Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rumor Has It...

There's word around the proverbial campfire this evening that in less than 48 Earth Hours from now, yours truly will be making his Sub-Etha Internet Radio debut at http://thorradio.com/.

That salacious spinner of savory songs, DJ Rez, has apparently been conked on the coconut with a frying pan (cast iron no doubt), and has chosen to allow your Middling Working Boy to sit in with him at Rez HQ for 2 hours of pious rock n roll pontification and playing of said rock n roll. It'll be a meeting of the minds, as the kids say these days, and this old hack will even be playing a handful of his own personal favorites of these years and yester.

The liturgy will be doled out this Thursday, September 2nd at SEVEN in the PM - 2300 Hours Universal Coordinated Time. Remember to dress sharp, phone a friend, and alert the Princeton Astronomical Observatory to be on the lookout for inter-stellar responses to the mass consumption of the digital bandwith.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Wedding Present; Savoir Adore @ South Street Seaport

The Wedding Present; Savoir Adore
@ South Street Seaport
New York, NY - August 13, 2010

Admittedly, up until a month or two ago, I had never heard of the Wedding Present but was taken with a radio performance they did. I made no effort to brush up, get acquainted, or do anything else in the build-up to this performance so I have no knowledge of the band except that their well-received record Bizarro was released 21 years ago. I cannot even begin to fake any sort of context for the band, or the review. Except to say that I had a great time watching band that seems to have straddled the point in between early 80's power pop and today's jangly slightly distorted plethora of bands. In other words, they seem to come from exactly the period that they did. And they know their place. The lead singer (whose name I just learned moments ago is David Gedge) said after one song, "I'd like to see the XX write a song like that." Ouch.

I only caught the last couple of songs by Savoir Adore but they sounded as sweetly fine tuned as they did at CMJ last year. The kids are on the move.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Sonic Parthenon Playlist: Summer 2010, Vol. 2

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Say No To Love"
Along with the Hold Steady's "The Weekenders" and the Joy Formidable's "Whirring", here is the third piece of the puzzle. One of the best songs of the year from one of the best bands of the last few. They don't have much of a catalog yet, and they don't seem intent on deviating from what they know, but they already appear to be in it for the long haul. Here's to them.

Secret History - "My Life with the Living Dead"
A cute number about the biography of a rock star. Zombie-allusions intentional.

Saint Motel - "Butch"
A slick LA rock band? Perhaps. A heck of a song? For sure. That's the thing about Los Angeles. It's a city that can't shake a professional-level talent to apply to the nitty gritty (see the aforementioned Franks, see the not-until-now mentioned Fear whose legendary The Record has recently finally come around here with all its hardcore-with-hooks poetry). Is Rock n Roll TV, the LA-based video podcast with Share Ross, profiling Los Angeles bands again? She should be. Start with these guys.

Sally Seltmann - "Dream About Changing"
Is 60's girl-group back AGAIN? Maybe. Either way, I'll take this.

Stars - "Fixed"
There's no excuse really for why I haven't listened to all of the new Stars record, The Five Ghosts. Nor was there an excuse for missing them at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. There is an excuse for avoiding the upcoming Terminal 5 show. It's at Terminal 5. Anyway, "Fixed" is amazing.

Sweet Apple - "Do You Remember"
Take some J. Mascis, stir it up with other side projects of his and other guys side projects from other bands, and behold Sweet Apple (it took a lot for me to not begin this with a "take a bite of the delicious..."...oops). YOU WANT YOUR ROCK TO ROCK?! AND YOU WANT YOUR ROCK TO SOUND LIKE THE 70'S NEVER WENT OUT OF STYLE?! AND YOU WANT YOUR ROCK TO SOUND LIKE THE BIG ASS ARENA SOUND THAT DIDN'T TURN INTO THE STEAMING TURD OF NEGLECT AND BANALITY THAT IT DID IN ACTUALITY? THEN HERE!

Tokyo Police Club - "Boots of Danger (Wait Up)"
I didn't catch the wave the first time or two this hyped-band came around though I did pay some attention. They've certainly got it now. This song is a wannabe-hit, which in my book is an actual bona fide hit.

We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut 1988-2001
For the second time this year, a book is dictating what I am listening to. Eric Davidson of the New Bomb Turks has put out this half-memoir, half-oral history of the period that essentially picks up where Our Band Could Be Your Life left off. It's brought the Gories, the Mummies, and the Jon Spencer musical family back into my listening fold but now with their return come new old faces and sounds: the Devil Dogs, Didjits, Dwarves, (lots of bands beginning with D) Rocket from the Crypt, the Gibson Brothers, Raunch Hands, etc. And actual A-Bones music on record! Holy crap!

Wolf Parade - "What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)" and "Yulia"
I was into Dan Boeckner's Handsome Furs before I finally got into Wolf Parade. That's ass backwards but can you blame me? Listen to these songs from the new Expo '86.

Honorable Mentions:
Cochemea Gastelum - "Carlito!"
Cults - "Go Outside"
Ferraby Lionheart - "Harry and Bess"
Frazey Ford - "If You Gonna Go" (Former Be Good Tanyas!)
The Redwood Plan - "How The Game Is Played" (second track from this Northwest band that doesn't get out much - who ARE these guys?)
Ugly Casanova - "Here's To Now" (surprising that an Isaac Brock side project making a comeback has received little traction).

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The Sonic Parthenon Playlist: Summer 2010, Vol. 1

The Besnard Lakes - "Albatross"
An honorable mention in the spring, this song took up the first half of the summer pretty thoroughly. A vexing blend of 60's pop and distorted noise that too many other bands are overdoing to death these days.

Delta Spirit - "Bushwick Blues"
Will this song for the Delta Spirit what "The Rat" did for the Walkmen? Could it even do for them what "Last Nite" did for the Strokes? It is too soon to tell but it could and should. The San Diego Spirit have been working it for a few years now but they've never sounded like this - which is to say, like a 2000's modern rock band. This song is major.

Devo - Something For Everybody
The occasion for the new Devo LP was cause for yours truly to finally get caught up with the entirety of the Devo catalog. From about "Mongoloid" to "That's Good" I was quite pleased. Nothing was doing after that until the new record. The hit sounding "Step Up", the surprising house-beat-backed "What We Do" (with annoyingly lovely refrain), and the Obama-empathizing "Sumthin'" are the highlights.

Foster The People - "Pumped Up Kicks"
I always like to point out when I pick up a song from NPR's "Second Stage" podcast. That podcast used to typically be smothered with very Indie, very experimental sounds (though there always good folk and pop surprises). This one takes it to a whole new level. It sounds sweet and pleasant and poppy. But listen to the lyrics. It's about murdering those who like popular music. Is that how it got on there?

Fitz & The Tantrums - "Moneygrabber"
Recently there was love for Sharon Jones on here. Sharon Jones is at the head of an army of soul-reviving forces. I'm picky with this. It takes a lot for me to hear the authenticity and get caught up in it. It has happened with a select few Sharon songs and some of the Heavy. Amy Winehouse...well....Meanwhile, Fitz and the silly named Tantrums have this stupendous butt-kicker.

The Franks - "Ray Gunn Radio"
Every time I say garage rock is over for yet another spell, something keeps it moving along. The LA Franks are devoted to what's good without pandering and without doing it in the "look at us we're sloppy and proud of it, it's our image!" mold. TALENT goes a long way in this genre and it is an under-appreciated quality.

Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
The title track is what really works. It's right where Brian and the kids left off from The '59 Sound. I swear I hear Bruce himself in the backing vocals (uncredited assist?). Between them and the lower profile Screaming Females...does New Brunswick really have a real scene? I mean I know I heard about it...but really? Woah.

The Hold Steady - "Our Whole Lives"
The one song from Heaven is Whenever that I didn't hear before the album was released that has really been on repeat. And I'm not the only one taken by this album track. The host of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me played it when he had Craig on for one of the quizzes (Craig got all 3 questions right!).

The Joy Formidable - A Balloon Called Moaning
"Whirring" is one of the best songs of the year. A candidate for the top spot along side the Hold Steady's "The Weekenders" and a song to be named soon. It has it all: the build-up, the explosion, the aftermath, the regrouping, the repeat of the steps. In fact, it is just like the other two songs. This must be how I like my rock.

Mimicking Birds - "Burning Stars"
A perfectly tight well-made solid folk-pop song, no frills, no muss, just professional delivery.

The Mynabirds - "Numbers Don't Lie" and "What We Gained in the Fire"
Last time - on the Spring playlist - I wrote about John Davis' Title Tracks. This time, it's a moment (or two) for the other half of the departed Georgie James. Laura Burhenn has somewhat channeled the original Mynah Birds of Neil Young and Rick James (still can't believe that really happened) but more over has crafted her own very soulful, very Stax-ballad and folk-rock styled pop. If this is what the two former members of Georgie are doing these days, what would have happened if they had toughed it out?

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings; The Budos Band @ Prospect Park

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings; The Budos Band
@ Prospect Park
Brooklyn, NY - August 7, 2010

I didn't catch much of this show because it was insanely crowded and you had to get there early so there was a lot of walking around the area between the bands performances. But I did catch something, a bit of insight: Sharon Jones is worth it. Sometimes, with the Dap Kings records, I get a little "ahhhh it's nice but ehhhh it's a bit dry and toooo much like the great vintage soul it wants to be but not always with that oomph and baaaaaah....". Forget all that. She's great. And this is how soul is meant to sound. You know - New York is not the kind of place that needs to rely on that "hey a local boy/girl made good!" mentality that The Real America has because this city doesn't have a chip on its shoulder or that boonies/sticks way of life. But in the case of Sharon Jones, it's irresistible to say. The former Rikers Island corrections officer really is a remarkable story of success and how sweet it is.

The Budos Band alternated between a great soul/funk wham and a lengthy psychedelic jam. They should have stuck to the former.

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Friday, August 06, 2010

CORRECTED: Metric; Joan as Police Woman; Holly Miranda @ Prospect Park

Metric; Joan as Police Woman; Holly Miranda
@ Prospect Park
Brooklyn, NY - August 5, 2010

Mammoth Correction (August 10th, 2010) - You know why "Eclipse" sounded so much better live than on the record? Because it wasn't "Eclipse"! It was the great song "Black Sheep" from the upcoming and less derision-inducing looking Scott Pilgrim film, thereby making all of my oh-so-witty slams about Twilight completely irrelevant. They didn't even play that damn song. Goes to show what I know when I listen to things one or two times in this mp3-of-the-moment world. And for further ass-kicking, I'm not even entirely confident that they didn't play "Black Sheep" as the kick off at the Terminal 5 show. And what really hurts is that I went back and listened to "Eclipse" after the concert to see if that really is what I heard because I had only heard the song once before. I totally forgot about the OTHER NEW SONG that I had only listened to once but actually liked. But "actually liked" still only counts for one or two listenings in this don't-have-time-to-actually-love-music-gotta-blog-about-it-fast-though 21st century life (see "mp3-of-the-moment" lament above). So the original opening paragraph of the review is modified below. Apologies to the band, apologies to "Black Sheep", and thanks to the Brooklyn Vegan commenters who pointed out a clear bone headed mistake.

Amended review follows:

Metric played pretty much the exact same set (shaved a song or two) in the exact same way as they did at Terminal 5 a few months ago but with I think two big differences.The first was they kicked off with "Black Sheep" - the imposing single from the upcoming film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - NOT the song "Eclipse (All Yours)" - their single from the Twilight soundtrack, which is nevertheless still some big deal with a lot of people (and despite my original error, I still wouldn't know, because I refuse to watch anything in which vampires sparkle in the sun instead of burn - why should my lack of ability as a hack writer get in the way of protecting sound vampire logic?).

"Black Sheep" of course makes sense as a kick off because it fits right into the Metric mold. The other big - and for sure - difference was the band sounded better as a whole in the open air of Prospect Park than they did at the acoustic horror of Terminal 5. Same band, same performance, better venue = the awesome thunder of Metric in full display. And I thought they actually sounded fine at Terminal 5 which goes to show how bad Terminal 5 really is.

I was still reeling from Shaw's solo in "Gold Guns Girls" from the last time and now he's done it again, and now I don't know if I'll recover for the rest of the year.

Emily Haines was having almost too good a time. During the acoustic "Combat Baby" finale, she got distracted by people posturing and being silly in the crowd. But this is her way. The band may have a tight, ultra professional big time production value but they are still people just having fun playing some music. A few weeks ago she used this thing called The Twitter (another big deal I don't quite get), and wrote how it was 2 in the morning and she was sitting across from two big time rock star guys having a conversation and it was one of THOSE oh-my-god-we've-made-it moments. No ego. None. Someone tell that to the two guys having the conversation.

While the open air worked in Metric's favor, it actually backfired against the opening acts. Joan Wasser's shows have been reviewed here before and they've been great. Tonight not so much. A little too meandering for the confines. And she's tired of "To Be Loved"? Really? Holly Miranda played one perfect beautiful soul song (Otis cover?) and a whole bunch of serious alt pop that got lost in the crowd. Both acts would have sounded better in a small club.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Gories; Death @ Lincoln Center

The Gories; Death
@ Lincoln Center
New York, NY - July 31, 2010

Well this was an odd one. A heady mix of punks young and old and aristocratic Lincoln Center patrons who shushed those punks and told them to sit down came out for the first half of the second half of the Ponderosa Stomp at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors festival at the bandshell shaped like a split-open pearl onion. This year's theme was "Detroit Breakdown" courtesy of some little old man from Lincoln Center and a jew-fro'd Motor City connoisseur named Dr. Ike. I am not making any of this up. This is not a scene in a Pynchon short.

By all rights and merits, I should be flipping my lid and doing a dance across I-80. During the Detroit Craze, there were two bands that existed some 10-15 years before that were constantly cited as the direct roots of all that was happening at that time. One of those bands were Goober & The Peas. The other were the Gories, the band that would eventually give us the Dirtbombs, the Demolition Doll Rods, and a thousand bastard sons of the Motor City garage rock scene. Both bands have reunited. If this was 2003, 4, 5, even 6, I'd be doing the curly shuffle. Instead I am merely giddy on the inside, full of nostalgia for that nostalgia of a few years ago. By coincidental aid, I recently read the trip down memory lane called We Never Learn, written by Eric Davidson of the New Bomb Turks. It paid heavy focus on the Gories, (and a little bit at the end about the retro garage craze of the early 2000's which was were I came in). I noticed Mr. Davidson in the crowd but didn't get the opportunity to tell him he wrote a good book which shares another certain writer's penchant for run-on sentences and over-the-top descriptions of rock bands.

So this is what those Gories records would sound like if they knew how to play their instruments better! Hitting the notes (all two of 'em), tight and crisp, full of that same energy and raw power but with a deference to professionalism . Hopefully, it still offended the ears of the resident patrons. But only if they knew how it once could have been - a loud, sloppy, stain-your-dress mess. It's nice to see Dan Kroha perform in actual clothes (red shirt with white polka-dots do make the man). It's nice to finally see in action the mysterious, long heard about Peg O'Neil, whose drumming style and stage presence caused some in the crowd around me to observe that she was reminiscent of a another former Detroit resident who drummed in a simple garage band. Of course that drummer arrived well after Peg left the scene so this was a chance to see how that whole puzzle came together. And of course, it's nice to see Mick Collins period.
This was a real treat. "Thunderbird ESQ" and "Nitroglycerin" LIVE and by the band who made those songs. Mick singing the blues - THE BLUES! MICK! I'd never thought I'd see the day. And while all the memories of that time flowed back (not the original time of the Gories but the time in which they were remembered), it didn't feel like a nostalgia show. It felt immediate. It felt like some things were meant to resume and pick up where you left off. If only for 45 minutes.

Death came to Lincoln Center. It was still a medium-paced set, like the one at Europa, but it got a little sweatier and a little more ferocious by the end, as the band fed off the swelling number of people choosing to stand by the barrier and in the aisles. Credit goes to one young man in a green shirt who refused to let the stiffs carry the day. A one man pep rally, the lad danced and half-moshed by his lonesome, which convinced others to at least stand with him and bob their heads. Truly, rock n roll and good decency came together. Which is kind of like Death - the ultimate sounding in loud, talented rock n roll but played by gentlemen with distinct class.

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