Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quick Spins

The Hold SteadyHeaven Is Whenever
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

Quick News

The Wombats are hard at work on album number two, in a recent video interview with BBC radio DJ Zane Lowe, the band are held up in a Liverpool studio and promise their latest will be out before years end.

The Kills are “three quarters of the way finished with the [fourth] record," according to a recent interview with singer Alison Mosshart in NME magazine. The singer reveals that after she is done touring with the latest Dead Weather record she will finish out The Kills latest.

The Killers front man Brandon Flowers is set to release a solo record while the band is on hiatus. The band had a mysterious clock counting down to special news to arrive and it hit Thursday afternoon in the form of Flowers doing a solo album. In the meanwhile, drummer Ronnie Vennucci is working a solo record with members of Mumford and Sons, Keane, Noah and The Whale under the name Mt. Desolation. No word yet on when either of these records will arrive.

Trent Reznor is one devious bastard. The Nine Inch Nails main man and his wife Marqueen Maandig set up a cryptic website in which Trent tweeted about, under the name How to Destroy Angels. It seems this is the name of the new band he is forming with his wife, the band will release a six song EP this summer and if the name of the group sounds familiar, it comes from the title of a Coil record of the same name. Reznor is friends with members of Coil.

Gogol Bordello on Fallon



Gogol Bordello brought the Trans-Continental Hustle to Fallon and were amazing as always! Take a look!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Live Review - Gin Wigmore @ Mercury Lounge

She had me at first strum. Walking out on the tiny stage in a tight leather skirt and grabbing the mic stand as if she owned the place, before she sang her first note Gin Wigmore displayed a confidence and swagger that Mick Jagger would have. Gin had something to prove and this woman needed all the confidence to show off her talent, not to mention she was backed by one of the most respected bands of all time - The Cardinals. It was a private show for industry folk, music journalists and fans of the New Zealand singer who were lucky enough to win tickets to the 300 person show in Mercury Lounge.
"I know its a Monday and all, but fuck can't we party?! This is New York right?" She said half way through her set, she maybe from the other side of the world but Gin knows how to get down and get loose just like a New Yorker. Her style is pure rock and soul, her voice is something very raspy - like someone who just smoked two packs before they went on stage, but it is what she does with her talent and on stage antics that has the audience cheering. Gin has this ability to pull you into her performance, not just because of her sexy looks, but because of how she carries herself. She is a talented songwriter, a unique singer and has been fortunate enough to surround herself with some of the best people in the business, after all The Cardinals will not play with just anyone, especially working with Ryan Adams for so long. Yet, it is Gin who they are with now and looks like they are just as attentive to this project as they were with Adams. After seeing her in a small venue like that again, I do not think I will be able to catch her in a place like this famous Lower East Side venue again, why, because big things are about to happen for her, I just hope she is ready. Gin's debut Holy Smoke will be out in the US soon and is currently on tour with Citizen Cope. For more info on Gin take a look at my interview with this New Zealand sensation HERE.



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Sunday, April 25, 2010

EXCLUSIVE! MICKEY LEIGH INTV!

For some, like myself, we grow up watching and wanting to be the charismatic and God-like rock stars we have seen and herd. Front men like Mick and Keith, Lennon and McCartney, Bono, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, the Gallagher Brothers, the list can go on forever. These guys embodied everything it means to be cool and what it is to fit in. When you look at a guy like Joey Ramone, at first glance and first listen, he doesn't sound cool, in fact he sound's like one of us. A regular guy that is clutching onto all the true values of life and wanting to be accepted. However, Joey may not have been the guy we all wanted to be, it was because Joey was the misfit we already were. He symbolized everything what it was to be far from normal and he made it cool, he made it OK to be a little odd and off, at the end of the day, Joey made gave the rest of us a reason to go out and be ourselves.

The history of The Ramones and the story of Joey Ramone is one of the most fascinating stories of rock and roll. This was a band that was born in Queens, raised in the Bowery and created a genre we now know as Punk. Without The Ramones and their drive, who knows where we would be today. During their prime, they were the most unlistened band but one of the most respected on the globe. As the band played on with different line up changes, what most do not know is how bad it was on the inside. How much Joey hated Johnny and how Johnny hated everyone. This is all displayed in the new book, I Slept with Joey Ramone, written by a man who saw the rise, fall and break up of this iconic band, Joey's blood brother Mickey Leigh. Leigh, who fronted his own band's The Rattlers and Birdland, got his start being The Ramone's manager, road crew and is the catalyst for the band forming. I Slept with Joey Ramone is one of the most fascinating and interesting accounts and an eyewitness story to one of the most treasured bands of all time. In this exclusive interview, Mickey and I go in depth to the history of The Ramones, Joey's OCD, the fights between each member, the evolution of songs and Joey's final days. Take a listen to my interview with the legendary Mickey Leigh below...













Special thanks to Mickey, Jessica Roth for the interview. Extra special thanks to Rich D Smoov, Eric Seiden and Jenna Campagna for their technical assistance and of course, The Ramones for an anthology of amazing music.

Jakob Dylan on Letterman



Jakob Dylan along with Neko Case dropped by Letterman this week to perform "Nothing but the Whole Wide World," off his latest - country style record, Women and Country. Take a look.

Quick News

Very sad news, Scottish garage trio The Fratellis have split after only releasing two albums. The band's 2007 acclaimed record Costello Music and 2008's Here We Stand, brought this outfit around the world from various festivals, headlining gigs and even opening for The Police at Giants Stadium. On the band's forum this week Jon Fratelli and Barry Fratelli confirmed they are splitting up. Jon Fratelli aka Jon Lawler is currently supporting his latest band Codeine Velvet Club.

The Roots highly anticipated new album, How I Got Over, will feature a few guests that would seem all too different to be on a Roots album. Singer Joanna Newsom and Jim James of My Morning Jacket are set to appear on Philly's finest latest. How I Got Over is slated to come out sometime this summer.

The late DJ AM will have a cameo in Ironman 2. Director Jon Faverou and the producers of the film felt that AM was a great friend to the cast and crew and wanted to honor his legacy.

Death Cab For Cutie will begin work on their latest album in June. No word yet as to when the record will be released.

DEVO on KIMMEL!



Devo are back and are just as weird and quirky as ever! Take a look at the band performing "What We Do" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Live Review -Hot Chip / The xx @ Terminal 5

There is something really special about 3,000 people coming together in a room and dancing, jumping and acting out as one fluid body. For Hot Chip's audience on Thursday night, it was just that, a very beautiful thing. The world famous British electro act came back to New York City and on the first of two sold out shows, Hot Chip had the earth shaking and the whole crowd salivating for more and more after each song. The special thing about seeing Hot Chip is that what you hear on record IS NOT what you are getting in concert. The band remixes, reinterprets and re images nearly every track they play in concert. Singer Alexis Taylor and his band look like they just stepped out of a science lab and are ready to present the world with a cure for some terminal disease rather than musicians. Playing a fair amount of songs off their last two albums, 2008's Made in the Dark and their latest One Life Stand, it was a nice flow of how each song worked into each other, they even were able to slip in their cover of Shakira's "She Wolf," during the encore. Yet, more importantly the band displayed the power of their live set. Having seen the band in 2008 at the same venue, I knew what to expect, two years ago the band were rising to their peak and were one of the most impressive live acts I have ever witnessed, last night just proved they are only going to get bigger with time.

Opening the show was a band that could have easily headlined the gig, fellow British buzz band The xx. The xx's rise over the past six months has been tremendous, I saw the band on their very first trip to New York City six months ago during the CMJ music marathon and I thought they were good, but nothing to brag about. However, playing to bigger crowds across North America and Europe, the London trio have gotten so confident live, I understand now why people obsess over them. The haunting and delicate beats and melodies are now backed by bigger and better beats brought to us by beat maker Jamie Smith. Bassist and vocalist Oliver Sim is so confident on stage now, give him another year or so, you will see a slew of guys trying to bite his style. This was truly a great bill and a night people will be talking about for a while.

Gorillaz on Colbert

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Gorillaz - Stylo
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

All I can say is...WOW! Gorillaz, The Clash and Bobby Womack all in one room, rocking the Colbert Report audience! Take a look at this fresh version of "Stylo" and get ready to be amazed!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

RIP GURU

Late into Monday night, influential rapper Guru of Gangstarr and Jazz-Mataz succumbed to a long battle with cancer. Guru, who was one half of the influential hip-hop duo, Gangstarr was 43.

Support from Guru's fans and colleagues have been pouring in to his family and on the web, mainly via twitter. Take a look at what some had to say about Guru's passing..

?estLove: in my 10 greatest voices in hip hop. Guru was easily top 5 imo. smooth. velvet. will be missed. RIP Guru

Vernon Reid (Living Colour): R.I.P. Guru. A sad day for the world of music. Hiphop lost one of it's truly great voices. Condolences to his family & to DJ Premier

Q-Tip: From Allah we come to Allah we return. R.I.P. Keith GURU. A great man, poet, and I'm proud to say friend... 23 yrs. Damn!

Talib Kweli: Todays overtweeting dedicated to Guru. U don't like it unfollow rather lose u then not pay tribute to my man. 2 many don't know what's real.


Playlist

Here is a run through of song's I have been jamming...Take a look

- Asteroids Galaxy Tour - "Sun Ain't Shining No More"
- David Byrne and Fatboy Slim w/ Santigold - "Please Do"
- The xx - "VCR"
- The Cribs - "Men's Needs"
- Lupe Fiasco - "I'm Beaming"
- Gin Wigmore - "Too Late for Lovers"
- Jay-Z & U2 w/ Rihanna - "Stranded"
- Ebony Bones - "In G.O.D. We Trust"
- Oasis - "Stop Crying You Heart Out"
- Surfer Blood - "Swim"
- The Soft Pack - "Down on Loving"
- Motion City Soundtrack - "Disappear"
- The Who - "Love Reign O'er Me"
- Jay Retard - "It Ain't Gonna Save Me"
- Scott Weiland - "Tangle With Your Mind"
- Bouncing Souls - "Gasoline"
- Them Crooked Vultures - "No One Loves Me and Neither Do I"
- Hot Chip - "Thieves in the Night"
- Midnight Masses - "Burial Song"
- Dr. Dog - "The Girl"

Flaming Lips on Fallon!



The Flaming Lips brought their carnival atmosphere to Jimmy Fallon on Friday to support the vinyl release of their complete take on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

EXCLUSIVE! Eddie Argos INTV!

England's version of The Hold Steady has been Art Brut, hell, in fact they even toured the US together in 2007. However, as far as Craig Finn's British counterpart Eddie Argos, is much more witty and comical than my New York based lyrical hero. Eddie Argos is the dapper dressed front man to the British rock act Art Brut and is currently on the road with his own side project dubbed Everybody Was in the French Resistance...Now. A band that pokes fun at pop culture and is getting rave reviews with their debut and live shows. As much as his new project intrigues me, it is Art Brut's style and sound that I have been attracted to. Take a look at my interview with Eddie Argos as we discussed his success, comic books, working with Black Francis of the Pixies and who would actually win that bloody battle between Art Brut and Satan. Take a look at my interview with Eddie below..

From the band's start, NME tagged you as well as fellow UK acts Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand and Athlete as the "Art Wave," sceansters in British music. Did you appreciate being labeled right away? Or did you want to break away and be your own act?

EA: I dont think we sound like any of those bands. We've been around for ages so we've been labeled loads of different things. Art Wave, Londons Burning, The New Cross Scene. Etc You cant really avoid it. You just have to get on with it and ignore the labels.

Your latest record was produced by longtime fan and legend Frank Black. What was it like having such a legend guiding your work?

EA: Brilliant and the fact he liked our songs gave us a lot of confidence

Were you nervous having Black Francis work on your record as opposed to any other producer?

EA: At first. But Frank Black is such a brilliant funny easy to get a long with person that any nerves soon vanished. We supported the Pixies recently and it wasn't until after seeing them play I got nervous around him again.

Three albums in, critics are finally saying you have matured. How do you respond to this?

EA: I disagree. We haven't matured one bit.

Who are the DC Comics characters that inspired the song "DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes"? Any love for Marvel characters? What about Vanilla milkshakes?

EA: Booster Gold is my favourite DC Character. I was reading his comic and drinking a chocolate Milk Shake when I had the idea for the song. I nearly called the song Boosterific after his short lived catchphrase. But thought it might be a bit too obscure. I like some Marvel comics. Captin America is very good at the moment. Banana Milkshakes are also tasty.

A few years ago you toured with your American counterpart, The Hold Steady. What was that experience like?

EA: Fun. It seems so long ago now.

Many people say you and Hold Steady front man Craig Finn have similar writing styles. Will there ever be a collaboration between the two acts?

EA: I think we're both way too busy.

As an English band, is it still a big deal for a UK act to break big in the US?

EA: I really like touring in America, so its a reasonably big deal for me. I dont care about breaking through in a massive way. But I do like the fact we are able to tour here regularly and it not break the bank.

What does 2010 hold for Art Brut?

EA: Another album more touring. The first half of this year will be taken up with Everybody Was In The French Resistance..Now my side project whose album was out in early Feb on Cooking Vinyl. We will be touring both sides of the Atlantic. and are playing SXSW so that'll be keeping me busy.

Burning Question: Who won the battle between Art Brut and Satan?

EA: Its still going on. So far it is a draw. Maybe we'll call the next album 'Art Brut VS Satan- Ding, Ding Round 2'


Video for "Alcoholic's Unanimous" (Above) / Video for "Formed a Band" (Below)

Special thanks to Eddie and Grace Jones for this interview!

EXCLUSIVE! Gin Wigmore INTV!

Extremely sexy, extremely talented and she is music's best kept secret. For the young and talented New Zealand native Gin Wigmore success is going to come to her in very big way, so I hope she is prepared. The singer, who is a phenom in her country is set to make big waves around the world and especially here in the United States. For her debut, Holy Smoke, she uprooted to LA and linked up with Ryan Adams backing band The Cardinals. Now, anyone who knows anything about The Cardinals is that they do not play with anyone, so Gin has the chops and talent to keep up with these legends and still stand out. Dubbed as New Zealand's Duffy, Gin has a pop style but a rock heart, the perfect hybrid for the Duffy crowd and The Cardinal's audience. I had the opportunity to speak to the beautiful singer as she opened up about recording her debut, coming to America and how the loss of her father influenced her work. Take a look at my interview with Gin below.

You are making your US debut this year, are you nervous as to how this massive country will respond to your music?

GW: Definitely a little bit nervous, but more excited that I get to have a go at music in such a massive country.

What was it like having “Holy Smoke” debut at number one in your home country?

GW: Awesome. It felt like a big high 5 from homeland, which is a rather sensational feeling. Getting the free upgrades to the nicer suites at hotels in New Zealand now is also pretty awesome!

Over the past few years we have seen a surge of female soulful singers, women like Duffy, Adele and of course Amy Winehouse. How do you differ from the pack?

Well I'm not sure I'm that soulful. I admire the more Janis Joplin road so I guess that may be my difference from the pack..But I'll always be a girl making music so I think that keeps me in the pack wether I like it or not.

What was it like working with the Cardinals on “Holy Smoke” How did you link up with them for them to play on the record?

GW: My A&R man Michael Taylor at Island Records in Australia is good buddies with Jon Graboff from the NYC days, so when the Cardinals were out in Australia with Ryan Adams last feb he basically just said would you like to be Gin's band to record her first album with. Luckily they loved the music and were keen, and 6 weeks later I met them all for the first time at Capitol Studios, where we all spent a week making Holy Smoke.

You have been a songwriting talent since you were 16, was music something you have always wanted to do?

GW: I actually started writing songs, well some kind of sad excuse for a song at about 13 years old..But no, music was always just a hobby for me, a way to get all the nasty or great things off my chest and onto paper. It was only when I got to 21 that I started looking at it as a possible career. It's funny because even though now music is my job, I have only had to add a touch of a business side to it, and it's great that the integrity of why I wrote songs at 13 is still exactly the same as today.

When I listen to your music, I hear a lot of joy and a lot of pain. Does the pain help bring about the joy?

GW: Yeah definitely. It's a grim thought, but I don't think you can experience joy unless you have had pain. How do you know what ultimate joy is unless there is some kind of measure to how bad things could go?

My theory on the pain and beauty is evident on your album sleeve. On the cover of your record, it is you laying in bed looking extremely beautiful, yet off to the side there is a photograph of what seems to be you and your father. Even though he is no longer with you, does he still inspire you?

GW: Everyday my dad inspires me. To be honest, kind and grateful mainly. And those 3 things I think can put you in pretty good stead for all aspects of this job.

What is your songwriting process like?

GW: Pretty dark and spooky preferably. I was thinking the other day how good it would be to live my life in candlelight. I think I personally could be a lot more creative if I lived in candlelight. So the main process for my writing is candlelight, solitude, no sound of the world going by other than my piano, guitar and voice.

You recorded “Holy Smoke” in LA, did the change of atmosphere have an effect on your sound and songwriting? Where you inspired by the big city?

GW: Definitely. I had to step up my game 1000% when I went to "work" each day. Walking past beautifully framed pictures of Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra to get to the vocal booth is inspiring in itself. And then knowing that this studio is where they made some of the most amazing music in the world, it then became my duty to be nothing short of amazing on every take (well I gave it a good go anyway!)..I am still inspired by Los Angeles, so much so that I have packed my bags and moving there in 4 days.

I ask this to every foreign artist I speak with, is it still a big deal for a foreign artist, such as yourself to make it in the US?
GW: Well it is to me, as I want to buy a big horse ranch in Montana.


Video for "Under my Skin" (Above) / Video for "Oh My" (Below)

Special thanks to Gin, Christine Colbert and everyone at Universal Music for this interview and help!

Live Review - The Hold Steady @ Bowery

On the anniversary of Joey Ramone's passing, it was only fitting that I see the greatest band to come from New York City since The Ramones.

"Hi everyone! Thanks for coming, we have a few new changes to this band." As Craig Finn and his band walked on stage to the music of Sergio Leone, he set the tone right away that this is going to be a new Hold Steady experience. This was the very first New York show the New York band has played with their new line-up, a line-up that was missing keyboardist Franz Nicolay and his mustache but was replaced by Elliot Spitzer look-a-like
Dan Neustadt and added additional guitarist Steve Selvidge, formerly of Lucero. It was the first of two secret shows that the band had on Saturday night, this was the primo event at Bowery Ballroom and the second would take place just over the bridge at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

So here they were, the new Hold Steady line up. As the band opened with "Positive Jam," and then going right into the new single "Hurricane J," and then into the classic live track "Cattle and the Creeping Things," it was the same songs and same band but something was different. Gone was the Greatful Dead sticker on Craig Finn's blue Fender that was covered by a 7 Seconds decal. Added were the tattoo's on Tad Kubler's arms and of course this new line up. They still rock, they are still the best live act you will get your moneys worth to see in a club, but in many ways it was different. A line-up and fresh band that I will have to get used to, don't get me wrong I had a total blast. But with Franz gone, who was such an intricate part to their live shows, it is like Rodger Water's leaving Pink Floyd only to have David Gilmore continue on. Granted unlike Water's this was never Franz's band, he was asked to join much later after they formed. However, it may take some time to get used it, but it was still a hell of a party.

It was hot and stuffy inside Bowery Ballroom and the audience was in full effect. People were crammed together right in the front and the beautiful thing was no one minded have each others sweat and spit on top of one another. It was also the first Hold Steady show I had gone to where Craig Finn was not slurring his words and holding on to his mic stand so he does not fall down. As the band ran through classic jams "Chip's Ahoy," "Stuck Between Stations," "Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night," "Stay Positive," and others, a slew of new songs made their New York debut into the set. Songs from the band's upcoming Heaven is Whenever sound like very early Hold Steady, think Almost Killed Me / Separation Sunday era. They work really well into the set and once fans get more in tune to the new material it will be a flawless set from here on in.

Thom Yorke Covers JOY DIVISION!



Thom Yorke, thank you for making music while I am on this planet..BUT No-thanks for not playing this at your first New York solo gig that I was at!!

So I vent but nonetheless Atoms for Peace covered Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," before heading down to Coachella this weekend. Take a look.

THE SPECIALS ON FALLON!



For the first time in 18 years influential British Ska band, The Specials hit State side with their original lineup! Take a look at their first performance on American soil, which was on Jimmy Fallon earlier this week.

Just in case you missed it, Yuppie corresponding writer Rob Nieto wrote a piece on the Specials reunion and why it is important to our times. Take a look HERE.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

QUICK SPINS

JonsiGo
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+

SadeSolider 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+

Erykah BaduNew Amerykah Vol 2 : Return of the Ankh
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+

Coheed & CambriaYear of the Black Rainbow
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’sHigher 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

MGMTCongratulations
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FINAL GRADE: C-

RAW POWER LEGACY EDITION!

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!

Quick News

The original lineup of Taking Back Sunday have hit the recording studio for the first time since 2003! The Long Island rockers are back now with original guitarist and co-lyricist John Nolan and are demoing material for the band's next record. I have never been excited about a Taking Back Sunday record until now.

Richard Ashcroft released a few dates for his latest band United Nations of Sound. The band will have their debut out in June and Ashcroft and Co., will do a small trek of European dates this summer.


Flamboyant glam disco band Scissor Sisters have been very mysterious about their latest record, Night Work...until now. The New York band just released the cover to Night Work earlier this week as well as the track, "Invisible Light." The band also confirmed themselves on the Pyramid Stage at Glastobury in June, the name month Night Work arrives. Take a look at the cover below.

Conan Covers Radiohead!!

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

EXCLUSIVE! Midnight Masses INTV!

If you look at the lyrics to U2's "Bad," you will find the sound, make-up and formula to Brooklyn's Midnight Masses. The band may not agree, but the words by Bono:
"This desperation, dislocation
Separation, condemnation
Revelation, in temptation
Isolation, desolation
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: Ska Little Too Late?


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 purĂ©ed 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!


Rob Nieto is a contributing writer to With This I Think I'm Officially a Yuppie. Rob has worked in TV & radio for nearly two decades and is a dictionary of 80's one hit wonders and New Wave aficionado.

Live Review - Florence & the Machine @ Terminal 5

By Colum Ward

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.

Quick News

For the first time in almost 20 years, legendary British Punk band The Buzzcocks will be returning to the US to support the reissue of their first three albums!

Former New Order & Joy Division member Peter Hook plans to play Joy Division's timeless masterpiece Unknown Pleasures in it's entirety at the brand new Manchester club FAC251, which was the former home of Joy Division's label Factory Records. The event will take place on May 18, the 30th anniversary of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis' death.

Rumor has it that Kanye West's new album, Good Ass Job is set to be released in June. Also, rumor has it RZA and Q-Tip have been working with Kanye on the new record and it will have an old school hip-hop vibe. Finger's crossed!

Florida punkers Against Me! have recruited former Hold Steady keyboardist Franz Nicolay to back the band up on their upcoming European tour. Against Me! latest record White Crosses will be out in June.

Kings of Leon have hit the studio to work on the follow up to their international mega-success record Only by the Night. This will be the King's fifth record and no word yet on when the album is due.

After a very long legal dispute, Amanda Palmer has parted ways with Roadrunner Records. Though the terms and conditions have not been released, Palmer for one is ecstatic about the split, as anyone who has been following her on Twitter this past week can tell you. Also, for the first time since 2003, one of my favorite women in music can finally release more solo material. With the excitement, Palmer released the free single "The Truth," which can be downloaded on her site amandapalmer.net. Palmer also released this goodbye photo to mark the event.