Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Ted Leo covering "Since U Been Gone"

Well without any further adieu, here it is. Enjoy! It's a great cover of an already great song.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Bucky Done Gun

If any of you still haven't heard the M.I.A./Diplo bootleg yet, here's a link where you can download the whole thing: http://makeashorterlink.com/?S4CD232CA. The version of "Bucky Done Gun" here, while quite good, doesn't touch the incredible version on M.I.A.'s new album Avular, but it (and the rest of it) is still worth checking out.

3 for the Price of 2 (Robyn Hitchcock, The Dears and others)

On Thursday, I got out of work at 3:30 (I didn't have to come in on Friday since it was Good Friday and there was hardly anyone there due to it being spring break), so I was able to catch The Dears' instore at The Virgin Megastore at Union Square. They were supposed to start at 5:30, but due to some technical issues, they didn't get started until a little after 6. Nevertheless, they played 5 or 6 songs (I remember them opening with "Postcard from Purgatory" and they also played "The Second Part", "We Can Have It", "Who are You, Defenders of the Universe" and one other that I didn't recognize. After their set, they signed posters that they were giving away at the signing table and they also signed my No Cities Left CD insert. After The Dears' set, I left abruptly to catch a friend of mine perform in the 10th anniversary performance of The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. She's a trapeze artist and she's awesome. There were also sword swallowers, magicians, jugglers and even some burlesque. I definitely recommend it if you wanna see something a bit off the beaten path.

Then the next night, there were 3 great shows going on, so I had to choose one. Weeks before, I'd agreed to see Robyn Hitchcock at Southpaw with some friends and one of them already bought a ticket for me, so even though The Kaiser Chiefs were playing Bowery Ballroom and The Dears were headlining at Maxwells, it was off to Park Slope to see Robyn, who I'd never seen before. Now don't get me wrong. It's not like I wasn't looking forward to seeing him because actually I really was looking forward to it. I've liked his stuff for a long time (though of his solo work, I'm only really familiar with the late '80s/early '90s A&M era stuff as well as his more recent material, not counting The Soft Boys' classic Underwater Moonlight). Nevertheless, I watched the excellent Jonathan Demme film Storefront Hitchcock a few days earlier to prepare and while I expected a good show, I didn't expect a mind-blowing extravaganza of the kind that we got. OK, so maybe it wasn't an extravaganza per se, but it was great. The show was driven by requests, so I and lots of others wrote down song requests on small pieces of paper and put them up on the stage for Robyn to read. Luckily, we were right up front, so putting the pieces of paper up on the stage was quite easy. Armed only with an acoustic guitar, he opened with Bob Dylan's "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" (well he only did a few minutes of it) and preceeded to do many more covers throughout the course of his 2-hour long set, including Syd Barrett's great "Gigolo Aunt", The Doors' "Crystal Ship" as well as songs by The Beatles and The Band. For about half of the set, his partner Denny (?) accompanied him on electric violin and that really added a strong flavor to songs like the 1993 album Respect's "The Arms of Love" (he also played the great "Driving Aloud" from the same album) and much to my delight, he also played "She Doesn't Exist" (which I requested). Oh and during the encore, we got The Soft Boys' "Queen of Eyes" and a song to close out the set about how "everyone knows that W sucks, but Rumsfeld is the antichrist". Indeed.

Well, since I missed The Dears' performance the night before at Maxwells due to seeing Robyn (who played at Maxwells last night; Maxwells and Southpaw have the same great booking agent, Todd), me and my friend went to see them open for Crooked Fingers last night at Bowery Ballroom. Outside, I ran into an acquaintance from Hoboken who was looking for a ticket (it was sold-out) not to see the headliners, but to see The Dears, who he's seen the night before at Maxwells and was so captivated that he tried to get in last night (I hope he made it in; I didn't see him inside). See, I told you all that their live shows are addictive. :-) Anyhow, The Dears played for a bit longer than they did on Thursday, but it was still a short set (about 45 minutes to an hour) since they were the openers. Boy were they cooking, though. They played all of the same songs that they played on Thursday, plus "Never Destroy Us" and "Death of all the Romance". They're getting more popular by the day (thanks to a lot of well-deserved UK hype) and they're playing their 1st headlining gig at the Bowery Ballroom on Saturday, June 11th.

As for Crooked Fingers, well by that point me and my friend were tired and we really came for The Dears (and again, I have a feeling that were plenty of others aside from us and the guy I ran into before we went in), so we listened to their set from the bar area and what I heard didn't impress me much at all. Maybe I had to be up there, but after watching Archers of Loaf twice during the '90s, I know that any Eric Bachmann project would probably be best listened to rather than looked at (in other words, though Archers put on a good show both times that I saw them, Bachmann had the stage presence of a wet noodle the last time I saw him, which was back in 1997). Anyway, it sounded like a bad Springsteen imitation to me, but they must be doing something right since they have their share of fans. Nevertheless, we left in the middle of it and old man that I am, I was happy to be home not too late.

So what about The Kaiser Chiefs, you ask? Well I'm a bit upset that I missed their show here on Friday since a few friends of mine went and got to hang out with Idlewild's Roddy Woomble (I should mention that I'm a huge Idlewild fan), who was there watching the show (and who's apparently a New Yorker now). However, luckily, they're playing Maxwells on Tuesday night and though it's on a weeknight and I'll be exhausted, I'm sure they'll be worth it since I've heard nothing but great things about their live set and I'm loving their album. Of course, I'll have a full report after the show.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

EZ Torrent

Well, in the last few days, I've figured out how to use a program called EZ Torrent, which contains lots of rare material and live shows by lots of different bands/artists. This weekend, alone, I've found live shows by The Fall, Trashcan Sinatras and rare XTC radio sessions from 1989. Here's a link to the Trashcan Sinatras show: http://www.easytree.org/torrents-details.php?id=33956. Good luck. You'll need to sign up for an account to get started (it's free) and if you can't get in the first time you try it, keep trying. If anyone has any questions on how to use this program, what client to use, how to decode the files or anything else, please don't hesitate to ask me.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Bhundu Boys

Before reading this article, I knew next to nothing about The Bhundu Boys. Nevertheless, I thought that I would put a link to it here since it's yet another heartbreaking story of a band being screwed over by record companies, handlers, etc. coupled with the added realities of their native Zimbabwe under Mugabe.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

What's Your Magic Number?

First off, I'm sorry that I haven't updated this thing in a while, but I promise that in the future, my updates will be more frequent. I was gonna post a link that had mp3s of many of the bands that are playing SXSW(the South by Southwest Music Festival) in Austin this weekend, but that link isn't up anymore and since I slacked on it, no can do (in the immortal words of Hall and Oates). Anyhow, one of the bands who played SXSW a few days is called The Magic Numbers and they played their first U.S. shows here on Monday at Sin-E and the next night opening for Doves at Bowery Ballroom.

Now, my primary reason for going to see them at Sin-E was to support the almighty Gold Streets (who played after them), though I had heard some UK buzz surrounding The Magic Numbers. Anyway, I got there a bit late and missed Pitty Sing, who I'd heard a bit about as well, but I did manage to catch about 1/2 to 2/3 of The Magic Numbers' set and they were awesome. They reminded me a bit of The Thrills or The Stands in that they're also enamored of the late '60s West Coast psych and folk that those other current UK bands love, but they also have a Teenage Fanclub-ish power poppy thing going on as well. They consist of 4 members (2 sets of siblings) and shallow as it sounds, I liked that none of them fit the thin/pretty boy/girl/rock star mold in terms of their looks. Anyway, I talked to their bass player after their set and she told me that they're signed to Heavenly Recordings and that their album (which they're still working on) will be out in May.

Another UK band who played here last week and then went on to SXSW is Maximo Park. If you go to their site, you can hear their excellent single "Apply Some Pressure" as well as some other songs that are streaming there. I missed their Rothko and Mercury Lounge shows last week, but their album is coming out on May 30th and I can't wait for it and hopefully they'll be back here by then (though probably in a bigger venue like Bowery Ballroom).

I've also been listening to The Kaiser Chiefs a lot lately. Their album, Employment, came out in the US on Tuesday and both Best Buy and J&R Music World have it for $6.99 this week. It's my album of the year so far and absolutely great stuff in the vein of The Jam, XTC, early '80s Damned and mid '90s Blur. I bought a ticket to see them at Maxwells next week, even though it's in Hoboken in the middle of the week, but I like the album so much that I don't care. They're also playing Bowery Ballroom this coming Friday (the 25th), but that show is sold out. Anyway, check 'em out because I highly recommend them.

And last, but certainly not least, Joss played Freddy's Backroom in Park Slope/Prospect Heights last night. I'd never been to Freddy's before and it was pretty cool, though a bit small and cramped in the bar area. It had a great jukebox and a bit of a honky-tonk/Americana feel to it and the blonde-haired (though it had to be a wig) bartender/waitress in the very short dress and knee-high stockings was very, very hot (though quite cranky when I didn't immediately tip her; don't worry, I eventually did).

Anyway, Joss finally went on at a bit after midnight and they played in the bar's back area, which has about 4 tables and shows lots of weird footage on 2 TV sets that hover above the stage. It was weird seeing them playing over backdrops that included footage of female boxing, sumo wrestling and bizarre weight-loss ads.

Unfortunately, because of the idiotic plan to bring the New Jersey Nets over to Brooklyn (they're called the NEW JERSEY Nets for a reason, idiot; keep them there; we already have a basketball team, though they suck, but anyway...) and in the process to build a 19,000 seat arena in the neighborhood, Freddy's may not be there for too much longer. However, if you're interested in the issue (and you should be, as a neighborhood, especially one with such beautiful brownstones as that area has, shouldn't be ruined for no good reason by a developer's greed), check this out: http://www.developdontdestroy.org/

So anyhow Joss played well, though only about 10-15 people were watching. They're gonna take a break from shows for a while and try to concentrate on recording a new ep. Oh and thanks AGAIN to Chris and Ann for driving me (and my friend Sara) home. You both are awesome!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

PJ Harvey covering The Fall

Here's my latest attempt to post as much rare Fall or Fall-related stuff as possible. To hear a live version of her covering "Janet, Johnny and James", go here:


Enjoy. It's a really great cover.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Everywhere You Turn (show reviews, show reviews, we've got your show reviews)

Longwave at North Six
First and foremost, having never been there before, let me just say that North Six blows. The sound sucks (and it's way too loud, the bathroom situation was appalling (I had to wait 10 minutes just to use one) and it's really hard to get around on the main floor since whatever numbskull designed it decided to put in seats (they elevate up to the sound booth) in the middle of the floor instead of in the back or off to the side, thus making getting around when it's sold out considerably harder than it should be. Furthermore, it seems like they half-finished it on purpose (it looks like half rock club, half dilipidated warehouse which is what it probably was before it became a club). Also, the girl behind me in the coatcheck line slipped on one of the stairs going down into the basement (it had snowed the day before and so it was slippery from all the slush outside) and hit her elbow, so it's a safety hazard as well. I mean, granted, I don't like it when clubs are TOO nice (see BB King's), but North Six was just too much for me.

Now onto the actual music. Openers I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, despite having one of the best band names in all of rock (indie or otherwise), were a pretty mediocre post-punk band who reminded me of The Sound and Joy Division on one hand and on some of their songs, of My Bloody Valentine and other similar shoegazer acts from the early '90s. The problem was that even though their influences are great, they haven't figured out a way to trascend them, so they don't sound particularly distinctive. Furthermore, their vocalist was undistinctive and annoyingly, kept asking for his vocals to get turned up and that he couldn't hear himself. On one hand, I understand his complaints since the sound there did indeed suck, but judging by how long it took them to get onstage, it was still annoying. I mean, you're playing North Six, not Madison Square Garden.

Fortunately, Longwave took the stage and blew everybody away. They played mostly new songs from their new album, There's a Fire, which is set to be released in May and judging by what I heard, it should be great and they also played some oldies from 2003's great The Strangest Things and last year's Life of the Party ep.

Oh and if you're in the area and you like vinyl, I highly recommend stopping by to visit Academy Records. Although their site doesn't even list its Williamsburg location, I can tell you that it's on North Sixth Street about a block or two from Bedford (towards the East River). Its exact address is here. I found a vinyl copy of Tom Verlaine's Dreatime album for $4 and the staff is knowledgeable, friendly and obviously love music.

Also, the bar directly across the street from Academy Records had drink specials all night (including $1 PBRs) and a really cute dreadlocked bartender (sigh).

On the way back home, I ran into Nick from The Star Spangles and when I told him that I'd just been to North Six, he told me that his band had played there only once and also didn't think much of that club, so I'm glad that it's not just me. Also, he told me that their new record will be out in May. They wanted Ian Hunter to produce it, but he turned them down, so they got someone (sorry I forgot his name) who produced The Donnas and The Explosion and used to be in The Meatmen and short-lived '80s DC hardcore band Double-O to produce it instead.

Joss at The Hook
The next night, Joss, a great local band who I've written about here before, played at a club in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn called The Hook. In order to get there, I had to walk 15 minutes from the nearest subway stop (the F and G stop at Carroll St.) and over a foot-bridge that took you over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The club is a very nice space that must hold about 400 people or so. Unfortunately, there were only 15-20 people there and all of them seemed to be friends of the band members. After 2 tedious bands who played before (one was a band called The Bad Touch who sounded at times like The Libertines but other times like Nirvana and another one was a singer-songwriter named FM) them, Joss took the stage and played well, though they got a better crowd reaction at their Pianos show a few months back. They're playing a place in Prospect Heights called Freddy's Backroom on Saturday March 19th. More info is here. Oh and thanks again to Chris and his wife for driving me all the way back to upper Manhattan after the show. I can't even begin to imagine how long it would've taken me to get back home otherwise.

Sleater-Kinney at Mercury Lounge
Although they played mostly new material, this was far superior to the previous 2 times that I've seen S-K. For one, it was amazing to see them in much a small place (the Mercury Lounge only holds 150 people or so) and to see drummer Janet Weiss hanging out in the always too crowded bar area when the openers were on since the 2 previous times I've seen them have been at the Siren Festival in 2002 in front of thousands and at Irving Plaza last year. While both of those shows had their charms and were both good, this was another level. If their live show is any indication, the new songs seem to be among the most experimental that they've ever recorded. One song was a 7-8 minute (at least) free jazz and Captain Beefheart-influenced romp and another one was a rare ballad that featured Janet on harmonica. Furthermore, guitarist Carrie Brownstein sang much more than I'd ever seen here do before and she's obviously the star of the show with her rock star theatrics. In addition to the new stuff, they played one of my favorite songs ("Youth Decay") from 2000's All Hands on the Bad One (my favorite album of theirs) and the 2nd song they played was "Faraway" from their last album, 2002's One Beat. Maybe it was because I'd had one beer too many at that point, but when they played it, I started to swell up inside because that song is about 9/11 and their reaction to it and it brought back a flood of memories. It was very emotional and it's always a special moment when a band's performance can take you out of yourself and into another realm.

Visqueen and Shonen Knife at Maxwells
Well on a lighter note, Visqueen (those of you who read this thing on a regular basis know that I think they're one of the best bands on the planet right now) opened for Shonen Knife at Maxwells on Friday night and of course, they absolutely destroyed. It was my 2nd time seeing them and this time I bought a t-shirt (which I'm wearing now incidentally). They played "Mrs. Elder" this time, but still no "Zirconium Gun" (maybe next time?). After the show, Rachel recognized me and said hello. Such nice people. Oh and Shonen Knife played after them, but honestly, they were just an afterthought after Visqueen, though of course the crowd didn't think so. I don't know. I just don't get them. They were cute and enthusiastic, but to my ears, they just weren't all that good. I mean, any band with song titles like "Making Plans for Bison" had to be worth checking out and I'd heard so much stuff about them for years, but just not paid that much attention to them, but they just didn't deliver the goods. Imagine a 3-piece comprised entirely of Japanese girls in matching outfits playing Ramones-style pop-punk songs and you're on the right track. Fittingly enough for their encore, they did a version of "I Wanna Be Sedated". And it's not that I thought that I think that the idea of an all-girl Japanese punk band is a novelty. I actually rather like the 5,6,7,8's and Supersnazz, for instance, so I don't know what it is really.

Gold Streets at Pianos
I would've seen Visqueen again at The Knitting Factory, but there was a Gold Streets show at Pianos (the biggest place they've played in so far) and I wasn't missing it. Anyway, although they had sound issues, Gold Streets were really good and debuted some new songs, including a 7-8 minute epic that starts off with the drummer (who sings about half of their songs) singing a cappella. I already can't wait for their next show. After them, I caught a little of The Gentlemen's set. Having never heard them before but being curious since they contain one member of great new-wave, power-pop revivalists The Figgs (who have toured with Graham Parker on several occasions and who just recorded a new album with him), I was a bit disappointed with their brand of early '70s Stones/Faces style boogie rock. It wasn't bad, but not quite distinctive enough for it to make a real lasting impression on me and definitely not as good as The Figgs. Oh well.

Friday, March 04, 2005

TV Funhouse... Funhouse

Once you click on this link, scroll down to the middle of the page until you find a headline that reads "Conspiracy Theory Rock". You can then download and watch a TV Funhouse clip from an old Saturday Night Live episode that, for its anti-corporate message, was only played once (and understandably) when it first aired and taken out of all future reruns of that particular SNL episode. If any of you have trouble downloading it (right-click, select "Save As" and then save it into whatever folder or directory you choose), I can send it to you.

It's actually not one of Robert Smigel's funniest bits, but it's still proof that he's a comic genius.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

And Your Bird Put a Smile Upon My Face

Check this out before they're forced to take the site down. It's a compilation of mash-ups of Revolver and Sgt. Peppers-era Beatles with all sorts of other songs such as Coldplay's "God Put a Smile Upon My Face", Beck's "The New Pollution" and The Jam's "Start", just for starters. I'm listening to it now and all of the tracks so far are uniformly excellent.

Oh and I know that the link for that Fall live show isn't valid anymore, so if anyone wants mp3s or a CD-R of it, just let me know.