Thursday, April 29, 2010
There is something different about my favorite Brooklyn band’s fifth record. Gone of course is Franz Nicolay tickeling the ivories like Ray Charles and his showmanship during the band’s live sets. However, Heaven is Whenever is filled with less anthems and more heart, not that they ever lacked heart, but this is much more of an introspective record and sound for a band that is known for having their audience’s throw their arms in the air and screaming each word – when they are just sitting in their car or enjoying the record at home. What stays constant through this record and all Hold Steady records are Craig Finn’s dense lyrics, the man is the Jack Kerouac of songwriting. What is also gone are the stories of the band’s central characters Christian, Gideon, and Charlemagne; which for the first time marks the band not doing a concept record. Yet, the concept is clear The Hold Steady maybe a different band now but still a very forceful one.
FINAL GRADE: A
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - I Learned the Hard Way
Over the past few years, Sharon Jones has taught us a few things, one of them is, she is a not a person to fuck with. Plain and simple. This former employee of Ryker's Island has pretty thick skin and can pretty much withstand anything in the face of adversity. Jones and her Dap Kings band have brought funk and soul back to the streets of New York and around the world and on her latest, I Learned the Hard Way, her thick skin is a backbone of perseverance and confidence over a record of heart break, loss and how to get back up again.
FINAL GRADE: B
Dillinger Escape Plane - Option Paralysis
This New Jersey technical math metal militia is back at it again. Proving to be one of the most brutal bands and live shows around, no wonder they boast fans from everyone from Trent Reznor to Daryl Palumbo to Geoff Rickley. Option Paralysis is their latest adventure into making their audience's ear's bleed, but they do it with suck charisma and clarity that they maybe a heavy band, but can appeal to so many.
FINAL GRADE: B
Jakob Dylan - Women and Country
Former Wallflower and son of music's greatest lyricist tries to step out of the shadow that has plagued him for so long. It is a blessing and curse to be the son of Bob Dylan, why because everything you do, people will compare you to him - much like I am doing now. It is also harder to break away from that after you were in a successful band and then your solo work gets compared to that - again, what I am doing now. But for Dylan, he does not care what you think of him, and Women and Country proves why. Recruiting the help of Oscar winner T. Bone Burnett to produce this record and getting vocal help from the lovely Neko Case, Dylan has crafted a country - folk - almost bluegrass record that is far from anything he has done before. Something, that even his biggest critics (me) will enjoy.
FINAL GRADE: B-
Reni Lane - Ready
A collaborator of New York artist Joseph Arthur, Reni Lane steps into her own spotlight and is ready for her close up. This alternative folk artist makes her major label debut with Ready via Universal Motown. Yet, before the album was released she was already deemed by VH1 and several music outlets as "someone to watch in 2010," and that she is. Her debut is a nice one two punch of great lyrics and catchy hooks. A worthwhile record to listen to.
FINAL GRADE: B-
LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
The indie dance party craze set by LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy has spun out of control since the release of his band's first single "Daft Punk is Playing at my House." Always a party starter, Murphy and Co. know how to have fun, there is no doubt about that. However, what I have noticed with this band is that live they are incredible and are an act to truly be witnessed but on record, it tends to fail to capture the intensity and raucous of their live sets. This is Happening arrived which much hype and I was a bit unimpressed.
FINAL GRADE: C
We Have Band - WHB
These London electro rockers have been cranking out remixes of some of our favorites for years across the pond, now they finally capture their own originality on wax. WHB is a fun album but the beats tend to get a bit redundant and not as fresh as their remixes.
FINAL GRADE: C
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Gorillaz - Stylo|
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Video for "Alcoholic's Unanimous" (Above) / Video for "Formed a Band" (Below)
Video for "Under my Skin" (Above) / Video for "Oh My" (Below)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
2010 is shaping up to be a stellar year in music and we are only four months in, with Portugal The Man’s American Ghetto being my top choice at the moment, if I had to pick a number two it would be Jonsi from Sigur Ros’ solo debut. Done in dexterity all by himself, the Sigur Ros frontman displays the power and force of a male Bjork. He is as crafty, creative and dissimilar as she is and yet, can still manage to toss his own spin on things. Go is a severe departure from his main band, but still manages to be as beautiful and haunting anything in the Sigur Ros catalogue, just way more upbeat…oh, and it’s mostly in English not in his usual and native Icelandic language.
FINAL GRADE: A+
Codeine Velvet Club
From one side project to another, Fratelli’s frontman Jon Fratelli or as he is going by his real name Jon Lawler teams up with a fellow Glasgow native Lou Hickey in the debut from these rockers. This record is a ton of fun to listen to, it’s basically a vaudeville-glam version of The Fratellis, but with much more arrangements rather than a straight garage/basic sound.
FINAL GRADE: B+
Sade – Solider of Love
10 years after her last record, the woman with vocals as smooth as silk returns with a record of impressive lyrics and musical achievements. She may have kept for fans waiting for a decade, but the wait was worth it, Soldier of Love is a dramatic album from start to finish. Though nothing extremely new in Sade’s sound, she still is at the top of her game.
FINAL GRADE: B+
The follow up to her 2008 electronic and tremendous release New Amerykah Vol 1, Badu brings it back to the neo-soul vibe that got people’s attention when she first arrived more than a decade ago. With the very smart promotion of releasing the controversial video for “Window Seat,” it created a buzz about this album and was backed up by the music. After a listen you will be hooked.
FINAL GRADE: B+
When this band arrived, no one herd anything like them before. It was emo-prog with a guy that sounded like Getty Lee from Rush but looked like Benicio Del Toro in The Wolfman. After their first two albums, The Second Stage Turbine Blade & the brilliant In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3, I felt like the band lost a bit. It was disclosed that the idea behind the band’s music was comic book story line and ever since, the band has been making records to fit the story and shred along the way. Don’t get me wrong, these guys can rock, but it was not as interesting as it once was…until now. Year of the Black Rainbow is a nice return to form and a prequel for the band, indeed the story being created by the band began on their first album, it was only the second part of the story (confused, yeah me too). Regardless, Year of the Black Rainbow is apparently where the story begins and this review ends.
FINAL GRADE: B
Brasstronaut - Mt. Chimaera
This Vancouver rock-jazz-pop fusion finally releases their debut in 2010. Since forming in 2007, Brasstronaut have been hitting the festival circuit in North America hard and have gained a massive following along the way. Mt. Chimaera, displays the band’s style and sound vividly but still makes it feel as if it is better seeing them live.
FINAL GRADE: C+
Audio Bully’s – Higher than the Eiffel
This British DJ duo had my attention from the get go in 2005, yet it has been rather quiet on the Audio Bully’s front for quite sometime, glad that has all changed. Higher than the Eiffel, the band’s third record, finds the electro hooligans in their usual suits, however there is nothing very thrilling about what is coming from these lads, possibly due to the major electronic movement in music now with acts like Justice, Miike Snow, Major Lazer, MSTRKRFT and others, Audio Bully’s are now lost in the iPod shuffle of things.
FINAL GRADE: C
MGMT – Congratulations
What. The. Fuck?!
FINAL GRADE: C-
Take a look at this EPK put together to celebrate recent Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's Iggy and the Stooges as they re release their 1973 punk masterpiece Raw Power to a special two disc album Legacy Edition set. Hear what Iggy Pop and the rest of the remaining Stooges, Chrissy Hyde of the Pretenders, members of Blondie as well as friends of this site Henry Rollins, Johnny Marr discuss the meaning of Raw Power!
While on the start of his first stand up tour ever (hard to believe, I know) Conan O'Brien broke out a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" at a stop in Eugene, Oregon. Take a look.
Fun Fact: Conan's first musical guest on Late Night was Radiohead, Radiohead's first American TV Broadcast was on Late Night when they played "Creep."
Sunday, April 11, 2010
"This desperation, dislocation
Revelation, in temptation
Let it go and so to find away"
Sum up this band to a tee. Midnight Masses are a band that has been creating a buzz in every scene possible, from touring with acts like Thursday to ..And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Midnight Masses have created a name for themselves outside their native Brooklyn. The band's music is a combination of rock and soul. As they released their debut EP last fall, Rapture Ready, I Gazed at the Body, an EP filled with dark lyrics of the afterlife and dealing with the passing of a loved one and the hope that one yearns for after, Midnight Masses are here to prove their worth and why they are one of the most important bands coming out of the popular New York borough. I had the opportunity to speak to singer and lyricist, Autry Rene Fulbright, as we discussed the band's sound and style, live shows and what goes on next. Take a look at my interview with the charismatic Fulbright below..
Your music comes from pretty dark places, where does it initially get evoked?
AF: Death is a pretty useful source for the songs. I'd say it leans towards the more abstract and metaphorical sense now than the largely literal way I wrote about death at first. It's about change and the unknown.
Your style and sound is so unique. Who are some of your biggest influences?
AF: Thanks. I don't think what we're doing is unique because I feel I'm pretty blatant with my references: Nick Cave, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Bad Religion, Fugazi, Billie Holiday, Grace Slick, Spiritualized, Sugarcubes, Make-up, Murder City Devils, Johnny Cash, etc.
The lyrics to all of the songs read like poetry, how is the songwriting process done for you guys. Is it lyrics first then the beat, or vise-versa or does the magic just happen?
AF: There's no set way to write. Some lyrics I wrote a year ago made their way into songs while some music we wrote still has nothing to it. It just depends on commitment to an idea. Songs can fizzle out just like romantic relationships often do.
You just released the digital EP “Rapture Ready, I Gazed at the Body.” Is a full length due soon?
AF: I think we'll be done with a debut LP soon enough. Maybe spring? I don't know when it would come out. I'm a little anxious to get it out of the way to see if there's anything left after that. Another EP could likely come sooner-ish.
Midnight Masses hails from Brooklyn which is going through a special scene right now, so many bands and acts are coming out of that borough. How does Midnight Masses differ from every other Brooklyn band?
AF: The same way we're different from any band from any scene or city- our specific members and our individual life/musical experience. Every band is different. Hopefully we play to our individual strengths and group dynamic.
It has been said TV on the Radio has had a big impact on your musical career, what was it like working with TV member Gerard Smith?
AF: That band is full of incredibly talented, smart, funny, generous people. I had no idea what an amazing producer Gerard was. He's really passionate. He has a specific way of approaching the music and encouraging us to be a better band.
I saw you open for Thursday and Far at Bowery Ballroom and was blown out of my skin. You guys were a complete sucker-punch and I had no idea what to expect. The rest of the crowd did not either. Was it difficult playing those shows since those were more “Screamo” fans and not one’s that would take to your music?
AF: ctually the Thursday tour was the best touring reception we've had. Lots of young kids really excited about music. I definitely want to do it again. I don't think we have a scene or genre we're playing into - I'm up for anything.
What was it like being on tour with Thursday and the newly reunited Far? Did you get any writing tips from Geoff Rickley and Jonah Matranga?
AF: Geoff is inspiring with his stage presence and positivity. He's a friend so it's great playing with all those dudes. We only played with Far once and I didn't listen to them before or at the show. I remember they didn't like sharing a dressing room
Where does Midnight Masses go from here?
AF: Hopefully more records and touring. We're an open book.
Video for "Preacher's Son" (Above) / Midnight Masses Daytrotter Session (Below)
Special thanks to Autry and Alexandra Comito for this interview!
The Specials 2010: Ska-little too late?
By Rob Nieto
I never trusted Mark Bergamini’s taste in music. Sure, he was my best friend growing up and for several years we were inseparable. But I could never wrap my head around the fact that his favorite singer was Elvis Presley.
Back in 1979, “The King” was far past his ass-kicking prime (In all fairness, he had just passed two years earlier). So when Mark tried to sell me on The Specials, a new band he had a just snagged a cassette of, I found it hard to swallow. “What’s so special about them”, I blurted rather dorkily. Sadly, I wouldn’t learn of my fatal error in musical taste for another several years.
By then The Specials (or The Special AKA, depending on how the wind was blowing that day) had already arrived in the U.S. -- care of a nascent TV oddity known as MTV, which delivered unto an unsuspecting audience not only a new band but a whole new sound. Listening to “Message to you Rudy” from the 1979 disc simply titled Specials was a musical Rosetta Stone. I was blown away by the heart-skipping fusion of sneaker-stomping ska puréed with a punk-laden drive that sneered at your senses daring you to listen.
Formed by mates Jerry Dammers, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter in Conventry, England, The Specials featured lead singer Terry Hall, Neville Staple on backing vocals and percussion, “Roddy Radiation” Byers on lead guitar, “Sir” Horace Panter on bass, and John Bradbury on drums. Festooned in pork pie hats, the mod styled suitors successfully delivered their brand of music while tempering it with a sense of social responsibility. A good example of this was “Ghost Town” which soared to # 1 on the U.K. charts. It’s melancholy beat was not only catchy; it drove home the desperation felt by the jobless masses in England at the time.
Sadly after a string of hits - and much fewer misses - the band folded up shop in 1981. If you blinked you caught Staple, Golding and Hall reform in the Ska/Pop band Fun Boy Three. Their remake of the Go-Go’s classic “Our Lips are Sealed” was a fave and was co-written by Go-Go Jane Wiedlen and FB3’s Terry Hall. (Side Note: another “must listen” from the period, "The Lunatics [Have Taken Over the Asylum]".)
Speed forward 3 decades. Sadly, I’m older, not as slender nor near as cool.
But The Specials are back! Many of the original members have reformed forging forward with a string of dates, including a key spot at Coachella this month and a stop on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on tap for mid April (bonus cool points for the SNL alum!) But they’ve done so without the help of songwriter/keyboardist Dammers, who is reportedly in a tiff with his former band mates. Dammers insists he was “kicked out” of the band and will not be a part of the reunion. Meantime the remaining Specials say they hold no grudge against him. “The door is always open” say Dammers’ ex-mates. Let’s hope he decides to walk through.
So what’s changed in the 30 years since they last took stage? A quick check of the way back machine -- 1980: Walkmans & Ray Bans. 2010? = iPods & J. Crew.
So are the once-irreverent social shakers as relevant today as they were 3 decades ago?” You don’t have to turn the pages of the Wall Street Journal to see that nearly one in ten of us are out of work. While we all shouted they lyrics to “Rat Race” at our TV’s, few of us heeded the warning of what was yet to come in our not-to-distant future. And with thousands of foreclosed homes sitting empty across the U.S., “Ghost Town” has taken on a whole new meaning.
While I won’t make the trip to Coachella, (yeah, you try and convince my wife), I look forward to hearing young voices strain to hit the high notes on the chorus of “Message to You Rudy”.
As for Mark Bergamini, we lost touch after I got out of high school. But I will say this. He was right about The Specials. Long live The King!
I didn’t think she’d be so sunny... after all, this is the woman who wrote: “A Kiss with a Fist is Better Than None.” And yet there she was – like a giddy schoolgirl – bouncing around on stage at Terminal 5 – in awe of her surroundings: “This place is huge!”
Florence made her entrance with long loping strides in 10 inch heels and what can only be described as a swamp thing costume: a cape that was part fake Halloween cobweb part Hawaiian Lei explosion. She twirled the thing around her head and draped it over various instruments (which HAD to have been annoying for their owners) and boy was she happy - not that I’m complaining… it makes a refreshing change.
She sure loves her drums. At one point four of the 6 member troupe were drumming – including Flo - who beat her own personal floor tom (which was decorated with fake flowers????) mercilessly – I’m not sure what it added to the show musically but I guess it gave her something to do during the instrumental bits. Then there was the HARP – which I was a bit dubious of when I saw it there on stage before the show. It screamed GIMMICK - but quickly proved to be the perfect compliment to her haunting wail. A few songs in, she ditched the heels and the show kicked into high gear. Her voice soared above the music – a neat trick of expert sound mixing - after all that’s why we came – to hear that enchanting voice – and Florence did not disappoint.
Colum Ward is a contributing writer to With This I Think I'm Officially a Yuppie. This concert took place on April 9.