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.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

666th JS-NYC Post

Whouda though it would have got this far.


(Thanks JD)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Joell Ortiz - Farewell Summer EP

Joell Ortiz has been a rhyme juggernaut the last couple years, dropping verse after verse on mixtape after mixtape. Whether it be solo or with Slaughterhouse, he has consistently proved himself to be head and shoulders above all other MCs on the mic today. Farewell Summer gives us five tracks to tide us over until the long-awaited Free Agent mixtape drops. This would be worth it just for for the opening Murder, with its nasty Guru sample, but the four others are pretty decent, too, including a remix of Sing Like Bilal from Primo with Sheek Louch and a Skillz-esque recap of the summer of 2010 with the closing title track. Get Farewell Summer free from Ortiz here.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

R.I.P: Greg Giraldo (1965-2010)

It's been a week or so since it happened, but in the event you were unaware, comedian Greg Giraldo has passed after complications from an overdose of prescription medication. He had made no secret of his struggles with substance and alcohol abuse, but had been rumored to be in a fairly good place as of late. Here's hoping he's in a better one now.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bill Hicks - The Essential Collection

On the heels of the new doc about Bill Hicks, we have a new cd/dvd set from our friends at Rykodisc called The Essential Collection that features an unreleased two disc audio set from Bill's own archives as well as a gang of unreleased video content, including the oft-referenced Ninja Bachelor Party and a bunch of his stuff from his days as a teenager tearing up Houston clubs. It's all unreleased (although not altogether unheard) and pretty reasonably priced for four discs. For better or worse, you also get a download of some of Hicks' music recorded at Abbey Road. The less said about his music the better, but fans of Hicks and/or comedy in general would do well to get The Essential Collection here, in deluxe package form if you are so inclined, along with a gang of other official Hicks releases.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Dan Padilla - As The Ox Plows

My blundering across the video for The Last Arrivals reminded me that I was well past getting off my ass and notifying you all that there is a new Dan Padilla record called As The Ox Plows and they are giving it away for free. This is very much a good thing. Essential Tiltwheel with Matty from Madison Bloodbath in the ranks and Gene rather than Davey singing lead, the Dan Padilla apples don't fall all that far from the Tiltwheel tree. The dual guitar thing livens the proceedings up a bit, but like you see in the video, it's still beer and burrito driven San DiEsco punk rock with raspy vocals and big old hooks done by guys that have been around the block a bit. You would figure that the shared membership and the fact that Tiltwheel have a new record out would get us some Northeast shows, but it appears that it will continue to not be the case. It's a shame, as DP are more than a little indebted to much-loved-by-JS-NYC Ben Deily-era Lemonheads to these ears. Musical antecedents aside, As The Ox Plows is 12 songs that will take up residence in your head and squat it for weeks after you hear them. Get it for free via this link here and lobby their asses to get NY way.