Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Very sassy, very sexy and very fun. Chicago beauties DJ Chess Hubbard aka Mother Hubbard and DJ A-Cup make up the Windy Cities favorite house DJ's Moneypenny. The duo, who made their live debut at Lollapalooza this past summer in Perry's DJ tent, engaged a large crowd of festival performers in an all out dance party in the middle of the day. From opening to the likes of The Bravery, Robyn, and Chromeo are poised to take the club scene by storm, one spin at a time. Take a look my interview with these very cool ladies, as I spoke to Mother Hubbard and DJ A-Cup about coming together, Chicago and where they want to go and who they dream of playing with.

What was it like making your debut at Lollapalooza?

Chess Hubbard- It was a bit daunting, but extremely exhilarating too. I have gone to Lolla the past few years since it moved to Chicago, but I also went to Lolla as a wee lass several years ago when it was a touring show so there was definitely some nostalgia wrapped into the excitement as well.

DJ-A Cup Luckily, making our debut at Lolla wasn't as intimidating as it could have been. It's in our hometown of Chicago, so even though we aren't well known on the national scene, we knew there would be at least a handful of friends and fans rooting us on

Was it extra special to not only debut at Lollapalooza, but also in your own backyard of Chicago?

CH- Of course. I think any show we play in Chicago is special since this is where we met and Moneypenny began!

DJA-Cup - Chicago has such an incredible music history, and its role in the beginnings of electronic music is really special as well. So for us to perform on Perry's stage, with such an emphasis on the type of music and artists we're inspired by, in our own home town, was quite an honor.

One thing we did to make our Lollapalooza performance really special was to keep our new original material and show under wraps. We've been recording new songs for a while but didn't really let anyone know besides our closest friends. It was great to be able to unveil them (we did do a couple of smaller preview shows the week before to warm up) to a hometown crowd and show them another side of our project.

Was there any pressure to make your set memorable since you were introducing Moneypenny to the world?

CH- We wanted to make it as special as we could and with the budget we had. Having a choreographer and dancers really added a lot to the set. We planned the outfits and make-up as well, but the dancers were the main additive that made it special.

DJ A-Cup- We put a lot of pressure on ourselves for the show knowing it was our festival and live debut. Instead of doing a traditional two turntable set (or no turntables, as many DJs did - some even pre-recorded their sets and just played that to make sure it was perfect), we opted for a crazy three turntable set where we dropped over 30 songs in the first 25 minutes alone. As far as the live portion goes... I used to design costumes and sets so originally I wanted an insane landscape and ridiculous costumes and dancers, but within the constraints of the stage (we weren't even allowed to hang a banner with our name on it), we toned it down to include dancing, choreography, and a little robot makeup.

How has Chicago influenced your style and sound?

DJ A-Cup – I don't think there's any Chicago DJs who can say house music hasn't influenced them a little bit - Chicago is its home. There is a nice underground and super stylish hip hop scene, and we often find ourselves playing up and coming Chicago artists like Hollywood Holt and Mic Terror, layering them over disco or odd finds from the 80's. There's also a really nice Nu Disco scene here - DJ SR-71 has been pushing it for a while, and I've noticed a lot of DJs taking notice.

CH- Hmmm. I think Chicago has a pretty diverse musical environment, but I think the most noticeable element that has effected our style and sound would be Chicago's rich house music scene.

You started off as DJ’s under the banner Rocktapussy, now you are Moneypenny. Why the change in name?

CH- We loved the name Rocktapussy, but it is more limiting in some ways. As far as radio play goes and of course the fact that some people hear "Rocktapussy" and think it is a joke name. We didn't want our name limiting us in any way. Having the name Moneypenny allows us to still reference James Bond and it is a name our parents even like!

DJ A-Cup- We started Rocktapussy as sort of a jokey moniker to attach to our DJ project at the very beginning. Once it started to take off and we began writing and recording original music, we decided to change it before it became a problem. For example, we just sold a Moneypenny song to ABC Family - and I would bet a thousand dollars they wouldn't have touched the music with the name Rocktapussy in front of it.

Separately you both were well known in the Chicago nightlife scene, why did you choose to team up?

CH- We met through Matt, my business partner and Jessica's boyfriend, and hit it off. We have similar tastes in music, even when it comes to weird goth and industrial artists, and I think we both have very tomboy personalities, so we got along outside of work too. Also, we complement each other very well. Jessica brings the charisma, style, and glamor while I bring the nerdtastic graphic design and computer programming abilities. It's natural working together and it's refreshing to collaborate with someone that appreciates music from all different genres as well.

DJ A-Cup- There's only so much you can do as a solo DJ - you can get into remixing and doing your own music, but it's so much nicer to have another ear to bounce ideas off. I think our mixes we do together are more interesting than what we'd come up with on our own. We share a love of off-center music, old industrial, goth, weird disco and 80's, terrible mainstream guilty pleasures, etc - and it's fun to take disparate ideas and blend them together. The shared love is key.

Who are some of the songwriting and production teams you have been working with?

DJ A-Cup - We work with friends of ours here in Chicago, Blake Smith and Mike Willison from the bands The Prairie Cartel and Caviar. They've been doing this a lot longer than we have and I frankly don't think we'd have even got our first song done without their help. Another fantastic songwriter we've gotten to work with is Simon Perry from NYC. Between all of us, we've been able to craft songs that span the spectrum of pop, rock, and electronic music - much like our mixtapes.

CH- Simon Perry, Prairie Cartel, and Hey Champ so far with a lot of others in the brainstorming phase.

You have shared the stage with some great acts like Robyn, The Bravery, and Chromeo to name a few. What were those experiences like? What did you pick up from those like acts?

CH- Opening for Robyn was our very first show ever. We had never DJed out in public before that and it was one of those moments where we could have choked in front of a 1000+ people and made a fool out of ourselves easily. But we didn't let the fact that is was our first show get to us. It was an intimidating experience, but after that show I knew we had something special because we pulled our set off and the crowd and staff loved it.

The Bravery show allowed us to play at Metro in front of a big audience and I just love Metro's stage and sound.

Chromeo at Hard Rock Hotel was exciting since we are really big fans of Chromeo's music and it was a Lolla after party and people were in full on party mode.

DJ A-Cup - Robyn is an INCREDIBLE performer. She's so tiny and just commands the stage when she takes it. I think she's inspired me to get a cape as well. The Bravery and Chromeo are so slick and professional, they have their stage show down to a science. It will be nice to hone that on tour one of these days...

Where does Moneypenny want to go with their music?

CH- Go? Like style wise or career wise? Style wise, we are constantly evolving. We don't want to stick to one genre and we want to continue to work with songwriters we respect and whose music we like in addition to writing more and more music ourselves as well. Career wise the sky is the limit! Hopefully people like what they hear!

DJ A-Cup- We want to make as much music as possible for now, and worry about editing it later. We're a little schizophrenic in our vision - it's radio pop, dark synth, goth rock, disco, electro... there will be lots of surprises for our listeners.

If there was anyone you would want to play with who would it be?


CH- Björk. She is my idol. Although I might be too scared to play with someone that talented and amazing. I have never really gotten starstruck, but with Björk I might faint if I meet her.

Special thanks to Moneypenny and Matt Dufour for the interview!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Live Review - Thursday / Far @ Bowery Ballroom

There has been a ton of things going on in New York City this past week, from CMJ to New York sports to films being shot. However, none got me more excited than this concert, Thursday performing Full Collapse in its entirety and in their first East Coast concert in nearly 11 years, the newly reunited Far! It was a sold out house at Bowery Ballroom and as fans young and old crammed into the tiny space, no one showed their age when it came to the bands playing. Veteran punks and former emo kids now in their mid-twenties (cough, cough) mixed with a new generation of Hot Topic shoppers and hit the deck for a full on musical assault.
Thursday came on and erupted the floor from the first hit of the snare drum on "Understanding in a Car Crash," and all of Bowery Ballroom exploded like an atom bomb with bodies being tossed everywhere. The New Jersey band is doing what many bands on the road have been doing these days, playing their biggest records in their entirety as main sets. I am indifferent about the idea, and still trying to understand why Thursday would do that when they just released a great record, Common Existence, earlier this year. Common Existence sounds like it needs to be heard live, but why mess with a good thing? Sticking to the classics's works too. It is interesting to see Thursday after all these years still doing what they love, they have gotten older, greyer (guitarist Steve Padulla has a salt and pepper beard now), I saw them playing with their kids outside their bus before the show. Yet, as time may have aged the band just a bit, it has not slowed them down, the focus is still there and that is the music.
As exciting it was to see Thursday, it was the band going on before was the real reason I was at this concert. Sacramento, California's reunited Far! The band led by one of my favorite singer's and songwriters, Jonah Matranga were essential to West Coast rock in the late 90's. Far influenced everyone from Deftones to Incubus to Linkin Park. After their split in 1998, the band got back together last year and are currently working on a new album slated for a spring release. This was the very first East Coast appearance of this band in over a decade and it is so good to have them back. It is interesting to see Jonah run and scream on stage, when I am so used to his solo work where it is just him and an acoustic guitar. I have never seen Jonah plugged in before and with a full band, so this was a new experience for me and he was all smiles. Playing a majority of songs off Water and Solutions, and diving in deep to the band's catalogue, including my favorite track "Love, American Style," from Tin Cans with Strings to You. The highlight of their set was when Thursday singer Geoff Rickly came on stage and sang "Mother Mary," with Far. Geoff and Jonah were hugging and kissing by the end of the song and showing the bond and brotherhood between the two front men. Having Far back is a real treat, I got into them in 2004 and have been waiting for this ever since. Jonah even mentioned during their set, "We were a band that sold no records, no one came to our shows and to be here tonight with most knowing who we are and singing with us, its beautiful." My ears are still ringing from their set and I walked about with my manic excitement very high. I am thrilled this band is here making music again.
Opening the show was Brooklyn's Midnight Masses. A band who is on this tour at the personal request of Geoff Rickly. Their music did not fit the mold of the evening, however, they were on fire. A rock-n-soul outfit reminiscent of Ben Harper's new band Relentless 7. It took the crowd a few songs to really get into what they were doing because no one expected something like that on this bill. The Brooklyn six piece were beautiful to listen to and a pleasure to have. Rickly made another guest appearance on stage with this band and I hope to see and hear more of them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Live Review - Portugal the Man @ Apple SoHo

I might as well have moved into the Apple store in SoHo these past two days. Two free early concerts from two of the most talked about bands on the scene. After Thursday's calming performance by The xx, Friday was followed by Alaska via Portland band, Portugal the Man. Portugal the Man is a band I have gotten to know pretty well these past few months. After seeing them at Lollapalooza and interviewing singer John Baldwin Gourley, I had to catch their set. Currently on a sold out tour with Hockey, Portugal the Man performed an unreal semi-acoustic set at Apple Store.
Back in my comfortable chair, the band was right in front, even with a set of non fully electric instruments, they still managed to blow the crowd's mind. More people crammed into the store for Portugal the Man, than for The xx, and the band was super humble and grateful for everyone coming. This was a taping for iTunes, but could have easily been broadcast on MTV's now defunct Unplugged series. Playing a 45 minutes set and a majority of tunes from their latest, The Satanic Satanist, Portugal the Man did what they do best, perform great music. Backed by a violinist, the band declared she had not rehearsed with them and was winging the set. Performing in front of screen playing home video's of the band playing like children in the Alaskan snow, Portugal the Man stuck to their guns and still showed that visuals are an important part of who they are as much as the music that defines them. It amazes me this band is not bigger than they already are.

Listen to my interview with John Baldwin Gourley HERE.

Them Crooked Vultures Cover & Tracklisting

The mysterious band, Them Crooked Vultures featuring Dave Grohl, Led Zepplin's John Paul Jones and Queens of the Stone Age Josh Homme, have announced details about their debut record. The super trio will release their self titled record next month, the cover is above and take a look at the track listing below.
1 No One Loves Me & Neither Do I
2 Mind Eraser, No Chaser
3 New Fang
4 Dead End Friends
5 Elephants
6 Scumbag Blues
7 Bandoliers
8 Reptiles
9 Interlude With Ludes
10 Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up
11 Caligulove
12 Gunman
13 Spinning in Daffodils

Live Pix - U2 @ Giants Stadium

I know, you are probably saying to yourself, "Sal, that U2 Concert from Giants Stadium was a month ago, why are you posting pictures now." Well, simple answer, I was finally able to get a hold of some photos of the event and since the U2 - Youtube webcast is this Sunday, this was the perfect time to post them. If you have not seen them on this tour, or you have, here is a way to get excited for the webcast and realizing how amazing they really are in concert. The stage is more than a place for them to play, it takes over as the unofficial fifth member of the band. Take a look at the pictures below from Giants Stadium 9/25/09 concert with Muse supporting, the photos were taken by my close friend and photographer Jennifer Corley. To read my review of the concert click HERE.


Quick News

He is a brilliant songwriter and story teller, and now Hold Steady front man Craig Finn will try his chops at screenwriting. That is right, we will be getting a film written by CRAIG FINN! Finn along with Late Show with David Letterman writer, Tom Ruprecht, will be adapting Chuck Klosterman's 2001 memoir Fargo Rock City. The story is about a heavy metal fan coming of age during his high school years in the 80's in North Dakota. Klosterman is set to produce.

Noel Gallagher has spoken to UK's Daily Mail about his solo project. This is the first time since August Noel has spoken to the press since the fall of Oasis at the end of August."I'm looking forward to doing my own thing, bringing out my own music," he said. "I'm glad that's what people want to hear. I am not thinking about much else, Oasis or Liam, I'm just having a good time." Noel had already started working on his solo project after the band's 2005 release Don't Believe the Truth and was going to wait till the end of the band's current Dig Out Your Soul Tour to begin working on this. Since the tour was cut short due to the break up, Noel is off to the studio to work on this record. Very excited he is still making music.

Defunct Seattle art-rockers Blood Brothers are set to reissue their back catalogue on CD and digital formats in the coming weeks. The CD versions will have B-sides, live cuts, and outtakes. I am hoping for vinyl reissues, but no word on that yet.

One in a while I need to pat myself on the back, and here is one of those occasions. One of the best music sites on the net has referenced and quoted my review of The xx at Apple Store, Brooklyn Vegan featured my review in on of their posts this past week. Take a look at it HERE. Thanks to the Vegan!

Hot Chip's Joe Goddard is set to release his first solo record. Goddard who is one of the key components in the electro British band, has been producing for Little Boots and is now ready to make his solo debut. The album, entitled Harvest Festival will be out next month via the band's Greco-Roman label. Take a look at the track listing below.
'Apple Bobbing'
'Tinned Apricot'
'Strawberry Jam'
'Go Bananas'
'Half-Time Oranges'
'Lemon & Lime (Home Time)'
'Tropical Punch'
'Sour Grapes'
'Pineapple Chunk'
'Mango Chutney'
'Coconut Shy'

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Live Review - The xx @ Apple SoHo

It is blitzkrieg bop in New York City this week with the CMJ Music Marathon in town. Hundreds of bands from around the world falling into the cities venues to promote the hell out of themselves and get noticed. It is exhausting for everyone involved; from organizers, artists, spectators and journalists alike going from gig to gig, party to party and blurry night after blurry night. With most nights ending till the whee hours of the morning, it was nice to catch an early show from one of the most talked about bands leading up to the week, the UK's The xx.
The xx played an intimate free gig at Apple Store in SoHo tonight, just last night they had an overwhelming turn out to their show at Mercury Lounge with fans waiting for hours to get in and many more being rejected at the door. With that, this small free show seemed like a good catch. Arriving early was key and grabbing a seat right in third row center, I was shocked to get a full 50 minute set, when I was just anticipating 3-4 songs. The xx walked on stage as if they just shopped down the block at Topshop / Topman and seemed a bit scared to play to us few hundred in attendance. The xx, whose sound is a cross between Glasvegas meets Mono, are an interesting band to witness and listen to. They are not the type of band you want to be standing when you see them, they can certainly make you relax and unwind, but in no way is their music dull and boring. In fact it is the opposite, its very intricate and involved. With two singers, a programmer and a backing guitarist / synth op set a nice mood in a non traditional venue. The Apple store's sound was very good and the show was being recorded for iTunes. I didn't mind sitting from the comfort of a chair for this band, after all, it has been a long week and nice to take a load off, I only wish I had a glass of Red.....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Sounds on Kimmel

The Sounds hit up the Pontiac Garage in LA to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. The Swedish band did not one, but two songs for the audience. Take a look as they perform "Beatbox" off their latest Crossing the Rubicon and their big hit "Painted by Numbers" off Dying to Say This to You.

Quick News

Say it ain't so! It seems that the hiatus that Bloc Party was to go on after their month of "Bloctober" shows in the UK will be more indefinite than originally thought. It looks like drummer Matt Tong may leave the band and "'wouldn't mind trying something else for a while'' as he told NME. Very unfortunate.

As Tall As Lions front man Dan Nigro was forced to back out of a few shows on the bands current trek with Mutemath. Nigro had to fly back to his home on Long Island after noticing bumps on the back of his throat and was fearing vocal chord damage. He is at home resting and being treated while the rest of his mates are showcasing instrumental As Tall As Lions shows.

Portishead are working on the follow up to last years brilliant ambient epic, Third. Portishead member Geoff Barrow told NME that "We are publishing-free and label-free at the moment, so we're kind of… well, we're free!" Barrow also went on to say that they are taking a different angle in approaching the new album and unsure of how they will release it.

Epic concert from epic band needs epic broadcast. U2 are set to take over Youtube on Sunday as they broadcast their concert from Pasadena's Rose Bowl. The showtime is 8:30 Pacific time and would not be surprised if Youtube crashes. Take a look at the promo trailer below..

Hockey on Fallon

Portland band Hockey hit up Jimmy Fallon last week and rocked out in support of their debut, Mind Chaos. Take a look as the band does the track "Too Fake," also stay tuned as I have something special brewing with Hockey in the next few weeks on the site!


Here is a play list of jams I have been digging this past month...Enjoy!

- Simian Mobile Disco Feat. Beth Ditto - "Cruel Intentions"
- Arctic Monkeys - "Pretty Visitors"
- Ladyhawke - "Back of the Van"
- The xx - "Islands"
- We Were Promised Jetpacks - "Quiet Little Voices"
- Black Flag - "Rise Above"
- Brand New - "Vices"
- Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"
- Phoenix - "Napolean Says"
- Karen O and the Kids - "All is Love"
- Beatles - "Something"
- Oasis - "Live Forever"
- Little Boots - "Meddle"
- Imogen Heap - "First Train Home"
- BLK JKS - "Molalatladi"
- TV on the Radio - "Halfway Home"
- Living Colour - "Young Boys"
- The Bravery - "Slow Poison"
- Vonrenz0 - "Apologies, Excuses and the Redemption of Promise"
- Los Campesinos! - "The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future"

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Growing up during the brutal and evil Apartheid era in South Africa, to seeing the fall of Apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela, the members of South Africa's BLK JKS have witnessed more history in front of their eyes before the age of 20, than most see in a lifetime. From the townships outside Johannesburg to now playing gigs around the world, the art rockers in BLK JKS have much to say and much to make you feel. The eclectic band mixes tribal rhythms, hard rock, ambient, electro and jazz and fuse it together in their own unique fashion. In fact, they have stumped critics because they are so unique they do not sound like anyone and most are having a hard time comparing BLK JKS to any other band out there today. Their debut, After Robots was just released last month and has received acclaim from every major music publication from Rolling Stone, Spin, Village Voice, NME, and Q but the band is only speaking to me. In a ultra exclusive interview, I had the chance to talk with guitarist Mpumi Mcata as we discussed the bands roots, influences and coming of age in South Africa during one of the darkest times in history. Take a look at one of the more interesting interviews and figures I have chatted with below...

When I think of rock acts that come from South Africa, right away Seether is the only one that broke big internationally. Where does BLK JKS fall? How do you plan to break the mold of what we know of South African rock and roll?

MM: BLKJKS doesn't fall, anywhere.......and we don't really have a plan per say, as much as we have found ourselves as representatives of sort by default; we just do what we do and believe in it - that will speak for itself you know - and we trust that and trust that for a lot of people the music itself will scream South Africa in the best way and shine even more light on the art of this continent.

You grew up in Johannesburg listening to The Cure and other art rock bands, how did they influence you growing up?

MM: Well those sounds were muddled up in the bubblegum jazz reggae afro-pop/afro-traditional of all kinds, urban and otherwise from afro-beat to kwaito etc, never really given time to be by themselves in our heads I think and that was an awesome kind of blessing in disguise but one had to fine tune oneself to pick up on these signals freely because obviously there was pressure in this country during those days to not listen to the so called souless enemys music.

You grew up during Apartheid and then during the Mandela reign, how did the shift in political and social power change you not just as a person but also as a musician?

MM:Yes sir, the original Obama Effect ha ha ha ......... It's excellent when things like this happen in the world - duh - but you know there is another side to it; it's tough because some things happen on paper and people take a long time to catch up so it's been uphill for us as musicians which informed the sound and growing up. We must give credit to our folks for sheltering us as best they could because we saw some dark things.

Growing up did you ever think it was possible for four African musicians to make it in the music world and have your dreams realized?

MM: Indeed there were always great musicians kicking up dust down here - harare, brenda and the big dudes, stimela and sankomota were encouraging you know, hearing such massive modern African sounds one could definitely dream and of course there was always the likes of bra hugh masekela and fela kuti.

Did anything ever happen to you growing up under the Apartheid régime?

MM:Seeing somebody get killed in broad daylight is never - ok - but it was then and that’s the craziness of the time, but this is still happening around the world - do people never learn?

It has been said that there is nothing political about BLK JKS, how is that? Why is that?

MM:It's all political - but we are not at the stage where want to engage with it yet, our battle is by virtue of existing as an outfit, meaning you could either talk about change or be the change.

With South Africa hosting the World Cup next year and all eyes on your homeland, do you feel 2010 will be a break out year for you with more people around the globe wanting to know what is coming out of South Africa?

MM: Yes - Knock on Wood; it’s a great moment for Africa.

From Rolling Stone magazine to Diplo, your band has been praised, how do you respond to such high acclaim?

MM: With smiles, those people are our friends and we were drawn together by what’s closest to us - our art/craft.

What can people expect from your debut that have never herd of you before and are learning about you for the first time on this site?

MM: Sounds of the African Subconscious through the ages - and We are all African.

Your debut finds singer Lindani Buthelezi singing in Xhosa, Zulu and English, why did you decide to incorporate so many different tongues in your music?

MM: It's the way we talk to each other so if the music was to be honest it has to be representative - we're learning more languages with travel so soon maybe will over take one of our favourite bands the Brazilian Girls with multilingualism.

Your debut is called After Robots, what is that in reference to?

MM: A return to our true-selves and not being afraid to jump of a moving train/spaceship/taxi to get there - people in the taxi here in South Africa say it to get of at the traffic lights.

If there was one word to sum up BLK JKS what would it be?

MM: Wow - thats tough, we have no idea......uhmn...can we call a friend?

Video for "Summertime" (Above) / BLK JKS live at Zipper Factory performing "Lakeside" (Below)

Special thanks to Mpumi for the interview!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Monty Python & The Roots on Fallon!

Yes, you are reading the headline correctly. Monty Python celebrated their 40th anniversary tour in New York this week and took over Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Even jamming out with The Roots for the classic Python hit "Look on the Bright Side of Life."

Quick News

This is a pretty great way to honor icons, the UK's Royal Mail will feature iconic British album covers on their stamps next year. Here is who they will be placing...Pink Floyd's The Division Bell, Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head, Blur's Parklife, New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies, Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed, David Bowie's The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Primal Scream's Screamadelica, Led Zeppelin's IV, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, and The Clash's London Calling. Interesting enough, they picked Mike Oldfield over let' say, umm... THE BEATLES!?! Or England's favorite son's Oasis, and Joy Division's cover for Unknown Pleasure's is pretty great.

This news kind of blew my mind today. The Flaming Lips are set to do a track-by-track cover of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. The reinterpretation will feature guest spots from Henry Rollins, Peaches, White Dwarfs and Stardeath. No word yet on when the record will arrive.

Reps for Amy Winehouse have confirmed the fallen singer will be back in 2010 with an album of new material. Winehouse, who has suffered a drug addiction battle since coming into the spotlight and has been a favorite target of the tabloids, has been recording with various producers including Mark Ronson who was the master mind behind her breakthrough Back to Black.

Living Colour front man Vernon Reid has received a special honor from New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Reid was this year's recipient of the Mayor's Award for Art and Culture. Congratulations to Vernon!

Not only did he write and score some of Wes Anderson's latest film, the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox; Jarvis Cocker will also appear as a marionette in the film as well. Take a look below.

Editors Streetview

Marketing Brilliance. Navigate London via GoogleStreet and find the Editors and listen to their new record!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On the Road with Elliot Vol 1

Ever wonder what it must be like to live on the road as a traveling musician? From living in a van to a big fat tour bus? From selling out clubs, to playing in front of a crowd who has no idea who you are, or taking the stage at Madison Square Garden? Well my good friend Elliot Jacobson, who drums for the likes of Jenny Owen Youngs, Ingrid Michaelson and April Smith can tell you. Elliot will be a special road corespondent for the blog and I am proud to have him on board to answer these questions and give us an insight on what it is like being on the road, away from family and living a vagabond rock star life. In the first of many volumes, this first entry will be a Q&A between Elliot and I to introduce the idea and himself to us as he is on the road with Ingird Michaelson. Take a look at my interview with Elliot below and stay tuned as Elliot will be bringing us more insight in the weeks ahead.

How is life on the road?
Life on the road is fun but requires tons of energy. We're very happy doing what we love, so that keeps us energized even when we're running on fumes. Our laptops are essential in keeping up on the real world. Twitter, Gmail, etc.

What are the ups and downs from being in a van/bus/car and traveling around?
E: We share a little mantra and it goes like this "The highs are high and the lows are low." The typical "highs" are playing to full houses and feeding off the positive energy of the crowds. Doing a great job and playing a great show makes you feel like you're on top of the world. Also, I personally love trying new food and seek as many sites as I can. We're all very close friends in this band, so spending down time together is always very uplifting and satisfying. It's difficult for me to complain from the position I'm in, but the standard "lows" are missing loved ones, getting little sleep, moving gear AFTER shows, and bad sound on stage in our monitors. It happens from time to time.

Is it weird to go and play such big places with one artist and then smaller places with others?
E: I like the contrast. It shouldn't matter how large or small the venue is if you're happy doing what you're doing. Sometimes bigger does not mean better.

What is the best thing about being on stage?
E: The best thing for me is the element of unpredictability that comes with our live shows. We try to get the crowd involved. Every night is different.

What do you hope to achieve while playing for these women?
E: I hope we inspire some people and show everyone a good time. More importantly, I hope every night we win over that guy in the audience who came just because his girlfriend dragged him.

Do you play on studio recordings with the gals?
E: I play on the recordings. Most of which are produced by Dan Romer. I played most of Girls and Boys with one foot in a hard cast. I have been with Ingrid since before I graduated college. I started recording and performing with Bess Rogers on her solo work about two years ago. I'm on her latest release, "The Travel Back EP. I just did a recording with Allie Moss that will probably be released soon. I also play with Jenny Owen Youngs when my schedule permits, and record and perform with April Smith and the Great Picture show.

Who is better to tour with, its cool, no one will find out...
E: I hate them all equally.

If there was one thing you could take on the road with you, what would it be?
E: One thing? my girlfriend. Two things? My girlfriend and our imaginary dog.

Ever have the Almost Famous moment on the bus screaming and yelling, then singing "Tiny Dancer"?
E: Kind of. We like walking to our bus when there's a line of people around the venue and scalpers come up to us and ask if we need tickets. I'm flattered when people ask for autographs. It's very surreal.

How did you get hooked up playing for these girls?
E: I went to college on Staten Island and met Ingrid because she's from/was still living there at the time. We rehearsed twice and then went in the studio with our bassist Chris Kuffner and recorded "Slow the Rain". I met Bess through Chris Kuffner. Chris and Bess went to college together at Purchase. Bess joined the band after we went through a few guitar players. Allie, a songwriter from New Jersey, offered to play in the band "temporarily".

Granted you are touring with sensitive women and living like gypsies, but does it ever get crazy after shows? The old Rock and Roll clichés and after parties?
E: Don't be fooled by the sweet voices and sensitive music; Ingrid, Bess and Allie are forces of nature. They're each self sufficient and incredibly strong individuals. Aside from all of the endless hookers, drugs, we're all pretty tame. Right now we're watching LOST from Season 1 on the bus. We drink Hot Toddies, go grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. We make videos and post them on Youtube and Tumblr blogs. Occasionally we wind down after a show by smoking Hookah with shisha and drinking some local beers.

Special thanks to Elliot and Sarah Rubenstein for the interview.

Flaming Lips on Conan

The Flaming Lips never disappoint live, ever! One of those bands that just do not care what venue or outlet it is, they will amaze and make you wonder. Take a look at the band on Tonight Show from last night and prepare to be in awe.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Live Review - Violent SoHo @ Webster Hall

It is not often that one goes to a concert just to check out the opening act. In fact it almost never happens, but the Australian post grunge quartet of Violent SoHo, who are making waves in their native country and across the globe are on their first official US tour in support of Built to Spill, The Ravonettes and Dinosaur Jr. Last night was one of the first stops on the Built to Spill leg for the boys and the first of four nights in New York City. I have been hearing a buzz about Violent SoHo for months after I was introduced to the band from Patience Hodgson of The Grates and I loved what I herd and kept an eye out for the band. It is not everyday that a band from Australia comes to the US, so I was able to get a couple passes to the gig last night and was blown away. From the second the band walked on stage, they looked like Mudhoney and from the first note I felt as if I was transported to Seattle circa 1991 at the height of the grunge era. I loved every second of it! Their songs are loud, in fact very loud, fast and most under three minutes therefore the 30 minutes the band was on stage, they were on fire. The small amount of people inside Webster Hall were really into the band with most, if not all, never hearing of them before.

After the show I had the opportunity to speak with singer Luke Boerdom after being introduced by the band's rep, Luke was so grateful to be playing and was thrilled to have had such a good response from the crowd. When I asked him what it was like touring with Built to Spill he said "Its a dream, they are huge and very well respected where we come from, so to be opening for them is just awesome. They are great guys, lending us gear, giving us beer, letting us eat their food. It's been pretty awesome." Such a humble guy and one would never guess after he was just screaming his lungs out on stage. Violent SoHo are a band not to be missed, you know the style of music because you grew up with it, no matter how artsy rock and roll is these days, they still take you back to a place you still love and keep the momentum alive.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I do a full on interview with Luke. Special thanks to Luke and Nicole Garvey for everything.

Grizzly Bear on Conan

Grizzly Bear hit up Conan last night to perform "Two Weeks," off the band's highly praised Veckatamist. Veckatamist will receive a deluxe treatment next month as it is reissued with a second disc of bonus studio out takes.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

EXCLUSIVE! Robots in Disguise INTV!!

Before Lady Gaga was dressing up in avaunt-Gard outfits and singing about sexuality over a dance beat, England's dynamic duo of Robots in Disguise were doing that before Lady made the world go Gaga. The British electro duo, now based in Berlin, got their start on BBC comedy series The Might Boosh, which finally made its way onto DVD in the US this past week. Robots in Disguise are comprised of two clever females; Sue Denim and Dee Plume. These spunky and sexy two women have taken Europe by storm with their crazy live sets and wicked sound, I had the chance to speak to the ladies as we discussed their style and sound, The Mighty Boosh, recording and a possible fashion line. Take a look at my interview with Robots in Disguise below..

What have Robots in Disguise been up to lately? It has been rather quiet on the RiD front in 2009.
: We are in the tiny live room of Jon Marsh from The Beloved (smash hit UK dance act of the 90s!) writing songs for album 4.

You were originally a band from Liverpool and are now based in Berlin. Has the change of cities and countries changed you style and sound?
Sue: We're based back in London again now. Well obviously we went from sounding like the Beatles to sounding like Peaches with the move from Liverpool to Berlin.. ok yeh I'm joking. We still sound like us but yes I guess the different places do have an influence. We wrote a song mentioning Liverpool on the first album (Boys), we've sung about London (Outdoors, Postcards From), and Berlin (I Live In Berlin). Album 4 will be back to the London Robots In Disguise sound.

What has England and Germany offered you creatively that other places have not?
Berlin offered us the sauna on the Spree which has yet to be matched anywhere else. Getting real hot and sweaty helps the creative juices flow. That is if you don't fall asleep.

Sexuality and being provocative have always been a staple in your style and sound, explain why this is?
Sue: Because we are hot bitches! Ha ha. I don't know. We're just human, and sexual of course. Sex and sexuality is of huge importance in life. Some of the provocation is just incidental, some of it deliberate.

You seemed to have been one of the first female fronted girl groups of this decade to use sexuality and simply being yourself in what you do. With so many other's now like Lady Gaga and La Roux, how do you feel about them casting a shadow over what you were doing first?
: I don't really think about it except occasionally when people say 'Haven't you noticed Lady Gaga's make up looks like yours did 5 years ago' then I'm like 'Oh yeh' .. but because we're not doing that right now it is totally irrelevant and anyway their music is really different from us. They're women out there in a man's world, so good for them! Solo female artists are not really in the same arena as us - we are trying to corner the 'girl gang' end of the market.

Who came up with the idea for the cover of your last record, "We're in the Music Biz?" What seems to be you ladies innocently wearing dress shirts and ties is certainly not the case, it is you nude wearing perfect body paint. Did you ever think anyone would notice? Were you ever afraid of being censored?
Sue: We came up with it of course! We wanted to do something cheeky and also a little aggressive, and to make a statement about women in the BIZ (note the body painting is the uniform worn by your average boy indie group). We were inspired by the Slits album cover for Cut. We also happened to find a really good body painting artist in Berlin so that helped. Talking of whether people notice or not, it is really a double take thing. The evening after we'd done the shoot, we went out to White Trash in Berlin and walked down the street and were in the club 'dressed' like that. It was very funny.

Your image is very unique and elaborate, have you ever thought of starting your own fashion line?
Sue: We were talking about this recently in fact. Watch this space!

You got your start from the British Television show The Mighty Boosh. Have you ever thought about returning to TV?
Sue: Yes, we've thought about it. There was a reality-cum-fantasy TV show discussed with MTV at one point. Maybe we'll do a kind of musical Ab Fab in 20 years.

When can the US expect RiD to land and invade?
Sue: Maybe next year? I really don't know, but we wanna!!!!!!!

DEE: 2010! Yes siree we are gonna rule the school (the school being the US of A) with our totally amaze-zing new record ;)

Video for "Sex Has Made me Stupid" (Above) / Video for "The Tears" (Below)

Special thanks to Robots in Disguise and Rob at Robot Control for the interview!

Temple of the Dog Reunite! (sorta)

Just before Pearl Jam formed, members Eddie Vedder, Stone Gassard, Mike McCready and Jeff Ament were in a band with Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell and drummer Matt Cameron (who would later join Pearl Jam in 1999) called Temple of the Dog. The band originally formed in Seattle in the late 80's as a tribute to late Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood. Last week at Pearl Jam's show in LA, Cornell came up on stage to perform the Temple of the Dog tracks "Hunger Strike," and "Reach Down." It was also a special night sparking more Soundgarden reunion rumors as Garden members Kim Thayil and Ben Shepard were in the audience to watch Cornell and Cameron's band. Take a look at the video below...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Live Review - The Bravery @ Terminal 5

It was a homecoming for the Lower East Side electro rockers as they made their way up to Hell's Kitchen for a night of fun and fury. The Bravery are on the road to promote their forthcoming third record, Stir the Blood, which hits stores in November. The dapper dressed rockers took the stage and jammed for a little over an hour, right away as singer Sam Endicott started singing I knew there was something off with his voice. Endicott later revealed to the audience that he was suffering from swine flu and was in the hospital all day taking cortisone shots in order to play his hometown. While the band's front man was out of sorts, yet still entertaining, the band themselves were completely on point. You would have had no idea you were at a live concert with how perfect they sounded. The Bravery played songs mostly from their 2004 debut and the catchier tunes from their last record The Sun and the Moon. Songs like "Believe," "Time Won't Let Me Go," and "Every Word From Your Mouth is a Knife in my Ear," had the crowd going crazy. Even a mix of new tracks like "Hatefuck," and "Slow Poison" were gaining a lot of praise, but the biggest applause came from the band's first single "An Honest Mistake." Nothing, not even H1N1 that has the world upside down could stop The Bravery from playing New York and the fans were very appreciative of their great effort.
Opening the show was St. Louis band Living Things and a new act from Virginia, The Dusty's. Living Things, who hit it big in 2005 with the single "Bom Bom Bom," looked like Russel Brand fronting The Ramones but had a great set. Totally engaging the audience and sounded very tight and fun to watch. The Dusty's had it difficult being the odd men out of the bands, but still held their own. A mix of garage and punk, The Dusty's will be an act that will gain attention as they get used to the road more and one to keep an eye out on.

Quick News

The Cribs who just released their latest record Ignore the Ignorant, with Smiths and sometimes Modest Mouse guitarist Johnny Marr, seems that Marr will stick around and do another record with the British band. They will hit the studio next year.

Since the demise of Oasis, Liam Gallagher has finally spoken about about the band's dissolve. Telling the Times UK, Liam said "Oasis is no longer. I think we all know that. So that’s done.” “Without a doubt. And it’s a shame but that’s life. We had a good run at it.” Liam, who currently owns fashion label Pretty Green Clothing, says he will still be making music. Liam said “I’ll be doing music to the day I die.”

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch has given an update to fans about his cancer treatment since being diagnosed with the disease in July. Yauch told fans via e-mail that "I'm feeling healthy, strong and hopeful that I've beaten this thing, but of course time will tell." Yauch, a devote Buddist, traveled to India to receive treatments and heal. Yauch told fans that "I'm taking Tibetan medicine and at the recommendation of the Tibetan doctors I've been eating a vegan/organic diet, surprisingly enough was harder to do in India than it is now that I'm back home." Due to Yauch's cancer, the Beastie Boys were forced to cancel all major headlining festival dates such as Lollpalooza, All Points West and Austin City Limits as well as postpone the release of their forthcoming album Hot Sauce Committee Part 1. Adam believes the album may drop in the first half of next year.

Seminal DC post-hardcore band Jawbox will stage a reunion for the first time in over a decade on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in December.

NERD have added a fourth member to the funk/ hip-hop band. Pharell and the boys welcomed female singer Rhea to the band. NERD's new album Instant Gratification comes out next year.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Awesome & Disturbing Videos

I don't know what has been in the musical water the past couple weeks, but some very disturbing - yet awesome, music video's have emerged. From The Bravery to Dead Weather to Depeche Mode, these video's are ones that will have you turning away from the screen and coming back for more. In a dying media platform, these bands really know how to make you look forward to watching something that at one point was a way to make or break an artist.

Here is the video for The Bravery's new single "Hatefuck," it was directed by Bravery bassist Mike Dirt. Take a look..

The Bravery - "Hatefuck" from the hassle on Vimeo.

This next one comes from Jack White's new outfit Dead Weather for their latest single "I Cut Like a Buffalo". It was directed by Mr. White himself..

This final one is from Depeche Mode. The legendary band has not failed on a single video this year and has made the most interesting, if not best videos all year long. Their latest for "Hole to Feed," is another visual wonder..
Depeche Mode - Hole To Feed

Sunday, October 4, 2009

EXCLUSIVE! Franz Nicolay of Hold Steady INTV!!

Franz Nicolay is not just your average musician. He is a wanderer, a gypsy and a creative force that is not to be overlooked. Nicolay, who is better known as the handsomely mustached piano player for The Hold Steady, has been in a number of bands playing a number of different styles of music. From the indie rock outfit of World/Inferno Friendship Society to the Gypsy punk band Guignol to his solo material that is getting him rave reviews. Of all the bands he has played with and songs he has played on, Franz has one key to his success--having fun. His solo debut Major General, was released earlier this year, and is currently prepping a book of short stories, plus his constant touring schedule with Hold Steady, Franz shows no signs of stopping. Just before he went off to the UK with Hold Steady for a massive tour, that will also see him play a slew of solo dates, I had the opportunity to speak to the man behind the keys and sassy mustache. Take a look at my interview with Mr. Franz Nicolay below...

As a musician in Brooklyn, what kind of effect has New York City had on your music?

There are many cities with good, even great, music scenes; but New York is one of the few that has many great scenes existing simultaneously and independently - so I can be, for example, a part of the new-music scene with Anti-Social Music, the Balkan thing with Guignol, and the punk scene with World/Inferno with virtually no crossover - but there are all kinds of ambitious musicians doing similar things, so each of us has a broad palette of sounds and styles at our fingertips.

The make up of the band is so diverse; do you think the Hold Steady is the perfect symbol that New York is a melting pot?

I would disagree with that; the Hold Steady is a pretty homogenous group personally and musically: upper Midwest dudes who like Budweiser and classic rock. Then I'm the wild card.

From World / Inferno Friendship Society to Hold Steady to Guignol and your solo work, each act has a different style and sound. How do you find the balance from playing one type of music to another?

I prefer to think of it as finding the connections: all four projects share a quality I think of as "intelligent hedonism"; a genuine message and deep content swaddled in populist entertainment.

The Hold Steady has brought you to some pretty great heights, from selling out every show you play to opening for The Rolling Stones. What has your experience been like playing in that band? What has your favorite / proudest moment been with them?

I'm far better at playing in the keys of A, D, and E than ever before. I've learned to appreciate the Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top catalogues, but not Led Zeppelin. I know infinitely more lawyers than I used to, since previously I knew zero lawyers. I can parallel-park a 14-foot box truck and have a favorite all-you-can-eat Thai buffet in Islington.

You didn’t play on the Hold Steady’s debut, Hold Steady Almost Killed Me, was it odd joining up with the band to record Separation Sunday? Was it supposed to be a one album deal and then turned into a beautiful friendship?

I did play on Almost Killed Me, as a guest on three songs. After that, I joined them in live shows for those songs for a year or so. Then Tad said, "Hey, we're starting work on a new record, do you want to work on some songs with me?" Then a month or so later, "Well, do you just want to join the band?" At the time, I was already in three bands, so what's one more?

What was the need to do a solo record?

I write a lot of songs, and not all of them find a home right away. And sometimes I get offers to do shows and don't feel like wrangling a bunch of other musicians...

You called your solo debut, Major General, is this in reference to someone or something?

I'm the very model of a modern major general.

Will there be more solo ventures in the future?

Yes, I have a 10" vinyl EP called St. Sebastian of the Short Stage coming out on Team Science Records at the end of September; it includes a cover of Jonathan Richman's "New England" I did with the Dresden Dolls; also the world's first mariachi-disco tribute to a retired superhero.

Is it a bit odd going from bigger clubs and festivals with Hold Steady then going to smaller places opening for certain artists on your own?

Not at all - variety is the spice and all that. Big clubs make you feel like a rock star but it's hard to perform as well when you can't smell the sweat of strangers.

Does anyone from any of the plethora of bands you have worked with guest on stage with you or on your album?

Yes - Brian Viglione from the Dresden Dolls plays drums; from World/Inferno, Yula Be'eri (bass) and Peter Hess (also of Balkan Beat Box and Slavic Soul Party; Jared Scott, formerly of Demander plays guitar, and Jack Terricloth of World/Inferno wrote lyrics on two songs.

You have lent a hand arranging music for various bands. How did you end up working with Australian punkers The Living End?

John Agnello, who produced Boys & Girls In America and Stay Positive and mixed Major General, was producing their record and asked me. The Living End have very attractive guitars.

Burning Question: Every time I see you on stage you are throwing back a bottle of wine. What kind of vino are you drinking?

Riojas and malbecs preferred; anything with a tempranillo grape. Spicy!

Franz Nicolay video for "This World is an Open Door" (Above) / The Hold Steady "Stay Positive" video (Below)

Hold Steady Video for "Stuck Between Stations" (Below)

Special thanks to Franz Nicolay for the interview!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Julian Casablancas Tracklisting

As Strokes front man Julian Casablancas readies his solo debut, Phrazes for the Young, which is coming out at the end of the month. He has reveled the track listing to the album, take a look..

'Out Of The Blue'
'Left And Right in the Dark'
'11th Dimension'
'4 Chords Of The Apocalypse'
'Ludlow St'
'River Of Brakelights'

Editors on Jools Holland

One of my favorite bands to emerge this decade and one of England's finest, The Editors, appeared on Later...with Jools Holland back in the UK last week to promote their forthcoming album In This Light and On This Evening. Take a look as the band fires off the single "Papillion" and the new song "Raw Meat = Blood Drool."

Rising Artist - Yeah You's

Incredibly cleaver and catchy, the English pop-rock duo Yeah You's are a band that will have you humming their songs all day. Comprised of Nick Ingram and Mike Kintish, the duo met in London when Ingram auditioned for a play that Kintish had written. The two hit it off and started writing cleaver pop tunes and eventually caught the attention of Island Records. As the band released their debut earlier this year, Yeah You's are ready for you to listen and listen with your feet tapping and head bobbing.

Movie of the Month - Seven

After all these years, no matter how many times I have seen this film, it is still one of the best psychological thrillers ever. The 1995 thriller, Seven, director David Fincher (Zodiac, Fight Club) made his biggest splash in the film making world with this classic. Fincher. Starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwynth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey, Seven is the story of a young detective (Pitt) and a vet on the force (Freeman) who team up to solve a string of murders based around the seven deadly sins. Fincher, who was troubled with the business after being frustrated and bothered during the filming of Alien 3, didn't read this script for almost a year and a half. After reading the script and being blown away by the idea of a connect-the-dot style thriller, not a who-done-it? Being inspired by The Exorcist, Fincher brought a level of fright, violence and horror when crafting this piece. Seven is film that will keep you guessing and going for its 128 minute run and only leave you begging for more. As the Halloween season approaches this month, Seven is one to see and revisit.

Underrated Classic-U2 "October"

The idea, of course, to showcase this record this month was fitting for the title of the album. However, there is much more to it. Refusing to submit to the sophomore slump, the Irish quartet know as U2, proved they can still roll out hits before they started singing anthems. October, the bands second album was released in 1981 made the band crack emotionally and internally. U2 started off as a punk band that were not chanting about rebellion, but about holding on to innocence. October was the record that saw them holding on to their innocence with all they had left, dabbling strongly in religion and trying to live up to the hype and pressure of showing they could do more that just "I Will Follow." In the studio with producer Steve Lillywhite, Bono would be making up lyrics as went along. The band was in turmoil as bassist Adam Clayton wanted to party and live the rock and roll lifestyle, while the others attended scripture classes and wanted to be one with God; this was all featured on songs like "Gloria," "With a Shout (Jerusalem)" and "Rejoice." Though the album didn't make much of splash in the US, it did fairly well in the UK and led to what would be War, the bands first international success. October is a record that is gloomy as it is dreamy, heavy as it is light, remembered as it is much forgotten.