Thursday, December 30, 2010

P.S. Eliot - Living In Squalor 7"

Much like the second Little Lungs 7", I'm about a year late on this, but as I understand P.S. Eliot have a second full-length called Sadie dropping Spring-ish on Salinas, let's let this serve as a teaser to whet your appetite. Living In Squalor is my first exposure to P.S. Eliot and I'm pleased to say that I like it very much. Five songs from this four-piece, of whom three are ladies, including the singer. There's a Buzzcocks meets Little Lungs thing going on with them that I like a whole bunch. I always thought that P.S. Eliot were local, but it seems they are actually from Birmingham and Chattenooga. While I enjoy the South, their residency does keep the possibility of seeing P.S. Eliot live in the near future a very slim one. That sucks, as I'm really interested in seeing if these kids pull it off live. My fave track is Cry Uncle, but Living In Squalor is solid all around. I'd buy it. You can do the same here from your friends at The Cottage Records and even pay what you will. The not-especially regularly updated web presence for T.S. E is here.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Arrivals - Volatile Molotov

The Arrivals have been around for six or seven years now, representing for the Chicago area and playing some blue-collar punk rock for older punks to have a beverage to. They first came on my radar through their sharing Patrick Costello in the bass slot with the mighty Dillinger Four. There are a lot of parallels between the two franchises spiritually, if not out and out musically, so the uninitiated would do well in considering The Arrivals a Chicago D4 as a touchstone. There has always been a Celtic and Clash leaning to their sound, but wonderfully enough the Thin Lizzy has erupted in them with strong stead with the new record. Volatile Molotov reminds me a whole lot of Lizzy with the guitar solos cut out. Granted, that removal does put a lot of pressure on the song end of things for The Arrivals, but our boys hold up their end of the bargain nicely. Isaac and Lil Dave are in fine form; paired with Matt Allison in the production chair and some help from Neil Hennessey you've got a new-school Chicago dream team. Not really a bad song here, Pull Down The Willows and Simple Pleasures In America have been the personal faves of late, but Volatile Molotov has received lots of spins at JS-NYC HQ in the last couple months and lots of tracks here are vying for the top slots. This is one of maybe 5 records I've paid for this year. Do the same here from your friends at Recess Records. Hopefully we'll get them back in town soon for a slot that isn't 2am on a Tuesday.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Frank Turner and Jon Snodgrass - Buddies

The JS-NYC love for Jon Snodgrass is well documented, and he's been playing straight into our hands with a slew of collabo records over the last couple years. Everybody seems to want a piece of our hero, and the most recent collaboration to come down the pike is with Brit indie-punk minstrel Frank Turner. Called Buddies, the record is a ten track song cycle (with companion drunken studio banter) of quasi-extemporaneous documentation of the Turner/Snodgrass buddydom. If I could hang out with Snodgrass, I'd probably write a record too, but for the most part, the songs on Buddies are ok at best. I can't say I'm especially crazy about Frank Turner, but he does knock one out of the park with Old Fast Songs, a humdinger of a track that will definitely make the JS-NYC Best of 2010 comp that should be available by the turning of the year. That is reason enough to pony up some dough, but I'm pretty sure that Buddies is only available in a short run of green vinyl from UK indie Xtra Mile Recordings, and for that reason may not be the first record you should snatch up. There are rumors of iTunes availability after the 1st of the year. Keep an eye out, if only to snag that Old Fast Songs track. If you are already a fan, or just intrigued by JS-NYC sycophanty, Turner is here and Snodgrass HQ can be found here.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Karima Francis - The Author

While running irritatingly behind, in the absence of new episodes of Spectacle, Later with Jools Holland on BBC-America continues to be the high water mark for televised contemporary music. I saw Karima Francis for the first time there, or rather heard her amazing voice, and have spent the better part of the year trying to find a copy of her debut, The Author.

Inexplicably produced by Kevin Bacon (yep, that one) The Author is an amazing combination of Joan Armatrading, Tracy Chapman and Nina Simone. It appears to be a song cycle documenting the arc of a troubled lesbian love affair, which accounts for it resonating so deeply here at JS-NYC. While the content may not be universal, the sentiment and the sound of Francis' voice certainly are. The Author does not appear to be available state-side, but is well worth picking up if you can find it.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday

Nicki Minja has got love from JS-NYC for the longest. She's been kind of a force over the last couple years, grinding like Joell Ortiz with a million mix tapes and even more guest verses. With a work ethic like that, it's small wonder that she's been snapped up by the Young Money roster. The buzz was crazy for her debut full-length and for the most part, Pink Friday is a solid record. Judged by the current 'two decent songs, five skits and ten filler tracks' hip-hop record standard, it's exceptional.

Nicki's playing a good lane on Pink Friday: while more than capable of slackness, she's not rhyming entirely raw, nor has she risen to the bait when L'il Kim and the like have tried to ride her coattails back into the limelight. She's good with the young kids and adult fans, plus she can get pretty gutter with the rhyming when she'd got to keep the ears of the street scene. All of these factors have made Pink Friday the second-largest selling debut by a female hip-hop artist, behind The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. For those that need the pot sweetened, there's some high profile collabo action with Drake, Will.I.Am, Kanye and Rhianna here. On the darker end of the collabo spectrum, the Eminem track Roman's Revenge is one of the stronger points of the record, featuring a typically unhinged performance from the Shady One. Beats are smooth, with heavy dips into the breakbeat and 80s samples. Pink Friday is going to move a lot of units, especially with the holiday coming up. Check it out to see Nicki Minaj the pop star, and look around the net for one of the many mixtapes floating around to see her more gutter side.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Dio - At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987

When I was but a wee bairn growing up in The Crossroads Of The Northeast, I was a pretty big Dio fan. Upper echelon metalheads favored Maiden and Dio back patches/paintings and I wanted in. I taped Holy Diver from the kid across the street and I'm pretty sure I had The Last In Line. As I was almost failing out of 7th grade via a pronounced MTV obsession, the videos for Holy Diver and Rainbow In The Dark provided much of the blame. Looking at the videos now, it's funny to think how silly they are (and how damn short Ronnie was) but you can't dispute that those are great fucking songs and that Mr. Ronnie James Dio could sing his fucking ass off. I came late to the game on the Sabbath stuff and to this day haven't listened to a Dio Rainbow record, but one focusing solely on Dio solo material would have more than enough corroboration to assert Ronnie as one of the greats.

There has been much Dio love bandied about since his passing. And rightfully so. Ronnie was widely held as the nicest guy in metal and his passing has taken down one of the pillars that buttress all that is true about metal. With the lack of any new material to release, Wendy Dio has dipped into the vaults and blessed us with this double disc of Donington sets from the prime Dio years of 1983 and 1987. Sweet jeebus! Ronnie James Dio sings his diminutive ass off in both of these sets. For the uninitiated, those who care, and the rest who should, the 1983 set features the classic Bain/Appice rhythm section with a raging young Vivian Campbell on guitar while the 1987 set features the trial by fire live debut of Craig Goldy. Nice. I'm a much bigger fan of Campbell, but Goldy tears it up as well, and playing that well in front of a Donington crowd for your debut performance is certainly commendable. The set covers the breadth of the Dio canon circa the late 80s. Ok, there are no Elf songs, but know that Man On The Silver Mountain and Neon Knights both appear in the set, as do a couple other chestnuts that I think you'll enjoy. Personally, I would buy it immediately. You may feel otherwise, but then again you would be wrong. Pour out a little liquor in the holiday season for one of the good ones who died way too soon.



Saturday, December 18, 2010

OFF! - The First Four EPs

There had been quite a little buzz around the old guy nerd underground about the new band Keith Morris was doing in LA. The Morris factor was intriguing, but the ante-upper of Dimitri from Burning Brides, Steven McDonald from Redd Kross and Mario from Earthless/Hot Snakes and Rocket comprising the other 3/4 of OFF! set the stats-pro tongues salivating. Lucky for these bitter old ears, First Four EPs is good. As you might surmise, this four 7" box compiles the four EPs with companion Pettibon artwork and a swanky book(let). It's sixteen blasts of Flag-ged up aggro rock, normally taking only a little over a minute to fuck your shit up. I like it more with every listen, although I bet the neighbors may feel a tad differently. Pick it up here.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jim Bryson and The Weakerthans - The Falcon Lake Incident

I first encountered Jim Bryson when Peter and Grant from No Depression booked him onto their SXSW showcase probably ten years ago now. His first two records with his band The Occasionals are well worth seeking out. If you're a Kathleen Edwards fan, you may be aware that he has long anchored her backing band. By the time record number three dropped in 2007 he was also touring as fifth man for The Weakerthans. It seemed to be a wise pairing and I figured that would cross Bryson over but the show he played at Rockwood to me, his wife and the bartender might speak otherwise. I didn't like said number three, Where The Bungalows Roam, as much as the first two, but it was a solid record and I figured that the Weakerthans gig would fire him up for a great follow-up.

I'm not sure that's the case. The Falcon Incident is a decent record, but it's a little too innocuous for my tastes. Bryson was never a 'rocker' per se, but in the way that his compatriots in The Weakerthans are not 'punk'.TFI reminds me a lot of the SNL bit with Andy Samberg as Jack Johnson where everything is super mellow. That is not to equate the two. While I'm not over the moon about The Falcon Incident, it is light years better than anything that douche nozzle has ever dropped. The record was recorded at two cabins at said Falcon Lake, the sight of an infamous Canadian UFO incident, in the dead of winter. The band would record a couple hours a day, then ice fish or snowshoe or whatever masochistic people do outside in the winter. Either way, I could have dealt with a little more of a fire up their collective behinds of the crew and at the end of the day The Falcon Incident is just a little public radio for me. This will sell tons in Canada regardless, but I'm glad I didn't pay import prices to get this. It's still worth a listen if you enjoy either party. Pick it up here from Epitaph.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Figgs - 3.28.01 Kansas City, MO

So like I said a couple posts ago, America's Finest Rock BandTM have recently released a vinyl remaster/reissue to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Sucking In Stereo gracing our earholes. Well, Peterwalkee Records is. The Figgs are sweetening the pot by including this digital recording of the March 28th date at The Hurricane in Kansas City, Missouri date from the SIS Tour. The Figgs are pretty unfuckwithable live and this just confirms that they were aces ten years ago as well.

The set is a spirited romp through 16 songs in 45 minutes. As I recall, this was the eras where the boys wanted everything to be a sing-along, at least in NYC, and I'm pretty glad the Dashboard Confession-ism is pretty much absent. It's all rock, with a little bit of talk, and you would be unwise to not pick it up with the quickness. I'm not sure how one gets this if they have no use for the vinyl reissue, but I would venture that it's available if you reached out to Peter Walkee or The Figgs. Do that.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jon Snodgrass and Joey Cape - Who Wants To Get Down 7"

Mssrs. Cape and Snodgrass have been making the most of their relationship this year, dropping the Liverbirds split EP and playing scads of dates together, both home and abroad. As the year draws to a close, your pals have seen fit to drop a little stocking stuffer on us in the form of a new split 7". Cape ponies up a new song that's pretty good and Jon does an alternate solo version of Brave With Strangers from 2009's Visitor's Band. Not the record I'd try to indoctrinate the uninitiated with, but still pretty aces. Pick it up here from the fine folk of Suburban Home.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Sundowner review at PopMatters

Hey Boys and Girls:

Review of the new Sundowner EP We Chase The Waves is up currently at PopMatters.

Here's a link


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

So we all know that I'm a hater. Not so much a player hater, per se, moreso an attention to Patton Oswalitan misanthropy, cut with a strong contrarian streak. I'm not proud of it, but it gets the job done. That said, I'm not impressed that much by Kanye West. Gold Digger was definitely a great track, and I liked his stuff with The Clipse, most recently that Kinda Like A Big Deal track that I recall playing a fair amount, but the undue level of attention that was paid to him seemed to be profoundly unwarranted.

I worked on part of the movie attached to this record and was staggered by the level of self-importance that it reeked of, even by hip-hop standards. Kanye appeared on SNL that weekend. I was in medias fast-forward when I noticed that there were lots of ballerinas and Yeezy seemed to be sporting a solid gold ring of laurels like a Roman Emporer. That was too much too pass up, so I tuned in. I was flabbergasted to see one, then a second song that lent a huge amount of credence to the idea that maybe Kanye actually has the shit to back up his talk. It really kinda rocked me, and I was profoundly irritated that I deleted the show and couldn't revisit it to see if I had lost my mind. I eventually cut to the chase and grabbed the record. Having listened to it a dozen or so times since, I have to say that I'm pretty sure My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is brilliant. Really.

I'm as shocked as you are, but I have to say that there is not a bad track on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, not even the staggeringly narcissistic Chris Rock pastiche or the Bon Iver collabo. This is Kanye's Marvin Gaye turn. He bares his soul over every track in an unrestrained fashion not seen since The Lover Man dominated the scene. That's not a douchey bit of hyperbole: every track is filled with naked candor, whether it be his sexual obsession(s), self-loathing, raging arrogance, fear of intimacy or a hundred other artistic traits backed by some serious tracks that sample equally from Rick James and King Crimson and feature hip-hop star power on the level of Kanye, Nicki Minaj, Raekwon and Jay-Z. It really boggles the mind how forward-thinking this record is. This is the definition of next-level shit. Were this not to be a digital age, I could see My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy doing Thriller numbers. Really. It pains me to be on the same page as the Pitchfork set and mainstream America, but that unfortunate coincidence aside, JS-NYC couldn't recommend My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy more. The only shame is that there is no way that Kanye can possibly top this.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Live: The Figgs @ Bruar Falls 12.5.10

Night two of the holiday shows for America's Finest Rock Bandtm, this one out at Bruar Falls in Brooklyn. It was cold, and this early in the season I'm not riding my ass across the bridge for a lot of bands, but The Figgs are more than worth the hypothermia. Having just received a pretty much clean bill of health after a shitty run of things, it seemed worth the ride.

And, oh boy was it. I came in to find the room full and Guy Lyons already on the stage, which bade well for the rest of the set. While I will argue whole-heartedly that the best rock is made by power trios, a good number of my favorite Figgs tunes are Guy tunes and its always a pleasure to see him back with the boys. Bruar Falls has a 12am curfew (which I fucking love, by the way, even if The Figgs are playing) that kept the set down to a little over an hour and a half. Thirty or so Figgs shows in, I'll take the truncated twenty or so songs set, especially when a lot of the material is from the Sucking In Stereo era that our heroes are celebrating the 10th Anniversary of. There's a vinyl remaster out of same, along with a pretty aces live 1991 recording from the Kansas City, MO date of the SIS tour. As was their promotional intent, they played the record, along with a bunch of other boss rock tuneage that is better than your favorite band. No dramatic drummer spills, although Pete Hayes time did feature Tommy and Guy did pop up again for a romp through Bad Luck Sammie towards the end of the set. Why Weight On Your Shoulders didn't (and hasn't for too long) pop up in the set is beyond me, but save for that, there wasn't a boring moment in the set. See them live, buy their merch. Here's a link that will facilitate both.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Heat Tape - raccoon valley demos

The Heat Tape is a new project from Brett from The Copyrights, who evidently recorded the eight songs comprising raccoon valley demos with his roommates at home in their trailer. Said trailer is purported to be in Carbondale, IL but listening to the songs I would have thought they were from Glasgow, as this sounds a hell of a lot like The Jesus And Mary Chain. Like a lot. That's not a bad thing, and it is definitely a refreshing change of pace from all the misguided Pavement jocking that has become hip of late. It's not The Copyrights, but if you enjoy your hooks big and your recordings kinda lo-fi, raccoon valley demos may very well become your new jam. You can try it before you buy it over at their Bandcamp presence, but it is only $5, so maybe live life on the edge and just snap this up. Here's a link.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Live: The Figgs @ Fontanas 12.4.10

It's always a pleasure when Americas Finest Rock Bandtm The Figgs trot out their holiday shows for the good boys and girls of the Eastern Seaboard. As has been the norm of late, the Manhattan show was at Fontana's. It's a decent room, although it reeked mightily of ass for the early part of the evening. Literally. That is not a reflection of Nancy, who opened the proceedings. I wasn't crazy about them, and all things being equal would have been more than happy to miss them, but there were enough Ben Deilly-era Lemonheadsy guitar parts to keep it interesting-ish.

Colleen showed up and The Figgs were on in short order, as there were a million other bands shoehorned on to the bill and maybe even a couple unlucky franchises after them. While these were holiday shows, they also celebrate the 10th Anniversary (ouch) of the release of Sucking In Stereo. To commemorate the event, Peterwalkee Records is re-releasing SIS in remastered vinyl form. Early purchasers also get a copy (on CD) of a live set from Kansas City, MO from that tour. The Figgs are doing their part in marketing the new product by playing (most of?) the record on these dates. This short set didn't really allow for that to entirely come off, but know that there was much ass-rocking dispensed and that non-owners of Sucking In Stereo would be advised to rectify that situation stat. Non-musical highlights included the terrible trio standing on their respective amplification, culminating the feat with Mr. Hayes taking quite a spill from atop the snare drum and Keith Mooning his kit in the process (to much crowd mirth). Not a set-ender, nor were there any injuries, save for perhaps the egos of the bands that followed. Poor dears.

Were you to have been foolish enough to miss the show(s), you can get your dose of Figgs for the holidaze via this link.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Samiam - Orphan Works

I like me some Samiam. They are no Jawbreaker, but I have a dozen or so Samiam releases in the collection that get pretty regular airplay at the JS-NYC corporate offices, rivaling the post-Latterman Canino catalog and the Suburban Home roster for top number of spins. My long-delayed first time seeing them live was pretty much a bust, but these recordings and this German footage lends credence to Samiam actually being a decent live entity when Jason isn't drunk.

Orphan Works compiles a bunch of live and other rare-ish stuff from the You Are Freaking Me Out and Clumsy (1994-98) eras. Save for too many versions of Stepson, there is very little to speak poorly of on Orphan Works. 18 tracks for your hard-earned dollar, and its on No Idea, so how can you really go wrong for $7? I think not, so let's cut the crap and start buying, shall we? Here's a link to save you the time and trouble.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Husker Du book!

Henry alluded to this book in one of his recent Chunklet blasts and, much like the Mats book a couple years ago, it was a foregone conclusion that this guy was going to have it in his hot little hands with the quickness. I was passingly familiar with Earles from Chunklet and hoped that the title would be the most ponderous aspect of the whole affair. Entitled Husker Du: The Story Of The Noise Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock and bound like a school textbook, I was cautiously optimistic, but feared for the worst. Whether the author plays the sycophant or the iconoclast makes a huge difference in these situations. Earles does a good job of finding a happy medium between the two. He has ample opportunity to go either way: Bob declined to participate in the project, while Grant and Greg were active in the entire process. Evidently Mould has his own book coming out (a co-write with Our Band Could Be Your Life scribe Michael Azerrad). That should be an interesting read, especially in light of Earles' decision to keep as much of the band member's personal lives from the book as possible. That is an exceedingly admirable gesture, but the inner shit-stirrer in me would love to hear an Albert Goldman-esque treatment of the affairs. These are litigious times, however, and such thoughts do much to distract from the fact that Husker Du were (and are) an amazing band and a true force to be reckoned with. I have been a fan for a long time, but only after their demise and had failed to take into account that they had released such a huge amount of material in their relatively short tenure as a band. Husker regularly delivered entire sets of material with amazing tracks like Diane that would not appear for two (or more) releases, regardless of the strength of their current recordings. Earles offers great insight into the Husker history and creative process. It's obvious that Earles is a total fanboy, but he sports a level of discretion equal to his formidable writing skills. Plain and simple: If you are a Husker Du fan, this is a must-read. I honesty hope that down the line there will be a reprint of this with some Mould insight. The only other people better suited to address the subject would be 'fourth Husker' Terry Katzman or online Husker Dude Paul Hilcoff and in the absence of that, run don't walk your ass down to your local book purveyor and snap this up with the quickness. I'm halfway through my third time reading it and still enjoy it just as much as the first time I cracked cover. Get it here, along with some clips.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Joell Ortiz - Free Agent

New Joell Ortiz. Those are nice words to be able to write as we approach the end of the 4th Quarter. I've been hearing some ridiculousness about Free Agent being 'leaked' on Amazon (which may be a spite thing from his now-ex label Amalgam Digital) and that this record has been pushed back til after the first of the year, but regardless its out on the web and its a fucking banger, as per the norm. Fair amount of guest spot action, most notably to these ears all three members of the LOX and fellow Latin lyricist Fat Joe. It would be nice if Free Agent blew up big. Ortiz certainly deserves it, having bodied virtually every track he's appeared on in 2010, but the long-rumored and perhaps finally formalized deal with Slaughterhouse and Shady may very well eclipse it, and maybe not for the better. Ortiz regularly drives Budden and the rest of his Slaughterhouse crazy with his devastating freestyle verses on radio shows and I can't think that he's too much for a four rapper franchise, but maybe the Wu precedent will bear fruit. Sixteen tracks here, some a little too commercial for my tastes, but all pretty fucking aces. I prefer the grimier stuff, like the Large Professor track but whether coming street or commercial, few can even come close to Joell Ortiz.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dan Padilla - A Collection, Not Perfection

Oh, Dan Padilla! What is the deal? Much like the Chang to your Ing we call Tiltwheel, you never venture up to the North, even when you come to the Fest. I'm told that its pure time and money economics, but come on guys, you can't drop a new Tiltwheel record and two fucking Dan Padilla records and not come out to our fair Gotham.

A Collection, Not Perfection collects most of the hard-to-find outside of San Diego early Dan Padilla singles and comp tracks along with a couple other chestnuts and a new track. Most, if not all, of this stuff is out of print, so wise aficionados would be well advised to pick this up with the quickness. It's also been remastered, for what that's worth. For the uninitiated, DP is the current incarnation of the mighty San Diego stalwarts Tiltwheel with J rather than Davey singing and Matt from Madison Bloodbath playing second guitar. Doney still holds down the drum stool. Musically, the apples don't fall very far from the burrito tree: it's still gritty canned-beer singalong punk rock regardless of the era it dropped in initially and you should still turn it up very loud at every opportunity and sing along. I'm pretty sure A Collection, Not Perfection is only available on 12" from Little Deputy, but savvy internet prospecting should probably turn this up digitally in short order.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Brad - Best Friends?

I first fell for the voice of Shawn Smith through the Satchel tune Mr. Pink. It was on a CMJ sampler from the era when they were still considered a good idea. I picked up most of the Satchel and Brad catalogs (he sings for both) from cut-out bins around town, but to the best of my knowledge they never came through town. That seems like it couldn't be true, but there is a pretty good chance the Pearl Jam factor may have prompted some myopia on my part.

I'm embarasssingly hazy on the whole thing, but I'm pretty sure Brad predated Satchel, a band I believe that jumped off because Stone was tied up with Pearl Jam and one of the dudes was in the clink for weed. They have dropped three records since the inception in 1992 that are all better than most other bands out there, but vary in overall quality song and recording-wise. I'd start with Interiors, but you really can't go wrong with any of 'em. Brad have been threatening to release Best Friends for easily four years now. It isn't worth that long of a wait from where I'm sitting, but that doesn't mean Best Friends isn't a damn good record. The opening Price Of Love and Believe In Yourself alone are worth the price of admission and a couple three others are gaining ground with me. Stone always seemed like a solid dude, but I find his guitar playing here almost as boring as I find Pearl Jam. It's not bad, but for the life of me I can't really fathom the level of dick riding that goes on for that crew. We can thank PJ imprint Monkeywrench Records for releasing this, so that's something, I guess. Why a bunch of fucking millionaires with a vanity J Records imprint can't get an actual website with a one sheet up, I don't know, but you can get this and other delights aural and sartorial at the Brad Corporation website here. West Coasters should look out for some December shows.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two Cow Garage - Sweet Saint Me

Two Cow Garage have been one of my favorite discoveries of the last ten years. While I really miss their rough and ready early days, it seems these stand-up gents from Ohio are making some serious headway in the 21st Century. The deserve it, having recovered from the loss of one of the hardest-hitting drummers on Earth and added keys over the last couple records to enter an era that might even allow the use of the 'M' word (for mature) when describing their recent work.

It stands to reason: at the very least the boys aren't getting any younger. Shane (with some help from his wife) had a baby in the last year and you may remember that Micah released a great solo record called When The Stage Lights Grow Dim. I loved that record and have softened my hardline on procreation in recent years, but upon the first couple spins of Sweet Saint Me I kinda thought that maybe the new release was a bit lacking for these two eventualities. A couple weeks of revisitation have found more and more of the tracks growing on me, with Jackson and Lydia working their way into my head with enough vigor that I expect the next live show will really sway me on record number five. If I were you, I wouldn't wait. Buy some gas and diapers for some solid dudes and get Sweet Saint Me here. Southern friends should be advised of the shows in a couple of weeks with Slobberbone and Glossary and know that I am seethingly with jealousy.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Turkish Techno - demos 7"

I first heard about Turkish Techno a couple years ago from the Off With Their Heads franchise. I heard a couple tracks and enjoyed the split with the Brokedowns, but it seemed like something more expansive was in order. These dual 7" delights are actually four demos recorded a couple years ago. They were supposed to be an EP, but now will appear (along with some other new jams) on a full-length sometime early next year. Four tracks, equal parts Tiltwheel and Screeching Weasel, with maybe some Off With Their Heads for good measure. If you liked the aforementioned trio, you'll be all over this. It evidently takes three labels to release Turkish Techno product, so both these 7"s and the full-length are courtesy of Muy Autentico, Dirt Cult and/or Wolfdog Records. Pick your poison. Looks like the gents are going to be pretty much homebound for the next couple, but keep track of these Riverside ruffians here and stay tuned for news on the full-length.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Drag The River - 2010 Demons

Wow. Life has been pretty crazy recently. It must have been, as I appear to have shot the trifecta of: not knowing there was a new Drag The River release and not posting about last month's Cory Branan and Drag The River shows. I'm pretty damn sure these demos were not on sale at the awesome Bar Nine show back on 10.1 (mail me for a recording), but on the heels of my previous admission, I think I'm guilty of being a less than reliable witness. Either way, 2010 Demons collects 10 of 24 demos Jon and Chad recorded this past Summer in anticipation of the new DTR studio release in 2011. My unhealthy Jon Snodgrass fixation precludes my speaking ill of this on principle, but know that the new Chad songs are also really good and the usual Drag The River standard of excellence prevails.

Was there any question really? You can (and should) get 2010 Demons in digital pay-what-you-will form from the Drag The River bandcamp page here. As I understand, the only tangible release will be a limited 500 piece vinyl run on the German Hometown Caravan imprint, 200 of which Luther at Suburban Home has for sale here.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cheap Girls comp at besidesasides

In this world of ambiguity, there are two things I can state unequivocally: I love Cheap Girls and that whoever runs the Besidesasides blog is a true man among men. The two combining makes this bitter old fuck just a little bit happier. Well, someone's looking out, as there is currently an awesome new Cheap Girls collection that collects pretty much all of their early 7" and comp stuff available for the downloading. Just get it. Here's a link.


Friday, November 12, 2010

VRGNS - Manimals

Full-length #2 from the Florida franchise, now forced to kick it Oedipus style due to the presence of the nightmare NYC band with the same name that will no doubt break up shortly, if they've not already. For the uninformed, Sam and Alex from New Mexican Disaster Squad and No Friends are 2/3 of this band. They aren't as core as the aforementioned franchises, but keep it moving briskly with short sharp shards of songs that have more than a few hooks hidden just under the surface. Manimals is a decent record, but it wouldn't be the first one I'd pay for as a broke ass NYCer. Lucky for us, the good folk of Kiss Of Death have leveled the playing field by giving it away for free here. Vinyl aficionados and lovers of the tangible can purchase same there as well. Enjoy. Keep tabs on their regular goings-on here.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Sainte Catherines - Fire Works

Yowza! Is this one real ass-ripper of a record. Fire Works is the sixth Sainte Catherines full-length on as many labels. Four years after dropping Dancing For Decadence and two from the DVD/ odd and sods collection The Soda Machine, this time SC Stateside release comes courtesy of Anchorless Records, allegedly as Fat deemed it not punk enough for their hallowed halls. This from a label that is excited to release Cobra Skulls records? Life sure is funny sometimes. Listening to these tracks (and ok, the cover is pretty aces) I'd say Fat's loss will be to the gain of The Sainte Catherines and Anchorless, and would argue further that Fire Works is the best SC record to date. Thirteen tracks, all recorded by the band and sounding fat as hell. There really isn't a bad song on this record. I would acquire it immediately. East Coast JS-NYC readers should be advised to look out for the Sainte Catherines shows in Albany and at Party Expo in Brooklyn in early December.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Live: Song Of Zarathustra @ Cake Shop 10.6.10

Historically, I have always been more into the Twin Cities bands on the periphery of Song Of Zarathustra, like The Cardinal Sin and The Hold Steady, but SOZ get props for combining Brainiac and Lifter Puller in an unsettling but strangely pleasant bit of dischord. I had seen them at ABC prior to their breakup (horribly enough, way back in 2003) and the discography had enjoyed a fair amount of nostalgia spinning over the last couple months, so for $10 it seemed worth the walk.

It had been a long day, with a guaranteed bear of a week in front of me, but I figured that a Song Of Zarathustra reunion set at Cake Shop might be a fine way to take the edge off the previous long week before the next jumped off. After an early drive-by stamping, I posted up stage right just in time to stake out real estate for the SOZ set. I haven't really seen too much in the way of solid explanation for the reunion beyond their ability to do so, but for those of you scoring at home these shows featured the circa 2000-era Birth Of Tragedy lineup of Munsen, TJ McInnis, Mark Jorgensen, and Bos. The set sported a nice mix of blast and blargh, with Bos flailing about in comfortably familiar fashion. Couldn't have been much more than a half-hour worth of set to a quarter-filled room, but the small choir Song Of Zarathustra were preaching to seemed to like what they heard. I numbered among them, and liked the fact that they didn't overstay their welcome even more. No word on more shows, but if there are more, I'd expect they will be located Midwestern way but here's a place to keep an eye on to see if they do transpire.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Big L - 139 & Lenox

2010 marks the beginning of what may very well be the decade of Big L. The documentary is allegedly going to drop next year and after years of wading through red tape, L's brother is due to release the long-rumored posthumous comp of Big L material called Return Of The Devil's Son in the next couple weeks. Like many people, I was under the impression that this was that record, but evidently this is a unsanctioned release, even though it allegedly carries the Flamboyant banner. In this digital age, I'm unsure how much truly unreleased L material is out there, but it's always a pleasure to hear L back on the scene. Most of the stuff on 139 & Lenox is in that grey area of what constitutes unreleased material, as I've heard 90% of these rhymes on other tracks, but perhaps not with the Buckwild or Hi-tek trappings. Regardless, please believe that Corleone brings it, whether it be on a dirty freestyle loop or glossy shiny suit beat. The freestyle stuff is bananas, and the collabo stuff with McGruff and Roc Raida is pretty aces too. Even the somewhat unnecessary Ebonics remix with unknown T-Rex isn't a guaranteed skip. If you're the type of person who is going to buy a record, I guess I defer towards Return Of The Devil's Son, as the money's going to the proper parties, but if you just want to bump some Big L, this is readily available on the net while you wait.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

RVIVR - Dirty Water EP

New RVIVR EP. And there was much rejoicing. I like me some of this co-ed foursome, even if they are from Olympia. The Rumbletowne crew has been dropping a pretty serious amount of RVIVR product this year, all of which has been pretty quality. dirty water keeps the streak going with five songs, assumably digitized by Iron Chic axeman Phil Douglas. Big sound here, with a couple unexpected horn section turns and a fine showing from the rhythm section that doesn't always translate live.

RVIVR is currently homebound and laying low in Oly for a bit after touring Europe (with a dalliance in Iceland) for most of October, but there is mention of yet another EP on the Rumbletowne page, so stay tuned to JS-NYC for more news on that. In the meantime, get dirty water here and set to rocking.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

forgetters - s/t double 7"

On the heels of my ass having been rocked fairly soundly by forgetters opening for Hard Skin a week or so previously, I made a point of getting the debut recordings from our Brooklyn heroes into the playlists here at JS-NYC. The eponymous record comes in the curiously popular dual 7" form courtesy of their own Too Small To Fail Records and features art from bassist Caroline Paquita. Those that are less tangibly inclined can get the four tracks as mp3s. Here's a link that will afford you both options. I'd do it. I had pleased that Blake was rocking again, but was kind of lukewarm about the initial stuff I heard. Post morph to forgetters, the year that the trio has taken to gestate before recording has served them well. I assume something longer is in the works, but these four tracks are pretty quality. Blake is playing some pretty inspired guitar and the band makes a pretty big sound for a three piece. My favorite track is Too Small To Fail, but all four tracks are well worth dropping some cash on.

forgetters are out there, peep upcoming dates and all other things forgetters here.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

WKCR Stretch and Bobbito 20th Anniversary Reunion Show at Unkut

Here's treat for you all you JS-NYC hip-hop heads on Halloween. Personally, nothing about the holiday makes me want to leave the house. If you feel the same way, here is a fine way to enjoy the great indoors on a Sunday: the WKCR 20th Anniversary Stretch and Bobbito show from 10/22 distilled down to four and a half-hours of digital delight.

I can't front and say that I listened to Stretch and Bobbito with much regularity when they were on the air, but I heard a lot of the freestyles from the show piecemeal on mix tapes through the years. Once the internet starting jumping off hard, more and more reasons to listen started accumulating on my hard drives and I began to snatch shows up as I found them. NYC owned hip-hop in the late 90s, and many of my hip-hop heroes were regulars on the show, like Large Professor and Lord Finesse, and a gang of people got their first airplay on their show, like Big L (who brought Jay-Z for the first time) and WuTang.

The show has been off the air for a minute, but Stretch and Bobbito got the crew back (word to Lord Sear) together for almost six hours of anniversary show that is a must for any fan of real hip-hop. The shit is straight fucking bananas. Even given the JS-NYC flair for hyperbole, it cannot be overstated how much this recording is a truly seminal document of hip-hop history. Download it here, courtesy of the indisputable best site in hip-hop:


Friday, October 29, 2010

Live: Hard Skin with Crazy Spirit @ Bruar Falls 10.25.10

Fat Bob had mentioned at the forgetters show on Friday that Hard Skin were playing on Monday night before they skipped back across the pond. Given the the rarity of their shows and the proximity to Drew's place, it seemed prudent to make it across the water to Colonial Williamsburg. Dru and I rolled up early and ran across the street to Trash to have a beer or three. We got back in time to see most of Crazy Spirit's set, for better or worse. They have been getting a fair amount of MRR/crusty love in recent months, plying the Germ-y kind of punk rock the kids like to overindulge to. Save for the exhoratation before every song for everyone to punch each other in their respective faces, it didn't do too much for me, but it was over quick, too. Keep tabs on them here.

The Hard Skin boys took the stage around the 11 o'clock hour and stirred the room up with a whole lot of Oi! Bruar may be a little small to contain such friskiness, but it was a pretty polite crowd despite the large drunk punk contingent and truth be told, the JS-NYC/ab rock Voltron was no paragon of sobriety by this point either. I had a good time, even given the curious tire deflations I returned to find on my iron steed when we got outside. Luckily, they were deflated and not punctured and Drew had a pump, so the good guys lived to ride another day. Good times all around. Not sure where/if HS are maintaining the web presence in this day and age, but you would do well to spend your weak American dollar on some of their swag and bring them back. Set to Googling, fresh-cut, and remember Hard Skin are good clean-cut fun.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Live: Cheap Girls with Laura Stevenson and the Cans @ Europa 10.23.10

Cheap Girls have been one of my favorite new discoveries of 2010. The sons of Lansing, MI ply their trade in the time-honored power trio format, sporting two brothers and a shit hot guitar player. Think Dando-era Lemonheads with a healthy dose of The Figgs. This I like, so when said Girls were announced to be passing through town on their way to The Fest, I went out of my way to make sure that I was in attendance, even if it was in the midst of CMJ.

Europa was the venue for a second day in a row. Doors were at 5, so I packed a book and rolled up at 5:15 to the obvious strains of a band playing. It was pretty obviously not Cheap Girls, but I hightailed it in to be greeted with the schedule to the left. What was once a three band bill starting at 5 had morphed into six bands with a shuffled lineup. Good times. Back to JS-NYC HQ for a couple hours. I got back in time to catch a healthy amount of Laura Stevenson and The Cans. They sounded pretty decent, kind of a Brooklyn Jesse Sykes/Christina Wagner vibe. She can sing and the band sounded pretty decent, even more so given the replacement drummer. The crowd was pretty good-sized and seemed way into her, especially the hot lady set. I picked up her records, so look for some JS-NYC coverage soon.

As pleasant of a surprise as The Cans were, their biggest shortcoming from where I was standing was their not being Cheap Girls. The Girls were up quickly, perhaps owing to the hardline Europa curfews, launching into 40 minutes of quality rock that I thought would have garnered a bigger response. Of course I was right in front of the drunkest 'that guy' superfan, but he was almost easily avoided. Not a lot of crowd work from Team CG, but not too much left off my list of CG favorites, save for the somewhat impractical Her And Cigarettes. All My Clean Friends was a high point, but all-around it was a pretty strong showing and not nearly as disappointing a first time as the Samiam show previous. Of course, I'd like to see them play longer and drunker, but Cheap Girls are as good a time as their namesake and you won't be on the fence about being seen in their midst afterwards. I'd call that a win. You would do well to, in the parlance of Suburban Home, celebrate their entire catalog. Do so here.

Bomb The Music Industry were the headliners, inexplicably maybe covering a Weezer record in its entirety? I can't condone that really even if Drew claims they are solid people, and beat a hasty retreat back to the shack for a ramen repast. Hope it was good.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Live: Hard Skin with forgetters @ Europa 10.22.10

On the surface, this seemed like an odd pairing, but it didn't stop me from snapping up a ticket to this with the quickness. Much like Leatherface, Hard Skin don't make it across the pond all that often, so when they do, one goes out of one's way to see them. It's been a couple of years since they've been in NY and their piss taking is always a breath of fresh air, especially in the midst of the nightmare that is CMJ. Like I said, Hard Skin would be enough to get me on the bike to Greenpoint, but forgetters on the bill upped the ante somewhat. I really like the new 7" (on their own Too Small To Fail Records) and the live shows are getting better and better. Someone in the band seems a wee bit miserable, but as a whole, the rock tends to be pretty good.

Europa is a decent enough place to see a show. I guess their bread and butter is Polish techno dance nights, but they have a pretty regular show schedule there, the best part of which is the ever-so-hardline time curfew that demarcates the rock stopping and the techno dropping. The Hardcore Gig Volume web presence was pretty clear about the 10:30 cut-off and continued kudos to that crew for continually booking the best, most-efficiently run shows in NY. I got in as forgetters were setting up and posted up in back. I figured the Hard Skin crowd would get a little frisky and I've been meaning to record more live sets, so real estate was staked out and levels were checked and I settled in. Blake is triggering samples from unknown to this ignoramus British film sources between songs, which keeps the stage chat to a minimum and the set moving along nicely. The band is really gelling. It's been over a year now since Blake and Carolina hooked up with Kevin and morphed from Thorns Of Life to become forgetters. With all respect to Mr. Cometbus, the drum change made for an immediate improvement in the franchise, but something seemed to be lacking in the three or four shows I saw the band play. As they pass the year mark, the shows have been getting better and better and their overcoming the recording inertia bodes well for a quality full-length in the future, although dollars to donuts says we see forgetters embracing the Paint It Black regular EP release aesthetic. I understand there is a tour behind the 7" coming and judging from this set, I'd say it's worth checking out. I got a pretty decent recording. Holler if you want to hear and I'll send you a link. If you ask, don't be a douche and sell it. Thanks.

Hard Skin were up in pretty short order. They had been holding court and doing a brisk business at their exceedingly well-stocked merch table for most of the opening sets. They are always on borrowed gear, which doesn't really lend credence to the idea that they come in on work visas, so it's a mystery as to how they are as well stocked as they are, but the real reason we see Hard Skin is because they are a great (fake) Oi! band that is funny as hell to (steel-toe oxblood) boot. After a curious soundcheck of sorts that did little save for expose the fact that Fat Bob has no idea how to tune a bass, it was off the to the races. The room was lukewarm at best for forgetters, but exploded into one of the best circle pits I've seen in eons once our heroes stopped talking shit(e) and finally lurched into Oi! not Jobs. They got a late start and talked their way through what could have been their encore and even the estimable Ian Dickson's unstoppable combination of enormous size and level-headed reason couldn't move the Polish powers that be to let them play longer than the 4o minutes they actually played. AC/AC and most of your favorites were in the set, as well as some classic Fat Bob banter highlighted by an earnest thanks to forgetters for allowing Hard Skin the privilege of sharing a bill with ex-members of Jawbox. If you would like the home version of this set, e-mail me and I'll send you a link. Again, don't be an asshole and sell it if I pass you the recording.

Up The Punx!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Live: Graham Parker & The Rumour @ Lakeside Lounge 10.21.10

(pic stolen from GODLIS with apologies) Last week week out of the blue, the Graham Parker nerd list had a message posted on it informing all in its scope that GP would be reuniting with his former Rumour bandmates Steve Goulding, Bob Andrews and Martin Belmont for a short set at Lakeside Lounge. Even more wonderfully, my ex-bass teacher Jeremy Chatsky was in the bass slot and Pete Hayes was to be in attendance, albeit in a non-performing capacity. To cap it off, the show was to start at 7. This I like. I rolled up to a full room with a considerably grayer crowd than I usually encounter at Lakeside, along with two camera setups from the upcoming GP documentary. It was Happy Hour and while the bartender was genuinely overwhelmed, he was also the slowest individual I've encountered in years. After 15 minutes with no acknowledgement, I bailed to stake out some real estate while there was some to be had, but before giving up was privy to a fairly hysterical exchange between a regular and said tender where he suggested the crowd was due to CMJ. Maybe a 30th reunion of a college, but as arguably the youngest guy in the room, I can assure you that CMJ had very little to do with the packed room. The gang sans GP played some Johnny Cash and R&B standards for a half-hour or so before The Chairman popped up for a mini-set that included Fool's Gold and White Honey, along with a surprise take on I Love The Sound Of Broken Glass that was pretty aces. Good times all around. Was nice to see Mr. Hayes and Mike Jackson, as well as John Gramaglia and the documentary crew. I got an ok recording of the GP/Rumour part of the set. If you want a copy, e-mail and I'll send you a link.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Live: Jeff Klein @ The Living Room 10.20.10

I got an e-mail at the last minute that Jeff was going to play a solo set at Living Room during CMJ. The previous night's The Riot Before showcase has been a scheduling clusterfuck of proportions that only CMJ could muster, but as the Living Room is close to my own living room, I figured it was worth the risk. His live shows can be kind of seat-of-the-pants affairs, and this one was no exception. Our hero arrived unrehearsed, on 100% borrowed gear and proceeded to level the crowd with forty minutes of amazing solo songs. Those that have seen Klein solo in the last couple of years have probably enjoyed his using loops and delays to compensate for the lack of a band. He's refined that technique to a remarkable degree. Few could pull such a feat off on borrowed gear, but Klein is seasoned well beyond his years at this point, touring heavily worldwide with Twilight Singers and My Jerusalem. The room was much closer to capacity than I've seen Klein draw in recent years and was pretty vocal about their enthusiasm. I'd say this bodes well for his recent EP doing ok and My Jerusalem getting some attention when Gone For Good drops 10/26. I just got a copy, so look for a review at JS-NYC soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Live: aldenbarton @ Rose Live Music 10.16.10

It's been way too long since aldenbarton has deigned to grace the stages of our fair Gotham. Not that they've been totally idle, as they do a fair amount of time in their alter ego of 57th Street, wherein they back the stellar Jason Anderson at some of his band performances, but with the prospect of the utterly depressing CMJ looming, it was nice to have a known quantity.

This show was a benefit for the good folk of LitWorld, who evidently do good works revolving around literacy for the less fortunate. Safe money is on the drummer and singer thinking that this was some sort of way to further their respective alcohol problems, but sadly their Granite State dreams of a besotted indie pop friendly world may have to go unrealized for another day.

I didn't catch much of The Dang-It Bobbys, but seem to recall some sort of a bluegrass thing going on. Aldenbarton were up in short order after, making the most of a small stage and somewhat underskilled FOH person to knock out a solid 40 minutes. A couple new songs are in the set, hinting at more of a roots rock sound down the line. Jason sat it for the last four or five songs, adding some sweet guitar and lending a bit of a Robbie Robertson vibe to the proceedings that fired up the room nicely. The boys did well despite the not-especially-great sound and the somewhat less than typical (read non-show going) crowd.

Inertia overcome, you can see aldenbarton at the Fort Useless Halloween extravaganza 10/29. Here's a link to their social networking engine with details.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Live: Samiam with The Casting Out @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg 10.13.10

I had been looking forward to seeing this show for a while. Eric had picked up tickets a couple months ago and I figured it would be a pretty hot ticket. Samiam haven't played NYC in a very long time, easily a decade in my estimation and I was embarassed to have never seen one of my favorite Bay Area bands live.

I rolled in just as The Casting Out started. I hadn't realized that this was Nathan from Boy Sets Fire's new project. Meh. I got in the room to see no obvious singer, and I feared that we might have to endure a drummer with a headset mike driving the proceedings, but realized in short order that Nathan had opted to sing from the floor, leaving his bandmates to look like a bunch of tools while he Glee-d it up. As I find seeing a band a big part of the live experience, I hate it when bands set up on the floor. If I'm paying, populism can suck it. Put the singer and band on the stage where we can see him/them, unless he needs to go into the crowd and regulate. Found Eric a couple songs in and was amused to find he had the same confusion about the singer. The Casting Out sound a lot like Samiam, I mean a lot. Nathan has got Zoli Ignite range going on, which is good I guess, but it being a school night and all I could have dealt with a whole lot less of their set. They have a record out, investigate it at the web presence here, if you are so inclined.

As we staked out real estate for Samiam, it became pretty obvious that half of the already half-filled room had left, leaving a fairly paltry crowd in attendance for our heroes. Hardly a hero's welcome, it proved an ominous harbinger, as this was pretty much a trainwreck of a set from the jump. Jason took the stage whiskey drunk, propositioning a bearded gent in the front row before singing a note and spending a good portion of the early set Fletch-ing his vocals and pretending it was the sound guy's fault that no one could hear them. Other highlights were Sergie's appropriating of Pete Hayes' facial hair from last decade and the drunken woman who couldn't stay off the stage, culminating her invasions by reentering the crowd like a falling tree and taking out another woman late in the set. Lots of interpretive dancing by older fat dudes in the crowd, too. Good times. All the songs I wanted to hear were covered, but the lack of vocals ultimately did put a damper on things overall. I left after they played She Found You satisfied enough, but sure hope they don't take another ten years to come to town and that Beebout stays off the sauce next time. These shows were precursors to another of their regular German tours, ostensibly behind the new odds and sods comp called Orphan Works that dropped recently via the lovable nerds of No Idea Records. Look for a review soon on the JS-NYC soon.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Live: Brad with Happy Chichester @ Bowery Ballroom 10.10.10

I hadn't realized that Brad were going to be in town until the last minute, or even that they had a great new record out, but once informed it seemed a worthwhile endeavor, being a holiday weekend and all. I got in from Upstate, hopped on the bike and got down to Bowery early to catch Happy Chichester's opening set.

You may remember Happy from Ohio's own awesomely underrated Howling Maggie, his tenure with Afghan Whigs, or perhaps seen him in recent years playing with RJD2. If you are not familiar, rectify the situation with the quickness, as Happy is one of the most talented and underrated musicians out there. He played solo, switching between guitar and keys, but killing it the entire time. Chichester's clavinet playing is top notch, and the soulful singing does little to dispel the Stevie Wonder comparisons. There were some Columbus ex-pats in the house, as well as ex-partners in the extended Afghan Whigs touring lineup, holding up the vocal end of things for a crowd that seemed much more inclined to see a band with a Pearl Jam connection. They were respectful enough, perhaps swayed by Happy mentioning that he'd be playing with Brad during their set, owing to their keys guys having to return home unexpectedly. Happy's most recent record is called Lovers Come Back, it's been out for a bit, but it is well worth picking up from him here.

Brad were up in short order, to a considerably fuller and more enthusiastic crowd than I remember there being at the Highline show a while back. Shawn Smith is in full on Dr. John meets Leon Russell mode in his old age. He commands a crowd nicely grabbing the Bowery crowd from the first song and not letting go for over an hour of music that was part rock show and part revival meeting. Like all of us, Smith is not getting any younger, but he is in impeccable voice of late. The men of Brad are out promoting the new record Best Friends, out courtesy of Pearl Jam's Monkeywrench Records. Grunge had not died for many of the fans in attendance, with many a bandana and ponytail rocked without irony and it was obvious that Pearl Jam was a name that held serious weight to the crowd. Toe Jam are a band that I have yet to see the appeal of beyond a couple songs on that first record, but they seem an ultimately benign force in the rock world. For the uninitiated, PJ axeman Stone Gossard plays guitar in Brad, and has pretty much concurrently with his tenure in Toe Jam. In a lot of ways, Brad are Pearl Jam if they had keyboards in a more prominent role and had a singer who could sing.
Smith sang his diminutive ass off, and seemed openly moved by the level of adulation he got from the crowd. This show was one of the last shows of the tour. Brad definitely seemed to be firing on all cylinders, with great crowd response that got them called back for a couple encores. Brad were a damn good time. Here's hoping that we get them back in town again soon. Look for a review of the exceedingly good new Best Friends on JS-NYC soon and check the Jimmy Fallon web presence to see Brad play two tracks (Low and Every Whisper) from it. Here's a link.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Live: The Hold Steady @ The Apple Store Soho 10.8.10

A quiet Friday at the office was winding down when I got a Twitter forwarded from my dear friend David informing me that The Hold Steady were playing at The Apple Store in Soho at 6, a time that normally would have precluded my attending, but a family emergency ended up defusing itself after I had taken my leave so down I went.

Things were decidedly dead when I crossed threshold, but I scored a wristband and went home to swap bikes in time to get one of the last of the 50 or so seats. Eric rolled up in short order and we settled in to what was announced as a taping for an iTunes only acoustic release. As compared to the previous night's show, it was a lot more engaging to be close to the boys. It went maybe 40 minutes, with Craig in good spirits.

Sweet Part of the City
Barely Breathing
We Can Get Together
The Weekenders
Separate Vacations
Chips Ahoy
Both Crosses
Cheyenne Sunrise

As you might surmise, the short set was heavy on material from Heaven Is Whenever, with the unreleased Separate Vacations making a welcome appearance. No word on when the recordings will be released, but it'll probably be cheap and it's definitely worth picking up.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Live: The Hold Steady @ Beacon Theatre 10.7.10

This show was a weird proposition all-around. First and foremost, I ended up buying this ticket (through the good graces of AMEX holder and all-around great guy Dave Johnson) back in April. I think it marks the first time in the seeming eternity I've spent on this earth that I've bought a ticket that far in advance. I will say straight off that seeing The Hold Steady in a sit-down environment is not the first arena I would choose, unless it was some sort of acoustic or special situation. The Hold Steady are one of the few bands that I still want to see from as close as possible with one too many beers in me and the $37.50 ticket price and the Beacon did not bode well for that. Either way, I pulled the trigger and went despite the lack of the usual crowd attending.

I rolled up to the Beacon, locked up and headed in to find that there were tickets still available. Interesting. There had been little fanfare amongst the Unified Scene set about this show, and most of the front-end scuttlebutt had been about the odd choice of venue, high ticket price and lack of other shows in town behind Heaven Is Whenever. Call it lifestyle-related paranoia, but there is something going on with The Hold Steady. When you play two guerilla shows in town on the same day to push your new record, I can see the marketing draw, but when your only other announced hometown show in a venue like the Beacon, it makes me think that there is some image (or crowd) spin-doctoring going on. I have to think The Hold Steady are at the end of their Vagrant contract and dollars to donuts they will be moving on, I wonder if this is an attempt to ingratiate themselves to an older crowd that still buys cds. THS are shrewd business people, and lets not misinterpret this as JS-NYC saying THS are Kiss or anything, but there has to be a way to keep the lights on and not short their long-time local fanbase. The fact that the show wasn't sold out (the first time I've been aware in many NY shows) may speak to the fact that Franz moving on and odd show moves may be working against our heroes.

So I got to my seat to find that it was literally the last seat in the last row of the orchestra. It ended up being great sightline-wise, and the wall behind the seat meant there wasn't going to be any issue with my standing during the set. The gents were on by a little after ten, as I recall and played a great set, but I won't say it wasn't weird not being able to be up front packed in. Craig implored the crowd to ignore the seats, but security felt otherwise and it was an oddly restrained affair. Here's the set list:

All in all, this was a pretty good set, but this was the first Hold Steady show in the many shows I've seen them play where I left before it was over. Not that THS were bad, far from it, but the distance was a real issue and the stage is really empty with Franz not taking up stage right. Selvidge is a decent guitarist, but it is very obvious that in the Heaven Is Whenever era, he and keyboardist Dan Neustadt are definitely sidemen. The fact that the keys are now as far in the background as possible stage-wise (and in the new material) is very telling. Selvidge and Tad do a couple of harmonized solos that are ok, but nothing to write home about and do little to fill that big empty space on the right. After an hour I was checking Springsteen's Twitter on the phone and texting master of the odds Eric for the over/under on an unannounced arrival from The Boss legitimizing the choice of venue and my staying out late on a school night. Nothing seemed promising in that regard, and as such I bailed before the encore sated. Heaven Is Whenever is a solid record and The Hold Steady are definitely in the top tier of America's rock bands, but as 2010 draws to a close, I'm interested to see when the next show in-town is and even more intrigued to find how quickly I'm going to move to get tickets.