Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Memories of Maxwell's

I've erased 3 times now a compendium of links to any and all gigs I saw at Maxwell's. I'm sticking with not posting it. If you really care to read some cringe inducing assessments of a small slice of time (about 2005 through 2008) and of some particular bands, by all means use the search feature here in the old Gig Reviews archives and have at it. It is because of that narrow breadth and remembering my writing style at the time that I'm not offering it back up so easily.

However, that narrow breadth of bands and time make up my personal Maxwell's experience. It is a fraction of what many others experienced over the years with a lot more memories of a lot more music. And I am glad to think about it all over again today as the club comes to an end. For where I was during those years, musically speaking, it was as good as it could get (even the long trips to/from Brooklyn were an occasional plus in that there was time to think and catch one's breath...but that was about the only good thing about such a long hoof). Alongside Southpaw and the Mercury Lounge there was nothing better. It served, after years of already legendary status for bands that went on to make a mark, as a little depot with good food for the likes of some rust belt rock bands, garagepunk snots, cowpunk insurgents of all dispositions, and the occasional singer-songwriter who would stop one cold.

By calculations, it appears that I have still seen the Dirtbombs more times than any other band and I saw them more times at Maxwell's than anywhere else. In one or two of the above mentioned years, I went to Maxwell's more than any other club, period. I also gained a lot of weight off their menu. And then I shed a lot of that weight off, still going to the club. What this all means is that I have two things going on at once: some nice memories of my roaring 20's, highs and lows alike, and also a broken record of "remember when's", and all the trappings that come with that. This will prove to be true when eventually, every club I frequented goes away. It's the cycle of a rock n roll fan's existence. In fact I'll probably just copy and paste the last few sentences into the next walk down memory lane when a club closes.

Anyway, here's to Maxwell's. I'll do my part by honoring them every time I play certain bands on the old podcast. And also here's to Hoboken: you've done your part.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 87: “Quiet You”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 87: “Quiet You”

“Original Rags” by Jelly Roll Morton

Set 1
“Moppin’ the Blues” by Django Reinhardt
“Shine” by Dick Hyman Group featuring Howard Alden
“Memories of You” by Ben Webster
“My One and Only Love” by Art Tatum

Set 2
“Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” by Louis Armstrong
“God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday
“Hard-Hearted Hannah” by Ella Fitzgerald
“Look for the Silver Lining” by Chet Baker

Set 3
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” by Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
“Clarinetitis” by Benny Goodman
“In the Mood” by Glenn Miller
“Swingin’ the Blues” by Count Basie
“This is Tomorrow” by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra

Set 4
“Groovin’ High” by Dizzy Gillespie
“Hot House” by Charlie Parker
“Honeysuckle Rose” by Coleman Hawkins
“Dancing in the Dark” by Cannonball Adderly
“Three Little Words” by Sonny Rollins

Set 5
“Eat That Chicken” by Charles Mingus
“Part 1 – Acknowledgement” by John Coltrane
“Ruby, My Dear” by Thelonious Monk
“Pick Up Sticks” by Dave Brubeck Quartet

“So What” by Miles Davis

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 86: “An Ode to Radio”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 86: “An Ode to Radio”

“Radio Head” by Talking Heads

Set 1
“We Want the Airwaves” by the Ramones
“On My Radio” by the Selecter
“On the Radio” by Cheap Trick
“On the Radio” by Regina Spektor
“Radio” by Looker

Set 2
“Radio, Radio” by Elvis Costello
“Transmission” by Joy Division
“Dance Dance Dance to the Radio” by M.O.T.O.
“I Am Your Radio” by the Boss Martians
“Turn Up the Radio” by Autograph

Set 3
“Capital Radio One” by the Clash
“Left of the Dial” by the Replacements
“Radio Free Europe” by R.E.M.
“Mexican Radio” by Wall of Voodoo
“Radio Nowhere” by Bruce Springsteen

Set 4
“D.J.” by David Bowie
“The Last DJ” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
"Radio Rebel" by the Bamboo Kids
“Let’s Build a Home/Going Back to Memphis (live at Maida Vale)” by the White Stripes
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles

“Radio Ga Ga” by Electric Six

Friday, July 19, 2013

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion; We Are Hexed @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion; We Are Hexed
@ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY - July 18, 2013

I had it all planned it out for weeks, months even. I was getting hitched sometime around now. What better way to throw myself a bachelor party of 1 then stop off at BAM for a Cassavetes festival screening of Husbands before going to see (finally) the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on a work night. Foolproof! Well it all fell apart faster than a fasting monk at a cheap buffet. First the landlady offered to get out of town for the summer if I married the daughter on the spot so there went that plan. Then after deciding I'm still taking myself out for all this, I discover at the last mintue I had the wrong date for the movie. So Minnie & Moskowitz it was. Armed with my copy of Finnegans Wake for mental exercises and fueled by food and rum from the best restaurant in Brooklyn - Madiba, on Mandela's birthday no less (where a French filmmaker was proving every stereotype in the book, ordering plain beans off the menu, and wanting a small room built on the spot just for him) - I took in the show at the cinema ("Hello Mom? This is Seymour Moskowitz. Jewish. Not too religious.") then hightailed it to the concert.

We Are Hexed alternated between muddy sludge and all-out assaults. The assaults were fun.

BLUES EXPLOSION! I really truly thought it was a jokey exaggeration. That Jon Spencer says "Blues Explosion" every few words. BLUES EXPLOSION! It's no joke. He really does it. Occasionally he'll do a long build up of swagger talk to say "the Blues are #1" but for the most part it's simply "Blues Explosion". Keeping in mind the point of this is garage-punk discordant/melodic mixed rock n roll fronted by spoken-word poetry-cum-actual-singing, it makes sense. In fact, it might feel to some like a Joyce story adapted for visuals by Jarmusch. To some.  BLUES EXPLOSION! Even on some of the poppier rock n roll like the new cut "Bag of Bones" or the new but old sounding mostly-instrumental "Get Your Pants Off", there is a slight tinge of the unhinged in all the right ways. BLUES EXPLOSION!  Mention should be made of the psychedelic light show of sorts in the background but even with the spaced out minor-jams and mild trippyness afoot, this is really a nasty old rock n roll show. Also these a role models. Chew on that for a minute, will ya? Role Models. BLUES EXPLOSION!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Motherfeather @ Brooklyn Bowl

Motherfeather; The Adversary
@ Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn, NY - July 14, 2013

I've long heard about but never seen before the genre-smashing mini-explosion that is Motherfeather. Something like Iron Maiden meets Pat Benatar along a celestial sea of cabaret and glam dimensions, this was as head-banging sludge as much as it was smoothly sexy. It's rare these days to see rockers take the time to make a visual statement to go with their sound. Solomon Burke lamented not long before we lost him that there was no more flair, showmanship, and spectacle left in rock n' roll. So fitting that those 3 elements are at play in Motherfeather: a heavy metal version of music Solomon Burke would dig.

The Adversary were all make-out music, coming at it from different styles, all wrapped up in a groove. They ended with a cover of "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots", forever changing the context of the song and rendering Wayne Coyne another Barry White.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 85: “Summer Night Dance Party 2013”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 85: “Summer Night Dance Party 2013”

“Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night” by the Hold Steady

Set 1
“Here Comes the Summer” by the Undertones
“Celebrate Summer” by the Paybacks
“Noisy Summer” by the Raveonettes
“Summer Shoulders” by the Prime Ministers
“Pain Killer (Summer Rain)” by Turin Brakes
“Summertime Blues’ by Eddie Cochran

Set 2
“Weird Shapes” by Surfer Blood
“All My Life” by Cali Girafffes
“Dead in Your Head” by Bleached
“Cayucos” by Cayucas
“Au Revoir” by the Front Bottoms

Set 3
“Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful
“Summer Fun” by Barracudas
“Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love)” by the Swinging Medallions
“Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
“Summer of Love” by the B-52’s

Set 4
“Bagboy” by Pixies
“Run for Cover” by Oblivians
“What’s Life Without Losers” by Mikhael Paskalev
“Stare at the Sun” by Eleanor Friedburger
“Don’t Swallow the Cap” by the National

Set 5
“Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones
“King of the Beach” by Wavves
“Cedar Point ‘76” by the Dirtbombs
“4th of July” by X
“Somebody’s Mom” by Pointed Sticks

“Summer Days” by Bob Dylan

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

B.B. King; James Hunter Six @ Brookfield Place

B.B. King; James Hunter Six (Lowdown Hudson River Blues Festival)
@ Brookfield Place (World Financial Center)
New York, NY - July 10, 2013

For as long as I have memories, I have known and loved B.B. King. Whether it was "The Thrill is Gone" or later on getting acquainted with "Payin' the Cost to be the Boss" and "Guess Who", little Elwood didn't just limit his blues intake to the Blues Brothers. Oh no. B.B. played as big a role and eventually a bigger one. And for all the love of Muddy and John Lee and Howlin', none of it would have been possible without first loving B.B.

87 years old and he's still going. Obviously the vocals and even the long plays have slowed down, and the tempo of the band has to adjust, but man - would I be like this if I get to 87? I doubt it. "Thrill", "Guess", "Everyday I Have the Blues" and a couple of others made appearances in what was essentially a long jam of fiddlin' around on some basic lounge blues chords, before culminating in a "Saints Go Marching In" send-off. Yeah the spectre of mortality was a part of this show, B.B. wasn't running from it. He just kept going and going. If only we all could.

When James Hunter unleashed People Gonna Talk several years ago, it seemed like one of the last hurrahs of a soulful bluesy traditionalist making waves in large quarters. But in hindsight it appears to have been at the vanguard of a revival. And now with the new record, Minute by Minute, and a quintet backing him up to form a new band, Hunter is tackling it all from a punchier angle: more boppin' soul than blues. In this live setting, he toned it back a bit again with some crooning, some ska beats, and some straight blues but the classicist in him kept bringing it all together with the new slate. He is as good as he promised some years ago.