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.