Thursday, April 30, 2009

new Wussy!!

It's shaping up to be a pretty good spring for new releases, evinced in no small part by the fact that Columbus, OH purveyors of awesomeness Wussy have a new record out on Shake It!. Full-length number three is simply called Wussy. There are a dozen songs this time around, none of which do anything to dispel the notion that Wussy is the Midwest version of X. Chuck still isn't Sam Cooke, but why would you want him to be? Lisa's voice is the Coke to his Jack and the two are just as lovely together.

There have been some minor line-up changes in Team Wussy since their last release, with drummer Dawn Burman leaving and Joe Klug from Staggering Statistics stepping into the breach. The switch hasn't changed the Wussy sound much from it's bedrock awesomeness. If you liked them before, there is still a good amount of Velvet Underground drone and reverb action to go with the soaring slide sweeps, especially on Magic Words. Wussy is good, really good in fact. Look forward to me writing this up as much as I can. 

Once it relaunches, there will be something on the new Skyscraper web presence about Wussy, so I won't go too much into the specifics, but suffice to say that there are songs called This Will Not End Well, Maglite, and Misadventure. Anyone familiar with the Wussy catalog will take these titles as comfortable thematic signs. Oh, and if you're an older Ass Ponys fan that's on the fence, know that Maglite features a crossbow pretty prominently in the narrative. Wussy will be on tour behind Wussy starting the end of May. They'll be at Cake Shop with Chris Brokaw on 5/16 and Union Hall at 5/17, so mark your calendars. If you feel the need to try it before you buy it, you can listen to tracks from Wussy here. Why postpone joy, you can pick up a copy like JS-NYC did via this handy link. Thank me later and look out for the Skyscraper review soon.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dexateens review up now at The Tripwire

Hey Boy(s) and Girl(s):

My review of the new Dexateens record Singlewide is now up at The Tripwire. Peep it here.

Looks like Skybucket will be releasing it on May 12, but pre-order Singlewide from them here and get a screened poster.

Keep track of hot Dexateen action here.

Dexateens are in town on 5/14 at Pianos. Go see them.

Thanks to Derek Evers at The Tripwire!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ben Lee - The Rebirth Of Venus: Out Today on New West

The vegetarian dreamboat (and Mr. Ione Skye) Ben Lee drops his new paragon of positivity The Rebirth Of Venus, today on New West. Cop it here.


Monday, April 27, 2009

A Positive Rage - Bonus Tracks

More A Positive Rage goodness. Those with so little of a life as to actually retain my blathering might remember that there were bonus tracks to be had for those that purchased this. The Hold Steady b-sides are often as good, if not better than some of the album cuts. Of course I am a contrarian, but as the boys are just as likely to bust out a leftover as an album track, so you'd do well to become familiar. 

So the first run of this had a defective link to the bonus tracks. Upon receiving the replacement (loose in a padded mailer without a sleeve - not a good look) I tried to get the unreleased tracks and was stymied once again. Having to cough up an e-mail address and zip to get them is a little shitty, too (like you're not going to sell that info off, Vagrant. Keep news of the umpteenth Thrice vinyl reissue to yourself, will you). Especially when you don't actually get them. After a couple three e-mails, the enigmatic Jake of Vagrant and HS list fame hooked me up with the five tracks via a link (like they should have just done in the first place).  Props are due to him, but it's all about the b-sides here, isn't it? So let's get to it:

First, while there are five bonus tracks available for your APR dollar, it's really only two new tracks, as the first three tracks were available if you bought the deluxe version of Stay Positive.
The tracks were strung together as a single track, so if you weren't of a mind to chop them up, I guess it's refreshing to get them as separate tracks. And a great trio of tracks they are:

First up is Ask Her For Adderall, which is as good if not better than any of the Stay Positive tracks. It rocks and it's awesome. It's also pretty much the same as Constructive Summer with different lyrics. Who cares, it's one of the best Hold Steady tracks yet.

Second is Cheyenne Sunshine. A slower tune with good Franz parts. Melancholy, kind of Modesto-esque.

Third is Two Handed Handshake, one of Craig's character studies. You've heard it live and liked it. All three tracks are great, and for my money one of them could have taken the place of Navy Sheets. But that's just me.

As for the two actual unreleased tracks, 40 Bucks is sort of a companion to Sequestered In Memphis, again with a Modesto/212-Margarita flair to it and Spectres has the big string and B3 treatment. Epic, heartfelt, better than a gang of Arcade Fire records. Plus, it's pretty much free for buying a CD/DVD set that's as cheap and awesome as some of the less tragic women in Hold Steady songs.  Buy a copy if you haven't already. Buy a second for a friend if you have. Here's a link.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

NOFX - Coaster

In 2009, do you really need to be told about a NOFX record? They have been putting out the same record easily for the last decade, never bad, butmore importantly never worse. The songs come fast and furious: you get the average band songs (First Call, Creeping Out Sara, Eddie Bruce and Paul), the vice songs (First Call, I Am An Alcoholic), the anti-those who buy your records songs (Fuck The Kids Pts 1 & 2) and the anti-establishment stuff (Blasphemy, Suits And Ladders). 

They are tight as fuck, and Melvin really is one hell of a guitar player. Mike is funny, and sometimes even witty. They are more than willing to throw a ska break or a song about homosexuality into the mix to make the average fan feel worldly and or affirmed and even will hide some vulnerability in songs about dying friends and/or family. It's all pretty good, but is there anyone that isn't a tween that is just getting into NOFX? I guess statistically it could happen, but Mike and Co. are definitely preaching to the choir on Coaster. If you liked NOFX before, you'll like this, if not, don't count on this being an epiphany for you.  It's out today, courtesy of the good folk of Fat Wreck. Here's a link, if you're into such things. Keep track of NOFX here.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Live: Tim Barry, Austin Lucas and Josh Small @ The Knitting Factory 4.23.9

If you've been around JS-NYC in recent weeks, you are probably aware of my newfound obsession with all things Austin Lucas. Tony from Southern Lovin sent me Somebody Loves You a month or so ago and I promptly went bananas over it. As luck would have it, a bunch of places were looking for someone to write about it and Austin was coming through town with Tim Barry and Josh Small. Tony got Austin put me on the list and in the interim, I came to find out that Rut's lady Jamie knew him from Bloomington. Suffice to say, I was pretty stoked.

Josh Small opened up the night with a short set and a big rack of instruments, I only caught the last five or six songs of his set, but he's got a record out called Tall By Josh Small that I definitely want to hear. He's been playing a lot with Tim Barry and was the jack of all trades on last Summer's revival tour with Ben from Lucero and Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music). Check out Josh here and get Tall here from Suburban Home.  

Austin came out and played on Josh's last song and Small repaid the favor by sticking around for the first song of way too short a set. I was pleased to find that Austin sings as well live as you would expect him to. The set was far too short, but feature most of the high points of Somebody Loves You, save for Shoulders. I would have like to have heard Kith and Kin, but the only disappointment in the set was that it passed far too quickly. Check out Austin here and buy a copy of Somebody Loves You here immediately.

Tim Barry was next up. He took the stage like a panther and immediately launched into Dog Bumped, a take of a man who has to deal with his sister's abusive husband. The crowd went pretty apeshit and for the life of me I can't see why. I have a ton of respect for what Tim has accomplished with Avail. He's worked damn hard at plying this folky troubadour route and seems totally sincere about it. Sadly, from where I'm sitting (read: far away from his wrath) it's pretty contrived and not especially good. He was playing in the crowd two songs into the set (and pretty excited to tell everyone how he was going there) to much adulation, but after three more songs, I bailed to the front bar. I have all the respect for the Coe and Paycheck set of populist, working man's music, but the problem lies in the genre being co-opted by the Toby Keiths of the industry. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to hear Lefty crap by punk bands (or Steve Earle) either. Something about Tim's solo songs and his crowd just don't resonate with me, especially after seeing Austin Lucas. Still, if you're into that sort of thing, you can get Tim's most recent record Manchester here from Suburban Home and keep tabs on his whereabouts here.

Thanks to Tony Weinbender at Southern Lovin for the hook-up, Austin for putting me on the list (good luck in Mexico!) and Rut and Jamie for the company.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Doug Sahm Tribute Review up now at The Tripwire

Hey Kids:

My review of Keep Your Soul: A Tribute To Doug Sahm is up at The Tripwire. Check it out here.

Thanks to Derek Evers at The Tripwire and Traci Thomas at Thirty Tigers!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Austin Lucas with Josh Small and Tim Barry TONIGHT @ The Old Knit

The great Austin Lucas is playing the old Knit (you know, the one in Manhattan) tonight with Josh Small and Tim Barry. I am beside myself with excitement.

If you have ears, you should probably come down and listen.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yesterday's Ring - Diamonds In The Ditch

Well, finally the day has come. The new Yesterday's Ring record has finally made it's way to Jaded Scenester HQ. And there was much rejoicing.

I reviewed the Sainte Catherines record Dancing For Decadence for Skyscraper a couple summers ago. I thought they were pretty decent, and as luck would have it, I ended up in Montreal a couple months later, days before The Sainte Catherines were to play a big show commemorating (I believe) their 500th show as a band. We just missed that show, but fate smiled on us as The Sainte Catherines countrified alter-egos Yesterday's Ring were playing shows that weekend to celebrate the release of their Back From El Rancho EP. The club was right down the street from out hotel, a small Brownies (RIP) sized place that put the six-piece band pretty much in the crowd for their set. It was a sweaty, raucous affair that won me over even though a lot of the set was in French. It didn't stop me from snapping up all of their records that I could find, and ordering the rest when I got back to NYC.

Fast forward a couple of years to Yesterday's Ring announcing a new record was in the works and then to a second announcement a month or so later from Virgil at Suburban Home that he was going to Chicago to try to get the boys to release the new record on Suburban Home. Luckily things worked out. I can't think of a better combination of artist and label. The record is called Diamonds In The Ditch and does little to dispel the notion that Yesterday's Ring are a French-Canadian version of The Pogues. All the ingredients to a good record are here: steel guitar, mariachi accordian, Telecasters. You really can't go wrong. 

The songs on Diamonds In The Ditch split the difference nicely between raucous rave-ups and dark tales of heartbreak and loss; sixteen tracks in total, all representing Montreal to the fullest. If Yesterday's Ring aren't shouting out the city outright, they are singing about missing it. Montreal is a pretty magical city, and the women are beautiful. Frankly, hearing Diamonds In The Ditch makes me want to move there now. Scrabble Strip Club and Moving Back (To Montreal) are two of the higher points, but truthfully there is very little in the way of low points. Saved By The Belle finds singer Hugo Mudie deviating from his normal Tim Armstrong school of elocution to sing in an oddly Jon Bon Jovi esque tone, but that isn't bad so much as weird. Trust me on this: you want to pick up Diamonds In The Ditch. Avail yourself of this handy link to preorder it from the good folk of Suburban Home, then go to their social networking engine and pester them to come Stateside for some shows. 


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Red Fang review up at The Tripwire now!!

Hey Kids:

Review of the exceedingly awesome new Red Fang record is currently up courtesy of your friends at The Tripwire.
Here's a link.

Thanks to Derek Evers at The Tripwire and to Rut for the heads up on the awesomeness of The Red Fang.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Buddy and Julie Miller - Written In Chalk

While Buddy Miller and his wife Julie have a host of solo releases between them, this is only their second formal duet release. If you know anything about either party, you won't be surprised to find that Written In Chalk is pretty wonderful. Julie suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic depression, so material is not exactly pouring out for her, but she's wonderful here, penning nine of the twelve tunes. Buddy, by contrast, is seemingly everywhere, touring with Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, and serving as lead guitarist on the ridiculously successful Robert Plant/Alison Kraus tour. Most recently, he's been out with Emmylou, Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin on the Three Girls And Their Buddy Tour.

Still, even after a surprise triple-bypass while on tour in Baltimore, Buddy has found time to produce a good number of high profile records at their home studio, including Solomon Burke's Nashville and Written In Chalk. The studio isn't much more than a living room and a ProTools rig, but damn if some of the best real country music you'll ever hear comes from it. There are a dozen songs on Written In Chalk, the lion's share of which are written by Julie and absolutely wonderful, even if she's not singing on them. Julie and Buddy have been married since 1981 and bring a wonderful Conway and Loretta kind of harmony to everything they touch, whether it be swampy fare like Gasoline and Matches or more poignant fare like Everytime We Say Goodbye. Their vocal combination makes for an absolutely classic sound, but Julie demurs periodically to give up the vocal role to Patty Griffin, Emmylou or Regina McCrary. Each does her more than proud, with Griffin proving especially wonderful on Don't Say Goodbye. The Robert Plant cameo on the Mel Tillis chestnut What You Gonna Do, Leroy is somewhat unremarkable, but it's growing on me and little niggles on my part aside, Written In Chalk is undoubtably the best record out of Nashville yet this year. Since good (not to be confused with large selling) records come damn few and far between, I can't see much better coming from Nash Vegas anytime soon, so why not buy go with the known quantity and snag yourself a couple copies of Written In Chalk from New West here. Keeps tabs on Buddy and Julie here. Maybe if we're lucky we'll see some live dates.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mike Hale - Lives Like Mine

You may (or should) remember Mike Hale from his time fronting the mighty Gainesville punk rock triple threat that is/was Gunmoll. They were sort of a Gainesville Jawbreaker and were no strangers to bringing the noise to a basement or house show. They broke up sort of acrimoniously a couple years ago. In the interim, Hale has moved out to California and formed a new band called In The Red that have a record called Volume 2 out courtesy of the good folk of Suburban Home. You can get it here. Look for a review soon on JS-NYC.

In The Red are still a band, but Hale has decided to quit his job and give up his lease to become a full-time musician. It ambitious, especially in this day and age, but he's got a decent record to springboard with.  Lives Like Mine is all Hale, with spartan guitar and/or piano backing. It's nice, if not especially engaging for me personally. Hale has a nice voice and the songs are all better than the average stuff you'll hear. Forgive me, but Austin Lucas has raised the bar improbably high for me as it concerns solo fare in this day and age. It's definitely worth checking out and, as luck would have it, Suburban Home and Vinyl Collective are giving away Lives Like Mine away for free here, so check it out yourself and spread the gospel, if you see fit. Hale has a running series of posts from the road at that you can keep up on here. His social networking engine can be found here, if you do that sort of thing.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Happy Record Store Day!

You should never need an excuse to buy music, but today's a better day than most to do it. Drop some greenbacks and support an independent record store!


Friday, April 17, 2009

Ben Lee - The Rebirth Of Venus

I've always like Ben Lee. I heard I Wish I Was Him on a CMJ sampler a million years ago and got to enjoy the bizarro era where Evan Dando would bum rush stages and perform it at will. He also pulled one of the more awesome moves I've seen a live performer pull during CMJ late last century. During the time he was dating Claire Danes and had written some touching little ditty about their long distance love. It was at the old Threadwaxing Space and had the usual cadre of industry weasels chatting their way through the set. After asking the most egregious of the offenders a number of times to shut the hell up, he simply jumped in the audience and finished his set in the middle of the group. It was fairly obvious that Ben was not ignorant of the more pugnacious aspects of the average Aussie. 

He's also kind of a big deal in Australia. He had a bunch of hits early on, and has been self-releasing his material in Australia to huge success since 2004. His early material was somewhat dark, but recent years have found Lee releasing record after record that make Up With People seem like Integrity. He's also displayed a socially-conscious political side that equals his savvy in getting his singles placed in commercials and tv dramas. 

The new record is called The Rebirth Of Venus. It's got a handful of good songs on it, but is more notable for having a large amount of its royalties donated to FINCA International's Village Banking Program. If Lee continues to move the units he's been shifting for New West and his own Ten Fingers, it could be a good year for the world's less fortunate. I prefer the darker Folds-ian stuff like Families Cheating At Bored Games, but there are so many choir choruses on The Rebirth Of Venus that even the dark moments aren't exactly Dakota Suite.
In fact, a lot of this stuff is so perky that it kinda gives me a headache. I submit to you What's So Bad (About Feeling Good) and I Love Pop Music. Boy With A Barbie might also shine a light on the warmness and/or fuzziness of one of PETAs Sexiest Vegetarians. Again, it's a little much for this bitter bastard, but then again if I had married Ione Skye last year, I might be releasing this kind of digital sunshine.  If you're of a mind, pick up The Rebirth Of Venus from the good folk of New West here. Be forewarned, though, the bizarre I'm A Woman, Too might prove a little much for even the most positive of Jason Mraz-ophiles. You can interface with Mr. Positive here.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Hold Steady - A Positive Rage, Part Two: The DVD

I've always been pretty ambivalent about The Hold Steady and their video presence. The video for Chips Ahoy seemed a remarkably bad treatment for a band that was just starting to come on people's radar. With all respect to Moh Azima, who is a nice guy and who tenured briefly in my old band Musclecar, it seemed just a little too flippant for a song that good. I much preferred his videos for The Swish and Stuck Between Stations. I'm not sure who did the video for Stay Positive, but that one is absolutely terrible. I smell Vagrant saddling them with a director. Those things summarily shat upon, I approached the idea of tour documentary with a bit of trepidation, but having met the guys and their crew, it would be hard to avoid capturing the magic that these guys have.

I'm pleased to report that A Positive Rage the documentary is pretty great. It's got the real feeling that Superchunk's Quest For Sleep tour doc has, without the post 9/11 dread. Finn often talks about the level of joy that the band maintains, to the point of it getting a little bit rote, but even after hearing it so many times, watching them live it's hard to refute that statement. Of course, The Hold Steady would have to be a sadsack band of Radiohead proportions to not be pretty happy. The doc captures the tour behind Boys And Girls In America where The Hold Steady really started to get a lot of press and play bigger and bigger rooms. European and US tours are both captured, both showing the band equally exhausted and exhilarated, missing home but realizing that they had a very special band on their hands. There are no full-songs, much less a full live set, but that's what the cd is for, besides there are other live Hold Steady DVDs to occupy you. With A Positive Rage, it's nice to have them both in a single package for a reasonable price. I wouldn't say that this would be my first Hold Steady purchase and if you're a fan you already have this, but for the average person A Positive Rage is better for your shut-in friends or parent you're trying to expose to The Hold Steady.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Hold Steady - A Positive Rage, Part One: The CD

For the uninitiated, or those that don't like The Hold Steady (at JS-NYC HQ, we call those people deaf), A Positive Rage is the new live CD slash DVD tour documentary from the boys from Brooklyn. In the interest of yammering on about The Hold Steady as much as possible, I'm going to separate the two discs into two reviews. Let's make love to our ears first, shall we?

This recording comes from a single show taped on Halloween Night in 2007 at The Metro, in lovely Chicago, IL. It's a great room, and by the sounds of things, it was a pretty good show. It's mixed by John Agnello, but I assume that it's pretty much warts and all. Not that this is The Shit Hits The Fans. The boys are often tight as fuck and one of Craig's favorite records is Liveage, a record that I'm pretty sure adhered to that aesthetic. Granted it was probably shallow SST pockets that facilitated the former, but The Hold Steady are every bit as tight as Hermosa Beach's finest, making A Positive Rage an economical choice for all parties involved. Truth be told, many of the first copies were defective, including mine. It was a minor inconvenience, save for our inability to garner the unreleased tracks that were theoretically encoded therein. I'll keep you posted on the replacement process, though I'm pretty salty about not being able to hear them.

That duly bitched about, here's the tracklisting for A Positive Rage:
  1. Intro
  2. Stuck Between Stations
  3. The Swish
  4. Chips Ahoy!
  5. Massive Nights
  6. Ask Her For Adderall
  7. Barfruit Blues
  8. Same Kooks
  9. You Gotta Dance (With Who You Came With)
  10. Lord, I’m Discouraged
  11. You Can Make Him Like You
  12. Your Little Hoodrat Friend
  13. Southtown Girls
  14. Citrus
  15. First Night
  16. Girls Like Status
  17. Killer Parties
So, it's a pretty good set. A Positive Rage has got most of the best parts of the Vagrant era, with a dip into some of their tastier b-sides to keep things interesting. In that vein, props are due for putting You Gotta Dance in the set. Personally, I would have lost Citrus for Modesto, but that's just me and I don't recall their asking my opinion, as shocking as that might seem. All in all, I'd give the show a seven on a ten scale. I'm sure it would score higher if I had been there and getting my 'that guy' on, but that's my call and I'm sticking to it. For the newcomers, I'll point again that a Hold Steady seven is about a fifteen for the average band. Almost twenty Hold Steady shows in the last couple years has shown me that the bar has been raised considerably for rock shows in this millenium. There is a short list of bands around today that can hold their own against them and that number grows smaller with every release.

If you had the choice between spending your hard-earned dollar on seeing The Hold Steady live or buying A Positive Rage, I'd say see the guys live. After that, you'll probably end up buying this anyway. Here's a link, if you're feeling pre-emptive and all. 


Monday, April 13, 2009

Riverboat Gamblers - Underneath The Owl

Riverboat Gamblers are some Texas boys. They've been around for a bit, coming up late last century in the fertile scene that has sprung up around Denton before relocating to Austin early this decade. They ply their trade in the Razorcake friendly punk rock that discriminating PBR fans trash bars and basements to all over this great land of ours.

Underneath The Owl is the first Riverboat Gamblers record that I've knowingly listened to. With all the hype that's preceded them, I'm pleased to say that I'm not disappointed. The record sounds like a well-recorded version of a band that is probably a lot more raucous and sloppy live. There are some Clash-y parts, some Motards-y thrash, and an ill-advised xylophone ion one track, but all in all Underneath The Owl sounds like a punk band that's been around for a bit and recently signed to a major, which they have. That's not a out and out diss. Don't expect them to go all Goo Goo Dolls, but the xylophones and steel parts are definite signs of a band expanding their horizons. Producer of the moment Mudrock did a great job with the recording, everything is big and lush without sounding cheesy. The Tearjerker is especially good, and shows all the signs of being the hit unrepresentative of most of their material that could cross them over. It's a good tune, but I much prefer the stuff like Keep Me From Drinking that has a bit of a punky Figgs vibe to it. The closing Victory Lap is no joke either. Riverboat Gamblers are obviously a band that has the force very strong with them. Do check them out if you haven't already. I'm getting ready to put Underneath The Owl in heavy JS-NYC rotation.

Riverboat Gamblers are on tour with Fake Problems, who I'm pretty sure I really don't like, but I'm definitely going to check them out when they come through town next week. You should, too. In the meantime, check out Underneath The Owl here. The Gamblers are touring heavy behind it. Find out when they'll be in your town here.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

UGK - UGK 4 Life

Almost two years after Chad 'Pimp C' Butler passed away in California from a ill-timed mixture of promethazine and sleep apnea, Underground Kingz have dropped their final release 4 Life. Many, if not most of the tracks were done prior to Pimp's death, so don't think this is some carcass picking or out and out whoring of the UGK legacy. Jive will probably save that for the next record. 

No disrespect to the dead, but I was always more of a Bun B fan than the dear departed Pimp C, but both Kings come strong with it on 4 Life. This is definitely some Third Coast hip-hop, with more Soul sample-driven material than dirty boom-bap. Ron Isley and Akon croon their way through a couple tracks and there is no shortage of ersatz string beds or reverb dapple. The lush background makes tracks like She Luv It fire for the club or the car. There are the requisite songs that I wonder if my neighbors can hear, like the charming Harry Asshole, a track that is sadly not about an ill-tempered gent named Harold, but most of the tracks here are more soulful than street bangers. 

Lots of guest stars from all walks of hip-hop on 4 Life, including Big Gipp and Lil Boosie, as well as a track with Snoop and Too Short that does not herald UGK's move to Gospel Rap. Mannie Fresh contributes a track or does, as does Akon. My personal favorite might be Game Been Good To Me (check the flamenco guitar), but everything is pretty solid on 4 Life. The record is some serious Texas hip-hop. but blessedly for me, nothing is screwed and chopped. In retrospect, that might be perceived as a bit insensitive, given Pimp C's untimely passing, but you should check out 4 Life. Here's a link. Tracklisting is below. 

1 "Intro" Cory Mo 1:45
2 "Still on the Grind" Raheem DeVaughn Steve Below 4:13
3 "Everybody Wanna Ball" Cory Mo 3:57
4 "Feelin' You" Steve Below 3:54
5 "The Pimp & The Bun" Ron Isley 3:32
6 "She Luv It" Cory Mo 3:53
7 "7th Street Interlude" Pimp C 1:26
8 "Swishas & Erb" Sleepy Brown Pimp C & Avarexx 4:02
9 "Purse Comes First" Big Gipp DJ B-Do 4:23
10 "Harry Asshole" Lil Boosie & Webbie Cory Mo 4:15
11 "Used to Be" B-Legit, E-40 & 8Ball & MJG Pimp-C & DJ B-Do 5:40
12 "Steal Your Mind" Too Short & Snoop Dogg Steve Below 4:45
13 "Texas Ave Interlude" Pimp C 1:16
14 "Hard As Hell" Akon  3:55
15 "Da Game Been Good to Me" Pimp C & Avarexx 4:20
16 "Outro" Cory Mo 3:11

Texas, stand up!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Skyscraper #30 - Out Now!

Hey Kids:

If you are one of the scant few that likes to hold something in their hands while they read (get your mind out of the damn gutter, ingrate) Skyscraper #30 is out now.

Look for my feature with Maine doom merchants Ocean 

and record reviews of the following gems:

Bloodkin - Baby They Told Us We Would Rise Again
Joey Cape - Bridge
Coin Under Tongue - Coin Under Tongue/Hussies At Bay
Git Some - Cosmic Rock
The Holy Ghostriders - Fast Track Heart Attack
Monikers - Wake Up
Mono - Hymn To The Immortal Wind
Say Hi - Oohs and Aahs
Zombi - Spirit Animal

I review books and DVDs, too.
Like these, same issue even.

100 Best Metal Guitarists by Joel McIver
House Of The Rising Punk (DVD)

In sadder notes, Skyscraper is giving up it's print presence to be purely a web entity. It's a shame, but I'm sure that Andrew and Peter will do their usual great job. Look forward to more news as things come together.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Canadian chanteuse Neko Case has settled on a farm in Vermont in recent years. As farms often do, this one had a barn that our Ms. C decided would be fun to fill with as many free pianos as they could get from Craigslist. They ended up with eight, six of which were patched into an impromptu piano orchestra that serves as the backbone to three of the Middle Cyclone tracks. 

There are 13 more tracks, fourteen if you count the half-hour of frog noises that closes the record. You'll be shocked to hear that the tracks are pretty wonderful. Nico's been on a Nilsson kick lately (Neko does Nilsson anyone?), so things are pretty lush production-wise. She covers Don't Forget Me, as well as the Sparks chestnut Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth, but her stuff is as solid as you might expect. The usual Neko cronies of Kelly Hogan and the Bloodshot Mafia add their flair to the proceedings, as do Garth Hudson and Howe Gelb. Middle Cyclone is not going to win over any new fans, but if you're not a fan already, you've got issues larger than I care to deal with. The Pharoahs (a collabo with the Good Bros. of the Sadies) is my favorite track, but make your own call about the high points here. Pick up Middle Cyclone here from your friends at Anti. Neko's fuzzy little piece of the web is here. See her on tour with Crooked Fingers.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Steve Earle - Townes

Do I really have to convince you to buy a record comprised of Townes Van Zandt from Steve Earle? I want to hear Steve doing songs with turntablists and Tom Morello like I want to replace all my records with Gaslight Anthem bootlegs, but this is a project I can condone whole-heartedly. I'm sure Steve is resting a little easier now that he has the JS-NYC seal of approval.

Steve Earle could have very easily gone the Townes route. He made a pretty good run of it, dropping out of music altogether for a bit to wallow in all the darkness that South Nashville had to offer. That self-proclaimed 'holiday in the ghetto' as a crackhead seemed to assuage (most of) his self-destructive urges, but he's been close enough to the TV path to be able to sing the fifteen covers here with more authenticity than the average pretender to the hard-core troubadour throne. Quicksilver Dreams Of Maria is a high point, as is the duet with his son Justin (Townes) Earle on Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold, but everything on Townes is harrowingly top-notch. Oddly enough, I think Steve's best recorded Townes cover is the version of Tecumseh Valley from Train A Comin' , but there is nothing bad about Townes

Here's a tracklisting:

1. Pancho and Lefty 4:01
2. White Freightliner Blues 3:27
3. Colorado Girl 3:35
4. Where I Lead Me 3:29
5. Lungs 2:18 *
6. No Place To Fall 2:52
7. Loretta 3:14
8. Brand New Companion 5:12
9. Rake 3:22
10. Delta Momma Blues 5:14
11. Marie 4:52
12. Don’t Take It Too Bad 3:12
13. Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold 2:17
14. (Quicksilver Daydreams of) Maria 3:20
15. To Live Is To Fly 3:40

I'd like to see a companion DVD.  Townes won't be out until May 12, but here's a link to it at New West anyway. Keep track of Steve Earle here. Official Townes Van Zandt site is here.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Austin Lucas - Somebody Loves You

Wow. That's pretty much all I can say about Somebody Loves You. Virgil from Suburban Home had mentioned that he was trying to put out a record for him, but I didn't go out of my way to check him out. There are so (perhaps too) many ex-hardcore dudes that think they are Johnny Cash in this day and age and I really can't say I was dying to hear another one.

Well, it looks like I owe Virgil a drink, as Somebody Loves You is one of the best records I've heard so far this year. I would have expected it to pop up on Bloodshot before Suburban Home, but Dickerson and the rest of the kids out Denver way are rapidly becoming one of the best all-around indie labels around today. They've got a solid roster in the roots and punk spectrums. It's been great record after great record recently, and as I find it hard to shut about it, let me reiterate another time that I couldn't be more excited that Suburban Home is releasing the new Yesterday's Ring record.

Austin is an Indiana boy, a former child vocal prodigy that did serious time in Indiana University Children's Choir, before veering off into a word of hardcore and grind for a number of years. Trust me, this is not a man unfamiliar with a basement show. He's from a musical family, with a Dad that has written for a gang of bluegrass groups including Alison Kraus. Said Lucas family patriarch (call him Bob) also recorded the songs that comprise Somebody Loves You at the family seat in Ohio. Much of the family guests as well. It's a spartan record, but it sounds wonderful. You don't need much more than his voice. Austin can sing like an angel, sounding like a young bluegrass Richard Buckner against the keening fiddles and sweet harmonies that dapple these song. Life I've Got and Precious Little Heart are particularly good, but there really isn't a bad song on Somebody Loves You. I couldn't recommend it more.

Oddly enough, Lucas splits his time between the Czech Republic and Indiana. I think that's what we call a dichotomy, but it gives him ample opportunities to tour on a couple continents. He'll be here in town a couple of weeks from now with Tim Barry for one of the last shows at the Manhattan incarnation of The Knitting Factory. Keep track of Austin's whereabouts here and buy two copies of Somebody Loves You from Suburban Home via this handy link. Might I point out that it's $8.99?!! All props due to Suburban Home for consistently putting out some of the best records you'll hear today.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Doom - Born Like This

I had always relegated MF Doom to the Def Jux white boy backpacker set, even though I knew he was (or had been) Zev Love X from KMD.  That first 3rd Bass record was pretty banging, still is really, but I figured that after his brother Subroc passed that he had just faded into the ether like a million other nice MCs. Heath had mentioned a couple tracks that I though were ok, and I liked some of the stuff he had had done with Ghostface, but I never thought in a million years that I'd like Born Like This as much as I do.

There is some seriously nasty lyrical hip-hop all over Born Like This. Now going solely by Doom, our hero (or villain) comes with a relentlessly deliberate flow that is going to have a lot of fools burning their rhyme books. I hear UPS is hiring. There are some interesting aspects to the record, like the Bukowski allusion that is the title and the fact that Thom Fucking York is taking time out from reducing his carbon footprint by doing a fucking remix of the first single. I can tell you definitively that the only thing hip-hop needs less than York doing beats is college douchebags having the ability to name drop both Radiohead and Bukowski simultaneously with some pretense of credibility. Oh, Doom, such a double-edged sword you are.

Sadly, I don't think the intellect behind Doom and Born Like This will go unnoticed. In an ocean of shitty ringtone rap, Born Like This is a Muir Island of superhuman hip-hop. Rae and Ghost make appearances, as do Bumpy Knuckles, Prince Paul and a track called Ballskin. Needless to say, with the deck stacked so much to your auditory advantage, you should be dashing over to Lex Records and snapping up Born Like This with the quickness. Here's a link.


The Hold Steady: A Positive Rage - Out Today!

You read it right. 

Pick it up here.


Superchunk - Leaves In The Gutter EP Out Today!!!

You read about it a couple weeks ago. Now go and buy that shit, son! Here's the link, in case you neglected to pre-order.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Bob Mould - The Life And Times

Bob Mould is one of those guys that rarely puts out a bad record. It's a long way from our Bob alternately grinding his teeth and screaming his face off in Husker Du. He's come out of the closet to the general public, made odd, yet not out and out bad, forays into more electronic fare and become half of the Gay DJ touring revue that is Blowback.

Last year's District Line was the first for Anti-. They grabbed Mould at a great time. The record was a rager, definitely one of the best releases of last year. Life And Times continues in that vein, adding electronic elements to the the soaring guitar hooks and gruff vocals we've come to expect from Mould. It's pretty great all around, combining the best of his more pastoral Workbook stuff with Sugar-y tinges and new-school electronica. You'll want this. Lucky for you, it comes out tomorrow. Pick up Life And Times here tomorrow from your friends at Anti.

Keep track of your favorite indie-rock bear at his webcave here.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Live: The Hold Steady at Valentine's 3.31.9

Night two of the Tour De Steady, and one that was no doubt going to be a little bit more of an endeavor, as it was in my old stomping grounds of Albany, NY. To up the liver scarring ante, it was going to be at Valentine's, where an old dear friend was known to run things. Add the Brothers Johnson, the Unified Scene and Steven and Annie, and shit would be well-described as being on.

There had been a lot of conjecture about the best way to get Albany. As a result, I opted away from the Chinatown Bus option and went Greyhound, a mistake I shant make again. Got picked up by the lovely Lila at the bus station and headed to Lark Tavern for many pints. Ran into Tess and a gang of other old school Albany kids and caught up with L, then headed over to Valentines to pre-game. Mike hooked up the ticket and I posted up barside and caught up with Howard and the usual gang, then headed upstairs.

Valentines upstairs is pretty small. Much smaller than I remembered, but this time I was a lot more drunk.  The room reminds me a lot of the old Wetlands. It didn't seem to be as rowdy a crowd as the night before, but I wasn't as front and center as I usually was for social reasons.
It was a good set, although opening with You Gotta Dance is always going to get points at JS-NYC headquarters. 
The Hold  Steady are no strangers to a deep cut or two. Given that they have only released four full-lengths, they can't afford to be stingy with the b-sides. The gents aren't ones to rest on their laurels either. Hey, if it gets me Milkcrate Mosh in the set, I'm for it. Yeah Sapphire popped up as well, as you might be able to see from the photo to the left (that was stolen from Lowden11 on the HS board, incidentally). I understand there are two more unreleased tunes that will be appearing on the A Positive Rage CD/DVD set that's dropping on Tuesday, but neither of them have popped up in any of the East Coast sets that I'm aware of. I'm intrigued to hear if they are as good as the b-sides from Stay Positive. I'd venture that's it's too late to get in on the pre-order, but pick it up here on Tuesday.

Having already almost lost my bag at Lark Tavern, I succeeded in leaving my regular touring sweatshirt at the Valentine's, one inaugurated in the hard trenches of Chicago around the turn of the century (and one that Kid Congo Powers chatted about at length with me about, for chrissakes, oops did I drop something?). Staggered back to Steven's at an hour I can't remember and got the royal treatment, including car service to the nightmarishly silly Albany bus station at 9am with one of the larger hangovers I've had in recent years. Far better treatment than I deserved, if only as it lulled me into a false sense of relative comfort that only poorly managed bus transport can ruin. 

Shitty bus employees aside, all respect due to Mike for the hookup for the ticket and Steven for the hospitality, Lila for the pick-up and Annie for the drop-off, as well as to the Brothers Johnson for making things their usual good time. Apologies to any old friends I may have missed or slighted in my whirlwind stay. Of course, all kudos to the men and women of The Unified Scene, a crew as good as you're going to get at a rock show. If you're going to have a rock show that doesn't involve Superchunk and/or The Figgs, you can do profoundly worse than The Hold Steady. They are a true force. We are lucky to have them. See you at the shows in June!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Live: The Hold Steady at Irving Plaza 3.30.9

It had been a while since I had seen the mighty Hold Steady. Last November, I guess, if you don't count the horrible episode of Live: From The Artist's Den that finally aired on PBS last week. Not their best show, although it was profoundly hampered by the venue. Bask in the nostalgia here.

This show was the first night of their most recent tour behind Stay Positive, but also one coincident with the release of the new Hold Steady CD/DVD set called A Positive Rage that's dropping on Tuesday. It was also an anniversary show for local radio franchise WRXP. I can't say I have too much of an interest in listening to programming that someone else chooses for me, but it was pointed out to me that city folk like myself don't drive, putting us out of the demographic. WKXP also features Matt Pinfield as part of their on-air staff, giving them at least one DJ with some depth of music knowledge. If people want to listen to this, god bless them, but why I was paying $35 (and .25?) plus fees is still a mystery. I sure hope that a good amount of those dollars found their way toward to pockets of The Hold Steady.

The interwebs tell me that this is set list. I vaguely heard that picked by someone named Jamie. I didn't hear who Jamie was, but it's pretty decent.

Constructive Summer
Multitude of Casualties
The Swish
Sequestered in Memphis
Party Pit
Massive Nights
Don't Let Me Explode
Stevie Nix
Barfruit Blues
Yeah Sapphire
Ask Her For Some Adderall
Sweet Payne
Most People Are DJs
Lord I'm Discouraged
Yr Little Hoodrat Friend
Stay Positive
Slapped Actress

Stuck Between Stations
Chips Ahoy
Killer Parties

It was sweaty as hell, and a pretty active crowd. Lots of the Unified Scene kids in attendance, both from in and out of town. There are a pretty good number of regular father/son combos at the shows and it was good to see them out as well. The crowd got a little bit old (ironic for it being so young up front) and, as always kids might learn how (or perhaps, more appropriately, when) to dance, but I'd give it probably a seven, on a ten scale. For a first night back, they were as untouchable as usual. Finn displayed a heretofore unknown hockey allegiance to The Rangers in the encore via a personalized jersey, but there were no other real surprises. The four dates the boys announced on Friday sold out completely in about an hour, so punters better be quick on the draw if you want to see them in the small rooms in the future. I will offer an extremely heartfelt FUCK YOU to Ticketmaster for selling off blocks of tickets to brokers pre-sale to the public, though. That's just plain wrong, especially for a band as righteous as The Hold Steady.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Sean Price presents Ruste Juxx: Indestructible

Sean Price is one of the only rappers out today that I really enjoy. He is, of course, from the formidable Boot Camp Clik and half of Heltah Skeltah. He represents Brownsville, but has an A&R ear that stretches as far as Crown Heights, where his young protege Ruste Juxx hails from.

Sean can pick them. Ruste is fierce, spitting fire all over the fifteen tracks that are Sean Price presents Ruste Juxx: Indestructible. Juxx tells tales of street life and seems quick to drop the hammer if need be, but shows a softer side through a couple of homages to his sister, who passed prematurely and rapped under the name Blaze. I prefer the harder street shit like system on blast, but the tracks like Blaze My Fire and Love Is Worth Waiting For are strong candidates for the T.R.O.Y and I Need Love of this century.

Pick up Sean Price presents Ruste Juxx: Indestructible here and keep track of your man Vic Flair here. Buy all other things Boot Camp here.

In Sean Price news, look out for the mixtape Kimbo Price coming soon. It's evidently the prequel to the new Mic Tyson full-length we've been hearing about for a bit. Looks like it's going to be a Boot Camp Summer. Until then, check out their pretty amazing public access show Boot Camp TV. The show's web presence is here.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shaking Hands review up now at The Tripwire!!

Hey Kids:

Have almost detoxed from two days of Holding Steady. Look forward to recaps of that soon, but in the interim check out my review of the new The Shaking Hands record that is up now at The Tripwire. Here's a link.

Thanks to Derek Evers at The Tripwire and Tony Weinbender at Southern Lovin'.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mansions - New Best Friends

Man, do I like his record a whole lot. You may remember the little blurb on JS-NYC when Mansions made their demo available for free through the good folk of punknews (dot) org. I thought it showed a lot of promise, but never thought I'd like New Best Friends as much as I do. That's not to say it's especially original. Mansions crib a lot from The Jealous Sound and Death Cab For Cutie. Curacoa Blue has a particularly Gibbard-ian sheen to it. It's not unpleasant by a long shot, but worth noting nonetheless.

It appears that Mansions is still pretty much Christopher Browder. I'm not sure how much of this features any collaboration with his live band, as the songs are fairly spartan for the most part. Browder is young, but has a real gift with a hook and a lyric. Townes Van Zandt he is not, but he sure does write a pretty song. There is a darkness, or perhaps more aptly a melancholia, that is bleakly appealing. You haven't sang along to a chorus as bleak as the one in Insulated since the first Red House Painters EP. Songs like Take It Back feature a louder take on ennui that approaches the better Blair Shehan material. New Best Friends is good, maybe even great. I've listened to this over and over for about four hours cleaning house and not been prompted to skip a track yet. That bodes well for me, perhaps less so for my neighbors. Pick up a copy of New Best Friends here from Doghouse

Mansions is on tour now. Check them out here to see where.