Friday, February 26, 2010

Alkaline Trio review at PopMatters

Ladies and Gents:

If you are of a mind, check out my review of the new Alkaline Trio record This Addiction over at PopMatters.

Here's a link.

Thanks to Epitaph/Heart & Skull and Sarah Zupko at PopMatters.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

and there was much rejoicing

New Album “Heaven is Whenever” Available May 3 in the UK and EU / May 4 in the US

By The Hold Steady, 23 February, 2010, No Comment

The Hold Steady recently put the finishing touches on ‘Heaven Is Whenever,’ their new album set for release May 4th on Vagrant Records and May 3rd on Rough Trade in the UK and EU. The album was produced by Dean Baltulonis, who engineered the band’s ‘Almost Killed Me’ and produced ‘Separation Sunday,’ and was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios in Upstate NY and Wild Arctic Studios in Queens, NY, with mixing also happening at Wild Arctic.

Singer Craig Finn says ’Heaven Is Whenever’ is about “embracing suffering and finding reward in our everyday lives.” Piano and keys take a backseat to guitar on the new record, which also gets production help from guitarist Tad Kubler.

Recorded in several smaller sessions spread out over a long period of time, the songs on ‘Heaven Is Whenever’ received the benefit of being tested on the band’s recent tours. As Finn says this allowed them to “see what was working and what wasn’t. I believe this record benefits from us working at a more deliberate pace.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Big Fan @ The Friars Club 2.23.10

As my life grows more ironic as I move towards my old age, I have found myself kind of in the film business. Long story, but coincident with said move, my dear friend Eric Johnson invited me to a function at The Friars Club that would feature a screening of Big Fan. I'm not one to pass up on an evening with the Brothers Johnson, and a Patton Oswalt helmed movie at The Friars Club pretty much made this a must-attend. I must say at the onset that the screening (and companion Q&A with Robert Siegel afterward) was the first of a series of screenings tied into the film festival that Eric is one of the players behind. I, of course, have lifestyle driven issues that preclude my remembering the name of the festival or the series at this juncture, but stick around and I'll get the skinny soonish.

I was vaguely familiar with the movie's premise through a posting on Patton's web presence and though I'm hardly the hugest sports fan, the Patton factor seemed to be worth the price of admission. I really enjoyed it despite my antipathy towards dram-edys. It's pretty dark and fairly affirming if you are a nerd (and I am). Without going into too much spoiler stuff, it's a great story about an obsessive Giants Fan and the Michael Rapaport scenes are amazing. MR deserves his props but Big Fan also establishes Patton as a pretty great actor. It'll be interesting to see if this will lead to more time with Oswalt in front of the camera. Here's hoping. Get all the skinny on Big Fan here and buy a copy on DVD while you're there. Thanks to Eric. Stay tuned for more info on the series.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Backyard Tire Fire at PopMatters

Hey Kids:

Sorry it's been so sparse around the parts with the updates. Got a million things brewing for PopMatters that are taking me out of the game. The first one of the avalanche will be the new Backyard Tire Fire record called Good To Be. Peep the review here.

Thanks to Sarah Zupko at PopMatters and Traci Thomas at ThirtyTigers.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bettie Serveert - Pharmacy Of Love

Bettie Serveert will always hold a place in my heart for releasing Palomine a million years ago. The record was a soundtrack to the early days of my first "adult" relationship. A cassette (yep) I snagged from her (a gift from the guy who would eventually become my first NYC roommate) had Palomine on one side and Buffalo Tom's Let Me Come Over on the other. As luck would have it, Bettie opened up for Buffalo Tom on that same tour. I saw one of the first dates of that tour at Irving and they pretty much leveled the crowd from the get-go. Guitarist Peter Visser was on fire from the drop, and had Buffalo Tom not been at the top of their game at that point, it could have been pretty ugly for the boys from Amherst. Carol van Dyk has a distinctive velvety warmth to her voice, reserved but always cutting through walls of guitar. The Velvet Underground influences have always been worn on their sleeves, and there was even an all-Velvet limited thing in Europe recently, but the Bettie Serveert take is a much louder one.

Post-Palomine, Bettie oscillated in and out of my radar through the odd writing promo list or cut-out bin trawl. In investigating the JS-NYC archives, I have all of their seven subsequent releases, as well as the two wonderful Chitlin Fooks records and can identify high points on all of them, it's a wonder they haven't got more play, especially after their wonderful Bare Stripped Naked CD/DVD set they released a while ago. Just not enough hours in the day, I guess. Once again, with the release of Pharmacy Of Love, I have vowed to dedicate more recreational listening time to Bettie Serveert. All of the aforementioned things that make the band wonderful are still in evidence. The quieter moments are pretty and soothing, the louder fare bracing in its Neil Young meets J. Mascis splendor. Get everything you need Bettie-wise here, and add Bettie Serveert and Pharmacy Of Love to the increasingly long list of reasons why Holland has us way outclassed.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

John Mulaney - The Top Part

John Mulaney is a local guy. A product of the New York City comedy scene and the SNL writers pool, I had seen him on late night TV a couple times and was pleased to find that Comedy Central had thrown him a bone and put The Top Part out. His bio mentions stints on The Comedians Of Comedy Tour with Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn and opening dates for Mike Birbiglia and there couldn't be a better description of the comedic cross-pollenation Mulaney puts out. He's got the edge of the C.o.C set and the everyman aw-shucksness of Birbiglia. I'd check it out and get ahead of the game, as I see big things for Mulaney in the future.

The Top Part should do a lot in getting him some notice. Mulaney doesn't work especially blue, nor does he really talk about sex or politics, so you can give this to your parents or more straight-laced friends. The Law & Order bit is worth the price of admission, enough that you can forgive his horrible website logo. The other bits about late night subway travel, Donald Trump and organ donation are pretty great, too. Doubters or those desiring of visual stimulation can see video clips of the material at the official John Mulaney site here. I didn't poke around too far, but I assume you can get The Top Part there, too.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Kathy Griffin - Suckin' It for the Holidays

Ok, let me say from the onset that while I can say that I have probably seen all her Bravo comedy specials, I'm not so much of a mark that I've ever seen the reality program that is all the rage. Granted the cds and specials all pretty much concern the program, but I'll salvage whatever hetero cred I can.

She's pretty candid in her desire to be part of Hollywood's A-List despite it being shallow and fake, not to mention mercurial. I can respect that, and most importantly we seem to hate the same people, allowing me to look past the horrible cover of the cd and seek it out anyway. It helps that she only releases cds because she wants to have a Grammy. As she lost out last year, she decided to target the holiday cd market and win that way. I'm not sure if she won, but she got the nomination again this yearand you gotta love the tenacity. Most of the stuff on Suckin' It For The Holidays covers stuff I could really care about (The Real Housewives Series, The Hills, Katie Couric) but the story about T.I. talking on speakerphone with Justin Timberlake is fucking classic. As a whole, it's not for the average (read: heterosexual male) comedy fan, but its definitely worth checking out.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Puppy Bowl VI

2010 brings us the sixth installment of Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl. It's one of my favorite TV perennials, but just like anything else on the air for that long, it's been diluted as it stretches into the second decade of the millennium. (above: Garbanzo, a puppy)

First there are the kittens. For the record, I like kitten cats very much, maybe more than I like adult dogs in general. Despite the fact that it is the fucking Puppy Bowl, I can grasp the kitty half-time show conceptually, but it is always a total snore on the actual telecast. Sleeping kittens are cute when they are in your lap, but not the most exciting to watch in repose unless you happen to to be in the throes of a panic attack. If that was your application for this year's Bowl, more power to you. I've been there, but by and large I can't see the use in general. Isn't that what YouTube is for? Recent years have found the PB ringmasters going out of their way to try to whip our young feline entertainers into doing anything, with this year ending up being the most over the top spectacle yet, sort of an epileptic acid trick with spinning pipe cleaners and flashing lights, a sort of kitty Gitmo that bemused 100% of the feline participants. Again kittens being the the yin to the puppy yan, I can see how it looked good on paper, but come on. I don't mean to harp on this, but again: it is the Puppy Bowl. Get some puppy programming.

That said, I'd watch the damn Kitty Bowl for the duration before I'd suffer through the indignity that are/were the hamster blimp crew and the rabbit cheerleaders. Really? Again, maybe kids dig them, but did either of those groups do anything? At all? The hamster blimp facilitated some Twizzlers product placement, but the rabbit cheerleaders could have been dead for all practical purposes. And maybe not the best counterpoint to a not so exciting broadcast, huh guys? Were the rabbits related to someone big at Animal Planet? It was hands-down the most ridiculous waste of non-puppy airtime and well worth editing out. Not to mention Rabbits are dumb anyway.

All in all, a low scoring game. The puppies were cute, but I'd say it suffered from a pronounced lack of American Bulldogs and/or Rhodesian Ridgebacks. There was the dynamic duo of Garbanzo (seen above left) and her sister Fava, two Cattle Dog Mixes who very much needed to get petted. The Labrador set did a lot of the active work during the proceedings and were all around very cute, too. On the down side of things, we learned very quickly that the only thing worse than a Puggle when it comes to propagating the bastard union that foments canine Satan, it's the Chihuahua/Pug mix that made a brief, seemingly meth-fueled entrance into the proceedings, tearing all over the arena until it was assumably bound and tranquilized. All in all, not a great show. I can't think that they can't do this like fishing shows and edit it down from hours of footage, but either way, it could have been more exciting, to say the least.
The puppies were cute, and I understand a bunch of them were rescues, but is there really a shortage of cute amateur puppies available for an two hours in November? I think not.

If you're of a mind to delve more into the Puppy Bowl phenomenon, you can use this link to get to Animal Planet. Be prepared for a lot of irritating commercial lead-ins. There are some very cute puppy photos that don't require the shillfest. See you next year at VII.


Friday, February 5, 2010

DJ Get-It-Right & Nicki Minaj: Barbies R Us

The contrarian in me meant that I tried pretty hard to stay far away from anything that was affiliated with Drake and Nicki Minaj, but dammit if that Forever song didn't hook me. I'm not going to admit to being a Drake fan, but I've come to like me some Nicki Minaj. She's got a cool flow, and obviously is kinda smoking. She first came on my radar for the usual 'I Don't Want To Be Considered A Sex Object/That's Not My Angle' headline that heralds the coming of a new female artist in the hip-hop of today. Funny that you chose Nicki Minaj as your nom du rhyme, lady. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but was pretty sure this mix tape was going to go down like it does.

Pardon me while I pat myself on the back. As predicted, Barbies R' Us opens with the ode to modesty 'Sex In Crazy Places' featuring the profoundly not good Gucci Mane. Here's hoping those crazy places were very dark. Between the gunshots, there are 8 other tracks that are pretty overtly sexual. You can argue that leaves 66% that isn't porno, but Nicki should lose the pontificating and keep on rhyming, as she is a fucking beast on the mike. She's no Rah Digga or Remy Ma, but she has skills and with the Young Money deal and Wayne going to do his short bid, things look good for our girl to blow up big. She pretty much bodies the rest of the YM crew on the posse cut (save for Wayne, of course) and does the same for most if not all of the female rappers out today for the duration. Brothers should be watching their ass, too, as regardless of beat or collaborator, Minaj pretty much kills it. You can get this in all the usual corners of the interweb and its more than worth the bandwidth. Keep track of all things Minaj here and marvel at how she is in no way working the eye candy angle.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Strung Out at PopMatters

Hey. It's been a bit. Sorry.

While I'm catching up, check out my Strung Out review over at the PopMatters.

Thanks to Vanessa at Fat and Sarah at PopMatters