bowery Ballroom

Bell X1; David Ford
@ Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY - March 15, 2008

On a night in which the Irish band of all Irish bands, the Pogues, played one of their sold out Roseland shows in honor of St. Paddy's, it was a bit o' luck to snag a late released ticket to this long sold out pop show by another Irish contingent. Unlike the traditionalist and feisty Irish bands of yore, Bell X1 is in the league of Snow Patrol and Vega 4, post-U2 and Coldplay (aye, a British act, not Irish) buzz bands tapping into heavily layered doses of deep pop music, the Grey's Anatomy canon of music. In a refreshing way, these bands bring to the table a very eye-awakening look at the new Irish, people almost completely removed from the old stereotypes. Rather than be whiskey-swilling punks waxing nostalgic on days of poverty and battle, these Gaelic crews sing very expansive, ultra-radio friendly bits of commonality, and they are beloved by the new Irish yuppies, benefits of the Celtic Tiger, who are immigrants to these shores highly different than the ones who came here generations ago.
If only any of this helped the music in someway.
Much like the aforementioned Snow Patrol and Vega 4, Bell X1 is riding on the strength of one immaculate song, in their case the one called "Rocky Took A Lover". Everything else is weak, meandering, aimless bits of melancholic drivel. Actually, that's not fair to Snow Patrol who do have a worthy runner-up in their catalog - "Run" is decent, though nowhere near as good as "Chasing Cars". But here, there is nothing else. Each song falls apart. Only "Rocky" has any substance, any merit. A full complete thought. But to give these obviously very nice guys some credit, they are not completely without some classic Eire spirit - the lead singer lamented how they lost their luggage in Toronto, and the bus caught on fire coming out of Philadelphia. Slainte.

David Ford - an Englishman blasphemously allowed to open this affair - was quite good. Though he appears to be associating with the mainstream pop crowd, he proves that kind of material isn't synonymous with 100% crap. Each of his works were compelling, his voice and lyrics working and weaving with his backgrounds. And he showed an exceptional bit of showmanship - taking the increasingly used concept of a one-man band looping each live instrument in order to create a full band sound - and ran away with it. In terms of content, he doesn't sound too different from another popular English popsmith named David - Gray. It may be a weekend for the Irish, but damned if Her Majesty's Empire didn't just weasel its way in. Bloody English.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Set Your VCR's: The Airborne Toxic Event on Last Call

April 22 - Last Call with Carson Daly

Yeah I know no one uses VCR's anymore but I can't get used to the phrase "set your TIVO". Feh.

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Other Music Loses Points

The very center of the Hipsterverse, the beacon from which all Indie snobbery and coolness emanates - that has exploded into a multimedia powerhouse (along with Pitchfork and Stereogum now) just lost some brownie points.

Dirtbombs drummer Ben Blackwell, keeping a diary of the band's current Aussie and New Zealand tour on his blog, just reported that Other Music is following Jay Reatard and his band around on their own Down Under tour. Jay, as most of you know by now, is - along with the Black Lips and Be Your Own Pet - one of the garage punk successes that have been adopted by the tastemaker set. Other Music, which should be a standard bearer of quality, earnest, authentic rock n roll, is apparently as shallow as the scene it covers scenesters who suddenly flocked to these bands (I did not mean that original bit at all, that must have been what they call a Freudian slip):

There was some cameraman following Jay around for a documentary that Other Music is working on and the dude was totally clueless. He provided for a few good laughs, asking people what their tattoos meant, not knowing which band member was Jay and generally acting annoying to the nth degree.


Hopefully, the mothership will have its act together and know who the Dirtbombs are when the band plays the NYC store on April 7.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sonic Parthenon at SXSW! Not Really!

  • NPR Music has massive coverage.
  • WNYC's Soundcheck was in Austin for 2 days, here are the clips (the first of which features Peter Buck and Wil Sheff):

  • Trent Ostvig posted this video of one of the most talked about new bands, Times New Viking:
  • Out of the 1700 bands to check out two of them not getting the bigger press that should are Langhorne Slim and his outfit, and a little pop thing called Clare & The Reasons:
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    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

  • I should be a casting director. Reading Vidal's Burr, I thought to myself, "Giamatti would make a great John Adams." Well guess what.
  • The Fetzer Institute is the funniest name in public programming sponsorship.
  • Pakistan's ability to shut down YouTube probably gives North Korea all sorts of ideas. Imagine YouTube stripped of everything but Daffy Duck cartoons. The work of Kim Jong Il.
  • Holy smokes. My review of the Airborne Toxic Event show at Pianos set a single day record for hits on the blog, smashing the old record set by the Ween review which was linked from a page linked by Brooklyn Vegan. Oh, and it turns out Keifer Sutherland is a fan of the band. And they've only been playing for a little over a year. Told ya - this one's gonna hit big.
  • You know what's weird? Seeing a popular band, playing the hell out of their music for 3 days straight, then just going to a random gig and seeing one of the band members at said gig, hanging out - just minutes after you listened to the music. Weird.
  • Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes, Scarlett Johaanson...the Obama soundtrack reads like Pitchfork. Hillary? Big Head Todd & The Monsters. Barbara Streisand. Just felt like pointing that out.
  • I should say something about Spitzer but all I can point out is that his wife is incredibly attractive, making this all a damn shame.
  • Did you know there's possum in Brooklyn? Opossum actually. May need to form a branch of the Possum Lodge...

  • Labels:

    Urge Overkill?

    Remember these guys?

    April 29 at Bowery Ballroom. Heh.

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    Monday, March 10, 2008

    A Big Weekend for Brooklyn

    The NY Times profiled a bunch of bands and the scene in general, but...does Vampire Weekend really qualify as a Brooklyn band? At least some of the members moved to the borough but does that really count? They were based out of Columbia before hitting it big.

    Whether they are from Brooklyn or not, VW were on SNL this weekend, another notch in their unbelievably rapid fire ascent.

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    Saturday, March 08, 2008

    Classic Clip: The Gories at the Bank in New YorkCity - July 1993

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    Friday, March 07, 2008

    Rock n Roll's Future in Williamsburg: Looker; The Orion Experience; The Red Romance @ Luna Lounge

    Looker; The Orion Experience; The Red Romance; Prabir & The Substitutes
    @ Luna Lounge
    Brooklyn, NY – March 7, 2008

    I finally figured out the secret to Looker’s success. Primarily playing in a rock genre that is mostly populated these days by young kids emo-ing and screamo-ing their insincerity, Looker brings pop-punk (and similar genres) back to a more mature, substantive level. Whether singing about personal affairs in songs like “After My Divorce” and the show-stopping “Gregory” (by all rights, it should be a radio smash hit) or broader subjects in songs like “Born in the Desert”, “Radio”, or the super stellar “Gates of the Old City” (number 1 on this week’s Top 20 Countdown on the Pennypacker-pod), this band has a wiser and more authentic perspective than many of their peers. Musically, Boshra and Nicole trade flawless harmonies when they aren’t trading guitar licks while A.J. and Robbie bring up the solid rhythm section. Always a good time with this band.
    The Orion Experience is a rocking, explosive bit of sunshine and happiness. Similar in energy to Les Sans Culottes, but far from that band’s 60’s au-go-go style, this band relishes in 70’s and 80’s anthem-style pop songs, backed by smashing power chord riffs and a raw attitude. They make me want to play pac-man and watch Different Strokes. A whole hell of a lot of fun.
    The Red Romance are reviewed just at a time when this is a blossoming of bands really focused on 80’s New Wave pop-rock. These guys fall in line but in many of their songs they have a clear love for the Smiths and the Cure, adding a little post-New Wave darkness to the mix. They put together well-crafted hooks and riffs, with a deeper, somewhat darker subtext to the proceedings. Another great new band making the rounds.
    I only caught the last couple songs of Prabir & the Substitutes but it was pretty impressive. Loud but catchy, with their brand of Virginia stomp-rock, these guys probably put on a heck of a show, too bad I missed most of it.

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    Rock n Roll's Past in Williamsburg: The Hives; The Donnas @ Music Hall

    The Hives; The Donnas
    @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
    Brooklyn, NY - March 6, 2008

    For pure shits and giggles, I went to see those scrappy Hives make their Brooklyn debut, some five years too late. It's always been a mystery why a band that makes such simple music has only put out 4 records in over a decade's worth of existence. It's not exactly the kind of stuff that needs Axl Rose-like deliberation. And their laconic recording style makes their music all the more of a joke. Plus, with all the rapid changes in Indie music, the idea of a new Hives record and tour has lost its grandeur (if it ever really had it - this kind of music should not be considered momentous). But give credit where credit is due: Having not seen them since July 2004 at Irving Plaza, I wondered if they still put on a spectacular live show and they do. Though it has lost some of its luster. The suit gimmick is old. But Howlin' Pelle Almqvist's energy is not. He's still got the magnetism. And one cannot take away from the Hives the simple fact that they are one of the three or four bands from the early years of this decade that brought rock n roll back from the dead. This was a nice trip down memory lane.

    Not so nice a trip were the Donnas. They too had their moment in the early years of the decade, really on the strength of one excellent song, "Take It Off". But they had nothing else to them. Not even looks (the exceptionally gorgeous lead singer, Donna A B C or D whatever, is the only dolly in the bunch and by a mile at that). They tried to make a comeback last year with a decent song, "Don't Wait Up For Me", but it was a needless rip off of a couple of Joan Jett hits and it sunk like a stone. They are tired, they are forced. Even the lead beauty's use of "fuck" for every other word felt insincere. They are not punk. They are not anything. They are not even a good tribute to the hair bands they seem to love almost exclusively now. They almost - ALMOST - made me want to listen to Europe's "The Final Countdown" as some sort of refuge.

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    The Diving Bell & The Butterfly

    I finally saw this yesterday, though it's too little, too late for Oscar. I had originally said it looked "tepid" but it is actually a fantastic film, wacky old Schnabel is a genius. It has as compelling a new cinematic style as a narrative film could. Mark Kermode recently said that There Will Be Blood changed the way narrative cinema is told. That's entirely possible but Schnabel possibly has too. The consistency in the work, the devotion to the aesthetic, is truly remarkable. The acting is top notch, notably Mathieu Amalric in the lead role of Jean-Dominique Bauby and the stunningly, heartbreakingly beautiful Marie-Josée Croze as one of Bauby's therapists. Emmanuelle Seigner is also very notable as the suffering mother of Bauby's children.

    Obvious bias aside for Schnabel's signficant use of the Dirtbombs' "Chains of Love", the short soundtrack is the best of the year by far. It conquers Juno. One of U2's best - "Ultra Violet (Light My Way)" - anchors a major moment and Tom Waits joins Mick Collins and company as the only artist to have his song do double duty, in this case "All The World Is Green". VU's "Pale Blue Eyes" and Joe Strummer's "Ramshackle Day Parade" are used superbly as is the exceptionally great opening sequence "La Mer" by Charles Tenet. But perhaps above all, dead center in the heart of the film, is the staggeringly good, impressively powerful "Don't Kiss Me Goodbye" by Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle (as in actress Emmanuelle Seigner).

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    The Pastrami Chronicles, Volume 1: The 2nd Ave Deli

    Anyone who knows Pennypacker knows that, despite his efforts at slimming down and saving money, the classic pastrami on rye remains the biggest (though occasional) poison. It's just so good. So very good. There really is something almost erotic about the aroma coming from the meat. Seinfeld was onto something.

    The 2nd Ave Deli arguably reigned supreme in the pastrami wars for generations. But then it closed up. Now it's back (on toity toid and toid) and the pastrami tastes better than ever, breaking the brief reign held by, of all places, the Carnegie Deli (a non-Kosher pastrami on rye at number 1 was unthinkable yet it happened). The meat is a bit fatty but the juices flow all over the meat without getting off the rye. The spices are perfect. The meat is tender. You do not need mustard (unlike with the Katz's Deli sandwich).

    And what else does the 2nd Ave Deli have over the competition (besides blessing from a higher authority, presumably)? The best matzo ball soup in the world. How does Pennypacker know? It's the only matzo ball soup to taste as close to his Bubbe's soup as any soup could.

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    Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    Mountain Goats on Fair Game

    After being postponed from last week, last night's performance by Darnielle was pre-empted on WNYC by the Hillary Comeback Special.

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    Monday, March 03, 2008

    Dream Ticket: DeVotchka and Basia Bulat

    The lovely songstress has been added to the Terminal 5 bill in May. That's a show to go if ever there was one.


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    Local Rabbis Put Kibosh On MSG Jew-Rock Concert

    Some singer named Schmeltzer had to opt out of this gig because a cabal of local nogoodnik Rabbis protested the concert. Why? From Gothamist:

    Two Brooklyn community leaders, Asher Friedman and Rabbi Avraham Shor, mobilized opposition to the concert late last month, warning that the concert would promote “ribaldry and lightheadedness… [and] strip the youth of every shred of fear of heaven.”


    Who says rock n' roll isn't dangerous anymore?

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    Return of Psychedelic Metal

    Witness Black Mountain on Conan O'Brien:

    Not bad, not bad at all. And it's a good excuse as any for a little classic Sabbath:


    A Big Weekend for Sam Cooke

    Arcade Fire covered "A Change Is Gonna Come" at the Obama Rally in Ohio and She & Him covered "Bring It Back Home" at the Noise Pop show in San Francisco.

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    Poor Billy McCarthy

    Just days after Pela's terrific show in Brooklyn, Billy took a glass-shattered tumble at the Chicago show, bringing an abrupt end to the tour. But look! He still has the fedora!:

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    Sunday, March 02, 2008

    New Electric Six Video: "Randy's Hot Tonight"

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    Saturday, March 01, 2008

    The Dirtbombs Cover INXS; Pitchfork vs. Pennypacker

    From the Magic Stick a couple weeks ago:

    We Have You Surrounded reviewed by Pitchfork,
    the first Dirtbombs LP to be scored under an 8 (but by Pitchfork standards, it is still full of praise).

    The first Dirtbombs LP to be narratively thematic as opposed to being musically thematic, WYS produces in studio the closest yet to what a Dirtbombs live show feels like (which presumably is accounted for by the production). Genre descriptions beyond "rock 'n roll" are unnecessary here. And this isn't to say there isn't variation in the narrative: amidst the overall topic of the decline and fall of Western Civilization, Mick Collins frustrates over the inability to successfully make it right with another, gets bitter while a self-inflated chick twiddles her thumbs as Rome burns, gets downright angry with the world in general on a few tracks, and eventually just resigns himself to the end - which always sounds a little softer and not so bad when sung in French.
    The Dirtbombs' choice of covers are always more obscure than Pennypacker's limited knowledge of music so there won't be much addressed about that here.
    The one possible hiccup in the entire proceedings is the 8-minute noise track, "Race to the Bottom". Generally speaking, Pennypacker's ears do not respond well to structureless, shapeless cacophony. BUT - considering the theme of the album, a little dissonance now and then is a good thing. It assuredly speaks volumes of the mess we're all in. It's a Pollock on a record full of Dali. Maybe?

    Back to the Pitchfork review - Mr. Crock takes a swipe at the most ready-made single on the record, "Wreck My Flow", by comparing it to Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire". It should be noted that back at CMJ in October, Pennypacker made this comparison to Mr. Collins himself, who was not flattered. He also said that drummer Pat Pantano made the same comparison but Mr. Pantano responded that he was referring to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues". For the record, Pennypacker is a fan of Billy Joel and of that song, and did not mean it as a swipe, which Mr. Collins understood. But this second comparison now, by Mr. Crock, assuredly does not bode well for future referencing. And really, "Wreck My Flow" only sounds like "We Didn't Start The Fire" in one line, the "future shock...cocked and locked" line. It sounds like the "Watergate...punk rock" line in the Joel song. That's it. Let's all move on now shall we?

    In the degrees of Dirtbombs fandom, in regards to LP's, the original fans still love the garagepunk fury of Horndog Fest. The widest audience came with Ultraglide in Black (which is of course, at least sometimes, Mick's biggest regret) and only a handful of us (including Pennypacker) love Dangerous Magical Noise most of all. Maybe because the vast majority of WYS has the same concrete, textured, power chord fun of DMN, it has become Pennypacker's second favorite album (worth noting that the measures of distance in the rankings are slim to practically none except, admittedly, a significant chunk of Horndog Fest remains far below on the list). This record has more straight forward rock than the pop deviations of DMN, but even if the bubblegum record is still on its way, we may have to consider ceasing to frame the Dirtbombs' LP in the musically thematic mode of thinking and just accept it for what it is: a liturgy of consistent, quality rock 'n roll.

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