Friday, October 29, 2004

A Public Service Announcement from: Bloggin' For Democracy

What follows is a public service announcement from Bloggin' for Democracy, a coalition of musicbloggers that coalesced recently to attempt to turn some of the energy and readership we have here around into getting asses into voting booths. If you'd like to join in, just copy this post and toss it up on your own blog, website, messageboard, whatever. If you want the text all handily precoded for you, just email me.

Hey!! Stop what you're doing! You're not going to find that Arcade Fire live bootleg today, you're not going to stumble across the b-side to "Hand In Glove", and you're not going to find the unreleased Pixies album. What you need to do is get ready to vote in the most important election of our lives.

Find your polling place and prepare to vote. Tell your friends to vote, tell your enemies for that matter. But just vote. If you are not a U.S. citizen than please call or email all your American friends and make sure they plan on voting. Participation by all is crucial.

What follows are a bunch of links. Some are funny. Some are helpful. Some are to crappy official websites for really good people. Some are for crappy official websites fo really bad people. I'm not going to tell you not to vote if I disagree with you. I'm going to tell you to go and campaign for your own guy because thats what Democracy is about. So even he gets a link.

Internet Vets for Truth - Comprehensive site containing all those MP3's and Videos and Memes that have been spreading for months. A fantastic piece of work, with a staggering pipe of bandwidth.
John Kerry
DeclareYourself - find out where to go to vote!

A PSA from Chris Stamey w/Yo La Tengo
Get Out And Vote On Novemeber 2nd. Political Blogging Will continue through the weekend, with a bunch of shorter posts full of songs and videos and other things that people should be seeing and hearing before 11/2. On November 3rd, regular blogging will resume.


Bloggin' For Democracy, TTIKTDA, and everyone else whose involved.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I'm never pleased, so take your shots.

Delegate - Modern Man - the hardcore scene gets the absolute worst rap. They're widely regarded as the meatheads of alternative music, known for mosh pits and loudness, for raucous shows, and confrontational attitudes. The perception couldn't be further off. The most open minded friends I have musically, are the folks that come, primarily, out of a hardcore punk background. The folks that listen to Refused, Zeke, The Blood Brothers, and Agnostic Front are also the ones who are totally unashamed to drive around blasting Donna Summer back to back with Wu-Tang, with a healthy dose of Interpol and NOFX in the changer. Though hardcore music is, somewhat justifiably, maligned for a lack of variety in the scene for the most part it's not, contrary to what many seem to believe, a reflection of any sort of lack of musical education or ability. Indeed, it seems that many of the most prolific musical innovators of the past 20 years came from just that scene. Ian Mackeye, Bob Mould, and countless others now drooled over by the wider indie community got started playing noisy, raw, fast and loud. Which brings me to Delegate. Daron Hollowell used to be the frontman of Four Hundred Years. A Hardcore band from Richmond VA, Four Hundred Years gained a pretty substantial following before breaking up a few years ago. And like so many before him, Hollowell went on and formed a new band. But it's nothing like you would expect from the guy that used to scream in front of a lot of noise (to the uninitiated). Nope. Instead, Hollowell went out and put together Delegate. The band released a self titled album, on a tour earlier this year (now sold out), and it's one of the most promising sets of demos I've heard all year. "Modern Man" is piano ballas at first - Hollowell crooning as the keys and some atmospheric guitar chords play out. And then, slowly, in comes the beat. Like a broken celphone, skittering through everything, a futurism is inserted at the heart of the song, the beats skittering slowly more and more out of control, everything becomes unhinged, and as the song reaches it's conclusion, anarchy breaks loose and the guitars are unleashed.

Delegate - Treason! - Church organs, video game bleeps, and a rhythym like the beat of a broken heart. Treason is a song for worship, and a song for despair. Guitars chime, vocals swoop in and out, and the drums pound with the fury of new loss. Like Interpol covering Leonard Cohen, there's something simultaneously trascendently sad and ass shakingly rhythmic here. A Britpop plea for an end to the chaos, straight from the heart of Virginia.

[Check out Delegate's website, and see them in a club near you!]

Some other quickie, NY-Centric notes:

Jin informs us: is giving away a pair of tickets to the sold-out November 11 show at Bowery Ballroom featuring The Arcade Fire, The Hidden Cameras and Dirty on Purpose(Ed. See Yesterdays Post). If you are not already signed up on the Dirty on Purpose email list, all you have to do is sign up through the band's website ( I will be sending out a special email through the band's mailing list with instructions on how to enter to win tickets. If you're already on the list, don't worry, you don't have to sign up again.
Good luck!

Get on it people! This is gonna be the show of the season. Hope to see 2 of you loyal readers there.

The Malachi Constant will be playing the Lit Lounge tonite, it should be a good show.

Hell On Wheels, a trio from lovely Sweden, are playing 2 shows in New York this weekend. Says reader Sarah:
HELL ON WHEELS... has been a staple in my listening rotation since I caught them at the Swedish Showcase at CBGB's this past spring. Rickard, Åsa and Johan had such a great time in New York and were so well received that they're coming back over from Sweden to play two shows this week.
This band is just so awesome, so fresh, I feel like they're worth it.  Anyway, all those Swedes can't be wrong-- HoW have played everything from 7,000 person stadiums to dive bars, from Japan to Brazil, and opened for Teenage Fanclub and the Pixies... 
So. Before I ramble further and lose you, the important information:
Head on over to the Bands website, and click on the "listen" link...
Thursday, October 28th at The Lion's Den
with The Tiny, Prime Sthlm, and Jamie Meyer
doors open at 9; they'll go on around 10:30

Saturday, October 30th at Delancey Lounge
opening bands TBA

More good things tomorrow, same bat-time, same bat-url.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Break the Fever.

Dirty on Purpose - Spider Eyes - Dirty on Purpose don't sound anything like you would expect them to. I mean, they're from Brooklyn, right? And they got started playing venues like Electroclash hole Luxx, right? And they have a name like Dirty on Purpose, and have keyboards, and a girl singing, and there are Hipsters swooning all over this band, right? Well, get ready to hear something you don't expect. Sure, "Spider Eyes" opens with a killer 80's style drum fill, and the guitars ring out those spacey individual notes that seem to fill a chasm every time, and sure, it builds to a frenzied, dance your ass off break. But none of those other bands, do things this beautifully. None of those other bands get props not just for being retro, or being dancable, but also for being smart, and for melodies so delicate they sound like they could break under a raindrop. It's a testament to the harsh reality of the NYC music scene that "Spider Eyes" isn't being played to death in every club on the planet, that the band can't play it as their entrance song in a thousand cavernous rooms filled to the brim with hundreds of hipsters waiting for that first frenzied guitar part to start jumping up and down and going crazy and knowing that this band is the reason they feel cooler than all the people at the arena downtown for the Rolling Stones "Look! We found some more enbalming fluid to pump into Keith Richards Tour!"

Dirty on Purpose - Cheat Death - What's that? That not unique enough for you? Not beautiful enough? Well, give a listen to "Cheat Death." It's a ballad, a slow, haunting one, dominated by those long, drawn out atmospheric notes you get from a guitar player who uses a bow for a reason that isn't being a pretentious ass. And the vocals, a duet this time, soar and weave through it all, like a Belle & Sebastian song with all of the sorrow and none of the bounce, Dirty on Purpose turn what might be a plodding moment into something transcendant. It's a song that left me, on first listen, simply stunned into silence at the beauty of it. The first time I can remember that in a while.

Dirty on Purpose will be opening for the Arcade Fire & The Hidden Camerass at the Bowery Ballroom on November 11th. Those of you who will be there - get there early. You do NOT want to miss this set.

[Check out some Dirty On Purpose MP3's, buy an EP, and check live dates at their website.]

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A legend died today.

Yesterdays post went up very late. If you missed it, be sure to scroll down for it.

The Undertones - Teenage Kicks - For those of you who haven't heard, the worlds greatest Radio DJ, John Peel, passed away this morning, of a heart attack, while on vacation. I'm still trying to sort through what this means in my head. There was no replacement for John Peel, waiting for him to retire. There's no equivalent anywhere else in the world. What he's done, in 37 years on the air, is quite simply inimitable. By playing "A balance between things that you know people will like and things that you think people will like," Peel managed to provide a stage for generation upon generation of some of the worlds most influential music. The inclusion of "Peel Sessions" - recordings done in his studio - is de rigeur bonus material today for an untold number of bands. His influence is going to be felt for decades, but I fear noone will ever step up to do just wehat he did. If we MP3 Bloggers can accomplish the barest hundredth of it though - we'll have made a pretty damned large contribution to the world of music ourselves. "Teenage Kicks" was Peel's favorite song. He often cited it as "The Perfect Single," and with good reason. It's a beautiful nugget of classic guitar pop. Listen to it, and then, take a moment of silence for a man who loved music with every fiber of his being.

We Start Fires - Queen Bee - We Start Fires are the sort of band Peel would've broken, I suspect. 3 Girls and a boy from NorthEastern England, playing beautiful, catchy, piano laden, punky pop music. "Queen Bee" is the debut off of the bands self released debut, Caught Redhanded, and is one of the albums more dramatic moments. The song starts slo, gaining intensity and tension, the drama building to a defiant shout. The band is still unsigned. I expect that to change soon.

[Buy Caught Redhanded direct from the band!]

Monday, October 25, 2004

Maddening Monday: Billions have Got The Hunger

Hi everyone. Still sick, and I've been working on this post for most of today, on and off because things have been busy here. You're patience will be adequately rewarded I assure you.

This week is going to consist mostly of bands without much of a profile and without many releases. Stuff thats been sent to me, or that I've sought out, from bands that in quite a few cases are still unsigned. Hopefully, that'll change soon. Label people who read this blog, this is your heads up - get callin!

Dear Leader - Raging Red - Dear Leader are from Boston. The band coalesced around frontman Aaron Perrino after his old band, Boston favorites The Shiela Devine broke up somewhat abruptly. The result was Dear Leader. They're set to release a new album, All I Ever Wanted Was Tonight on Lunch Records, on November 2nd. Todays 2 tracks are from that album. Raging Red is an anthems anthem. Guitars cry out like claxons, drums pound furiously. And Perrino screams out in defiance. A song of revolution and toppling empires, "Raging Red" is a equal parts war cry and party song.

Dear Leader - Billions Served - In the release the band sent me, the band evoked all sorts of 'hot again' 80's acts. New Order, The Smiths, the Pixies. And while there's a definite echo of the Pixies dynamics (No small credit there goes to sharing a producer with the Boston legends), and Morrisseys righteous rage at the meat eating public in Billions Served, the band that's really echoed here is U2. Particularly that late 80's Can-Do-No-Wrong, Top-Of-The-World U2. Bono had discovered his politics, and the power of his band, but the band hadn't softened or gone too over the top just yet. "Billions Served" replicates that enraged and creative peak. Blatantly inspired by Eric Schlossers Fast Food Nation, the song relates a litany of the horrors for which Schlosser has indicted the fast food industry - Factory Farms, Sub-par Wages, and of course, the much maligned deceptive advertising. Beneath it all is searing, Edge style guitar work, and a killer rhythym section.

[Check out Dear Leaders website!, or Buy the album from Lunch Records!]

8 days and counting people! Let's make 'em matter!

Friday, October 22, 2004

You're never gonna wanna dance again.

Sorry I'm so late today. Been feeling like crap this week, and it's finally caught up to me in a big way. Damn you CMJ!

But enough about my health. You want music.

The Silent League - Linus - I was lucky enough to catch the Silent League last Saturday Night, playing a showcase put on by Better Propaganda, Flameshovel Recors, & File-13 Records. Were it not for the Morning 40 Federations riotous basement show, it would have probably been the hilight of my week. Some background: The Silent League is the new project of Mercury Rev keyboardist Justin Russo. Originally a front for his solo work, The Silent League eveentually grew to the pop orchestra it is today, including horns, multiple keyboards and percussionists, the usual guitar and bass suspects, and work from the likes of Interpols Sam Fogarino on drums. The music is deeply personal, densely layered, classic pop. Pianos, guitars, and marracas shuffle through "Linus" like a dance number thats decided to take the night off, lazing about, swirling and swooning, letting the atmospheric flourishes and lyricism dominate. When the song slowly escalates as a number of members of the orchestra take their turns in front, from the pianos, to Russo's acoustic guitar to an instrumental break dominated primarily by handclaps. Just beautiful stuff.

The Silent League - The Catbird Seat - This though, is the song that brought the house down. Like some bizarre otherworldly vision of glam rock, free of the bombast and the theatrics, but with all the tension, all the hugeness of sound, and a singalong finish to die for. I don't know if the blog of the same name takes it from this song, but there are worse places to get it from. But really, if you want to be blown away, get to the bands website and check out the live version of this song, with it's absolutely KILLER sax solo.

[Buy The Orchestra, Sadly, Has Refused from File-13 Records!]

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Come here baby, I need your company.

Death From Above 1979 - Romantic Rights - On Friday night, at CMJ, I hopped from seeing Camper Van Beethoven in the relatively swanky Bowery Ballroom to seeing Death From Above 1979 (The 1979 is the result of legal threats from the megaproducers cum record label) at the lovable shithole that is CBGB's. Walking into CBGB's as DFA1979 took the stage was about as frightening an aural experience as one could imagine. Like a sonic buzzsaw to the face, this duo produces a louder, fuller, and more menacing sound than any of those other duo's out there. Bass, Drums. Thats it. Thats all that DFA 1979 need though. Romantic Rights is the lead single off of their new full length, You're a Woman I'm a Machine. It's a pounding, jagged song, one that will tear your brain out of your skull and pound it into a puree even as you're ass gyrates and you find yourself mysteriously getting down to this metal madness. What's the secret to this madness? The press release says it all really, "while their sound is rooted in metal and hardcore, they are not scary or angry in any way-- in fact all of their songs are very pop and all are about wanting to have babies with their girlfriends." I couldn't put it better myself.

DFA 1979 - Sexy Results - okay, first off, this song title, grabbed from a Simpsons line if I recall correctly, is one of the best out there short of a McLusky or Minus the Bear album. On a more relevant note however, is the song itself. Where most of YAWIAM makes a name for itself on it's intensity and speed, "Sexy Results" finds the band getting a groove on. The basslines are still spinning death machines, but slowed down to a sizzling, dancable congas pace set by the masterful drumwork by Sebastien Grainger. Besides, it has cowbells. Who can argue with Cowbells?

[Buy the album, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine, or a sweet ass T-shirt direct from the band.]

A few links and shout outs today as well:

Grandaddy has a new video. [Quicktime Link] it's full of people in fursuits. And yet, it's strangely compelling. Yiff?
Dizzee Rascal also has a video. [NME link to Real Video] I'm not a huge fan of his choice to sample - and sing along - to showtunes on Dreams... but the video is great. Especially when the 2 little gangsta marionettes boost the TV. Classic. (Props to Cameron for the link.)

I have been remiss in not yet giving credit to Oh My Rockness. Their listing of shows got me through CMJ week in one piece, and it's fast becoming a daily stop for me. Here's hoping they keep it up!

See ya tomorrow kiddies!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


The end times are here kiddies. Thats right, the signs of the apocalypse are mounting. It's only a matter of time. First, Brian Wilson went back and finished Smile. And now... this.

For those of you that don't recognize the man in the photo, That is Jandek. Jandek played live at a festival in Scotland over the weekend. For those of you who know who Jandek is, allow me to reiterate this. JANDEK PLAYED LIVE.

Here are Mp3's of the final 3 songs of his 8 song set - so far as I know, noone has identified these yet. If anyone has titles, please toss 'em my way:
Song 6
Song 7
Song 8

Now. For those of you who don't know who Jandek is. First off, the magnitude of Jandek playing live, is to Brian Wilson finishing Smile, as the completion of Smile is to Usher rereleasing his latest album. It's THAT BIG A DEAL to folks who are concerned with Jandek. Who is he? Jandek is a dude from Houston who, for over 30 years has been making music, and releasing it himself, under his own Corwood Industries label. He has NEVER performed live. NEVER allowed himself to be photographed (other than his own album covers), and NEVER consented to an interview. A bit of the mystery came down earlier this year with the release of the documentary Jandek on Corwood (Buy the DVD!), but for the most part, he was still a pretty damned reclusive figure. And then, in Scotland this weekend, he performed. The music live, just like on record, is trying to listen to. It's not for everyone. But the desolation of the sound - the sparseness of his guitar playing, the shuffling and thuddering floorboard percussion. The howled vocals - alwsy sung, no matter how off key, never surrendering to his shortcomings, is 100 % Jandek. This is no hoax. And now, one must wonder, is The End of it All not a signal of retirement, but of a return? or, really in Jandeks case, a first coming?

For more Jandek information, the definitive resource can be found here.

We spent our lives, down to the dime.

Hi again folks! Sorry for the lack of updating, but thats what CMJ will do to you. It kicked my ass to the curb and left me to crawl back up and demand more music 4 times in a row. Some quick reviews:

Wednesday Night: Controller.Controller and the Morning 40 Federation at two seperate venues. Controller were good. But seeing the Federation (illegally i assume) in the basement of a pizzeria (a space the size of the living room of the apartment I lived in in Albany), filled to the brim... WOW. Best show of the year to date. Hands down. The next 4 days were not going to make that an easy judgement however.

Thursday Night: I got to meet lots of Mp3 Bloggers, including the folks from Fluxblog, Music for Robots, Stereogum, and Catchdubs, at Coolfers first musicblogger happy hour. Much talking of shop and swapping of musical tips went on. We need to do it again sometime guys. Then I hopped across the bridge to catch the Polyvinyl Records showcase at Northsix. It's good for 2 of this weeks posts most likely (including todays!). Decibully, Bishop Allen, Ida, Aloha, and Volcano I'm Still Excited! all put on a great show.

Friday: Long day. Started off at a party thrown by Better Propaganda, consumed much alcohol, watched a few bands. Headed uptown to see Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker, and in between those sets, sets by various members of both bands playing solo. 3 and a half hours of non stop music. Much awesome. Then from there it was off to the Vice Records showcase at CBGB (from which another post this week will be drawn), including Death From Above 1979, Panthers, and the Explosion.

Finally, Saturday, I took it easy, with only one show, a Flameshovel/File-13/B-Prop showcase from which another post this week will be drawn. More details on all forthcoming, as the songs come.

Decibully - Holy Angel Choir - Decibully have one hell of a pedigree. Former members of The Promise Ring, Pele, and Camden have come together to show what happens when a bunch of emo kids grow up and move past high school heartbreak. In some cases, like Action Action & the Straylight Run (who I will never stop slagging on - the risk of being my hometown bands...) they don't. In the case of Decibully - well, they've disccovered that there's really only one answer if you really want to make music about heartbreak. I'm not talking about "my girlfriend dumped me my life is over." I'm talking about bottle of whiskey heart bleeding on the floor crushed under the heels of the woman who was everything heartbreak. I'm talking about the sort of depression people spend decades wallowing in. And if you want that, the only answer is to go south young man. It helps that both the Blues and Country music have had a revival in the indie world in recent years. Decibully have capitalized. Like the shins after a fifth of whiskey, "Holy Angel Choir" is bouncy keys and mournful banjo, falsettos and glockenspiel, the song slowly growing quieter and quieter until it's only vocals... building up a wall against the pain and rage, until it all breaks on through and the song comes back with it's force returned a hundred fold.

Decibully - Uncle Sams Yard - The album, the bands debut by the way, reaches it's climax with "Uncle Sams Yard" Beginning with an off-key a capella choir that sounds like a family reunion on the farm trying to out Polyphonic the Spree, the song settles into a gorgeous male/female harmony when the instrumentation kicks in, sparse, down home banjos and a xylophone that gives everything a delicacy that reminds me of Peles earlier material. It's a song of utopia lost, of broken promises, and failed hopes. It's very sad. But I think all of you will like it.

[Buy City of Festivals from Polyvinyl Records!]

Also, welcome Mackro to the world of the musicblog! I'm sure I go for everyone who knows a bit about you in saying we expect great things.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Gonna Get a Fifth 'o Liquo' and a Snicka' Baaaar.

The Morning 40 Federation - Bottom Shelf Blues - WHEN THOU WAKETH UP IN THE MORNING, BEFORE THOU BRUSHETH THY TEETH, BEFORE YOU TAKE A LEEK, BEFORE YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR, GO DIRECTLY TO THE CORNER STORE AND SOME HOW OBTAIN A 40 OZ. OF MALT LIQUOR. IF YOU HAVE NO MONEY YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK THOU NEIGHBOR. - this is the manifesto of the Morning 40 Federation - a motley crew of New Orleans transplants joined not by a love of music by Debauchery - myth would have it that, when the band formed, they didn't know how to play their various instruments. In the ensuing years, the Federation have become local legends, known for a raucous live show (New Yorkers! Catch them tonite at L'asso at 10:30 PM!), and their unique brand of "Sleazy Burlesque", a sound that can only be described as 100 % New Orleans. Filter the swagger of Reverend Horton Heat, the psychosis of Tom Waits, the brashness of John Spencer and the moodiness of Morphine through a strainer of bayou blues and cheap malt liquor, and you might be somewhere close to describing the bands sound. Most of the time. "Bottom Shelf Blues" is all gravelly vocals and bkaring honkytonk guitars and keys, with a saxophone wobbling drunkenly through the whole affair, and when the song goes into those cleaned up vocal breaks, everything makes sense. "We'll all spend every last dime" indeed.

The Morning 40 Federation - Gotta Nickle - Gotta Nickle has to be the weirdest song on the Federations debut full length though. It opens with a hard driving bass stomp, before blowing through a distorted take on the classic "Tequila!" The vocals, screamed through a megaphone, are so washed out by feedback as to be incomprehensible. The guitars whine at the high end of their amps capabilities. And then, out of nowhere, the horns disappear, and the song falls apart. The vocals clarify, and we enter this weird electro-bridge that sounds like the southern hedonist cousins of the current New York art rock scene before everything goes noisy again and the whole thing charges out all punk rock stylee.

[Buy Morning 40 Federation from]

As a final note, I'll be at Coolfer's little Music Blogger get together tomorrow evening. You should drop by and say hi. I'll be the guy in the cabbie hat with tons of pins on the back of it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Cleaning the Inbox.

Very Secretary - Sister Psyche - this track comes my way from friend and longtime reader Ryan who likes Radiohead and Modest Mouse and the Decembrists a whole lot and whohas introduced me to a bunch of good music, some of which has made it here in it's roundabout way. It's sleepy, country twinged indy pop - kinda Belle & Sebastians cousins from tennesee - except they're from Illinois - and last I checked Very Secretary were never quite so poppy. But you get the idea. It's gorgeous alt folk that needs far more exposure than it got at it's release a few years back.
[Buy Standing in the Shade from!]

The Cloud Room - Hey Now Now - The Cloud Room are from Brooklyn. Thats all they told me in the email they sent me this morning. I don't need to know anymore. You can't hear the song without making inevitable comparisons to that band that formed at NYU, and has 4 immaculate haircuts, and are named for a global law enforcement agency. Which is a shame. Because when theres an elephant in the room like that, people can ignore a song as catchy as this. Interpol are great, with their atmospheric hooks and a rhythym section that manages to create a strange sort of dreamworld. The Cloud Room aren't out to do that. They're out to make you dance. To sing along. To clap your hands with the fucking beat. Come on guys - clap with me.

[The band is playing a free show at Pianos on Thursday. Go check it out. And their website too.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Maddening Monday: The truth keeps calling me.

Sage Francis - Slow Down Gandhi - Sage Francis is one of my favorite MC's, with a style that is at once confrontational and inquisitve. Often derided as 'emo-rap,' the term sells short francis vicious and incisive politics, and unfairly attacks his somewhat meandering style - Francis tends to move across subjects, free associating, either with the vitriol of most of this track, or as he does at the end of "Slow Down Gandhi," when he starts talking about the specifics of modern politics. "'Friendly fire' - thats a funny term - like 'civil war'" - a classic Sage line, at once cutting to the core, and dancing around the heart of things. But what I find most notable about this track is the subject matter - it's a direct attack on a certain breed of stereotypical liberal activists - people who aren't quite so committed to their cause as they are to a self image as some sort of heroic rebel. We all know the self-righteous, not fully informed sorts that tend to be a bit more dogmatic than they are effective - Sage is just here to call them for their shit - for the fact that if you can't make even a serious attempt at swinging a local election, why do you think you're enough to change the country?

This is from Sage's new album, which will be out in February on Epitaph.

The Congregation of Vapors - With Love From America - On Friday, I was sufficiently lucky to attend Be Well - The Ramones Beat on Cancer a benefit in memoriam of Joey, Dee Dee, and the recently departed Johnny, and a rocking party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time. The show was opened by NYC based Singer/Songwriter Jed Davis, who performed in front of the band Bandcamp. More on that in a minute. First though, I want to share a track from Jed's band, The Congregation of Vapors. Because it's political. Because today is Maddening Monday. And because it's a fantastic fucking song. This is the sort of protest song we've needed for sometime, the sort of thing that David Byrne hit on with his Future Soundtrack for America track (Buy that from the Music For America Unstore), and the sort of thing that people can sing along to. It's a unifying song, full of references to great songs of ages past (and if you don't catch them, the Congregations website includes some incredibly detailed "Hubris Notes" full of detailed lyrical explanations), and a powerful message. While the sarcasm of "I'll Make you Love Me" in a song about anti-americanism is a bit bitter, theres a desperation to it as well, a crying out that we, as Americans, need to show that we are not the bombs, we are not the CEO's. They may not care, but we do. The Congregation of Vapors have a full length album due out in December.

[In the meantime, check out their website, pick up the "With Love From America" single, and check out them "Hubris Notes"]

Jed Davis, with CJ & Marky Ramone and Daniel Rey - The Bowery Electric - I mentioned that there was a reason that Jed opened that Ramones tribute show last week. It's because a few years back, not long after Joey Ramone died, Jed wrote this song. It's the sort of thing Joey would have written, considerring that Joey always was the great balladeer of punk rock. It's a horribly sad, and utterly beautiful tribute to the king of New York punk, as he undoubtedly was. At Fridays show, Jed gave out copies of the CD that this song was from. It was a CD, produced by marky Ramone, of the songs he would play during his opening set (Hint to bands playing CMJ showcases. This is a good idea and CDRs are cheap). Produced by Tommy Ramone not long before the show, and hastily pressed and handed out, all Jed asked for in return was a donation to the Lymphoma Society that Friday nights proceeds benefitted. If there's a problem with this song, it's that listening to it, I can't help but think of how it would sound with Joey Ramone singing it. Sorry Jed, but you probably know as well as I do that the man would have done this song right. New York City, Let's Rock.

I'm not one to post the full lyrics to a song, but in this case, i think I'll make an exception.

"The Bowery Electric"

I got so lost in thoughts of you
I missed the F at Second Avenue
I came in from the rain
And heard it pull away

I stepped back out into the street
And with the Bowery beneath my feet
I squint to see it as it was
When this neighborhood was yours
It never seemed so distant
All that's clear is something's missing

New York City is a little less warm tonight
It's a little less cool tonight
New York City is a little less kind tonight
And a little less rockin tonight

Debbie's hanging on the phone
Danny's speechless, and hey hey, Arty's home
And now the Bowery Electric crew
Shines a spotlight star for you
While on the streets below
We wander slow, already lonely

New York City is a little less warm tonight
It's a little less cool tonight
New York City is a little less kind tonight
And a little less rockin tonight

I still get lost in thoughts of you
And in those moments, I know what to do:
I put my headphones on
And you are never really gone

Do you remember "Hullaballoo"?
"Upbeat", "Shindig" and Ed Sullivan, too?
You know that I remember you
Yes, I still fuckin remember

New York City is a little less cold tonight
It's a little less lame tonight
New York City is a little less cruel tonight
New York City, let's rock tonight!

[And please, donate to the Leukemia/Lymphoma folks. Don't let another person die from this horrible crippling disease.]

Also, New Yorkers - What are you doing during CMJ week? I haven't hammered out my schedule yet, but I'm curious as to what you people think is worth seeing. Let me know! (and if you happen to be an artist or with a label or venue, and can give me a hand with a badges only show, be sure to drop a line - I couldn't scrape the 300 bucks this year, and won't have time to volunteer.)

Friday, October 08, 2004

If you look confused and you don't know what to do...

The Futureheads - Decent Days & Nights (Phones Bad Acid Remix) - Chris told me that I would want to post this. As usual, he was right. (He also has a fantastic MP3 by the Flesh up at his site now. It's what Har Mar might sound like if he wasn't a fat disgusting freak with no talent. Get it while it lasts.) This is the B-Side to the Futureheads latest single release, and opens full of electrocashy bass fuzz and glitchy synth beats. The only thing kept intact here is the original vocal, with it's harmonies and somewhat bizzarre round pattern. But taken out of the original context, a saccharine, Jam-esque number overloaded with hooks and melody, and recontextualized here, what was once slick and spazzy in the most accessible of ways becomes punishing. The combination of declarative vocals and that abrasive electronic guitar noise makes for something wholly new. When the song breaks to nothing and reassembles itself, it speeds up, and suddenly, we're not just listening to something entirely different, the beats skitter all over the place, yelps appear out of nowhere, and the world spins out of control. Excellent.

[Preorder the Futureheads Self Titled Debut from]

I have to head out the door now. Look for a bonus weekend post tomorrow.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

How do I survive in suburbia?

Just one song today, and a lot of writing.

Ednas Goldfish - Veronica Sawyer - Last week, I made a passing reference to Ednas Goldfish. But they deserve the full post treatment. This is the band that blew my teenage mind. I remember, being in middle school, and seeing 7 guys on a stage at the youth center thing in the basement of my local library... and seeing them just go insane. The horns, the guitars, there was an energy there that I had never before experienced it. I hadn't realized what I was going to, but when I walked out, I knew I had experienced my first ever rock concert. And I also knew in my soul that Ska was the future of music. I had no grasp of history, wasn't really aware of what was going on, but I was convinced I had seen the next Nirvana or something. Well, most of that didn't come true obviously. Local newspapers still tout whatever trend shows up here as "the sound thats sure to make Long Island the next Seattle," the fact is, they've been repeating that mantra ever since the Ska revival - Ednas Goldfish really were the islands best chance, and at this point, the Suburban sound has just become so trendy and vapid it's beginning to lose meaning. Case in point: after Ska, LI kind of quieted down a bit into it's norm of Billy Joel covers, with the occasional one-hit wonder breakout like Nine Days (if you don't remember that particular aural stain upon history, be glad). Then, Emo hit. Emo was EVERYWHERE. All the guys who had been in Ska bands back in the day started Emo bands (i.e. some former Goldfish formed The Reunion Show - talented, but pretty boring really). Bands like Taking Back Sunday are still doing well too. But Long Island is too trendy for that. Dancepunk has begun to take over LI. The Reunion Show has reconsituted itself as Action Action, and the sound, I think, can officially be declared dead. Long Island is way too fucking trendy for it's own good. It's only a matter of time before the whole institution collapses. And yet, sometimes, there's nothing better than digging through the old cassette tapes of my youth, and remember the glory of the Goldfish at their height. And no song from those days was better than Veronica Sawyer. It's an anthem of Suburban boredom. A tale of a region so stuck up, so isolated, that if you're not younger than 15 or older than 21, you have NOTHING. Those Sunday Afternoon all ages shows were just so important. I could be wrong about what the lyrics are going for here, but to me, thats what they've always meant. The rejection of not being old enough for those evenings, the glory of being able to enjoy youth for that one shining moment on Sunday.

[Buy The Elements of Transition from!]

Going to see Mountain Goats/Vanderslice tonite. Should be most wondrous.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Machine guns for the Weak and Disabled, Alcohol for Everyone Else.

Thirdimension w/ Caroline Schutz - The Only Healer - Thirdimension are a Swedish band who count among their membership 2 guys named Björn. What is it about Scanadnavia exactly that keeps the region churning out wave after wave of perfectly timed pop trends? And it's never just one band. Invariably there's a whole army of them, even if only one sticks. Maybe it's some sort of ingrained cultural malaise built around a desperation to recapture the success of Abba? But why would they want that? Nonetheless, Thirdimension fit in perfectly with the newest wave of psychedelia influenced Scandanavian music, fitting in perfectly alongside Soundtrack of Our Lives and current Peefork darlings Dungen - and conveniently continuing a backtracking trend from the Black metal stereotypically associated with the region to the garage rock of the Hives et al, and onward to this. When the bands newest album, Permanent Holiday came across my doorstep yesterday though, it was none of this that caught my eye. Rather, it was the presence, on a track, of labelmate and Folksongs for the Afterlife singer Caroline Schutz on this track, The Only Healer, that had me salivating with glee. Folksongs put out one of the most horribly overlooked records of last year with Put Danger Back In Your Life, gorgeous songs about sadness and what it takes to lif on up out of it. And I will easily admit to my crush on Caroline, based almost entirely on the sound of her voice. And this song... This song is just so lush, so melancholy, but the band resists the urge to equate sadness with sparseness - or worse yet, to equate it with tenthousand layers of syrupy strings. Instead, the production is decidedly tight - creating a simple but evocative rythmic background and allowing the sound of two voices in harmony to fill the room, an envelope of sadness, and of hope.
[Buy Permanent Holiday from Parasol Records!]

Nick Cave - Supernaturally - Nick Cave is back. I, like many others, found Nocturama to be a bit of a fumble for the old crooner, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that his new release - a 2-in-1 double album is a real return to form, as well as a branching out. But while Abbatoir Blues is a powerful romp through gospel and Delta Blues, the sets second disk, Lyre of Orpheus finds Cave doing what he's always done best. There's always been a gothic quality to Caves work - and no, I'm not talking about the black makeup and bad poetry set, though much enamored of him they are. It's a throwback and Cave is, in many ways, himself a Byronic figure. It shines through on this song more than anything else comes through. Unlike most of Orpheus's subdued, instrumentation, drawing attention to vocals primarily through a quieter tone, Supernaturally is a bouncing, rollicking tune. The pianos jumble and shake like the birth of rock 'n' roll all over again, the violins quiver and shake like a coward at the mouth of hell, and Cave is the rock. Cutting through the tension and the noise like a knife, he maintains his composure, his clarity, and declares "NO," commanding respect, and bringing everything into his masterful control. It's a technique Cave has used many a time before, but it hasn't gotten boring yet.

[Preorder Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus from!]

Monday, October 04, 2004

Maddening Monday: We're Gonna Take That Dancehall Back

Bloc Party - She's Hearing Voices - So, Bloc Party are officially Hot Shit™, what with the glowing Pitchfork review, a sold out show in NYC last Thursday, and the fact that their single, Banquet, sounds almost exactly like Gang of Four. To be honest, I wasn't impressed with their earlier single, "Tulips". I believe I dismissed it as "Frannz Ferdinand meets the Get-Up Kids". On relistening, I'll stand by that statement. But then, on Saturday night, almost entirely at the urging of Cameron, I came out of my cave and saw them play in the basement of the Tribeca Grand Hotel. The night began horribly, with just about every "Damn, I guess I can't get in to this show now" moment happening in rapid succession, followed by daringly more or less sneaking in to an overcrowded room full of aging hipsters who didn't know what to make of a DJ that went from Interpol to Black Flag to Minor Threat to Op Ivy (Speaking of Op Ivy, thats a band that really needs a post. For another day however). The band though, destroyed any doubts that the EP or the crowd had left in my mind. Bloc Party is not the next Killers, though they might be the next Franz Ferdinand. "She's Hearing Voices" is easily the best song off of the EP, if a bit uncharachteristic. The instrumentation is kept spare, with the rhythym section pounding away eternally, and a vocal chant style that sounds a bit like David Byrne covering Gang of Four and issuing dance commands, all punctuated by frantic stabs of guitar, inserted at key moments for the greatest of urgency. While the song itself is not explicitly political, (and thus not really fare for a Monday here), the band is somewhat obsessively so (can Gang of Four be referenced enough when talking about these guys? Hell, they even both have Communist inspired band names), and it's sufficiently 'of the moment' that it deserves to be heard. The song gives me high hopes that the band continues in this direction - it's a marked improvement over their first release.

[Buy Bloc Party's EP from Insound!]

Leftover Crack - Gay Rude Boys Unite - Leftover Crack produce one of the most brutal, searing fusions of hardcore punk and ska ever put on record. They also hate you, and everything you stand for. As political as bands come, Leftover Crack have, on their latest album "Fuck World Trade" developed a bit of an anti-cop fixation thats keeping me from posting a track from that album today. They're horribly inconsistent, but when they hit a good note, they hit it hard. So, instead of a new track, here's "Gay Rude Boys Unite" which is as good a note as they've ever hit, managing to sound equal parts Op Ivy and Minor Threat, the song serves as a callout to the various proudly "anti-racist" musicians out there who still manage to be homophobic assholes. Particularly targeted at the ska and raggae music that the song simultaneously imitates and lampoons, and where the same problems linger today, the song manages to be at it's most effective in it's choruses - the verses, as with most Leftover Crack songs, fall flat under the burnt out vocals and pretentious attempts to put down the rest of the world. Nonetheless, when the band keeps it simple, the band shows a knack for a rallying call and that chorus always manages to get me cheering along.

[Buy Mediocre Generica from Leftover Cracks store on!]