Saturday, December 30, 2006

Band of 2006: Birdmonster

Birdmonster Video Shoot

When I look back at 2006 in a musical fashion there's always one name, one band, and one album that comes to the forefront: San Francisco’s Birdmonster. This should come to no surprise for those of you who read this blog on a regular basis. There probably wasn't a month that went by this year that I didn't mention them once. So I felt it necessary to look back at the origins and development of this obsession.

It all started at the tail end of 2005 when Zach, Birdmonster's drummer imed me one day to introduce me to his band. I had seen their name pop around on some of the other blogs, but hadn't had a chance to listen. I was friendly enough, but a bit overwhelmed with a new job and school that I kindly asked him to send me a press kit. He mentioned they were a bit behind, but would get one to me as soon as he can. To my surprise, a little package (which I still have for when they are famous) arrived less than a week later with their EP inside. I listened to the three songs. I listened to them again. And that was all it took.

I first posted about the band on January 11, 2006 where I mentioned the word "love" for the first time. I hinted at the band being a "great DIY success story" which clearly was a foreshadowing to a great year. But I only had three songs, and no live show to go by. And then came the letter.

Just a little over a month later, I became very impatient. I wanted this band to come to New York and I wanted them now. I pleaded with the band and wouldn't take no for an answer. The band responded back on their blog, and so it began. They promised a summer tour, but I couldn't wait that long. Luckily enough, my SXSW trip was planned and I counted down the days until I could finally see them play live.

It was day two and it was hot as all hell outside, but I found myself at the front of the Fader stage completely rocked. I finally finally saw them play live for the first time and was completely hooked. There was blood. There were cheers. I sang along and I knew then that this wouldn't be the last time I saw them. In fact, I saw them again 24 hours later.

That began the real obsession. I finally put faces to the names and sounds and the west coast foursome could not have been nicer guys to chat with. Little did they know then that I would be harassing them on a regular basis.

No Midnight, their debut was still not out by this time, but lord knows I begged them for a copy every single day. Release date was set for April 11, and I couldn't wait. I got the mp3s a couple weeks early and the listening hasn't ceased since. I wrote my official review on the day of release. Within the first few listens I was immediately captured. Every song has been my favorite at one point or another and there is no doubt in my mind that I know every word, every guitar riff, drumbeat and vocal nuance. Okay, so I liked say the least.

And then, the day finally came. I announced Birdmonster's first NY show at the beginning of May. Presented by yours truly, I was just a tad bit excited. The show was, in short, the best show of the year and I couldn't have been more thrilled with the amazing turnout. The next night, I followed the boys around the city and filmed a very special podcast of their show at Knitting Factory, plus an exclusive acoustic version of "Skeleton Suit." The video turned out awesome and perfectly captured the raw energy these guys exude on stage, and the fun loving guys they are off the stage.

Things died down for only about a month. I interviewed David for my first article at BTR, returning full circle to my declaration of their DIY method. The boys came back to NYC for two more shows at Mercury and Union Hall in September. Of course, I went to both and even hosted their afterparty following the Merc show. It was a shitshow of guest djing and crazy dancing til the wee hours of the morning.

It wasn't too long til the boys trekked back across the country to New York in time for CMJ. Of course, we wouldn't let them come to the city without booking them for our showcase. We caught the band on the first night of the festival, where they dressed up in the best Halloween costumes ever.

Our showcase was the last day of CMJ and we rocked out, once again, to the boys of Birdmonster. This officially marks the last time we saw them this year and so we made the best of it. I put my hands in the air and I sang along as loud as I possibly could. It was sad to say goodbye to the boys, but we bid them a fond farewell knowing they will make it back to New York soon enough, if we have anything to do with it.

We ended the year by giving No Midnight the #2 spot on our Top 25 Albums of 2006. It was a tough decision to not make the band #1, but it's only because we know that their best is yet to come. And from what I hear with my conversations with the boys, they are super excited about the progress made thus far. You can bet I'll be hounding them, once again, to get a sneak peak. Hopefully they are used to my psycho behavior by now.

So there you have it, to no surprise, Birdmonster is easily my favorite band of 2006. We at Underrated thank them for their support, their music, and those cute little grins. I can't wait to see what is store for this hard working band, and know that every success is deserved.

Prediction for 2007: White Rabbits
I find myself as enthusiastic about this band as I did with Birdmonster, and they have single-handedly restored my faith in New York bands. I'd see this band play every day of the week if I could, as they provide a live show that is both entertatining and musically impressive. Watch out for them to blow up next year. I received an advance of their debut album and haven't been able to put it down. It's that good.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Just Like Christmas | Aberdeen City

Well friends, I am off for very needed vacation where I plan to read two books and drink gin & tonics all day. Oh yes, and there's always shuffleboard. Let's not forget shuffleboard.

I hope you all have a very very happy holiday, and I will be back in a week completely refreshed. While I'm gone...

  • Don't forget to tune into BreakThru Radio on Tuesday, December 26 for a special live performance from New York's own A Brief Smile. You can find pictures from the recording session on my flickr.

  • Don't forget to tune into next week's "Blog Show" either. We were pleased to have Dany from Exitfare join us for the show.

  • Looking for music? Check out my Top 25 Albums of 2006, Top 5 EPs of 2006, or Top 25 Songs of 2006. That should keep you busy.

    Happy holidays!

  • Aberdeen City - Just Like Christmas
  • Thursday, December 21, 2006

    thursdays is OUR day

    Ah, the holidays.

    We're ready to kick off the holiday weekend in style, officially. We hear certain other parties haven't lasted the Thursday night time slot, but it seems to be doing us just fine. Who doesn't like to go into work on friday morning still drunk? It only makes the day that much more fun.

    I digress.

    Tonight we are celebrating the holidays before we take off to our respective locations. I'd imagine there will be some mistletoe, some santa hats, and probably a eggnog or two.

    Come out and celebrate your new favorite night with your new favorite djs...we won't tell the others.

    10-4 at the skinny
    w/ nora and rachael
    174 orchard street @ stanton


    New episode of The BLOG SHOW is up at

    This week we present their holiday special complete with brand new exclusives from NYC's own White Rabbits and Surefire, plus holiday tracks from Princeton, Aberdeen City, and Snowden. Enjoy!

    Kid On Your Shoulders - White Rabbits
    Where's My Christmas Morning - Princeton
    Just Like Christmas - Aberdeen City

    Love's On The Inside - Surefire
    What Else Could I Say - Surefire
    The New Standard - Surefire

    Raised By Wolves - Voxtrot
    Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives - Voxtrot
    The Start Of Something - Voxtrot

    Photograph - Eagle*Seagull
    Beauty Is A Knife - Eagle*Seagull
    Death Could Be At The Door - Eagle*Seagull

    White Christmas - Snowden

    Check out the hotness over at and click on "The Blog Show." Awesome!

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    Underrated's Top 25 Songs of 2006

    Well here it is my friends. The final list of 2006 and frankly I need a nap after all this. But I couldn't let this year go by without pointing out some of my favorite songs. I opted to leave out all the artists on my Top 25 Albums and Top 5 EPs so that we could share the love. Most of these songs ended up being songs I djed for most of the year, which seems suitable. As appreciative as I am of the subtle art of a complete record, I've always been a songs type of gal. It was hard, once again to nail it down to just this many and actually order them, but I did my best.


    1. Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John [mp3]
    This song was on practically everyone's year-end song list, and with good reason. I think I must have played this song a record 1,000 times this year. And that's not counting my iPod. This is song writing at it's perfection, the lackadaisical melody that is incredibly inviting, combined with whistling. Yes whistling. If you can get a great song and add someone whistling, you've immediately won me over. Not to mention the dueling vocals, as well. If someone was teaching a class with the fundamentals of an indie hit, this would be lesson #1. You can't get much better than this.

    2. The Plot - White Rabbits [mp3]
    This seems ridiculous to put a song that I only heard less than two months ago at #2 of my year of songs post. But trust me. I know when I love a song, and this song was immediately pressed on repeat. I remember the first time I saw this band play, the song was already stuck in my head after the first chorus. That's when you know it's good. I hear that's called memorable? Ah yes. That is good.

    3. Cobrastyle - Teddybears [mp3]
    This was easily my favorite song to dj, and if no one else was dancing you could bet I would be. Nora first told me about this Swedish group, and then I think I saw this song on an episode of Entourage and was hooked. It's a little bit reggae, a little rock, with nonsense words that are incredibly difficult to utter after a couple drinks. But hands down, the most fun track of the year that will always put me in a party mood.

    4. Sexyback - Justin Timberlake [mp3]
    Shocked, yes shocked to have Justin Timberlake on my playlist. No, it's not that I'm opposed to any #1 hits or anything on commercial radio (trust me), but as a reformed teeny bopper I hated N'Sync. I even hated Justin Timberlake for a while too. But this song is so god damn catchy that I could not have left it out of my list, let alone out of the top five. Will I ever get sick of it? Probably. But right now, I'm bringing sexy back.

    5. Dancing Shoes - Arctic Monkeys [mp3]
    This song was so good, I named a party after it. I was hesitant not to include their full-length album in my top ten, but I must admit that every time I listened to it, I kept coming back to this song. It brings me back to my nights at Pianos with great fondness, and even playing it every single week, it never got old. It's got a great beat, a pounding chorus and well...let's face it, it's impossible not to dance to. Oh man, I'm dancing right now.

    6. Over and Over - Hot Chip [mp3]
    My roommate plays this song, a lot. Something to do with her time at Urban, I crown this song the indie kid's dance anthem of the year. It's not too in your face that spazzing will ensue, but chill enough that even the worst dancers can find the beat. That's all the hipsters ask for, right? Not to look like a fool? The Hot Chip remixes are always superb, but this track takes the cake. Repetitive without apologies, I could groove to this track for all of 2007.

    7. Lost (On An Island) - The Undisputed Heavyweights [mp3]
    It's no shocker that I am completely obsessed with The Undisputed Heavyweights. I plan to follow them around until I get the boot, and will sing every single one of their songs as loud as I possibly can, although I'll never be able to outshine Mr. Casey Shea. I had a very hard time trying to pick my favorite song of theirs of the year, but I had to side with our shared obsession. The Heavyweights and I are equally as in love with Lost, and they even went to the extreme of writing a song inspired by that wacky TV show. What resulted was a beautiful love song harboring on the swooning of old school greats, perfectly executed with charm and finesse. I'll never forget the first time I heard them play this song live at Rockwood, when Casey shot me a little grin before they started. In only took a second for me to fall completely in love.

    8. Ooh La La - Goldfrapp [mp3]
    I'm always floored whenever I dj this song and the crowd goes nuts. The build up is pure intoxication and Goldfrapp kick it up a notch in all the right places. If you stand still during this song, I urge you to check yourself into a hospital. It's a flirty escape into europop for exactly three minutes. Don't resist the pull. Just go with it. Let loose. Go crazy.

    9. Postcards From Italy - Beirut [mp3]
    Everything told me to hate Beirut. They were creamed to the crop by the blogosphere, I couldn't dance to it, and it sounded weird upon first listen. I wanted to hate it. I really did. But then I found myself listening to Postcards From Italy over and over again and daydreaming that I was traveling in Europe with some tall dark and handsome suitor with a very big floppy hair. (Don't know why the hat, but just go with it). With the nice opening strum of the guitar, to the falsetto in this young boys voice, and even the addition of a horn section, Beirut has justified its take on a completely forgotten genre and in the process made it cool again. Quite the achievement, if you ask me.

    10. Everyone's Starting Over (Casettes Wont Listen Remix) - The Diggs [mp3]
    I was in love with this song even before I heard it, that love on premise alone. See, I love The Diggs. Always have, always will. My favorite song on their debut album was hands down "Everyone's Starting Over." So when I heard New York genius Cassettes Wont Listen was doing a remix, I was so pumped. Luckily enough, it came out flawless, with a dreamy like electronic mix perfectly combating Tim's powerful vocals. Someone get this ready for a movie or a commercial. I wanna hear it everywhere.

    Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Suffer For Fashion | Of Montreal

    It's been a very stressful time as I'm sure it is for most people right about now. I'm just counting down the days until I am on a boat with a very large margarita in my hand. Until then, I will use music as my sanctuary.

    Last week I received a copy of Of Montreal's new album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? out January 23 on Polyvinyl (pre-order here). I always liked Of Montreal, but never loved them. Frankly, there was just too much material for me to digest and most of their albums got lost along the way. There's no excuse, I just never had the time to sit down and give this band the listening session they deserved.

    However, for the past week my co-worker Lee and I have been obsessively listening to the new album. For some reason, it makes the days oh so much brighter, and life a little bit easier. It's the same quirky sunshiny pop as their previous efforts, but for some reason this album as a whole makes sense to me for the first time. Previously, I'd find songs I love, but couldn't stand listening to an album as a whole. But not with Hissing Fauna.

    I love how this band can combine complete variety (mixing songs as short as one minute to over 11 minutes) and yet still execute a cohesive album from start to finish. I'm going to bet that I listen to this album habitually while on vacation. It mixes with sunshine and relaxation, quite well.

  • Of Montreal - Suffer For Fashion
  • Of Montreal - She's A Rejector

    You can listen to the entire album here.

  • Sure Juror - SMUT

    sure juror @ pianos

    I was told I wasn't allowed to post about this album for some time. Not cool. I've had this album for a couple months now, and have listened to it habitually. I would have even included it on my Top 25 Albums of 2006 but I wasn't sure whether it was to be released this year or not. Their loss.


    SMUT is the second album from New Jersey's Sure Juror. If you remember, I quite liked their first album, and was excited about their new tracks. As cliché as it sounds, I really can't think of a band that sounds anything like them. Quirky always comes to mind, but it's a bit more than that. SMUT proves that they really take song structuring to a new level. No where in this album will you find a mundane verse/chorus/verse palate. With songs that run into each other, and interspersed clips from various movies and TV shows, it's honestly a work of art from beginning to end.

    It's a lot to digest, and yet most of the songs will be immediately memorable. Quite the accomplishment, I'd say. Each time I listen I find a new moment in a new song that I have to listen to over and over again to figure it out. Don't worry though; this album doesn't take a lot of work to like. You'll be hooked.

    When I first listened to their debut album, I was captivated by "Sleeping Pill (what to do the morning after)" for no reason other than I really didn't understand it. The same thing happened once again, but in a completely different fashion, with the closing track of SMUT "Barking Dogs (Pt 2)." Clocking in at just short of 8 minutes, I cannot describe it other than using the word epic. Perhaps that's what I like most about Sure Juror, the indescribable. "Barking Dogs (Pt 2)" takes you through basically a roller-coaster of recording techniques, putting everything you've just heard throughout the entire blender and letting it loose. Sped up vocals, obscure clips, a haunting melody, and something resembling a techno loop is just part of what makes this song stand out. By end you are left completely confused, but incredibly impressed.

  • Sure Juror - Barking Dogs (Pt 2)

    SMUT is now available for purchase over at the band's website for a measly $8. There are a few more mp3s from SMUT as well as their first album in its entirety for free.

    You will see the band back in NYC for their first full set at Underrated Presents on January 27 at Sin-e. More details soon, I promise.

  • 100 Years | Mason Proper

    I've been meaning to post about Mason Proper, but am still waiting for a copy of their album. Humph. Meanwhile, I've been rocking to the free songs on their website over and over again, and am quite confident in saying that this band will blow up in the new year. You heard it here first. (Or maybe, second or third. I never know)

    But why, you ask? Oh well let's just think about it. They basically have everything going for them. Classic indie pop with a dark sensibility, pulling from (dare I say it?) the likes of Sonic Youth or The Pixies. Grand claims, I know. But I hear it. And I like where this is heading.

    But please don't write them off as just another regurgitation of music past. This Michigan band teeters on experimental just to the point that I can handle it. To those you know, I don't really "get" a lot of those crazed experimental indie bands. Mason Proper goes a bit out of the comfort zone, while still keeping it listener friendly. Good job.

    The band's debut There Is A Moth In Your Chest will be out on Dovecote Records in the new year. Check out the band on myspace and visit their visually painful music section of their website for a bunch of mp3s.

    Here's an old version and a new tune to get you started. In case you care, "100 Years" is my favorite.

  • Mason Proper - 100 Years
  • Mason Proper - My My (Bad Fruit)
  • Monday, December 18, 2006

    When I Am Gone | Sparrow House


    I feel like I've been neglecting this blog lately, and I'm here to apologize. You are probably thinking to yourself..okay, this girl is crazy. She hasn't missed a day posting. I realize that. But to me the posts as of late have been quite lackluster. I never really know the right balance between personal and straight forward blog posting, and I still am a little bit lost. I've missed posting about shows I've gone to, CDs I've listened to. I've forgotten about my 52 albums a Week adventure, and I have no one to blame but myself. This time of the year always gets me a little bit crazed, but I should be able to stop once in a while and attempt at some musical pontificating.

    Now, while I go away on Friday for a week (mmmm...vacation) I'm going to try and play catch up this week as much as I can. You still have my "Top 25 Songs of 2006" to look forward to, that I have been pinning over and over and over again, re-ordering, adding, subtracting etc. These list things are a big deal, aren't they?

    Last week I went to The Friction Party which is always a super dooper time. I saw Tall Hands play as a full band for the first time and really dug them. It was an added bonus that the younger Pete from Nickelodeon’s most underrated show, Pete & Pete is their guitar player. The sparks were flowing, and then I realized I had to go.

    BreakThru Radio recorded a live session with my favorites A Brief Smile that night, so I hopped out for a few hours to watch. I'll have pictures and maybe an exclusive MP3 up here before I leave hopefully. Their full session will be up next week for you to listen to, so please don't forget.

    I ventured back to Friction and caught the tail end of Bound Stems who were without foliage, but still sounding as stupendous as ever. Sadly I missed my song (you'll find it in my top 25 songs of the year post), but they played to an enthusiastic crowd. Each time I see this band I like them a little bit more. It's that kind of sound that grows on you. Kind of like trees. Now I see the connection.

    Thursday I hit up the Filter party and got to catch up with the Ra Ra Riot kids, since I missed them the night before. It's a very odd experience drinking and seeing a band in a clothing store. I think it's mostly due to the very bright lights. I spent most of the time there trying not to spill my free Bass on the gorgeous coat I was so close to buying. And then I saw Keith from We Are Scientists in the audience and I hid behind a clothes rack. One of these days, I'll stop being so silly.

    Ra Ra Riot put on one of the best shows I've seen them play thus far, mostly because they were one with the audience. The six piece was literally running into each other amongst the clothes and the hundreds of people who showed up. It was rowdy, to say the least and ridiculously fun. I don't care what you say or think about this band, I think they are fantastic. I can't wait to see them truly blow up in 2007.

    After Filter headed to the last Stolen Transmission party at Annex. Not going to lie, I'm looking forward to fewer nights at Annex. You know how I feel about this place. Didn't stay too long. Too much beer makes this blogger sleepy.

    Friday I had planned to stay in and catch up on some z's, but D persuaded me that her new party Neon Lights at Delancey. Okay, I'd give it a shot. It was Friday night afterall. So I dragged Sean there early for the $3 PBRs (I can't pass up a good drink offer) and was there in time to see Bell, a female singer/songwriter donned with a keyboard and a very Regina Spektor-esque voice. I thought she was, in short, fabulous. Extremely likeable in her presence and with a voice that echoed throughout the small stage, I think everyone there was pretty captivated. It was catchy with a certain charm. As Borat would say: very nice.

    I caught a bit of the second act, Lismore, but migraines and exhaustion ensued, and I had to call it a night. I went home and watched Cheaper By The Dozen 2 on HBO and passed out half way through. I'm not sure if I was just that tired, or if it was just that bad, but I was asleep by 11 on a Friday. I'm that cool.

    Saturday was an early start and off to Prospect Park for what Nora and I have donned "Blogger Bowl," where some of your favorite bloggers played flag (er, towel?) football while we cheered along and drank a lot of red wine in the afternoon. This weather is crazy, considering its December, but I was all for it. It was a beautiful day in the park and a hilarious attempt at football. The rest of the day/night turned into a drinking fest, which the details will remain unsaid, and a bit blurred.

    So that brings you up to date with a bit of the shows, and I promise I'll try and keep this thing with a more organized routine. I'll work my ass off to get everything squared away before I leave on Friday.

    Oh, and here's a song that I've forgotten on my Top 25 in 2006 list, but deserves attention nonetheless. Jared just emailed me over the weekend and is sending me a copy of his EP Falls so I'm pumped to take a listen.

  • Sparrow House - When I Am Gone
  • Friday, December 15, 2006

    Sway (demo) | Voxtrot

    Voxtrot is currently in the studio recording their first full-length demo. Ramesh will be updating their blog throughout the process. He posted a demo version of "Sway" up on Wednesday as a welcome return.

    We are in the studio, setting up to begin recording on our first full-length album. Work should officially commence some time this evening, and hopefully I'll be able to provide pretty constant updates on the process. I apologize for being so lazy (concerning this blog) for the last wee while, but thanks to the wonders of in-studio wi-fi I shall have the opportunity to to rectify that error. Normally, I like to foster some kind of topical exploration in these posts, but for the next couple of months it will probably be limited to "just the facts." Perhaps I'll even relocate the cable that connects the digital camera to the computer and then I can put up pictures. Actually, I bet somebody else here has one (a camera, not the aforementioned cable).

    Speak to you soon!


  • Voxtrot - Sway (demo)

  • One Hit Wonder Day

    Well it's Friday, and I've decided to declare it "One Hit Wonder" Day at the office. I'm playing dj.

    Earlier in the week, Donna Lewis' "I Love You Always Forever" randomly entered my brain and I couldn't get it out of my head. What a classic. I remember actually buying the CD single of this song. Remember when you used to buy singles? Maybe that was just me. Anyways, I used to play this song over and over again when I was at the age of 12, and here I am 10 years later doing the exact same thing.

    I've decided I want a band to cover this song. It's screaming for it. Please, please, please. If you know what is good for you, you will make this song rocking and we will all be better because of it.

    Thank you.

  • Donna Lewis - I Love You Always Forever
  • Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Song Of The Week: Everyone's Starting Over (Diggs Cover) | Beat Radio

    Covers can be hit or miss. Sometimes I prefer a band to do a very literal translation of the song into their own realm. This usually helps if they are in a completely different genre, so it still sounds fresh. Other times, I want a whole new caboodle. Like "Heartbeats" by both The Knife and Jose Gonzalez is a good example. Bad example? Ryan Adams' cover of Oasis "Wonderwall." I love me some Ryan, but that cover was god awful.


    Beat Radio is working on an EP of all covers, and they were nice enough to send over their cover of The Diggs' wonderful wonderful song "Everyone's Starting Over." You may remember there was a remix of this song by Cassettes Wont Listen. There is a reason for this -- the song is an excellent example of craftsmanship, easily maluable to many interpretations.

    I think Beat Radio's cover is absolutely beautiful, slowing down the pace and focusing on the vocals. This = good cover. Take note.

  • Beat Radio - Everyone's Starting Over (Diggs cover)

    Beat Radio is playing December 23 at Pianos and December 29 at Union Hall. Don't forget, you can download their entire debut LP The Great Big Sea here.

  • Blog Show TEN!

    Uh oh. We've reached double digits.

    This week Nora and I recorded from the lovely oasis also known as my apartment. We were lucky enough to have Sean cook us a yummy yummy dinner while we babbled, and babbled, and babbled.

    Recording The Blog Show

    Congrats to our friends at Crackers United for being our bloggers of the week! They put on an amazing show last night, which...according to Nora....was the best, ever.


    Stagg – The Diggs
    Faith In Strangers – The Diggs
    It's Just Like You Say – The Diggs

    Glossy-Eyed Sweetheart – The Hard Tomorrows
    Stop + Shoot – The Hard Tomorrows
    Patterns – The Hard Tomorrows

    Fifteen On Ice – Tall Hands
    Three Full Virginias – Tall Hands
    On Top Of Time – Tall Hands

    Click Click Click Click – Bishop Allen
    The Same Fire – Bishop Allen
    Clementines – Bishop Allen

    Everyone's Starting Over (Cassettes Wont Listen Remix) – The Diggs

    Listen in at and click on "the Blog Show!

    Band Of The Week: Middle Distance Runner

    It's always nice when I'm not the one doing the stalking. It's awfully funny how things have changed over the past couple years since I started this whole Underrated adventure. At the beginning, I was waiting around after shows trying to muster up the courage to say hi to bands. Then I was sending harassing emails. Then it sorta turned into obsessions over bands while trying to keep my cool. Now I have piles of cds sitting on my desk that are begging to be listened to, emails waiting to be answered, and not hours in the day to get around to it all.

    So like I said, it's always nice when I'm not the one doing the stalking. Middle Distance Runner sent me a cd oh too long ago, that actually was listened to and enjoyed, but never got around to a blog post. After they sent me a lotto card with the album (yes a lotto card! genius) and I didn't win, I must admit I was a bit angry. Kidding. But once you quote the Cable Guy in an email to me, you've basically won me over. Most underrated film ever? Me thinks yes.

    Plane In Flames, the debut album from this DC band is chock full of classic indie pop, with sing-song choruses and hooks up the wazoo. It's, in short, completely up my alley. And yet, I think they are on to something else in certain songs, which makes the listen not completely monotonous. They infuse a bit of the wailing melodies of some brit-pop in songs like "Switch It Up" and "Man Of The People" to keep you on your toes.

    Middle Distance Runner is playing with iForward Russia! and Underrated favs, Snowden on Saturday down in DC at Black Cat. They will be in New York next month (January 17 to be exact) at Arlene's Grocery.

    Buy Plane In Flames on iTunes and be their friend on myspace.

    Picasso posted an amazing xmas song by the band today, too.

  • Middle Distance Runner - Naturally
  • Middle Distance Runner - Top Of The Stairs
  • Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    Friction tonight!

    A whole lot of awesome (as Nora would say) at Sin-e tonight for the monthly Friction party by our friends over at Crackers United. Probably one of the best lineups I've seen in a while. I'll be there, from beginning to the end...and I'll try and find a holiday sweatshirt that I wouldn't mind spilling Sparks on. Hmm...

    Find out all the details for tonights show here. Tickets are still on sale.

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    Underrated's Top 5 EPs of 2006

    While compiling my list for Top 25 albums of 2006, I realized that we were fortunate enough to find some breakout artists through EPs this year. They cannot, and will not be forgotten. I actually quite like EPs. It's like a little taste of a yummy desert. If you have too much, you'll feel sick. But just a few songs to let you know, okay, this is going to be good is just enough. Below are my top 5 EPs of 2006 with my favorite tracks from each.

    1. Cold War KidsUp In Rags
    It only took one song for me to fall in love with this band. "Hospital Beds" was played an obnoxious amount of times, and it took all my strength to actually listen to any other songs. But I did. I bought the EP and listened with full attention. There's something inherently special about this band that many don't want to admit. It comes down to a little bit of carelessness. Not many bands can get away with these types of vocal execution. It's almost as if every song is a first take, performed live, in front of you. There's power. It's raw. And it's got soul. There's never a dull moment when it comes to this band, even in their slowest, most quiet songs. Because you actually can hear the spark behind it all.

  • Cold War Kids - Hang Me Up To Dry

    2. VoxtrotMothers Sisters Daughters & Wives
    Voxtrot is basically the king of the EP and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's perfect. While I don't think they could ever live up to the utter appeal of their first EP, they matured a bit on this one and I like the direction we are heading. It's got the same charm -- pop as its finest, with sing-song choruses that are stuck in your heads for days. They aren't attempting to hide behind their simplicity and I do respect that. Plus, these songs make you jump up and down like an idiot. That's always fun.

  • Voxtrot - Soft & Warm

    3. The Little OnesSing Song
    This is an example when an EP is definitely definitely DEFINITELY not enough. All I want to do is listen to this band over and over again, because frankly, they make me happy. You know I'm a fan of the happy-go-lucky indie pop and this band has got it to the tee. I remember the first time I heard "Lovers Who Uncover" and I am pretty sure I declared this band to be the best thing since sliced bread. More clichés ensued. I couldn't help myself. There are bells, cha-chas, and oh so much more. I want an LP, and I want it now.
    Lovers Who Uncover

    4. Bishop AllenJune
    Easily my favorite story of the year, Bishop Allen took on the ambitious task of releasing an EP every month. I was so skeptical from the beginning. There's no way they could consistently put out great songs every month. But boy was I wrong. Each one I loved more than the last, but if I had to pick one I'd go with June. It reminded me so much of why I fell in love with the band in the first place. Their album, Charm School was brilliant and "The Same Fire" felt like it was a lost track. In fact, most of them did. "The Light Of The Lost" makes me drunk with envy, from the saxophone to the repetitive chorus, and "Black Suburbans" with its harmonica, "Number 39" teetering on electronica.....I'm just honestly impressed. How did they do it? I'll never quite know. But man, what a story to tell.

  • Bishop Allen - The Same Fire

    5. Ennui - Inchoate
    Okay, so this EP came out in 2004, but I needed to include it in my list. I'm a little late to a lot of games, but as long as you show up eventually that's cool, right? Right. So I still will never be able to pronounce this band's name right, but I will listen to them until my ears forsake me. It's a very interesting type of pop music that this band has conducted, not as accessible I'd say as the others. A bit darker, a bit more rainy-day-esque. Nevertheless, I quite like it. "Time and Place" has that piano hook that is immediately catchy, while "Rukus" and "Change" swing by too quickly, deserving of many repeat listens. In fact, the whole EP does. Maybe that's why I'm so late to the game.

  • Ennui - Time and Place
  • Melody Gardot @ Rockwood Music Hall

    Every time I know I’m heading to Rockwood Music Hall, I make it a point to drink only wine. Why? Because Rockwood is classy. Quite possibly my favorite venue in New York, the quaint and cozy room has featured some of the best burgeoning artists that don’t rely on noisy production or yelling. This is a place where you can actually hear the vibrato of one’s voice, or the soft quiver of a trumpet. I could gush about this venue all day and all night, but let’s focus in on one particular night, shall we?

    Melody Gardot @ Rockwood

    Melody Gardot defines cool.

    This young songstress from Philly has the voice of, I’d like to say an angel, but it’s not. It’s beautiful, yes. But it’s no angel. It’s got a certain backbone of swine, that when watching her perform, you know that she’s hiding something. A certain smirk, or a coo in her voice validates that fact. But I’ll tell you this, you’ll be transpired while watching her. I’m always awkward sitting directly in front of a performer, but this time I was too captivated to notice. It wasn’t the first time I had seen Melody play, but for some reason I was blatantly impressed.

    I love artists that have carelessness in their voice, proving that their talent is one of those things that they didn’t really chose. Melody wears sunglasses throughout her entire set, due to an unfortunate accident that happened a few years back. But I think the getup works for her, musically. It’s almost as if she emotes a time warp back into the jazz boom of the 1920’s. And yes, she covered “Caravan” which, I must admit, gave me chills.

    Downright inspiring, Melody’s music is both heartbreaking and pure that I can only imagine will get better with age. Her latest album Worrisome Heart is worth every penny. Check out her website to listen to a few tracks or on her myspace.

  • Melody Gardot - Love Me Like A River
  • Monday, December 11, 2006

    Underrated's Top 25 Albums of 2006

    I honestly despise "best of" end of the year posts. But I couldn't let my favorites be forgotten. And yes, if everyone else was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, I probably would too. Who wants to be left alone?

    Last year I compiled my favorite songs of the year, which I plan to do again, but I had to give props to the albums that were almost played to death for me this year. My list will be obvious to those who know me, and to those that aren't -- you will notice there is no Grizzly Bearesque, TV on the Radioesque like many other bloggers. Those aren't the albums I played on repeat. I'm much more of an accessible music listener. You'll be able to tell.

    For the first time, I ranked the albums. I felt incredibly guilty while doing so but I thought it was time I owned up and made some decisions in my life. Without further adieu: my top 25 albums of the year along with my favorite songs from them. Keep a look out for the favorite EPs and best songs of the year that will be posted soon.

    1. Annuals - Be He Me
    There was no question that this would be in my top three, but when push comes to shove, this is exactly what I want in an album. Starting off with the explosive "Brother" and ending with the dreamlike "Sway," it's ordered, executed, and performed almost perfectly. When you have a sound that is musically "different," it's easy to lose people with its inaccessibility. But not Annuals. In his young age, Adam Baker has crafted a stand out debut that I'll never get sick of. It's quirky, addictive, and down right beautiful. I will always remember the first time I listened to. Expletives ensued.

  • Annuals - Complete or Completing

    2. Birdmonster - No Midnight
    Easily the most played album of the year, I even shocked myself by not having it as numero uno. But here's the thing. As much as I sincerely adore Birdmonster, both on and off the stage, and as much as I wore out No Midnight, the best is yet to come from this band. It's a fabulous debut, filled with numerous hits that you cannot help but scream along to. "Spaceman" could not have been a better closer, but it's the sometimes passed over gems of "Of Mice" and "Ball Of Yarn" that set this band apart from the others. They chose content over production, which I always admire and I thank the band for giving me an album that instantly makes me smile.

  • Birdmonster - Ball Of Yarn

    3. The Changes - Today Is Tonight
    I was, quite frankly, surprised at this album. It had been almost a year since I listened to their EP, and I feared that The Changes could become something of a novelty act. Their jazz infused lounge act sound was fun, but could it keep my attention through a whole album? The answer, of course, is yes. What The Changes have done on their full-length debut was combine the simplicity of a good pop song, and the creative juices needed to layer an old fashioned sound. It's instantly memorable, like you've always had these songs floating around your head. But The Changes are not recycled and hardly a novelty act. It's almost obnoxiously flawless, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

  • The Changes - On A String

    4. Lily Allen - Alright, Still
    Music is a very personal experience for both the artist and the listener, so I find myself constantly looking to artists to relate to. Growing up I listened to a lot of the Lilith artists, but hadn’t found a female artist recently that has fit in with my current taste. Until Miss Allen came along. Equal parts snarky and sweet, she plays with her lyrics in a way that is guiltless and fun. She has no shame, and I respect that. Plus, each song on this album is as the last, with "LDN" proving to be the summer anthem, while "Everything's Just Wonderful" has become part of my daily routine. I can't wait to see what's in store for this little lady. Hopefully her talent will override the hype.

  • Lily Allen - Everything's Just Wonderful

    5. Oh No! Oh My! - Oh No! Oh My!
    As soon as I finished listening to a burned copy of this album, I knew this band was on to something big. It's hard to classify exactly what their sound is, which I find fascinating. It's a true test of talented song writing, from the melancholy "I Have No Sister" to the dance anthem "I Love You All The Time." And of course, there's a catchy melody in every one of them. I keep my burned copy that I bought for $3 next to the official release. I can guarantee it'll be worth some money one day.

  • Oh No! Oh My! - I Have No Sister

    6. A Brief Smile - R.E.S.T.
    2006 marked a year where I lot of bands I have been following finally released their debut album. My musical experience with A Brief Smile is going on two years, with songs that have become almost as familiar as the back of my hand. Hearing those songs that I had sung along to live oh so many times on album was a wonderful gift. When I heard the final mastered versions, that same wow factor the first time I heard their EP came seeping back. It's undeniable the amount of talent and preciseness this band has. They strive for something grand, a new spin on a shoegaze pop that is fresh. Keep a look out. If this was their introduction to the world, I can't wait to see what is next.

  • A Brief Smile - This Machine

    7. Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
    I will never forget listening to this album for the very first time. It was an impulse purchase on Insound and it sat on my desk for a couple days. I woke up in the middle of the night, restless and decided to listen. I sat in my Brooklyn apartment, chain-smoking, and listened to the album in full. I wasn't looking at anything in particular but it was as though the songs were being painted in front of me. This album is hands down one of the most beautifully sounding albums I've heard in a very long time. It's bittersweet and painful, with the songs sounding as though they are being performed in front of you. There's an echo in the vocals that make it almost ghost like. From the haunting "The Funeral" to the nostalgic "St. Augustine" this album is one that is worthy of every listen.

  • Band Of Horses - Monsters

    8. Kevin Devine - Put Your Ghost To Rest
    It's no secret that I have a bit of a musical crush on Kevin Devine. You may just want to write him off as another Brooklynite singer/songwriter but I urge you to seriously reconsider. I was very nervous to hear his major label debut on Capitol. I worried he was going to lose a bit of his edge. Luckily enough, Kevin kept his fundamentals intact and released a collection of work that is both heartbreaking and sincere. Never one to shy away from what's on his mind, Kevin has proved that a little hard work will take you somewhere. "Brooklyn Boy" is a perfect NYC anthem, while "You'll Only End Up Joining Them" gives me chills each time. But "Just Stay" is that lovey dovey song that really won me over. Okay, I'll stop gushing now.

  • Kevin Devine - Just Stay

    9. Liam and Me - There's A Difference
    This album is basically a non-stop party. From the beginning to the end, it's the kind of pop music that is filled with singsong hits. I'm shocked; yes shocked that this has not hit the mainstream music world. But perhaps I'm grateful it hasn't. I could listen to this album all day every day and never get sick of it. It's that good. Just try sitting still while listening to "Don't Say A Word" or "There's A Difference," or any of their songs frankly. It's impossible. Oh, and go see them live. So much fun.

  • Liam and Me - There's A Difference

    10. Princeton - A Case Of The Emperor's Clothes
    Quite possibly my favorite discovery of 2006, Princeton is a band that now has the (un)fortunate experience of me bothering them on a regular basis. One of my new years resolutions is to get this band to New York City, and goddammit, I'll do it. Their album was instantly a favorite, their happy-go-lucky tunes complete with handclaps and egg shakers are totally up my alley. I even appreciate the fact that it was recorded on their own and sounds raw. It gives it more character. Only downfall? There are just six songs, that I repeat an embarrassingly amount of times. Doesn't hurt that they are young little floppy haired indie rock boys too. This band is just way too likeable for its own good. I fear their safety.

  • Princeton - The Indifference Curve
  • Try A Little Tenderness

    On Saturday I went into Virgin Megastore just to buy a new pair of headphones, but of course the $10 DVD bin got the best of me. I have a soft spot for all things John Hughes, so when I saw the re-released "All Things Ducky" version of Pretty In Pink, I just had to have it. Of all characters in all movies, ever, Ducky is probably my favorite. Jon Cryer plays the awkward and loveable in such a genuine way, that you wish they had stuck with the original ending. I love Andrew McCarthy, but he's got nothing on my Ducky.

    If I were to make a list of top 10 scenes in movies, ever....this may be #1.

    Oh Ducky.

    Friday, December 8, 2006

    Mandy gets indie

    Okay, so before you smack me for being totally pop-culture obsessed, this does have some relevance to all you indie hipsters out there. Kinda. Okay, just a little. Deal.

    I'm not afraid to admit I really like Mandy Moore.

    Out of all those bubble gum pop princesses of yesteryear, Moore seemed to have the most promise. She wasn't getting dirrrty or knocked up, she chose clothes and some pretty quality films to keep her busy. And now?? She's getting indie.

    MTV (shocker) reports that Mandy's next album, out in April 2007, will show her folk side, collaborating with producer John Alagia (Dave Matthews Band, Liz Phair) and working on some tunes with singer/songwriters like Rachael Yamagata, Chantal Kreviazuk, Lori McKenna, and indie pop-folk duo the Weepies. Tentatively titled Wild Hope, Mandy will write or co-write every song on the album.

    And yes, fans will be hearing a different Mandy on Wild Hope — not the "Candy" Mandy they might have grown up with. She said that her love of folk did seep into some of the tracks, and she had to take the chance of it not connecting with her old fans.

    "I love the music I love, and I wanted to make an organic, fresh, live-sounding pop record unlike what's out there now," she said, admitting that she no longer knows where she fits into today's musical landscape. But more than that, the album's also very personal, she said.

    See. I told you she's cool.

  • Mandy Moore - I Wanna Be With You
  • Mandy Moore - Drop The Pilot
  • The Weepies - World Spins Madly On
  • Phoenix Remixed!

    I think I've actually failed to ever mention on this blog how much I sincerely adore Phoenix. I've only seen them once, but it was fantastic. They are a band that I routinely go back to for a nice pick me up in how songs should be written. Whether its to fall asleep to or dj, Phoenix works at all times. There aren't too many bands like this.

    The band just released a remix EP on iTunes that I totally recommend. There are two new versions of both "Consolation Prizes" and "Long Distance Calls" which happen to be two of my favorite songs by the band. I'm not too familiar with the frenchies that did the remixes, but I give them two thumbs up. I could play these songs over and over and over and over again.

    You can listen to one of the remixes on 25 Hours A Day's myspace.

    Here are originals for you to enjoy.

  • Phoenix - Long Distance Call
  • Phoenix - Consolation Prizes
  • Thursday, December 7, 2006

    White Rabbits, The Grates @ Mercury Lounge

    I was telling someone on Monday that the reason I'm not very good at writing reviews is because when I like a band, really like a band, I tend to make that far too obvious. I don't hide behind superlatives; I encourage them. Long time readers of this blog have seen me do this before.

    And here we go again.

    White Rabbits @ Mercury Lounge

    This post marks the third official post on New York's own White Rabbits (discounting CMJ, the first two are here and here) Expect to see many many more. I can't really pinpoint this latest obsession to just one factor. Is it their easily memorable songs? Their exciting live shows? Six indie rock boys on one stage? Two drummers? Calypso beats with sing song melodies? I'll never be able to tell. All I know is that White Rabbits have won me over. And I’m telling you, you will be won over as well.

    Granted, this is all before I've heard an album.

    White Rabbits @ Mercury Lounge

    As soon as they played "The Plot" last night I was overly excited because it's the only song I've been able to listen to on their myspace over and over again. I'm honestly afraid of what will happen once I get their upcoming debut. It's going to make their live shows that much more enjoyable. Which makes this reek with anticipation.

    Go listen to this band. See them live. Everyone else is doing it. Why aren’t you?

    The Grates @ Mercury Lounge

    It was my first time seeing The Grates and by that time I had downed my bottle of vodka/diet coke that I snuck into Mercury. (I know, I'm a 16 year old at heart). Everyone describes this band as "fun" and gosh darnit they really hit the mark with that one. Lead singer Patience was in an adorable white skirt that I kinda wanted to steal from her, but she was far too busy bouncing around the stage. The packed crowd at Mercury Lounge could have been a bit more energetic considering the band was playing their little dance punk souls out.

    While I'm not the biggest fan of their style on recordings, seeing them live was a far more enjoyable experience. The trio is completely charming, both speaking and playing. Maybe everyone just seems nicer with an Australian accent. Who knows. But yes, if I had to sum them up I couldn't really pick a better word that fun.

  • The Grates - Trampoline
  • Cause I Can

    Speaking of bands I write about incessantly.

    Check out this very cool video interview with the lead singer of that band....I think they are called Birdmonster (or so someone told me). It's from a new music blog Rock Induced Labor that also has an interview with The Kooks. Maybe the blog should be called Bands With Good Hair? Nora would agree.

    Anyways. Check it out. And if you live on the West Coast Birdmonster is playing New Years Eve in San Fran. I wanna go!


    Holy craperoo. Our blog show is getting to be quite the talk of the town. Even if everyone is whispering, we are hoping they are saying nice things.

    This week we sat down in my comfy apartment to record the show, so that's perhaps why Nora sounds like she falls asleep half way through. It could be the dayquil. I giggle a lot (surprise) and we say goodbye to one of our most favorite (favoritest?) bands.

    Oh, and both of us play awesome awesome music.


    Thursday – Asobi Seksu
    Strawberries – Asobi Seksu
    New Years – Asobi Seksu

    Don't Make Me Wait - Locksley
    She Does - Locksley
    All Of The Time - Locksley

    Pretty Pet – Aberdeen City
    Sixty Lives – Aberdeen City
    Mercy – Aberdeen City

    On The Dance Floor - Levy
    Rector Street - Levy
    Squeeze - Levy
    So Hard – Levy

    Listen in at

    Tonight @ The Skinny

    I've been on my sickbed for far too long. I'm back and going to make up for the last two times I’ve missed by dancing around like an idiot and playing fantastic songs.

    Come. See. Witness.

    10-4 at the skinny
    w/ nora and rachael
    174 orchard street @ stanton

    no cover+cheap drinks+smoking upstairs = awesomesauce.

    It's cold outside, but oh so hot on Thursday nights.

    Wednesday, December 6, 2006

    Love Song No. 7 | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

    What's better?

    Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's new hoodies?

    Or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's new songs?

  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Love Song No. 7
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Underwater (You And Me)

    I'd take the hoodies. But ask me again later.

  • Tuesday, December 5, 2006

    Ryan Adams @ Town Hall

    Ryan Adams @ Town Hall

    Ryan Adams is sober.

    I know this now. I didn't believe him last time I saw him, as his neurosis and honest-to-god- cracked out sensibilities were still prevalent. Last night was much of the same. The same mumbling, rambling, and paranoia. And yet he wore six inch silver platform go go boots for the entire two hour set.

    That, my friends, is not an easy feat, or easy on your feet. It takes a certain skill, and I must say a certain level of sobriety. Good on you Ryan. You've done us all proud.

    Ryan Adams @ Town Hall

    I love Ryan. It's no surprise, and really no secret either. If he just stood up on a stage and mumbled for two hours I would have left saying it was the best show ever. I just can't help it. He makes me laugh. He makes me awkward. And I love him for it.

    But damn, can he sing.

    Last night's set was a nice collection of his entire catalogue, from Heartbreaker to some newbies with his band The Heartbreakers. All of his old work was given a country makeover, most notably, "New York, New York" which sounded like a completely different song. (And in my opinion, much better). Highlights included "Dear Chicago" (!) "Peaceful Valley", "Let It Ride," "Nightbirds" and "To Be Young". They even played an amazing Grateful Dead cover in honor of a speedy recovery for Phil Lesh. Twas amazing.

    Complete setlist:
    Magnolia Mountain
    Please Do Not Let Me Go
    Dear Chicago
    Peaceful Valley
    Tears of Gold
    Night Birds
    Cold Roses
    New York, New York
    Arkham Asylum
    Kiss Before I Go
    Let it Ride
    Bartering Lines
    To be Young
    Blue Hotel
    Beautiful Sorta
    The End
    Expressway to Your Skull
    Whart Rat (Grateful Dead cover)
    I See Monsters

    Every time I see Ryan play I am convinced that all of his work has been consistent, despite what some of you may say. And last night, at the very comfortable and crystal clear sounding Town Hall, he proved that he's one of our generations most prolific and talented musicians. Hands down.

    Sadly, he did not rap. Although there was a lot of "oh snap." Good enough for me.

    Artist Of The Week: Alice Smith

    When Wes asked me to a show last Wednesday, he prefaced it with the fact that this was not, in fact, and indie rock show. He figured that's all I can handle, or at least choose to participate in. While I do have a certain weakness for catchy tunes by skinny boys with floppy hair, I do venture out to other genres of the musical spectrum from time to time.

    Sometimes I just need to be asked.

    So off I went to Nokia Theater, which was completely overtly commercial (as anticipated), but quite comfortable and rewarding. The sound was spectacular. And there was even a technology display of sorts in the lobby, which provided a brief distraction. But we were there to see NYC based artist Alice Smith, who was opening up for Citizen Cope, and who Wes promised would blow me away.

    And well, he was right.

    Alice Smith has one of those voices that you almost want to hate. It's so natural and rich, that you know that even with the world's best training, you'll never quite sound like that. At the beginning of her set, she almost looked embarrassed by her own power. It took her until half way through the set to feel comfortable on that stage, but once she got it - she owned it. She kicked the tempo, kicked up her black converse sneakers, and the crowd was feeling it.

    She's got enough soul for a person twice her age, with songs that I've been playing on repeat since I heard them live for the first time. By the end of the set I wanted to hate her for having that much talent, but I just couldn't. I was too busy clapping along with the crowd to care.

  • Alice Smith - Dream
  • Alice Smith - Gary Song

    Hear more on myspace and purchase her debut album For Lovers, Dreamers, & Me here.

  • Monday, December 4, 2006

    Dancing Shoes: All Sparks (Phones Remix) | Editors

    Holy shite. Just when I was forgetting how much I actually do, in fact, love Editors, they come out with a remix album that is, well....bonkers. (In a good way of course)

    Now I'm remembering how nutty I would get when I would see them play, especially at that first NYC appearance at Rothko (RIP). Feels like ages ago, doesn't it? Well, they are still going. And going strong.

    All of The Back Room was just screaming remixes from the get-go, so I'm glad to see we now have a nifty little collection. You can buy the whole EP on iTunes. This remix of "All Sparks," while not on the EP has gotten me wide awake at 8 AM. I'm having fun dancing around my room. It has replaced coffee...for now.

    You can bet I will be spinning this on Thursday at The Skinny when I finally return to the dj booth. It's been since Halloween since I've last djed. Can you believe it? I can't. Well, I'm back. So get ready.

  • Editors - All Sparks (Phones Remix)
  • A Brief Smile, The Stills @ Bowery Ballroom

    Saturday night started out innocent enough. It was to be a full night at Bowery Ballroom and then a stop by at a birthday party and then home in one piece. And yet half way through the night I remembered why I try and stay in most weekends. No, it's not just that the lower east side is awfully packed and you can't find a bar to sit comfortably at. It's more so the fact that I realize I don't have to get up for anything the next day, and that, in itself, makes me a little bit crazy.

    I'll spare you the details of the alcohol infused ridiculousness that ensued after Bowery Ballroom. Let's stick with the music, eh? And make this a family blog.

    So it was the second time those A Brief Smile boys have played Bowery Ballroom, which in my book now makes them experts and superstars. I probably sound like a broken record every time I post about this band, but I couldn't be more proud of how they have progressed over the years. Their live show has really become something quite professional, and their songs are the real star. Donned with two Christmas trees up on stage, the young fivesome came out to a quickly filling crowd. While they may look young, and are indeed quite are, they play like they've been doing this their whole lives.

    A Brief Smile @ Bowery Ballroom
    A Brief Smile @ Bowery Ballroom

    It's a rewarding experience to bring someone to see a band you love for the first time. Especially when it's a band like A Brief Smile, who I have seen more times than I should probably admit to. I'm always nervous that I've been biased after all this time, but when they share the same enthusiasm as's nice reassurance.

    The set in itself was what I've come to expect: layers upon layers of sound melding into each memorable tune, filling up Bowery Ballroom with its grand themes. The boys debuted a brand spanking new song in which I had to ask both Vanessa and Sean whether it was a cover or not. It was instantly familiar, and completely unpredictable at the same time. I hear a self-produced EP is in the very near future. I can't wait.

    The Stills @ Bowery Ballroom

    The Stills were, in a nutshell, a complete surprise. I, of course, was freakishly obsessed with Logic Will Break Your Heart. I initially liked Without Feathers, but hardly with the same intensity. Without ever seeing the band live before, I expected a good show, but something that could be a bit mundane. It was completely the opposite as The Stills brought a high-energy playful rock to a very enthusiastic crowd. I remember jumping up and down and singing at the top of my lungs. That was unexpected.

    As soon as they lashed into "Lola Stars and Stripes" as their second (second!) song, I was convinced. The Canadians bounced back and forth between old and new, and there was never a dull moment. Although they left out my favorite "Animals + Insects," I let them off the hook.

    Perhaps that total excitement from the show is a reason for the anarchy that followed. I'll never know for sure.

    Saturday, December 2, 2006

    Movies That Rock: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    I'm embarrassed to say that I had never seen this film in its entirety until this morning. I woke up at 8 AM, after sleeping 13 hours nonconsecutively the evening before, and had finished my other netflix (I'm currently working through Scrubs from the beginning.) So I popped it on, knowing that this time I wouldn't fall asleep (I seem to have this problem with movies).

    Of course I knew going into this film how extraordinary it is. A friend of mine who knows all things theater had been yelling at me to watch this film for years. She told me I'd love it. I told her I probably would. But life gets in the way of things sometimes. I promised her I get around to things eventually, and that's all that counts.

    This is a film that counts.

    I watched with wide eyes, completely mesmerized from beginning to end. And when those final credits appeared, I felt a sudden desperation for more. There's only one thing that I could say is wrong with this film: there just isn't enough. There isn't enough Hedwig, enough music, to fill my appetite. It's beautifully inspiring, albeit sad and whimsical at the same time.

    And to think, I've run into John Cameron Mitchell. If only I could run into him again, I'd have something worthwhile to say.

    I keep thinking I'm living in the wrong time period, and this film only solidified that feeling once more. When I look at what New York is now, it seems to have lost that spark, that culture that once drove it into groundbreaking material. I think of when Hedwig premiered at that theater in the Meatpacking District and what a different place this city was. And that was only a decade ago. What do we have now?

    John Cameron Mitchell is a gifted actor, writer director, to say the least. But it's really the music that resonates with me. It was fascinating to watch the making of, and see how the character, the story, and the music transpired. Stephen Trask proved that rock music can be personal, and once again can touch every one regardless what the subject matter.

    We can all identify with Hedwig, and that's the real charm.

  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Tear Me Down
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Origin Of Love
  • Friday, December 1, 2006

    Aberdeen City @ Mercury Lounge

    Aberdeen City @ Mercury Lounge

    I always get just a little bit excited when Aberdeen City comes to town. Their live shows always reaffirm my love for the band, and I leave with many songs stuck in my head. I welcome that. The Freezing Atlantic has been a staple album for almost a year now. It's one of those that you venture back to on a regular basis and each time it feels like you are listening to it for the first time.

    But this is about their live show.

    Nora and I ventured to Mercury Lounge with a few minutes to spare. I was day dreaming about my new flannel sheets and the fact that I really wanted to nap. Nora was upset she had to leave half way through Gray's Anatomy. But I told her, this would be worth it. And yes, it most definitely was.

    I've seen this band a handful of times, and yet I always forget just how intense their live show proves to be. This is greatly credited to their guitarist Chris McLaughlin, who not only is a trainwreck on stage, but my own personal choice of eye candy. After seeing him last night I've decided that he could in fact be our generation's Sid Vicious. From the spitting of the beer to the hazy eyes, this skinny guitar player proved that sometimes you need an entertaining band member, even if your music speaks for itself. Nora had to take a break half way through the set. She couldn't handle the chaos. I say, more power to you. That's rock and roll.

    Aberdeen City @ Mercury Lounge

    Aberdeen always has a packed crowd in New York City and it was nice to see them at Mercury Lounge, a venue that is just perfect for their noisy melodies. The band played some new tunes that excited me for their next album. And of course my favorites, "Pretty Pet" and "Mercy" were the highlights. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: this band is on to something big.

  • Aberdeen City - Pretty Pet
  • Aberdeen City - Mercy
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