There's (still) something special happening in Johnstown, PA.

put a quarter in the telescope and you can almost make it out
the artspace that they're opening right outside downtown
it's going to be our hearts, it's going to be our souls,
it's going to take the place of work and church and school
if it doesn't get shut down by city council

Got a tip the other day to check out one of the newest releases from My Idea of Fun records: S/T by Emmet and Mary. It's...well...it's sort of a post-apocalyptic rock opera. Or at least part of one. It looks like there'll be more to come, if one inspects MIoF's releases page. There's a lyrics transcription that clarifies which character (or group of characters) is singing any given line, which is an absolute must-have if you're to have any chance of following the plot. Even with it, you've got an uphill climb. But, no complaints. It's a fun little record, and if you're looking for something off the beaten path to check out, it might be perfect for you. There are sample mp3's at the link above, if you'd like a taste.

What's really striking to me about the project (and many like it coming out of Johnstown) is its ambition. The sheer magnitude of people who were involved in bringing it from concept to reality. My Idea of Fun is, as advertised, an artist collective. If you take a look at the cast, band, cult members (really), etc that put time into making this thing happen, and you happen to also know the names of the people in bands like Endless Mike and The Beagle Club and Elementary Thought Process, you'll see familiar names, among a host of others. All of whom, as the name of the label suggests, participate in huge, ambitious projects like this because it is their idea of fun.

All these people hang out at 709 Railroad Street, an art space in Johnstown. From the looks of things from afar, it's really becoming quite a happening. Keep an eye on it.


Drew & The Medicinal Pen looking for a new drummer

If you're a drummer, you may be interested in the opportunity to join an extremely cool band. If you're not (like I am not), let this video be the time you finally take my advice and listen to Drew & The Medicinal Pen for a little while. When you're done with the video, head to myspace.com/drewandthemedicinalpen and listen to "Hole in my Sail" and "Spotlight" and everything else and then tell everyone you know.


Idlewild will let you buy a record that hasn't even been made yet.

Idlewild will be spending early 2009 in the studio to record an album slated for conventional release over the summer, but fans are being given the opportunity to buy the record (and some nice bonus material) now, months before the first note has been committed to hard drive. Bonuses include 15 downloads from also-yet-to-be-recorded live shows in December, access to the music (download and CD) within weeks of completion, and one's name in the CD booklet, perhaps. I don't really understand how that last part's going to work. Anyway, in their own words:
By going to idlewildmusic.com you will get details on how to pre-order and what you will receive.

These include a limited edition CD album (with free download version) in exclusive packaging & including at least one bonus track. This will be shipped within weeks of completion & before any standard release.

You can get your name to appear in the CD booklet with the album and on a roll-call on the web site.

Access to download 15 free tracks from live recordings at the King Tuts "album by album" shows In December '08 & access to a members only section of the web site with album progress updates, exclusive photo and video content from the recording and preproduction process with diaries/blogs by individual band members and lots more.

Signing up will also automatically enter you into draws for special prizes.
The pre-order will set you back £16.50, or approximately $500 (I kid). So yeah. I bought this because I'm a superfan, and because it's nice to see that bands continue to buck standard record release trends, and bands that do so deserve support. And also because I want my name on their website.

Interested parties should pull out their credit cards and head directly to idlewildmusic.com.

One additional note: The album by album shows mentioned above will be happening in Glasgow, which is a bit of a commute for me so I won't be going, though I have long dreamed of witnessing a full performance of The Remote Part.


Iron & Wine - Terminal 5, 11/17/08

Pic from Morrissey
It was my first time in Terminal 5 (a testament to the precipitous dropping-off of my show attendance of late), so let's get the venue griping out of the way first. There aren't enough places to stand and actually see the stage. The entire 3rd floor is basically a waste, the 2nd floor has very little decent viewing that isn't VIP seating, which basically reduces Terminal 5 to a venue no better than any other stand-on-the-floor-and-try-to-peer-between-heads venue in the city, only the fire marshall lets them sell a lot more tickets. I don't have any complaints about the sound system though. Iron & Wine sounded amazing.

But I was sold before the first note was even picked. Sam Beam had me at "Woo, beards!" which he exclaimed in response to the enthusiastic welcome he received from the sold-out, heavily bearded crowd, a light jab, it seemed to me, at the too-ready-to-shout-ILOVEYOU-or-NAMEOFSONG-or-HOMETOWN-or-ANYTHING-in-even-a-moment-of-silence throngs out to see him sing that night. Try to follow that last sentence. Just try. But really, it was like that. That shit drives me nuts.

And then he started playing, first joined on stage by only a female accompanying voice. "He Lays In The Reins." I had steeled myself against the possibility that he wouldn't play a single song from my favorite of his records (okay, not exclusively his), and he opened with it. The highlight of these affairs for the majority of the audience, it seems, are these stripped down numbers. Sam can play the hell out of a guitar, and he's surrounded himself with a group of similarly able musicians, but he can't escape the shadow of his own whispery voice, which is all anyone wants to hear. The crowd grew noticeably restless during the longer full-band breakdowns.

I, for one, like seeing artists retool songs live on stage, but experience dictates that most fans disagree. I would think that most fans of the act would pretty much know what they're getting into at this point, but those who would rather an artist sound just like the record in concert were, fortunately for me and unfortunately for them, out of luck for most of Iron & Wine's set last night.

Edit: I forgot to mention this before posting, but I genuinely enjoyed Blitzen Trapper too. I was a hater when I saw them at The Mercury Lounge months ago, so that was a very pleasant surprise.


New Third Eye Blind is on the way

Funny how all this time I thought his name was Stephan Jenkins. But "Stephen Perkins" is close enough I guess. I don't know how you screw up the name of a guy that says things like "I don't know you, but I love you all for you are all made of lions!" in his MySpace blog.

Anyway, after having been gone for what's felt like forever, 3eb is inching back towards the spotlight. The three songs they have posted on MySpace all sound to me exactly like what I thought new Third Eye Blind should sound like, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I really like them.

My favorite, I think, is the live version of "Why Can't You Be," in which Stephan Jenkins manages to weave straight-up filthy lines like "Sometimes a blowjob's not enough" into a tapestry of failing relationship heartache, and have it work. Nobody does that like he does.

Third Eye Blind will release the Red Star EP on 11/18, and the full length Ursa Major is tentatively slated for February 2009.


Springsteen to premier new song on Sunday Night Football

I'm still not sure how I feel about The Boss playing the Superbowl, but it's becoming clear that the NFL had to sweeten the deal a bit before he signed on. Way to make 'em work for it, Bruce.
Are you ready for some football? Well, even if you're not, you'll probably want to tune in to the Cowboys/Redskins Sunday Night Football game on November 16. As NBC's Al Michaels announced last night: "Next week we'll have the world premiere of Springsteen's new song 'Workin' on a Dream' set to NFL highlights at halftime at next week's game." Springsteen performed an acoustic version of the new song last week in Cleveland; this will be the world's first chance to hear the studio recording.
The video above is that performance in Cleveland, which the MySpace Bulletin fails to mention was at a rally for Barack Obama.


Billy and Jimmy are bad role models

Matt Pinfield had Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin for what was apparently Billy's first radio interview in 3 years, on the morning before the first Smashing Pumpkins show in New York City in about 8 years. It was, for the most part, a candid, informative interview, and I enjoyed listening to it. Especially the part where Billy spoke at length about ways to connect more deeply with fans, like experimenting with new ways to release music and perform live, and where he interrupted Pinfield (who was about to play a song) to talk about the importance of unity amongst bands, and the common purpose of creating a body of music representative of this generation. It was a very weird, awesomely rock-star moment that I plan to listen to again when the interview goes online here later today.

But then came the question about the election, and it was revealed that Billy is "not a voter," which is his "controversial position," and that while Jimmy is a voter, he didn't vote this election because he was busy moving and just didn't have the time. The two then went on to talk about how wonderful it is that now anyone really can do anything and blah blah blah HOW CAN YOU BE "NOT A VOTER"? Seriously Billy, that's horse hockey.

Again, the interview will be here later today, if you're interested in hearing it yourself.


I want your flu baby, not just your cough.

Photo by Michael Halsband

More than a year ago I went to something that I could have sworn I wrote about on here before, but apparently failed to. My girlfriend was living up by Columbia, and they have this little room in the basement of St. Paul's Chapel on campus there (they call it PostCrypt) that they use for performances on Friday and Saturday nights. She had seen an ad for a special night with some special guests, so we went.

So three singer/songwriter types sat up on little stools and took turns telling stories and playing songs to a standing room only crowd of less than 100. The reason the guests went unnamed, I guess, was that one of them was Suzanne Vega, but the one that left the most lasting effect on me was someone I hadn't heard of before that night: one Richard Julian. He'd played a song about the fictional screw-up son of Jesus that would pop into my head randomly for months after that night, and I've been making efforts to see him when he plays in New York ever since.

I was about to write about what I like so much about him, when I found this quote, which I think sums it all up more nicely and concisely than I could. WFUV's Claudia Marshall:
Julian's guitar playing is athletic but subtle, and his secret weapon is his voice — not a croon so much as a plaintive wail that serves his songs well. He's my favorite New York singer-songwriter, period.
There's a 45 minute interview and 4 songs performed in-studio from WFUV where that quote came from. Highly recommended.

Anyway, Richard Julian is going to be playing at The Living Room in NYC every Monday in the month of November, hitting the stage around 10 pm. I'll be there at least once. You should too.


Springsteen does Halloween

Head on over to brucespringsteen.net and watch the video and download the free mp3 for "A Night With The Jersey Devil." Not sure how long it'll stay up past Halloween, so grab it while the grabbing's good.

It's a nice touch that the download page encourages, but does not mandate, email submission.

Happy Halloween.


Simon said "you suck," and Randy said "you suck."

More than a year ago, I downloaded a mixtape from Liberated Matter's Cross-Pollination series (which you can still download here) because it had a Kevin Devine song on it. I listened through the whole thing in hopes of finding something to sound cool telling my friends about, and the song with the most such potential was a ditty (yeah, I said that) about a hapless American Idol reject named "Stacy J," by Matt Singer. It's been a steady go-to flavor piece in playlists ever since around here, but it was only this month that the album containing "Stacy J" finally came out. And I like it a lot.

The Drought is unapologetically dorky, generous with well-placed fuckwords, and genuinely fun. You can sample the aforementioned "Stacy J" if you download that Cross-Pollination mixtape. You can also get the another version of that and one of album opener "The Poet" from Amie Street for free as part of a Family Records promotion if you go here. Why they don't have his actual album yet I do not know, but I imagine it's coming.

If you like these, you're going to like the whole record (hell, there are only 4 more songs on it, one of which contains the line "they'd tell their friends 'hey check it out, i think he's gonna whip it out, the most amazing dong you've ridden in the motherfuckin' world'"). So go get it.


Jaymay - Highline Ballroom, 10/20/08

This was a cool show. Stories in High Fidelity, they called it. A bunch of guys who have written about rock got up and read things they had written, including a reading about a GNR cover band by Mr. Chuck Klosterman, and one from Dan Kennedy, from his book Rock On: An Office Power Ballad (which I loved when I read it a few months ago).

And then Jaymay hit the stage solo, for what started as a fun (if not completely sober) take on some of my favorites ("Blue Skies" FTW), and ended in the kind of special-guest-on-stage-scene that the word "shitshow" was invented for. I personally thought it was a lot of fun, but judging from the way half the audience headed for the exits like they were fleeing a bad fart, not everybody agreed with me.

Honestly Bruno, where did all that come from?

More pics (from an iPhone) of one of the awesommest/weirdest things I've ever seen below.


Now Shipping: EPIC FAIL

Maybe it's just because I haven't been paying attention as closely as I used to, but I was just thinking the other day about how the Never-Ending Folly of the Major Label seems to have quieted down these past few months. Kinda like how when you're a kid and your dad takes you fishing for the first time and after a bunch of thrashing around, your catch lays still. And then you think it's dead so you reach out to touch it and then it's not dead and it scares the shit out of you. Anyway, today I got this breathless joint press release from SanDisk and all the majors, heralding the arrival of the slotMusic card. Flop flop floppity flop.
*This is a big deal.* Its the first time the major labels and retailers have unanimously embraced a new physical format in over 25 years. These cards play in 70 million phones in the US and a billion devices worldwide. Imagine if there were that many CD players in 1982.


The world’s four largest music companies and SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK), a leading seller of MP3 players and flash memory cards in the United States, today unveiled the full list of artists joining the inaugural slotMusic line-up. Starting this week, music fans can purchase slotMusic cards—microSD™ cards with pre-loaded, high quality, DRM-free MP3 music—featuring new release albums from favorite artists like Coldplay, Katy Perry, Leona Lewis, Rihanna and Robin Thicke and catalog titles from Elvis, Abba and more.

Within days of shipping, slotMusic cards will arrive on the shelves of Best Buy and Wal-Mart in the United States, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $14.99. slotMusic makes today’s hottest music available on interoperable microSD cards that let fans instantly plug and play albums into their microSD slot-enabled mobile phones, portable media players, computers, and an increasing number of car stereos.
It's too easy not to note that the boast of an "increasing number" means very little when you're starting at near zero, that's not what really rankles my shankles.

Look, I (clearly) have no insight into how this doodiebaby was sculpted, but the following images keep running through my head, and they're what I find especially bothersome:
  • The amount of time wasted in meetings, executives working themselves into a lather about the rebirth of physical sales, and the fall of the mp3.
  • The amount of money wasted on developing a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.
  • The vast number of real problems that could have been solved with a redirection of all that time and money.
  • The laugably mistaken fantasy of Morris and Bronfman that this might end the hegemony of the hated iPod.
  • The bewildered, reluctant yes-man, shaking his head as he walks out of the board room after one of these meetings about slotMusic, heading back to his desk to update his resume.


It's time now to burn.

It's really shameful how little I've written on here about Kevin Devine, even when I was writing more than 3 times a month. Not a week goes by that I don't put on a Kevin Devine record. This gushing is long overdue.

I driving with my girlfriend back to my apartment from a good-but-not-good-enough-to-drive-to-again sushi place in Coney Island, and I happened upon K-Rock's local music show, which is unsurprisingly more refined than the Providence local music show I used to do, and more listenable by leaps and bounds than K-Rock's usual fare of pap and dreck. They played a Jaymay song, actually, which is why I listened for a while. And then they played Kevin Devine's "Another Bag of Bones."

And it's just...something. We sat there in the car mesmerized, as Mr. Devine sang in his unmistakable tones of the human race's quickening drumbeat march towards annihilation. It's some dark shit.

Anyway, maybe it's just the "big election about small things" frustration I've been feeling of late talking, but this song really cut right to the nightmare heart of why I could give a shit about whether a candidate wears a flag pin.

Get it at Amazon here. Please.


Sarah Pedinotti update, band name change

The soon-to-be-formerly-known-as Sarah Pedinotti Band (once briefly known as The Raptors) have been holed up in the Catskills working on the record that will welcome them into the world under their new moniker: Railbird. CD release parties are slated for September in NYC and upstate NY, but you don't have to wait until then to hear some new tracks. Oh no no no. You can hear four new rough mixes right f-ing now at myspace.com/sarahpedinotti. So, do that.


The Lighthouse Song

Speaking of new things worth checking out on MySpace (and really, when are we not), Josh Pyke has posted the first new song from his forthcoming Chimney's Afire record: "The Lighthouse Song." The list of artists whose work I'll grant a preemptive endorsement is dwindling to say the least, but Mr. Pyke remains firmly entrenched there. Buy this record when it comes out. It will be good.

In the interest of not just posting a link to MySpace and calling it a day (not that there's anything wrong with that), here's a mostly forgotten interview I did with Josh Pyke back in 2005 on the now-defunct PulverRadio.com. The interview includes four fantastic live performances interspersed in between poorly worded, mundane questions and patiently delivered answers. I cringe to listen to the interview these days, but the songs are really marvelous.



In a move surely designed to make me say "damn" and drink a beer, The Format announced months ago via MySpace that they will not be making any more records. I didn't write about it at the time because if you look back at February, I wasn't writing about much of anything. But it seriously sucked, sucks, and will suck.

That said, an announcement went up today about Nate's new band, fun. Stupid name perhaps, but it's exactly the word I'd use to describe the demo (download available with login) of "Benson Hedges," currently the only song available on the site. Which is a neat concept, really. Imagine if other bands followed suit. What a great day it would be when Animal Collective changed their name to WTF.

If you've got some time to kill and are interested, Nate also posted a long letter to his fans about what he's been up to so far in 2008 here. Make sure you go to the bathroom before you click if you want to get through it uninterrupted.


The National - Central Park SummerStage, 8/4/08

One of the people on the Internet writing about music that I enjoy reading the most is Yancey Strickler over at eMusic's 17dots.com. It's a funny thing because I rarely like what he writes about nearly as much as I like what he writes. His is a way with words worth knowing. So, when he writes nice things about a band that I like, I feel this strange one-sided camaraderie. It's similar in a way to the secret smile you afford yourself when you catch an otherwise typically stoic New-Yorker-in-subway-mode smiling about something some other passenger just did that you also were tempted to smile about. See what I'm getting at here? Me neither. Basically, I just wanted to quote the guy about The National, and here I've gone and written a whole paragraph of anti-content. One time Yancey said this:
The Boxer is just so subtle. I’ve talked about the record with both Joe and Todd in the past couple of days, and that’s the word we all keep returning to: subtle. This is a freshwater album, the slight tugs to Matt Berninger’s voice more in line with the slow currents of a mountain-top lake or a dragonfly-patrolled stream than any ocean that I know. It’s also a very American album, a fact that I am certain of, but have had trouble pinpointing exactly why that’s true.
Being able to watch a band like The National, a band with such rich sounds, helps you to hear parts of songs that you otherwise might not have noticed. Know what I mean? Well, I know exactly what I mean, and I'm not going to say anything further on the matter except that being close enough to the band to see what was going on, I came away from the show with that line about subtlety running through my head. The line about the record being distinctly American, too, but that I think had more to do with drinking a beer and being outside. You shoulda been there.


From the Useful Shit Department: Online calendars

I was over at the Bowery Presents website the other day (for those not in the area, they're the promoters of a vast majority of cool club shows in NYC) to check show times and I noticed something I hadn't before in the upper right hand corner of the page: iCal and Google Calendar links. So now, with a single click, I can superimpose every show they're putting on in the city over my Google Calendar (which is, in spite of my efforts to prevent it from becoming so, a now-indespensable life tool).

Granted, there's nothing life changing here, but it's just one more nice touch on a concert promoter's website full of nice touches, and some band sites could certainly learn from the simple utility therein. There's a Last.fm station playing soon-to-perform artists, a regular podcast promoting events, an email list, and the calendar links. The scramble not to be caught flat-footed by having no idea that your favorite band is in town just got a little less frustrating.


I'm missing Chairlift RIGHT NOW.

Photo by Ross Fraser
Chairlift, who might very well be on stage at the Knitting Factory as I type this at the end of a long night of sweating in my apartment, is today's swift-kick-to-the-ass for amassing such a backlog of to-be-listened-to songs that I never got to "Evident Utensil" (mp3) until it was too late.

Don't make the same mistake I did. Listen to this bizarre 80's-ish ode to pencils (other songs are about earwigs!) sooner rather than later, and don't waste the night languishing on your ass when they come through your town.

Chairlift's debut Does It Inspire You comes out 10/18/08 on Kanine Records, although it's apparently already available as a digital purchase at Amazon.

Update: an email from a BlackBerry confirms that yes, I am missing them right at this very moment.

The Confusions are still at it.

My favorite Swedish band, The Confusions, are in line to play the last set at this year's Storsjöyran Festival in their native land, hitting the stage at 1:30 AM on 8/2/08. What? You've never heard of the Storsjöyran Festival? Well turn in your Cool Dude Card right now, Buster, because the lineup features some of the raddest groups around, from Drive-By Truckers to Justice to Kris Kristofferson to Blondie!

Ok, I had never heard of it either.

If you like the song in the video above (it's called "Thin"), an email from the band assures me that for a limited time, an mp3 will be available here, although at the time of this posting, it doesn't seem to be working yet.



Margot & The Nuclear So & So's - Bowery Ballroom, 7/28/08

With two years having passed since the release of the fantastic The Dust of Retreat, I was expecting my first Margot show to feature a bunch of new songs. It did. The new stuff sounds good, and old favorites (for my money, it doesn't get better than "Talking in Code") sounded the way songs that have had a few years to mature on the road are meant to sound: better than they do on the record.

That said, it's a tall order to mix an 8 piece band live and make it sound like anything other than mush, and there were a few times Richard Edwards' vocals got completely lost in the mix. It's not so bad for a singer to get lost when you know all the songs by heart, but it certainly detracts from the excitement of a new song not to be able to make out the words. A few listens to "Broadripple Is Burning" on MySpace confirm what I figured upon hearing it last night for the first time: it's pretty as hell.

Anyway, Margot & The Nuclear So & So's are selling their recent Daytrotter Sessions (buy at that link, get a different tracklist for free at this one) these days, but will soon shift focus to the promotion of the September dual release of Animal! and Not Animal, the backstory of which is...interesting. Not Animal is the version of the record that Epic Records wants to release and the only one that will be coming out on CD, while Animal!, the band's tracklist preference, will be released only on vinyl and digitally. Both releases will share a good number of tracks, but will be decidedly different.

A few points on the tracklist dust-up: One, this is a major half-acquiescing to the demands of a fairly small band on their first record. If you need any more evidence that the days of major label dominance are over, this is it. In the heyday, a band like Margot would be slapped around and put out to pasture for this kind of tantrum. Two, what the hell did the band expect signing to a major? Didn't anybody warn them?


I guess this is a trend? I kinda like it.

To commemorate the 15 year anniversary ATO reissue of the had-been-out-of-print Exile In Guyville, Liz Phair recently announced a second round of shows that will feature a beginning-to-end performance of the album.
In celebration of the 15th year anniversary of the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville and its reissue by ATO Records, Liz Phair will perform the entire album at three engagements: August 27 at Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia; August 28 at 9:30 Club in Washington DC; and August 29 at The Paradise in Boston. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, July 23 via Ticketmaster.

These three additional shows come on the heels of four hugely successful sold out June events - two in New York City and one in each San Francisco and Chicago. Said Jon Pareles of The New York Times in his recent review of one of Phair's Exile in Guyville shows, "After 15 years of other people's indie-rock idiosyncrasies, "Exile" still holds up in all its conflicting impulses: its determination to be 'adamantly free' and its longing for someone to trust, its swagger and its pain." A modern classic, Pitchfork recently gave the album a 9.6 rating while both Rolling Stone and Blender gave Exile in Guyville a perfect score of five stars ("*****").
A few notes:
  1. I never knew Exile In Guyville was written as a song-by-song response to Exile on Main St. before. I guess there really are things to be learned from press releases after all.
  2. I'm sure he wasn't the first to do it, but the first guy I recall recently doing full-album performance of records that weren't by Pink Floyd was Ben Kweller a while back. This could be an ATO thing, then? Or maybe just coincidence. What am I, motivated to do research? If it were an ATO thing, though, It'd be rad to see Mike Doughty do all of Skittish.
  3. Here are 5 other records I'd like to see performed in full (off the top of my head):
Note: this is not just an excuse to post a bunch of Amazon links in fact The Format's link is to Amie Street, this is a prompt for discussion.


Coheed and Cambria announce Neverender shows, are pretty cool.

Coheed and Cambria, whose entire recorded output to date tells the Byzantine tale of The Amory Wars, plan to mark the end of their epic saga with two four-night runs in New York (10/22-10/25) and Los Angeles (11/5-11/8), during which they will play the saga in its entirety - a full record each night.
"NEVERENDER came about because the band wanted to celebrate the end of the Coheed and Cambria saga in a special way," says Coheed frontman Claudio Sanchez. "We wanted to come up with an idea that paid proper respect to this phase of our career, while at the same time gave our fans something truly unique and different. Many of these songs have never been played in front of an audience before so I think we're going to be freaking out at the same time our fans are. It's going to be a major challenge. We're psyched our fans have been so loyal and amazing. We figured they deserved this."

NEVERENDER is the culmination of 10 months of touring the world (including a month of US arena dates opening for Linkin Park this past winter) in support of the band's latest record, No World for Tomorrow. The record represents the final chapter of The Amory Wars, the brutally tragic sci-fi tale of Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon and their family, a story that wraps all of the band's concept albums into one.

"We're really looking forward to going deep and revisiting not only the songs, but also the story," Sanchez offers. "Interestingly enough, us going over all the old material seems to be influencing our writing of the next record, which we're sort of doing simultaneously. And to me, that seems appropro since the next story is the prequel to The Amory Wars."
Now this is a cool thing to do for your hardcore fans. And it doesn't even seem that hard. Just write multiple records over seven or eight years interweaving the complicated arcs of a number of complex characters, and release them alongside comic books that fill in the gaps in storyline inherent in the lyrical narrative. In the process, get famous. NEVER CUT YOUR HAIR. Then re-teach yourselves how to play songs live that you have only previously performed on record, book some dates, and rake in the dough. Money for nothing and your chicks for free, man.

Presale tickets were here but sold out in minutes. Get yours at TicketMaster on Friday 7/18.

Buy The Amory Wars graphic novel here. And (duh) the music here.

Spoon - Prospect Park Bandshell, 7/15/08

Funny things, park concerts. You can bring picnic food. There's room to sit down. They're not too loud. I'm sure it felt just like any other packed club show to those people pressed up as close to the stage as they could get, but for me, lounging just far away from the Porto-Potties in the back not to smell them and with a stage view obstructed by foliage, it was decidedly more...subdued.

Here's the surprising part: I don't think I ever want to see Spoon in a different setting now. Because if I do, I'll just wish I could be reclining on the grass soaking up the sound under the stars, with no one bumping into me and a beer I put down only to applaud.

So...yeah. Great set. Notable covers: "Peace Like A River" (Paul Simon), and "Rocks Off" (Rolling Stones) to finish the encore. You can download Spoon's version of the Paul Simon song at Daytrotter.

White Rabbits played too. They were pretty rad.


Too Drunk To Buck

Video is full of NSFW language. Duh.

What you'll find above, if you hate yourself enough to watch and listen, is the result of last year's "Crazy Bitch" becoming a hit. This is what happens when you encourage this kind of behavior: amplification of the worst of it. When Buckcherry released "Lit Up" a million years ago, I thought it was a pretty OK song. This latest offering is ribald without a trace of the appeal that usually comes along with raunchy entertainment. It's excruciating.

If you've got the stomach to make it to the 2nd verse, see if you agree with me that the lyrics were chosen exclusively from dirty Google results.


We Are Scientists - El Rey, 7/1/08

I wasn't going to bother writing about this show. In fact, I spent a good deal of the time We Are Scientists were on stage musing at the fact that a band I really like can play, in a venue (and city, for that matter) that I've never set foot in before, and with the exception of the markedly strange behavior of a few members of the audience, I can have nothing to say. The band was great, just like last time I saw them. They played all the songs I hoped they'd play (not a tall order for a young band), and had some fun with the audience. Keith Murray sang most of one song from the audience. Yadda yadda yadda.

There are two things I wanted to mention though.
  1. I hadn't been there in a while, but We Are Scientists' website is really excellent. More bands should have websites as interesting and funny as theirs. I especially enjoy their advice page. An example:

    name: Amaar
    query: ok guys, so on a scale of one to ten, how hard do you think it would be for someone to put on pants if they had no arms?

    It would be a good 6 or 7 to put pants on themselves, but only a 2 to put pants on someone else, as they would be able to use their mouth.

    Come for the hilarity, stay for the tour dates and links to buy music.
  2. Can we address the practice of planned encores? Nothing kills my buzz for a show faster than a band leaving the stage abruptly for 2 minutes while nobody even bothers to cheer (especially in too-cool-for-school towns like New York and Los Angeles), knowing full well the band is coming back out anyway because the lights are still down, the house music isn't on, and the roadie is on stage retuning a guitar. This is slowly smothering the spirit of rock and roll. I'm serious.
There are some good videos from the show at this blog, which is all W.A.S., all the time, and which is also where I found the picture above.


With new wave hairdos I want girls

There's a new(-ish) radio station in town here, WRXP - New York's Rock Experience, that has single-handedly renewed my interest in the art of radio programming. In fact, I've resisted more than once the urge just to post a set of 5 or 6 songs in a row they've played just to comment on how nicely done it was.

They do most of the things I like, such as not relying on big artists' crutch hits (they play a bunch of Zeppelin but I've yet to hear "Stairway to Heaven," tonight they played The Beatles' "Old Brown Shoe"), playing two songs in a row without even a dry sweeper in between (love that), and playing a palatable mix of good old stuff and decently cool new stuff. Forget that this is what every station says it does. RXP has actually been doing it. For example, they've been playing new My Morning Jacket and Rogue Wave, and they nearly made me crash my car the other night when they played Steve Forbert (mp3), who I haven't heard on the radio since...well since I programmed a station myself.

They've also invested in some talent, which I guess is ok. Matt Pinfield, despite an impressive and enviable CV, still feels the need to tell me during every one of his breaks that he'll be with me for about 42 minutes. This is the kind of shit that jocks do when they're brand new to the field (he's not) or when they're completely phoning it in (ahem). And his cheese-grater voice sounds totally forced. But really, it's fine.

What drives me fucking crazy, and honestly what I wouldn't have expected from a station that's otherwise programmed so brilliantly, is that just like every other station in the universe, I seem to hear a track from Licensed to Ill EVERY SINGLE TIME I listen for more than a few minutes. Who still wants to hear that so often?

Early Beastie Boys material must test extremely well, but on a well programmed station, it does nothing slap me right out of whatever groove a station has me in. It's just not cool anymore. It's like a throbbing growth on the face of rock radio that everyone politely ignores. Stop the madness.

If you're going to play the Beastie Boys (and really, I'd rather you just let them be), at least play "Sabotage."