Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Shaking Hands - The Shaking Hands

The Shaking Hands are from Gainesville, FL and evidently used to be the millionth band to try and claim The Horror as a moniker. While they are on Kiss Of Death and probably beer aficionados, they aren't exactly the average post-Raygun beardo franchise we've come to expect from that town. 

The Shaking Hands play a little bit more of the British punk, albeit filtered through a Rancid kind of sensibility. I think we've all figured out that sleeve tattoos do not a punk (or metal for that matter) band make, but there doesn't seem to be any poser-dom lurking the band's ranks. Two of the dudes are also in The Young Livers, who I don't recall caring for, but I think I'm going to have to revisit after hearing The Shaking Hands. It's got some great shout-a-long parts and the one-two punch of Breathe and Jackson's Coal is something that most bands would give their Dual Rectifiers to have. There are 10 songs in 28 minutes, virtually insuring you'll be putting this bad boy on over and over again. Pop over here to hear some samples of what The Shaking Hands have to offer. Or just cut to the chase and buy the damn thing here.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Joe Jackson: At The BBC

I guess it hasn't been broached here as yet, but anyone who has spent any length of time talking or (worse) making music with me will know that there is not too much chance of a Joe Jackson record getting panned on my watch. If it's live stuff from 79-83, no one in possession of a working set of ears could dispute the power of the Joe Jackson band.

Joe Jackson: At The BBC captures four sets recorded for various BBC programs. Disc one has an in-studio session from 1979 and a live session from the Hammerstein Odeon almost exactly three years lately. The band in fine form, featuring the four-piece Sanford/Houghton/Maby Jackson band. This will be another not-especially-shocking statement for my inner circle, but Graham Maby is an animal here. I read an interview recently that pointed out that Joe writes on the piano, adding basslines with his left hand, which accounts for the basslines being so up-front in the mix . Of course, when you have a player as strong as Maby, you don't have to hide things. He's pretty much the lead bass player, especially on the two extended versions of Fools In Love. The first is closer to the reggae-tinged version on the record, the second closer to the moody version from the Live 80/86 recordings. Both feature impeccable Maby solos and the band is tight as a drum. Jackson has always changed arrangement on the road and in this era the Joe Jackson Band was probably playing 250+ gigs a year, so any Jackson audibles were easily handled.

Disc two features two live shows from 1980 and 1983, respectively. The first set is a live set in front of a college audience featuring Grade A Jackson banter, while the second is a more reserved crowd, but the band is no less explosive. Jackson is a master arranger, even on the busier latin-tinged tunes, and as a result, the band has absolutely no fat. Everything is in place, but it's not stilted by a long shot. There are a lot of Joe Jackson live records in this day and age, but if you're a completist like me or maybe just a fan of the early years, At The BBC is a must-have. I think this is only available on import, but check out here on the official Joe Jackson web presence here.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Live: Jason Isbell @ The Living Room 2.25.9

Jason did a little invite-only thing over at The Living Room the other night. Thanks to Traci Thomas at Thirty Tigers for the hook-up. It was a small room and a short set that featured a bunch of stuff off the new Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit record that just dropped. Acoustic for the most part, Jason was in good voice. Sound is always great there and you can't beat the commute. The 400 Unit are playing tonight at Bowery with Deer Tick starting around the 9 o'clock hour. Be there. Thanks and/or apologies to wheredaveis for stealing the photo from his Flickr. Here's a link to his awesome photos.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drag The River - Bad At Breaking Up

Drag The River are from Ft. Collins, in the bucolic glen that is Colorado. They also kick some motherfucking ass, if I may wax so eloquent. Comprised of Jon Snodgrass from Armchair Martian with Chad Price of "World's On Heroin" period ALL and very often JJ from the Nobodys, backed with a rotating rogues gallery of drum and steel players. I like the trend of the punk guys playing roots music. God bless Jon Langford for making it cool enough that everybody wants to do it. It's fostered the expected bunch of y'allternative dick riders, but they are almost always so transparent that they pass in short order, unless they perhaps have a film career to fall back on, porn or otherwise.

Drag The River carried the alt-country torch in their corner of the Northwest for a good long time. They were definitely the big fish of that small pond, and found a pretty fair amount of success. I would expect everyone had a day job, but they seemed to be a bunch of guys in it for the right reasons: free drinks, purge a demon or two, or maybe even meet a lady. Jon and Chad are best friends whose songs and voices complement each other like Cooley does with Hood in the Drive By Truckers or Tweedy used to complement Farrar in the good old days. The band and their friendship have weathered the usual bumps in the road, the most significant of late being the break-up of Drag The River after the band toured as the opener and backing band for Rocky Votolato.

A week or so, as I recall, into the Votolato tour, just a few dates before the tour was to pass through NYC, word came down the pike that Jon was leaving the tour. It was kind of a bummer, I had never seen Drag The River live and hadn't recalled them coming through New York much, if at all. Snodgrass bailing meant that they arrived in town with half of their catalog unavailable, so with all respect to Chad, their opening slot was just ok. Votolato was decent, but seeing Drag The River relegated to a backing band wasn't a good look. Soon, the formal declaration that Drag The River were over "for now and perhaps forever" came down from Jon via Suburban Home, yet another of the inevitable breakups that always seem to come on the heels of my completing the acquisition of a band's entire back catalog. They played a string of final shows in Ft. Collins, released a million songs posthumously, played some solo shows and now we've got a reunion thing going on. Ah, the mercurial life of bands!

Bad At Breaking Up is a compilation of alternate and unreleased material from the Drag The River archives. I believe it was supposed to be a posthumous odds and sods compilation, but in the wake of their recent revitalization, it's a precursor to their new full-length. There's good stuff here. J.J's Driving makes an appearance along alternate versions of A Way With Women and Beautiful and Damned and seventeen other tracks that don't suck in the slightest. Plus, it's on Suburban Home, so you know Bad At Breaking Up will be cheap, have awesome packaging and your dollar will be going to support a bad-ass bunch of individuals, so avail yourself of this link and get yourself a copy of Bad At Breaking Up and/or the million other great bands Suburban Home has on their roster. Plus, Suburban Home is releasing the new Yesterday's Ring record, so you should spend money there just to say thanks. Keep track of what's going on with Drag The River here. Maybe even be their friend


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ben Barnett - Songs About Zombies And Trust Issues

Songs About Zombies And Trust Issues is Ben Barnett's first true solo release, although there's a pretty strong argument to be made that all of the material he recorded as Kind Of Like Spitting was solo material. Either way, this is the first material that Barnett has released under his own name. Released may be too strong of  a word. I snagged it off a message board, but there was artwork and stuff that would presuppose this was either a tour-only kind of party or perhaps some sort of romantic overture that has found it's way into the cyberworld.

Whatever it's origins, Songs About Zombies And Trust Issues is pretty decent. Barnett has been saying he's recording for Barsuk, although I'm on pretty good authority that Barsuk doesn't know that. Wherever these songs end up, there are two or three great ones here, and I can see a couple of the others coming together nicely in the studio. 

Ben has been teaching at the School Of Rock in Seattle for a year or so. It seems to have been good for him personally and professionally, plus he's playing his ass off on tracks like Why Can't This Be Canada. School obligations are keeping Barnett on the West Coast, but there were some tour dates with the Andrew Jackson Jihad kids recently, so perhaps there will be an East Coast jaunt in the Summer. In the meantime, check out Ben's Myspace and poke around on his blog posts. Songs About Zombies and Trust Issues is pretty easy to find if you look a bit, along with some pretty great live stuff.


Monday, February 23, 2009

B Real - Smoke & Mirrors

Cypress Hill have been off my radar for a while now. I'd heard the recent singles and solo stuff, but nothing really stuck in my mind as being all that remarkable, so when I heard that B Real was dropping a solo record on Duck Down, I was a little taken aback.  They are definitely OG West Coast by this point and probably sell more records than I would expect, but with all apologies and respect due to the Duck Down and Soul Assassin cliques, I wouldn't put much stock in a B Real solo record in 2009.

Well, wrong again for this asshole. Smoke & Mirrors is pretty decent. Unlike a lot of older rhymers, B has kept his flow and his choice of beats relevant while neatly avoiding sounding like an out-of-touch old-timer. He produces a couple of the tracks here, spreading the rest amongst Soopafly, Scoop Deville, and his old buddy The Alchemist, among others. There are a good number from someone called J. Turner, too, if you keep track of such things. Smoke & Mirrors features a healthy amount of guest shots from Snoop, Too Short, Xzibit and others, including new boss Buckshot and Damien Marley. The Marley collabo is a no-brainer, not surprisingly a reggae-driven number, but one that is notable for featuring B's Spanish flow.  Everything here is well-produced, most of the beats are pretty banging and B. Real comes with the fire most of the time. And smoke, I'd assume. 

Keep track on B Real's day to day (including the weed smoking competition that seems to be brewing amongst the Soul Assassins/Snoop/DipSet camps) here. Smoke & Mirrors is out tomorrow. Pick from the good folk of Duck Down here.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Good Old War - Only Way To Be Alone

It's pretty funny that Good Old War have a book cover as the album art for Only Way To Be Alone, as I had judged this band by their figurative cover and thought that this was going to be some shitty These Arms Are Snakes Tourette's Rock band. I am well pleased to say otherwise and that Good Old War are the closest thing to a folk rock group that I've heard since I was a kid. 

The three-piece are primarily acoustic, favoring spartan arrangements and close harmony as much as possible. I hate close harmony in bands as much as singers that just sing, but Good Old War have won me over by opting to work a little Dolorean pop in the mix with the Simon and Garfunkel.  The sad eventuality that Good Old War are touring with The Gaslight Anthem makes me fear that there is some artifice involved, but I'm going to hope that the band is just taking advantage of opportunities and not the same kind of Pollyanna Americana-crap.

Check it out for yourself. The kids have their own corner of the web here where you can check out a couple MP3s. Should you decide you need yourself a copy of One Way To Be Alone immediately, you can get a copy here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Live: The State Lottery, Used Kids, Little Lungs, Thousandaires, The New Dress @ Lost & Found 2.19.9

First and foremost, let's all look to the left at the very comely flier created by the folks putting on this event. You'll notice the purported 8pm start time and the order of the bands. I can see thinking the 8 o'clock start time is a load of hooey, but I can personally attest that if I went to the to the totally wrong part of Brooklyn and arrived at, say 11:30. I might be taken aback, pissed even, to see the third band setting up, especially after all the signage outside said Lost and Found was called some sort of Alligator name.

So, sweaty and cranky, I locked up the bike and walked in to find Little Lungs setting up. I hadn't been all that impressed with them in the past and didn't figure I'd be having an epiphany at midnight on a school night, but I will definitely admit that the three-piece kinda brought it. They had been out on tour for a couple weeks recently (maybe with The Measure? If not, there sure were a lot of civilian Measure personnel out) and evidently brought a lot of Husker Du records with them in the van cause the ladies and gent channelled 80's Minneapolis admirably. The trio were tighter than I had ever seen them previously, and if Angie has always been fingertapping up a storm on that Les Paul of hers, I've really been giving Little Lungs a short shrift. I'm definitely going to scare up their records. Look out for a review soon.

Next up was, of course, the Used Kids. Cue cranky old man 'what the fuck?!?. Who cares if they were billed as the first band and that Thousandaires don't play all that often, change up that bill! To be fair, I thought Modern Machines were ok, and was happy to see that Nate had a new band after they went belly up. That fact that Mikey Erg and Kate Cheeky were involved in the garage-punk franchise only sweetened the pot, but I wanted to see some fucking Thousandaires and The Damn State Lottery. Unexpected or not, Used Kids were good. It's obvious that Nate and Danny are from the Figg-obsessed land of Wisconsin and the 1-2-3-4 parts were endearing, but I still wasn't pleased that another player in the game was being introduced, at midnight on a Thursday no less. I bet I'd like them more in different circumstances, but if you're intrigued you can keep tabs on Used Kids here.

At this point it was still up in the air as to whether The State Lottery were still playing. It soon became evident that they were, albeit at 1am. They set up in short order to a decent crowd, but one definitely down in numbers from the early part of the evening. I wondered if it was going to be one of my favorite eventualities: the rare performance from a once-great band that mars what passes for their legacy by playing a short, under-rehearsed set. Despite the admission that their first rehearsal had been earlier that day, it was great to see the Detroit/NYC five-piece making a racket again. They sound a lot like the best parts of Mid 90's DIY like Braid, embellished with keys and the odd sax part. While it was a great set, I don't believe this is going to mark a return for The State Lottery. You can, however, get a free copy of their record(ings) here from the fine folk of If You Make It. I strongly suggest that you do so.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thorns of Life: Live @ Gilman 1.31.9 live download

What's more to say, really? Thorns Of Life have been playing some shows on the West Coast recently, and assumably recording a new record. They played Gilman on 1/31 and someone made a pretty good recording of it. My boy Eric hooked me up with it, but there's a link off the Blackball message board, too. It's a good show, better than the one I saw at Disgraceland, I'd say. There are some warts, but they are a new band and seem to be sounding better with every show. Now lets get some of those Thorns back in NYC already. The link for the Gilman St. show download is here, for the time being. Get it while you can. It rocks.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

N.Y.H.C Documentary

I'm not sure where I heard about this, probably from the awesome guys over at Double Cross, but I picked it up cheap on the Ebay. It came out initially on VHS like 13 years ago and was recently reissued on DVD with a bonus disc. The original documentary focused on the era around 94-95, although due to editing and finance issues it wasn't released until 1999. It focuses on eight New York hardcore bands: Madball, Agnostic Front, 108, No Redeeming Social Value, District 9, 25 Ta Life, Crown of Thornz and Vision of Disorder. 

It's a decent enough cross-section of the bands of the era, ranging from the Krisha-core of 108 to the jabronie-core of No Redeeming Social Value. All the boroughs are represented, as well as Long Island (with V.O.D). Almost everybody comes off as a misfit, but with a decent enough heart. I'm sure victims of DMS beatdowns back in the day might disagree, but you can't argue that the major players in the game took their lumps for the team. Among other moments, Agnostic Front frontman Roger Miret is interviewed from the hospital after breaking his back at a CBGB and Lord Ezac from Crown of Thornz shows off his scar from his infamous screwdriver stabbing. There are obvious internal scars as well, recounted via firsthand anecdotes from the parties involved. If you didn't understand it firsthand, you get a rare degree of insight into what makes the guys in the hardcore scene the way they are. It's also notable for encapsulating the era before the straight-edge thing jumped off. 108 are undoubtedly so, but not in an Xed up or Nikes and bleached flatop way. I'm not saying that I find the Krishna stuff any less creepy. There are certain odd absences, like Warzone and Sick Of It All, but it does a good job of capturing the era.

The second disc talks to many of the players from the original documentary 10 years after the initial VHS release. Some have aged better than others, but most of the players are still active ten years on, scarred perhaps, but for the most part as dedicated in their late 30s (save for Freddy Madball, who has been down since his single digits). There is bonus footage of shows from Coney Island High from that era featuring a good number of the bands. The 108 and Madball live stuff is pretty great and the interviews with Ezac (including footage of him clowning Toby H20's hairline to his mom on speaker phone) are classic. I'd love to hear him tell the story of his run-in with Dwid, but this isn't the Beef DVD series and director Frank Pavich, while for the most part objective, tries to keep things positive. If you have any interest in the mid-90s NY hardcore scene, this is definitely worth picking it up. Buy it here.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

JS-NYC on Hip Hop Isn't Dead!!!

Hey Kids:

I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl to announce that my encapsulation of Big L's Lifestylez ov da Poor and Dangerous has been published as part of Hip Hop Isn't Dead's annual Reader Submission contest (graphic is HHID's). While I can't hold a candle to Max and his insights, it's an honor to clutter up his corner of the web with my shit. Check the (cuban) link.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Live: Ocean with Salome, Riff Cannon and Batillus @ Public Assembly 2.15.9

So I'm doing a feature for Skyscraper on Ocean and it hadn't been going all that smoothly (all on me, guys) but luckily the Maine gents were going to be in town, and with Batillus, no less, so it seemed prudent to get on the bike and see if the live show uncorked the writers block. 

At the last minute, they asked me to shoot, so I made some calls to see what I could do about scaring up a piece of armament more suitable than the I-phone. Luckily Andrew and Gab came through with the hook-up and a couple hours later I was off to the races. Public Assembly is the old Galapagos. For some reason I though the show was free up until the last minute, when I realized that Pitchfork were running things and that the show was in the back room. I got there too late for Batillus and Riff Cannon. Salome were on by the time I swanned in, a three piece featuring a guitarist and drummer backing a female who sang, screamed and grunted through the songs I heard them do. The drummer was pretty fucking sick, though, and while I'm not so into the screamed unintelligible vocal thing, Salome were a good time. Did I mention the drummer was sick? I would not want to keep that guy in drum heads, I'll tell ya. I was bummed that I missed Batillus, but didn't feel too bad missing something called Riff Cannon. Sorry.

Ocean were ready in short order. I was pleased to see Yoshiko Ohara from Bloody Panda milling about, as it portended well for her reprising her cameo from their new record Pantheon Of The Lesser. Ohara and her voice processor did in fact make an appearance, and it was pretty damn great, even moreso coming from a five-foot raging Japanese lady in custom cowboy boots. Doom shows are an interesting animal, but oddly enough, infinitely more palatable live . Some air moving and a visual element go a long way towards making it more than just another 'loud band' show. Ocean are tight, and the new record has a nice mix of quiet and loud stuff that makes for a better live show. You almost don't realize that the songs are a half-hour long. I could do without the Pterodactyl vocals, but the vocals are much more of a textural element than on the average band's songs. I wouldn't want to go to a doom show every night, but this was a good one. It is worth pointing out that the crowd of males up front comprised the largest population of short-runners for America's Most Sociopathic I've seen since in attendance at a single show since the old days in the basement at ABC. But judge Ocean not by the beds their fanbase wets nor by the arsons they commit. They have a great record and pull it off live. Look for the Skyscraper article in a couple months. In the meantime, you can get a copy of Pantheon Of The Lesser from the good folk of Important Records here. Keep track of all things Maine, beard and Ocean related here.



Sunday, February 15, 2009

Live: The Love Story with She Keeps Bees and Mount Olympus @ Hank's Saloon 2.13.9

So The Love Story have been flying under the radar for the better part of a year crafting their new record on Blonde. It's called Mink, for those of you scoring at home, and this ill-portended day marked their record release. 

As the internet is the best repository of misinformation there is, I checked the Hank's website (define: incongruous) to find that there was another band tagged on the bill, which sure made it seem like our heroes would be kicking it Wilson Pickett style and going on around the midnight hour.  Oh, the wrongitude! I got a text around the ten o'clock hour from two-thirds of Aldenbarton that there were only three bands and that The Love Story were playing second. Cue one frantic sprint over the bridge.

In case you were wondering, Daddy still has legs. I posted up at Hank's in under a half-hour and ran into half of the people I know crammed into the dive-iest hipster bar in Downtown Brooklyn. I hadn't been out there since I sold the Drunk Stuntmen a laptop there a million years ago but suffice to say that things haven't changed a damn bit, save for the clientele, and that's only due to the high rate of alcohol related mortality. Was good to see Heath in the rock arena (and his long-suffering/improbably attractive girlfriend Christina) plus the Aldenbarton crew and the regular gang of Love Story/She Keeps Bees superfans. She Keeps Bees were a couple songs into their set, but the dynamic duo sure do sound nice. I'm not big on the deconstructionist duo thing nor the couples that rock together, but Jessica sure can sing and they sound decent, even through a shitty PA. They recorded their new record Nests live at their house. If you don't make it out to the gang of shows they have booked in the coming weeks, you can pick up a copy of Nests here from the kids at Other Music.

The Love Story were up next to a packed room. It took a bit for them to sort out some sound issues but once they were ready, the kids really tore down the joint. Still no bass player, but save for the slap in the face to the low-end community, these kids sounded pretty damn great. It's not a surprise, but it's always a pleasure to be reminded. There's not too much in the way of frills: Molly can sing, the other two jokers can play, and the songs are just plain great. The sound got a little sketchy up front, but it was still good enough to send a lot of crappy Brooklyn rockers back to their rehearsal space early to play some catch-up. TLS were as sinuous and glossy as their new album's namesake, look for a review in the next week or so at JS-NYC. Trust me, while I appreciate your deference, you don't need my affirmation to go out and pick up Mink immediately. You can pick it up from Blonde Records here.Tell Ren JS-NYC sent you. The Love Story are playing some more shows in the coming weeks, including a show on 3/27 at the temporal timewarp that is The Cake Shop. Keep tabs on all the goings-on in The Love Story here.

I bailed before the Mount Olympus set, but TLS drum juggernaut Jason assured me that they kind of bring it. Check them out here. The force seems strong within them.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine Tribute at The Tripwire

Hey Kids:

If you're looking for a little thematic reading to go with today's Hallmark Holiday, you'll find a short homage to Valentines (and not this one, mind you, at least not today) currently up at The Tripwire. Thanks to Derek Evers. 

Thrill at the connection between JS-NYC and Patrick Swayze and marvel at uncorroborated accounts of my actually having sex with a willing female participant. Here's the link.

just a fool to believe

Friday, February 13, 2009

Glasvegas - Glasvegas

Hell-o! This is one hell of a great record. Glasvegas are from Scotland, which seems more and more to be a seal of quality when it comes to the rock music.  Teenage Fanclub, Jesus and Mary Chain and Aereogramme are only a few of the great bands that have all come from that rainy neck of the Isles in recent years. Lest you think our Scottish friends have fallen off, be aware that new bands like The Twilight Sad and, now, the quartet known as Glasvegas are carrying the torch quite admirably, thank you very much. I had passing knowledge of the lady and gents via something in Q and liked them when they played one of the late night programs. I made a note to check them out and grabbed Glasvegas when I had the chance, but hadn't gotten around to throwing it on until recently. Boy, am I kicking myself. The record has been blowing up in the British Isles since it dropped in September of last year and seems poised to do the same stateside.

Glasvegas the band and Glasvegas the album display a pronounced love of reverb and big soaring choruses. I'll be the first to question what the deal is with all these reverb bands like Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jacket. I'm not sure whether it's coincident with the grade of weed going through the roof in recent years, or if the prescription drugs that all the kids like these days just cater to this kind of stuff, but it's a little over the top in this day and age. It's becoming the Antares sound of the Rock Underground and it's in danger of getting way played out. That said, Glasvegas have reverb on every damn thing they can get a noise out of here and it's absolutely wonderful.  Think Jesus and Mary Chain covering Motown tunes with Mike Peters on lead vocals.  Trust me, it's a pretty magical combination.

There is the weird spoken word piece over an interpolation of The Moonlight Sonata, but I'll ignore that and aver that the nine other tracks on Glasvegas are some of the best that I've heard this year. If Columbia can't sell this record in the States, the US record industry is well and truly in the shitter, as Glasvegas are everything good about U2 and The Killers with half the pretension.  You need to buy this record. There, I said it.  Here's a link. You can keep tabs on them through their awesomely Scottish website. Check it out here and thank me later.



Thursday, February 12, 2009

Live: OnPoint @ Lit Lounge 2.11.9

Hey Kids:

I'm not going to lie to you all. I feel terrible today, but it's nothing really to do with the Onpoint show last night. Those kids (and drum machine) are really killing it in 2009 and last night was no exception. Hopefully we'll get a record out of them soon. In the meantime, keep tabs on what's going on with the kids here. In other notes, it looks like Olga has a NYC Metal Blog that you can check out here.

Stay Metal!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lonely Island - Incredibad

For the uninitiated, The Lonely Island are, among other things, the guys behind the SNL Digital Shorts that have been a high point of recent SNL history. They are a trio of writer-comedians comprised of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Friends since childhood, they eventually cultivated a pretty decent internet buzz that they managed to parley into fruitful gigs on SNL. Schaffer has also directed some amazing videos, including the Gnarls Barkley video for Who's Gonna Save My Soul that's one of the best videos since Thriller from where I'm sitting. That said, it's a double-edged sword for me. Just when I think that I've written them (ok, Samberg) off, they hit with Ras Trent or I'm On A Boat and it's back to square one for me, although if there is one more fucking episode of that stupid Laser Cats, I'm going to jack Samberg on the street.

Hip-hop is an easy vehicle for the lazy comedian, but Lonely Island get props for coming pretty serious with their beats and rhymes. They are originally from the Bay Area, so E-40 guests on a track and Sir Mix-A-Lot classic Posse On Broadway is slyly referenced for more JS-NYC props. Of course, Lazy Sunday is here, featuring Chris Parnell, who is seriously one of the top 10 best white rappers. I am not joking in the least. Incredibad has all the great material you've seen on SNL, including Dick In A Box and Ras Trent. There's also a companion DVD with a good number of the SNL shorts. It's worth pointing out that Iran So Far is not here, owing to clearance issues. This should sell like fucking hot cakes. Their only mistake is not releasing it in time for the Holidays.

Ok, not only. There are some crappy parts, like Punch You In The Jeans and the title track, which really wouldn't bear mentioning at all, save for the fact that they rhyme about gang-banging an alien, but the tracks rarely reach the three minute mark, so even the most irritating jokes pass quickly enough not to be too trying. If you're a fan, it seems worth picking up, especially as you get the uncensored versions of the SNL aired songs and a lot of them are pretty classic. You can get Incredibad here, if you are of a mind. Keep track of what's going on with the Lonely Island here.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Marked Men - Ghosts

The Marked Men are from Denton, in the delightful Republic of Texas. They play the garage punk that the kids enjoy very much in this day and age. They are decent, in my mind sort of a garage-ier Figgs if they covered Chixdiggit's Van Horne a bunch of times in a row. Ghosts has grown on me a bunch. I really didn't care for it the first time, but I bet I'd like them a lot more a couple beers in at Dan's Silverleaf. 

Three-quarters of these Marked Men used to be in The Reds, before one of their members left and moved to Japan. They say lightning never strikes twice, but damn if it isn't happening again. The Denton/Japan commute seems like it's going to be cost-prohibitive, so it would appear this may be one of the last chances you're going to get to get some Marked Men in your life. When it hits, like on Ditch or Red Light Rumors, it's a pretty damn good thing. You can definitely see why John Reis released their stuff on Swami. See what you think. You can hear some tracks at their social networking interface here. If you decide you'd like the home version of our game, you can pick Ghosts up here from the kids at Dirtnap.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Live: Lucero @ Mercury Lounge 2.8.9

So Flynn let me know a couple weeks ago that the Lucero were playing Mercury. They have evidently been out with The Black "we'd be pretty average if we had a bass player" Keys for some big rooms, but decided to play an off-night at Mercury. I'm sure bar owners and tenders were dancing in the aisles at the announcement. 

It was good to see the boys back at Mercury. I hadn't planned to swing by as early as I did, but it was lucky for me, as for once the start time was as advertised. That time was 9, an awesome time given my beer consumption the night before. I got there just as Megan Reilly's crew was packing up. It was good to see James Mastro, who is always nice enough to pretend to remember me. I think Megan's alright, but christ, when you have guys from The Mekons, Gang Of Four and Mott The Hoople in your band, it's hard not to think that I should be giving her a closer look.

The show was sold out, and to a (wo)man pretty loaded from the onset. A gang of the Unified Scene kids were out, it's always good to see them. They seemed well-primed for the show and I wondered how they were going to work with the increasingly large fratboy jerk-off crowd Lucero has attracted in recent years. It's hard to fault their taste, as Lucero were as great as they often are. They were touring with their expanded six-piece line-up, featuring Todd from Glossary on steel and Rick Steff on keys, which is never a bad thing. What did get a little old was the random shove-fest that is what passes for a pit these days. That said, let me make sure my contempt for the idea that one would even contemplate such a thing at a Lucero show is voiced openly. Hey kids, why not dance? Of course, the fact that douche bags were throwing beer for a good part of the set might have caused me to mistake the tenor of the scene, but I was pretty close to the fray and it was pretty stupid from where I was.  

Oh yeah, Lucero played, too. Man, they really are a great band, and with the DBT precedent having been set, a fine candidate for a Hold Steady touring partner, if you don't mind my saying. We got a pretty good cross-section of songs. No Little Silver Heart or Sweet Little Thing, but Barbed Wire Fence and Little Brother made respectable appearances along with a couple new tunes and a real pretty cover of Colorado Girl. Ben mentioned that the small room made the show more of a party and it was one I wouldn't have wanted to clear up after. They played a solid two hours, and Ben wasn't over the drunk line where things go to shit in Lucero World, so I'll call it pretty fucking aces, save for the random acts of douchebaggery.

If I may pick another bone, I will admit to having never been a young Suicide Girl, five whiskeys in and desired by every drunk frat boy and beardo within eyeshot, but if I was, I'd exercise a degree of modesty and stay off the most strapping of the crowd's shoulders when you're at the fucking Mercury. Ditto for the crowd riding. We get it: you're hot and yes, most of us (guys, at least) would like to have sex with you, but I think we all know you're not going to, so calm down before you attract the right Mr. Wrong and really get yourself in trouble. You can get yourself just as noticed on the floor if you try real hard. And you won't be blocking my fucking view.

Lucero are back in town 4/18 at Music Hall Of Williamsburg. Bring a raincoat and your patience, this Memphis Mafia will be their usual good time. The new record is still coming together, a matter no doubt wrapped up in their new major-label release schedule. In the interim, keep up on with goings-on in the Lucero camp here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Live: The Static Minds with The Names, The Royals and Mod Fun @ The Whiskey, Annapolis MD, 2/7/9

If I've learned one thing in my old age, it's that if Molly Flynn tells you to go see a band (and it's not Marah), you should probably get off your ass and go see them. In this instance, the band was Raleigh, NC's own The Static Minds, so when I heard that the woman herself would be in Annapolis to see them, I hopped a freight down to my sister and bro-in-law's place and got my freeload on.

We picked up some more kids, grabbed some Thai food and set to rocking. The Whiskey is a little T.G.I Rockers for my taste, but the beer was cold and cheap, so there was little to argue about. The Royals set things off soon after our arrival. They were young, and evidently playing their first show that evening. They had a pretty good crowd and despite the fact that I felt a million years old watching them, they busted out some new school Nuggets-informed rock. They were a little rough, but better than a lot of bands with more history. The singer is a good looking kid with decent stage presence, and he can sing. He also played guitar on a couple tunes, mostly avoiding my disdain for singers that just sing. They don't seem to have a web presence, but if you're in the area, I'd keep an eye out.

Next up was The Static Minds, who set to tearing the place up in short order. The gents do rock, to say the least. Erik the singer does a damn good job of doing that, as well as knocking out solid rhythm guitar. While The Royals seemed a bit tentative, the older guys had no such reservations. They tore off tune after tune of post-Sonics garage-y rock and managed to get the hot ladies dancing. The band is tight as hell, and Andy Kerr is a man not to be trifled with when he's got a Les Paul strapped on. The frosting on the beater: a bad-ass bassist named Lucius Cyrus. If he didn't seem to able to tear my arms off for doing so, I would grow a moustache and assume his identity stat. I got a copy of three of their songs after the set, so look forward to a review in the next couple of days, but don't postpone joy. Here's a link to the web presence. Bookmark that shit, as these gents rock. Hard.

After four beers and a band that good in the second slot, I was pretty stoked to see the last two bands. Mod Fun came out a bit po-faced after The Static Minds, and they should have, as the room was soundly rocked. Mod Fun are from Jersey, and evidently had a pretty good run of it back in the late 80s, but they didn't really catch fire this night. Everything was pretty mid-tempo and without much in the way of hooks and even a late-set cover of The Letter didn't save things. They closed the set with a half-hearted Townsend-ian stage smashing that just came off a little desperate after the rock we had just heard. Goes to show that old doesn't necessarily mean good, plus if you're going to take off from 1987 to 2004, you might be a little bit disingenous about your 'history' as a band. Better luck next time.

The Names closed the night, but we had to bail before they actually played. They are young (all 19, according to Molly) but allegedly rock. I'll put them on the list and try to catch them if they make it up North. Here's hoping, but The Static Minds really are all you need for a quality evening of rocking and beer drinking. Check them out stat. Here's a link.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Nobunny - Love Visions

For my money, there are extremely few instances when costumery should be indulged in on the rock stage. Off the top of my head, I will argue that the following get a pass:

Slipknot (and by proxy, Mushroomhead)
Ogre, when and if he's playing with Puppy

That said, if you are a not-especially-good recording project that seems to be riding the cred that The Ramones and The Cramps gained by showing their love for 50s and 60s music, and you are wearing a fucking rabbit head while you're doing it, it's pretty obvious that you are using the mask to hide your association with the project. If I had recorded this crap, I would hide my identity too. If you are 14, or maybe have grown out of your Reggie and the Full Effect records, maybe you'll like Love Visions. If not, I can't see any reason to listen to this ridiculousness.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Cappadonna - Slang Prostitution

When Wu-tang blew up in the early 90s and everybody in the Clan got solo shine, an army of weed carriers, hangers-on, and the rare actual MC sprung up in their wake. After getting on with the Wu initially via a cameo on Raekwon's Ice Cream, Cappadonna has wavered in that grey area between official Wu member and affiliate for a solid ten years. He's appeared on a lot of Wu releases and was even, if you believe what read on the Internets, allegedly airbrushed off the cover of Iron Flag

That's kinda fucked up. Cappa Wu has released a few solo records since he's gotten on with varying degrees of success. I dug that Slang Editorial song off the first record, but after that he was mostly on my radar for allegedly having been a cab driver in Baltimore in his lean times.  Maybe he popped up on one of the Ghostface records, too? Either way, Slang Prostitution is a lot better than I would have ever expected a Cappadonna record to be in 2009. He comes hard from the onset with Savage Life, but isn't above dropping nostalgic shit like Do You Remember, either? 

All reminiscence aside, it isn't all reality on Slang Prostitution. For one, I don't think there's anybody with working eyeballs who believes that Cappa owns the jewelry on the cover, but by and large this is pretty solid. The beats are decent and he's got some good guest shots, too. Check for the Jojo Pellegrino and Raekwon cameos. Sadly, it sounds a lot better than the advance stuff I've heard off Cuban Linx 2. Cappadonna is still coming with the real shit in 2k9. I'd say that it's well worth the $12 bucks that Chambermuzik is asking for Slang Prostitution. Pick it up here. Keep track on all things Cappa here.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Franz Nicolay - Major General

Most visitors to JS-NYC probably know Franz best as the mustachioed keyboard player of The Hold Steady, but he's pretty much everywhere, so maybe you've seen him solo, with Guiginol, World Inferno or a million other projects. He's the artier present-day version of the late Drew Glackin in his ubiquity. Major General is the first solo release from Franz,  although he sold a short run of the demos of these songs on tour. You can still get said demos from Franz in digital form here. You'll be shocked to know that I bought them a while back. I had heard most of the songs when Franz opened for the American Music Club shows last Spring and was happy to finally get Jeff Penalty in recorded form. I dug the demos a lot, but sadly the tide of other JS-NYC  reviewables relegated it to the sidelines like too many other great recordings.

The demos aren't all that far from the glossier versions that appear on Major General. If Franz helmed The Hold Steady and drove them from the position of American Music Club obsession rather than Springsteen, you'd get the songs here. Unsurprisingly, Franz is good with a hook. His well is pretty deep; there aren't too many people who could pull off a cover of Do We Not Live In Dreams and not come off saccharine (and pretentiously so), but our Franz manages to pull it off with his usual aplomb. He follows it up with the driving Confessions Of An Ineffective Casanova, just to remind you that he's not trifling when it comes to the rock department, either. Whether you like the songs fast or prefer them slow, Major General is a great record, and an early candidate for best of the year for this guy.  I couldn't suggest more emphatically that you buy the thirteen songs that comprise it here. Doubting Thomases can try it before you by it here. No doubt, afterwards you'll want to keep track of the general goings-on with our Mr. Nicolay. Do that here


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

R.I.P: Lux Interior (1948-2009)

Well isn't this shaping up to be quite a year! Another of the good ones gone.

R.I.P and deepest condolences from JS-NYC to Poison Ivy


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Guilt By Association Live Review Up at The Tripwire

Hey Kids:

New live review of the Guilt By Association Vol. 2 release party at Music Hall Of Williamsburg is up at The Tripwire. Check the linkage here.

Thanks to Derek Evers at The Tripwire and Samantha at Tell All Your Friends.


Monday, February 2, 2009

The Loved Ones - Distractions

The Loved Ones are a decent band. That's kind of hard to say, as it's really Dave and whoever he's got playing with him at the time. At this point, I think it's still Mike and the guys from The Explosion. Distractions is a six song EP that pairs three new tracks with three covers. The new songs are as decent as any Loved Ones songs. They are hooky as hell, but as Hause gets closer and closer to his solo singer-songwriter turn, they sound more and more like The Gin Blossoms. I almost always point that out, and always feel the need to qualify that it's not a bad thing at all. For the record, it's still not. There are some odd missteps, like the keyboard parts cobbled on to Last Call that shoot for E Street and end up Diesel Boy, but Distracted is as good a tune as The Loved Ones have ever had, and they sure have some good ones.

Hause has a solo record coming out soon. It makes sense. We've seen all the signs of him moving away from the punk rock thing. (That's an observation and not an out and out judgement, although me being kind of a dick, I can see reading something that there). Case in point would be his jocking of The Hold Steady in a fashion that makes my unabashed sycophancy seem understated and charming. It's a lofty aspiration, and I'm not saying that Hause isn't going to be able to pull it off, but the three covers show the threadbare secondhand rock t-shirts these Emporers are dressing in. When The Loved Ones set the bar high, like on the cover of Springsteen's Johnny 99 that comes off bar band at best, you see where they aren't quite there yet. It just comes off Gaslight Anthem, and nobody wants that. To be fair, the Billy Bragg cover comes off pretty well, and the Strummer tune splits the difference enough to make this a pretty good EP. If you're old like me, you'll probably roll your eyes at the covers, but Distractions is only $6, and the three new tunes are worth that at least, so pick it up here from the kids at Fat. The Loved Ones are hibernating, but Hause is playing some solo shows, including one at the Unitarian Church in Philly on 3/26. You can get tickets for that here.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mouthbreather - Thank You For Your Patience

Mouthbreather are from Richmond, VA, like so many other quality punk franchises these days. Must be something in that river water. I like me some RVA punk, and while I will mention that the guys here used to be in Wow, Owls and The SetUp, I can't say that I've heard either of those bands. Mouthbreather bring the post-Flag ruckus with wiry guitar lines and lots of pounding and/or shouting. They sound like what I always wanted Planes Mistaken For Stars to sound like, with a of Bronx-y psychotic edge to it. There are strains of melody and even a hook or two in the sonic barrage. You can probably expect a gang of drunken beardos crowding the front line of their shows shouting along with the tunes here. 

There are some cool moments on Thank You For Your Patience, especially on the horribly titled When A Chemist Dies, Barium and the raging The Nazarene. They certainly are interesting harbingers of a direction that asks the sonic question: What would happen if Evan Patterson helmed Meneguar? The answer is: You would have the a band that rocks the shit out of you. A happy coincidence, as I very much enjoy having said shit rocked out of me. 

Mouthbreather have postponed their tour that was going to jump off the month, but are evidently touring with local heroes Bridge And Tunnel on their way to Harvest Of Hope. I'm kinda bummed that I'm not going, but hopefully we'll see Mouthbreather in the NYC area in the Spring. Keep tabs on Mouthbreather activities here. In the meantime, pop over to Kiss Of Death and pick up Thank You For Your Patience. I'll be drinking coffee and shouting along with Best Of Seven.