Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Okkervil River and the Thermals on Pitchfork TV

How's Pitchfork TV doing? Not bad. Yes it's been a P-fork heavy day here at the Parthenon but it happens from time to time. Anyway, here's Okkervil River on the web network's rooftop performance show:

The Thermals doing "St. Rosa"

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Nick Cave on Fresh Air; Tour Dates

After initially scoffing at Dig Lazarus Dig, the new Bad Seeds record is proving to be mildly addictive. Now that promotion time for it has come, Mr. Cave went on Fresh Air yesterday, and tour dates for later in the year were published today, including an October date at WaMu.

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Brooklyn Venues Under Fire

After a streak of booming venue news - the latest of which being that the Southpaw people would be taking over the current Galapagos site when that establishment moves to DUMBO - things seem a little on edge right now.

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Jay Reatard Toronto Drama Continues

P-fork reports on the back-and-forth over what exactly happened at the Silver Dollar on the 17th.

Neither the promoters nor Jay will admit who is really at fault: the fans. It's obvious why - no one wants to alienate people who cough up the dough, no matter what their conduct is. But the truth is, it is the fans who are at fault. No one should decry a little rough and tumble up front at a show like Jay Reatard's. It's to be expected and if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. This isn't a Norah Jones (or Spoon, hahaha) show. This is hardcore/garage/punk whatever you want to call it. But there is a line. There is a line between a pit up front and stage crashing. And there is a line between stage crashing/diving and interference with the band.

It's all by degrees. Unless there is some real extreme thrash punk whatever band known for allowing its fans to come up on stage and trash the equipment and fight with the band, when is it acceptable to allow interference? Not to mention, it doesn't make any sense! If one gets their ya-ya's out by hearing such music, how are they furthering those ya-ya's out by actually trying to stop the music?

Furthermore, there are the larger group of fans who don't do such things and pay good money to see the shows, in their entirety, without interference. It's one thing to pay and understand that a pit will be a-happenin'. It's another thing to pay and just a few songs in, see idiots keep crashing the stage to assault the band and vandalize the equipment. Who pays for that?

As for the security issue, there was one security goon at the venue and he only showed up after Jay started packing up, and probably only because of fear that the idiots would assault Jay outright for ending the show.

The place was beyond crowded. I have no idea if it was overcapacity or not. None of my Toronto pals indicated to me that it was. But it was very crowded. And a handful of guys up front took it upon themselves to interfere with the show. The venue and the promoters probably did a bad job. But it's the fans fault. And while Jay is right to be mad, he should be upfront and just put the blame where it is - the fans. Not every fan. Not most fans. Just those fans that ruined it for everyone. Also, he may want to take a few tips (Wilco & White Stripes, and Dirtbombs) on to how to handle these things.

And by the way, if you are going to be a band that has fans run around and go nuts on stage, this is how you do it:

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Laura Gibson, NPR, and a Desk

Damn NPR doesn't seem to want to add embeds to their material.

So read and watch here.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Return of the BellRays

Well it may not be with the Dirtbombs, but the BellRays will be back home in the States for a short tour next month and they've added a stop at the teeny tiny Delancey on...Delancey for May 24th, the same night as X at Irving, making for one heck of a night for Los Angeles bands in NYC.

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Foxes! Foxes! Foxes! Oh and Jesse Malin @ Bowery Ballroom

Jesse Malin; De Novo Dahl; Holly Brook; Pop Girls Etc.; The Orion Experience
@ Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY - April 26, 2008

Jesse Malin started out with an acoustic set through much of which he ranted on and on about the state of the music industry and technology. When he didn't do covers of Jim Croce ("Operator") and the Hold Steady ("You Can Make Him Like You"), he did his own material, stuff full of simple 90's radio pop hooks that are easy to like but also easy to get annoyed with rather quickly. The ranting, however, went on so long that after 45 minutes it didn't seem clear when the whole band would take the stage, so - with time being a major factor - I left.
Jesse wasn't alone on stage though, he had a fox keyboard player with him and that sort of turned out to be the theme of the night. Georg and Yortuk would have had a wild and crazy time.
Nashville's De Novo Dahl are more erratic than eclectic, the latter of which they appeared to try to be. The songs don't all add up and they had more luck with their one dance number than the garage rockers they tried to muster up. The nudie suits were an annoying distraction but the fox in the band was not.
Holly Brook is a one fox band, a torch song singer of sorts who will be helping Jesse out on his European tour. She has a decent voice and the mood was fine...but for some other night. All the Degeneration folks in the crowd were a bit thrown off.
Pop Girls Etc. were the only band sans foxes. Four dudes with hit and miss offerings, the faster stuff worked a whole lot, the ballads blew the big one. They look like they wished they graduated high school circa 1970 but with a bit of 80's Breakfast Club longing one way and Potsie the other. The lead singer (who really did look like Potsie) has awful mic banter. Is the forgetting to finish the thought thing a gimmick?
Unfortunately, I was only able to catch the last two songs of the Orion Experience but they sounded as great as they did at the Luna Lounge awhile back. Their concept of dirty, filthy, raunchy sex songs performed in a spirit of sweet, sugary candy-rock may have a longer shelf life than one may think. It helps that they really know what they are doing up on stage. And of course, they have a fox in their band too (with a dynamite voice). And the leader of the gang, Orion himself, isn't such a bad looking chap either.

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Airborne Toxic Event on Last Call

Until someone can show me how to merge the clips into one, you get it in two parts (why oh why did the performance have to happen as the hour changed?)

On YouTube

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

PAS/CAL to Actually Release A Record

I just sorta assumed they were gone. But Pitchfork says it's going to happen.

Summer Is Almost Here

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

She & Him @ Webster Hall

She & Him; Ola Podrida
@ Webster Hall
New York, NY - April 22, 2008

Where there is chaos there is opportunity and so despite selling out two shows in seconds at the tiny Hiro Ballroom, the apparent laryngitis plauging the lead singer resulted in a one night stand at Webster instead with extra tickets to sell.
Our Man Ward and His Gal Friday Zooey Deschannel offer us She & Him, a sweet-as-home-baked-chocolate-chip-cookies revue of 60's-flavored Country, Soul, and R&B. Though she could not speak, Zooey sang delicately and nimbly, and her charm was infectious. She was doe-eyed and smiling, and sporting signs to thank the crowd and all that jazz. Matt sang back up on all but his own song, the superb "One Magic Trick" from Post-War, and he was having a good time, relieved it seemed from being the sole center of attention.
The Country side of things proved to be a little dull and fractured, but the Soul and R&B components were ace perfect (the big exception in the country realm is the excellent "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"). Zooey's voice, despite this night belonging to a dolly dressed up like a pre-fame Loretta Lynn, is more attuned to classic elements of Jazz and Blues, than that style of country. In other words, she's more Memphis than Nashville. The cover of "You Really Got A Hold On Me" brought that Smokey Robinson classic to the very stripped down goose-bump-giving core of that song, a song that best exemplified that mix of Northern orchestral Pop and Southern Soul. "Bring It On Home To Me", their other cover of note for the night, was just a few minutes of bliss in an otherwise crazy world. And to bring it back to that theme of chaos and opportunity, that's really what She & Him are all about - a chance to take a breath in an increasingly maddening and loud society.

Ola Podrida were absolutely boring Country-Folk Pop.

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Boris Johnson For Mayor

Who wouldn't want this man to be Mayor of London?

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Wait...Wait...Wait...Jay Reatard...is Opening For...



Face-punching Jay Reatard is opening for la la la ga ga ga Spoon?

Prospect Park, July 15

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The Strange Goings On With She & Him

So at first if you had a ticket for last night's scratched show at the Hiro, you had to await announcement of a future date. Then suddenly, late in the night, it was announced that tonight's second show has been moved to Webster Hall and that this show would also be the rescheduled date for night 1. It seems generous at first but also it really plays with people's calendars (the Bowery Presents guys know it so they are providing refunds).

What stinks is that last night's opener was supposed to be the A-Bones with Ira Kaplan helping out. They won't be able to open tonight.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life: The Pennypacker in Toronto Edition

  • Yes...fried pigeon.
  • Labatt is awful. Truly awful. Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale is definitely not awful.
  • Tim Horton's is awful. That's all I got to say about that.
  • Hits and Misses is one fine record store. Where did they get all those AC/DC 45's?!
  • Here's to crowded, vibrant, bakery cafes on Tuesday nights.
  • Here's NOT to crowded, violent, concert crashers.
  • Do Canadian TV news channels know it is NOT 1989 right now?
  • I have never seen so much hockey on TV in all my life.
  • Speaking of, I knew I was really in Toronto when I first saw the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • Best part: Crossing the border, getting asked one question, and being wished a nice trip.
  • Worst part: Coming back, being interrogated, and not welcomed back.
  • Everyone loves the 24 hour hot dog stand on the corner of Spadina and Queen. It was alright.
  • "Does anyone like the Blue Jays?" "A couple people."

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The Pastrami Chronicles, Volume 2: The Non-Pastrami, Toronto Edition

The Corned Beef House on the corner of Adelaide and Widmer specializes not just in corned beef but in, as much as one supposes a Toronto establishment can, the Montreal smoked meat sandwich (which is really a smoked corned beef sandwich but who's minding particulars like "meat" vs. "beef"?). A French restaurant on some corner of Bloor near Honest Ed's also boasts of this two-sandwich specialty. So the conclusion is obvious: The Montreal smoked meat sandwich is made to stand in for a pastrami sandwich. And it appears, much like its beleaguered cousin south of the border, it gets tripped up by non-Kosher infringements on its Kosher sanctity.

The Montreal smoked meat sandwich with hot mustard on dark rye, at the Corned Beef House, is tasty enough but it lacks that unexplainable whiff of Ashkenazi bliss that kosher pastrami is imbued with. It's so fatty, it's hard to dry it out yet it doesn't retain the juiciness one would think it would hold onto. That being said, it isn't that bad. It has the reminder of a good kosher pastrami on rye and that's good enough. It's something close to Katz's Deli in that regard. Next time, Pennypacker will see what the Jewish section of Toronto offers and then we'll really get down to a bissele pastrami competition on a future edition of the Pastrami Chronicles.

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Pennypacker in Toronto: Hanging Out in Hogtown

It's striking how Brooklyn-like the city of Toronto is. Massive in size, with a more than sizable population it can sustain, and not only as diverse as New York and Brooklyn in particular, but even more diverse (according to recent analysis) than the Big Apple. Basically slap a Wall Street-esque financial district in downtown Brooklyn, and that's Toronto. How more Brooklyn can it get than a place like Honest Ed's on Bloor St? It's like every Dee-and-Dee and Odd Job in New York you can imagine, just the size of a whole city square block and 3 floors of it.

The hipster quotient is slightly more understated in Toronto (though that makes them stand out all the more to the casual natives) but they populate the area much like the hipsters in Brooklyn do, including gentrifying a strongly ethnic Polish neighborhood towards the city's southwest side (practically identical in feel to Greenpoint). But the debacles at the two gigs show that the city culturally suffers from the same flaws that cities like Philadelphia suffer from. Jerks trying to emulate what they think is authentic behavior and ruining it for everyone. Never before have I felt so good about being a stiff, boring, New Yorker.

And it gets a little worse than that. One would think the most cosmopolitan city in Canada would be a haven for good drinking. Oh if only that were true. The bartenders disgustingly, and insultingly, make their mixed drinks by pouring a half-filled (if that) shot glass of booze into a glass before drowning in the non-alcohol component. And they never even heard of red bull being mixed with vodka before. Outrageous.

Other than those tiny but important details, the city serves itself very well. The overall vibe is warm and friendly. The transportation (barring a strike) is incredibly efficient, surprisingly topping New York in that department (though one imagines that in snow-clogged winters, the dependence on bus and street car in the overnight must be brutal). It's a generally clean and well-spaced city (though all the maps of the city do not accurately represent the distance between the major avenues, and that's because they do not take into account the multitude of smaller streets in between, many of which remove the concept of the grid that the map implies).

It's a great walking town nevertheless but, much like in New York, 3 full days to walk just around downtown and make a couple short trips by subway or streetcar up to Bloor or down to Bathhurst or slightly beyond doesn't do it justice. The city seems to never end.

Cuisine is where it gets tricky. Let's not even comment on Tim Horton's. Just to make this easier. Toronto is an excellent place for a variety of eats (as to be expected) but it also means that, in a short time frame, you run the risk of finding a lot of losers as opposed to winners. Between the nightmare that is Swiss Chalet, and a Chinese restaurant on Spadina that isn't too clean, uses garbage bags as place mats, and has fried pigeon on the menu, Toronto didn't have much room to make up for all that. But between the peameal bacon sandwich at Paddington's in the St. Lawrence Market, and even the charm of a pretty cheapo, too-quickly-made-to-be-good Italian place like Cafe Diplomatica on College St in Little Italy, there is something to be said of food in Toronto. Also, big cheers to the nice guy who makes chicken shawarma on College St off Spadina, diagonally across from the Silver Dollar. He made what a was a pretty crappy Thursday into something close to recovered. See the above post in regards to the Smoked Meat sandwich.

Where were the cops? There were no virtually no cops. There were bums, but none were really persistent. There was an open weed-smoking joint in Kensington Market. The big 3-hole garbage/recycling bins on street corners are a nice touch. The abrupt dark residential streets right off of massively busy avenues were a bit disturbing but trekking out to a home proved to be a fun time.

So the final verdict: Not a perfect city. Obviously one cannot gauge it all in three days. But, on initial encounter, it can be said that Pennypacker, for the first time this decade, left a place thinking he would not only like to come back, he'd like to come back for good long whiles, and for the first time this decade, returning to New York did not seem so ideal a feeling. Woah.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pennypacker in Toronto: Jay Reatard; CPC Gangbangs

Jay Reatard; CPC Gangbangs; The Diet Pills
@ The Silver Dollar
Toronto, ONT - April 17, 2008

In what should go down as one of the more infamous nights in Toronto rock history, Jay Reatard played for all of about 3 songs before calling it quits. The crowd was absolutely out of control. Unlike the madness the night before at the Horseshoe with the Dirtbombs, it was to be expected for there to be at least a little chaos on the floor for this show. But not only did it cross a line, it crossed the line almost from the start. It was almost as if the crowd didn't want Jay to play. It was almost as if they tried to sabotage the show on purpose. Can people be this dumb? The crowd smashed beer and glass and other objects on the equipment, and when someone unplugged Jay's guitar (what is the point of doing that?! Honestly!), that was it for Jay. But don't take my word for it:

The Long Version

And yet somehow, despite the oversold, overstuffed place, Mr. Pennypacker was able to make his way out of the place, and the only person who also made it outside at that point was...Jay Reatard! No riots ensued, Jay has since tried to make nice with the fans in the city of Toronto, but let it be said that in the department of rock fans, the first SP trip to Toronto was a real disaster.

Oh yeah the opening bands. CPC Gangbangs look like a hodgepodge of disparate garage punk bands come together and that's exactly how they sound. The first handful of songs were riff-heavy, good time fun. But the remainder of the set was populated by the noise and aimlessness that is plaguing the scene today.
The Diet Pills were a-ok. They had a surf edge to them and it made them standout.

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Pennypacker in Toronto: The Dirtbombs, Kelley Stoltz @ the Horseshoe

The Dirtbombs, Kelley Stoltz
@ The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
Toronto, ONT - April 16, 2008

The focal point of this show wasn't even the band. It was the crowd. Apparently a bunch of scenesters (I even heard one announce "I hope this band is good") thinking they were being cool, these morons broke the sacred rule of a Dirtbombs show: they moshed. They moshed with unauthorized drafting of innocent folks around them. They stage crashed and dived. They practically ruined the show, except that the Dirtbombs are so good, it's impossible to ruin a Dirtbombs show. Pat Pantano took it upon himself to question the heterosexuality of the troublemakers, knowing that such tactics usually disarm the meatheads who conduct such behavior. And as a band member, and not a priss in the crowd, he has some immunity from a backlash. And it worked. It also helped that the show ended with an AMAZING collaboration with the Kelley Stoltz band:

Speaking of Kelley Stoltz, third time was the charm. The band was tight, rockin', and full of pep and vigor. Everything was solid. They also sounded more pop than country on this night. Good work.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Sonic Parthenon Special Event: Pennypacker In Toronto

The old man is in the city without a distinct and memorable nickname which would be useful in a sentence like this starting late tomorrow night to the twilight of Friday into Saturday. There may be some culture reports but there will most certainly and hopefully be reviews of the Dirtbombs at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern and Jay Reatard at the Silver Dollar.

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Gnarls Barkley Does the Unthinkable

They're not a one hit wonder!

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hot Chip @ Terminal 5

Hot Chip
@ Terminal 5
New York, NY - April 12, 2008

Hot Chip have certainly made an exciting run so far in 2008, in support of their excellent new album, Made In The Dark, the follow-up to the stellar, just about classic The Warning. In their live milieu, these sneaky petes show off a sensational knack for percussive rhythm, the live physics of which not only benefited an otherwise increasingly disastrous set-up at Terminal 5, it overshadowed the band's bread and butter - techno-rock. Hot Chip still excels most, though, when they mix that electronic half-clubber, half-nerd thing with r & b, hip hop, and soul. The drums work best on show starter "Shake A Fist", the guitar works best on the new single "One Pure Thought", the electronics - the synth sounds and back beats - work best on "Over and Over", and Alexis Taylor's vocals work best on pretty much everything, but especially the ballads. For a genre that is really not covered on this blog, these guys have certainly - with their creativity and originality - made one hell of an impression.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Gogol Bordello's "American Wedding"

Finally, a video:

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The Dirtbombs @ Bowery Ballroom

The Dirtbombs; Kelley Stoltz
@ Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY - April 11, 2008

At this point, after so many feeble attempts at being something akin to a rock critic, why bother? You all know how I feel about the music itself and about how they play live. All you need to know about tonight is that it was a much cooler, calmer performance than last night's explosion in Philadelphia. It was a straight, maybe even scaled back, performance - probably because the band was exhausted and also because the Bowery Ballroom just isn't conducive to Blackwell's shenanigans.
So let's just personalize it, in the spirit of a true blog, and not some half-assed hipster "mag" deal:

It was a night of accomplishment. After all these years, I was finally able to get a number of friends of mine to see the Dirtbombs live. It had only happened once before a couple years ago with my most notoriously stubborn and curmudgeonly rock classicist friend. The last two nights I was able to bring various sets of friends, from different walks of life, to see this unifying band. And it was a major success. Everyone was converted to a fan. Every single one. The non-rock guys loved the funky beats and the jams. The rock guys - one coming from the perspective of a musician, the other a casual fan whose personal tastes run along the lines of the Cure and the Smiths - each cited the same thing in their praise: professionalism. The casual fan even noted that having never seen either the Dirtbombs or Kelley Stoltz live before - and being a general fan of the Grateful Dead/Band style the latter works with - he was struck by how he was convinced he had just seen the highlight of the night until the Dirtbombs came on and made the whole thing look effortless (that's no slight at Stoltz, there is something admirable in what he's doing up on stage every night).
As a side bonus, 2 of the friends who did not previously know each other shared a fondness for comic books, which led to a nice discussion of the Alan Moore-infused "Leopard Man at C & A" with Mick Collins after the show (that song, by the way, as a live lead-off, is just phenomenal).

A lot of other bands have been filling the "pages" of this blog for a good while now and they are great bands all, but at the end of the night - by the power of their own performance, the warmth of the community they foster, and their ability to make true believers out of anyone - it is always satisfying to come home to the Dirtbombs.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Mondo Dirtbombs @ Johnny Brenda's

The Dirtbombs; Kelley Stoltz; Mondo Topless
@ Johnny Brenda's
Philadelphia, PA - April 10, 2008

After an intense, pitch perfect, textbook, sensational set by the Dirtbombs, sheer, utter madness ensued. Perhaps enthused by Mick Collins' declaration that this was the best Philly crowd the Dirtbombs have ever had, Ben Blackwell just about went absolutely mental. He climbed up to and then off of the balcony, making like Spiderman across the ceiling track lights, then dropping onto the stage, not breaking or spraining a bone in his body, nearly falling on Sonic Parthenon's own Jack T. Conqueror (who in turn nearly stumbled into Elwood D. Pennypacker who was busy trying to stop Troy Gregory's mic stand from falling onto drinking glasses). Eventually, JTC - the musician at heart that he is - put Troy's mic set up back in place, while Ben resumed the madness on stage leading the gang (minus Mick) in a looooong (and I mean looooooooooong) noise jam that included a couple members of the Stoltz band. Never seen anything like it.

Do you like the Grateful Dead? If so then you'll like San Franciscan-based Kelley Stoltz and his good time hearty country-ish stompy, boogie thing. A lot of it works, some of it gets a bit old.

Mondo Topless were their usual rocking self but the native Philadelphians were subjected to a surprisingly empty hall, populated by a handful of Williamsburg-wannabe hipsters and some normal rock n' roll blokes too self-concious to lead a party.



The great Corwin also has these clips up:
Ever Lovin' Man
Need You Tonight

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Record Setting Friday? (With Bookends)

Friday April 11 has to be one of the most packed non-festival days in NYC recent rock history. And it is bookended by some pretty impressive shows on either side of it.

Tonight, Thursday, April 10:
  • Gnarls Barkley @ Highline Ballroom
  • M.O.T.O. @ Knitting Factory
  • David Dondero & The Entire State of Florida @ Knitting Factory

  • Friday, April 11:
  • The Dirtbombs; Kelley Stoltz; Care Bears on Fire @ Bowery Ballroom
  • Pissed Jeans @ Knitting Factory
  • Nada Surf @ Terminal 5
  • The Sadies @ Luna Lounge
  • The Nouvelas @ Maxwell's
  • Man Man; Yeasayer @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple
  • David Dondero & The Entire State of Florida @ Union Hall
  • Ambulance Ltd @ Mercury Lounge
  • NYC Smoke @ Lucky Cat
  • Disco Biscuits @ Nokia Theater

  • Saturday, April 12:
  • Hot Chip @ Terminal 5
  • The Giraffes; Wormburner @ Mercury Lounge
  • Disco Biscuits @ Nokia Theater
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    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    MYSTERY SOLVED: Peelander-Z's Entrance/Exit Song

    For a couple years now, it's been bothering me - what is the music they use when they enter and leave?

    It's this!

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    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Dirtbombs Nearly Destroy Other Music

    The Dirtbombs
    @ Other Music
    New York, NY - April 7, 2008

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh all is right with this very wrong world. The Dirtbombs returned to the island of Manhattan for the first time in a very long time, playing on solid ground at the epicenter of the Hipsterverse, the Other Music record shop on East 4th St. Rather than cater to the arms-crossed, chuck-taylor mode of music loving that emanates from the store, the band brought their loud, raw, distorted, yet gripping hooks to bear, tearing up (almost literally) the site. Playing We Have You Surrounded from front to back, the gang have the riffs down on most of it ("I Hear The Sirens" has arguably surged past "Wreck My Flow" as the standout of standouts), they are jamming the hell out of all of it, and they are getting a little rage out too - Ben nearly literally bringing down the house with his upside down drumming and throwing, Pat climbing the walls and tapping on the record shelves. In case you didn't know it before, you know it now: The Dirtbombs are back.

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    Saturday, April 05, 2008

    Whole Lotta' Death: Murder by Death, O'Death @ Bowery Ballroom

    Murder by Death; O'Death; Kiss Kiss
    @ Bowery Ballroom
    New York, NY - April 4, 2008

    Murder by Death are essentially ghosts. They lurk behind the scenes, making their spooky slices of gallantry and reflection in an alluring shroud. They seemed to have come from nowhere despite being one of the hardest working bands of the decade. And all their songs, in all shapes and sizes, combine a dirty, rough western edge with a sense of gravitas. And lead singer Adam Turla's mutton chops included, they cut an imposing presence, particularly Sarah Balliet on strings. Biting yet graceful.
    O'Death were on fire this night, no other way to put it. Everything sounded swampy, stompy, and chilling. They had themselves a hootenanny but, much like their touring partners from Bloomington, they know how to stir a dark pot.
    Kiss Kiss sounds like Dream Theater meets...well...Murder by Death. But it's not as good as it sounds.

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    Friday, April 04, 2008

    El Madmo...the Band..Officially Launches

    Just one post after needlessly referring to Norah Jones as El Madmo, the "punk" (but not really) outfit she's playfully in - actually called El Madmo - is going to have its first record released by Conor Oberst. This is not a joke. It seems like a lot of jokes are happening lately (the Flaming Lips' movie finally being shown, 81 dollars for a hamburger in New York) but these are just crazy times.

    And who called it back in 2003 when he wanted and got Norah covering AC/DC? Pennypacker, that's who.

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    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Norah Jones Blueberry Movie Madness

    El MadmoNoJo (whose run of secret Living Room appearances are probably done forever what with the very public 10th Anniversary celebration) hits Hollywood in the very sketchy-looking My Blueberry Nights, a Wong Kar-wai film that also stars Cat Power, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and David Strathairn, which made an infamous debut at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

    However the movie ultimately turns out to be, and however critics find Norah's acting debut, she's taking it in all stride, like she seems to do with everything that happens to her. What a gal.

    And what a publicity run!

    On Letterman:

    On Lopate, with Wong:

    (Bonus: Wong also stopped by Soundcheck)

    On Fair Game

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    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    Belated April Fools? The Flaming Lips' Christmas on Mars is Finished!

    Apparently this is really, finally, it. After years - and I mean years - of production (start and stop obviously, not continuous Coppola-Apocalypse Now style), the Flaming Lips' feature length production, Christmas on Mars, will be screened at upcoming music festivals.

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    The Triumph of Generation X

    Jeff Gordinier has written a book that evaluates the history and present status of Generation X, which he more or less loosely defines as those born between the early 60's and mid 70's. He is inclined to include Barack Obama as a Generation X-er but he more distinctly points to those like the Google founders and filmmakers like Richard Linklater and Quentin Tarantino as proof that the generation issued a very productive field of talent and success - in stark contrast to the slacker image the generation was emblematic of in their early-mid 20's some 15 years ago. In politics and social rights, in business, in culture, he makes the case that this is the generation that can save America from itself.

    It's a compelling argument in terms of consistency of talent and output but it really relies on the multi-generational concept of "My generation is better than your generation...why in my day...". Of course Generation X looks fantastic compared to Generation Y, also known as the (really awfully-termed) Millennial generation (I assume that's my generation, the generation of delaying adulthood) that wants everything handed to it on a silver platter without making any effort. At least the X-ers didn't want anything at all while they sat around.

    But for as fantastic as the Google guys and YouTube guys and Linklater and Tarantino and Wes Anderson have been, the Baby Boomers - for all their flaws - gave us people and talent of equal measure - especially those later baby boomers like the Coen Brothers, and the Ramones. And in fact, the rarely categorized Depression-era born and War-time born Generation may have given us the greatest talent of all - filmmakers and actors (Woody, Marty, De Niro, Pacino), and musicians like Bob Dylan. They aren't quite baby boomers, they came from this void of American description and they, aligned with those late boomers, may have produced the grittiest, most independent, and most raw art the American people have ever known (note I am focusing on popular culture, Gordinier probably has it right on business).

    Politically, as with business, Gordinier may be onto something. The X-ers, by and large, retained the spirit of the liberal 60's but without the hell-bent need to fight like it was still the 60's...in other words, there is more practicality with X-ers. And maybe Obama indeed best defines that outlook...then again that may just be taking the Obama image and slapping it onto a generation.

    Whatever. All I know is, I miss Daria and the early days of The Simpsons. And for all the overpraise given to Nirvana - the band that represents Generation X - when you think about what was popular before Kurt (the hair bands) and what was popular after Kurt (Britney), it is amazing to think that for a brief time, this was the popular music, a moment when the underground and the mainstream came together...only to be killed by a suicide and the O.J. Simpson madness:

    But for my money, give me the days of dirigibles and Einstein and Edison and Louis Armstrong. Now THOSE were some generations. Why in my day...

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    Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    I Will Gladly Pay You 81 Dollars Tuesday for a Hamburger Today

    This is not an April Fools joke.

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