Thursday, March 31, 2011

Live Review - Funeral Party / Twitch the Ripper @ Mercury Lounge

In the week that LCD Soundsystem's final shows of their career are the talk of the music world and the talk of New York City, so much so, that even though The Strokes may have sold out MSG for the first time in their careers, James Murphy and Co. are center stage in everyone's attention and radar. With the demand to see LCD take the stages one last time, their have been plenty of room at other gigs in the city for bands that could in fact, one day, live up to LCD's legacy. Though the task maybe difficult, one band in particular, LA's Funeral Party is one to look into.
Funeral Party are a band that have gotten so much attention on the west coast and across the pond, yet, this band and boarder crossing seems to go together like oil and water. Funeral Party arrived in the thick of the LCD excitement this week and delivered, not just a stunning performance but the vow that this is a band that plans on sticking around for a while. In the tiny club, fans packed in to see the band in action. Funeral Party's ability to blend early Incubus meets Red Hot Chili Peppers meets LA punk and hardcore, display that they truly the product of their own environment. This band has LA written all over them and that is fine, the thing is, this band is simply amazing to watch and support. The band, who just released their long awaited debut, The Golden Age of Nowhere, this week on RCA are in town to clearly tour for their album but they brought with them the hype and buzz that carried them from LA to New York after SXSW. Singer Chad Elliot moves around on stage as if he is a bonafide Mexican jumping bean, belting his life away into the microphone he has the front man and show man bravado that music needs more of these days. Elliot keeps the momentum alive and going by going as crazy on stage as Cedric Bixler of Mars Volta, while the rest of Funeral Party look as if they are having the time of their lives, the band's catchy, yet very sincere and vulnerable songs are anthems for the confused and broken hearted. After 45 minutes on stage, Funeral Party closed with "New York City Moves to the Sound of LA," never has a band been that bold to say (or sing) that in front of a group of New Yorkers until now...indeed we were all moving vigorously to the sound of this LA band.
Opening the show was Connecticut electro duo, Twitch the Ripper. Twitch the Ripper are clearly a band whose obsession with Depeche Mode may get the best of them. Singer Jon Dobyns sounds like Dave Gahan's doppelganger, they could even pass as relatives and the beats provided by Lonn are very similar to Black Celebration-era Mode. Not that this is a bad thing, the band still put on a rather entertaining performance, even fighting off a few technical glitches, Twitch the Ripper were instant party starters for the evening. Accompanied with a strobe light show and pounding bass, Twitch the Ripper can entertain even their biggest critics.

The Strokes on Fallon

The Strokes came on Jimmy Fallon this week to so much excitement for the band to perform. The Strokes played "You're So Right" off their latest, Angles. Take a look.

Quick News

After a decade together, England's electro - thrash rockers, The Music will be calling it quits at the end of the summer. The band will play a farewell tour this summer across the UK and then part ways. The band has released three records, the bands 2002 critically acclaimed self titled debut, 2004's massive Welcome to the North and 2008's Strength in Numbers.

Chino Moreno of Deftones and Shaun Lopez of Far are teaming up together to form Crosses. This band will be side project for both musicians and will be minimal sounding music, or as Chino "It's really minimal and soothing and it's sort of like the stuff I like listening to when I'm not screaming my head off"

Brother who just came and demolished America, will release their debut, Famous First Words on July 4 in UK and the following day in US.

Jane's Addiction have released the first song feature David Sitek of TV on the Radio on bass. The song, "End to the Lies" premiered on a Chilean radio station yesterday as Jane's is in the country to be apart of the first Lollapalooza Chile that Perry Farell curated. Take a look at the first single from the band's latest, The Great Escape Artist:

Jane's Addiction - End to the Lies by paniko

Arcade Fire Surprise Haiti

Arcade Fire fans know that the band holds the small island nation of Haiti high in their hearts since singer Regine Chassagne is the daughter of Haitian immigrants. Through activism and charities long before the massive Earthquake ripped through the country last year, Arcade Fire and Haiti have a special relationship, so it should come as no surprise as the band performed a surprise set yesterday in Port-Au-Prince. Take a look as the band cover Cindi Lauper's classic "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and The Rolling Stones "The Last Time."

Snoop on Letterman

Snoop Dogg was on Letterman this week to perform "Boom" off his latest record, The Doggumentary. I wonder if Snoop and Dave had a spliff backstage?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Holcombe Waller Goes Into the Dark Unknown

When you love what you do and have such a passion for it, you never work a day in your life. For folk artist, Holcombe Waller, performing and making music is his fervor and what keeps him going. Waller, an artist who is a stage actor, writer as well as an acclaimed musician who is originally from Palo Alto, California but now lives in Portland, Oregon is making his music and being shaped by the experiences around him. While Holcombe would never admit that he was born to entertain and born to perform; he found his talents and passion while studying at Yale University. “I started singing when I was 18, I really didn’t sing before that” Holcombe told me when we spoke over the phone, “Yale has a lot of singing groups and most people think of me as a singer.” After Yale, Waller moved to San Francisco where his world opened up. “I started singing in open mics, in the tale end of the 60’s hangover and hold over and right before they were completely obliterate by the dot com boom and that really shaped my folk sound and then when I moved to Portland, I got really involved in theater and performing arts and shaped things further.” Though he picked up thing about himself in each city it all would be an amalgamation and morph into his own brand of folk music.

Waller, who just released his latest record Into the Dark Unknown shows an intimate and personal side with his latest collection of songs. Yet, he keeps his music simple, natural and stark, with Into the Dark Unknown he created a record that is very organic and recorded in a very old fashion way – with no new technology and recording everything analogue in a minimal way. The record sounds, at points as if there is a full orchestra behind him, yet it is just a few musicians. “One thing you do in theater is there are a lot of smoke and mirrors. You do not have a lot of money, you don’t have a lot of lighting, you don’t have a lot of people, but you want to make it this huge show. And there are the tricks you learn to do that and it’s a lot about what you don’t see and it’s a lot about the elements that you bring in and how they interact with each other,” Waller says about arranging the record and getting its sound to exactly what he wanted, drawing on his theater lessons and creative side, he got the album to sound the way it should. “When I was arranging the record, I was drawing on that from theater, how to make a big majestic moment with just five people.”

As his experiences from the stage may help shape the sound of his music, it is his experiences and lessons out of the theater and from life that will help give verve to his songs. Waller, who composed the music to the documentary We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco, took to the project not just because of its message and thesis, but because it hit home. “I lived in Palo Alto, which is a suburban bubble, we had no exposure to what was happening in San Francisco.” Waller says of growing up in 90’s suburbia, before Waller moved to San Francisco in 1994, he lived in LA for a year and had a record deal with someone who mentored him, a fellow by the name of Wayne Hendrickson. “I knew he was gay, I knew I was gay but was not out. I knew he was gay but didn’t know he was HIV positive. This is ’94 and he actually, right before I got to LA started having AIDS symptoms.” As Holcombe moved in with Hedrickson and his lover, Hendrickson was dying. “That happened to me when I was 18 and before I went to college,” such a strong and powerful sentiment to see while coming of age. With his personal story, Holcombe brought the same passion and organic song structure to a film that is extremely important and documents years of medical mystery in finding a cure for AIDS.

Whether it is on stage, scoring films, making music – Holcombe Waller is making art and making the art that is feels is necessary to make. In a business such as this, to find the zest that he has and his way of story telling, he will be doing this for the rest of his life.

Quick News

Chris Cornell is about to embark on a solo acoustic tour that will see him play everything from his long catalouge of solo material, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave and of course Soundgarden. Rolling Stone caught up with the legendary singer and he spoke about the new Soundgarden record. He says "Everything's going very quickly. We've been having a great time. The chief reason for Soundgarden taking such a long hiatus was concerning ourselves with deadlines we never met and scheduling tours and promotion for an album ahead of actually writing and recording the album. So we're not doing that. We're just making the album. When it's done we'll decide, 'Okay, this is when we're gonna put it out. This is when we'll promote it.' That kind of thing." We hope they have the record out by years end.

According to the band's website and confirming what we have been saying for a week or so now, Incubus have finished work on their sixth album. The band says on their site - "The long awaited 6th studio album from Incubus is completed! True to the Incubus legacy, this record is nothing like its predecessor, but still maintains the quintessential Incubus vibe."

The Strokes, who just released their fourth record, Angles, will begin working on a follow up to the album next month.

Bad Lieutenant, the band started by former Joy Division guitarist and New Order singer Bernard Sumner have been working on their sophomore record. The band have no given any info as to when the record will come out but they are playing the Friends of Mine Festival in Europe this summer.

The Sounds on Kimmel

The Sounds come to Jimmy Kimmel Live and perform the title track off their fourth album, Something to Die For. Take a look!


March comes in like a Lion and out like a Lamb...or so they say...Here is our playlist of various styles to carry you into April.

- Airborne Toxic Event - "Changing"
- Tennis - "Cape Dory"
- La Femme - "Telegraphe"
- Klaxons - "Twin Flame"
- Magnetic Men - "The Bug"
- Lauren Hill - "Lost Ones"
- Exit Calm - "With Angles"
- Prince - "Purple and Gold"
- Blocks - "Hideaway"
- Elbow - "Lippy Kids"
- Black Keys - "Brooklyn Bound"
- Beady Eye - "The Roller"
- REM - "UBerlin"
- Social Distortion - "California"
- Darkstar - "North"
- Prussia - "Bleeder"
- Trail of Dead - "Ebb Away"
- The Decemberists - "Don't Carry It All"
- Stars - "You're Ex Lover is Dead"
- Supergrass - "Richard III"
- Tapes N Tapes - "Badaboom"
- White Lies - "Streetlights"
- Fitz and the Tantrums - "Moneygrabber"

Cut Copy on Fallon

Cut Copy performing (in full monkey gear) on Friday's Fallon. Take a look and get ready to start dancing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


For nearly 30 years, the British band with the German influence, Nitzer Ebb have been pounding ear drums, crowds and providing pulsating beats for generations. The industrial legends have been cranking out the music they love their entire careers. While the band experienced a near two decade hiatus, they returned in 2008 stronger and heavier than ever. As they have played every size venue possible from around the world, their cult like legion of fans have followed them all over and for so long. The band have influenced everyone from The Killers to Tiga to Marilyn Manson to Billy Corgan and beyond, they have even had an influence on close friends and Depeche Mode. While Nitzer Ebb continue to tour the globe and continue to provide the world with their original industrial sound, we had a chance to speak to members Douglas McCarthy and Jason Payne about their latest record - last years Industrial Complex, touring and their everlasting legacy. Take a look at our interview below.

After 15 years, how does it feel to be back?

DM: Feels great. Obviously the music industry has changed significantly over the last few years so there is a lot more hands on involvement needed from us, but we are definitely enjoying rising to the challenge.

What prompted the idea of a reunion?

DM: Around 2004 I started working with French Techno artist Terence Fixmer to form a project named Fixmer/McCarthy. We released an album and toured extensively. Our agent was approached by various festival promoters in Europe to see if Nitzer Ebb would be interested in playing a handful of shows. Myself and Bon happened to be in Chicago at the same time and had a chat about it. We decided to give it a go and before we knew it there was a 7 month global tour taking in Europe, Russia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, North, Central and South America.

What was it like getting back into the studio to record Industrial Complex?

DM: Very productive, relaxed and fun. We had a large space in East LA and worked over the course of about a year coming in each day with a “clean sheet of paper”. We deliberately limited the amount of technology we used so as to approach the album in a similar way as we did with the first album.

You began recording Industrial Complex in 2008 and released it in 2010, what took so long?

DM: As we were paying for the album ourselves we had no schedule to stick to, so we were able to just keep working until we were satisfied with the result. That took about a year, it then took another year to get the business side of things sorted to release how we wanted.

How have the shows been? Is it odd returning over a decade later with various faces, young and old in the crowds?

JP: The shows have been amazing and it's great to see such a vast age range. A lot of times parents will show up with their teenage kids who are also into us. That can be quite surreal.

Your fanbase in Europe seems to be much more massive than it is here in America, is it odd coming to the States to play gigs? Or does that not even matter?

JP: We're just happy to play. Sometimes the most rewarding shows are for the smaller crowds in the usually forgotten towns.

So many electronic bands have returned onto the scene, acts like Atari Teenage Riot, KMFDM, Recoil and yourselves, yet the field has shifted with acts like Daft Punk, Justice, Busy P and others. Do you think that electronic music is the new rock and roll and the pioneers of this should have the light on them as well?

DM: Electronic music has always been a part of “alternative music”. There are a ton of bands such as Tearist, White Car and Tense who are making a much more impressive form of electronic music than Justice or Daft Punk – no disrespect but they are over rated.

You opened for Depeche Mode on their iconic “Music for the Masses” tour in the late 80’s and returned to opening for them last year. How was it getting on stage with them again?

DM: We are very old friends from a very similar background in England, so it was of course excellent. Like being with family.

Martin Gore of Depeche Mode guests on Industrial Complex, and it seems you kept in close contact with him and former DM members Alan Wilder and Dave Clark. How close are you with the members and former members of that band? Do you ever seen Clark and Wilder rejoining Martin, Fletch and Dave again?

DM: I haven’t seen Vince Clarke for a while, but I am often in contact with Alan and we meet whenever schedules allow. I performed with Recoil for the first 2 shows of this past tour. Alan came on stage to perform with Depeche in London at a charity event, but I doubt he would come back full time. And Vince would not either.

You worked with Flood for many years, and you returned working with him again, how is he in the studio? What was it like recording with him behind the controls now as opposed to back when you first linked up with him?

DM: We began working with Flood on our 2nd album ‘Belief’ at the suggestion of Daniel Miller (President of Mute Records) and from the very beginning we knew we had found an incredibly insightful and supportive collaborator. Flood’s honesty and genuine enthusiasm for all music, but especially electronic music, is second to none and he never puts any less than his all into a project. In this instance his burgeoning schedule made it pretty much impossible to be with us in person so we relied on emailing tracks and receiving his responses and comments. As far as who was “behind the controls” this time then it was Bon on a day to day basis and then John O to record my vocals and mix.

In 1988 you released what some call the “perfect electronic album,” with belief. Do you feel that the record stands the test of time or do you want to outdo yourselves now with modern technology?

DM: We made a concerted effort on Belief to really push ourselves in every way. The album started with just Bon and myself in what was then the still incompleted new Mute studio ‘Worldwide’. We would work 7 days a week doing 14 to 18 hour days taking a day off separately so that we kept the workflow constant. Then Flood came in after we had a good chunk of the album in at least a sketch state. We made a decision very early that we wanted to make it as clean sounding as possible and so literally only recorded the vocals with all the electronic elements running live through Cubase. When it came to mastering we used an AMS engineer to do it digitally – Pro Tools did not exist beyond a stereo capacity. I think the way we approached the album makes it a true classic that pre-empted the future methodology of multi track recording by at least 5 years. So yes, I do think it stands up.

Now the burning question, do you plan to record new material again? And it will not be another 15 years for a new record, will it?

DM: We are continuing to enjoy what Nitzer Ebb throws at us. We have a few interesting collaboration opportunities in 2011 and I feel sure there will be more recording.

Live Review - Glassjaw @ Best Buy Theater

Glassjaw Live at Best Buy Theater 3/24/11
by Rock(jock)*

The Best Buy Theater hosted exactly what you would expect from a Glassjaw show--an odd set from an odd band. Darryl Palumbo and the rest of the gang definitely put on a performance worthy of their near-mystic status but something about the entire night.

Doors opened at 7 but the venue never even approached capacity until minutes before Glassjaw took the stage. Granted, openers Mind Over Matter didn't start until almost 8:30 but with as much hype as Glassjaw shows generates, it felt unsettling to see such a sleepy crowd.

The two opening bands did their best to energize those who bothered showing up. Based on the frenzied pit, one would think they succeeded. Having avoided the hardcore scene for the most part, Long Island legends Mind Over Matter and Vision of Disorder did a lot to erase negative connotations associated with the genre the both heavily influenced. Far more diverse than their peers, the bands exhibited the same category-defiant performance the headliners likely learned from watching M.O.M. and V.O.D. back in the early Nineties. Progressive, experimental, alternative, spacey--they encompassed all those elements and enforced them with hardcore's signature bone-crushing blast beats. Visions of Disorder and Mind Over Matter represented the antithesis of everything you think you hate about hardcore and deserve reverence both in and outside the scene.

Glassjaw arguably outpaced these predecessors' over the past decade, ascending to an even higher cult status, due in no small part to the mystery surrounding the band (something Mind Over Matter took a not-so-subtle jab at during their set). A long-rumored follow-up to 2002's Worship & Tribute became the Chinese Democracy of post-hardcore. The band merely titillated fans with an EP or demo here and there while Palumbo's health problems and various side projects, including Head Automatica, which reminded us that we deserve more from our pop music. As the hiatus continued with false promises of a new record dating all the way back to 2007, it wasn't until last year Glassjaw finally released new material. When they did, it manifested as two separate EPs, leaving fans wondering if together the records comprised the long-awaited third album or if that remained an unfinished product.

Assuredly, most know this well-documented history already but it provides an important backdrop for Glassjaw's second performance at Best Buy since the start of 2011. It remains unclear what caused some fans to leave the show with an odd taste in there mouths but it's clear they shoulder some of the blame. Even after the set began with two new songs from the Coloring Book EP (which everyone received a free copy of on the way out), it wasn't until Glassjaw launched into classic material that fans even acknowledged Palumbo and crew's presence. In fact any new material from Coloring Book (which is readily available online thanks to the free giveaways at shows) brought the concert to a screeching halt--disappointing considering it is easily among Glassjaw's best work. The crowd's indifference most awkwardly reared its ugly head when the band finished the set. The inevitability of an encore came into question thanks to the oppressive silence that enveloped the venue. It took a full two minutes before those in attendance mustered one of the weakest and shortest band chants ever witnessed. After what felt like the eternity, Palumbo and company lazily filed back on stage with the wind clearly taken out of their sails. One can only guess, but it seemed plausible based on the band's demeanor they cut the encore short, playing only two songs from Coloring Book. Their stage exit was abrupt and surprising, leaving some disappointed with the notable omission of classic material, including Glassjaw's arguably biggest hit, "Ape Dos Mil."

It sounds like an oxymoron but the confused, slightly unfulfilled air about the departing crowd almost improved the experience. For all the mystique Glassjaw engenders, a smooth show would have felt out of place. People flock to Glassjaw not just for the music but the spectacle. That requires typical rock star antics, which Palumbo delivered in spades.

In between songs, the frontman closed in on himself. Even his stage banter, while amusing, became muffled. The effect of his well-documented battle with Crohn's disease manifested itself in an almost physical way as he shuffled across the stage, seemingly trying to hide from the thousands of eyes affixed on his every movement. Palumbo rarely interacted with his bandmates, who symmetrically filled put the stage, each with their own little pod of amps and stage lights, appearing scared to leave their designated spaces.

But as soon as the music kicked in, Palumbo's wiry frame metamorphosed into an Ecstasy-fueled love child of Mick Jagger and Freddy Mercury. Despite his markedly odd appearance, Palumbo exuded sex appeal as he erotically gyrated across the stage and put on a one man show. The rest of the band, despite their confinement, provided the perfect backdrop for Palumbo, allowing him to take center stage but still dazzling the crowd with nothing but their technical aptitude. Their exquisite musicianship shined through especially well in the aforementioned new material, which sees the band take a Deftones-like experimental approach to their sound.

None of it was enough to dispel the unfulfilled feeling upon leaving the theater but maybe there in lies Palumbo's genius. Live shows from a band as enigmatic as Glassjaw are hit or miss affairs that somehow still leave you wanting more--yet another contradiction from a band that personifies the very word.

***Rock(jock) is Kyle Andruckeiwicz who is a corresponding writer to Officially A Yuppie.

Quick News

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder will release his second solo disc, entitled Ukelele Songs, it is all original songs done by Vedder on a ukelele. On the album, he gets help from The Frames and Swell Season front man Glen Hansard and Cat Power. Ukelele Songs will arrive this summer and Vedder will set out on a solo tour with Hansard.

Nick Mason of Pink Floyd is "hopeful" of a reunion with the famous band. Mason told BBC 6 Music that "No-one has said we will never work (together) again. I think it is very unlikely we are going to go out on tour. I think Roger's [Waters] really happy working on his own now ... It's hard to see Dave [Gilmour] thinking he'd really like to work full time with Roger."He then went on to say, "On the other hand I live in hope we would absolutely do another Live 8 or play together for the right reasons."

Speaking of reunions, former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri has reached out to his friend and former bandmate, QOTSA front man Josh Homme about rejoining the stoner rock outfit. Homme has rejected his offer. Oliveri tells that "I saw them [Queens Of The Stone Age] play in LA, I was down there and I mentioned to them, 'Why don't I come up and do 'Millionaire' or something, and sing it and not play bass?' He was like, 'Nah, I don't think that's a good idea yet'." Oliveri insists though that he and Homme are still close friends. We caught up with Nick Oliveri last year, take a look at our interview HERE, where he speaks about his career and Homme.

New Jersey's finest, Bouncing Souls are hitting major cities this summer in what seems to be one of the more interesting tours of the year. The legendary punkers will be performing their entire catalouge over the course of four nights in each city they play. For a full list of dates, venues and cities go to the band's website -

New Nashville sensations Mona will release their self titled debut later this year and they have revealed the cover to their first effort. Take a look at the cover for Mona's debut below:

Oh Land on Kimmel

Oh Land returned to late night TV this week with a rousing performance of "Son of a Gun" on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Take a look!

Live Pix - SXSW 2011

SXSW came through Austin, Texas last week like a tornado. While most of the bands have been flocking to New York in the weeks leading up to the big festival in the Lone Star State and the week after that we have been covering. We had a pair of eyes on the ground in Austin to capture some of the moments and bands. From correspondent Sean Busch, take a look at some of SXSW acts

Del Castello
Bright Light Social Hour
Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
Alpha Rev

From Manchester to Japan With Love

Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order, Basement Jaxx, 808 State, Rowetta, Delphic and others will join forces to raise money for those effected by the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. On April 22 in Manchester, England - these artists will present "From Manchester to Japan with Love X." For more info take a look at the flyer above and info below:

FAC 51 The Haçienda presents :“From Manchester To Japan With Love x”

Good Friday 22nd April / 10pm to 5am
Sankeys, Radium St Manchester, M4 6JG
Tickets Advance £15

All Proceeds Go To Disaster Relief Charities In Japan
Online Donations now live

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Live Pix - Richard Ashcroft & The Postelles @ Bowery Ballroom

You read the review HERE - Now take a look at some pictures:

Richard Ashcroft

The Postelles

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Quick Spins

REMCollapse Into Now
For album number 15, the original college rockers keep the momentum going that trusted them out of the first decade of the new millennium. On 2008’s Accelerate (and the year’s best album), REM took back what was rightfully theirs, the crown of indie rock and showed that they still had the hunger, energy and passion that propelled them to become one of the most successful bands of all time.On Collapse into Now, the band takes that same energy and carries it across in what could be the band’s biggest retrospect without the use of a Greatest Hits package. Collapse Into Now in so manyways is textbook REM, it has the jangly guitars from Peter Buck, the high pitch backing vocals and thick bass lines of Mike Mills and of course, Michael Stipes signature voice and clever poetic lyrics. With vocal contributions from Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith and Peaches, REM take some of the people they have influenced and some of the people that haveinfluenced them along for their renaissance. Songs like “Oh My Heart” show a direct line and sequel lyrically to songs from Accelerate, while “Mine Smell Like Honey” and “Discoverer” sustain the momentum they rediscovered just a few years ago. This maybe album 15 for them, but the last two records find them being interesting again for the first time in nearly two decades.

The Naked and Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You
The debut record from one of New Zealand’s most talked about bands, The Naked and Famous was released last year in their home country but after sighing with Universal here in the US, Passive Me, Aggressive You is finally available here and it was worth the wait. You cannot pinpoint exactly what musical style The Naked and Famous play or stick them in a genre, they do everything across the board from new wave to rock to pop to electronica to even having hip-hop influenced beats, they are students of music and showing off what they love in so many clever and fun ways. This is a band to not sleep on and pick this record up; I promise it is a delight.

RaekwonShaolin Vs. Wu-Tang
One of the core members of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan cooks up another solo album of instant classics. With Cuban Links, Raekwon cemented himself as one of the finest solo artists to emerge from Wu, yet on Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang he now comes out swinging and keeping his worth and title as one of the best. It is a great hip-hop album of hard lyrics, perfect production and still gives you the same sense of fear that early Wu records did. With a slew of guests from Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Jim Jones and Black Thought, Shaolin Vs. Wu is going to be one of the year’s most talked about hip-hop albums from one of hip-hops most talked about artists.

Scattered Trees Sympathy
The outside Chicago band arrive with their debut and drum up an impressive first impression. Sympathy is a collection light and atmosphere folk inspired rock and roll. It is a gentle on sound but hostile on it’s lyrical story telling. The songs are inspired by love and heartbreak (well, really just the heartbreak and falling out of love) but something very worth listening.

ElbowBuild a Rocket Boys!
The Mercury Prize winning Brits return ingrand form with Build a Rocket Boys! The symphonic band should tour with an orchestra with them at all times because in order to recreate the beauty of these songs it will be the only way possible. Elbow have secured themselves as great musicians and singer Guy Garvey has secured himself as a great story teller. Build a Rocket Boys! is a lush, layered and textured release and a great follow-up to their international hit, The Seldom Seen Kid.

Noise is the Trigger
Edan’s right hand man Dagha and producer Pysch Major team up for a very old school hip-hop feel on their debut EP. Aggressive vocal delivery from Dagha and lo-fi production from Major, Noise is the Trigger is a creative sounding duo that have all the right formula’s going for them.

Ellie GouldingLights
The English songstress arrives very strong with her major label debut, Lights. Ellie’s powerful vocal’s over electronic beats and quality production make her a stand out from her contemporaries. She is certainly an artist to watch and Lights is the record that is going to usher her to the spotlight.

Wolf Gang
Taking fuzzy guitars, lo-fi soundand channeling it into a wall of noise EP, London’s one man band – Wolf Gang is here to rock your face off. With his EP that features only six songs and three of which are demos, it only leaves you wanting more.

Lupe FiascoLasers
After much delays and hype, Lupe Fiasco’s third album has finally arrived. Lasers; an ode to his fans and support system is in some cases classic Lupe and in others a commercial disappointment. Songs like “Letting Go,” “Words I Never Said,” “State Run Radio,” and “All Black Everything” show Lupe starting a fiasco with his aggressive delivery and political approach to his material that keep the record interesting and keep the listener engaged. However, songs like “Out of My Head,” “The Show Goes On,” “Till I Get There” are where he is trying real hard to find a radio single. We know Lupe is better than that and we know that even with the delays, his potential for greatness seems to slip up in areas.

Rival SchoolsPedals
The indie rock band returns after a near decade hiatus and drum up a very solid album. Nothing too exciting or that stands out, fans of the band will enjoy it but it is hard to tell if they will pick up a new audience from Pedals.

Does it Offend You, Yeah?! Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You
After much delays, battles with record labels and major line up changes, the band poised to be the next Prodigy return facing the sophomore slump. Their debut, You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Into was a fun, great, vibrant electronic album, the follow up is the band trying to be very serious but still trying to goofy and fun and it falls short. There are too many styles and cross genres that do not really work, yet the record does pull out a few gems but not enough to stand out. Better luck next time!

Rise AgainstEnd Game
Rise Against is a great band, they took political angst and channeled it in the void years when Rage Against the Machine were MIA. Now on Endgame and in a new era of politics and global change, the band are not discussing anything that they haven’t already said. Aside from the rhetoric, Rise Against’s latest studio effort is too polished, too clean and too over produced and is a disappointment, would have liked something much more raw.

Live Pix - Brother & The Dig @ Mercury Lounge

You read the review of the gig HERE - now take a look at some pictures of Brother & The Dig in action.


The Dig

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Live Review - Volbeat @ Irving Plaza

Volbeat at Irving Plaza by Kyle Andrukiewicz aka Rock(jock)*

It was difficult not to attend Volbeat’s headlining show at Irving Plaza without a hefty dose of skepticism. Face it—while Lars Ulrich’s endorsement largely helped the band gained notoriety here in States, it doesn’t inspire confidence. Most know Ulrich better for his ignominious crusade against Napster than any musical accomplishment and even die-hard Metallica fans (such as yours truly) have a hard time liking him. Not to mention, Volbeat’s latest effort, Beyond Heaven/Above Hell, seems to meander in the generic sea of heavy rockabilly on radio these days. These things mean little though. Live shows determine a band’s true worth and whether they have staying power. To actually see the craftsmanship and care some musicians put into what they do can and will completely alter the way you listen to their music. If last night was any indication, Volbeat will stick around for a good, long time and mainstream music is better for it.

It took a while to reach that conclusion though, thanks to the opening act Hourcast. They only fueled fears that the night would showcase nothing but pre-packaged, radio-ready music. They looked akin to bands like Sixx-A.M. and Hinder and played a watered down nu-rock in the vein of a poor man’s Atomship. The songs all sounded the same, each kicking off with decently heavy power chords which were always abandoned in favor of bland melodic hooks. All of this was only made worse by the band’s blasé attitude and complete disregard for their job as the opening act. Rather than priming the crowd for the following bands, Hourcast displayed a sense of entitlement, as though they believed everyone came to see them. Things did not bode well for the rest of the night, especially considering the next act’s pedigree.

The Damned Things struck fear in the hearts of Every Time I Die fans everywhere when news of their formation first hit. The inimitable Keith Buckley decided to team-up with the sell-outs from Fall Out Boy and has-beens from Anthrax. Regardless of your feelings on either band, you can’t deny Fall Out Boy panders to pop radio while this generation knows Scott Ian more for his appearances on VH1 than any musical contributions. But notwithstanding Hourcast, The Damned Things introduced what would become the night’s theme—trashing pre-conceived notions and exceeding expectations.

Knowing their diverse backgrounds, the members seemed out of place standing next to each other at first but as the set went on, they began to coalesce. Buckley, as always, shined as the consummate frontman. Despite his showmanship, he somehow still appeared sincere and unpretentious, even going so far as to crack a beer during the second song’s solo and nonchalantly admire his bandmates while they showed their stuff in the spotlight that Buckley had no problem sharing. The rest of the band deserves the attention too with sufficiently technical displays by a surprisingly skilled Andy Hurley on drums and a still shred-tastic Rob Caggiano. Even Scott Ian entertained, contributing to the infectious energy exuded by a band that doesn’t need success thanks to their main projects but rather perform together for the simple joy of it. The aura even managed to engage an audience clearly in attendance for one thing—Volbeat.

While this marks the band’s first headlining tour here in the U.S., fans clearly knew them well already, launching into two “Vol-beat” chants before the set. Opening for Metallica will do that but it will also invite a lot of comparisons. In Volbeat’s case though, the similarities are warranted and well-earned. The production on Beyond Heaven/Above Hell never showcases this talent but it turns out Volbeat builds crescendos just as well as their mentors. Songs like “The Mirror and the Ripper” play so much better live where you can hear (and feel!) the rhythmic verses gallop unstoppably towards a thunderous, climatic chorus where frontman Michael Poulsen displays a vocal range his counterpart James Hetfield can only dream of. Volbeat may lack the deceptively deep lyrics Hetfield used to publicly cope with a lifetime of familial resentment but then again, Volbeat isn’t after that. The band’s charm lies in their ability to relate with the common man. Their catchy and memorable anthems embrace the fun-lovin’, whiskey-drinkin’, good-ol’ boy style Metallica spectacularly failed to capture during Garage, Inc. It comes as no surprise either, considering Poulsen confessed to a strong influence from music’s first and best everyman—Johnny Cash.

Volbeat went out of their way to point out those influences so as to distinguish themselves from the bands they find themselves wrongfully lumped together with. Early on Poulsen remarked, “Just so you know, we're not fucking Nickelback." While no one could ever confuse Volbeat with that four chord atrocity, the sentiment led a fellow concertgoer to poignantly comment, “I like anybody that hates Nickelback.” And that is where Volbeat starts to win you over. Again, while the comparison is baseless, it demonstrates a certain level of self-awareness on Volbeat’s part and shows they aspire to more.

The Danish rockers only further endeared themselves through the genuine joy they displayed in putting on such a lively performance. The band treated the audience like a fifth member of the band, both figuratively and literally, inviting some lucky fans up onto the stage for the song “Thanks.” The whole experience brought to light something many critics forget in their jaded snobbery. Bands that cater to the masses but have the talent to warrant their popularity help introduce their audiences to the music those people might otherwise never encounter. The Every Time I Dies, Maylenes and the Sons of Disaster, and Protest the Heros of the world need the exposure commercially viable but still artistically satisfying bands like Volbeat provides for the genre. If that combination opens the door to the wonderful, wide world of metal just beyond the surface for even a handful of Volbeat’s fans, then consider me one too.

**Kyle Andrukiewicz is a corresponding writer for Officially A Yuppie. In some circles he is known as Rock(jock).

Grace Potter on Conan

New England rockers Grace Potter and the Nocturnal's arrived to Conan this week to perform "Paris (Oh La La)," take a look!

Live Review - Richard Ashcroft / The Postelles @ Bowery Ballroom

The last time Richard Ashcroft played New York City he was back with his original band The Verve in 2008. The band returned to the scene after nearly a decade absence and sold out two nights at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, for those in attendance, it was a memorable and historic night as they would be the final times (again) that The Verve would play New York City or North America for that matter, after the release of their anticipated album Forth later that year, they broke up soon after…again.

Now Ashcroft, who lamented himself as a solo artist in the early millennium after The Verve famously split in 1998 (again), returned with his new band, The United Nations of Sound to Bowery Ballroom. The band, which is a funk band has given the lanky singer a new energy and zest, though he will always be known and famous for his role in Britpop, he is now crafting his own style of hip-hop influence rock that we here call Brithop. The iconic singer in the iconic venue seemed much more at ease than the last time New York saw him. He showed that he had nothing to prove but just pure enjoyment. Opening with his latest single, “Are You Ready?” Ashcroft came on stage in his parka and began dancing up a storm. His band, whose tight rhythm section backed his sound and style, Ashcroft is doing a few cities in the US to support the US release of his latest record, RPA and the United Nations of Sound, which was produced by Jay-Z and Kanye West producer No ID. The album which has received less than stellar reviews around the globe, does not faze Ashcroft, he is doing what he loves. I, a major Ashcroft fan, do not care for the new album either, but I must say that live the songs sound much more lush and pulsating, enough to enjoy in a room with a few 500 some-odd fans. After three songs, the parka came off and Ashcroft picked up his acoustic to perform The Verve single “Lucky Man.” As the crowd went nuts, it is just a testament to Ashcroft’s career; he is indeed a lucky man being able to do this and sell out when he rarely tours. After nearly an hour on stage, he focused more on the new material while tossing in other solo gems like “Music is Power,” but then reached a point where he was losing touch with the audience three quarters into the set as he would have the band jam out and he would flail on stage like Michael Stipe. After the main set finished, Richard and the band walked off. The true highlight of the night was for the singers encore, taking the stage by himself with an acoustic guitar performing stripped down versions of “Human Condition,” “Sonnet,” “On a Beach,” and “Why Not Nothing.” After the amazing solo acoustic segment, you realize, this is what he should do, it would be brilliant to see a full set of stripped songs of his like this. As if the encore could not get any better, he dedicated a rare performance of “Lonely Soul,” to DJ Shadow, David Axelrod and UNKLE, it was truly a perfect way to end the night but he was not done, the band would come out again and they would end off doing new cuts. In many ways it is a bittersweet symphony after all of Richard Ashcroft, which he has become a voice for a generation and still has a legion of fans but nothing on Earth could ever top his Verve return in 2008.

Opening the show were the perfect last minute addition, slick New York City rockers The Postelles. The Postelles, who have become one of our favorite’s here at Officially A Yuppie, took the stage at Bowery Ballroom as openers, which may have been a bit odd, since last summer they were headliners. Nevertheless, they still performed their signature solid and efficient polished rock and soul meets doo-wop sound. The crowd for the show was much older and clearly many had never heard of the band before but soon became instant fans, as most usually do, by the end of their 40 minute set. The Postelles are such a refined band, as we reported they had issues with their former label, EMI but have found a great home at +1 Records, who will be releasing their long awaited debut this spring. Whether they are headlining Bowery or opening for an icon, they still find a way to steal the audience’s attention and hearts. Where ever they may play they are a band to see and absorb.

The Strokes Live on Letterman

Three New York City staples came together again - The Strokes at Ed Sullivan on Letterman. Take a look as the band play "Taken For a Fool" off their latest, Angels.

Live Review - Brother / The Dig @ Mercury Lounge

Seven songs, thirty minutes, a performance that one will be talking about for years to come. When we look back years from now on the music of this day and age, the performance from one of England's fastest rising starts - BROTHER (yes, they insist on all caps) at this very show at the infamous and tiny Mercury Lounge will be discussed for a long time. In the "I saw them when" sentiments that people give when they converse about Mercury Lounge; the stage in which Arcade Fire and Yeah Yeah Yeah's began their careers and buzz, BROTHER just entered that same list. To describe BROTHER, the words humble, kind and modest are not the proper vocabulary, the best way is cocky, arrogant, cheeky, clever and that is just the first part. BROTHER are right now taking their bravado's and flexing a bit of muscle wherever they go, playing a dirty form of rock and roll, a style in which they call "Gritpop," a take on Britpop but mixed with harder sound - think New York Dolls meets Heavy Stereo and early Oasis (Just don't tell them I said that). They move around on stage as if they have been doing this their whole lives, bringing an old school style of rock and roll and BROTHER display that they are a band that we NEED right now. "America needs a great band, so we started one for you and we are here" said singer Leonard Newell as he first spoke to the audience. The band, who just signed to A&M/Octone will release their debut later this year, plowed through their short set list and poked fun at the crowd at points. "I didn't know we were at a Blackberry convention, but if you are texting away, tell your friends how great we are," Newell said of the packed audience looking down at their phones. The thing is we NEED a band this arrogant and cocky, they make things interesting, remember how much fun and dangerous rock and roll was when Oasis were getting started or when The Libertines were trying to survive? BROTHER like those other bands, can also play and put on a hell of a show, which makes their whole package that much perfect.

Opening the show was New York City favorites The Dig, The Dig have been a band we have followed for over a year and their last minute addition to the BROTHER bill was the best I have ever seen them. Playing a tight and brilliant 40 minute set (yes, it seems as if they played longer than the headliner), The Dig displayed their psychedelic, prog meets ambient rock and roll to the amazement of an audience with most not ever hearing of them before. Singer Emelie Mosseri has a charisma that captivates the wonderment of a crowd and while the band performed, what was most noticeable was keyboardist and backing guitarist Erik Eiser's casts on his wrist and leg. Eiser had fallen off a stage last week at SXSW and sustained a few injuries but still played and plugged along as if nothing was wrong with him. The things we do for music. As The Dig wrapped up their set, members of BROTHER would go up to The Dig and praise the band, "big fan after tonight mate," is what you would here.

This great line up will be in the New York area through the weekend, this is a bill that is not to be missed!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gaslight Anthem on Kimmel!

Due to the event's that happened in Japan last week, The Gaslight Anthem were forced to cancel their Japanese tour. However, they made the most of it by being on the west coast and performing "Bring It" on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Take a look!

Depeche Mode Remix Cover & Track Listing

The second remix retrospect from electronic legends Depeche Mode will arrive June 6. The album, Remixes 2: 81-11. This will feature remixes and reinterpretations of classic Mode songs from Eric Prydz, M83, Peter Bjorn and John, Digitalism, Dan the Automator, UNKLE, former DM member Vince Clarke and more.

The album will be featured on a singe disc compilation and a massive triple disc compilation, take a look at the track listing for both versions in full below:

1-Disc version:
1. Dream On - Bushwacka Tough Guy Mix Edit (2001)
2. Personal Jesus - The Stargate Mix (2011)
3. Suffer Well - M83 Remix (2006)
4. John The Revelator - UNKLE Reconstruction (2006)
5. In Chains - Tigerskin's No Sleep Remix Edit (2011)
6. Peace - SixToes Remix (2009)
7. Tora! Tora! Tora! - Karlsson And Winnberg (from Miike Snow) Remix (2011)
8. Never Let Me Down Again - Eric Prydz Remix (2011)
9. I Want It All - Roland M.Dill Remix (2011)
10. Wrong - Trentemøller Remix (2009)
11. Puppets - Röyksopp Remix (2011)
12. Everything Counts - Oliver Huntemann And Stephan Bodzin Dub (2006)
13. A Pain That I'm Used To - Jacques Lu Cont Remix (2005)

3-Disc version
Disc 1:
1. Dream On - Bushwacka Tough Guy Mix (2001)
2. Suffer Well - M83 Remix (2006)
3. John The Revelator - UNKLE Reconstruction (2006)
4. In Chains - Tigerskin's No Sleep Remix (2009)
5. Peace - SixToes Remix (2009)
6. Lilian - Chab Vocal Remix Edit (2006)
7. Never Let Me Down Again - Digitalism Remix (2006)
8. Corrupt - Efdemin Remix (2009)
9. Everything Counts - Oliver Huntemann And Stephan Bodzin Dub (2006)
10. Happiest Girl - The Pulsating Orbital Vocal Mix (1990)
11. Walking In My Shoes - Anandamidic Mix (1993)
12. Personal Jesus - The Stargate Mix (2011)
13. Slowblow - Darren Price Mix (1997)

Disc 2:
1. Wrong - Trentemøller Club Remix (2009)
2. World In My Eyes - Dub In My Eyes (1990)
3. Fragile Tension - Peter Bjorn and John Remix (2009)
4. Strangelove - Tim Simenon/Mark Saunders Remix (1998)
5. A Pain That I'm Used To - Jacques Lu Cont Remix (2005)
6. The Darkest Star - Monolake Remix (2006)
7. I Feel You - Helmet At The Helm Mix (1993)
8. Higher Love - Adrenaline Mix Edit (2004)
9. Fly On The Windscreen - Death Mix (1985)
10. Barrel Of A Gun - United Mix (1997)
11. Only When I Lose Myself - Dan The Automator Mix (1998)
12. Ghost - Le Weekend Remix (2009)

Disc 3:
1. Personal Jesus - Alex Metric Remix Edit (2011)
2. Never Let Me Down Again - Eric Prydz Remix (2011)
3. Behind The Wheel - Vince Clarke Remix (2011)
4. Leave In Silence - Claro Intelecto 'The Last Time' Remix (2011)
5. In Chains - Alan Wilder Remix (2011)
6. When The Body Speaks - Karlsson And Winnberg Remix (2011)
7. Puppets - Röyksopp Remix (2011)
8. Tora! Tora! Tora! - Karlsson And Winnberg (from Miike Snow) Remix (2011)
9. Freestate - Clark Remix (2011)
10. I Want It All - Roland M. Dill Remix (2011)
11. A Question Of Time - Joebot Presents 'Radio Face' Remix (2011)
12. Personal Jesus - Sie Medway-Smith Remix (2011)

Richard Ashcroft on Fallon

Former Verve front man Richard Ashcroft finally released his latest solo album, Richard Ashcroft and the United Nations of Sound in the U.S. Ashcroft went to Jimmy Fallon to perform a couple of songs "Are You Ready," and "Thing Called Life" backed by The Roots. Take a look!

Pains of Being Pure at Heart on Letterman

Pains of Being Pure at Heart have a new album coming out next week and they promoted it by dropping by Letterman last night. Take a look.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Live Review - A Million Years @ Spike Hill

Once In A Million Years: A Million Years at Spike Hill

By Jared Zeidman*

A concert review is supposed to be a summary of the on stage event that took place. But what A Million Years did on Friday night at Brooklyn’s famed Spike Hill is worthy of a little more context.

A Million Years entered the fall of 2010 ambitiously touring up and down the East Coast in support of their first full-length album, Mischief Maker. As the touring continued, AMY developed a good following, and some radio play, which opened up some pretty unexpected doors. After opening for 30 Seconds to Mars and Phoenix, they caught the eye of New York City cult sensation Jesse Malin, who not only asked AMY to open for him in the tri-state area, but also in an extended tour of the U.K. to ring in the New Year. The band then got what they expected to be their most important hometown gig ever, a direct support opening slot for indie juggernauts, Klaxons, at Webster Hall.

Five hours before the start of Friday night’s show, the members of the band were informed that the Klaxons due to personal reasons had canceled their entire US tour. That kind of news for an up and coming group is pretty crushing. That show could have been their breakout show. And instead, they had to multitask between sulking about it, and preparing for a show merely hours later.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that Spike Hill, while having a ton of charm, is roughly the size of my two bedroom apartment. And since the club didn’t do advance ticket sales, there was no idea what kind of crowd would be in attendance. A Million Years’ had spent a great deal of time trying to get people to the Klaxons show, and now would going to be playing to a crowd that at full capacity, would be less than a quarter of the size of what they are accustomed to.

All things considered, I guess this is what I am trying to say. A Million Years could have potentially put on the worst concert ever. The circumstances were all there. They could have just gotten insanely drunk and made a mockery of the entire event; and they would have been forgiven by anyone who knew what had just happened to them.

Instead, they put on the best show I’ve ever seen them play.

The band met less than an hour before the show and apparently put the stamp on a plan to drastically alter the set list. When the stage lights hit, AMY opened with the song “Incandescent,” which, to my knowledge they have only ever played as their closing number, due to the fact that it ends with what I can only describe as a 30 second noise jam. Keith Madden said at the end of the song, “now we have high energy, and we are going to keep that high energy going.”

The high energy never stopped. In fact, it seemed like the energy was contagious.

Nick Werber, on multiple occasions, turned his back to the crowd and buried both his guitar and his face into his amp cabinet as he played his solos. It’s a move that I’m sure is taking a million years off his ability to hear (ba dum cha!), but also a move that allows him the ability to manipulate the noise of feedback as a tangible part of the music; something he did seamlessly all evening.

The Rhythm section played as tight as any live act I had seen in the last two years. Andrew Vanette had exceptional command from the throne, and Andrew Samaha’s presence was both visible and audible, particularly in the song “Poster Girl” where his bass line works in tandem with Madden’s vocals.

Keith Madden was, without question, a front man. There is a Thom Yorke element to his mystique, where Madden looks like your run of the mill guy who is just very gracious and modest, and just happens to be a brilliant lyricist and solid guitar player who becomes one of the most enigmatic figures you’ve ever seen when you put him on a stage.

The band played none of their older material, instead playing almost all of Mischief Maker, three new songs, and a David Bowie cover, before ending with “California Smile,” which the packed house chanted back at them. But even as their set ended, the crowd participation didn’t wane. After a chant for an encore, Keith and Nick made a personal dedication for what would be their final song of the night, a cover of “Dreams” by The Cranberries. The best part of the encore may not have even been the fact that the cover was outstanding (particularly due to Vanette nailing the drum part and Werber and Madden exceptionally handling the vocal harmony), but rather the fact that everyone in the crowd apparently knew the words to the 90s hit and all sang it in unison, much like they sang a lot of AMY’s big tunes.

Could you stop after saying that they put on a great show? Yes, you probably could. But to me, the Spike Hill gig exemplified what people have come to expect from a band that has the best attitude you could possibly ask for in a group of musicians. They clearly do not take themselves, as individuals, very seriously. However, they take what they do more seriously than nearly any major band I can think of, and they still treat every gig like it is extremely important.

This combination of personal modesty and thorough care of their craft has gained them a following that is almost indescribable. It has turned them into a band that all of New York is now solidly rooting for.

And on a night when a breakout band delivered a breakout show, when they could have just as easily phoned it in, why wouldn’t you root for them?

**Jared Zeidman is a contributing writer to Officially A Yuppie. He runs the sports website Take Over The Game.