Friday, April 27, 2007

friday's to do

i have a bajillion posts in my head that maybe i'll get to this weekend. but until then, here's what you should do.

1. vote for Nora!

2. come to this

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wakey!Wakey!, Casey Shea @ Pianos | Cross-Pollination

[Update: I wrote something much more intelligent (at least I think) on CMJ's blog. You can read that here, if you'd like.]

I have to make this quick or else I'll be late to work. I had all intentions of writing this post last night when I got home but as soon as I walked in the door and saw my bed, the rest is history. The sad part is this was all before midnight, but I kind of like my life as an 80-year-old woman these days.

So last night was a night I had been looking forward to ever since Wes informed me this would be going down. I even bought my ticket months ahead of time and had it sitting in my kitchen. Every day I would look at it with excitement, all but yesterday, of course, when I needed it. Funny how things work like that. What I love about Cross-Pollination is that it's like it's own little world where rockstars rule and all the rest of us are there to obey. We come every single week because we don't have a choice. And I swear once I enter the world of Cross-Pollination, it's as though nothing else exists. I don't know where I was really going with this, but just bear with me.

The point is, last night seeing Wakey!Wakey! and Casey Shea, I felt as though I was seeing two of the biggest stars of my life. Not only do I have a deep infatuation with both of these musicians, but there was a distinct energy in the air that couldn't ever be replicated. It was the first time Wakey!Wakey! was playing with a full band, and my god what an amazing experience to see first hand. The piano player better known as Mike Grubbs added not just a couple musicians to the stage, but at times eight people accompanied him! He had a complete string section that was absolutely beautiful, and the most unassuming accordion player at one point. The songs that I had already grown to love were completely fleshed out and brought to a new level by the addition of the rest of the band. It was, hands down, one of the best sets I had seen in a very long time. I almost forgot how good it felt to see one of those kinds of shows, where you are pleasantly shocked from start to end. But that's just what Cross-Pol does to you, right?

Since it was being recorded for a special album release (more on that later), the show was downstairs but also a bit rushed. Casey Shea, also known for his relentless performances fronting my favorites, The Undisputed Heavyweights, was up next. I had seen Casey play solo, or with Jeff Jacobson (also of the Heavyweights) but never with a full-band. Like the true chameleon Shea is, I swear he could do nothing wrong. Last night we were privileged to see a rocking country fueled performance, as if John Lennon were still alive today and collaborated with Ryan Adams. I kid you not. His newest song was even a bit more experimental, the kind all you hipster indie kids would totally dig. Casey is a singer that's voice transcends any genre that tries to box him in. And you know, if you have ever seen this guy perform, that he will never, ever, be boxed in.

Like every Tuesday, the time came for the boys to play some songs together. Their voices were almost made for each other, with Wakey!Wakey!'s wailing a solid match to Casey's melodic rasp. They each played one of each other’s songs, and then the time came for something completely different. I knew these two had to have something bizarre up their sleeves, but never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate what came next.... yes, you never guessed it: Dick In A Box.

Holy crap.

Go see both of these performers before I hit you over the head. That is a public service announcement from the one and only Underrated.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Where will you be when the music dies?

SaveNetRadio.orgSean asked me last night if I only blog now when I'm angry about something. It almost seems to be the case, but I swear it's not done on purpose. But this, in fact, a great place to rant and rave, so if you get the impression that I'm some nutcase who is constantly angry at the world, know that it's only one part of me. The other part likes puppies. And flowers.

But here we go with a little bit of a rant, that hopefully (*crossing fingers*) will work out for the best.

If you've been keeping up with some news, you are aware that the Copyright Royalty Board has implemented a royalty rate increase to all internet radio stations, nearly double what they are paying right now. What does this mean? Your favorite radio stations may not survive. And for someone who is head over hells in love with WOXY, among others, this makes me very concerned.

You see, it's kind of ridiculous. First of all, internet radio stations are the only ones who are playing a diverse range of music and aren't controlled by Clear Channel. They are the ones supporting the artists that need it the most. And they are happy, yes thrilled, to pay the artists their royalties, but there is no need for this absurd increase. Streaming online content is not the same thing as downloading an MP3. Ask the artists. They'll say the same frickin thing.

Okay, enough with the ranting -- let's look to what can be done. The Copyright Royalty Board is done with the case. They can't change their ruling now, but Congress can. And thanks to organizations like the newly formed SaveNetRadio, you can do your part by writing to your Congressman. Within its first three days of existence, the campaign has sent more than 250,000 messages asking them to set a reasonable rate that will save internet stations from going under. Check out their website for more information, and cool nifty little banners you can put on your blogs, myspaces, etc.

I interviewed spokesperson Jake Ward for a CMJ News Article. Here's what he said about the future, if nothing is done:

"Very few [Internet radio stations], if any, will survive," says Jake Ward, a spokesperson for the SaveNetRadio coalition. "And those that do survive will be challenged to provide the service we enjoy today, because Internet radio's greatness is driven by its diversity, which is a result of technology, no limitation of 'space' for the stations, and creative competition and energy."

Don't let this happen. Please, please, do what you can to make this known. And if you are in a band, you could follow the Truckee Brother's actions: they won't release their next single to anyone but the internet radio stations, and for free.

Can you imagine what would happen to indie music if there are no longer internet radio stations? My goodness, I don't even want to think about it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Cross-Pollination: The Mixtape Vol 1

And so it goes. My laptop decided to die on me last week, so I haven't been able to post much when I'm at home. Luckily, I've made a valiant effort in staying in more, getting enough sleep, and going to the allergy doctor every week to tell me something new that I'm allergic to. It's a lot of fun. You should try it some time.

And yet there's one place on a weekly basis that I can go and it feels very much like home. Most Tuesday nights you will find me upstairs at Pianos, where Cross-Pollination takes place. Organized by two overachievers but extreme music lovers, every week I am introduced to two new local talents. But this is not all, after each do their solo set, they then "cross-pollinate" for a short set together. Sometimes it's unreal, sometimes it's a bit iffy, but it's always a unique experience that shows just how innovative and creative musicians today can be, if given the chance.

To celebrate, the wonderful creators have released a free mix-tape of past performers. It's a great collection, and even better than it's free! You will recognize a lot of the artists from this blog, as I discovered most of them there on a random Tuesday night. I wrote a news story about the series and mixtape over at CMJ, you can read that here. Below is the mixtape in its entirety, for more information head on over to Liberated Matter.

01. My Brightest Diamond Hi, Remember Me?
02. Kevin Devine You'll Only End Up Joining Them (Acoustic)
03. Wakey!Wakey! Falling Apart
04. The Undisputed Heavyweights Roll Your Windows Down
05. The Bloodsugars Purpose Was Again
06. Matt Singer Stacy J.
07. Derek James Love Me, Love Me
08. Cloud Cult Pretty Eyes
09. Casey Shea Quinzy Housing
10. Jeffrey Lewis Tell It To Your Heart (Loud Reed Cover)
11. The Lloyds Halfway
12. Jay Mankind Western States (Demo)
13. Ian Thomas SBB
14. Dave Deporis Be Strong

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dancing Shoes: Ruby | Kaiser Chiefs

We're back at the Skinny tonight, determined to make you stay up late on a Thursday night and dance with us until the wee hours of the morning. Nora just informed me that she is going to need a lot of Red Bull to make it through the night. Me? Just keep the tunes cranking and I wont get cranky.

Or actually, to keep both of us up, we just need one song. This one song has been the basis of all language and vocabulary this week. Instead of actually speaking in sentences Nora and I have resorted to one word. And that word? ROOOOOBAAAAAAYYYY.

The new Kaiser Chiefs song is the greatest thing I've heard in a very long time. Thanks to Matt for finding it for us. Because now, our lives have drastically changed.

  • Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby

    We'll see you tonight. And make sure you yell ROOOOOOBAAAAAAAY.

  • Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    the world is smaller than you think

    I never got to tell you about the Birdmonster/Mason Proper/Jena Malone show. It started out with a bit of a surreal moment when I was walking towards the Gramercy and saw Birdmonster's name on the marquee. I just realized now I never remembered to ask them if this was the first time they have had that, and if so, how it felt. I can say I got some chills, just seeing how far these boys have come. It's always nice when hard working bands start to get the recognition they deserve.

    Gramercy Theater is not as bad as I expected it to be, although that doesn't necessarily mean that it's all that great. Half finished and expensive drinks will be what I will remember, however the sound wasn't terrible (save Birdmonster for some reason) and there is a slanted floor (helps for us short folks). We arrived in time to see Miss Jena Malone and Her Bloodstains, and she was every bit as awkward and weird as I imagined her to be. I'm not sure if this is just her stage persona or she was actually on that many drugs, but at points it was almost painful. She doesn't have a terrible voice, but she's so bizarre (in not a good way) on stage that you feel uncomfortable watching her. Direct quote from the star of Saved!: "These lights are so beautiful. It is so beautiful like a Saturday. But it feels like a Tuesday. But it is Saturday."


    My Mason Proper boys were up next and I remembered just how much I have listened to their debut album, because I started singing along every frickin word to every wonderful song. Lead singer Jonathan Visgr is a delight to watch. His spastic moves are endearing and the rest of the band compliments him well. I mean, they have a suitcase on stage that is used as an instrument. How could you not love them? They also opened with "Friendship," which isn't on their album but has quickly become a favorite. Catch these guys when they are back in town, you will not be disappointed.

    This is why I love Mason Proper.

    And last, but certainly not least were the Birdmonsters. By this time I had had my fair share of gin, and when you mix me and alcohol with Birdmonster performing live, I will not cease to embarrass myself. Luckily I stuck to the back of the room this time around, and persisted to jump and scream and sing along without too many strange looks. I wish the crowd could have been more into the show, because the boys played their hearts out this time around. If you haven't heard their new songs, you must. They aren't too much of a departure from what you know and love, but definitely show a level of maturity in composition and song writing.

    Since it was the last night of the tour with Mason Proper, the boys joined Birdmonster on stage for a rowdy rendition of "Spaceman". It's always nice to see bands you love get along so well, and even be able to collaborate musically. And then Birdmonster played my three all time favorite songs for a deserved encore (if I remember correctly): Resurrection Song, Janine, All The Holes. Oh and they played Ball Of Yarn before that too. Basically it was pretty spectacular and I will never, ever, not have fun seeing these guys play live. I assume they'll be back before we know it, hopefully with more new songs in hand.

    I now think I hold the record for posts about Birdmonster. I'm not ashamed.

    Monday, April 9, 2007

    i am not myself these days

    This weekend, I headed down to my sister's house in Maryland for the holiday. It was nice to get out of the city, those quick retreats that remind you that grass does exist and silence can be heard at 3 AM. I spent most of my time playing tennis on Nintendo Wii that my brother brought down and now my arms are completely sore. What an amazing new way of playing video games. I highly approve.

    Coming back on the bus, heading over the bridge I began to thought if I could ever leave this city, and what it would feel to come back not being a resident. My roommate dropped the ball on me right before I left that he is heading back home once our lease is up in August. She's over New York, and it saddened me to think that I could be over it one day as well. But each time I come back and I find myself walking down whichever street it could be, there's that unspeakable sense that overcomes me and I know this is where I'm supposed to be. Maybe it wont last forever...nothing ever rarely does.

    9780060817329_2 On my bus ride to and from, I began and finished a memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell titled I Am Not Myself These Days. As much as I can identify and feel passionate about music, there's nothing like completely immersing yourself in a fantastic book, especially memoirs. Once I finished the last page, I felt like I knew this person better than I know myself. A quick summary is that Kilmer-Purcell was better known as his dragqueen alter ego named Aqua in the late 90's in New York City. The book follows Aqua and Kilmer-Purcell for their first year in the city, as he falls in love with a S&M male prostitute named Jack who eventually becomes a crack addict. Sounds intense, I know. But it's awfully funny and heartbreaking at the same time, and as Aqua's life spins out of control, you feel out of control as well. It's amazing to me how Kilmer-Purcell could remember half of the stories, as he was drunk almost every hour of the day. But it's quite an amazing tale, and an enjoyable read if you feel like picking up a new book. You can check out the website for the memoir, and Kilmer-Purcell here.

    And like all great albums, films, and books I feel personally affected. While reading about his chaotic lifestyle and continuing a party I found myself re-evaluating my life. Not that I was anywhere near Aqua status, or hardly even at the level of most people I know, but I've taken on a new goal of simplifying my life. I always was a fan of schedules and structure, so I'm bringing it back, maybe making it cool again. We'll see.

    This time last week I saw Scotland band Twilight Sad play at Knitting Factory. It was one of those shows that you know you'll look back on and still be in complete awe. The intensity in the lead singer's face almost made me want to turn away at some points, but I was transfixed. This is one of those bands you do need to see live for the full experience. Pat took pictures and wrote a recap here. He also snagged a video of one of the best moments in the too-short set. I'd really like to see them again.

    Friday, April 6, 2007

    happy easter!

    forget puppies. i want a bunny!(thanks Bryan)


    Thursday, April 5, 2007

    life : updated

    My oh my, how things have changed. I'm up early, in bed early, haven't had a touch of alcohol (okay, maybe, a touch) in a while and there is never enough hours in the day. I'm hiring interns that are less than a year younger than I am, and interviewing people in a place where I just interviewed. Friends are asking me relationship advice and not the other way around, and I was told I could have scarlet fever yesterday.

    Don't worry, I don't.

    This week has been quite the roller coaster, sprouting from Sunday's shocked reaction over A Brief Smile's radio incident. I'm still in shock, to be honest, but I decided to put that outrage to good use. I spent the greater part of the week putting together a story for CMJ about what happened, and (surprise, surprise) got a lot of different angles, except the hosts themselves. I called them more than my mother calls me, and yet still no reply. Quite the bummer, I did want to hear what they had to say. However, the story came out pretty well, if I say so myself. You can read that story here: Anti-Gay Slurs Put Radio Hosts In Dog House.

    And in sad news, Nora and I have decided to end The Blog Show. The last episode went up today on BreakThru Life has just become too hectic for the both of us, so we wanted to end it on a high note. Check out our last show where we play all of our favorite bands, plus speak a lot of French. Good times, n'est-ce pas?

    More soon.

    Sunday, April 1, 2007

    And now for something..completely different.

    Very rarely do I take this blog seriously. Most of the time I use this little page on the internet to recount the nights chasing after wannabe rockstars, promoting bands I hold so near and dear to my heart, or just old fashioned babbling. It's usually a combination of all three. I forget to spell check or read posts over once they are done. It's not that I don't enjoy this blog, I just don't use it as a forum for my intelligence or writing. I hope that's okay.

    Now I could tell you about seeing LCD Soundsystem on Friday night (totally fun in spite of my sickness) or dancing around like an idiot to Birdmonster last night for the umpteenth time thanks to too many gin and tonics. I could tell how how Mason Proper is fantastic, or how Jena Malone and Her Bloodstains totally freaked me out. That would all be just fine, but I feel as though it's time for a little seriousness. It comes around once in a blue moon, so do listen intently.

    I heard a little while ago that my buddies A Brief Smile were going to be on 92.3. Growing up in the New York City area, I had listened to 92.3 a good amount of time (ok, I listened to Z100 a lot more, don't mock). It was KROQ, now WFNY, the alternative rock station in our area, and at one point had decent music, or so I think. But as time has passed, less people listen to commercial radio and for good reason. Not only are their djs annoying, but the quality of music has reached an all-time low. Thankfully, we have internet radio, blogs, and podcasts to help fulfill our musical needs.

    Regardless, the fact that one of my favorite bands were going to get some airtime on a station that a whole bunch of people still listen to was pretty cool. I couldn't tune in when they were going to be on because I was at work, and frankly forgot about it until I saw a myspace blog post by the band.

    also, we were on 92.3 on the "jv and elvis show" on tuesday. they said they enjoyed the music but chose to shout anti-gay slurs at us as way to make themselves feel better about the reality that nobody with half of a brain listens to regular radio anymore...or something...we didn't quite get it. [queerty, wfmu and doghouse blog all had something to say]

    I checked out the links and was a bit shocked at what I found. In the comments on queerty, someone had uploaded the show, so I checked it out and found myself feeling quite uneasy about the whole experience. I cut down the show to their interview. You can listen below.

    Listen: A Brief Smile on The Doghouse

    I don't know when it became okay, or frankly in fashion, to use the word "faggot." But the more I hear people using it so loosely, the more disgusted with our culture I have become. The djs can say they used the word in a different connotation, but that does not make it okay. Regardless of John's sexual orientation, you cannot and do not use that word under any circumstance. The fact that these are young kids who were on the radio for the first time just makes it worse. These idiots (and I mean that sincerely) bullied and preyed for entertainment sake, and I find it morally, ethically, and socially unacceptable. What kind of country do we live in where people of this manner are paid to be heard? And the fact that people enjoy listening to this kind of talk is even worse.

    I applaud John for speaking up. It couldn't have been easy and although it didn't do much good at the time, it's a valiant effort. Sure, he didn't go into the show with the best comments, but from the very beginning KROQ's djs seemed to find homophobic banter amusing. I personally don't feel the need to tell you not to listen to these djs or this show in the future, because I think if you had any sense or respect for humankind, you wouldn't associate yourselves with them in the first place. I am sorry that this band has this experience attached to their name. They understood the nature of the show when they agreed to be on it, but sometimes things just get out of hand.

    I used to think I was far too naive to be involved in the music industry, but I wish that more people would look at the bigger picture and remember that entertainment isn't everything. People are people, no matter what. Respect isn't something to be privileged, it should be required.

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