Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cory Branan at PopMatters

Hear me now and believe me later: you need the new Cory Branan record. Read my review of Mutt here, courtesy of the good folk of PopMatters.

Thanks to Josh at Bloodshot and Sarah at PopMatters.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Live: Rorschach with Barbarian @ ABC No Rio 5.26.12

Among my laundry list of personal issues is the inability to not perseverate on who 'very special unannounced guests' are on punk bills. It's allowed me to spend untold awkward times standing around venues, official and not, to see bands I would never waste my time seeing in a million years previously but the fact that this one was down the street from JS-NYC HQ at ABC made it worth checking out.

As luck would have it, said unannounced band was Rorschach playing the first of three shows that day, saving me the chore of having to once again not get Converge when they played later on that night (or having to ride out to Acheron to see them after that). I showed up for the tail end of the Barbarian set (think: poor man's So Hideous My Love) and staked out some real estate while the gents sorted out borrowed gear. It had been forever since I had seen Rorschach, and safe money was on it having been at ABC. Maggio had mentioned they played five of their early shows at ABC, I believe 13 years ago. The crew is definitely older, but the vocals and B.C Rich guitars are still the same, making for a fun half hour of nostalgia. What kids were there got frisky enough, but not so much that old folks got annoyed, so I'll call that a fine way to spend one of the last afternoons at ABC for the foreseeable future.

Keep track of Rorschach here.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Live: Afghan Whigs with Joseph Arthur @ Bowery Ballroom 5.23.12

So after the appetizer that was the Fallon taping, I was pretty excited at the proposition of seeing the Afghan Whigs play a full set at Bowery. I rolled in maybe halfway through the Joseph Arthur opening set and hooked up with Sm. I've seen a lot of Joseph Arthur shows over the years, none of them willingly, and have always came away pretty underwhelmed, but the four-piece rock band JA we got seems to be the most palatable for this guy.

In talking with the crew at the Fallon show, it was pretty astounding how few people that were there had ever seen them before. While I am old, and admittedly rife with personal issues, I have seen a lot of Afghan Whigs shows in my day and didn't seem to be that much older than the general population there. Sm had seen them, and as such seemed a wise choice to attend with, so we wisely cut to the chase and set to figuring out what Prince cover would be appearing (Little Red Corvette, for the record).

The set was heavy on the last three records, although I'm Her Slave made an appearance, as did Something Hot and Miles Iz Ded. The gents look thin and sexy for their age and played their asses off. Dulli's added not smoking cigarettes to his reform regimen, which is odd in its absence, but beyond that it's same old, same old. A heckler was dressed down in endearingly old school fashion, a new R&B cover (Frank Ocean: Love Crimes) made it into the set and Jon Poneman and Megan Jasper even got a heartfelt Thanks at the end of the set (I smell Sub Pop reissue initiative). I'd argue the gents weren't as incendiary as they were back in the 90s, but they sure managed to kick a herculean amount of ass for some old dudes. Set list is to the left. Now I just have to figure if I want to see them play T5 with Eagles Of Death Metal in the Fall or get a months rent for the tickets.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Live: Afghan Whigs on The Jimmy Fallon Show 5.22.12

The day was going pretty poorly before I got an e-mail from the Fallon show about being on their 'band bench' for the Afghan Whigs taping that afternoon. I was already pretty stoked at the proposition of seeing the gents at Bowery the next night, but figured this was a little too good to pass up. Tickets evaporated for the show and a lot of people were left wanting, but none of them could get out in time to run the stupid NBC gauntlet. Luckily Alex could make it, and as I had seen a number of Dulli related shows over the last couple decades with her, it made for a comfortable pair of shoes.

That certainly helped, as the whole line for the list to get the wristband, to be able to wait on three more lines over as many hours, just to be able to wait on two more and be berated by an army of twelve year old interns in bad polyester suit jackets for the duration is not first date fare from where this old man is sitting. I watched a fair amount of Fallon when I had cable, and will give him begrudging general props, I don't find myself missing the show much.

This episode featured Anderson Cooper and John Mayer, who seems to have done little to dilute his inherent twat-dom, even if he has done us the favor of moving to Montana. While we still had to suffer through his interview segment, the stellar Two-Rock/Dumble rig he used to sit in with The Roots was pretty spectacular to behold. That sorted, we were shunted from our bleacher seats off to the aforementioned 'band bench' ringing the area our heroes were playing in. Word came down the pike while we waited that the air song would be the Marie 'Queenie' Lyons cover (See And Don't See) that they released digitally earlier that week, with another song to be taped for the web afterwards.

See And Don't See was decent, albeit somewhat perplexing. Three string players swelled the AW lineup from its already expanded six-pieces, Greg natty in what Twitter tells me is a Varvatos suit and everyone looking exceedingly healthy for some old-timers. A quick break for Greg to shed his jacket and strap on a 335 and the gents burned through I'm Her Slave to some collective band bench pants-shitting. It's good to have Afghan Whigs back. Check out both performances here at the Fallon web presence.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

John Mulaney - New In Town

After years on the comedy scene and stints writing for SNL and Conan (I believe), John Mulaney got a lot of notice with his 2009 debut The Top Part. The recording topped the iTunes comedy charts and Punchline magazine year end best-ofs and now Mulaney is back with New In Town. 

If you enjoyed Mulaney previously, rest assured that while the jokes are different, a lot of the same ground is covered on New In Town. Longtime fans can take confidence that the Law & Order joke about Jerry Orbach from The Top Part is swapped for a (truthfully, pretty aces) 2012 compliant bit about Ice-T and SVU. In other somewhat related notes, a well-known Dana Gould joke is also 'covered' in surprisingly flagrant fashion.

Mulaney doesn't work blue, treading the same path Mike Birbiglia has done pretty well with in recent years, albeit in slightly edgier form. That said, while the Def Comedy Jam bit here was/is sort of new 'airline food is bad' fare for 2012, the bit about Delta Airlines is actually pretty funny and 'The One Thing You Can't Replace' is solid enough to very well become his signature bit. Comedy is strange like that. That Gould thing that still rankles me aside, New In Town is worth checking out. Get it here from the John Mulaney web presence.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Live: Chavez @ Bowery Ballroom 5.18.12

It's been a odd time of nostalgia for me and Chavez, as if my calculations are correct, I saw them played their first ever show with The Afghan Whigs eighteen years ago at the old Academy. Fast forward to today and The Whigs are playing their first show in thirteen years next week at Bowery and Chavez made their return to the New York stage in easily six or seven a mere five days before. There are worse histories to be doomed to repeat.

I rolled up to Bowery minutes before the gents took the stage, Sweeney's twitter telling me the set time and my spider sense telling me that any band called Endless Boogie opening for Chavez is well worth missing. The gents took the stage with little fanfare and launched into Nailed To The Blank Spot. Save for Marshall having a shorter haircut, the band pretty much looked and sounded exactly like they did the last I saw them. They have evidently been recording for a new record and save for at least one band member checking his notes on his iPad over the course, seemed to be in fine fettle for the live stage. Pretty much all of the Chavez canon was covered, with a new tune and the first jam they ever had revisited to close the proccedings. I still am pissed about missing the warm-up show at Lit Lounge, but Chavez kicked some pretty serious ass for some old guys. I'd definitely see them again. Here's a the set list, stolen from SetListFM.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Tragedy - Darker Days Ahead

I think Tragedy are ok, but have never really been a mark for them like the hygenically challenged youth of today. The shows I've seen over the last four or five years have been consistently good, albeit with a pretty high stench factor. Don't get me started on the facial tattoos. JS-NYC old guy issues aside, it's been a bit of time between Tragedy records, but there is finally a new record called Darker Days Ahead. Again, I'm not that discerning with their canon, but it sounds like a Tragedy record to me. You get some textural stuff, guttural vocals, a heavy part or four, paired with some anarchy-driven song content. Chances are that if you are already down with the cause, you already own Darker Days Ahead, but if you are unaware and enjoy some grindy post-hardcore with a political bent, you may want to check out a copy.

That said, I couldn't tell you where to get a copy. I enjoy the idea of being 'too punk for the internet', but it does leave a man lacking in suggesting where one keeps track of Tragedy or even goes to get a copy of Darker Days Ahead. Anarchy being anarchy, I bet you can come up with a copy on the web in short order.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mike Watt - On And Off Bass

Mike Watt touring is always a good thing, not just for the music end of things, but also for his extensive tour diaries. Watt will never be accused of being a man at loss for words, and hearing the firsthand insights of a man in his fourth decade as a touring musician offers rare insight into the man and his worldview. Word had come down the pike that the diaries would be published in book form as Mike Watt: On And Off Bass, prompting much rejoicing at the JS-NYC corporate offices and I made haste to grab a copy of  at the at Le Poisson Rouge release show.

To the collective shock of no one, I'm sure, I was slightly wrong as to what would comprise the content of Mike Watt: On And Off Bass. While tour diaries do appear in excerpted form, they are juxtaposed against Watt's photography. The Watt aesthetic of Pedaling, Paddling and Plucking has allowed him to capture images all around the world, but all of the photos in On And Off Bass capture the fourth P in his life: Pedro, more specifically his hometown of San Pedro, CA. Mike Watt: On And Off Bass captures the internal and external World of Watt with images as powerful as the Watt-speak that it's paired with. Buy it here from the good folk of Three Rooms Press. Keep track of Watt here.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Live: Tragedy @ Le Poisson Rouge 5.12.12

I had been on the fence about making it out to this show, but the decent time I had at the Watt show and the fact that it was an early show on the island swayed me last minute. The Ian Dickson/Hardcore Gig Volume factor didn't hurt either. I posted up to find that a band had dropped off the bill and that Tragedy were to be up in short order, an eventuality that prompted much rejoicing in the JS-NYC ranks. That combined with the fact that the general population was less hygenically challenged than your average Tragedy show bade well for a pretty aces early evening.

There's a new Tragedy record called Darker Days Ahead that is pretty decent, albeit a tad more doom and sludge driven than previous fare. Most of the new tracks seem to have made it into the set, although Todd's need to deliver stage patter in his Dethklok voice made it a little hard to tell. The crowd seemed more sedate, perhaps owing to the swank LPR environs, but Tragedy put on a good show (and no doubt played three more that night on their way out of town). Tragedy are too punk to have a web presence, but keep an ear out and see the gents if they come your way.


Saturday, May 12, 2012


New year, new OFF! record, same eponymous title. Not a lot different on the musical end of things either, but I don't believe anyone coming to touch the hem of this garment arrived expecting to hear dubstep incorporated into the mix. None will be found either, just old school Flag-ged up punk rock with the guitars and vocals way up front. It's good. So good, really, that you almost forget that it comes courtesy of Vice. Sixteen songs romp by in just under the same number of minutes, so listen close or prepare for multiple replays.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dopamines - Vices

Straight-edge warriors everywhere are no doubt rejoicing far and wide that everyones favorite drunken weasels have knocked together a new Dopamines record for their combined disdain and displeasure. Again coming courtesy of It's Alive, Vices serves your earholes up ten songs in just a bit over twenty minutes, resulting in probably the best Dopamines record yet. Figures, as there are ominous rumblings about the band not touring on the regular after the set of dates they are undertaking behind this new release. Think Green Day, if they were from Ohio and hadn't lost all self-respect (or at least hadn't put out a fucking musical) and you've got a good place to start.

Returning Dopamines fans can rest assured that The Two Punk Jons are in damn fine form on Vices, even taking the time to stretch the new songs closer to the three minute mark than they ever have before.  The odd fake ending and subsequent reprise on Don't Mosh The Organ aside, the Vices songs sport girth as well as length. And its not just padding, so get ready for hook after hook of canned beer fueled, basement friendly punk rock. Vocals are a little more layered than usual, bringing things more towards The Copyrights/Dear Landlord end of things than ever before, but you can still put safe money on things getting drunk and shambolic live. Maybe we can blame their tour guitarist on that, but don't hold Mikey Erg against them. Hie your ass hither to get yourself a virtual or actual copy of Vices, aka your soundtrack to an awesome Summer.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Brad - United We Stand

It's always nice to see some new product from Shawn Smith & Co. After a prolonged period of inactivity, the gents have come through a couple times in recent years, most recently behind their pretty aces return Best Friends? This new one is called United We Stand and comes courtesy of Razor & Tie. It pretty much picks up where the last Brad left off, with eleven soulful solid mid-tempo tracks. Bound In Time is very probably the best track, with Shawn on piano and singing his diminutive ass off, although Needle And Thread does come out on top sometimes. If anything, United We Stand may be accused of being a little middle of the road. Not that Brad were ever The Replacements, but things here are very crisp and just-so, maybe to the point of a wee bit of overproduction. I'm not a young dude, and these guys are older, so I don't think there is much shame in hat game. If I had my druthers, things would be perhaps a little more rough around the edges, but lovers of past Brad will find much candy for their ears on United We Stand.

They will be in town in the next couple of weeks, oddly enough on the same night as the Afghan Whigs. I would venture logistics will preclude Shawn popping up on stage with Ohio's finest, but nerds should set to picking their battles, as tickets for both seem to be a premium.

Keep track of Brad here.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Juvenile - Mardi Gras

I always liked Juvie, but he's been off the JS-NYC radar for a bit. Frankly, I never even heard that he had two studio albums out over the last couple years and thought his absence was tied up in post-Cash Money minutae. JS-NYC ignorance aside, Mardi Gras is evidently the precursor to a new studio piece called Rejuvienation. Coming courtesy of DJ Smallz and Southern Smoke, the mixtape sports a roster with familiar names like Wacko & Skip, as well as Mannie Fresh. Rick Ross drops a verse on Power, which is allegedly the first single. I'm not especially crazy about the track, and Rozay is way hot and cold for me, but most of the stuff here is worth a listen. Why there is a constant Jadakiss drop throughout without any verse presence is a pressing question, but it shouldn't be enough to turn the average Juvie fan off.

Look for Mardi Gras in a lot of places. Here's one.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Live: Hellride East with Appomattox @ Mike Watt: On and Off Bass book release party @ Le Poisson Rouge 5.2.12

Watt had mentioned that there was going to be a collection of his tour diaries that had some of his photos incorporated coming out. Turns out that is the case. The book is called Off And On Bass and as such, a book release party/show dubbed Mayday 2 was organized by publisher Three Rooms Press at Le Poisson Rouge featuring a live Watt interview by Forced Exposure dude Byron Coley as well as a Hellride set featuring Watt and J. Mascis and Murph backing a rotating roster of microphone wielders.

After sorting out some lifestyle driven ticket issues, I posted up at LPR what I thought was early to find I had missed Dead Trend. I did catch all of the Appomattox set and was pretty impressed. A Brooklyn three-piece featuring one hell of a drummer, the trio made quite a racket, combining The Minutemen, Wire, Pop Group and a gang of other post-punk influences to generally positive results.

Byron Coley came up and interviewed Watt about On and Off Bass for fifteen minutes (look for YouTube of it) before Watt and Co. got things underway for a royal rumble of Stooges covers. A gang of people took the mike for the proceeding, a lot that included the expected (Don Fleming, Thurston, John Petrovich) combined with some new school eyebrow raisers (Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten). It certainly made for a pretty hip room for a bit.

This was a great night for a great man that ended early. This I like, although it was nice to be the young guy at a show for once. Watt is evidently going to make another run through the Northeast this Fall behind the most recent opera, but in the interim pick up Mike Watt: On and Off Bass here from Three Rooms Press. Look for a review soonest and keep track of Watt in the interim at the hootpage here.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded

Nicki Minaj has managed to become a pretty big deal of late, appearing in venues from the Superbowl on down over the last year. Hopefully she's not getting fleeced six ways to Sunday through her YM/CMB deal, but regardless she has shifted a whole lot of units of Pink Friday already and stands to shift a gang more before the record runs its course.

Minaj does a valiant job of being all things to all people on Pink Friday. Opening with the 80s pop inflected Roman Holiday, things get a little more gutter with the following Come On A Cone before getting way street with I Am Your Leader, a track notable for a good Rick Ross guest verse and the first decent Cam'ron verse I've heard maybe ever, even if it does get a little Twista (never a good idea) towards the end.

Beez In The Trap features 2 Chainz, neck deep in his Sean Price transformation from his former Titty Boi appelation. He's better than I remember, and I would venture this track will continue his rise towards crossover notoriety. Wayne, Nas and Drake all make solid guest shots, as does the pretty irritating Beenie Man (why did it have to be Buju?). The guest shots are heavy, but it's important to remember the reason why we are here: Nicki can body a track and is arguably the best female MC since Lyte.

Rhyme skills aside, Minaj is also a fashion and pop culture icon, a hero to a zillion young girls around the world with ahas a Hulk-sized personae that dwarfs her diminutive frame. Things skew a little too much towards to the image end of things, but at the end of the day that demo is among the few that still pay for records and pony up absurd ticket prices to see her in enormous rooms. And let me reiterate: Nicki can rhyme her ass off, unlike a lot of image-driven artists in hip-pop today. Pink Friday is not going to bump G. Rap or Finesse off the JS-NYC playlists, but is a hell of a solid release for the hip-hop records of today.