Monday, February 28, 2005

Wrist Bands, what?

Someone needs to inform me that if you want to go to an in-store performance at Tower Records, you need to get a wrist-band DAYS in advance. How would I know? Apparently for Jack Johnson, you do.

Last time I went to an in-store was for Ben Kweller, I got there an hour before hand, waited in line outside and was a foot from the stage for his performance.

(P.S. My roommate has three braids in her hair right now. Slight side note. What possessed her? She does not know. She apparently is working for Satan. "I am," she claims.)

Back to the story. So Liz and I trekked out, once again in the frickin snow. This time it was worse. It hurt. I met her at the Bleeker street subway and it was only nine, so we figured we'd get a couple pints at our favorite bar, Swift (a block away from Tower Records.) For the record, favorite beer - Magic Hat #9. In case you cared.

Ten PM came around (Jack Johnson was on at 10:30, apparently) and we headed back into the snow and noticed a line. Who were all these crazy people who went out in a snow storm to stand outside? Well, apparently those who had wrist bands. Did we had wrist bands? Absolutely not. This was all news to me. So I went inside and put on my charm. Apparently I'm not that charming. It was "sold-out" and "unless you had a wrist-band" you were "stupid to wait outside."

So no Jack Johnson. I'm sure he's upset he didn't get to meet me. Liz and I did get our Man on The Street done for the next issue, so it wasn't a wasted night. But Interpol tomorrow, so I can look forward to that.

ALSO, big news! The Upwelling will be opening for VHS or Beta at Bowery Ballroom next Tuesday night at 8 pm. Can't wait.

Almost Here

In two weeks time, issue five will be done and I will be sitting in a bar in Florence drinking wine, eating bruchetta and remembering when I was pulling my hair out a week earlier. That time cannot come soon enough.

It's coming soon, and although I feel like I am getting the issue done much earlier than past issues, it still scares the shit out of me. This I sometimes forget that what I do is actually read by others (we hope). I think part of me would like to go to shows, listen to music, interview the musicians, but keep all my stories locked up in a box in my apartment, only to be opened by yours truly on a rainy day. I was watching this movie, United State of Leland, on Saturday (good flick) and they say you are only a writer if someone reads your work. Well duh, but it reminded me that it's all about putting yourself out there. Luckily for this issue I am not writing as much, but with what I am doing, I'm trying really hard to get it right. If only the publicists from The French Kicks would return my calls. (The tape of the interview didn't exactly work out.) Did I mention how much I loathe publicists? Another time. For now, let's keep our fingers crossed that everything gets done in time. (and that my passport arrives. please please please)

So with that said, I spent most of my weekend in front of my computer yelling at Adobe Photoshop and In Design. It's a grand time, you should try it. Just hold yourself back when you fantasize about throwing your computer, modem, and everything in your apartment out the window. Someone could get hurt.

But I have a busy next two weeks ahead of me. It's exciting, and thrilling. I swear. Good shows coming up:

  • Monday: Jack Johnson @ Tower Records, Broadway & 4th

  • Tuesday: Interpol @ Radio City Music Hall

  • Friday: A Brief Smile @ Don Hills

  • Sunday: Secret Machines @ Irving Plaza

  • Tuesday: Snowden @ Sidewalk Cafe.

    Oh! I got tickets for The Features/The Walkmen/Ben Kweller show at Irving on the 28th. $5! What could be better? The fact that after I come back from Florence I have another week off from work. Okay, tie.

    That's all for now. Terrible blog for today, I'm sorry. I just like to avoid doing anything productive. Especially when my boss calls me every other second asking what I'm doing. I should show her my blog, maybe she'd be proud. Or maybe I'd get fired. I wouldn't mind either at this point.

    Ta ta for now.

  • Friday, February 25, 2005

    Saying Goodbye

    The weather outside was frightful. However, somewhat delightful. We did have places to go. And for Luna Lounge? We let it snow.

    I had one of those days yesterday when you feel like everyone is out to get you. I find out that my passport is expired exactly two weeks before I am to get on a plane and get the hell out of the tri-state area to go to Florence. Now that may not be happening. Fingers crossed. Can't catch a break in school. Was on the subway for what felt like 1000 hours just to get up to the MET to listen to poems. And then the snow. All I want is spring. And a room somewhere. Far away from this cold night air.

    But after a shower and a deep breath, I was out in the winter wonderland to head on out for one of the last times at Luna Lounge. It's really depressing to see this place shut down. It's so close to my apartment. And it's free. AND they play good music, and drinks are relatively cheap. Tear. Damn the man.

    So by the time Liz and I trotted through the snow, Man In Gray had just taken the stage.

    I hold female singers to a high standard. I think guys can get away a lot easier with a not-so-great-let's-just-scream voice. Tina, perhaps New York's next Karen O, not only filled Luna with an incredible voice, but her stage presence is the perfect balance of sexuality and poise. It's not as visceral as say Karen O is, it's more approachable and real. It was Bryan's birthday last night. I caught him at the bar taking a tequila shot to say hi. Boy do I love my tequila, but unfortunately it wouldn't happen, as I am here at work, and as you can tell, being as productive as ever.

    I met Matt of The Go Station over a year ago at St. Dymphna's. We had a long in-depth drunken conversation of record labels, local bands, the music industry, you name it. It was right as I had just started the magazine and was trying to find my footing. Matt and the rest of the gang finished off the night at Luna by stating that this wasn't a funeral, but a celebration. It was their last time to take that stage, and they did it well. Chatted with Joel, the drummer, after the show. And although the boys were just mentioned in this week's NME, he told me they were in dire need of press. I think I can help them out there. I smell June issue cover story.

    Two weeks to go until the next issue of Underrated. Let's hope that night I'll be on a flight out of the country. Legally. Until then, goodbye Luna. We'll miss you.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Thank You Mr. President

    What a joy it was not to have to work or go to class yesterday. I managed to get one whole article finished! But also got to extend my catch up of Sunday with listening to some more new music, specifically Rockets & Cars and Colored Shadows. Awesome stuff. Will post songs when my email stops beeping at me, one of these days.

    So after slumming around in glasses and pajamas all day while I locked myself in my apartment to get at least one draft done of one article, I headed out to Piano's to check out Underrated favorites A Brief Smile. But before them was Blood Red Sun. I met the guitarist Justin on Halloween and he gave me a copy of their album. I kept meaning to check them out, but you know how it is. Busy busy busy. So I was glad I got to see them play, they have a really cool chick drummer and the crowd was definitely feeling their set. The wonderful people at Piano's let them play a couple songs over their time limit, causing everything to be delayed, but we were all thankful. Solid set.

    I think this is the 3rd of 4th time I've seen A Brief Smile now, and each time I'm more impressed. Specifically last night, for some reason the freshman girls from NYU seemed to be missing. Perhaps it was the 21+ venue? I can't say I missed the screaming during their set. I think my friend Jenn said it best when she yelled in my ear "They put a smile on my face!" We know that their boyish good looks must have a part in that, but the smile anyone gets from listening to their stellar E.P. or seeing them play live is anything but brief.

    They closed their set with a Wrens Cover. Good choice. DL informed me they are recording some new songs. Apparently our good friend Eddie Eyeball from Tribeca Rock Club is helping them out. We can't wait.

    So after A Brief Smile, we had some more drinking to do (regretting that now) and we stuck around for the unknown band that played afterwards. I know I could find out who this band is, but because of the story I have to say, I think it's better that I don't mention their name. It was interesting to say the least.

    So as you can see above, this is a large band. 8 people. I was excited as I saw them set up -- saxes, trombones. I figured it could be some cool new ska/jazz/retro feel to it. Yeah, not so much. Guitars blared out the other instruments and it was some sad excuse for punk rock with weirdos. But the most strange part of their whole set came right in the second song. One of the sax players all of a sudden fell backwards into the drum set...knocking it all over. My jaw dropped. He couldn't get up. Okay, so maybe he was a little bit drunk. He finally got back up and then fell forward knocking over his stand. Jaw dropped a little bit more. And then I just started to laugh out of absurdity. He got off stage after the song claiming that he didn't eat much today. Interesting.

    Began to forget about the little mishap, and really try and give these guys a chance. Then all of a sudden our favorite sax player was back up on stage without a shirt on. Still knocking over stands. I figured it was time to leave.

    I guess we can say they had a unique stage presence?

    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    Playing Catch-Up

    It's been a crazy last week/month/year so I decided to take my Sunday and catch up with all the stuff I had to do to avoid doing what I really should be doing.

    Started out my day with catching up with all the Project Runways I have missed. That show is addicting. However, I know who wins (a little bird told me) but I won't disclose. I'll just say that it's somewhat deserved.

    I decided it was time to get out of my apartment. I took the walk up to Union Square with a stop at Starbucks on the way for a chai latte, and knew I had to go into Virgin Megastore. I had to see this Upwelling CD for myself. Low and behold, as soon as I walked right in -- there it was. Staring straight at me. How frickin cool! It's incredible to think that a recording from a self-built basement recording studio is now available at every Virgin Megastore in the country. Oh and there is a little sticker on the front quoting my article from the NY Press. I'm famous! And so honored.

    So naturally I had to buy a copy of The Upwelling's EP (that's the 3rd one now, I think) but schmoozed around to see what else I could spend the money that I should be saving for Florence on. I came across The Trip created by Snow Patrol. I had no clue what it was but from looking at the back, it seemed like a 2-disc mix by a good band featuring a lot of cool bands that I liked. I figure what the hell. Just got through a listen of it, and it turns out the band, alongside a DJ comprised an actual mix with a bunch of really cool artists like The Shins, Secret Machines, Rilo Kiley, etc. I have never been a fan of the dance-club type mixes, but I suppose I've been out of the loop. Apparently you can mix indie-rock too. I felt the need to dance, and that's a rare thing for me.

    I also picked up Blue Merle's debut album, Burning In The Sun. I remembered getting a free download of one of their songs from iTunes awhile back. I listened to the CD at Virgin and felt it sounded very much like Coldplay but a bit more uplifting. It's a good album, easy listening. Wouldn't say it's incredible by any means, but a solid debut with great orchestral bits and songwriting. I can see good things in the future.

    All of a sudden in the last week I've been getting CDs every day from various publicity departments. I used to be so excited if I'd get one a week, now I'm bombarded with new music everyday and haven't had enough time to give each a respectful listen. So today, as I started re-organizing the biggest piece of furniture in my apartment (my desk), I listened to some good stuff. Most notable? Sunshine's Moonshadow and Razorblades and Downtown's self-entitled album. Expect to see them in future issues.

    Downloads: (right click and save as)
    Still Drownin' - Downtown
    Lower Than Low - Sunshine
    Pretty Head - Dave Lear (featuring Scott Morley of The Upwelling on keyboards)
    Boxcar Racer - Blue Merle

    I went through my piles and piles of magazines and tore out articles I liked to create some room. It's incredible how each publiciation I regularly read had articles on Green Day, Jimmy Eat World, and Bright Eyes. Guess we know who were the big stories of the past year huh? It was crazy. Interesting to compare how each publication covered it differently, and yet the same. Favorite article I pulled out is still The Killer's 24 hours in Las Vegas in Spin. Although I have a soft spot for the "Five Rounds With" in Entertainment Weekly. What could be better than basing an interview with a musician over round after round of alcohol?

    Tomorrow night make sure you check out A Brief Smile at Piano's. Bunch of NYU bands playing there tomorrow night, but make sure you check them out at 10 pm. Maybe by that time tomorrow I'll actually have some substancial work done. The clock is ticking. Less than three weeks til the next issue. Oh boy.

    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Baby It's Cold Outside

    We had a mini heat wave for like a day last week, and therefore I forgot that it is still February, and still very much winter. Yesterday when I went to work, I had no gloves, hat, or scarf, so when I went out last night for the night, I made sure I bundled up. It had to be no more than 15 degrees, and with the wind, it hurt. But my outings made the cold worthwhile.

    I met George, Jess, and Dan of El Jezel at Virage in the East Village with Georgia. Basically, I had nothing better to do than tag along for the interview. Fine with me. Had a ball. After a sort of awkward experience with The French Kicks the night before, I think both Georgia and I embraced the low-key, easy going attitude of our dinner conversation.

    The more experience I have, with the more musicians I meet, I realize how small this whole world of music is in this city. El Jezel is friends with Man In Gray, who also is featured in the next issue of the magazine. George was Scott from The Upwelling's roommate in college (where Scott would perform nightly magic tricks). George is also the manager of Virgin Megastore in Times Square where Ari from The Upwelling also works. Okay, so maybe it's just three bands, but I feel a six degrees of separation coming up in a future issue of the magazine. Yes? No?

    After dinner and drinks and some scintillating conversation (just ask where they got the band's name from, and you'll be given an interesting visual) all of us heading back out into the cold to part ways. George, Jess, and Dan were off to a party and a recording studio they hope to record their full length at this year. Georgia went back to her apartment to wait for friends, and I headed up to Stuyvesant Town to get Liz to go to Mercury Lounge.

    I was supposed to head over to Mercury early to check out Robbers On High Street before The Upwelling. By the time I got up to Stuyvesant Town, we of course had a few drinks, and then Liz had to go to the bank, and then got into the cab, we most definitely had missed their set. Not to mention the line outside Mercury. Sold out? I was oddly surprised. It had been awhile since I had seen my favorite Brooklynites play, and I suppose the word does keep building. I just wasn't thrilled to be out waiting in the bitter cold. But we chatted up with the guy behind us, who I can't remember what he name was, but we instantly became best friends in the cold.

    Finally we got inside after a few people left, and I randomly ran into a girl from my high school who now writes for Filter. We got ourselves a drink and headed back to join the eager crowd for a headlining set from The Upwelling. Unfortunately, their set felt rather short, but nonetheless, I was beyond thrilled to see them play again. I'll be honest, I almost forgot how good they were. (Almost! Josh cheered, after the show, when I mentioned that fact.) They haven't lost this girl yet.

    Heard the regulars, "Murdered," "Warm," and a bunch of new stuff that sounded incredible. The night ended with my favorite, "Diamond Ring," and I was sad to see it over. I can't wait for this so-called live album Josh is promising me in weeks to come. I need my Upwelling fix.

    Chatted with Mr. Magician himself, Scott Morley (also the keyboardist of The Upwelling), who when I interviewed the boys back in August, was called "the band slut." This boy gets around. Besides his magic and The Upwelling, he plays around and records keyboards for other artists. He gave me a copy of
    Dave Lear's album, Mr. Sunshine. Listened to it when I got home last night, and it's totally up my alley. Thanks Scott, I definitely dig it. That band slut really knows how to pick them.

    After the show and some schmoozing, Liz and I headed down the street for some pizza and then across the street for more drinks. Met a guy who said The Beatles were nothing more than The Backstreet Boys of the 60's. I think my heart actually broke. What does he know anyways.

    Officially today until March 30, The Upwelling is on Virgin Recommend's CD Sampler, featuring artists such as Ray Lamontagne, Arcade Fire, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, etc. Basically if you go and buy their EP (which you should have already, but I hear a quote of the NY Press article I wrote for them is on the packaging, so let me know) you get a CD with a bunch of really cool artists. Helps warm you up on these cold nights.

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    My Night With The French Kicks

    Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music to start from the very beginning. In fact, it's a very good place to start. So it's the morning after and I will start from the beginning of my night with The French Kicks.

    3:30 PM yesterday- My apartment. Drafting up my questions, singing along to my favorite French Kicks, "Down Now." Pit in my stomach begins. Shower, change, get ready, drink lots of coffee, smoke too many cigarettes.

    4:30 - Call from Kip, French Kicks' publicist. The band won't be ready until 5:30. He's not happy, never really find out why.

    5:30 - Georgia and I head around the corner to Bowery Ballroom. Ring the doorbell. Man comes out, I tell him I'm here to interview the band. "You with the band?" No. Not with. Interviewing. He gave me a weird smile. I still don't understand. We walk into the empty venue to sounds of tuning guitars and "Heyyyyy Check 1. 2. Heeeyyy. Check." The band is on stage. Pit in stomach grows.

    6:30 - After watching the sound check for a good hour (not as exciting as I had anticipated, but it was sort of a mini personal concert) the band is finally ready for their 15 minutes of fame.

    Let me digress, rewind, and enliven you with a little journalistic vision of how this article was "supposed" to be written. It's the cover story of the next issue, so I wanted to do something a bit different than just, this is this band, this is what they do, this is what they are doing next. So, knowing that The French Kicks came out and "hit it big" the same time as The Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and were lumped in that whole "New York Scene," I wanted to do a sort of "where are they now?" and have them take me around Brooklyn to their favorite spots. Something to the effect of: Hip City, Hip Band. Didn't exactly work out. (Now looking at it, probably for the better. Who says hip?) Last Saturday they decided, then, that we could have a typical "Saturday" in New York, up in Washington Heights. Get lunch, go to the park, chat, relax. But last minute, there were scheduling issues. So as my story went up in flames, they said that they could do a pre-show dinner and walk around The Lower East Side. Sounded good to me.

    6:45 - Backstage at Bowery. So much for going out. Nick informed me that they all had a lot to do before the show, so if it was okay, we'd just hang out backstage. Like I was really going to argue standing in front of a 6'4 tall man. When he walked up the back stairs of Bowery, he took 5 at a time. No joke, this guy's legs are ridiculously long.

    7:00 - Interview starts. While the boys munched down on hummus, salsa, chips, and drank their beer, I started firing away with my questions. I always feel like such an idiot doing interviews. But I proceeded, speaking mostly to Nick and Matt as Georgia interrogated the rest of them (on the ball, might I add, good job my friend, except for your lack of quotes). We all began to liven up, drink up, and my pit in my stomach began to slowly diminish. (Hardly any nose scratching either!) I found out that they wouldn't mind being on The OC like their friends The Walkmen did recently, that Nick actually watches the show, and that their last album was recorded in an impressive 14 days due to money issues. We had a little 10 question wrap-up with the whole band, where I found out Lawrence likes to do dishes, they have a lot of favorite streets in the City (one of them, Avenue of Americas, which I hope was a joke) and that their favorite band? The French Kicks.

    8:00 - I asked Nick if he considered the band to be underrated. In his mind, they are overrated. And what is success? When they don't have to have a day job. Nick is a painter, and Matt drives a moving van.

    8:30 - Pictures. I should not be a photographer. I have no vision of how I want the cover to look, but I want it to be especially cool, because it's going to be professionally printed, and IN COLOR! But since we had limited landscape, we decided to have them at the door. The following will not be the cover of the next issue (much to the band's dismay, they really liked this shot) but to their honor, I will include here:

    and a much more visually attractive shot of the boys sitting on the couch:

    So the interview was a bit awkward at times, mostly because I am so strange, but Nick, Josh, Matt, Aaron, and Lawrence were extremely nice and a lot of fun. I got Nick and Josh to sign my CD. I told them I felt like a cheese ball, and yet they signed it anyways. How sweet.

    8:30 - Outside. The boys had things to do, we had at least two hours until the show, so Georgia and I decided to get a bite to eat. Walked back to my apartment and then over on Rivington to Teany, a vegan tea joint in the Lower East Side. I ate my "no turkey" turkey club and my "soy chili" and before we knew it, it was snowing. We chatted extensively about the future of the magazine, and I got really excited for the years ahead. I was even more excited to see the boys that I had just shared a beer with backstage, play to a sold out crowd.

    10:00 - The door at Bowery. So, turned out I wasn't on the list. Clearly my credentials don't speak for anything, and publicists forget about the little people. I wasn't thrilled, to say the least. I left an angry message at the publicists' office, but had no cell phone. We tried sneaking back in the smoking exit, but no luck. I went back down to the girl and had her double check, no luck. That pit from earlier? Now huge.

    10:30 - Outside Bowery. Half hour before show time. I was pissed. Not only did I really want to see these guys play, this was going to blow the whole cover story. No ending. No pictures. Not good.

    10:45 - Inside. Never underestimate the live drummer. With luck on our side, who walks up the street as we are waiting outside? Aaron, the Kicks' live drummer. I was so happy to see him that I yelled HEY! and informed him of our predicament. He was ever so kind, said he'll try and pull some strings and get someone out here. And after 10 minutes of standing in the cold, some guy came outside, apologized profusely, and escorted us personally in front of the line and past a security guard who asked my name and counted 1, 2. Ah, the power of the press. Aaron was our new best friend.

    11:00 - Showtime. They opened with "Wrong Side" and played for about an hour and a half. Their studio albums are great (first one is better) but the band live is an experience all its own. I could tell Nick had taken a few more drinks since we last left him, as he tripped over his enormously long legs on stage numerous times, liked to clap, a lot, and hit himself with the microphone. It's cool to see bands switch up their instruments throughout the set. From drums, to keyboards, to guitars, these guys can play it all, and play it well.

    They even played my request, "Down Now." I felt so special. Mostly, I was just happy that I got to see them play. The huge grins on their faces said it all. Whether it was whatever drugs, alcohol, or excitement they consumed (or maybe just the mere hours they spent with me), it was pure joy to see them play live sold out show in their city.

    1:00 AM- Home and exhausted. It was an interesting night to say the least, of journalistic pursuits, fan memorabilia, vegan food, security guards, and a truly memorable show. I guess that's what happens when you hang with The French Kicks.

    Check out the cover story with The French Kicks in the next issue of Underrated Magazine on March 10.

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    T - 2 Hours til The French Kicks

    Good news! I'm freaking out! Okay, breathe Rachael it'll be okay. I don't know why, big artist or small, I still cannot get over my fears. I'm awkward by nature. My latest nervous habit is scratching the arch of my nose. Why? I don't know. I'm weird. I predict a lot of that tonight. I just can't believe I get to sit in on a sound check, go out to dinner with the band before they take the stage to a sold out show. How did I get here, I wonder. No more questions. Just gotta go with the flow.

    So even better news! Underrated Magazine has found a printer that will look good, and not cost too much. Now that is a deal. Starting in June, ads will start running, but I wanted to get the magazine looking all spiffy so more advertisers will want to sign on to our little publication. So, if all goes well (fingers crossed) we will have an actual magazine - color cover and all! Perhaps I'm a little more excited than the rest of you. To be honest, I am a little sick of spending an afternoon at Unique Copy stapling over 200 copies together. Now we are going to have 500 distributed and I don't have to staple one!

    I'm beyond excited, oh wait, and terrified. I'm a walking dichotomy and I like it that way.

    I'll be back with the complete wrap-up of my night with The French Kicks, pictures and all. Looking towards the future, one scratch of the nose at a time...

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Stephen Kellogg @ Bowery

    Last night I had the fortunate ability to walk out of my apartment, walk 32 steps (I counted) to Bowery Ballroom to see Issue Two's Underrated Artist, Stephen Kellogg headline on the day his new CD was released.

    I'll admit it, I have a bit of a crush on Mr. Kellogg. Last time we chatted back at Tribeca Rock Club, he was nothing short of charming. Now he's on a major label, but he's still very much the southern gentlemen, only er, from Boston. It was great to see him playing at a bigger venue and still having fun.

    The show was great. I got to stand upstairs right behind the sound booth for a great view of the band and the crowd. Kellogg played a lot of songs from the new CD, as well as my old favorites, "Thirteen" and "See You Later, See You Soon." The scruffy, blue-eyed Bostonite could not stop grinning in front of the crowd of college girls who dragged their boyfriends to the show. They threw in covers of everything from "Jesse's Girl" to "Sweet Caroline," and Keith even attempted the dance from Napoleon Dynamite, with, well, grace. But to end the set, Kellogg and his two band mates, Keith and drummer "Boots" did a cover of "Blackbird." Quite daring for these youngsters (we all saw the other Beatles cover on Sunday), but I was pleasantly surprised. I even had slight chills. These boys, if anything, know how to harmonize.

    Besides Mr. Kellogg, I began chatting with the sound guy at Bowery, who turned to be in a band and was interested in what the whole magazine was about. He told me he'd seen me before and noticed my handy dandy green notebook. He asked me if I ever write bad reviews. I told him no, I'm not a critic, merely a fan. He asked what I did, then, if I was sent a CD that was terrible. I told him that if I couldn't find a staff member who liked it (I strongly believe every musician can find it's niche), then I just would choose not to review it.

    It got me thinking. I've had a lot of ups and downs lately. 2005 has been jam packed with stress, and it won't lighten up for another few weeks until this next issue is done. My only hope is that it is understood that I believe in Underrated . I have from day one. How? I'm not quite sure. It's my passion and my calling. I feel like this was something I was fated to do. As awkward as I can be, I am honored and privileged to have the opportunity to do something I feel so strongly about at such a young age. I love music. All kinds. But I am no expert. And I'm not perfect. I'm still learning each and every day, and trying desperately to get rid of all my fears and reservations. It's a lot harder than I thought.

    I'm terribly nervous for my interview with The French Kicks tomorrow. I keep thinking that one of these days someone is going to figure out that I have no idea what I am doing, and that I am the biggest fraud. Hopefully I'll be able to survive on my own two feet, be able to sleep a full night, and not get that pit in my stomach each time I head out to a show or interview.

    Underrated Magazine was born to give musicians the recognition they deserve. To give fans insight on music that wouldn't be able to know of in our mainstream world. For me, I want to know the stories. I want to hear why they are in this industry, doing what they are doing, and how they got there. I can't complain, I get to listen to new music each day, and meet amazing musicians. But that's all. I don't have a grand plan or scheme, that I know of. I just want to continue doing what I love and hopefully helping out some people on the way. Felt like I needed to get that out for some reason or another.

    Sunday, February 13, 2005

    El Jezel: The Best Dressed Band in NYC

    Forget everything you know about fashion and trust me. El Jezel is the best dressed band in NYC.

    Last night I caught the threesome at The Knitting Factory. First we'll talk about the music, since I supposed this is what I'm supposed to be talking about. Unfortunately, the venue does not do the band justice. The sound at The Knitting Factory is just not good. Regardless, El Jezel put on a great set. They impress me even more each time I see them. I think the thing that really impresses me about the band is their presence. They genuinely look like they want to be up on stage. They want to be playing their songs for anyone who will listen. They have fun. And because of that, I have fun each time.

    But let's get to my point. I found out after El Jezel played at the show last weekend that Jessica and I almost had a fashion emergency. She informed me she was going to wear the same skirt as me that night. Obviously she has some style. Since then, I began to think about how other bands dress when they take the stage. Never really noticed it before, and I wonder if bands think hard about what to wear. For El Jezel, they hit the mark last night.

    The line up:

  • George: Any boy with thick rimmed glasses does it for me. He had me at the glasses, and the moppy hair. I have a soft spot for the mop. George had a very stylish button down stripped shirt that was taken off during the set. Oooh! The girls were screaming! Were they? George acknowledged they should have been. And when he took off his shirt, I had to laugh. His t-shirt underneath read "I'm with the band." Can't get any better than that.

  • Jessica: This girl can do no wrong. Her flashy silver bass is the coolest bass I've seen. After our common skirt interest last week, I paid close attention to what she wore this time. Donning a very cute pink silk top that opened in the back, she looked ultra feminine against her male counterparts. Her hair up in a sleek bun, she informed the crowd she almost had a "wardrobe malfunction." No worries, Jessica, you pulled off the outfit quite well.

  • Dan: The drummer could quite possibly have been my favorite outfit of the evening. I don't know if your grade school had the "endangered animals" program where they offered t-shirts, bags, mugs featuring endangered animals where all profits would go to help them out. Well Dan sported some sort of tiger t-shirt last night, from what I believe to be the same program. I think I even had that same exact shirt. Or was it the turtles. Who knows, either way, I was a fan.

  • I wish I brought my camera last night, so you could see. You'll just have to check out El Jezel next time they play. These guys can dress, but even better, they know how to rock. Plus, they are one of the nicest bands I've met. We stuck around for a little while after to check out The Song Corporation. George said its one of his favorite bands. I won't say much, but George -- you have better taste in fashion than in music. I won't say they were terrible, I just didn't really get it. Good musicians, but something didn't work for their sound. Vocals don't match the guitars, or something. Who knows, they obviously are doing something right because they filled up that little old office of The Knitting Factory. But for El Jezel, let's hope they can play in more venues that can appreciate their sound.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Mando Diao vs. The Beatles

    So the French Kick's interview got moved to Thursday, right before they take the stage at Bowery Ballroom. Fine with me! I get to watch their sound check and then go out to dinner with them. Dinner with The French Kicks? I have to pinch myself because this is just ridiculous. I started this little thing with seriously no goal in mind. By the second interview I went to coffee with Ryan Miller of Guster. That was my dream. Since then I've chatted it up with Nellie McKay, stood backstage at this year's Warped Tour, and asked Jimmy Tamberello of The Postal Service whether he likes to lick envelopes. And now dinner with the French Kicks. Wow.

    So this morning I had the day off from my "day job" (Boss is looking at wedding dresses; I needed rest). I woke up at 8 am. So much for sleeping in. Oh well, gave me time to prepare for my interview with Samuel of the Swedish band, Mando Diao pronounced "moooono deeow" (i swear, i asked).

    So I was sent Mando Diao's second album, Hurricane Bar in December and instantly was a fan. I popped the CD in and begin reading their press packet. I got to a point in their bio where the lead singer, Gustaf claims they are better than The Beatles. What? Are these guys kidding. I almost wanted to press stop, but as I reached my hand over the mouse, I stopped and listened. Don't worry, I honestly don't think they are better than the Beatles, that's not where I'm going with this. But they had something, and I just couldn't put it away. For weeks I couldn't stop listening. I was invited to a VIP acoustic performance of two of the guys at Snitch in January. Now I am a sucker for acoustic performances, especially live. If they could do it well, they could do it acoustic, I always say. And behind the perfection of Swedish boys with guitars, they played flawlessly. They had passion, and energy and although Liz kept chatting away in my ear, I was hooked.

    This morning I chatted with Samuel, Mando Diao's drummer. Although there was a lot of "sorry, can you say that again" (we had a hard time understanding each other) I put him to the test. I asked him straight out if he thought they were better than the Beatles. This is what he said:
    Well I know that's what Gustaf has said and yeah I do think so as well. On their albums they always have one or two crappy songs, ours our good from start to finish. No weak point. We are a young band and we're available now. You can’t see The Beatles play anymore. A 16 year old kid today doesn’t know about them, they can discover Mando Diao.

    He also mentioned that they were all huge fans of The Beatles growing up and that's what brought the band together. Okay, Samuel, I will have to agree to disagree, but who knows. These guys are 25 years old, they've got a lot of time to do what they want to do. I felt at first a little turned off that these guys were so cocky, but I guess that's what they have to do. If they believe in their music, they'll get far.

    I asked him what he wanted out of all of this, and to no surprise, Mando Diao has big goals:
    Our goal is to be the biggest band in the world, that’s always our goal. We’re going to continue working towards that as long as it's probable and we have the same energy and fire. And when we feel we can’t give anymore, we’ll quit and say we gave it a good try.

    Fair enough. Check out the full interview with Samuel of Mando Diao in the next issue of Underrated Magazine, out March 10.

    Listen: Got Knows - Mando Diao. (right click and save as) You be the judge.

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    The Upwelling & Me

    I tried to remember this morning how and when I decided I would start a magazine. I remember driving home and listening to Guster. But I cannot remember the exact moment when it clicked. And why. And how all of a sudden it's a year and a half later and here I am. There was something inside of me that was drawn to musicians who were doing everything themselves. It showed passion. It showed truth. I wanted to emulate that with the magazine. I wanted to do it all, and I wanted to meet those who could show me the way. Somehow in the mix of it all, I met The Upwelling.

    Looking back, now almost six months since I first met them, it's quite a story. I got a press release emailed to me about this Brooklyn band that sounds like Pink Floyd. Before I knew it, I was lost in god knows where on my way to interview them. I remember speaking to Josh on the phone and him asking if I was freaking out. Funny, now. It wasn't my best interview, but the boys made me feel very much at home in their spotless apartment. I remember Ari walking me back to my car. We couldn't find it. I then actually did freak out, because I thought it was stolen. After some consoling serenades, I was on my way home. I had their E.P. on repeat that ride home, and six months later, I still can't get enough of it.

    The Upwelling is everything that the magazine stands for. Three guys, living in New York, talented song writers and musicians (especially live), and they did it all themselves. From digging out an apartment to build a recording studio, to getting their album in Virgin Megastore, I've never seen anything like it. I believed in them so much, I wanted to do everything in my power to help them out. It became apparent why I started this magazine in the first place. It wasn't to meet rock stars, it wasn't to be "cool," it was to believe in music, in artistry, and in the power of making a mark in the industry by doing it yourself.

    The reason why I am being so nostalgic today is because I met Josh for lunch. The past few months have unfortunately been tough. The band recently was chosen to be part of the Virgin Recommends campaign, a first for an unsigned artist with an E.P. They continue to play in New York, will embark on their first national tour this March, and are off to Ireland in the summer. I, on the other hand, was trying to balance, school, work, and the magazine, while working on a feature on the boys for NY Press. Then the concert came around, naturally my first choice was The Upwelling. When communication subsided and schedules didn't match, I was bummed. Things took a turn for the worse, for silly reasons. I had so much faith and believed in the band so much, and yet due to us both being extremely busy, I felt lost in a crowd and took it personally. Luckily, things have turned back around.

    At lunch today I realized that I have never met anymore more passionate than Josh. He talks, a lot. And yet it is never distracting or superfluous. He's so genuinely excited about everything that is happening to the band, and rightfully so. In return, he completely boosted up my own excitement for the magazine. It's tough, and I unfortunately get discouraged easily. I have a strange dichotomy within myself: pure determination and utter fear. The Upwelling have shown me that if you just keep going, keep believing in yourself, happiness can ensue. And even if Josh became a vegetarian for happiness, and even though he has only seen two episodes of Family Guy, and called Maroon 5 the new Jamiroquai, he's found something. You can see right there, on his face. It's inviting. And it's quite refreshing.

    I can see it now: The Upwelling sells out Hammerstein Ballroom two nights in a row; exclusive interview with Underrated Magazine (now THE international publication in music).

    I'm listening to their EP right now, again, and you know what? It could happen. And if not, I think I made friends with a rock star.

    Check out The Upwelling next Saturday (February 19) at Mercury Lounge.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2005

    Issue FIVE

    Oh boy, so the madness of the concert is over, and we are eagerly working on the next issue of Underrated Magazine to kick off year #2. And boy, is it kicking. Yes that's right: The French Kicks.

    Just confirmed them as the cover of the next issue. I get to follow them around on Saturday as they bring me to their favorite hot spots in the city. What could be cooler? Checking out El Jezel play at The Knitting Factory after. Looking forward to meeting up with George, Jessica, & Dan again. It's going to be a good weekend, I can tell.

    Interviews are gearing up for the next few weeks, so naturally I will give you all the dirt and secrets that won't be printed. So far we've confirmed The French Kicks, White Hassle, Maverick, Hopewell, El Jezel, Mando Diao, The Bravery, and Man In Gray. This one's going to be a good one. Issue FIVE of Underrated Magazine will be released on March 10, just in time for me to shut off the computer, shut off my phone, hop on a plane for a 10 day getaway in Florence. Oh man, will I need it!

    15 minutes is definitely over

    I never want to work in PR. I haven't had the most pleasant experiences with publicists, much prefer to work with bands themselves. And yet, my current day job is doing corporate communications. I'm that person I hate. I'm those people who think they are better than me. I find it incredibly jarring to be treated rudely by publicists, because I basically am doing their job for them when I get their clients in print. I'm the people who are only concerned with image, who don't care about the craft or the art. I dumb things down, juice things up, just to sell. I've gone over to the dark side. But that's the day job. It pays the bills, and allows me to be me with Underrated. I'm here to help (not the publicists - the artists duh!)

    However, pre-concert I had to do my own PR. How embarrassing! I have enough knowledge and media sappiness to know that I had a story to sell. If that meant that I had to submit pictures to publications (eek!) sit through interviews (on the other side!) and beef up myself as a young entrepreneur, I did it. I wanted people to come out to the show, to see these bands, and that was worth the selling. Or so I thought. After shopping a press release around to a ridiculous amount of publications, two actually followed through with interest: my home-town newspaper in New Jersey and NYU's Washington Square News.

    I've already bogged you down with my problems with the local paper. It defeated the whole point of the article to get the date wrong. (Never even got an apology after I actually THANKED them for running the story, but INFORMED them of their error.) It's okay, I can breathe about it now. It's over.

    And today, the Washington Square News released the article, basically a week after the show: Junior's zine turns year old

    Not as bad as the local paper. At least the facts are right, except for my name. Is an extra 'a' so hard to remember?? I've dealt with it my whole life, I can let it slide. I suppose. But the writer was a sweetheart, and I'm sure that the WONDERFUL (ahem) people at WSN worked so hard, but it was just not in their power to get it out before the show. I'm sure.

    But I suppose if it gets some more subscribers than it's a job well done. I suppose. No more PR for this girl. Well not for me at least. That's Liz's job now!

    Sunday, February 6, 2005

    Back to Sanity & Work

    After Wednesday night's festivities, it is unfortunately time to get back to life and work and school and the magazine. Gearing up for the next issue of Underrated that will be out in March. Can't disclose too much yet, but it's looking to be jam packed of great artists and features. There's so many things that we have planned for this year, that I'm thrilled. Beginning to work with some printers (Unique Copies are just not doing it for me) and beginning getting ads for not this issue, but for the one out in June. Look for articles from past issues posted up on the website, and Underrated Magazine is up on My Space. Join the crowd here.

    Side note: I have always loved technology, being a bit of a computer nerd myself. Okay okay, I'm just a Mac freak (I'd prefer to say elitist, but whaaatever). I have to say all these online dating/friend websites are a bit jarring. Won't mention names, but I know a few friends that have posted ads on Craig's List and have gotten over 100 responses in a day. Is this the future? I hope not. I hope people can still go out and socialize, person to person, rather that computer to computer. But in regards to bands, I completely see the intent and the advantage. It's amazing how you can build up a fan base nationwide, even overseas through the internet. So if all this online networking can get a few more subscribers and word of the magazine out, I'm full for it. Plus, I got to listen to some cool new bands. But let's not all be glued to our computer screens in the future, there still is a world outside our windows. Okay, long side note, my apologies.

    Friday night after a long day of a work and a nice dinner out with Lana, I had full intention in checking out Maverick play at The Knitting Factory. However, my body just wasn't up for it. I came home after dinner, sat down on my couch, figured I'd have some R&R before going out again. Next thing I knew it was 11:45 PM and I had missed the show. My apologies go out to Dan and the rest of the guys, I hope to catch you play real soon. I hope you had a great show, everyone should check them out, they rock.

    Last night was the regular crazy times with the girls up at Stuyvesant Town. New Ms. Betty Crocker Liz made some delicious Pad Thai and we enjoyed an interesting round of "The Happy Hour Game" that I got her for her birthday. Got some culture in us by checking out some local brazillian jazz at Zinc on Houston and then some Indian belly dancing at Pamela's. How I love those bongos! I swear, no other city could you have a night like that...

    Listening to: Maverick - Vulnerable (right click and save as)

    Friday, February 4, 2005

    Don't Forget To Dance

    Is it wrong to still be in a little bit of shock that this whole thing actually took place? I don't think I can comprehend this last year, how this went from a crazy idea while driving in traffic, to a cheesy power point presentation, to stapled pieces of paper with the name spelled wrong, to a one year anniversary issue, and now this concert. I caught myself looking around at Tribeca at everyone there, and thought to myself: Wow. We actually did it.

    Favorite moments from the night:

  • Norma the owner of the club pouring me my first drink

  • Tammany Hall playing "Wait for Jane" (loove that song)

  • My parents & their friends arriving for support & love

  • El Jezel covering The Cure, Georgia was a fan

  • Chatting with The Upwelling's Josh and Scott (who gave me a very sweet gift) and Ashley shocked at Scott's magic trick

  • Almost falling down the stairs... numerous times

  • A Brief Smile's whole set, technical problems or not, they guys always put on a great show

  • Drinking with my professor and realizing we had class the next morning at 8 am

  • Meeting the infamous Eddie Eyeball, great guy who helped me out tremendously putting the event together

  • Dancing to NYCSmoke (dancing is a very rare occurrence for me)

  • Liz, in general.

  • Hearing my music come out of my iPod for the entire night -- "DJ Underrated" oh yes, what an added plus.

  • The cab ride home with my roommate and staff photographer Ashley as we were completely in shock of the entire night

  • Going to sleep that night with the biggest grin on my face

  • All pictures are up on the website, under the Gallery. Share your favorite moments of the night here under comments!

    Now that the concert is over, we are gearing up for the next issue of the magazine which will hopefully be out this March. Subscribe now to receive it in your mailbox the day it comes out. Look out, year #2 of Underrated Magazine is underway.

    Thursday, February 3, 2005

    It's early

    It is currently 6:01 AM. I went to bed a few hours ago and I now have class in 2. I went to sleep with the biggest smile on my face and woke up from pure excitement. I still can't believed it happened. The little magazine that could had it's one year anniversary concert and it was a huge success. Who would have thought?

    Because of the time and the lack of sleep, and lets face it: alcohol still running through my body, I’ll keep this short and have a much more detailed re-cap of the night coming up, complete with pictures. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank every single person who was involved in last night's show: from Tribeca Rock Club, to my wonderful wonderful staff of hard working women, to each of the bands that played (you all rocked!), and to all that came out on a Wednesday night to support the cause. It was truly an amazing thing for me to see and have all of you there to share it with. I had so much fun. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

    Cheers, to a great night, and hopefully many more to come..

    Wednesday, February 2, 2005

    Tonight is THE night

    Tonight is the culmination of the last two months of planning, the last year of the magazine, and the last 20 years of my life. How I am feeling? Terrified. I am a very odd combination of pure determination and pure fear. I am hopelessly optimistic and yet nervous constantly. I just hope that we have a good turn out, that we can rightfully celebrate the magazine's first year of existence, that I don't get too drunk and make a fool out of myself.

    Silly me, I took the day off so I could prepare for tonight. I've already made my check list of what I have to bring, it's all on the window sill in my apartment in one easy to congregate pile, and besides a hair cut at 4, I have nothing to do now, except sit around, and be nervous. Not good. After waking up surprisingly late (haven't been able to sleep lately) mostly because I went up to Liz's last night and had some beers while making fun of MTV shows, I made some coffee and decided to watch one of the greatest movies by one of the greatest people in the entire world: Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous.

    I felt it appropriate for today. How do I love Cameron Crowe? Let me count the ways. What do I love about Almost Famous? To begin with, everything. The story itself, loosely based on Mr. Crowe's real life as a young reporter for Rolling Stone is both honest and genuine, entertaining and heartbreaking, inspiring and hopeful. I remember the first time I heard about Cameron Crowe. I was in the video store, a young girl, probably not much more than 12 and saw Say Anything staring up in front of me. At that age, I was beginning to really enter my overdose of hopeless romanticism and romantic comedies were my drugs. I watched the movie that night while babysitting for the kids next door to me in suburban New Jersey. I laughed, I cried, and fell in love with Lloyd Dobler. Naturally the moment he picked up the boom box and played Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" I swooned. Never before had music so perfectly crafted a scene. Nothing had to be said. The song said it all. Pure genius.

    That night when I got home I looked up Cameron Crowe and found out that he had started at the age of 15 writing for Rolling Stone. He was a senior editor before he was legal to drink. He wrote a book, and then made it into a screenplay. After Say Anything, he would go on to make Singles, win an Oscar for Jerry Maguire and then make the most important film in his career, the film of his life, and his fan letter to music: Almost Famous.

    I remember seeing the trailer for Almost Famous before the movie Rat Race (underrated classic in my opinion). I turned to my friend and said "I have to see that movie." She laughed, said yeah, it's right up my alley, but didn't really understand my concern. I was still in high school at that time, and when the movie was released I couldn't find a soul to see it with. I pleaded, and every time we'd go to the movies, they'd have something else they wanted to see. I was frustrated, but before I knew it, it had disappeared from the time table. I was crushed. A few months later when I heard that it was coming out on video, I pre-ordered it for purchase. I didn't care that I hadn't seen it, I knew I would love it. And I did. I loved every second of it.

    This morning as I was watching the film for the millionth time, there's still magic. I still get chills the moment Russell Hammond says to the young William Miller, "write what you want." The writing is beautiful, almost lyrical. Penny Lane's solution for loneliness: "go to the record store and visit all your friends," and Sapphire's definition of a fan: "to truly love some little piece of music or some band, so much that it hurts." The music. Once again Mr. Crowe let's music define the scene and made "Tiny Dancer" the love song that always intended to be. I just don't know how he does it.

    I think about Cameron and I read his early work. I wonder what it would be like to sit down and talk to him, about music, about writing, about life. He's lived this incredible life and still believes in it. I was asked when I was interviewed for my little local town paper with whom my dream interview would be. I searched my brain for bands that I would love to sit down with and discuss their albums, their drive. I thought about what band I believed to be truly underrated. And then I remembered that kid who has lived the life I want to lead. I want to ask him, how. How did he do it? I want to shake his hand and thank him, for everything. The person I consider the most underrated in all fields that he has delved into. My dream interview: Mr. Cameron Crowe.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2005


    So I came across this band Snowden the other day, and their E.P. is beautiful. I have a certain affinity for NY Bands, and even though these guys are from Georgia, they are worth a post all their own. Even better, you can get their E.P. for free at their website. What is it with such incredible E.P.'s from these new artists. Its so exciting to see these bands take care of every aspect of the recording, to the mixing, and right down to the distribution. It shows. It shows their passion, care, and work ethic. No need for record companies anymore. Well, not at the beginning at least. I'm taking this class on Constructing The Record Company and it's really opening up my eyes just to how ridiculous the whole process is. It's all about the hits. It's all about the money. Music as art? Please. It's solely a business for these people, they could care less if you can change the world with one chord progression.

    The best E.P.s I've heard recently:
    - The Upwelling: The Upwelling
    - A Brief Smile: Memory Loss
    - Snowden: The Snowden E.P.
    - The Perishers: The Perishers: Sway
    - Ryan Adams: Love is Hell Part 1 & 2

    Go to the Snowden website and download the E.P. Trust me. They have a pretty nifty website as well. These southern boys know how to do it. And if you HAD to only download one, or want to give them a shot, I recommend "Chin Up." I put it on repeat to fall asleep to last night. It's that good.

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