Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best Live Shows of 2012

I've been fortunate to see a lot of live music this year in New York City. Below is my list of Best Shows of 2012, in no particular order.

1.Geographer at The Bowery Ballroom

This band is supremely talented, especially the cello player. Seeing them live put some much needed texture to the music.



2. Menomena at The Music Hall of Williamsburg

I've been a fan of Menomena for a long time, but hadn't given the new album, Moms, much love until I saw they were coming to town. Great show, lots of energy, and I totally feel in love with Moms. So much so, that its on my best albums of the year list.



3. Diamond Rings at The Bowery Ballroom

Oh, so hilarious. This young Canadian star was so fun to see live. He wore all black under a variety of flashy blazers, and his band all wore sunglasses the whole time. I danced a lot at this show.



4. Why? at The Music Hall of Williamsburg

Man, I had no idea what to expect from Why? but they had a massive band including two drummers. This hip hop Indie band is fun, and Yoni wore the same shirt as in the video below.



5. Alt-J at The Bowery Ballroom

I had to see this band live because I became obsessed with their album, An Awesome Wave. It's actually my favorite album of the year, by far. This show was nerdy and British and really great. Check out the NPR Tiny Desk Concert, it is awesome.



6. The Rapture (first show) at The Music Hall of Williamsburg

I saw The Rapture twice this year, the first show being my favorite. Read my review of it here.



7. Beck at Governors Ball

I'm not much of a festival kind of gal, but I'd never seen Beck before, so I was most definitely in for the Governors Ball. Beck was AMAZING. He played with most of the band that helped him record Sea Change, and sounded incredible. By the time he played, my friend Kris and I had been at the show all day in the June heat, so the night was a great welcome. I couldn't have been happier to see Beck.


8. Phantogram at Governors Ball

I saw Phantogram at The Black Cat last year and kind of hated it, but I was deeply impressed by this show, and am so glad I got to see them with a drummer, it makes them so much better.


9. Fiona Apple at Governors Ball

She maybe crazy, but she was awesome live.


10. The Avett Brothers at Central Park

I mean, seriously! How could this not be on my top shows of the year? The Avett Brothers, who are guaranteed to play a great show, and live in Central Park!! So fun. I even got to see a guy propose to his gal in the crowd during "January Wedding". Even my black heart liked that.



11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at The Music Hall of Williamsburg

My friend Josh Epstein is always a pleasure to see live.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Inspired - Radiohead

Stereogum continues to impress me all the time. This just in, a Count Down of favorites from all the Radiohead Albums, is majorly inspiring for a lowly music blogger like myself. Writer Doug Moore lets all the cats out of their respective bags in this long, engulfing review of the Radiohead catalog. I applaud him for dedicating his brain space and music taste to get through it all, even if the reader has to maneuver through many links and some fancy web work by his employer.

I won't copy him (this time), and I wasn't surprised by most of what he had to say in terms of the actual reviews, but I like the passion behind it. My favorite Radiohead album? Man. It used to be OK Computer, but slowly, deeply, (like a nice, sweet fuck) In Rainbows has snuck in and stolen my heart as favorite. 

If only finding a man were that simple.

In Rainbows brings together all the things I love most about Radiohead. Hard guitar rips and sharp electronic sound, gentle flat bass that makes you feel sexy, and obscure, sometimes inane lyrics, blended into loaded and longing love ballads. Sometimes I have no idea what you are talking about either, Thom. But I do know that many of my friends love this album too, and some of my favorite Radiohead songs ever are here. 

Whenever "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" kicks off, I can literally feel my eyes transform into what I can only describe as the personification of Come Fuck Me Heels. Come on and let it out. 

  
Anytime I make a Sad Panda mix, "Reckoner" manages to squeeze on there, even if it doesn't actually make me all that sad. It is just musically beautiful and feels like a hug. The Gnarls Barkley cover is pretty special too. 


To tell you the truth, "All I Need" and "House of Cards" are better contenders for the Sad Panda mix. The one that really gets my goat though, is "Nude". This song makes me feel like I'm riding down hill on my bike with my eyes closed, except not as dangerous. Or laying flat on my freshly-made bed with the sun peering through the windows splashing on my face. Earphones on, music up, smile on my face.

     

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cheaper Than a Hot Dog With No Mustard

Some days there is absolutely nothing than can pull you out of a bad state of mind. You've just got a ride it out and hope that a four-finger whiskey pour from Some Bartender can help you out. That or a quickie. Or hell, just some good, old-fashioned wallowing if none of that is going to do it for you.

When I'm feeling blue, and I've finished up my self-pity party, have no chance of an orgasm in sight, and no funds for a heavy pour, I look to music to perk me up. I don't care if that's a cliche, because it's the fucking truth. To clarify, I'm talking about picking tunes to purposefully pull me out of the slump. So no old school favorites like Jeff Buckley or Modest Mouse, and no newer slow-jams that make you want to cry like Band of Horses or Grizzly Bear. No offense to those talented folks, but just sayin'.

In my humble opinion, the best way to climb out of the hate-yourself-hustle is to throw on Licence to Ill. Let me clear my throat! It is the musical version of the best movie ever. Tales of piracy; lessons in history; crafty, slutty girls (hell, any Girls); fights (for the right to Party); sleepless nights; constant references to White Castle and beer drinking; cocktail recipes; and all kinds of inside jokes that somehow manage to get funnier ever time. You can't help but feel better after spending a little time gettin' ill.

In case you need a little Rhymin' & Stealin' to get you in a better head space, get on this cool check. After you bust a move, I promise you will feel so much better.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Best of The Pixies

In honor of Sterogums "Pixies' 10 Best Songs" post, I have my own Pixies story and list of top 10 favs (actually, 11 but that's ok, because that's how high the amp turns up).

I met The Pixies when I became a Nirvana fan as a teenage girl. Doolittle was my first purchase, and I instantly feel in love with "Debaser" and "La La Love You", and still hold those as my favorites. That album is linked to more memories than most, and was monumental in shaping my future music obsessions. 

Doolittle Favorites

Thanks to the magic of making mix tapes for each other all through high school, I discovered "River Euphrates" on a tape that a kid named Dick made me in 10th grade. I remember thinking, "How cool that he picked this song". We were all obsessed with Doolittle. At a high school party with my friends I remember watching Caroline dance to "Tame". She loved the opening line, "Got hips like Cinderella" and would whisper it into the air in this mock-sexy way. We would all laugh and sing along, dancing wildly. Not all memories are so fun and carefree, but that's sort of The Pixies sound too, you know? 

"Debaser"

I still hold "Debaser" as my one of my top 10 best Pixies songs. I can't say if it is number one, but it is certainly up there. 


"Wave of Mutilation"

I am a huge fan of remixes and alternate versions in general, so for the sake of my favorite Pixies songs, the "UK" version of "Wave of Mutilation" makes the cut. Pump Up the Volume, anyone?


Come On Pilgrim Favorites

After discovering Doolittle, I started looking for other Pixies albums to own. Like any good LP, Come On Pilgrim quickly found a space in heavy, full rotation during my high school listening days. At that time, I was deep into into the Archers of Loaf and burning a hole in my eardrum every morning to Vs. The Greatest of All Time. The Pixies fit right in.

"I've Been Tired"

"Let's go, let's sit, let's talk, politics go so good with beer." - Black Francis


"Caribou"

Like "Debaser", "Caribou" is a really close contender for all time favorite Pixies song. It is haunting, bitter and lamenting, but somehow happy, and almost always makes me horny. That combination is the making of a great song.

Trompe le Monde Favorites

"Alec Eiffel"

Back before those days, when I didn't know The Replacements much outside of Paul Westerberg's place on the Singles soundtrack, and I hadn't discovered the whole Pixies catalog yet, I would sometimes confuse the title "Alex Chilton" with "Alec Eiffel". I know that sounds silly, but it's true. During my freshman year in college, I heard a cover of "Alec Eiffel" and not only understood the vast difference in these two hits, but became a fan of both. Even the shittiest love affairs serve a purpose, and for that, I don't feel too bad for thinking The Get-Up Kids had any talent as they got me to this song being on my top 10 list.      


Surfer Rosa Favorites

As for Surfer Rosa, I'd like to thank Justin Rabuck for ushering my appreciation. I had listened to it, but until we dated (now 10 years ago), I had no idea how it would affect my life. I was 21 when we met, and constantly and completely blown away by the music and literature I became exposed to. I love the entirety of this album, and am forever grateful for Justin because not only did he renew my interest in The Pixies, but he introduced me to his sister Carrie, who also loves Surfer Rosa and is always down to dance and sing loud to "Gigantic".  

Plus, my official favorite Pixies song is on this album. 


"Bone Machine"

The opening song on an album frames the entire listening experience. "Bone Machine"succeeds in both assaulting the listener and gently coxing them into a playground of band comradery and genius sound. That sportsmanship didn't last and The Pixies quit playing together for a long time in the 90s, only emerging for random tours many years later after some successful projects both as solo artists, and as members of other bands like The Breeders.    

‎"Cactus"

Nothing can ever compare to how this song makes me feel. It is barely over 2 minutes long, and if you are listening through crap speakers, you can't really hear Black Francis sing at all. When it starts to wind down to the end, I almost always rewind it to the beginning and listen to it again. Which is silly because the kick into "Tony's Theme" rules. David Bowie covers this song, and it is kind of amazing.   


"Broken Face"

Justin took me to so many shows and we talked about music all the time. He had a job working with at risk youth and often had kids in his car, so they too were exposed to our taste. One kid in particular loved the intro to "Broken Face" and used to make Justin play it over and over as they drove around town. It makes me smirk to imagine that now, but at the time I was still so intimidated by the men in life, I remember feeling embarrassed that a 15 year-old knew more about The Pixies than I did just by having a favorite song on the album. I immediately immersed myself in the dreamy, drum and bass heavy sound of Kim Deal. 



"Gigantic"

Again, Kim Deal at some of her best. This song is like the best of locker room gossip and lunch table bragging rights. 


 Bossanova Favorites

I don't have a fun introductory love story with Bossanova as somehow that album seeped into my brain and I just knew all the songs without even trying. 


"The Happening"

Bossanova has so many great songs, and favorites like "Stormy Weather", "Is She Weird", and "Velouria" are also up in the list, however, "The Happening" always manages to slip into the top spot alongside "Havalina" as part of the top 10. 



"Havalina"

Later on, when Wes Anderson's flick The Royal Tenenbaums came out, I new I had been infiltrated. The scene when Gene Hackman is walking down the stairs and notices that his prized taxidermy boar's head is missing from the stairway, he says curiously, "Where's my Javelina?" As soon as I heard this line I thought of The Pixies and their "Havalina", and have considered it favorite ever since.  


So there you have it, my list of favorites. I have been lucky enough to see all of these favorites live - some even twice. That might not sound like much to my tour following friends who have seen some songs played over 100 times, but for me, I'll take it.  

Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Preparing to Break Up With 'Breaking Bad'


With a premise built on terminal cancer, rampant drug abuse, violence, and constant emotional distress, you might wonder how 'Breaking Bad' has managed to take over my TV as one of the most impressive and depressive shows on cable today. There are times I am so shocked by the way the plot moves that I literally gasp, cover my eyes, and start trying to figure out a way to forget that I ever heard the name "Walter White". Other times I find myself feeling so sorry for Jesse Pinkman that I want to take him out of the pit of despair he lives in, make him a nice warm meal, give him a hug, and tell him I love him.

Yep, I'm in that deep.

The smart writing and tricky camera work force the actors to climb out of their comfort zone and find a place to land that is more often than not just as desperate and desolate as the desert they spend their days in. As a Southerner who spent most of my life in the mountains, that landscape and mind frame sound hot and uncomfortable, kind of like a really bad date at a theme park.

Sadly, this is not the first time I managed to fall for the bad boy - in this case we are talking TV Land in which the "bad boy" is a mean, mad anti-hero and his sweet, sad sidekick. I can’t stop watching it, even though instead of streaming it on Netflix as part of my bundle, I am forced to buy this last season online just to keep up. Even ‘Mad Men’ didn’t hook me that hard! Don’t get me wrong, it did its damage alongside other high-drama shows such as ‘Six Feet Under’ and “The Wire’ which sucked me into their twisted worlds and made mush of my heart. Though unlike those heavy hitters, where I felt like I went through a horrible break up every season, and especially when the show ended, I am ready for this one.

I love it, and I can’t get enough, but when I get to the season finale of 'Breaking Bad', I will be ready to hear the words, "It's not you it's me", and this time, I will actually believe them. Besides, I know we will still be friends; I’ve bought them all on iTunes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Rapture - Music Hall of Williamsburg

I waited too long to buy myself a ticket before the show sold out, but I really wanted to go out dancing and see some music, so I showed up on a chilly April night hoping to find an extra ticket to The Rapture.  I hung around outside the Music Hall of Williamsburg, unaggressively, and eventually grabbed an entrance about 5 songs deep into the set.

I beelined for the elevated portion of stage left to solidify a view of the band and scope the scene. Officially warm and in the depths of a smooth, solid sound, The Rapture had the crowd staggering about in a sea of blue light. Bodies deep in sway increased the heat, so I stripped myself of extra layers, shoved them between my feet on the dingy floor, and commenced to dancing.

It can be awkward to appear within a crowd, seemingly out of no where, and dance alone. Most of the time people assume you are drunk. Or at least I do. But then again, I'm a judgmental drunk in the company of nothing but live music and my thoughts. (To be fair, other times too).

So there I was, gyrating clumsily and postulating. The Rapture draws strange emotions out of me for many reasons. The lead singer is a recent Catholic convert, and I strayed from that path long ago. The religiosity of their latest album In the Grace of Your Love does not go unnoticed, but it is so damn catchy that I try not to burst into flames in my sinful skin. The people around me appeared to be outrageously smashed. Maybe not everyone yet, but there was this lanky dude who continued to fall over the hand rail into the crowd below. A disgruntled man caught him over and over, protesting his sloppy behavior. The lanky guy was clearly having a really good time and couldn't care less, and was likely on drugs, I thought with a smile. I was already feeling devilish, so when my smile crept into a snicker, I found myself feeling unapologetic for the angry guy for some reason.

As Luke Jenner belted the line "aren't we all children" from one of my favorite songs on the album, a lingering thought floated around in the loud, dusty air. I closed my eyes and danced a little harder to try to remove myself from expressing unwarranted unkindness toward this stranger. It passed quickly, and not too long later, after one fall too many, the angry guy and I exchange a "what can you do" look before he and his date moved on to more a more comfortable space.

As less Catholic guilt and more staggering pleasure set into the beats, I moved silkily, happily. Somehow the lanky guy landed his focus on me in the crowd, though I don't know how as I couldn't see his face through the glare of the blue light-scape and the blur of my own dancing. Perhaps he could see better than I and thought the whatev-half-shrug-with-a-smile I gave Dude was meant for him. Whatever the motivation, his thoughts brought him to me at that moment, and he leaned over and kissed me deeply on the mouth. I stepped back and we separated briefly, bewildered. A second later, as he picked up courage from himself, but not support from his friends, he went in for another. A burly guy (who looked like he might be named Dan) reached over and grabbed him cautiously and pulled him away from me, mouthing an apology in my general direction.

At that point, not sure what to make of the strange world I had stumbled into, I refocused my efforts on a more proper sway, and began to enjoy the band again. They played "Sister Savior" and I tried to refuse to be reminded of my ex, though I could see his stupid face clearly in the darkness. I turned my thoughts to the kid who kissed me, smiled in appreciation for the anonymous distraction and sang along. At the end of that song, I decided to grab a drink and see if the sound was any better on the other side (it is not any different in fact). When I returned to my nook, the burly guy and some other folks had maintained their turf, though lacking the lanky lip-locker.

Better for it, I thought. I came to dance, so I got back to it, abuzz. My mind racing, limbs adjusting to the pace, and me, there, pushing and singing. They closed out the night with "How Deep is Your Love?" and I am truly glad I made it out, for all its awkward glory.
     

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Some How Lamer Than Creed


Seriously - what the fuck is this? If this is where the music industry is headed, I am glad no one makes videos anymore.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shit yeah, Sleigh Bells

I mean,seriously, you had me at hello. Sleigh Bells have released their official first single from Reign of Terror, and holy crap - it.is.so.good.