Sunday, July 31, 2011

Live: Christie Front Drive @ Bell House 7.30.11

Boy, reunion city has a whole bunch of new residents, lately. In yet another of a series of events seemingly calculated only to remind me of my rapidly advancing age, Christie Front Drive have reunited for two shows (one Brooklyn, one in their home town of Denver), fifteen years after their last live performance as a band. Yes, there was a one-off in Denver a couple of years ago, but let's move forward.

So I got an email about this once it firmed up and bought a ticket with the rapidity you might expect for a nerd such as myself. I figured there was a pretty good chance that I missed CFD play previously, but it seemed prudent to rectify the situation this time around. I had seen all the post-CFD Richter projects and interviewed him a couple times in The 101 era. As I understand, Golden City is defunct and Richter is projectless currently.

Rolled up to Bell House just as the opener I had fully intended to miss finished and ran into Jason and his band (and Band) of AZ ex-pats. Shot the shit for a bit about current Seven Storey/Jimmy Eat World goings-on and staked out some recording real estate as the gents started their intro music. The team sounded pretty decent for having been fallow for the better part of a decade and a half. People are heavier, but seemingly in good health, although one never really though of this crew as being the biggest crew of party animals. I didn't figure on so comprehensive of a set, but they opened with Seven Day Candle and closed with an impromptu version of Dirt about an hour and fifteen minutes later. The set wasn't without it's rough spots, but was pretty aces for the most part.

I got a pretty good recording of the whole thing that I'll pass around, barring the CFD crew nixing the idea. Email me for a link. The last 10 seconds of Dirt are cut off, but the rest is definitely excellent.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The New Trust & Friends: Battle To The Death

I fell hard for The New Trust the only time I ever saw them live. I know definitively that it was at the Leonard St. Knit in the Main Room, but for the life of me I can't remember who they were opening for. I'm thinking a No Idea band, or maybe Alkaline Trio, either way TNT brought it. I expect the late gent from The Velvet Teen was with them at that point, as it was behind the We Are Fast Moving Motherfuckers EP. The interweb tells me that makes it 2004, and to the best of my knowledge they've not been out East since. It's been a bit since their last full-length Get Vulnerable, as well, now that you mention it. It doesn't look like we're going to see them or a new band record soon, but in the interim the good folk of TNT Enterprises have been kind enough to afford us The New Trust & Friends: Battle To The Death.

Much like the band that spawned it, The New Trust & Friends is many things: a little over half TNT songs done acoustically, some of which are new (five), the rest revisitations of older material. In that vein, the closing eight comprise said Battle-ing Friends, each of whom reinterpret a New Trust favorite.

Sadly, it's not often for the better. Things kick off in positive fashion with Oddbird and their take on Fast Asleep In Her Arms, but things head decidedly southward til Judah from The Velvet Teen scores in the closing moments. I think its mostly due to singer/bassist Josh Staples and his idiosyncratic voice (both in singing and songwriting) that they pale in comparison to the originals. I can't see the covers getting a lot of future play, but it is certainly good to hear that The New Trust are still an active franchise. Here's hoping that means touring soon.

Get The New Trust & Friends: Battle To The Death here at The New Trust bandcamp presence.
Lovers of tangibility can defer here and procure from Saint Rose Records.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Live: Jon Dee Graham @ The Living Room 7.23.11

Jaded Scenester NYC loves themselves some Jon Dee Graham. It's been far too long since I've been to Austin, and Jon Dee's weekly gig at The Continental is probably the longest standing gig I regret not being able to see. Lifestyle issues caused me to miss the release of the amazing It's Not As Bad As It Looks, and theoretical tour behind said record. I managed to placate myself with the Chupacabra live record, but the one-two punch of those releases really heightened the need for live JDG.

Well, someone's looking out. I was pleased to find that Jon Dee was coming through town and playing The Living Room. I rolled in to a pretty much empty room and a decent enough, but not-especially remarkable opening guy. The Living Room has some weird optimistic policy where Jon Dee was the second of five artists, yet the only one who would command a door cost, and of $15, no less. When the waitress rolled up to get an irritating drink minimum, I asked about the door charge (20 minutes before Jon Dee went on, mind you) and no one really knew who was taking the door. While I have no issue screwing incompetently run venues, I certainly don't want to take money out of Jon Dee's pocket, I ponied up. Why that means I have to buy a drink on top of that is beyond me, but let's move on.

So Jon Dee. It's been a decent couple years for him, post New West and car accident and all. He's doing prose writing and drawing projects on top of playing with his local band The Fighting Cocks and doing that Hobart Bros project with Freedy Johnston and Susan Cowsill. Hobart was funded by Kickstarter but the last few years have seen Graham founding JonDeeCo Co-op, through which he now funds all his projects, offering incentives musical and otherwise for all that choose to partake. You could do a lot worse for $10 a month. Check out the deal here.

This Living Room set was a short solo set to an older crowd that very much into the proceedings. Jon Dee was in good spirits despite a less than full room and the oppressively hot temperatures. Opening with Faithless, he rolled through just shy of a dozen tunes, including Black Box and that Green On Red song he used to close with all the time. It was a good, albeit far too short, of a time, owing to the fact that another band that drew 10 people was due on at 9pm. If you are not fully Jon Dee Graham compliant, you can't go wrong with buying any of the holes you may have in your collection. There's a free live show from the tour before last on the Living Room site, keep track of all other things Jon, Dee and Graham here.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Kool G Rap - Riches Royalty and Respect

Your man KGR has been on the scene for a couple decades. He's had the usual label issues, along with an on-going shit-stirring fest with ex-Karrine 'Superhead' Stephens that has distracted heads from the fact that G Rap can still bring at at 43. Riches Royalty and Respect doesn't skew far from wanna-be Giancana fare, but the beats are decent and KGR still has a nasty, nasty flow. Not too much in the way of guest spots, save for Havoc on American Nightmare, but Kool G Rap is more than capable of carrying a track. Pick up Riches Royalty and Respect here at the Fat Beats web presence. Word is he and Necro are teaming up for a record called Godfathers. Could be interesting. Stay tuned.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Dewey Decimal System at Skyscraper

Ladies and Gents:

My take on the new cyber-noir effort from ex-Shudder To Think guy Nathan Larson is available for your perusal at the Skyscraper web presence.

Here's a link.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Live: Titus Andronicus @ South Street Seaport 7.16.11

There's been quite the buzz about the Titus Andronicus lately. I had heard the name and caught them on Fallon to some personal intrigue but no so much that I actually checked out their records. I'm still not sure what song it was, obviously the single to their most recent record, but they made a pretty good racket and seemed to be pretty into it. The singer seemed to be suitably unhinged and the guitar player was weird and lovely, plus I think Craig Finn is/was on one of their records, so they seemed ripe for checking out.

4 Knots is sort of a Monsters of Meh Fest for my cranky old ass. Christigau may have been an obstreperous old cuss, but at least he knew his shit. The last couple years of the voice curated Siren Fest were unspeakably nightmarish, and as they've paired with the Seaport this year It's certainly nice to not have to go all the way out to Coney Island to see a gang of overrated bands. And they were there in spades. I had seen Mr. Dream open for Archers at Webster and was firmly meh-d on them, Eleanor Friedberger (ex?-Fiery Furnaces) never did too much for me, and the two middle bands appeared to be a nightmare from cursory web perusal, as did the headliner, so a surgical strike seemed to be in order. Get In, see Titus, get the hell back to the couch.

Titus Andronicus get huge props from me from the jump for having the temerity to actually post the time that they were going to play. Duly informed, I rolled up and within five minutes Titus were up and throwing down. They attracted a pretty big crowd and the young kids seemed to dig them. They were ok, but sported some questionable arrangements. TA are a five piece. They have a guy who does keys and guitars, and while this was my first time seeing them, he seemed mostly extraneous: there were no times when they needed three guitars, and the keys seem just as easily played by the singer kid. There is also the Irish thing. Titus have opened the last couple of Pogues shows here in town and got positive feedback from people I know that have seen them, but they are certainly no Pogues, especially when the lions share of the Celtic stuff seemed to be canned and triggered via the keyboard, save for the Big Country type stuff the frontguy would do on guitar. They definitely had a couple songs that seemed well-written and seemed to be into it, but I would have been pissed if I had paid to the see the set. I would definitely go and see them play again for free, though and have picked up their records, so maybe tune in for a fitting of Emporer's New Clothes toward the end of the Summer. In the interim, you can find Titus Andronicus on the web here.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Live: Superchunk with OFF! & Lemuria @ House Of Vans 7.14.11

I never skated, not have I had any inclination to, but it is hard to ignore the Vans presence, what with the Warped Tour and all. I've not been to one of those in the better part of a decade and looking at the lineup, I've barely heard (I'm sure blessedly) of any of the bands and the ones I have heard of I feel pretty sorry for. That said, Vans are certainly atoning for their sins with the House Of Vans out there in Brooklyn.

I poo-pooed the whole thing above and beyond the free Superchunk factor, but that alone was enough to get me to take the day off and get there at 5 to ensure entry. Dave and Eric showed up for the last hour or so and we were in fairly quickly, entering a good sized warehouse space with a decent PA and a huge backyard with free beer and pizza. WTF! While I was (and am) fairly incredulous about the whole thing, I got over it once the free beer started flowing.

We posted up out back for Lemuria, who sounded decent from outside, although I've heard varying opinions of the sound inside. I've seen enough Lemuria shows to know that there is a lot of relative pitch exercised in the franchise, so I'll reserve judgement as when I did make it in for OFF! it sounded pretty decent. Of course that's a relative thing, as the grinding Black Flag-gery that is OFF! is a special kind of ear candy. Morris is charismatic as hell for the little bedreaded old man that he is, taking neither shit not shorts over their short set. It's always over way too soon, but I really think that's a good thing.

The wealth of free beer meant there was ample for giving to cute girls up front and for throwing on pesty Superchunk uber-nerds from NJ who don't know how to pogo in one place. Superchunk on nine cups of Heineken Light is a special kind of experience, but one I recommend. Jim the drummer showed up and it was on. Opening with Slack Motherfucker, the kids romped through a set heavy on the Strings reissue before getting Morris out for a romp through Gimme, Gimme, Gimme and Where Eagles Dare. Good times, maybe the best time I've had all year. I sure needed it and the company was damn good. As was the price. I think I'm going to buy me a pair of those Vans.

Kudos to House Of Vans for a great time in a well-run space that got me home by 11:15. You can damn well guarantee I'll be there next week for Fucked Up and Cro-mags. Wonder if the beer will be free at that one.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Live: Ted Leo with Screaming Females @ South Street Seaport 7.9.11

Like a lot of things that started awesome with Superchunk and then went down the shitter, the Siren Fest, much like the Voice, has become a total horror show of trendy music no one will care about in less than a year. It took a bit for the Voice to realize, but they have rejiggered the whole thing into a series of shows taking place down at the Seaport.

As you might surmise for the poster, this was the kickoff to the new Festival, redubbed 4Knots and featured the twin NJ draws of new favorites Screaming Females opening for Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, who were celebrating their tenth anniversary by playing their Tyranny Of Distance record in its entirety. You couldn't beat the price, or the biking distance, so I figured I'd show up early for the end of the Females, catch half of the Ted set and bail. I rolled up to a sparse crowd and ran into the estimable John Cake and caught up for a bit while the Females set up.

I had seen the much lauded Screaming Females at some NYU thing last Summer and was pretty underwhelmed. The female (of which there is only one) does have some chops on guitar, although she seems to use the same scale every solo, and doesn't scream all the time, for the record. I'm still in the meh camp, although they are a fair share better than 90% of the local NYC nightmares around currently.

Jersey has been holding it down of late, with Titus Andronicus, the Females and a gang of Hub City kids making quite a racket. Ted Leo reminds us that there was a heyday before the second decade of the 21st Century and that he was there in a good part of the end of last century, to boot. I've seen a lot of Ted over the last 20 years, starting with a gang of pretty great Chisel shows at Maxwells a million years ago and still remember pretty fondly seeing Ted and his reel to reel seemingly every weekend at Brownies for months in the mid 90s. He's been so ubiquitous, and frankly the rooms have gotten so big, that I've demurred over the last couple years, but always seemed to see Ted & the boys every six months anyway. The Citizen's Arrest set the other night reminded me that I was probably due to take in a Pharmacists set, plus I hadn't seen Alex in a bit, so up I/we posted.

This was the first four-piece Pharmacists show I'd seen in a bit, with Canty back on second guitar. Ted really does bring it. He's posi without being an asshole, and he seems like a good guy to have a drink with. They are pretty untouchable as a band, too, evoking The Clash, Celtic Music and good old fashioned punk rock without resorting to samples or keys. Opening with Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone and testing the waters with a couple more before sallying forth into Tyranny, even dutifully stopping for the figurative flipping of the side. Ted & Co are the only franchises around that can even hold a candle to The Figgs or Hold Steady when it comes to bringing it at a live show. The crowd was in the palm of his hand from the jump and the Pharmacists dutifully dispensed the medicine. It's horrible to think that it's been ten years since Tyranny dropped, but unlike the Voice, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists are definitely getting better with age.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Copyrights - Crutches 7"

Well it's about time we got something new from the Carbondale killers. Despite the rumored bidding war with higher-profile indies, both this 7" and the new record North Sentinel Island will drop courtesy of the good folk of Red Scare.

Four tracks here, the title track and three demos of tracks that evidently won't be on the full-length when it drops 8/9. Fans can rest assured that Crutches sounds like a polished Copyrights track and the other three sound like Copyrights demos, so lets cut to the chase and snap this up with the quickness.

Here's a link.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Random Axe

In this post-Wu epoch, rappers have to make the most of their situation. Unless you are Jay-Z, it's pretty tough to be a solo artist and keep the lights on, so diversifying is the way of the walk. As such, Random Axe is a new project featuring Mr. Sean Price, Guilty Simpson and Black Milk. Black Milk handles the Pro-Tools duties.

Evidently the impetus for this was Sean P guesting on a track Milk produced from Guilty's last record that was pretty bananas and the crew decided to make a record. Of course that was like three years ago now, but it's no less of a good idea in 2011, and definitely another reason why Duck Down might be the best hip-hop label out there today.

Random Axe doesn't sport too much in the way of guest spots, save for Roc Marciano on the first single Chewbacca and Trick Trick and Rock from Heltah Skeltah on another track. A couple other newcomers get some shine as well, but it's mostly the three RA proprietors steady wrecking mics for the duration. Probably not the best choice for the backpacker set, but then again do we really need to humor the likes of MC Jansport and his ilk? I'd say no.

Get Random Axe here from Duck Down.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mansions at PopMatters

Hey There:

Aficionados of Christopher Browder, Mansions, PopMatters, or those that think my stuff is considerably more palatable filtered through an editor should be advised that a review of the new Mansions record Dig Up The Dead is currently up at their web presence.

Here's a link.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Missed List at Skyscraper

Hey Boys and Girls:

It appears lifestyle issues have reared their ugly head again. In investigating, it turns out that I have been remiss in informing both of you that my review of the new mini-book from Nick Zinner, Zachary Lipez and Stacy Wakefield entitled Please Take Me Off The Guest List was published at the Skyscraper web presence a while ago.

Here's a link.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Punch LIne #3

Hey All:

The latest installment of my comedy column, The Punch Line is now up at Skyscraper.

Here's a link.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Live: Centro-matic with Sarah Jaffe @ Mercury Lounge 6.30.11

It had been a hell of a week, and one of the easiest panaceas for such things is a Centro-matic show at Mercury. The Mercury Lounge is my favorite place in town (maybe on Earth) to see a show, and while I don't get there nearly as much as I used to, it's always a pleasure to see those kids. I rolled in just as Sarah Jaffe was finishing leveling a packed room. I hadn't heard of her previously, but she sure can sing. Evidently she's from Denton as well. I grabbed the record, so look for more on her soon.

Denton's scruffiest took the stage with little circumstance, launching into over an hour of old and new tracks, including an extemporaneous new Danborn number worked up while the left side of the stage waited for power to return so they could play Blisters May Come. We also learned that cleaning up toxic waste on Long Island is not a great job, even if you do get songs out of it. Consider yourself informed. Centro-matic are a force live, and this evening was no exception. Drummer Matt Pence is terrifying behind the kit, making it look easy as he beat the piss out of his kit like it owed him cash. Danborn and Johnson sing like angels and Mark is one hell of an all-around player, even if he left his X-Series at home. There was a fair amount of ex-pat Denton in the room that upped the ante to boot. The new record Candidate Waltz dropped 6/22, courtesy of the good folk of Thirty Tigers. Look for a review in a bit, but don't postpone joy: see Centro-matic when/whereever you can. Here's a link that will let you do both.