Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Minor Incident

As I was waiting for the bus this morning, a strange woman who must have been in her 50s or 60s came up to me and asked me if I spoke English (I live in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood and as you can imagine, Spanish is the most prominent language spoken). Still barely awake and without caffeine or food, I said "yeah" not really wanting to talk to her but not wanting to be rude, either. She then proceeds to put her finger in her nose and asks me "what do you think this is?". I said, admittedly somewhat rudely, that it's "you picking your nose and me not particularly wanting to see it". She said "no, it's me speaking Spanish" in such a way that the word "speaking" was manipulated to sound like "picking" with an "s" before that. She then proceeded to ask me if it was funny after I didn't laugh. It wasn't that I thought it was racist or something like that. It just wasn't fucking funny. I said that it wasn't and that I was just being honest. She then accused me of having no sense of humor. Instead of telling her to fuck off, which is what I really wanted to do, I just said "you think" in a way that really meant "you're a fucking idiot".

All in all, I guess she either really wanted the attention really bad for some reason (maybe loneliness) or she's just nuts. It was just kind of weird since I don't normally have people crack bad jokes in front of me at 9:30 AM no less.

np (now playing): Little Milton "We're Gonna Make It"

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Art of Shooting (not what you think)

After the Undertones show at Knitting Factory last night, I went to Williamsburg, where Goldstreets were playing a show in a recording studio with a bunch of other bands. Unfortunately, I got there too late to see them, but I got there just in time to see a fantastic band that they played with called The Art of Shooting. It's 2 women (one on guitar and one on bass; both of them sing, sometimes at each other at the same time) and 2 guys (including a fantastic drummer named Oliver who plays like Ikue Mori, formerly of DNA, meaning that he plays more like a guitarist than a drummer; he paints a canvas of sound instead of just merely keeping the beat).

When they came on, I was immediately impressed with their sound, which was reminscent of the new crop of experimental post-punk bands like Erase Errata or maybe even Ex-Models, though guitarist Kelley's vocals reminded me of Corin Tucker from Sleater-Kinney on occasion. Their secret weapon is their other guitarist, Ellis, who ensures that everything stays together when it threatens to fall apart. If you like post-punk skronk in the vein of the bands on the No Wave compilation or any of the bands I mentioned above, then you should definitely check them out.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Teenage Kicks So Hard to Beat

The Undertones just played a 3 night stand here (well they're playing tonight at Southpaw) and I caught last night's Knitting Factory show as well as the show on Friday night at Maxwells, which was the opener of their current 2 week U.S. tour. I can't describe in words how much I love this band (they're one of my all-time favorites), but what I will say is this: if you're a fan (or if you like late '70s punk or power-pop and aren't familiar with them) and they come anywhere near you, go see them! Their tour dates are here.

I saw both Knitting Factory shows last year (they only did those 2 and a show in DC when they came here last year) and I can say that as great as those shows were, they're much improved this time around. First of all, they seem more comfortable with each other (new singer Paul McLoone was cracking smiles and jokes throughout both performances) and with their audience, which consequently seems more accepting of them. And luckily, though it was a treat to see people going nuts, dancing and pogoing (unlike many shows I go to, which consists of indie-rock kids folding their arms), there weren't too many slam-happy punk morons like there were last year (more so at Maxwells than last night at Knitting Factory). Of course, the songs from the 1st album (which they played almost the entirety of) garnered the strongest reaction, but as for me personally, I thought the strongest performances (other than the immortal "Teenage Kicks" and "Get Over You", their New York Dolls tribute, both of which just killed live) were of "Thrill Me" (from 2003's fantastic comeback album Get What You Need) and a much improved "Julie Ocean" and "When Saturday Comes" (both from 1981's fantastic and severly underrated watershed album Positive Touch, which was maligned at the time by fans for not being the simple, fun pop-punk of the first 2 albums, but rather a Squeeze-influenced, darker post-punk work) .

And man, were they loud! My ears rang the day after the Maxwells show since I was foolish enough not to wear earplugs for most of the set, though they feel better today since I learned my lesson and put my earplugs on last night during their set. The closest comparison is the MC5 (a huge influence on them, especially their last album High Time; just ask John O'Neill, guitarist and primary songwriter), with their 2-guitar attack producing a rush of feedback fettered through Marshall stacks. What a sweet sound that is when combined with their sugary-sweet melodies and lovelorn, innocent, wide-eyed lyrics.

And what's even more amazing about this, other than the fact that they're playing and touring and recording (supposedly 7 songs are already in the can for a new album; they've been playing one of them, "Here Comes the Rain", on this tour, and it sounds awesome) with a new singer, is that they're using a fill-in drummer on this tour (and he didn't miss a beat!). Billy Doherty, their regular drummer and an original member (like the rest of them except Paul McLoone, their new singer), accidentally fell off his bike and injured his hand (though guitarist Damian says that he's feeling better), so they had to hire a fill-in at the last moment. His name is Davy and he hails from Derry, which is in Northern Ireland (like the rest of The Undertones; they all still live in Derry as well except for Damian, who was stayed in London).

I got to meet them again last night after the show and once again, they proved to be as nice as you'd want a great and legendary band like them to be. Unfortunately, the club's staff kicked us all out of the backstage area last night way too soon since there was a late show (the much-buzzed about Magnolia Electric Co.) and the bands for the late show had to set up their stuff (we made them wait 2o minutes, though; ha!).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Laugh of the Day

Check this out. Funny as that is (and I wonder who that hideous Steve Perry/John Waite wannabe is? Maybe Eric Martin, the singer from Mr. Big?), I prefer this "remix". Enjoy. I'm sure that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are giggling hysterically somewhere right about now. Oh and if it doesn't start playing right away, be patient. It takes time, especially the first link.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Decemberists

Their new album, Picaresque, is incredibly excellent (it's the best album I've heard all year thus far and maybe the best of the decade so far as well) and I've been listening to it more than anything else the last few weeks. I'm seeing them at Warsaw in Brooklyn next month and I absolutely can't wait. You can still get tickets for this show here. Their show at Irving Plaza on May 4th is already sold out, so if you wanna see them, I definitely recommend getting tickets. Oh and they're playing at NYU on April 28th, but I think you need an NYU ID for that one and they're notoriously stringent. Nevertheless, if you don't go to NYU and you wanna crash the party (or if you do go to NYU and you happen to be reading this), the pertinent info is here. And if you go here, you can download the excellent (and topical) video for "16 Military Wives". You'll need to know how to use Bit Torrent, though. All the instructions are explained, however. You can hear some mp3s here. All 3 of the songs they have on the site to preview are excellent including "The Engine Driver", my favorite song from their new one.

Gold Streets

Gold Streets @ The Delancey 3/30/05
Playing their Death Disco debut, Gold Streets played what was in my view their best show ever so far. Luckily, they got a good draw this time and people seemed to be into it. They've really tightened up their sound as of late and the guy working the sound was terrific and they sounded so much better than they did the last couple of times that I saw them (at Pianos and then playing with The Magic Numbers at Sin-E). They're recording an ep this weekend in Brooklyn. I'm sure that it'll far surpass their demo and better represent what they sound like live and how far they've come in just a few short months. They're playing another show on Thursday night the 14th at Luna Lounge. It's free so you all have no excuse not to go! Come on down! E-mail me for details.

I Predict a Riot!

The Kaiser Chiefs @ Maxwells 3/29/05
After a very long wait, The Kaiser Chiefs finally took the stage at about 10:45 PM or so and absolutely kicked ass. Their singer, Ricky Wilson (that name always reminds me of the guitarist from The B52s who died in the mid '80s), moves like a maniac (and with a bad leg, too!), at various instances going into the audience and jumping around maniacally on the tiny stage. And what a unique-looking band, too. Ricky had a lime green suit, an ascot, and a quasi-Flock of Seagulls (i.e. Mike Score) type haircut whereas their bass player looked like Zander Schloss (the bass player for The Circle Jerks and The Weirdos; he looks like a cross between Sideshow Bob on the Simpsons and I don't know, Rob Tyner from The MC5 with his huge white afro), their drummer was dressed like Alex from the movie version of A Clockwork Orange, complete with hats, braces (suspenders) and a white shirt and their keyboard player Peanut looked like someone from Madness or The Specials in the early '80s with his rude boy outfit complete with pork-pie hat.

Anyway, looks aside, they blazed through most of the songs on their excellent debut album Employment as well as the B-side "Take My Temperature". They'll be back in July at Webster Hall and I'll be there (just got my ticket a few days ago)!

Code Blue/Gentleification Now!

TSOL @ CBGB's and The Smittens @ The Delancey 4/1/05
Well the night started off at The Delancey where my friend Colin Clary's indie-pop band The Smittens were doing their thing. I'd only seen them one previous time, back in November 2003 at Luna Lounge, and they've improved tremendously and gotten a lot tighter since then. They're working on a new album that'll be out in June. As for what they sound like, if cutesy, Beat Happening-influenced early '90s indie-rock is your thing, then The Smittens are definitely for you. Think Small Factory, Eggs (they cover one of their songs) or hell, anything from the Simple Machines or Sarah Records rosters and you're pretty much there.

Now, luckily, The Smittens played rather early, giving me an opportunity to catch legendary gothic punk band TSOL, who were playing a rare NYC show (the last time they played here was back in September 2001). Although I almost didn't wanna go because CB's sucks and what not, I reasoned that TSOL doesn't come around too often and since I'd never seen them, I wanted to rectify that situation. TSOL, despite playing a stellar set mostly consisting of material from their 1st ep and their great debut Lp, 1981's Dance with Me, utterly disappointed me by only doing 1 song from the great 2nd Lp, 1982's Beneath the Shadows, and by generally playing their songs faster than they needed to be and concentrating on their faster, thrashier material (as opposed to the moodier, gothic stuff on Beneath the Shadows and its unjustly overlooked follow-up, 1984's Change Today), thus appeasing the small-minded, mostly young hardcore punk kids in the audience who can only appreciate one part of this great band's legacy. A highlight, however, was when they played The Damned's "Politics" and dedicated it to my friend Jack Rabid, who was in the audience. After the show, I briefly got to meet Jack Grisham (TSOL's singer) and heard him tell a funny story about running for California governor in the recall election of 2003 that Arnold Schwarzenegger (sigh) ended up winning.

She's Hearing Voices

Bloc Party 4/8/05 Bowery Ballroom
Even though I didn't have a ticket for this show, I decided to try to get in anyway. I figured that even in the worse case scenario, Bowery Ballroom always lets extra people in right as the headliner goes on if you wait and hang out until then. Luckily, I didn't have to resort to that as I found a guy who was getting rid of his will-call ticket since he couldn't make it and he only charged me what it cost him to buy the ticket. Nice guy. Anyway openers The Ponys were passable neo-new-wave from Chicago with no memorable songs and an affected singer who tried to sound like Gang of Four's Jon King and it just wasn't convincing.

Bloc Party, on the other hand, were great and way better than they were at the Tribeca Grand Hotel back in October. They only played for less than an hour or so, but in that time they managed to play most of the songs off of their new album Silent Alarm (of which my favorites are "Like Eating Glass", "Helicopter", "Positive Tension" and "This Modern Love") as well as most of the songs on their 1st 2 singles, including "Banquet", "She's Hearing Voices", "The Marshals are Dead" and "Tulips". Despite their burgeoning popularity (they sold out both last night's show and the show the night before), you can still download a few of their songs here.

Also, I've never seen a higher concentration of skinny hipster girls in one place. Furthermore, it was amusing that next to me, a frat boy-ish lawyer talking with his blonde girlfriend about Dave Matthews and law school in New Jersey and what not. I wonder if he was at the wrong concert or if it's a sign that this band will be HUGE, much like what happened with Franz Ferdinand last year. They're certainly being hyped up enough, though in my view they're one of the few who deserve it, at least to some extent.

Inca Rag/Name Game

4/9/05 The Fiery Furnaces @ Webster Hall
Initially, I was disappointed that they were doing almost the same exact type of show that they did on the two occasions that I saw them last year after Blueberry Boat came out, with one song merging into the other and them seemingly not finishing any of them, but going at their catalog with fury, almost as if they're attacking it instead of playing it straight. Nevertheless, though the first part of the show was indeed that, much like their show last Halloween at Maxwells (except this time Eleanor wasn't in a gorilla mask) and when I saw them in Montreal in September, the second part was quite different. They came out for several encores and after played mostly new songs during the encores, quelling my fear that they wouldn't do any new material during the entire show. The new songs sounded great. Oh and they sold out the place, too. Wow, and to think that the first time I saw them, it was at Mercury Lounge right after their 1st album Gallowsbird's Bark came out.

After the show, I stopped at the Virgin Megastore on the way back to the subway and in my aisle where I was browsing the Fall section, a guy fell on the floor and wouldn't get up. Apparently, he was high on something or other, but it totally freaked me out. Of course, the ambulance, cops and fire department all came and I promptly went home, too chilled by the experience to continue browsing through CDs.