Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Live: Archers Of Loaf with Mr. Perfect @ Webster Hall 6.26.11

Until David forwarded me the link to their reunion set at the Cradle, I hadn't realized that an Archers reunion was even on the radar. Eric had been doing Web In Front during solo shows in recent years and Matt had been in Band Of Horses for a bit, but it seemed that AOL were a vestige of a bygone era.

Evidently not, as the gents have managed to get it together for a fair amount of decent sized reunion dates. They played Fallon, too, where America got to enjoy the Gentling stage elan. This set was maybe not sold out, but like the D-Plan shows a couple months previous, the old Ritz was full of a decent mix of old-timers and kids who missed them the first time around.

Mr. Perfect opened, a band evidently comprised of a bunch of ex-Pitchfork (web blaggers, not Reis/Froberg franchise) that were ok, but suffered for no one in the room coming expressly to see them. They vacillated between playing as an intriguing three piece and a boring four piece and were gone in short order.

Archers Of Loaf arrived with little in the way of fanfare, opening with Strangled By The Stereo Wire, and touching upon most of what passed for the hits, along with some deep cuts like Smokin' Pot In The Hot City. Nobody looked especially old and everybody sounded great, garnering us a couple encores as well. The only real impediment was the presence of the worlds most irritating Superchunk fan, a constant irritation from NJ who shall go nameless here that unfortunately seems to have a liking for AOL as well. While he sadly went unmolested by Webster Hall security, the show was a good time. Archers were in fine fettle for their 24 forays into nostalgia. While I would expect there will not be a new album, unless maybe we get a DVD at tour's end, Merge is evidently re-releasing all four of the Archers studio records, starting with Icky Mettle on 8/2. Get the skinny here and see the boys if you are able to.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Live: Art Brut @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg 6.23.11

The latest Art Brut definitely numbers amongst the best releases in the last couple months, ranking up there with the newest The Fucking Cops EP for heaviest rotation at JS-NYC HQ of late. Brilliant! Tragic! marks their second dalliance with Pixies frontman Black Francis, coming chock full of angular, very British, rock music. This show was opened by Mini-Boone, who Drew always gives props to, but I opted out and swanned my little self in a couple minutes before the obligatory Van Halen came over the PA and Eddie Argos & Co. took the stage.

The Art Brut buzz stateside has faded post-cooling of the relationship with improbable indie barometer Pitchfork, but they still ok in NYC. The room was far from jam-packed, but still respectably filled with a bunch of nerds that seemed to be quite taken with our heroes. I am pretty much over the breaking of the third wall, except as it regards around retaliatory actions, but Eddie spent a fair amount of time in the crowd, in between storytelling and singing the odd song or two. The rest of the team seemed to be in high spirits, as well, so we can assume that they are making the best of their fading stardom and lack of remuneration as they approach a decade's time as an active band. Art Brut are always pretty tight, and the songs get better and better. One would hope this will mean more success, but it's a fickle world. Buy Brilliant! Tragic! via this handy link and keep tabs of all other things Argos and Art Brut here.


Friday, June 24, 2011

See A Little Light by Bob Mould

The recent Husker Du tome that Andy Earles dropped was one of the more exciting propositions that JS-NYC has encountered in recent history, but suffered from primary singer/guitarist Bob Mould opting not to take part in the project. I'm going to revisit Husker Du in the wake of reading this, but anyone into Husker Du or any of the members/associates therein should drop everything and get themselves a copy of See A Little Light stat.

Now in the interest of keeping everything 100, readers should know that See A Little Light is a memoir, and while Husker Du was part of his history, it is but a small part of the Bob Mould experience. One should also know, if they are not already aware, that Bob is gay. As you might surmise, something as integral to one's self as sexuality plays a large part in the narrative. It's not coming from a Motley-esque The Dirt perspective, but it is certainly a large part of the proceedings. Mould is candid about all aspects of his life from childhood to present day in See A Little Light, exposing some of the reasons why his relationship with his ex-bandmembers is so chilly, his feelings on Jon Wurster, professional wrestling and a host of other things Bob and Mould. Bob can write (Michael Azerrad helps) and his story is a compelling one. See A Little Light gets high marks from JS-NYC. Get it here.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Norm Macdonald - Me Doing Standup CD/DVD

There is always much celebration when anything Norm-related appears on the radar. There is, of course, the new Sports Show With Norm Macdonald. The eight show arc was pretty top-notch, hopefully to be renewed for another season. There is also the formidable Twitter presence to be enjoyed. Know that only Mssrs. Macdonald and/or Jon Wurster would suck me into that vortex of ridiculousness and that those two (ok, and Todd Barry) are worth the trip.

Comedy Central dropped a new standup special from Norm called Me Doing Standup (during a green initiative that urged people to turn off all electrical devicery) and have now dropped a CD and DVD version of the set, no doubt to mollify the tree-hugging masses. The cd is good, but you know you really want the DVD. That adds about 10 minutes, plus the Back To Norm special from a couple years back, his roasting of Bob Saget and some animated featurette. No one possessing of a working neurological system should be without Me Doing Standup. Get it here.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Doug Stanhope - Burning The Bridge to Nowhere

Ah, Doug Stanhope. There's always something with this guy. If he's not running for president, he's signing to Roadrunner for a comedy record. And recording it on 36 hours notice in a ex-sewing machine factory/former Nazi bunker in Norway. Questionable choices aside, Stanhope does pretty well. I guess the idea was to show a realistic comedy performance, and as that Oslo: Burning The Bridge In Nowhere does pretty well. As per the norm, it's hardly an Up With People session. You want to talk about abortion, suicide or perhaps Genghis Khan fucking? Stanhope may just be your love connection. Get it on CD and/or DVD here.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Maybach Music Group: Self Made Vol. 1

There's been kind of a bumper crop of hip-hop in the last couple months. After months where I spent all my time ripping Joell Ortiz freestyles, there have been easily six or seven records I'm actually interested in listening to.

It's even more bizarre that one of them is a Rick Ross posse record. His crew is called Maybach Music Group and he's got Wale, Pill and Meek Millz down, as well as the weed carrier unit extraordinaire Triple C's. The record is called Self Made Vol. 1. I can honestly say I wouldn't have given this a second look had it not been for Hot 97 playing Tupac Back in heavy rotation. I hated hard for a day or so and then caught the bug like the flu. While that track is undoubtably pretty aces, the rest of the record is pretty Meh.

Ross rhymes harder and harder, which begs the question who he's paying to ghostwrite, as he is coming hard with the bars. I want to like Wale, but have yet to find anything that really works for me. The other two seem to be your average overly tattooed new school cats rhyming about the shit they have. I prefer my rap with some swagger, and everybody here can rhyme a least a bit, but it gets a little old over ten tracks, even with a banger like Tupac Back.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nada Surf - The Moon Is Calling

I always though that the 'Popular' era of Nada Surf was seriously Meh-able, and was pretty shocked when they managed to get a second wind (and companion notoriety) in the early part of the new millenium. Last year's If I Had A Hi-fi was fun for a covers record, but as it's been almost four years since they released Lucky, some new material really is in order.

Barsuk evidently felt the same way, and Nada Surf ponied up a new 7" for this year's Record Store Day. Two new songs, both highly polished demos of songs that are evidently to appear on the new Nada Surf record. Both are decent, with the b-side driving things a tad more than you might expect from the lads. Good stuff regardless. May be 7" only, but well worth getting The Moon Is Calling here from your buds at Barsuk.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Randy Newman Songbook: Volume 2

I'm pretty sure that it's fucked up that most people younger than myself think of Randy Newman as a guy who writes songs for Pixar cartoons. Not that it isn't part of the family tradition to write for Hollywood, but it handily ignores a spectacular body of work that dates back five decades at this point. It's a better cross to bear than being the 'Short People' guy, but it still handily ignores one of the most talented songsmiths of our generation, on a par with Carole King and Lieber & Stoller.

The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 2 continues the theme of revisiting the Newman canon in stripped down piano form. 16 songs in total, with one instrumental. Dixie Flyer and Birmingham make appearances, as do Baltimore and My Life Is Good. Whether pointedly historical or heartbreakingly poignant, Newman asserts himself as one of the greats, deserving of a spot in everyone's music collection. In the horrible eventuality that you are without some Newman, do yourself a favor and rectify that situation quickly with this link.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mixtapes- Hope Is For People

Mixtapes are from Ohio and make the punk rock in the spirit of The Dopamines and Brokedowns, although with the added benefit of a hot lady in the band to break up the ugly dude factor and keep the vocals from being like a lot of the current midwestern crop. That always seems to help things, but know that the songs on Hope Is For People are good too. Plus, the artwork has a donut sun and companion pond, which is a fine omen even after eating a dozen donuts yesterday.

Hope Is For People has only five tracks, four of which are uptempo and beer-chug friendly, one of which has a little false Unlovables type co-ed opener to give you a sec to catch your breath. Mixtapes are touring the hell out of the summer, so keep an eye out at all your favorites Fests and Dear Landlord tours. Here's a link to their web presence.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Superchunk - Clambakes Vol. 5: Cup Of Clams

As if you needed an incentive to buy the remastered reissue of what is probably the finest indie release of the 90s indie rock heydey, there is the pot-sweetener that is the 5th volume of Superchunk's Clambakes series. This one is a pretty aces 2003 recording from the Cats Cradle that Mac edited and Brian Paulson remastered. You can currently only get Clambakes #5 by purchasing the Here's Where The Strings Come In reissue, so why not pony up. If you're on the fence, there is the reissue bundle offer up currently at the Merge web presence that might/should sway you.

Step lively. Try the clams!


Saturday, June 4, 2011

KRS-ONE and Bumpy Knuckles - Royalty Check

For old school artists in the the game today, it is all about adaptation. Many artists have languished in the wake of the conventional record industry going down the shitter but Bumpy Knuckles aka Freddie Foxxx is not one of them. On the heels of having the highest selling independent hip-hop release a number of years ago, Bumpy has been in the lab, recording a ton of material that has recently started to trickle down the pike. The first release Leaks Vol. 1 has been setting the interwebs on fire and now the ante is being raised with Royalty Check, the long rumored collabo record with KRS-One.

As you might surmise with these two lyrical titans on the same mike in the same room, Royalty Check is pretty fucking bananas. It was recorded back in 2008 for the most part, but it shits all over most of the other hip-hop that has come out in the last couple years. It comes courtesy of Canadian indie 682 Records, who also appear to be releasing a new Grand Puba record. Sounds good to me. It should to you, too. Pick up Royalty Check here from 682.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

David Bazan - Strange Negotiations

It's been an interesting couple of years for David Bazan. He's struggled with his faith and a love of drink, shedding the band name Pedro The Lion in the process to release recordings under his own name. Regardless of how Bazan purveys them, his songs have always been top-notch. The Bazan name continues to holds weight, but the inevitable touring that must be undertaken to support the average artist is never not at the expense of domesticity. Recent times have found him reaching out via Kickstarter and playing solo house shows to put together the funds needed to get him off the road for a bid and tend to home matters, while still being able to get some new songs together.

The plan seems to have worked. Bazan has succeeded in getting a new batch of songs together, compiling them into a new Barsuk full-length called Strange Negotiations. Ostensibly about delusion, or perhaps more accurately man's ability to embrace self-delusion, the record is ten of the best Bazan tracks he has released to date. He's playing in a trio format (almost always the best way) to keep things Spartan, and more importantly, to keep costs down.

All of these things seem to be paying off. A recent solo house tour was completely sold out and things seem to be generally better personally and professionally for Bazan. There is a new member in the household and high profile opening slots with the likes of Jimmy Eat World. I would expect that once Strange Negotiations gets some steam, there will be a lot of talk about Bazan on year-end lists. Eating Paper is probably my favorite track, although the opening and closing tracks get especially high marks as well. I hear that this was recorded by Bazan in his rehearsal space and mastered by TW Walsh. If that is the case, it would appear that the Bazan production skills are pretty top notch, to boot. It's always something with Bazan. With skills on both sides of the board and a growing distance from the polarizing world of Christian musics, Bazan mid-life crisis of faith may well be the release that garners him mainstream success. Strange negotiations, indeed.

Get Strange Negotiations from Barsuk here.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Live: Tragedy and Citizens Arrest @ Europa 5.31.11

I was really on the fence for this show, having busted my fucking ass in a serious fashion on the bike a couple nights previously. My back and ribs were (and are) fucked in a pronounced fashion, but then again so is the subway, so on the bike I went to the show.

Tragedy shows are not known to be an olfactory delight in the coldest of climes. It was the first sign of warm weather and that combined with the small portable favela ensconced out front did not bode well for it smelling un-punk for the duration, but it was Tragedy and Citizens Arrest and all. This show was another show coming courtesy of Ian Dickson and his Hardcore Gig Volume. I enjoy his shows there best on weekend nights when the polish disco dance party has shows wrapping up at 11 on the dot, but seeing Tragedy in a place with good sound and ventilation seemed a safe proposition for a Tuesday night.

I rolled up as Citizens Arrest were setting up. I was excited to see them, but had forgotten until the ride over that Ted never actually sang in CA past the demos and wondered how I'd find the gents in their old age. The older stuff did come off a wee bit dated 25 years on, but the new stuff was actually pretty decent for a bunch of old dudes. The crowd was pretty into it and it wasn't just old guys. Whouda thought? The five-piece CA have a new 7" on Coextinction Recordings you can get here. They are playing Chaos in Tejas and limited other dates. Keep track of them here.

Tragedy were up next, as was the mean BO level in the room. The Portland foursome were passing through on their way to Europe. The crushed from note one to note last, egged on by a crowd that went apeshit for the duration. There were some mike issues that did little to make Todd a happy camper, but all in all this was one hell of a double bill. I would have liked to have seen Night Birds, but trust they brought it in their usual fashion. Kudos again to Ian and Hardcore Gig Volume for consistently booking the best shows in NYC.