Sunday, July 26, 2009

Shwa @ Mercury Lounge

Shwa & The Cuddlef*cks
@ Mercury Lounge
New York, NY - July 25, 2009

Shwa, joined by pal Bryan Dunn on guitar, lit up the stage on a Saturday night with his arsenal of power pop, including a bust out of covers - "Little Red Corvette" and "Mysterious Ways" culminating in a rather thorough going over of "Brooklyn Girls".

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Siren Music Festival 2009: The Raveonettes; Grand Duchy; Frightened Rabbit

The Raveonettes; Grand Duchy; Frightened Rabbi (Siren Music Festival)
@ Coney Island
Brooklyn, NY - July 18, 2009

Another hot, crowded, noisy year at Siren but the sound was good and the bands better.

The Raveonettes never seem to play the same show twice, which works in their favor. But by continuing their "We're Dour Again" ways, they've lost that spark from Chain Gang of Love. No matter, it rocked.

Grand Duchy, Black Francis' collaboration with his wife Violet Clark, retains the hard rockin' thrust of Charlie's Pixies with the same flair for melody and sly swipes of pop. What is it about this man and his work that always connotates an image of bleakness yet always reliably brings about a good case of the jollies? Side note: the image of blue and white beach balls tossing about in front of four all-black dressed musicians made for a fascinating image.

Frightened Rabbit seem to get lobbed in with the long line of lush Scottish pop music but their consistently pounding energy makes them more in the vein of the better sides of U2. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand, proving that even the most stylist, indifferent hipster is a sucker for well-made pop music.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mission of Burma @ East River State Park/Williamsburg Waterfront

Mission of Burma; Fucked Up; Ponytail
@ East River State Park/Williamsburg Waterfront
Brooklyn, NY - July 12, 2009

Marty Markowitz, in a surreal moment, introduced the legendary punk rockers Mission of Burma, to usher in a new era of free Brooklyn summer shows at the waterfront in Williamsburg. The visuals of everything are a step up from the concrete jungle of the McCarren Park Pool, despite the popularity of that place. The bands on the menu were also aimed at a more diverse crowd, as opposed to the usual band of scenesters. The headliners showcased their sound that made them sound fresher than anyone who opened for them. The Toronto hardcore basketcases known as Fucked Up (Marty didn't mention them by name, I can tell you that) displayed a ferocity and an affinity for the old school that was more than decent. Ponytail had a great rhythm section and a talent for fast-paced proggish licks, but the singing destroyed all of it, leaving little to be fond of.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Pains of Being Pure at Heart @ South Street Seaport

Pains of Being Pure at Heart; Zsa Zsa; Ribbons
@ South Street Seaport
New York, NY - July 10, 2009

Alright let's not beat around the bush. It is official. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are a GREAT band. Capital G. Capital R. Capital E. Capital A. Capital T. The band's thunderous pop is a heart-rushing, soul-rattling experience. What is brought out on record in a litany of hits is magnified on the live stage. This kind of music requires some precision and consistency, and the kids have the chops to handle it in front of the ever growing crowds. This band deserves every bit of its meteoric rise. This is not a band to horde. This is a band to share. Anyone who has not figured it out by now is really missing the boat (that is not a Seaport pun).

Zsa Zsa merited no real distinctive analysis when I first saw them, opening for the Pains at the Mercury Lounge in February. Now they do. Frankly, it ain't good. It's all just a bunch of noise, innit?

I barely caught any of Ribbons. But it sounded alright.

Holy crap I really love the Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Heavy Trash @ Mercury Lounge

Heavy Trash
@ Mercury Lounge
New York, NY - July 9, 2009

I should have stayed for Those Darlins, not just because I like what I've heard, but because I wanted to see why they would headline over Heavy Trash.
Anyway, HT were excellent. Either because of the superb sound of the Merc, or the band has become more polished over the years now that they've been cooking. There's a reason this has became Jon Spencer's main project - it's just that damn good. The shortened set didn't allow for "You Can't Win" or "They Were Kings" but "Crazy Pretty Baby" and "Justine Alright" held down the fort. The band's sound may be an excellent bottle of vintage but the energy and exhuberance led my colleague to note that Spencer is 20 years older and yet "looks younger than us". Personally, I think it's the hair.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Conor Oberst @ Battery Park

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band
@ Battery Park
New York, NY - July 4, 2009

Let's not dance around it. I missed Jenny Lewis. As unpatriotic a thing one can do on Independence Day, I missed America's second finest redheaded alt-country singer (y'all know who's number 1). I did, however, catch a decent chunk of the set by the pride of Omaha, Conor Oberst. Bright Eyes never truly became my thing until "Four Winds" came out a couple years ago. When Oberst put Bright Eyes on the backburner to work on something called the Mystic Valley Band, I thought "Oh know what hippie dippie mess is this going to be?" But alas, the Mystic Valley Band project is an alt-country-with-a-twist-of-rock machine. The ballads are pure country, but a lot of the more swingin' songs can be real barn burners. Perhaps best of all, Oberst has tamed his voice, a voice once so shrill that many dubbed Bright Eyes to be an emo thing. But Oberst has come a long way, playing very digestible music and having an easy-going presence on stage.

I still can't believe I missed Jenny Lewis.

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