Saturday, October 31, 2009

Can't believe what you read on the Interwebs anymore...

Chalk one up for lazy journalism. Much like the deluge of requests I get for the forgetters live recording, the reports of Chuck Biscuits having passed on have put the assumably hale and/or hearty Mr. B back in the eyes and or mouths of the populace at large. Evidently the dude that started the ridiculousness had problems getting in touch with Chuck for some interview thing and extrapolated that into his death. Guess we all should have checked his Facebook. Oh, well. Glad he's still with us.



Thursday, October 29, 2009

R.I.P: Chuck Biscuits (1965-2009)

So, after being off my personal radar for years, save for perhaps the Chunklet Brian Walsby cartoon, it appears that Mr. Chuck Biscuits has passed on from throat cancer at age 44. I first saw him with Social Distortion, and he was evidently only with them for a year or so, but it was certainly long enough for me to have my first 'was that really a good idea' tattoo moment as:re the huge BISCUITS tattoo he had on his back. The drumming was bad-ass, but I believe that was the last time he was actively in the public eye musically. Evidently he studied art in his later years and was quite the cereal historian/collector. 44 is far too young, but far better than malingering. Rest easy, big guy.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Live: Jon Snodgrass and Joey Cape with Mike Hale at Bar Nine 10.25.9

Whenever Mr. Jon Snodgrass comes to town, whether it be solo or with whatever incarnation of Drag The River he's out with, there is much rejoicing at the JS-NYC HQ. They don't come any nicer than Jon and his records, including his new Visitor's Band are always top-notch. The last couple times he's been through Joey Cape has been in tow, allowing the two to swap songs and maximize their drinking and/or smoking potential. The show on Friday in Brooklyn was a good one, despite it's short CMJ set time. Those in the know used that show to whet their appetites for this show and the free show at Maxwell's on Monday night.

Whoever owns Bar Nine must have some left coast punk or Suburban Home connections, as the only name artists that play there seem to fall in those demographics. Works for me. I don't get up towards the Kitchen of Hell all that much, but B9 may well change that.

I got there in time to catch the end of Mike Hale's set. I wasn't all that into his solo record but was really into Gunmoll. Hale has divested himself of worldly possesions and dedicated himself to touring full-time. He's got a diary going on at PunkNews you can check out here. Like I said, I wasn't really feeling the solo stuff, but this show swayed me a little more towards the positive end of things. He's no Austin Lucas, but seems to be heartfelt about his songs and their content. I'm interested to see how the time on the road impacts his next solo record. He'll be back at Bar Nine with Austin in December, so we'll see. In the meantime, you can check the record here at Suburban Home.

Joey and Jon were up next, much to the glee of the crew of obsessive Cape/Lagwagon crew that turns up at every one of the shows. One guy evidently flew from Germany for these shows, lending credence to the fact(s) that the dollar is pretty weak and I need to revisit the Cape canon. Josh Small isn't out playing incidental instruments like he had on previous tours, but the songs didn't suffer that much. Jon was fabulous as always, playing stuff off Visitor's Band and a couple new tunes, including a new drunk song he had written the night before about Spiderman and the Wolfman. Why he and/or Drag The River aren't huge is beyond me. Look for a DTR retrospective called Primer coming soon and as well as Chad's solo record Smile Sweet Face coming soon. The Yankees clinched the pennant in the middle of the proceedings, leading to an ocean of shots from the house as well as the rest of the band's booze rider being passed out to the crowd and asserting that Bar Nine is a hell of a place to see a show. Kudos to Jon, Joey and Mike for making it a great night. Peep all of the Suburban Home roster here and check all of them out if you're going to The Fest this weekend.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Live: CMJ showcase @ Europa featuring Teenage Bottlerocket, Cobra Skulls, Jon Snodgrass and Joey Cape, Banner Pilot and Higher Giant 10.25.9

Initially, the reason for the season for my attendance at this show was seeing Banner Pilot, who I adore. They have taken over the mantle from Two Cow Garage as the band that I travel long distances to either miss outright or play way too short sets. I had taken the L on the last two BP shows I tried to see, but even my shitty job did not make me miss the proceedings.

I got inside in time to catch the end of the Higher Giant set. Featuring Ernie Parada from a million awesome bands that started with Token Entry, they played a bunch of Queens accented punk rock not all that far from previous Parada franchises like Grey Area. They got a good response, despite their lead-off spot. Their new record is out courtesy of the good folk of The Black Numbers. Get it here.

Twin cities powerhouse Banner Pilot made their live debut for me next, playing a decent, but not fabulous show that leaned heavily on new stuff from their Fat debut Collapser. There were some sound issues, most of them seemingly precipitated by the front of house guy, but it was a decent set. I would have liked to hear more stuff from the first EP, but a good showing from the gents. I would have liked to have seen a longer set, but hopefully it won't be another four years til the next NYC show.

Jon Snodgrass and Joey Cape played next, reprising their increasingly frequent duo set for the first show of their most recent tour. While there was a small but vocal crew of Cape obsessives drinking their way to nirvana, I would say it was a Snodgrass room. Neither disappointed, but suffice to say I'm a Snodgrass proponent. Why he is not hugely famous I'm not sure, but I'm going to enjoy seeing him in the small rooms for as long as I can. You should see both of those jokers at Bar Nine tomorrow night, or for free at Maxwells on Monday. JS-NYC will be all up in those shows. You should be, too.

Cobra Skulls (from Reno) were up next. There has been a big buzz about them lately, so I got their records and found them to be pretty staggeringly underwhelming from where I was listening. I thought maybe the live show would sway me, but I literally took a nap after the first couple songs. Jack Terricloth was evidently out to see them, but unless you can have someone on that level to talk to during their set, I'd save your cash. Probably one of the most overrated things I've heard in a long while.

Luke was all about seeing Teenage Bottlerocket, as they hail from his hometown of Laramie, so I stuck around. I don't remember them rocking my world when they came through last time with the Copyrights and Unlovables, and I'm almost positive they were not good at the show at Knit with Chixdiggit, but they sure kicked my ass from note one to note last this time around. Wow-ee!! More hooks than a tackle box and a gang of song-along choruses that rival their aforementioned touring partners. It was a good move snapping up that guy from the Lillingtons. It fleshes out the sound a bit and while I would say that I prefer Ray's songs, Teenage Bottlerocket are a great fucking time. The Poison cover is a slippery slope, but it shouldn't keep you from snapping all their records up stat. They just dropped a new one called They Came From The Shadows on Fat that I haven't heard, but will soon be rectifying that situation. Look for a review soon but in the interim do whatever you need to to see Teenage Bottlerocket. Them boys kick some serious ass. Thanks to Luke for coming out, too!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Live: Hello Sir Records CMJ showcase featuring Antarctic, Bronzed Chorus and Ho-Ag @ Lit Lounge 10.22.9

Evan and Aaron (sic?) had been after me to check out a couple bands at Lit. CMJ has been a holocaust of crap for the last couple of years and 2009 is no exception, but as musical tastes go, theirs are pretty good, given our age disparities and Lit has been good to be and the So Hideous franchise, so on the bike I went.

I got there just in time for things to run behind schedule, but Antarctic were up in fairly short order. Instrumental, with a pretty decent rhythm section, they definitely got the few asses that were in the room moving. There was a fair amount of the "you play the big chord and I'll do the tapping riffs" guitar interplay that Minus The Bear and Don Cab have made newly re-relevant, but it was pretty obvious that they knew how to play and weren't total wank-meisters about it. I'll give them there due props, but reassert again that bands really need to Google their potential band names. I would hope that they would be aware of the Eric Richter franchise that plays music not altogether dissimilar from their stuff, but then again maybe I'm just old.

The Bronzed Chorus were next, representing for the new crop of two piece bands. Again, I would argue that two pieces does not a band make, moreso an act, but the two dudes have evidently played together since middle school. I'd assume (hope) that they are of college age now. They have a nice sense of interplay, but I'd prefer to see and hear them in more of a fleshed-out form. They are on tour with Antarctic and fellow label dudes So Many Dynamos for the next couple of weeks. See about checking them out.

Ho-Ag closed the evening for me. As they set up, more and more things started to give me douche chills about how things might go down. Two guys who seemed like Boston rich kids attracting a lot of attention to themselves before things even started? Check. Moog? Check. Bullhorn? Oh, you know it. Cue checks for keys and cycling gloves. The three or four songs I heard were pretty unimaginative Brainiac meet early D-Plan bites that tried way too hard. I would expect that it's a fine soundtrack (or prelude) to coke/pill-fueled couplings with troubled art-school girls (or maybe boys, but they really don't come off that cool) but from where I stood about four feet from them, it was pretty much ear-rape. Ho-Ag are definitely the type of band that guys that go on to law firms or marketing groups brag about having been in to shitty women in expensive Upper East Side bars. If that's your thing, throw on some cologne and set it off, but I'd defer more towards the bottom of the Hello Sir roster.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Jerusalem - Without Feathers EP

My Jerusalem is the new-ish project from Mr. Jeff Klein, erstwhile Twilight Singers keyboardist, Newburgh native and all-around talented guy. Team TS is sort of the Ocean's Eleven of the up-and-coming set, what with Klein, Ed Harcourt and Joseph Arthur either currently or formerly tenuring in the fold helmed by Gutter Twins Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan. My Jerusalem coalesced in New Orleans in Spring of last year, releasing Without Feathers and playing a handful of shows between NYC and the Midwest. The five songs here don't fall far from the tree, arriving darkly yet yielding strangely uplifting results. Sweet Chariot got some buzz early on and there was word of a twelve song full-length around the same time. No word on when the dirty dozen will be polluting our earholes, but My Jerusalem are playing CMJ on Saturday night at Fontanas around the 9:15 hour.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tom Russell review up at PopMatters

Hey Kids:

Review of the new Tom Russell record Blood And Candle Smoke is now up at PopMatters.

Here's a link.

Thanks to Sarah Zupko at PopMatters!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Har Mar Superstar - Dark Touches

I saw Har Mar Superstar for the first time at one of the hundreds of awesome Sunday night shows you could count on seeing at Brownies around the turn of the century. Midway through the bill, Homeboy came out rocking a singlet, backed only by a mini-disc of Jodeci-esque new jack swing tracks he controlled from the stage. It was as funny as it was true to the R&B idiom it aped, (which is to say considerably) but his arrival came right at the downturn of people's tolerance for Atom and his Package and few were looking for a portly, Prince obsessed version of same. Not that he gave a shit, working the room from the stage, floor and bathroom. It was a pretty impressive spectacle, and you couldn't deny that Tillman could sing some R&B. I would venture that Andy Samberg has seen himself some Har Mar.

I would be a much bigger fan if Har Mar wasn't born Sean Tillman, and didn't also helm the spectacular Midwestern rock force Sean Na Na, whose Family Trees Or: Cope We Must weighed in as one of the best records of 2007. The turd on top of the shit sundae that was my ill-fated stab at co-habitation in that era was missing the Sean Na Na/Hold Steady tour that year at Irving. In the meantime, Tillman, or Har Mar more properly, was signing vodka endorsement deals, snogging Kate Moss and starring in UK TV spots, among many other bizarre eventualities. Taking a break from European celebrity-dom and on the heels of a trip to Amsterdam with Ellen Page, his Superstar-ness returns to grace us with Dark Touches: thirteen songs well-steeped in the lewd dance/R&B flavor we've come to expect from said Superstar. Sporting grooves from electro-pop to Jackson 5, Dark Touches is pretty significant in that you can listen to it for the humor or for it's danceability. I suppose the more adventurous at heart might screw to it. It's something that a lot of the Deep House Dish set of today would do well to take to heart. It takes heavy drugs to make it through most of these bands for one listen, much less a whole record, but Har Mar has the talent and taste to back it up. If Tillman is lucky, he'll be able to parley this into a Lance Diamond kind of paycheck well into his old age. Fill his virtual g-string and get Dark Touches here.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Little Lungs - Hoist Me Up

Regular JS-NYC readers (this means you, Mom) may recall my being kinda lukewarm about Little Lungs, then catching feelings for them pretty hard after one of their live shows. Well, after only a half-year of slacking, I managed to come up with a copy of their record. Yowza! I am now officially all about Little Lungs. Split between Jersey and Brooklyn, the trio really does a great job of catching their lightning in a bottle on Hoist Me Up. It's a great recording, especially with the vocals. Neither Angie nor Jackie is in any danger of being mistaken for Mahalia Jackson, but they are great to listen to, alone or together. There's a healthy dose of Lemuria / Potboiler end of the If You Make It vibe about the proceedings, as well as some early 90s North Carolina. Rarely is this a bad thing, and Little Lungs do no injustice to the pairing. I can't say enough good things about Little Lungs or Hoist Me Up. Buy it immediately from the good folk of Salinas Records. Here's a link.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bowery Boy Blue: West Coast Tour and new EP

Hey Kids:

The handsome men (and drummer) of Bowery Boy Blue are currently touring the Western parts of our fair US. There's a release show for their new EP (a split with Lesser Lights) on Wednesday in SF, if you're out in that neck of the woods. Peep the skinny below:


10/12 - The Ruby Room, San Diego CA
10/14 - The Crepe Place, Santa Cruz CA
10/15 - The Queen Bean, Modesto CA
10/16 - KUSF, San Francisco CA
10/16 - House of Shields (EP Release Show), San Francisco CA
10/17 - Blue Six, San Francisco CA
10/19 - Green Frog Tavern, Bellingham WA
10/20 - Tupelo Honey Radio Show
10/22 - The Axe and Fiddle, Eugene OR
10/23 - Music Millennium, Portland OR

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Free Awesomeness Alert: The Riot Before - Fists...Out Of Sockets

One or both of you might remember that JS-NYC is all about The Riot Before. These Richmond kids make a racket that is the best part of Avail and Uncle Tupelo. They are rumored to bring it loud live, but don't think they are hiding crappy songwriting behind loud-ass amps.
The Riot Before just signed to Paper & Plastic records and are evidently hitting the studio in December. In the interim, the band and their new bosses have offered an little acoustic EP to tide us over til the record drops next year. It's called Fists...Out Of Sockets and reprises seven tunes from the last TRB record Fists Buried in Pockets in acoustic-y form. It's pretty bad-ass, and only emphasizes the fact that I need to see The Riot Before damn soon. Did I mention that this EP is currently free for download? Here's a link. Step lively!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Live: Twilight Sad @ Bowery Ballroom 11.6.9

I'm an Irishman, but dammit if I don't have a weakness for the current Glasgow sound. I recently came into a wealth of Aereogramme esoterica and it brought back a wealth of personal memories that have been soundtracked by Glaswegians. Falling in love with a lesbian while dating a woman married to a gay man to Belle and Sebastian, riding out the crash and burn of both those eventualities with Teenage Fanclub, a weekend with a sexual compulsive and Aereogramme, the list goes on and on.

I'm pretty sure that I first heard The Twilight Sad through Andrew from Skyscraper. I'm much more sure that I fell for them hard and recall it being on the heels of their playing a residency at some place on Ludlow St. and my having missed them all. Good times. Ok, from the hazy depth comes a memory of having seen them for the first time on the last Aereogramme tour, but it only emphasizes the fact that it had been a shit-long time since I had seen The Twilight Sad live. I've been trying to save money for the So Hideous recordings, but allocated accordingly for this show. I swanned in just as things were about to jump off, and as The Twilight Sad too the stage, it became obvious that there is evidently some head-shaving thing going on during the tour, with Graham being one of the newer converts. Given the Gitmo-esque quality of its styling, there was some question of tonsorial intent in my mind, especially when Graham seemed far too effusive about the crowd. I gave up watching bands have nervous breakdowns on stage a while ago (at least ones I like) but The Twilight Sad was firing on all cylinders, regardless of possibly precarious mental states. Here's the set list, stolen (with the photo) from Brooklyn Vegan:

Reflection of the Television
That Summer, at home I had become the invisible boy
I Became a Prostitute
Talking with Fireworks
Seven Years of Letters
Made to Disappear
The Room
That Birthday Present
Cold Days From The Birdhouse
And She Would Darken the Memory
I'm Taking the Train Home

Like I rambled before, I love The Twilight Sad. There's something wonderfully heartbreaking about the Scottish accent that goes wonderfully with the textured rock. Graham came down into the audience for Cold Days, a move that is popular and one that I hate almost as much as the 'band plays on the floor' aesthetic. I have no quarrel with how the songs sounded, but I am of the firm opinion that we pay to see as well as hear our live artists, so that fourth wall breach is one that I wish would go far away, unless it's some old school Axl Rose I'ma kick your ass shit. My issues aside, The Twilight Sad sound good on or off the stage. They aren't the most effusive bunch, but they sound great together. The new record is called Forget The Night Ahead and it, too, is pretty great. The live show is wonderful, too. You would do well to enjoy both often.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

PInhead Gunpowder - Kick Over The Traces

I wasn't really into Green Day pre-Dookie, and as a contrarian I never really bought into the whole thing once MTV jumped on the punk thing. That Longview song was ok and I liked the bookmobile and weed tendencies, but beyond that Billy Joe and the idiot savant drummer seemed kinda douche-y and I never liked Billy Joe's voice. Dirnt always seemed like he was nice enough, but after that prom song made them totally ubiquitous for a second time a couple years ago, it was time to take advantage and liquidate the Green Day from the world of the tangible cd.

Now that Green Day are the new political Monkees for the mall-punk set, Billie Joe has been recapturing his youth (and Gilman cred) by reanimating GD auxiliary reserves project Pinhead Gunpowder. All of the members have old school Green Day roots, with drummer Aaron Cometbus having roadied for the band, Jason White tenuring as fourth live member and Bill Schneider tour managing and guitar teching. White replaced original guitarist Mike Kirsch, who played a less lucrative rout in much better bands like Fuel and Bread & Circuits. Pinhead Gunpowder played some low-key shows last year in California and now we have a little greatest hit compendium (chosen by the band) called Kick Over The Traces in our hot little hands. It's on Recess and evidently a precursor to the house that Congliere built re-releasing their entire catalog in the coming months. Good times. There are 23 songs for your pleasure here, all of them as catchy as crabs at a punk house. Billie Joe sounds like he always does, making his selections less than desirable for me, but there are more than enough contributions from the other guys to make it worthwhile for this asshole. If you're a huge Pinhead Gunpowder fan that has deep pockets and/or have good internet prospecting skills, get the Japanese version that has a bonus live disc. From Gilman even. Complete your PG collection and refill the Armstrong coffers of punk rock cred here. Pick up all the other Recess releases while you're at it.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eugene Mirman - God Is A Twelve Year Old Boy With Aspergers

Eugene Mirman is one funny giant Brooklyn Jew ex-Special Ed student. His first two records En Garde! Society and The Absurd Nightclub Comedy of Eugene Mirman are as top-shelf in their Grade A NYC offensive stand-up as they are notable for having been released on indie-rock labels like Suicide Squeeze and Sub Pop. Think a David Cross that you'd want to hang out with afterwards, or a less acerbic (but no less funny) Todd Barry. Trust me, the guy's funny.

God Is A Twelve Year Old Boy With Asperger's reprises a fair amount of stuff from a Comedy Central special that I saw for the first time recently (and assumed was old, frankly) but chances are you aren't as much of a nerd as this shut-in and haven't seen it. I'm told Mirman's got some heat (industry parlance) from appearing on that Flight Of The Conchords show. If it was a big deal for Comedy Central (and you'd think it would be) I would have thought it would have been better promoted than the 3am airing I caught, but then again I watch everything on DVR, so maybe I missed the promo blitz. To be fair, they are busy bringing ventriloquism back to the masses. With that grim eventuality looming in our future, some laughter seems to be in order. God Is A Twelve Year Old Boy With Asperger's is good for this. Get said funny from Sub Pop here. If you are a big enough nerd you might maybe get a free tote bag or something.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Strike Anywhere - Iron Front

Finally, we get the full-length version of Iron Front. The EP of the same name showed potential, but as a fleshed out record, Iron Front is pretty badass. There is still a large amount of Dag Nastification going on with the proceedings, but it appears to be coming from the right place, and you really can't front on the DN, can you? I would like to think not.

Tracks like South Central Beach Party and I'm Your Opposite Number are as a good as the best Strike Anywhere material. SA may be guilty of writing the same song more than once, but at the end of the day, it's a good song, so if you like Strike Anywhere Iron Cross will have you posi-d up like nobody's business. Bridge Nine must be stoked as hell to have this record. Strike Anywhere should, too. They have hooks for days here, and while I think the production is a little much, nothing can disguise the sheer finger-pointability of most if not all of the songs on Iron Front. Buy it from the Vagrant of Hardcore here starting tomorrow. There's a pre-order thing I think you can still get in on, too. Strike Anywhere are in the Northeast, so you'd do well to check them out. Keep track of these subversives here.


Friday, October 2, 2009

LIve: Mono with Maserati @ Bowery 9.28.9

I had to miss the last set of Mono shows due to being broke as the proverbial motherfucker, but wasn't about to let that happen this time around. Brandon and Theresa had seen them the night previously in Philly and had warned that they were firing on all cylinders, so I went out of my way to get to Bowery in a timely fashion.

I posted up stage level to catch what was either the end of the Maserati set or one hell of a step aerobics class for the Pitchfork set. Maserati have one hell of a drummer and sound like Tortoise with a dance music jones. Not bad, but a little too close to the much better on paper than headphone Battles for my taste. The songs I heard will probably have me checking out their records down the line, but they sound like a band that I'd say were ok to try to kiss a girl rather than anything I'd rave truthfully about.

Mono were up in short order, setting up their own gear for the most part and greeting a good sized group of regulars that seemed to be attending all the shows. Seeing Mono for the first time, I can see why they have such a rabid following. Louder than creation when they need to be, but just as likely to purvey more pastoral fare, the band shows great taste and restraint in their live shows. 3/4 of the band sat for the lion's share of the performance, standing when necessary to make guitar or amp scream appropriately, but equally as intense in either position. The set lasted just over an hour, causing a few casualties early on in the set, but conjuring up gold for the duration of the sonic maelstrom. Their ability to conjure beauty from volume and dissonance without degenerating into full-on art noise sets them head and shoulders apart from bands like Explosions In The Sky and putting them in the upper echelon with bands like Daturah and Envy. Ear protection was a must, but Mono are a must-see regardless of performance volume. There are a few dates left on the US tour, check them here and see them if they come within a state or two of your ears.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Live: The Jealous Sound @ Southpaw 9.29.9

While I was more than a little bit lukewarm about the ringing of the cash registers that heralded the return of Sunny Day Real Estate, I was more than stoked to find that The Jealous Sound had been tapped as the openers for the Diary dates. I was even more stoked to find that the band had booked a Brooklyn club date at Southpaw on one of their off-nights. I wasn't all that stoked to ride out to Park Slope, but the successful navigation to and from The Bell House a couple of nights before made it seem like a worth the ride.

It's a nice 20 minutes on the bike out to Southpaw. I was pleased to arrive just as the band were about to play (for once). The set list is below, featuring the high points of their previous EP and full-length as well as a new song.
The crowd was pretty amped to finally have the boys back East and prompted the boys to kick things up a notch or two. The band was openly surprised at the large turnout, to the point where they were unable to muster up an encore, the new rhythm section only knowing the tracks you see. Blair played a song by himself to close the evening and I was home before midnight, making this one of the best shows I've seen in a while. Kudos to Southpaw for keeping an accurate schedule and huge props to The Jealous Sound for killing it for the short time they did play. There is allegedly a new record coming soon, but while we're waiting, pop over to The Jealous Sound web presence to keep up on the up to the minute skinny.