Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Twilight Sad - No One Can Ever Know

As I mentioned in my review of the recent live show in Colonial Williamsburg, I remain ambivalent at the idea of being a man (sic) my age who is as into a record called No One Can Ever Know from a band called The Twilight Sad. And while I'm self-flagellating: I love the cover, it doesn't really help. My raft of issues aside, I've been a pretty big TTS fan for a while now. A chewy Glaswegian accent always gets props at JS-NYC and if you'll do it in a dark Aereogramme sort of way, you can count on JS-NYC being down for the duration. The Twilight Sad have done just that for eight or so releases of varying lengths and volume, plying a post-Joy Division guitar meets electronics sound with harrowing angst-ridden (sung) vocals.

Despite intimations to the contrary, No One Can Ever Know continues in the same vein The Twilight Sad has previously, bringing some Scottish rain and grey to your earholes by way of a bleakly beautiful background of synth and guitar noise. This may very well be the most cohesive The Twilight Sad record to date, opening with the dark and driving Alphabet and bristling with solid tracks like Nil and Don't Look At Me. Nine tracks in total, ten if you get the version with the bonus A Million Ignorants closing the proceedings. Either way, unless you've recently decided to eschew your med cold turkey and are perseverating, No One Can Ever Know comes highly recommended. Get it and all your other The Twilight Sad needs here.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Live: The Twilight Sad @ Music Hall of Williamsburg 2.25.12

There comes a time in a man's life when he encounters a point of reckoning. Finding oneself at an advanced age riding over a bridge in the rain with four layers of black, drunk and going to see a Glaswegian band called The Twilight Sad can be one of those times. Enjoying that eventuality can be even odder. That said, I was in fact drunk and pleased at having dodged a lovely female bullet to roll in just as the gents got underway with Kill It In The Morning from the pretty aces new No One Can Ever Know record.

Seven tracks from the new record appeared in the set, with a handful of back catalog sprinkled in for good measure. The Twilight Sad are not going to dash any of the Joy Division comparisons any time soon, but with the two JD factions currently enjoying some pre-reunion time apart, the Glasgow fivesome are doing more than enough to carry the torch. Visa issues caused the first two dates in DC and Philly to be postponed and I know the gents were a little shook personally and financially as a result, but the rabid crowd obviously gave the crew a shot in the arm. The band is tight and James is in fine voice, so barring any emotional issues that would make The Twilight Sad more of a trigger than an enjoyable experience, I'd double down and buy the new No One Can Ever Know as well as take pains to see them on this leg of their US tour. See how to make that happen here at The Twilight Sad web presence.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daytrader - Last Days Of Rome EP

Looks like 2012 could be a good year for the rock. Daytrader is part of the new crop of pretty decent bands that have sprung up around the NYC area of late. More specifically, Long Island really. The five-piece sports some heavy ex-member cred, with franchises current and ex- like Latterman, Bridge & Tunnel, and Crime In Stereo cluttering the members CVs.

The Last Days Of Rome sound is not dissimilar from any of the aforementioned franchises, with B&T perhaps the most obvious, along with strong nods to mid 90s Midwestern stuff like The Casket Lottery and that period of Crank Records output. Get The Last Days Of Rome here from your friends at Run For Cover Records and keep track of Daytrader here.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Old Neighbors - Dishwasher EP

Of the shows that I've missed in recent history, The Fucking Cops reunion(?) December set opening for the Latterman reunion show at Maxwells tops the list. I love the two The Fucking Cops EPs dearly and not ever having seen them live continues to weigh heavily on my old non-life. Recent transmissions on the interwebs have given me the small chance of a respite, as apparently TFC singer/guitarist Jon Rybicki has formed a new project called Old Neighbors with Jon from North Lincoln plus two other dudes from Cain Marko and Traffic & Weather. They recorded an EP called Dishwasher late last year and I am pleased to report that I am totally obsessed with the six songs that comprise it, most specifically the lead-off Eight Point Five. Man oh man, is that a good tune. The other five aren't much farther behind on the awesome-ometer. Step lively immediately to your friends at If You Make It and pay what you will to get this. Here's a link.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

BoDeans At PopMatters


Those interested in my take on the newest BoDeans record can use this link. Thanks to Sarah Zupko at PopMatters.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Live: The Jealous Sound @ Knitting Factory 2.15.12

photo used with the kind permission of courtney sultan
The news that there would be a new Jealous Sound record was met with cautious enthusiasm at JS-NYC and I'm pleased to report the resulting new A Gentle Reminder is pretty aces. The are on the road behind it currently. The last two times they came through town were pretty ok shows. I passed on the Sunny Day cash-in tour four or five years ago, opting for their off-night show at Southpaw, and was pretty impressed with the set. The room was full-ish, but far from sold out and the general take from the band was that they were surprised that people still cared about them.

I rolled up to the Knit bummed that I missed Daytrader, but hoping against hope that I was going to miss as much of the Motion City Soundtrack side-project dungheap in the feature slot as auricularly possible. I succeeded in my surgical strike, but the small victory of my timely arrival was compromised slightly by entering the room to find it packed cheek to fucking jowl with vastly more kids than I would have expected. The Jealous Sound came on a little past 10 and romped through an interesting set you can peruse via the stolen photo at top left. There have been rumblings that Pedro was not on the tour and the lack of talk as to why is a bit of an eyebrow raiser. Josh from The New Trust reprised his touring bass role. Drummer guy is both good and new, and I assume played on the record, but the set came off as a little bit more 'a bunch of guys playing Jealous Sound tunes' rather than a band called The Jealous Sound. Shehan is an oddly charismatic frontman, and in pretty good voice. The crowd seemed well into it, cheering loudly despite some interesting omissions from the set list. Many seemed young enough that this very well could have been the first time they had seen LA's finest, but the evening didn't go without enough (unheeded) requests for Knapsack tunes to assert that some of the massive had been into Shehen for a bit. I'd give it a 6.5 on a 10 scale. Not bad, but not band-y either. No stupid pits, at least.

Judging by the draw, I'd say we'll see the gents in town again soon. Sadly, I bet it will be opening for some horror show of a douche-punk extravaganza, so act now and see The Jealous Sound in the small rooms while you can. Keep track of their whereabouts and buy a copy of the pretty damn aces new A Gentle Reminder here.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Office Of Future Plans

Office Of Future Plans is the new project from the estimable J. Robbins. Word had been that Robbins was out of the touring rock band game, shelving the Channels project to focus on his Magpie Cage Studio and tending to his family but the interwebs came alive last year with word his linking with Vic Bondi (ex-Articles Of Faith) in Report Suspicious Activity. Soon after Robbins announced that he and Channels/RSA drummer Darren Zentek had started Office Of Future Plans with cellist/guitarist Gordon Withers and bassist Brooks Harlan. A 7" followed and now their self-titled debut has dropped, courtesy of the good folk of Dischord records. Without oversimplifying the whole thing, the record sounds like a J. Robbins rock band with cello sometimes. It's good and I'd very much like to see them live, but I continue to wrestle with my inability to fall for recent Robbins projects like I did the mighty Jawbox. Get the record here from Dischord and keep track of all things Office Of Future Plans via this handy link.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Craig Finn - Clear Heart, Full Eyes

Word came down the pike last Summer that Craig was in Austin recording a solo record and a subsequent Tumblr documenting the process confirmed the same. I'm mildly surprised that it came out on Vagrant, but that notwithstanding, said solo record has dropped and its called Clear Heart, Full Eyes. Finn has never made his faith a secret and it's definitely ramped up a notch here. See: tracks like New Friend Jesus and Western Pier. The music is rooted more in American Music Club Americana than THS records, with a Telecaster and a volume pedal rather than a Les Paul and a wah kind of mood. Lyrics are cut from the same cloth as Finn fare previously, with arguably more Sunday morning rather than Saturday night content. After a month or so with the record, I'd say Clear Heart, Full Eyes sounds exactly like what you'd expect a Craig Finn solo record to sound like. It certainly will not win anyone over who isn't a fan previously, but should be well received by the average Hold Steady fan. A solo tour rolls through town in the next couple weeks. Buy Clear Heart, Full Eyes and keep track of all things solo and Craig Finn here.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Jealous Sound - A Gentle Reminder

It's been a bit since we've heard from The Jealous Sound. The Got Friends EP dropped over three years ago and was rumored to be the last we would hear from the band, but the return of head JS-er Blair Shehan from his own emotional wilderness a couple years ago found long-time pal Nate Mendel stepping into the breach to lend the rebooted Jealous Sound his bass skills. In an even more fortuitous turn of events, Mendel afforded them access to the Foo Fighters recording complex for the better part of last year. The result is A Gentle Reminder, a release that continues the late-period amalgamation of last century's pop-driven guitar punk with a soupcon of today's electronic stylings. I can't say I see the appeal of most of the electronic stuff, but it doesn't really ruin the proceedings. It's a big sounding record, definitely what I'd call radio-friendly. I'd say Change You and Promise Of The West are the two best tracks on A Gentle Reminder, but nothing here is even close to being bad. The tour rolls through Brooklyn mid-month. Catch them at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn if you are of a mind and pick up A Gentle Reminder here.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Patrice O'Neal - Mr. P

The death of Patrice O'Neal was without question one of the worst eventualities of 2011 and nothing drives that point home stronger than the release of the new Mr. P. Patrice was really hitting a mainstream stride, having destroyed at the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen and garnering an ever-increasing group of fans through his Opie and Anthony spots and his Elephant In The Room special. Mr. P was to be his next release, but sadly will serve as a way to provide for his mother, wife and step-daughter in the wake of his untimely passing.

Recorded in front of a rabid Washington, DC audience, Mr. P shows O'Neal as a comedian who not only wrote great material, but also possessed a mastery of extemporaneous crowd work. The passing of O'Neal and Greg Giraldo leaves gaping holes in the fabric of contemporary stand-up comedy. Get Mr. P here and celebrate the life of one of comedy's best ever.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wussy - Strawberry

So like I said earlier, I've been out of the loop on Wussy as of late. I missed out on the acoustic version of Funeral Dress initially, then doubled down on the brain farting with my overlooking of the release of full-length number three from Ohio's finest. That rectified, know that it's called Strawberry and continues the Wussy trend of their kicking your ass in a pronounced fashion. Coming as per usual from the good folk of Shake It! the one-two punch of gentle giant Chuck Cleaver and his lady Lisa Walker fires on all cylinders here. Everything is almost uniformly good here, but tracks like Magnolia have a Bettie Serveert-y swagger that dissipates the hate that most things evoke in my old age nicely. The uninitiated should think a Columbus version of X, while the converted should make haste (if they haven't already) to the Wussy web presence and snap Strawberry up with the quickness.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Glossary at PopMatters


Those interested in my short take on the absolutely stellar new record from Glossary would do well to avail themselves of this link.

Thanks to Last Chance Records and Sarah at PopMatters.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Raekwon - Unexpected Victory

Your boy Raekwon has lurked on the periphery of success for almost two decades now. Sure The Purple Tape and Wu have served him well, but with lyrical skills as sharp as he maintains, you would have figured some big time cross-over was in order. The most recent rumblings concerned some work with Dr. Dre and last year's Shaolin -vs- WuTang, neither of which diminished your Uncle Rae's worldwide presence. I'm most stoked for the upcoming Wu-Block project, but in the interim the god has blessed us with the new mixtape Unexpected Victory. It's pretty ok, packed to the gills with guest spots ranging from the likes of Mobb Deep and CL Smooth to a gang of up-and-comers. The M.O.B.B. track is kind of a banger, as is This Shit Hard. Not going to get a ton of spins, methinks, but a solid release that will no doubt make Chef obsessives happy.