Monday, February 25, 2013

Pusha T - Wrath Of Caine

It's been well over a decade since the Bros. Thornton exploded out of VA with Grindin'. Since then, we've seen some dramatic changes in the Clipse franchise, most notably the conversion of Malice to Christianity, a change that begs the question as to how these proponents of cocaine rap will continue in the vein (pause) that they have previously.

While his brother pursues higher minded paths, rest assured that Pusha T continues to spit the drug raps, as evinced by the enchanting cover art for Wrath Of Caine. He's down with your boy Kanye and his GOOD Music collective, a affiliation that keeps him on a decent profile to the crossover hip-hop community. There's a new record called My Name Is My Name coming down the pike soon, but in the interim we have this new mixtape to build anticipation.

Wrath Of Caine lives up to its label's name in that it is definitely good, but far from great. There are guest spots from Rick Ross (yawn) and French Montana (what is the appeal?) to get the young heads all worked up, plus old school cronies like Ab Liva and Wale for those that have followed the Re-Up for a bit. Pusha is in pretty good form and can still unleash a serious verse or two when called upon, see: Blocka, but I can't say I'm going to go out of my way to listen to this again.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Live: Chris Mills with Ken Stringfellow @ Mercury Lounge 2.16.13

While the ticket to the left may state otherwise, save the wonderful times that the universe offers up shows with Chris Mills and some incarnation of the Mekons and/or their auxiliary, any show Chris Mills plays is a headline performance for the good folk of Jaded Scenester. This show was yet another in a recent string of great early shows at NYC's best venue and I hadn't seen Col in far too long either, so it seem all too prudent to double down and enjoy two of my favorite things simultaneously.

I braved the now all too old cold and posted up in a not especially full room and caught up with Col, scoring a vinyl copy of Almost Killed Me from Tad in the offing. Advantage: JS-NYC. In perusing the web before the show, I was none too pleased to find that Mills had played two full band shows in the past week, even more so when I found that Konrad was back in the drum slot, but this short set featured six or seven of the new songs that are slated to appear on the new Chris Mills record coming later on this year, along with a run through Atom Smashers. Chris seemed in good humor and the new songs are pretty damn aces, so things bode well for the new release. Stayed tuned to this space for details.

I can't say I've heard any of the last couple of Stringfellow releases since he's left town for Europe, but the room filled up pretty nicely by the time his set grew nigh, so it appears someone is keeping up. Ken was around and about the room for Chris' set, chatting and offering up spare instruments when needed. He played solo as well, but unfortunately opted to eschew both the stage and PA to play in the crowd for his set. Meh. Behind the lack of accurate set times at shows in this day and age, floor-based shows that aren't at homes or in basements are probably my biggest rock show pet peeve. Hey guys Ultimately we came to both see and hear you. Standing on a platform that facilitates this and using amplification is hardly putting on airs and should be a practicality realized and appreciated by someone who has been around as long as Stringfellow.  Alex Chilton sure wouldn't have done that. The two or three songs we made it through were decent, but having to strain to hear and see in a room as small as Mercury, paired with mildly ironic requests from Stringfellow to keep it down, prompted an early departure into the cold NYC night for both your heroes. He's got a new record that is probably good, so check it out if you were one of the decent crowd that stuck it out for the duration.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Studio City: Real To Reel

Since I decided that Time Warner could go fuck themselves a couple years ago, its been mostly music docs and podcasts on the entertainment docket at JS-NYC Corporate HQ and research seems to reveal that this has been an all-around positive move. It certainly helps that the last couple years have been very good for rock doc-ery. I finally got around to seeing Beats, Rhymes and Life last week and am eagerly looking forward to the Silkworm doc due to drop next week.

Word had come down through internerd channels over the past year or so that Grohl had managed to acquire the bespoke Neve 8028 console from the legendary Sound City studios for his own studio complex and had set to recording with a number of the artists that had recorded through the board, like Fleetwood Mac, CCR, Rick Springfield and Ratt, to name but a few. Updated skinny revealed that a documentary about the history of the legendary space has followed in short order, setting the non-studio world on its ear in the process. Docs on failing recording studios aren't my favorite topic in the whole world currently, but Sound City isn't your average studio, nor is Dave Grohl your average documentarian. Truth be told: he's not really one at all, but its not like Grohl puts on airs and gets all Ken Burns here.

Beyond the initial win of being named after the first Marillion live record, Sound City: Real To Reel captures the rise and fall of Studio City with equal parts laughter and tears (check the hysterical Rupert Neve interview portion with Dave Grohl internal monologue). And at $12 bucks, you could do a whole lot worse than to keep up with the Sundance set and grab yourself a copy. Use this link and bask in the nostalgia.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bettie Serveert - Oh, Mayhem

Back in the days when Matador and indie rock were king, Dutch quartet Bettie Serveert rode a wave of feedback into my life in the early 90s and stayed there for the better part of the rest of the millennium. I'm not sure whether it was my girlfriend at the time that introduced me to them or whether it was their opening slot for Buffalo Tom on the US tour behind their debut Palomine, but I definitely drank the KoolAde. Their 90s output resonated the strongest with me, but in touring the stacks at JS-NYC HQ, I definitely picked up all the records save for the Velvet Underground tribute as they dropped and saw my fair share of their stateside live shows. I'm pretty sure I missed out on the last set of US dates six or seven years ago owing to some sort of visa cancellation, but it was a pleasure to hear they had a new record in the breach.

In perusing the promo materials for the new (sadly, non-black metal-centric) Oh, Mayhem it was funny to see Peter wearing a t-shirt from Chapel Hill indie rock stalwart Local 506. Turns out that isn't so much of a coincidence, as in pulling the string, it appears that the new record is coming courtesy of North Carolina label Second Motion, itself part of a consortium that also includes Blurt Magazine and Triangle brick and mortar mainstay Schoolkids Records. Having dated the loveliest woman in Raleigh in the mid-90s, it was a pleasure to find that the Triangle remains a bastion of good musical taste.

Said promo materials also made the ominous proclamation that the band arrived in the studio with only a handful of songs and finished the record in the studio, a statement from the average band that historically means we are going to get ourselves an (at-best) half-baked stopgap release. As such, it took a bit to get this through the review cycle, but eight or ten spins in, I'm pleased to report that our Dutch friends still have it. The guitar flexing is scaled a little further back than I'd prefer, but all in all Oh, Mayhem is another strong release from the Amsterdam quartet. Hooks abound in all 10 tracks, and if there was still radio, I could see a good number of these tracks blasting from car radios all around this fair nation of ours. Blogs and earbuds are probably a much more likely eventuality, but regardless of the way you get Oh, Mayhem into your head, there is very little chance of it leaving for a very long time. Or your complaining, for that matter.

Keep track of goings-on in the Bettie Serveert camp here and get a virtual or actual copy of Oh, Mayhem via this handy link. Here's hoping we see them in NYC very soon.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hot Water Music - Live In Chicago

Like a lot of bands, Hot Water Music are a band that I want to like a lot more than I actually do.

Not that it was for lack of trying. Back when I still had to do such things, I bought all their releases and enjoyed them live easily a half-dozen times, but at the end of the day, I always wished I could work up the fervor that HWM invoked in their most rabid fans. Ultimately, and I know it is aggressively to my old guy detriment, I chose to throw my lot in with Alkaline Trio, who have done little in recent years to thank me for my endorsement, save for perhaps eschewing trans-gender assignment surgery, to keep that love affair alive and unembarrassing. To that end: In a continuing nightmare, the Trio have announced their new record would be called My Shame Is True, a moniker that even Dave Vanian would have problems embracing in 2013. I feel for Danny.

Returning back to the subject at hand, beyond establishing the post-Leatherface template that a hundred bands stole part and parcel from them in the 90s, Hot Water Music are known as being no stranger to a break-up, splitting at least three times that I can remember before their most recent hiatus in the early part of the new millennium. A series of reunion shows last year started with the fanfare of sold-out Terminal 5 shows and ebbed into much smaller rooms, neither of which I took advantage of. Truth be told, I was excited to see them with the Descendents this Summer, but don't get me started on that whole thing.

The most recent shows in town were behind a new record, one that I gave a couple spins and couldn't tell you another thing about, not even the name, so when the new No Idea fostered live record Live In Chicago came my way, I exactly wasn't running to get it in heavy rotation. It was a pleasure to see Hot Water and No Idea back in bed together, but there was little beyond old guy nostalgia to attract me, save for the fact that it wasn't as utterly execrable as the recent legacy tarnishing Braid output. Both Chuck and Chris have been pursuing the bearded acoustic troubadour route in recent years, a choice that will hardly have Townes Van Zandt worrying about his legacy being diminished, albeit one that also seems infinitely wiser than, say, Mike Hale's choice to leave carpentry behind.

It definitely seemed that the personal HWM allegiances were not aligned toward the gruff shouty punk rock I am of a mind to hear from them, but after consuming a goodly amount of herbal and caffeine-based perspective realignment aids, I waded into Live In Chicago. Frankly, I would have liked to have seen the video portion of this more, as it captures the second night of the tapings in its entirety, but the double cd/triple vinyl musical portion offers up 30 songs in 90 minutes total. Recorded over two nights at The Metro in 2008, the recordings find the band in tightly workmanlike form. Black and Rebelo continue to be a monster rhythm section, and tracks like Turnstile and Aluacha still make me want to hoist a beer in the air, but even two decades in, I wish I was more excited about this.

JS-NYC crankiness and companion old age aside, The Metro crowd here is an enthusiastic one. I've not laid eyes on them, but I would venture that the crew attending these shows in 2013 is cut from a younger, less jaded cloth than JS-NYC and never saw the quartet in their unshaven, barefoot heyday and are using these shows to make up for lost time. Fair enough. Not nearly as right, but still charmingly ragged and beautiful, Hot Water Music encapsulate a solid catalog on Live In Chicago. 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Live: Quicksand with Cymbals Eat Guitars at Webster Hall 1.31.13

I was intrigued when Quicksand reunited (again) last Fall at the Revelation Records Anniversary shows out West, but thought they were a little rough from the footage I saw online, plus I've seen my fair share of Quicksand shows (and last tours, for that matter), so it didn't really seem worth ponying up premium dollars to see them play again. The Music Hall Of Williamsburg show last year prompted a unexpected biblical deluge of texts from people losing their shit at how great the band was, but even then I didn't jump on tickets for the last two shows of the tour at Webster. Hey, it's cold.

An unexpected call from Laura had me braving the elements and grabbing a ticket for the last night of the tour. Despite all plans to the contrary, I posted up about halfway through the opening set from Cymbals Eat Guitars. Meh. Very meh. The foursome were met with pronounced indifference from the crowd and JS-NYC was decidedly among them. To be fair, an opening slot for Quicksand is a tough slot on a band's best day. I'm not sure if this was CEG's, but I was pretty bored by everything I heard.

I found Laura and caught up for a bit, then settled in as the lights went down and the boys launched into Omission. The next hour and a half of so saw the band tearing through most of their catalog to an older, but no less enthusiastic crowd. No one in Quicksand is a spring chicken, but everyone looks to be in fine fettle and the band is tight as a drum. Rarely has there been a band where all four parties are as formidable musically individually. Cage and Vega are a truly monster rhythm section, and Capone and Walter are a two headed beast to be reckoned with. Not a lot of small talk from Walter, just a gang of bangers as well as the obligatory romp through How Soon Is Now. Good times and good company in a good room. Plus I was home by 11, which makes it all the sweeter.

Take the groundbreaking chestnut that you should get into Quicksand and do what you will with it. Keep track of what the future holds for the fearsome foursome here.