Tonight is the last chance to check out The Upwelling's Ari Ingber perform solo at Fat Baby. He goes on at 8 PM sharp. I'll be there, for many reasons, but the chance of finally hearing Lissa's Song played live is #1.
The Upwelling have a whole bunch of things coming up in the next month including a mini-UK tour. Josh promises he'll bring me back a Toblerone. I'm trying to convince my parents to see them play in London. It's a give and take.
If you live in the UK - go see these guys. And you are still voting for Spin.com Band of the Year, right? Right.
Check out their UK dates here. And then they'll return to New York with a residency and new recordings. That makes this blogger quite happy.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Tonight is the last chance to check out The Upwelling's Ari Ingber perform solo at Fat Baby. He goes on at 8 PM sharp. I'll be there, for many reasons, but the chance of finally hearing Lissa's Song played live is #1.
Posted by Rachael at 3:49 PM
Sunday I took three buses (thanks L train) and walked in the rain, all for the love of The Undisputed Heavyweights. Why you ask? Haven't I seen them before? Well yes. But that's not the point.
You see, dear blog reader, there are certain things that get better every time. Music, is one of them. (You can come up with your own list for the others.) Of course there is that special something about the first time you see a band. My first Heavyweight's experience I was dedicated a song and told to "Damn the Man" after being fired from my job. That was up there. But the third time may have been the charm, because Sunday's show was top-notch pour moi.
Sunday's show was part of Kitchen Sink Music's monthly shows at Galapagos. It was running late, so I sat through some interestingly bizarre recorder quartet from Germany. But when the Heavyweights took the stage, they owned the night. And I think I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time. Not only does this band execute uniquely beautiful music well, their on stage personas is icing on the cake. As soon as lead singer Casey Shea puts on those sunglasses and tousles his hair, I know I'm in for a crazy night.
My new favorite Heavyweights song is "Mr. Murphy" (okay tied with "Money," which they opened with at Sunday's show). Wes was nice enough to send me an exclusive live version of the song from Arlene's Grocery, which I was at as well.
Undisputed Heavyweights Upcoming Shows:
2.16 - Southpaw 9pm (full band) w/ C. Gibbs, M Shanghai String Band & Jones St Boys
2.24 - Pianos 10pm (full band) w/ Townhall
Posted by Rachael at 1:55 PM
I've been listening to the new Jenny Lewis’ solo album, Rabbit Fur Coat for about a week now, but this morning it got the coveted morning en route to school/work slot. I'm very picky when it comes to the first thing I listen that day, because it will set the mood and tone for the entire day. But Jenny Lewis can do no wrong in my book, and today felt like a Jenny Lewis sort of day.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world I would choose Miss Jenny Lewis. She is hands down the coolest woman ever. I would have traded places with her when she was in Troop Beverly Hills (a classic flick of my childhood)and now as front-woman to the fabulouso Rilo Kiley.
So when everyone said that Rabbit Fur Coat was disappointing, I stood by my gal. I couldn't foresee any complications from the talented scribe. Perhaps I'm a simpleton at heart, but Lewis' lyrics just hit me exactly where I need them to. Her honesty, mixed with her melancholy sweetness is perhaps what makes her so accessible. And even if she picks up on a bit of a country twang, alongside The Watson Twins, it's still equally as impressive as anything she has completed through Rilo Kiley.
I still am partial to "Rise Up With Fists" for the mere line of: "Are you really that pure, sir, thought I saw you in Vegas. It was not pretty, but she was." That's what I love about Lewis -- that unexpected end of a line, the unapologetic lack of preaching. She does it again in "The Charging Sky": "What if God's not there? But his name is on your dollar bill. Which just became cab fare." I love it.
You can download the entire album for free from Mr. Conor Oberst's Team Love label here. And then you can buy it here, too.
Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins Tour Dates:
February | 2006
02 Los Angeles, CA Vista Theater
03 San Francisco, CA Swedish American Hall
05 New York, NY Angel Orensanz Foundation
March | 2006
04 San Francisco, CA Bimbo's 365 Club
06 Portland, OR Aladdin Theatre
07 Vancouver, BC Richards on Richards
08 Seattle, WA Neumo's
10 Denver, CO Bluebird Theatre
11 Omaha, NE Scottish Rites Hall
12 Minneapolis, MN Woman's Club
13 Milwaukee, MI Pabst Theatre
14 Chicago, IL Park West
15 Grand Rapids, MI Calvin College
16 Toronto, ONT Opera House
17 Cambridge, MA Somerville Theatre
18 New York, NY Irving Plaza (ahem, someone buy me tickets, ahem)
20 Philadelphia, PA Sanctuary @ First Unitarian Church
23 Alexandria, VA The Birchmere
24 Carrboro, NC Cats Cradle
25 Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse
26 Nashville, TN Belcourt Theatre
28 Austin, TX The Parish
29 Dallas, TX Dallas Museum of Art - Horchow Audtorium
April | 2006
01 Los Angeles, CA Orpheum Theatre
Posted by Rachael at 12:11 PM
I like receiving emails from musicians, but only if they aren't of the profanity infused law-suit threatening kind. Lucky for me 99% of them are friendly words of music a band is listening to or tour stories that make me giggle. Since I don't like to keep anything to myself, I thought I'd start a new feature on this little blog where musicians share some of their stories on the road.
We Are Scientists just started the NME tour over on the other side of the ocean with Mystery Jets (see yesterday's post), Maximo Park, and Arctic Monkeys. Damn. That is some lineup folks.
Anyways lead singer Keith Murray emailed me this morning to say whats up (unfortunately without marriage proposal, whatever). Here's what he has to say about life on tour.
We're in the UK now, on an NME tour with Arctic Monkeys and Mystery Jets and Maximo Park. I don't know if you've heard of Mystery Jets, but they are weird and wonderful and will probably be huge and will live on after all of the currently hyped bands (uh, ourselves included, probably) have been buried. There is no way to hype them, they're so strange but perfect and accessible. All i can say about Arctic Monkeys is that the mania is much deserved, and no matter how big the backlash ever gets, they will crush all who oppose them. Also, they are sweet kids who have somehow managed to not have their minds poisoned by fame and adulation. This tour is sweet.
Sweet. More bands/updates/emails to come in the near future.
Posted by Rachael at 11:24 AM
I got an email from Bishop Allen lead singer Justin Rice giving me the heads up about what his band has in store for 2006. We featured the band way back when in one of the first issues of Underrated and then nothing. No updates, no website clues, just randomly placed shows here and there. It's been about three years since Bishop Allen have released anything.
But no longer.
Bishop Allen will release an EP on the last day of each month, leading up to their much anticipated follow-up Clementines. "January" is it's first (appropriately titled) EP that can be purchased here.
"Corazon" is just one of the fabulous tracks on the first EP. Matt of You Aint No Picasso said: "Sometimes songs are a collection of notes, strung together to form a nice melody. Unfortunately for us, many songwriters are content to stop there. But with 'Corazon,' Bishop Allen not only form a musically interesting song, but use it as a launching point to tell a beautiful story."
I gotta say, I fell for this song. I'm a hopeless romantic deep at heart.
Bishop Allen will play Pianos February 10. Be their friend on my space.
Posted by Rachael at 7:12 AM
Monday, January 30, 2006
More Voxtrot is never a bad thing:
A 2nd NYC at the Mercury Lounge has been confirmed for April 9th
Tickets are now on sale here. There are a few left for April 10th as well.
When the members of Voxtrot are not on tour, or working on their upcoming EP, they like to keep themselves busy. Lead singer Ramesh gives us long and quite beautiful blog posts about things like the Austin music scene or blog blacklash. It can be a nice read. Read "The Voxtrot Kid" here.
Voxtrot member Jared Van Fleet also has a side project named Sparrow House. As of now there's only two songs to listen to on his myspace page but it looks like a five-song ep Falls is in the works.
Posted by Rachael at 4:34 PM
I realized today I hadn't posted a good ol’ fashioned mix in a while. I'm a mix freak, so that seemed a bit out of the ordinary. Then I saw Chris's post with his "Best of January" and I blatantly want to rip off his idea. Hope he doesn't mind!
So here's what you might have missed, and what I have been obsessed about this month:
They came. They landed. And they conquered New York City. My favorite B-side off a fabulous debut had never sounded better than when Tom and the rest of the boys filled out a very packed Rothko. I still get chills every time I listen to this song.
Love them or hate them, this song is impossible to ignore. Chantal's seductive voice shines through on this pop gem. The video is not to be missed as well.
What started as a friendly IM one day from drummer Zach, this band has quickly become one of my favorites. And that's quite a feat when they only have three songs. Listen to this and you'll understand. I can't wait to hear their debut.
The amount of times I have listened to this song is honestly embarrassing. No matter what can happen to me throughout the day, as long as I put on this song, I will immediately be at ease. Now that's something to keep listening to.
Even though the interview didn't go exactly as I had hoped (or fantasized about), there's no doubt that this is one special band. All ended well and on good terms, which didn't help my slight crush on a certain lead singer. And when he sings this song, swoon I shall.
I spent the greater part of this month trying to find Tom Vek. I was quite unsuccessful. So when Mr. Vek left New York City without me by his side, I listened to this song and said my goodbye. Until next time, that is.
I have no shame in admitting I'm sincerely obsessed with this band. I have never been so initially taken with anyone as much as when Tapes 'n Tapes arrived in New York. I went to three shows in one week and would have gone every single day if I could have. I'm working on a kidnapping scheme to get them to New York and keep them here, so that may actually be possible. I'll keep you posted.
The Diggs are meant to be seen live, but not everyone in this country can see them. Lucky for everyone involved, we got a top-notch recording of one of my personal highlights from the many times I've been witness to the wonder that is The Diggs. "Trouble Everyday" will always bring a little tear to my eye, but when they go into The Stone Roses "Waterfall" I think everyone's jaw in Rothko dropped. It's quite spectacular.
One of the most interesting shows I went to this month was catchy a rare acoustic performance by The Wrens. The entire time I felt like I wasn't special enough to be there, but dammit, I wasn't going to leave. It was heartbreakingly perfect in all of its rawness, and leaving there I knew there could never possibly be a show just like it.
I fell back in love with this album for no reason whatsoever except that Mr. iTunes happened to fall on it. It's now a OCD routine to listen to this song everyday as I walk to the subway. I think part of me thinks it’s my own personal theme song. Don't tell anyone.
I will refrain from writing anything more about this band in the near future to avoid the inevitable backlash. Instead I'll put on this song and dance around like an idiot. It's better that way.
You can't get anymore likeable that this. I have been humming it in the back of my head for months now. I wonder sometimes if when writing a song like this, the artist knows they have struck gold. Buy this album so you can let them know it has.
There's no doubt in my mind that Maximo Park is a fantastic band. So while we all wait for their anticipated follow-up, special fans are enjoying Maximo right down to their little bones. A collection of B-Sides and Demos, the appropriately titled Missing Songs will keep us tied over until then, pretty successfully.
Posted by Rachael at 3:04 PM
By accident I fell asleep at 8 PM on Saturday night instead of heading to Mercury to see The Diggs. I was definitely exhausted after Friday night, but wanted to catch those boys play for the millionth time. It doesn't get old. They play Northsix on February 16 so someone get me some coffee and an alarm clock by then.
Because I was asleep so early on Saturday night, I proceeded to wake up at 5:30 Sunday morning. There's not much to do at that time in the morning, I've disovered. So I took a look at that pile of CDs on my desk and put my game face on. It was listening time. Throughout the week I'll post some tidbits about the good ones, so keep a look out.
First up was Mystery Jets. Basically anything Karen sends me I'll most likely love, but this time it took a few listens to really emerse myself in this quirky little Brit band.
Even though they've become an NME favorite, don't put Mystery Jets in the category of Brit-pop-rock-band-of-the-minute. If anything, I think they may have the greatest chance of longevity. I refuse to put them in any category because honestly I can't think of music that has sounded like this. I could pick out little tidbits of over 100 bands. They are without the ridiculous amount of hype (thank you Arctic Monkeys) and are creating music that is both interesting and catchy, with each song a completely different mindset. That's why I can't exactly grasp this band yet, and that is why I find them utterly interesting. It's a bit crazy, so if you can appreciate that -- take a listen.
Mystery Jets will come to the US for the first time this spring in support of their Startime International debut Flotsam & Jetsam EP to be released April 11. I'm really excited to see how crazy these guys are on stage. Expect anarchy -- that's my prediction.
March 16 - Austin, TX - SXSW Showcase
March 17 - Austin, TX - Filter Party
March 20 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
March 21 - San Francisco, CA - Café Du Nord
March 24 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
March 25 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
March 27 - Toronto, ONT - Mod Club Theatre
Be their friend on My Space.
Posted by Rachael at 11:40 AM
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Warning: The following post will contain over exaggerated emotions, clichés, and my unending love for a certain three bands.
I thought I should throw that out there.
I went to sleep this morning at about 6 AM with a huge grin on my face. Despite all the politics and disappointment that can occur when you try and do something you love, it's nights like last night that make it all worthwhile. I had my usual anxious/nervousness when I arrived at Crash Mansion last night. The entire night rested on my shoulders, and there I was blowing up balloons and taping them to the walls. I found that a necessary part in the overall formula in a successful show. Perhaps it worked.
People came. The last show was a great turnout; this one surpassed my wildest dreams. I had conversations about music, about the magazine, about my still pending cold. Hugs, kisses, dancing, and drinks. Thank god for open bars.
The Head Set played one of the best sets I've seen in a long time. While everyone wanted to point out the Strokes comparison, but its shows last night that put the comparisons in the backseat, for me. Every song was one-up on the one that preceded it. These guys were polished enough to let the budding excitement of the crowd let them run wild. It was hot, sweaty, and everything you want in a band. I think 2006 will be the year everyone starts to really take notice of The Head Set. It'll be glorious. And let me add, this band is the nicest ever.
I'll be honest and admit that some of my friends think it's humorous that I keep making A Brief Smile play my shows. I can't help it. It wouldn't be an Underrated show without them, and dammit I'll be honest and admit that I really like this band. Okay, I guess it wasn't that much of a secret after all.
I had an in-depth conversation with someone before the night began and I was explaining what a trip it's been for me to watch the development of the magazine over the past two years, and the development of the bands I've featured. I'm just beginning to see it now, and A Brief Smile is a perfect example. I'll always think that maybe this time I wont be as impressed as the last, but no. They step it up one notch each time. I'm so happy people are starting to notice this band, because they deserve it all. It was funny to see others sing along to each song. I knew I couldn't be the only one.
P.S. - "Kitchen Floor" is my new favorite song and these guys need to get me their new EP like now.
Did you ever see that show years back called She's Out of this World (not to be confused with the Tony Danza film She's Out of Control which is equally as fantastic)? Well anyways, the character Eve (I can't believe I remember this) could pause time (kind of like the Zach Morris time-out). I wanted to keep doing that all night. I just wanted to pause everything and savor it, but we're all not part of 80's pop culture TV.
I can't believe I just wrote that paragraph.
Moving on, it was time for the last but hardly not least band, my cover boys The Five O'Clock Heroes. I told them to take their time setting up, as I had to run outside for a quick smoke, grab a drink from the bar, and be able to make it to the front before they started to play. They did their best, but I was at the bar when I heard their first notes play. I began to get a bit impatient (to say the least). But I did what I had to do, and I was up front and center staring into Antony's eyes like the little fan I am in no time.
There's certain bands that you know you are going to have fun watching. Forget how musically superior they are to last year's sensation, when you get a band that can play good, catchy, songs and make the crowd move - that's my idea of a good time. The Five O'Clock Heroes do that stupendously.
I danced, I sang, and I swooned a little bit (if we're going to be completely honest - have you seen these boys move on stage?) And then all of a sudden they were playing "White Girls" and then it was all over. I wanted to scream "nooo" but instead managed an "encore" however even though I planned the night, I really didn't have much say in anything at all. I considered asking all the bands to go up there and play one more song for me, because I was on cloud nine and didn't want to get off of it.
But people get tired, I suppose. What's that about?
I did the chatting thing, and found my passed out friends. However the night was hardly over, as we trekked through the Lower East Side, stopping for a bite to eat before heading to Orchard Bar.
My favorite picture of the night.
Orchard Bar was a mess of the usual crazy people out on a Friday night. I said a quick hello to Karen and Sarah and danced a bit amongst the crowd. But my gin & tonic went fast, and my friend's eyes were quickly shutting. So I bid a bon voyage to The Five O'Clock Heroes as they head back to the UK for a tour. I think I'll miss them.
So it's been two years, and that's a little bit crazy. I still haven't really wrapped my head around what goes on in my life, but I'm enjoying it too much to question it.
Happy Birthday Underrated. Here's to many more to come.
Thanks to the bands, Crash Mansion, New York Underbelly, and everyone who came. It was ridiculously awesome (that's my last over exaggeration for this post).
If you were there, let me know if you had as much fun as I did. And if you have any pictures, please send them my way.
Posted by Rachael at 9:47 AM
Friday, January 27, 2006
I'm a true believer that music can alter your emotions. One of my roommates many moons ago was studying psychology and she did a research project on using music to help children with different types of disorders. I, fortunately, do not have any disorders that I am aware of, but still use music to keep me going through the day.
After yesterday's shenanigans, I was in need of a new CD to lift my spirits. Luckily in the mail that day, I received the new album Missing Songs by the wonderful Maximo Park. The album is all the B-Sides that didn't make the cut on their debut. It's always interesting to me to learn about the process and procedures of making an album that seems complete. But I think I'm more interested it what isn't chosen. It shows a sort of hidden side to a band that you think you know so well. There's always intrigue in the mysterious.
Missing Songs also includes demos of some of their hits such as "Graffiti" and "Once, A Glimpse." It's cool to hear the polished band stripped down. The album lacks in the quirkiness that is what makes Maximo superb, but for big fans, it's a great album to explore what makes up their unique sound.
You can purchase Missing Songs here. And watch the super cool video for the insatiably catchy "Apply Some Pressure" here.
AND don't forget!
TONIGHT - Underrated Magazine Turns TWO! at Crash Mansion.
Doors open at 9 PM, open bar from 9-10.
The Head Set takes the stage at 10, followed by A Brief Smile and The Five O'Clock Heroes.
Crash Mansion is located 199 Bowery between Spring St. and Rivington. Take the 6 train to Spring St, the J/M/Z trains to Bowery, or the F to 2nd Ave.
We'll see you there!
Posted by Rachael at 7:07 AM
Thursday, January 26, 2006
So last night, Liz asked Joe and I if we've ever received any negative comments with the articles we've wrote or the work that we do. Joe has had people call up his house complaining over reviews. I've only been subject to some misled comments on Brooklyn Vegan's Voxtrot Post. I tend to only stick to bands I have positive reactions to, to avoid any hassle.
Except I guess it also happens when you don't mention anything at all. Let me preface the following message. If you are weak at heart or under the age of 18, you probably shouldn't read this. I try and refrain from any profanities on this site, but I fear it would take away from the intent of this message. This is a response I received via myspace, after yesterday's message. Without further adieu:
ha ha ha! don't make me laugh with that stinkin' tourist joint for bridge and tunnel ass clowns wearing pleats and button downs and all the homies upstairs! ha ha ha! yeah, right, all those meatheads talking about what a good time they had monday morning in their little $45,000-a-year office cubes!? fuckin' ha ha ha ha ha!!
you haven't done a goddamn thing to help my band, the REAL DEAL, you fucking indie poseurs chasing down garbage on labels. suck my genius cock you cross-eyed bitch.
YOU are the problem with indie music culture, trying to promote no-talent label garbage with your pseudo indie name. fuck off you creepy-ass creepity creepy fuckers with your retarded fucking hip hop suburban mall parties at ass mansion.
i wrote to you months ago about my brilliant Spiffy Cox shows and you didn't even have the courtesy to get back to me, you fucking two-bit cunt. you wouldn't know good music if it bit you on your jack ass.
you fuckin' dopes. you really make me laugh. i can assure you that i'll spread the word....i'm good like that for creeps, assholes, cunts and poseurs.
I'm a bit thrown off, and caught between utter disappointment and anger. Myspace is never the best place to contact me if you are a band. I've said that many times before. If you send me an email, I'm much more likely to respond. And if you send me a CD, I'll definitely listen to it. I am only one person, who does this magazine as a side project from finishing college and a part-time job to afford living in this city. I can't please everyone. So my apologies to Spiffy Cox for not doing anything to help his band. I'm trying to do everything I can. But I am no poseur. The bands I feature and the people who read the magazine are none of the aforementioned words.
So much for no hate mail.
You can listen to this "REAL DEAL" band and see for yourself. I am not here to judge, just help. So here's my helping hand.
Posted by Rachael at 11:52 AM
So I'm officially sick as a dog. Fantastic. Someone bring me chicken soup, because I've got a party to go to tomorrow night. I knew I shouldn't have gone out last night. Sigh.
After a fantastical dinner with the editors of Jane magazine (where I hope they will give me a job) I was riding on cloud 9. But then I was in the West Village. And Shindig! is the exact opposite of where I like to find myself on a Wednesday night.
We waited outside in the cold to then get a sad face markered on our hands from a guy in sunglasses and a hat. It was as cold inside the West Village loft that they converted into some party space. There were as many portapotties as there were girls in fishnets, cameras flashing and cigarettes lit. It was like I had stepped into some alternative hipster universe. We found the open bar first, and then Nora. And then it was time for The GoStation.
If you are unaware, The GoStation appeared on the cover of the sixth issue of Underrated. We're pretty big fans. And yet it's been a while since we've seen them play, and we anticipated their debut with their new lineup. We all made our way to the front, through the drunkards. The sound in this "venue" was awful. I tried my dearest to help the boys out, but unfortunately the sound guy couldn't have cared less that no one could hear Doug's vocals. Even so, what we could hear sounded better than ever.
There were two younger guys upfront that were so taken by the band I thought they may jump up on stage with them. The two girls in front of us found their songs ample opportunity to dance as if there were polls. Doug jumped down into the crowd for their last song, and Liz and I jumped around like the usual idiots we are at a The GoStation show. I cant wait to see them at their next show, at an actual venue, when they play the Crackers United show at Rothko on February 7.
After The GoStation we all headed back to get some air. No such luck, the "venue" was now packed. I ran into my favorite Five O'Clock Heroes who are as excited for tomorrow's show as I am. Apparently they were there to see Aberdeen City, so they sauntered up to the front. Liz wanted to stay in the back, but as soon as I heard "Pretty Pet" being played, I grabbed Joe and we pushed back up to the front.
Aberdeen City is a trip to see live. I never would think that playing the guitar with your teeth could be so appealing. But when it sounds as good as it does, I am even more impressed with their antics. From "Sixty Lives" into "Pretty Pet" into "God Is Going to Get Sick Of Me," I was like a little girl in a candy store. Until the evil NYPD closed down that candy store.
Shindig! was shut down, mid Aberdeen City set. I wasn't all that surprised. Antony told me it shut down the last time they played as well. So all the hipsters, in their skinny ties and leg warmers headed out into the Manhattan cold.
After a couple drinks in Union Square, which I probably shouldn’t have gone out for, I headed back to Brooklyn. My throat was scratchy and my nose was sniffling. I hadn't seen my apartment since 8 that morning and it looked like a bomb had hit it. I put on last night's Lost and fell asleep. I couldn't have been more hip if I wanted to.
Posted by Rachael at 10:14 AM
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
First off let me give out a shout-out to woxy.com for helping me get through the long days at work. They play the best music, hands down. Let's see, in the last half hour we've heard from Editors, Bright Eyes, Maximo Park, The Subways, among others. Oh yes, and I was listening the other day and heard Tapes 'n Tapes. I kinda screamed like a 13-year-old girl out of pure excitment. This blog has become TRL now with shoutouts and screaming. I'm sorry.
Here's a message from those crazy folks at Underrated:
Do you wake up in the morning and feel like you had missed out on something? Was everyone talking about the latest sensation to sweep through, and you just happened to miss the show? Do you scratch you head trying to figure out what music you are missing out on?
We thought so.
That's why we are here to remind you about Friday's big bash.
Don't miss out on what everyone will be talking about Monday morning.
And don't forget to RSVP.
Doors open at 9 PM
OPEN BAR FROM 9-10 PM
Crash Mansion is located at 199 Bowery
Click here to RSVP for free (!) admission before 11.
Posted by Rachael at 4:05 PM
The only thing I can complain about tonight's Shindig! party, is that it's all the way on the west side. Other than that, I can't really talk.
I love The GoStation. I love Aberdeen City. And I love open bars. Now if only I could get this cold to go away, I'd be set.
Here's the details...
Posted by Rachael at 1:33 PM
It seems appropriate I would come down with a nasty cold the week of Underrated's big bash. So even though I was sniffling away, drinking far too much tea (I'm British, remember), I convinced myself I couldn't miss out on going to meet up with Jay and Adam of The Light Footwork. For some reason before I go interview a band, I always think that they are going to be the strangest people on earth. I have no idea why. But no they are people just like us. It was fun chatting with Adam, and finding out about their fabulous album. I couldn't believe they have yet to actually play a show as a band. Crazy. They told me a lot more interesting things, but you'll just have to read it in the next issue. It was a very low-key listening party, appropriate for the album, with the usual blogger sightings in tow. Oh yeah, you should really buy this album.
So following the listening party, instead of going to se Ari or Tim Williams play, I opted to get an early night. After my subway broke down (yes, I have the best luck ever) I was home by 10 just in time for the new tv-show-du-jour, Love Monkey.
I missed the premiere last week, but I had heard a lot of chatter about the show. Everyone seems to have an opinion. I'm a sucker for cheesy TV shows so I figured I might as well check it out. If you know nothing about the show (where are you?) the premise is this: An A&R rep gets fired from a major label, steals his client, a 17-year-old singer/songwriter and starts at an indie label. He's got stereotypical friends (hello Brandon Walsh!) and two love interests. Comedy and Drama ensues.
But since this is a music blog, I won't go on and on about Tom Cavanagh's character should end up with the wonderfully talented Judy Greer. We'll talk about the music. I had high expectations, seeming that my favorite DJ, Mr. Nic Harcourt was music supervisor of the show. But it turns out the show is less interested in the indies (a la The OC) and more interested in the up-and-coming major label debuts. The kid Tom Cavanagh signs, Wayne, is played by real singer/songwriter Teddy Geiger. His album comes out on Sony in March, which happens to be one of the studios behind the show. He sounds very much like John Mayer, but at 17 years old, I give him credit. He does have some talent.
I have to say it's not a terrible show. The writing could be a bit wittier and less ridiculous. But I enjoy watching real New York City sidewalks. And I have to say that the song that Zoe (Britney Spears/Hilary Duff knock-off) performed with Wayne last night was actually kinda catchy. But what's missing is the real music that I assume Nic Harcourt would like to be featured. They have this opportunity at their fingertips to really make something out of this show, but part of me doesn't think it will eventually pan out.
There's a lot of people talking about this show that have much more formulated opinions that mine:
Last night's episode featured guest spots from Ben Folds and Leann Rimes. Apparently next week She Wants Revenge performs. But last night did feature a great song by the wonderful Magic Numbers. I'll post that until I can find Zoe & Wayne's rendition of "My Inner Pain"
Posted by Rachael at 11:55 AM
Let the races begin. (We think)
Today starts the big battle in who can out-do who, when Spin commences its Spin.com Band of The Year competition. Despite my previous skepticism and ill feelings towards the magazine, there's no reason we should let this slip through our fingers.
View full bracket here
My picks Round 1:
Bloc Party vs. Nine Black Alps
Tom Vek vs. The Magic Numbers
Art Brut vs. The Go! team
Hard-Fi vs. The Cribs
The Oranges Band vs. The Upwelling
Matson Jones vs. Smoosh
Mobius Band vs. Goblin Cock
-Goblin Cock (merely for the name)
Clap Your Hands vs. The Greenhornes
-Clap Your Hands
Blood on the Wall vs. Imogen Heap
Be Your Own Pet vs. Shout Out Louds
-Shout Out Louds
Wolf Parade vs. Feist
-Feist (probably the toughest call on here)
Panic! At The Disco vs. The Fall Of Troy
-Panic! At The Disco
Alexisonfire vs. Nightmare of You
-Nightmare of You
Motion City Soundtrack vs. Boys Night Out
-Motion City Soundtrack
The Academy Is vs. Valencia
But only one can be band of the year, and let's give one of our local boys the honor. So vote vote vote for The Upwelling and then we'll see if it's all rigged.
Posted by Rachael at 7:57 AM
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
There's nothing I like better than new music and a free beer. So the geniuses at The Light Footwork have combined the two for all of us New Yorkers. Tonight at Scenic there will be a listening party for their fabulous self-released debut, One State, Two State. You buy the CD, they buy you a beer. I love it.
And let me tell you, the album is worth your purchase. It's one of the few albums that I can put on from start to finish without hesitation. However, it doesn't immediately demand your attention, which I appreciate. Each time you realize that each song is a gem, but when you put it all together...delicious indie pop.
A two member band that mixes male and female vocals, The Light Footwork may just break out in the year 2006. I have every hope that they do. Already praised by the blogs, and named Stereogum's Band To Watch, this Cali band is spreading like wildfire. Watch out, they are a'coming.
I will be interviewing the band tonight before their listening party, so leave me any questions you want answered in the comments. And if you can't make it out tonight, or don't live in New York, buy One State Two State here. You won't be disappointed.
Need some more persuading? Jeez. Ok. Listen.
Call me a really big dork, but I have a certain few things I want to accomplish before I die. Yes, I even have a list, but you won't get to see all of them, unless you bribe me (I take checks, pints, and cigs, thanks). One of the things on there, however, is to be thanked in the liner notes of an album. Ever since I was a kid, the minute I by a new CD, I read the "thank you's". I find it the most interesting part of the album. I don't know why.
So you can imagine my elation when I received El Jezel's new album in the mail and there was a thank you for little ol' me. Aw, shucks. I felt so special.
El Jezel released their debut album, Elements of Being Put Together and I couldn't be happier for them. The trio that rocked my socks as a last minute substitution for Underrated one-year anniversary show.
I can't believe a year has passed, and yet this album was definitely worth the wait. It's a joy to hear the songs that I have seen live on record. "Oleta" was always my favorite, with Jess's sweet vocals mixing with the boy's always-impressive instrumentation. Now I get to listen to it over and over again (the pickup translates almost as good as it does live) plus new favorites "Michigan" and "Sleep."
And yet the goodness didn't stop there. El Jezel was also nice enough to send me their top picks of 2005, including my little lover Tom Vek. I guess the cats out of the bag on my infatuation. But besides Mr. Vek, they included Spinto Band, Calla, Doves, among others. Sweet stuff.
You can catch the band this Wednesday at The Delancey for Death Disco. They go on at 10 PM and it's free! Go to the show and buy yourself a record. And you can listen to some old and new tracks, plus be their friend on my space.
Posted by Rachael at 7:09 AM
Monday, January 23, 2006
[picture via modernage. I forgot my camera, grr]
The wonderful staff of Underrated met on Saturday afternoon to have a semi-productive meeting about the next issue. However topic turned to why I play favorites with some bands. I didn't really have a defense. I like to play favorites, whether it be shoes, bands, or songs. So when Editors played "Your Are Fading" at the show at Rothko on Saturday night, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.
Let's back track a bit to before the show. I brought along my ace reporter Seth Kallen for the interview. I like to share my wealth, once in a while. We got to the far too fancy hotel on Rivington where we were to meet the band, but were informed that they were still doing sound check over to Rothko. Would we mind going over there? Absolutely not.
It was quite a treat to watch the sound check. They played "Camera" and "Lights" in full and the sound filled up the vastly empty room. I felt like I had my own preview and since there was no opening band for the night, this got me pumped up. I tried to contain my excitement around the professionals. We watched them for about 10 minutes before heading back to the hotel for the interview. They were super sweet guys (I know, I say that almost every time). Seth sat down with Tom for the interview, but I had to run. The interview seemed to have went well, as reported in his blog:
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. Brits wearing all black who play dark, melodic, pounding music, and me...a Jewish kid from suburban Pennsylvania with a tape recorder and a shitty backpack...in one room. How was I not going to lose my cool seeing as I am a bit of a dork? Well, Tom Smith made it easy in his interview as he was one of the friendliest guys I have ever interviewed. As we talked, Tom told me his thoughts on the position they are in as a bit of a "hyped" band. He told me all about how the band was more concerned with having longevity and true timelessness in their music then simply being a passing fad and the "next big thing" (as NME occasionally has hinted at) Tom Smith's head is level. He doesn't fall for the hype. (He even seemed to be a bit confused, wondering who put the children of Sir Mick Jagger on the guest list for the night's show at Rothko...) As I closed the interview, the band members looked excited to play yet another sold out show in NYC...and as I left, in came Spin magazine...
You can judge for yourself when you read the article in the next issue.
I met up with Joe and we stopped by Arlene's Grocery to catch a set by The Undisputed Heavyweights. There's something about this band that just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. They are such a uniquely intriguing band to watch play. Just go see them already.
At precisely 9 PM we met Seth outside and walked over to Rothko. Already a line was forming. I anticipated chaos. We met up with Nora (and backcut her, sorry everyone) and excitement was in the air. We got through the doors to find a pretty empty Rothko (and a Yeti). That didn't last for long.
It took about two hours and a lot of drinks for the band to finally take the stage. You could feel the surge of pure thrill the moment they played the first note. I scoff at anyone who compares this band to Interpol after seeing their live show. Interpol is great, but they never execute their songs they way they should. Editors pull that off.
Unfortunately I was too drunk and the set felt so short that the entire time feels like a blur. But I do know that I was just floored when they played "You Are Fading." They didn't play it in Dublin when I saw them this summer, and I think that 3 minutes just made my life.
And then all of a sudden the show was over.
I wish it could have gone on all night. They set a scene and dare I say painted a picture in Rothko that night with their sweet sweet sounds. Why can't these bands stay in New York forever? As I said earlier, I play favorites and these guys are on my list.
At the after-party, I ran into Keith again (I swear I'm not stalking him). I drank some more, danced some more, and then decided in my drunken stupor to go uptown to meet up with some highschool friends. Then I felt it appropriate to hop on the subway home to save some money. Then I fell asleep. On the subway. I don't know where I ended up except that it was a $15 cab ride to my apartment in Brooklyn.
What a night. Let's do it again.
Posted by Rachael at 7:06 AM
I think I slept about 10 hours this entire weekend and that was the only time I was basically in my apartment. I was chasing after bands most of the weekend....my definition of a good time.
Let's start with Friday and my day with We Are Scientists. I guess I can tell you know that you will see these boys grace the cover of the next issue of Underrated Magazine, out in March. After an early wakeup and French class I met the guys outside the Virgin offices and we hopped in a car (paid for by the label, not bad) to Williamsburg for the photo shoot.
To say I was a bit nervous is an understatement. I had about 10 cups of coffee in my system and a huge crush on the lead singer, which doesn't make for a good combination. Keith and Chris hopped in the car, and I followed. Their rep from Virgin apparently was tagging along too. We drove through the city making small talk (well mostly them) and I already felt awkward. I wasn't sure whether to start my interview right then and there, since we only had an hour once we got to Williamsburg. I opted not to, instead feeling like a 13-year-old girl on a date with mom and dad in the front of the car. Luckily enough, the car ride was quick and before I knew it I was walking up the four flights of stairs to Syd's apartment with the boys.
If you've seen the cover of their album, you know they like cats. Syd happened to have an adorable little kitten that took up the scientists' attention most of the time. I thought they were going to steal it and take it home at one point. It was a cute kitty.
So to try and make a long story short, we had an hour to do the photos and interview so it was an experiment in multi-tasking. It didn't make for the best interview and I left Syd's feeling very odd about the whole situation. I used to hate doing interviews, but I'd like to think I"ve gotten a little bit better in my time. I'm much more comfortable that I used to be, but this just wasn't effective. They like to joke around which is all good and fun, but my journalistic duty is to get some answers. It also didn't help that their label rep was listening in and my whole line of questioning was about the decision to sign with Virgin. Awkward.
But I did get your questions answered, like I promised.
Underrated:: If you had to play one of your songs for the rest of your career, what would it be?
We Are Scientists: Commit suicide? What? It would be a 45-minute mega track, leading all the tracks into each other.
UR: How many sweater vests do you own?
WAS: None. We don't even know what you are talking about. They make sweater vests now?
UR: If you could introduce one random instrument into the band, what would it be?
WAS: A slightly higher pitch snare, like a half step tighter and explore that element. We'd like to be creative by handicapping ourselves, see where that takes us.
UR: Why do you think some bands wear eyeliner?
WAS: It's pretty bright on stage. I thought it was that baseball thing to block out the glare. We opt to go the sunglass route. You really have to do one or the other.
UR: Will you ever play The Tank again?
WAS: We are currently unclear of the status of the venue and part of that is willful ignorance.
UR: Whats your favorite venue or city that you have played?
WAS: We liked a lot, we have a lot of number ones. What's your demographic? Oh yeah, definitely New York. Definitely The Tank - for that person. But Amsterdam was pretty amazing and Germany was great. The crowd showed up ready to dance even though they didn't know any of our songs.
UR: What other bands or artists are you listening to right now?
WAS: A lot of Oxford Collapse. Seems like every night we put them on.
UR: How many aliens have you had illegitimate children with?
WAS: We've never fathered any but we have taken in those that were asexually born. We actually run a house for them and make a mean profit off of slave trace. They are deeply humanoid.
Read the real story and interview with the band in the next issue of Underrated Magazine.
So after probably the worst interview I've ever conducted, I hung around Williamsburg before going back into the city to meet a friend for dinner. Then it was off to Hoboken for the WAS show. I was already exhausted, but wouldn't pass up the chance to see these guys again. I was dreading the trek out to Jersey, but once I bought my $4 rum and coke and realized I could smoke indoors (not for long) I was loving Maxwells hard core.
I found Keith before the show and we both agreed that the interview wasn't our best work. It was nice to know that it wasn't all my fault. Susan and I, along with Kathryn made our way to the front of the awfully small venue. Apparently a memo went out to all the kids with big hair to be up front as well. Bravo to them for hindering sight for the rest of the crowd.
The show started off stupendously. There was the usual: Keith's irresistible grins, Chris's fun banter, and Michael's impressive drumming. I loved every second of being so close and singing so loud. I even had crazy girl behind me that may have gotten a bit too into it. After throwing pieces of paper at the band, she found it a good idea to get up on stage and dance with them. It was fun for laughs and security then took her down. I sorta wish they could have kicked her out because she really pissed me off for the rest of the show. This girl turned out to be certifiable.
They covered "Be My Baby" again, but this time with their friends in Oxford Collapse. They were half way through "Inaction" when everyone started smelling smoke, but not of the nicotine type. What happened next may shock some and is the result of when a top-notch bands rocks just a little too hard. WAS are so intense that they blew up one of their speakers. We were all witness to a slight electrical fire. The band was confused. We enjoyed a little rock star moment. But it was kinda sad when we all had to evacuate the venue. Show was over, folks.
But as I said to Keith, it'll make a good end for the story.
Posted by Rachael at 12:05 AM
Friday, January 20, 2006
My goodness. Yesterday was quite the ridiculous day. I woke up nice and early, got into Union Square and went to grab my coffee and muffin before French class. I realized I left my wallet and my apartment keys back inside my apartment in Brooklyn. So no coffee for me. That's never a good start to the day.
I schlepped back to Brooklyn and then back to class, all the while keeping myself updated with the rumors of where Saturday's Editors show was going to be. It was originally scheduled for The Annex, a new venue that is bound to shut down in a matter of months. Then it was moved to Hiro and more tickets went on sale. Some were happy, others were not. And then it was back to Annex. I was curious before how this small venue was going to fit all of us in there. Now I can't imagine how it's possible with the extra tickets that were sold yesterday. I wish people could just make up their minds.
Either way, Editors will be in New York City tonight at Mercury and tomorrow at The Annex (we think). I couldn't be more excited. I caught their set at the Oxegen Music Festival in Dublin this summer, and I was pretty much left speechless. Get ready for some crowded rooms, lots of bloggers, lines outside the venues, and a damn good show.
I will be interviewing the band on Saturday before their Annex show so we'll do the same thing as yesterday and leave your questions in the comments and I will get them answered for you.
We Are Scinetists today, Editors tomorrow. How can people trust me in a room alone with these bands?
Buy their superb debut The Back Room here.
Posted by Rachael at 7:30 AM
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Before I head off for the day, I need your (yes YOUR) assistance.
First off, we've been trying a bit of a new layout here at The Underrated Blog, in case you haven't noticed. Each post title is a song, and each post more centered on that band. Previously, there would be a long post of a lot of ramblings, and songs up for download at the end. Which is better? Yay or nay? Let me know in the comments.
Secondly, tomorrow I will have to put my huge crush aside and try to be professional when I hang out with the boys of We Are Scientists. Their debut album is currently at #10 on Heatseekers with close to 5,000 copies sold and #3 on Alternative New Artist chart. A congrats is definitely in order. But I know you have questions you've been dying to ask the band but never had the chance. Well now you do! Leave me your questions in the comments and I'll post their answers on Monday. Just don't ask if you can have all of their babies, I've got that covered.
Posted by Rachael at 7:41 AM
Thursdays I have class all day, so I'll get my post in early. I gave in yesterday and decided that debt is no fun unless you have shows to go to. So I bought my ticket for Voxtrot at Mercury and Arctic Monkeys at Webster. Okay let's face it, it wasn't that hard of a decision.
Anyone else surprised that Arctic Monkeys sold out Webster? I would have appreciated two nights at Bowery instead. I get the hype and yes, they are good, but let's not rush things. They are young and have more than enough time to play Webster and on to Hammerstein and whatever, when I probably won't go see them again because I get claustrophobic. But that’s okay, Webster will be okay. I'll have my dancing shoes on, that's for sure.
The appropriately titled album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not will be released in the UK on January 23, 2006. You can preview the album (or the first minute of each song) here. It will be available in the US February 21.
Listen to the Arctic Monkeys perform on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic here.
Speaking of, did you know that my favorite radio show host Nic Harcourt is the music supervisor for that new show on CBS, Love Monkey? It premiered Tuesday night and apparently is filmed in a bunch of NYC venues. Rumor is that Ted Leo will appear on the show too. Now I'm pissed I missed it. I'll set the DVR for next week.
Posted by Rachael at 7:03 AM
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
I didn't get to go see Hard-Fi play at Bowery Ballroom last night. As I left work, it was a gametime decision whether to head home or go to Bowery and see if there were any tickets left at the door. I chose the former. It was raining.
All over London this summer were billboards stating that Hard-Fi is the greatest British band. Ever. I like the album but it didn't blow me away. And I can assure that they are not the greatest British band ever. Let's not exaggerate too much now.
I made certain people promise they wouldn't have fun at the show and wouldn't rave about it today. They obviously didn't listen. The reviews are in and many are mixed. I probably would have said it was a blast, fun to be there, but nothing spectacular...in case you were wondering.
So it was like I was there, kinda.
[picture via A VC]
Posted by Rachael at 12:56 PM
Random news and notes for this rainy Wednesday:
Posted by Rachael at 11:13 AM
I love putting my iTunes on random. Any sort of randomness in life is always entertained by me. So when I couldn't sleep last night due to a pounding headache and remorse for not going to the Hard-Fi show at Bowery, I let my loyal iTunes lead the way to happiness. What came up? Elk City - a band I have no idea how it ended up on my computer, but I am pretty glad it did.
After a bit of research, I learned that Elk City is a local New York/New Jersey band whose third album, New Believers is the result of lead singer Renée LoBue "flaming breakup." But don't think this is any downer. This gal apparently is out to cause some indie-rock loving goodness from whatever bad happened to her. I like it. And they've got some fabulous contributors on the new album, including members of another local band The Mendoza Line.
Of the tracks I've heard, it sounds promising. "Cherries In The Snow" is immediately inviting, and at first I thought this was some Christmas song that got lost in the crowd. But no, listen to the lyrics. This gal definitely wears her heart on her sleeve, even more so apparent in "Once and For All," which is a little less quirky rock, a little more folk.
The band plays Mo-Pitkins on January 27 at midnight. Unfortunately, you won't be able to go. You have other plans.
Posted by Rachael at 7:26 AM
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Three shows go on sale tomorrow. I'd like to go to all of them. Alas, I have zero dollars to my name and a lot of bills to pay. If you buy me a ticket, I'll go with you, and chances are I'll dance...if you buy me some drinks. That's always a sight to be seen.
You can purchase these tickets on Ticketweb:
-March 25: Arctic Monkeys @ Webster
-April 4 & 5: Art Brut @ Bowery
-April 10: Voxtrot @ Mercury Lounge
I'll love you forever if you do, and that's definitely priceless.
Posted by Rachael at 4:09 PM
Wes is not only a fellow European and blogger, but he also happens to be part of NYC's finest. No, not the NYPD, but his band The Undisputed Heavyweights.
Many complain that New York bands lack at entertaining a crowd, thus resulting in the notorious hand-crossed blank stare than many attribute to New York show goers. I urge them them to check out The Heavyweights because frankly, it's an experience. The first time I saw them live at Pianos, I felt as though I had walked into another dimension. The music itself was so pure, hinting on old jazz and folk apropos for a smoky speakeasy...or a church. That's right, lead singer Casey Shea will reinvent the meaning of soul calling on you to say "Amen" or "Hallelujah" from the crowd. There can't be any one sound or genre that's coming out of New York these days. Not while the The Heavyweights are around.
My only qualm is that we only have three recordings to work with here. But rumor is that the band is working on a Live EP and perhaps some studio time in the 2006. I say this for every band, but this time I mean it -- the recordings do the band no justice. You have to see them live and "experience" what I try to put in words. Lucky for you they have some shows coming up:
1.21 - Arlene's Grocery 8pm(Full Band) w/ Julius & The Beat Hotel
1.29 - Galapagos 9pm (full band)
2.16 - Southpaw 9pm (full band) w/ C. Gibbs, M Shanghai String Band & Jones St Boys
2.24 - Pianos 9pm (full band) w/ Townhall!
Posted by Rachael at 2:52 PM
The world is insisting I never see Nightmare of You play live. First it was CMJ traveling difficulties, then a transit strike, and tonight...well. I don't really have a very good excuse other than the fact that the show is sold-out and I missed out on getting my ticket. NOY open for Brit sensations Nine Black Alps and Hard-Fi at Bowery Ballroom, before heading back overseas for another tour. So it could be awhile before I ever see them.
Nonetheless, their self-entitled debut is quite good. My good friend Katie is a huge fan (I like to embarrass her) and was the one who introduced me to them this summer in London. We also interviewed the band for a feature in the latest issue of Underrated. (Download here)
I see lead singer Brandon Reilly around town and can't help but want to offer him a sandwich. I get the whole really-skinny-indie-boy thing, but I'm not seeing this one. Katie, I'm sure, would disagree. But we don't harbor on looks here, because you can't deny this guy write some pretty catchy songs with lyrics raise the bar -- especially when he talks about the hipsters. They apparently make him sick. I think I get the irony.
If you are in the area, the boys will be at Fat Baby tonight after the show for a little "bon voyage" party. There is no cover and the party starts around 11. Guitarist Joe McCaffrey be djing upstairs with the help of Brandon around midnight. Go have drink, dance, and maybe offer Brandon some food. Just a thought.
You can watch their video for "I Want to Be Buried In Your Backyard" here.
Posted by Rachael at 12:37 PM
Sometimes I forget about albums I've loved. Tegan and Sara's 2004 album So Jealous unfortunately was one of them. I listened to it on repeat for the latter part of 2004 into 2005, and now a year later, I've fallen back under the spell of these Canadian indie-rock darlings.
I Guess I'm Floating posted "Where Does The Good Go" over the weekend and it all came back to me. Now I can't stop listening to the album...all over again.
The song was included in a recent episode of the fabulous Gray's Anatomy and the whole entire album just screams montage. I was listening to it on my subway ride up to my last first day of college and memories just floated out of me. Without getting too sentimental, it totally hit the spot.
Tegan and Sara will be on Conan O'Brien tomorrow night for the second time and are playing Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday with Cake. (Sold out)
Buy So Jealous here.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Okay, this is the last post about Tom Vek for at least...a week. My weekend stalking of Tom Vek was unsuccessful. I didn't see him at the We Are Scientists show on Thursday. I didn't see him dancing at Orchard Bar on Friday. And I didn't end up going to Misshapes on Saturday to see him DJ. I haven't heard anything yet about his DJ duties, but if you were there, let me know how it went (and if he was asking for me, like I imagine he would be).
Mr. Vek's previous videos have been very art-deco and cool (I suggest checking out "Nothing But Green Lights" to see Mr. Vek's real moves.) His not-so-new video for "C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)" premiered on MTVU today. Even though it's been available on his website for some time now, it set the fire in me on this cold Monday afternoon. Watching Tom Vek play those drums all over some country side with two little goblins, ooh baby.
(screen shot via stereogum)
Check out all the videos here.
Posted by Rachael at 2:52 PM
The other band of note from yesterday's Knitting Factory shindig was The Soft Explosions. I caught this band a week ago, today, at Mercury Lounge when they opened for Tapes 'n Tapes. I remember being quite impressed, but unfortunately I got sidetracked with phone calls and people that I missed most of their set.
Luckily I gave my undivided attention to the band and rightfully so. I hate to admit it but I regard any band with a female player differently. Girls in bands usually just bother me. There are a certain few that can pull it off, but guys can get away with not being that good much easier. But in NYC's own The Soft Explosions, lead guitarist Irina Yalkowsky is probably one of the best guitar players I've seen live, male or female. She doesn't try to pull any other shenanigans; she just plays, and plays damn well. If I knew more about equipment or technical aspects, I bet I'd be raving about her guitar. In fact, all of their instruments looked really snazzy. But I don't, so I'll just say they looked pretty cool.
The band seems stuck in a time warp from the 60's arena rock and I like that they keep it that way. They really don't try and mix in anything current or hip, and it translates to be quite authentic. As of now, they only have a 7" available. How retro. You can listen to some of the tracks on their myspace page. Get ready to rock.
Posted by Rachael at 2:11 PM
I've always had a good time when I see Hopewell. Last night at Knitting Factory marked #3 for me, and although it wasn't my favorite, it was a pretty cool set.
The band has been pretty busy. 2005 marked the release of their fabulous debut Hopewell & The Birds of Appetite (buy here) and a tour with the infamous Brian Jonestown Massacre. It was apparent last night that their live show has progressed; although I miss more of the raw craziness they had back in the old days (er a couple months ago). But this marked a special show because they were joined by "the Brit" Joe Bennet of Goldrush who played the violin and trumpet on a couple tracks. It sounded extremely polished.
I dug lead singer Jason Russo's getup. Not many men can wear all white, that tight, on stage. "Calcutta" is always the highlight on the set for me. They call it their "dance song." I call it my favorite. Part of me wanted them to just play this song over again. Is that a bit selfish? A bit wrong? A bit weird? Yeah, whatever.
The band will be at SXSW, with one more date in NYC before that. They will play January 26 with Lolita Brass. They recently performed at The Velvet Lounge in DC and have a couple tracks up on their site to download.
Posted by Rachael at 12:27 PM
I wasn't going to go, and then I wasn't going to stay. It seems like the world is out to get me these days, and nothing can go right. So even after everyone bailed on me and I managed to trip up the stairs at Knitting Factory and busted my knee, I decided I'd be more upset if I left early and missed The Wrens. And boy, was I right.
It was 1 AM when they took the stage, closing out an interesting all-day benefit put together by Act Local. The main stage was crowded, but by no means packed. I found the boys of A Brief Smile in the audience and we waited through the never-ending raffle, anticipating the band's set.
We all knew they'd be without their drummer, and if there was any who left disappointed at the end of the set, I'd like to know. I thought it was fantastic. At times, it felt like the band had been invited into my living room and we were all just hanging about, listening to them play. They chose songs on the spot, joked with the audience, and sounded better than ever. The crowd was surprisingly polite for the wee hours of the morning, with hardly any cohering of the band, until the end when song requests were shouted out.
The last time I saw the band was at Bowery Ballroom. It was my first Wrens experience and I was left in awe. But this felt like such a special experience, and I was so thrilled I decided to stay. This intimate set by one of the most underrated bands out there today is surely one I'll never forget.
There's a fabulous documentary about the band that is in the works. We featured the project in issue seven of Underrated Magazine. You can help out the project and find more information (including a trailer) here.