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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ESPN must be stopped!!! (and the year in music part 1)

When did ESPN start controlling all the sports we watch and how can we make it stop???  They were the only ones who cared about the NBA (because they have the TV rights!!!) so now we have to be subjected to it again!!  Ugh.  And now there is word they squashed the Syracuse molestation evidence for nearly 10 years???  Yet, they covered the Penn State scandal like CNN covered the first Gulf War.  What is with the hypocrisy??  Syracuse fill your coffers more than PSU???  We know that answer.  Fox has the BCS games.  ESPN is tied to the hip with college basketball.

And let's not forget the countless perverts and miscreants that the company has employed in the past.  Off the top of my head...  Steve Phillips and his intern.  Harold Reynolds and the sexual harassment case.  Sean Salisbury and the penis text.  The Nascar producer who was caught peeping into a neighbors window.  Dare I mention the on air talent???  They gave Michael Irvin a job for God's sake!!!  Will Michael Vick have a plush gig when his playing career is over???  Maybe Chris Brown can do the new Monday Night football song???

This company is very much the jocks that beat up the weaklings in high school all growns up and armed with some press passes.  A media group more interested in making news rather than reporting it.  A entertainment company interested more in selling you than engaging you.

Enough I say.  How can we get NBC in the mix again?  Do we have to stop watching Modern Family or other Disney fare so they lose money?  Can all us Northerners NOT go to Disney during winter break just once??  There are other places to visit in this country!!  You do know Orlando is not the only city in Florida, right?

The NHL had a prime chance to get into America's eyes the past few months.  ESPN does not own the rights so it was hardly noticed.  They have entirely too much control over the sporting world and count me among those who has had enough.  Is there anyone else with me???

Now onto the regularly scheduled blog...  2011 in music (part 1)

With only month left in the year several top albums charts have begun to surface.  For example: http://stereogum.com/891091/qs-50-best-albums-of-2011/list/http://stereogum.com/890842/pastes-top-50-albums-of-2011/list/, and http://altmusic.about.com/od/top10lists/tp/Best-Alternative-and-Indie-Albums-Of-2011.htm


It has been a wonderful and enlightening year and one blog entry would never do it justice.  For now take a look at these 5 bands that have received multiple plays during the past year.  It is as diverse as the year itself.  Those folks who tell you new music is not relevant or not like it was "in the good old days" haven't been listening...  or maybe not smoking what I have been ;-)

Just checking if you are still reading...  if so enjoy and take a joke when you read one.  Too transparent? So what.

Dawes:  California country/rock that has a peaceful, easy feeling.  "A Little Bit of Everything"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36bItoBXpxk  Amazing live version!!!
"Time Spent in Los Angeles"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vnSXDNkUR0
"If I Wanted Someone"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbTcmvHU_ME&feature=related  Songwriting 101 right here folks.   Here performed acoustic and live.

AWOLNation:  "Sail"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH2efAcmBQM&ob=av3e
"Not Your Fault"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1c5wJV63GE Live from Jimmy Kimmel.
"Guilty Filthy Soul" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1f-8yWhLzw&feature=related  Bluesy and gritty pop.  A real gem.

Decemberists:  "Calamity Song"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJpfK7l404I  Not the best song for their wonderful record "The King is Dead"  but the best video!!!
"This is Why we Fight"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLSOzcEQjiE
"Rise to Me" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4LfzxI07q4&feature=fvwrel Advanced Songwriting.

The Sounds: "Dance With the Devil"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQS8kEAhdHc  Cheesy, 80s retro nonsense that provides so much toe tapping you cannot ignore it.  Grab a Rubik's cube and throw on the Members Only jacket!!!
"Something to Die For"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LNI7Ycla_w&feature=related  Live stripped down version from Sirius studios.  Maja Iversson is a tremendous talent...  and she can sing too!!!
"No One Sleeps When I'm Awake" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYKjMEsR9v4&feature=related  Would you sleep with her singing away???  Here is another live version.  You're welcome.

The National:  "Bloodbuzz Ohio"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfySK7CLEEg&ob=av2e  Their album High Violet came out last year...  but it is so strong it deserves more praise.

Givers:  "I Saw You First" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PQmfJmiNGU  Live version from SXSW in Austin.  Energetic grooves that blend cajun with pop.

Of Monsters and Men:  "Little Talks"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Dw8qdmT_aY  A wonderful live version of a wonderful song.  And you thought Iceland was for Bjork only!!!

Foster the People:  "Warrant"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcFITqQeQDM  Live from Austin too.  Synths and percussion made quite a comeback this year.  Several bands have incorporated 2 or more drum sets/keyboards on stage.  The big sound is both welcome and long overdue.  Think The Grateful Dead's space with clever lyrics and 20 minutes shorter.  Oh, and you can dance to it.  That's a stretch.  It stands alone and let's leave it at that.

Lykke Li:  "Get Some" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TTPGAy5H_E&ob=av3e  Another example of steady percussion and tremendous pop groove.  Sultry, naughty and a bit dangerous.  If Beyonce and Lady Gaga had a witch friend from across the pond she might look like Lykke Li.

Caveman:  "Vampirer/Old Friend" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Svx2IV866Ok  A daytime live event from SXSW is odd given this is a nighttime NYC band.  Their debut album is a wonderful mix of mood and rhythm.  Drums and harmonies blended nicely with haunting guitars.  They headline their first Bowery show 1.20.11 and I am urging everyone within earshot to join the crowd.  Their live act is amazing and brings an added depth to an already deep record.  See you there???  http://www.bowerypresents.com/event/76417/


That's it for now.  Plenty more to chronicle before years end.  For now I am off to apply for the GM position for the Houston Astros.  Really, could they do ANY worse???







Sunday, November 27, 2011

Now I have to deal with an Elf???

The Thanksgiving break was indeed a relaxed and welcome one.  I trust you all had one too.

Sadly, it is over.  Groceries had to be procured earlier to fill an empty fridge.  Whistles and whiteboards were purchased in preparation for the rigors of 4th grade girls Catholic league hoops.  The garbage, laundry and schoolwork are furiously being worked on at this very moment.

And as my 9 year old glances over her math drilling and social studies assignment a 6 inch elf watches over her atop our mantle.  Apparently, as the very popular book suggests, this "Elf on the Shelf" is Santa's magical eyes and ears.  Each day Alex (the name assigned to him by said 9 year old) will monitor her behavior for adequate naughty and/or niceness.  Naturally he flies back to the North Pole every night and HAS to appear in different locations the next morning.

Will this help the morning wake up routine??  Perhaps.  "Get outta bed and find where the elf is!!!  Oh, and while you are up get in the shower, brush your teeth, put your uniform on and eat breakfast...  before 7:30!!!"

Or will it become a tedious process that prolongs the mornings events???  "Dad, where is it??  I don't have all day???  I have to get ready for school and I have been looking for 30 minutes???"

How, at age 9, did we NOW start another tradition???  How does she still believe???

In an age where she was making parody videos of me grilling dinner earlier tonight and uploading them to Youtube she really believes this little thing bought at the gangster mall Hallmark Store contains magic that allows it to fly thousands of miles away and report the days event to a lovable fat man keeping score????

She watched StepBrothers with me at age 6.  She was Chucky for Halloween.  She turned me on to Foster the People and Nicky Minaj!!!

She uses chopsticks and knows what the F word is, although not what it means.  For now.

Is she still innocent enough to think mom and dad are NOT taking digital pictures at Dick's for themselves; but rather to text Santa later???

Amazing!  And wonderful!

So, our new tenant will find himself moving throughout our modest house starting tonight.  Because really, in this jaded and cynical world the goal is to keep our youth as innocent as possible for as long as possible.

She need not know that mom and dad are a bit concerned about cell phones and lap tops on the list.  She should believe in the magic of the elf and his jolly boss.  Why the hell not???

Soon enough she will be caught up with puberty, and cliques, and all that adolescence brings.  Ugh.  Think she will want to spend any time with dad then???  I have a healthy fear of the Youtube videos she will be creating then.  I sometimes wake up in a cold sweat wondering if she is filming/recording me singing in the shower.  Worse, I fear a video like that will have far more hits than any of my writing.

For now bring on the Elf and all his goodness.

After all this is the time of magic, right???  It need not happen at Toys R Us.  It can be found in a child's innocence and faith.  No telling when that magic ends these days.  It seems sooner and sooner in just about everything.

Looks like we bought (literally!!  Book and doll were like $30!!!) another year round these parts.  I'm hanging on for dear life...  hope you are too.

Makes getting up on a Monday and commencing with reality a bit more palatable...  if ever so slightly.



POST SCRIPT:


After writing this I entered the living room where the wife and child had worked out a "good system"


During commercial breaks from "Sex and the City" they were doing math.  Hmm, what does the elf think of this???  Does her innocence stand a chance?  


Unknown.  Oh wait, she just asked me for a Guinness...  gotta run...




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Night in NYC, AWOLNATION edition...

Many months back my then 8 year old daughter had me stop channel surfing on the satellite dial.

"I like this song daddy" she politely said.

Who am I to argue?  After all she had brought Foster the People to my attention, in addition to others (Katy Perry/Rhianna/LMFAO...  the list is endless.)

The muffled chorus from Awolnation's song "Sail" asks for forgiveness 2011 style: with a built in excuse.  Singer Aaron Bruno shouts "Blame it on my A D D!!!"  As Bruno took the stage last night at Webster Hall he looked nothing like a man suffering from an attention disorder.  He had a very clear mission ahead.

Bruno is a lead singer.  There are no tambourines in his hand.  He never stops to play the blues harp.  He grabs the mike and gets you to dance.  From his opening song, "Jump on My Shoulders" (which saw Bruno stage dive into his 20 something minions) there was no mistaking Awolnation is a rock band.  But they are also a dance band.  And a pop band.  And perhaps most importantly, they are a good adn promising live band.

Their second album, Megalithic Symphony, mixes produced synth with hard vocals and guitar.  Played live the band was far more aggressive and relentless.  Bruno is an absolute monster on the microphone.  His singular mission was met with force.  It was most apparent when he blitzed through "Burn it Down."  This fast moving track has shades of Eels and thrash rock-a-billy. That cannot be a bad thing.






8 year olds can be quite savvy it turns out.  And hip.  Unsure what it means that the little one would have fit in far more than I did last night?  Thing is, this group, like many others playing today, need not be a band for 20 somethings.

Do you know someone who liked Tears for Fears 20 years ago?  Do you hum along to Hall and Oates when no one is watching/listening?  What are your thoughts on Morrissey?  Erasure?

Not to mention, if the crowd contains more than 4 or 5 30/40 somethings maybe the sides can be equal???  That is, what is with young men hurling themselves at one another??

Turns out the wife made a break right before Awolnation for the bathroom.  We were close stage right when she left. When she returned I was informed I did not adequately hold my ground.   Uh oh, center stage with rowdy kids.

I can handle a mosh pit and crowd surfing...  but what is it called when you just randomly push strangers into one another?  Two boys started this nonsense and pissed just about everyone off.  Is this latent homosexual behavior?  They started out civil and during the wonderful "Not Your Fault" appeared sweaty and undressed.  Oh, and they were pushing and touching.  Hmmm.

The worst part is they end up infringing on unsuspecting folks personal space.  Spilled drink and shaky camera pics are a very bad thing.  Especially when you are paying $6 for Stella and $11 for a Dixie cup Cocktail  1. We need the floor to NOT be sticky.  2.  We don't want to be part of your therapy session.

No worries...  blame it on my A D D.

For much more:  http://www.myspace.com/awolnationmusic
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AWOLNATION

"Sail" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH2efAcmBQM  Lost some allure last night mainly because the harder/heavier stuff was so much better.  Still a groovy tune.
"Burn it Down"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN5AXq4WvZI  Punk/Blues and channeling Eels for sure
"Jump on My Shoulders"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEzubO8dKdA  A terrific way to open the set...  especially given Bruno literally jumped on shoulders, and heads, and hands...
"Not Your Fault" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjZVxgDQ2Vo  Love the lyric videos.  Great synth and Bruno is clearly having fun here.

Sacramento duo (guitarist/vocalist Zack Lopez and drummer/vocalist (Sean Stockham)  Middle Class Rut (MC Rut) opened for Awolnation with a hard rocking and angry 45 minutes.  After their opening song Lopez displayed anger toward a  crowd unwilling to pay attention to the supporting act.  Minutes into their second song Stockham hurled one of his drumsticks directly into the crowd.  He was clearly aiming for someone's head.  He missed his target and hit an innocent's head.  This was a rock show.

These two guys bring a bunch of sound to stage for 2 guys.  Lopez's voice is sooo similar to Perry Farrell it as at times disconcerting.  Stockham is a workhorse and every drumbeat has purpose and conviction.  Should you like Rage Against the Machine, Local H, Janes Addiction et al...  jump on this bandwagon.  Maybe that might help them loosen up a bit.



For more:

http://www.mcrut.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Class_Rut

"Busy Bein Born" http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=mvqtWjN7lOI  This is a big boy song.  Hard,hard guitar, shouting vocals and volatile aggression.  It's what Wall St would sound like if it was a band.

"New Low" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5GYOsKLp6o&feature=relmfu  Both men sing on their biggest single from their debut album No Name, No Color.  Great hook and melody played off nicely with their tight arrangement.  Simple and effective rock and roll.  See, I'm not all soft vocals and synths.



The Night Otherwise:

Webster Hall still remains one of the best venues in NYC.  Please take a look at Bowery Presents for possible shows during the Holiday Season.  Get your buzz on before you go in though.  The drink prices are crazy given what you can choose from.  Better yet, don't drink at all.  Right, who am I kidding?

http://www.bowerypresents.com/  Matisyahu, Band of Skulls, Nada Surf, Cults and plenty more are coming there soon.

Also, if you are indeed staying off the bottle on concert night...  try to eat sensibly too.  Le Pain Quotidien (http://www.lepainquotidien.us/) bills itself as a "bakery and communal table."  It is far more than that.  From the hummus to the tartines all the way to the mixed berry tart and cappuccinos each items is savory, fresh and delicious.

Give me one of these instead of Panera anyday.  There are locations all over Manhattan and one just around the corner from Webster Hall on Broadway.  Do some West Village shopping and/or people watching while you are there.  Have you really experienced NYC during Christmas without a walk through Washington Sq Park?  Canal St knock off shopping?  Meth heads asking you for handout???

Maybe that is more like your Thanksgiving tradition?  Save for the meth heads I hope.

In any event however you spend the next few days I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!!!

I am thankful you take the time to read/share/tolerate this humble blog.  The mission is still very much unclear now 200 posts in.  All I know is I ain't going anywhere.  I am hopeful you will continue to join me.




Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanskgiving Break

The Starbucks red cups have been in use since November 1st.  Every major retail window in NYC is decorated as if Santa is coming tomorrow.  It appears many stores are going to be open on midnight Black Friday rather than the more pedestrian 4am or so we have grown accustomed to.

Far be it for me to step on the toes of merchants and capitalists these days...  but can we all slow the hell down???

This is after all the week we should take a look at what is important, no?

Give thanks for mothers willing to take time out of there day and spend time with the grandchild so folks like me can see a rock show.

Not, give thanks for the great deal on the new Sony LCD 3-D TV that will be obsolete next year this time anyway.

Give thanks for your health and the health of your friends and family.

Or perhaps take a moment to think about the poor folks who have to cut there Thanksgiving meal short so they can get ready to open Target at midnight so us countless buffoons trample their underpaid and under-appreciated asses so we can buy the last "Screw My Wallet Elmo."

Can this be a week of slow reflection?

Can bargains wait until the weekend?

Can we learn to slow down and appreciate your fellow man?  You fellow customer service worker?  Your co-workers?  Dare I say, your family?

Perhaps I am biased a bit because I was born on Thanksgiving, but really, isn't it the best American holiday?

Christmas and Easter play to Catholics and Christians so that obviously hurts with those who don't believe in Jesus.  July 4th and New Years are great, but they can be affected by weather, and drunking amateurs.

Thanksgiving is food and football and naps and NO expectations.  We are simply away for a few days to decompress.  Should a fine meal, great conversation and camaraderie naturally occur we chalk that up to good karma.   But in reality we expect someone to get annoyed or drink too much.  Inevitably an aunt or uncle will say something they shouldn't have.  And that is a great thing.

We need not worry about the gift being the wrong size.  There are no awkward moments when you realize you forgot to get your niece a gift.

Eat, drink, be merry.  The beauty is you can do it all sitting on your favorite couch (ideally.)

As the year 2012 hurries by us take time to thank all that is good and right with your World.  Chances are you will be more compelled to stay home and cherish those nearest you rather than chase that bargain at Wal-Mart half drunk Thanksgiving night.

Least, that's what I plan on doing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

An Evening in Montclair, Lykke Li Edition

About mid-way through Swedish rocker Lykke Li's set it occured to me, Europe seems to have cornered the market on female angst-ridden rock stars.  In fact, other than a few exceptions, Alanis Morrisette and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for instance, the US seems better at producing pop women as opposed to alt women.

And make no mistake, Lykke Li is an alt women.  After a 5 minute pulsating light and smoke machine intro Li and her bandmates went about hypnotizing the surprisingly large New Jersey crowd with a mix of tribal percussion, haunting melody and raucous fun.  Performing in support of her sophomore LP, Wounded Rhymes, Li kept the between song banter to a minimum.

At one point there was some debate if the crowd was attending a rock show or some crazy coven ritual.  Dressed in an all black Free People-esque outfit that might find it's way in Stevie Nicks' closet Li has all the markings of a high priestess looking for her next victim.  She would fit right into a 70s Christopher Lee flick.   Had she asked me to eat the brains of someone toward the end of the set I would have considered it.

Oh, and the sound is pretty darn good too.  She is primarily known for the infectious and foot stomping "Get Some" which boldly asserts "I'm your prostitute/You're gonna get some."  Wounded Rhymes on record is a soft,  synth heavy mood piece.  On stage it has more elements of high brow concept pop meets 50s percussion-centric lounge act.  Li relies a lot on dark lighting and heavy strobes.  It is as much theatre and vibe as it is pop rock.  Her band layout is unusual too: drummer stage left and lead guitarist front stage elevated where drum kit usually resides.  At first, it was a little off putting.  Toward the end of the brief 80 minute show it made perfect sense.  Since there were at times three percussionists on stage they would appear to be waging war with the keyboard and guitars adjacent them.

It was a competitive battle and one worthy seeing again.  There was a 3 song ballad interlude that included her Righteous Brothers cover "Unchained Melody" that might have been 1 song too many.  Mainly because the songs before and after the soft stuff rocked so hard.  Her most notable, "Sadness is a Blessing", "Little Bit", "Youth Knows No Pain (which had Li singing through a megaphone... AWESOME!!!)" and "I Follow Rivers."




I was certainly a lesson in exceeding expectations.  She marks the third Northern European alt leading lady I have seen in 2 weeks (Ritzi Bryan from Joy Formidable and Maja Iversson from The Sounds are the others.)  The trend is headed markedly up.  The US does pop and auto-tune real well.  Think Gaga, Katy Perry, Kesha, Britney, and Nicki Minaj for instance.

Europe brings the goth, book reading, glasses wearing, eating disorder, angst ridden, female rocker far better than we do.  Think of it as your mysterious girlfriend.  You have Katy and Gaga all day, but when it comes time to let the hair down you can sneak into a club and watch the sultry mistress seduce you with her song, with her look, with her art.

Then you come home with the girl that brung you.  A better night than "Moneyball" or "Breaking Dawn" I can guarantee you.

Further Research:

http://lykkeli.com/

Pics from last night's show:  http://houselist.bowerypresents.com/2011/11/18/lykke-li-the-wellmont-theatre-november-17-2011/

"Get Some" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TTPGAy5H_E

"I Follow Rivers" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZYbEL06lEU

"Youth Knows No Pain" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF_BcZRpsiU

"Little Bit" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upnTg2GPgTM&feature=fvwrel

"Unchained Melody" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qoXm_CSdJo  Live acoustic version.  Showcases the beJesus out of her talent.  Voice and arrangement could slide easily into the worst David Lynch dream.  There is some Cat Power (ok she is American angst) sound in here.  If you take a look at one clip make it this.  Probably the best voice you have never heard.


Had a conversation with someone the other day who is probably a bit older than me.  He made mention of the problem he had with my music...  "I just don't get it."

Made me wonder why you have to "get" anything?  You take a chance on movies Friday nights don't you?  You talk yourself into thinking "Jack and Jill" or "Tower Heist" are going to be worth your investment (time and money.)  In reality, the event far surpasses the art.  You can call it a success because you were out of the house.

The music business is in a far trickier spot.  Movies are an institution and translate very well to the flat screens we all have in our living rooms.  We rarely if ever purchase 3 dimensional music anymore.  Music is increasingly mobile too, but at what cost to the artists?  They have to make money at some point or what is the point of carrying on?  An artists gotta eat, right???

Take a look at some of these venues and give a band a try.  Open your mind and allow yourself a different $100 Friday evening.  What's the worst that happens?  You get a good meal and some drinks in a different location and fail to latch on to a band?  No worse than a bad kids comedy at the Cineplex, right?  Best case is you become a fan of something/someone you would have never anticipated.

http://www.bowerypresents.com/
http://www.livenation.com/

Some bands I have heard/seen (and would never expect to like a mere 2 years ago) and am now devoted fan:

White Rabbits:  "Percussion Gun" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IClBpch9vmM

The National: "Mr November" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxWQMyoYJBU  Live from Brooklyn Academy

Ryan Adams:  " Do I Wait" http://vimeo.com/30003746

Mute Math: "Blood Pressure" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv2mjAgFTaI  This is a seriously addicting video

St Vincent: "Cruel" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Itt0rALeHE8  Another in a long list of visually stunning and smart videos that are being produced today.

Of Monsters and Men"Little Talks"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Dw8qdmT_aY   More Nordic stuff!!!  Think Edward Share and Damien Rice meet Bjork with a hint of the Pogues and a splash of Fleet Foxes.  GREAT pop song here done live @ KEXP.

The Sounds "Yeah Yeah Yeah" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cfSy4enIrE  You could argue a straight man should not be posting this...  fair enough

Viva Brother "Darling Buds of May" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cfSy4enIrE  Here performed live.  Grit Brit pop.  Fun and energetic.

Wolf Gang: "The King and All His Men" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZLv36LvRo8  Brit Synth reminiscent of 80s.  Foster the People across the pond??

Deerhunter "Desire Lines" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW2jOA6uIaM  Bradford Cox did a stine last  dj-ing last week for Sirius XMU.  It was a glimpse into the mind of a very creative, very smart and very odd man.  Another live version of his best song from last years Halycon Digest.   Cox has the ability to excel in just about every genre.  It can alienate fans for sure, but one can't help being awe-struck with his ability.  This piece takes off around the 3:30 mark and does not STOP!!!


Enjoy the weekend folks!!!  Sorry for all the music but it has dominated my mind lately.  Good thing, cause it takes the stress of hearing Christmas music in early November.  Where did the year go???

Thankfully Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  It is the greatest Holiday (and not because I was born on it!)

May you get through the Holiday in one piece and eat like a monster.  If you are anything like me you have a LOT to be thankful for.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

10 underrated songs to hold you over

XTC: "Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ubey_xtc-the-ballad-of-peter-pumpkinhead_music

James Morrison "Under the Influence"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHrfsE0TbZc

Gomez "Get Miles" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHrfsE0TbZc

Tori Amos "Cornflake Girl"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Eiv7H9XQRY

REM "Imitation of Life" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vqgdSsfqPs&ob=av3n

Eric B and Rakim "Microphone Fiend"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPfIIn5V_LQ&feature=relmfu

The D.O.C. "It's Funky Enough" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPfIIn5V_LQ&feature=relmfu

Bruce Hornsby and The Range "The Valley Road" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV_oaJAyJBQ

Lindsay Buckingham "Go Insane"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o_YI_PgK0o&feature=related

Eels "Novocaine for the Soul"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o_YI_PgK0o&feature=related


Carry on...

Off to Lykke Li in Montclair...  full review tomorrow and maybe some thoughts on the continuing saga that is Occupy Everything...  Penn State and its abject perversion...  the annoyance of school half days... the Astros move to the American League...  the lack of interest in an NBA lockout...  and whatever else might come up from now to then.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Evening in Newark, Foo Fighters Edition

About 10 seconds into Foo Fighters opening song last night, "Bridge Burning" from their new album Wasting Light, the message was very clear:  Dave Grohl is the consummate rock star.  He should not be trapped behind a drum kit.  Although, he does that very well as evidenced by his time in Nirvana and more recently drumming for Cage the Elephant when their drummer took ill.  Also, it should be noted,  the Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins is both an exceptional musician and beyond competent frontman/rock star.

This is Grohl's band though.  And last night he gave his fans all they could want, and more.  He attacked the stage as furiously as he did his guitar and vocal chords.  He commanded your attention and quickly informed the packed house:  "Just wanted to let you know you are at an Arena Rock Show!!!  We don't play an hour and a half and get out.  Text your boss and say I'm not feeling well.  It's gonna be a long night."

Indeed.  Dave Grohl is America's great rock star.  Had Kurt Cobain lived you can't help wonder how they would co-exist?  Is there a more energetic and charismatic performer working these days?

Foo Fighters plowed through an impressive setlist (http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/foo-fighters/2011/prudential-center-newark-nj-13d1f9dd.html).  They nailed classic tracks, like a freewheeling, jam-filled "Monkey Wrench", "My Hero" and the rocking 1st set finale, "All My Life."  There new tracks, namely "These Days" and "Walk" were welcome additions to an impressive resume.  Grohl runs from stage left to stage right like a tiger chasing his prey.  He roams around eliciting crowd reaction and participation.  He makes eye contact with awe inspired fans.  He is always in command and you can't take your eyes off him.  Oh, and his voice is amazingly strong and guitar work equally impressive.

There will forever be regrets missing the final (4!!! of 6) encores including a cover of Tom Petty's "Breakdown" and their classic "Everlong."  But so it goes when you attempt the mini-van roadtrip.  6 different humans bringing unique circumstances to a Monday evening rock show.  Mother of 4 sipping the Sangria pre-show.  Longtime buddy who took a sick day today and was prepared to stay up all night.    Wife worked a half day in NYC and then right back out to stand for 5 hours.  We should have either taken 6 cars or had called a personal driver for each of us.  Maybe this reality/virtual tour is not such a great idea.  Some drink.  Some don't.  Some rock.  Some roll.  Some want their couch the moment the clock strikes 11.  Who can blame them???

The floor at an arena show like this can be quite daunting for a 30, er 40 something.  There are 18 year old kids in there!!  And they can be quite aggressive.  Although I was impressed with a few teenagers who were able to roll a joint while standing up in and around a mosh area (stopping short of calling it a pit.)  Thing is if you leave to catch a breathe you can never get back in.  And when you are not on the floor for the show you really aren't experiencing everything.

Grohl and his mates (Nate Mendel bass, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear guitars and Hawkins) give the audience a lot to experience.  Should you have half the energy next time they are in town take a look.  But make sure you have an overnight sitter.  In the meantime watch them perform "Bad Reputation" with David Letterman this evening.  And also check out the following resources.


http://www.foofighters.com/us/home  Foo Fighters home page
http://www.billboard.com/events/foo-fighters-recruit-joan-jett-bob-mould-1005519362.story#/events/foo-fighters-recruit-joan-jett-bob-mould-1005519362.story   MSG show from 11.13.11 featuring Foo Fighters and Joan Jett.

We arrived early mainly because the Wales trio Joy Formidable opened last night.  There 30 minute set has gotten much tighter since they took the stage earlier this year at Webster Hall.  What surprised me is how this heavily bassed band filled the enormous Prudential Center with sound.  Ritzy Bryan (guitar/lead vocal), Rhydian Dafydd (CRAZY LOUD bass and vocals) and Matt Thomas (drums) play with an anger and urgency that is hard to ignore.  Bryan sings "You make me sleep so badly/Invisible Friend" in their biggest hit "Whirring" from the debut album The Big Roar.  The irony is anything Joy Formidable plays could never put you to sleep.  And they, like their sound, are anything but invisible.  You should have such friends.




http://www.socialdistortion.com/
"Whirring" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2BUEzdjfpY
"Cradle"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W66yhfMb4d0&feature=relmfu
"Austere"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W66yhfMb4d0&feature=relmfu
A Heavy Abacus"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsGg_07VrX0&feature=relmfu

Social Distrotion were the middle band last night but they should hardly feel slighted.  Formed in 1978 Fullerton, Califronia co-founder Mike Ness and his boys can be defined rather easily: professionals.  After losing their other founder Dennis Danell in 2000 due to an aneurism the band carried on and continue to perform, and perform well.  It is Ness's scrappy voice and bluesy guitar licks that stand the test of time.  They spit and clawed through a 40 minute set touting their new record but with an eye on their history.  Their cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" was spot on rock-a-billy goodness.  Cheesy rock dictionary defines Social Distortion as "pretty darn cool."  Agree.



For more:  http://www.socialdistortion.com/
"Ring of Fire"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbFlM6pFjso&feature=related  Happen to like the comment to this comparing Ness to Chuck Norris in terms of "badassery"  You can't really be a soft punk rocker
"Bad Luck"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQOJY4NXYzM  These guys are just so cool it hurts.


Should be noted that the evening began at Forno's of Spain in Newark's http://www.fornosrestaurant.com/) Ironbound section.   Much can be made of the problems of Newark, and there are many.  The Prudential Center is quite nice and Forno's is a nice dinner/pre-game spot.  Spanish tapas and sangria served by old school wait staff eager for you to leave.  What's not to like?  Try the Veal Siciliana, Red Sangria, Osso Bucco, and even the chicken fingers!!!  They can easily accommodate an 6 or 8 top.  But if you just want a drink the bar is ample.  Slip the valet a 10 spot and you can walk to the Pru Center too if weather permits.  This way you can experience the urine smelled streets of Newark post show.  Nothing like the sobering realities of crime and poverty that await you after spending $12 bucks on 3 coffees moments earlier.

Does that make me the 1%?  Or are the 99% all living beyond their means?

That's what I feared.  Til next time...

Lykke Li in 2 days...  Ugh, need about 24 hours of sleep first.  And for my cat to not wake me up with grim reaper fearing yells and vomit sounds.  Not bloody likely.


Check this out...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT1oPhF5KyI&feature=related   some footage from the show my friend assures me he is in...  he was on front row for sure so let's take his word for it.  He's the guy with his hands up and bald head around the 4:50 mark.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Stop it Adam Sandler!!!

First, can everyone please stop going to see Adam Sandler movies???  Jack and Jill ended up in the weekend plans and it was without question the worst movie of this year, and maybe of all time.  And I sat through Smurfs and Junie B Jones!!!

His act is old.  His writing is lazy.  And his acting has never been great.  Shame on all the bit players and cameos too!!!  Jared the Subway guy?  Billy Blanks??  Michael Irvin!!???  Worst of all Al Pacino!!!???   An embarrassing mess from start to finish.

We can only suspend disbelief for so long.  In his last movie he was a successful LA doctor dealing with a love triangle between Jennifer Aniston and Brooklyn Decker.  Here he is a advertising magnate which is an excuse for shameless product placement.  He has made his millions and left us all with quite a legacy.  But really, enough is enough.

Also, a moment of silence for the NBA please.  It was announced earlier today that the players rejected the latest proposal from the owners.  It looks as if the season will not happen.

Now, if the NHL can capitalize and take the coveted audience away maybe the players will understand NO ONE WILL MISS THEM.  They want 50% of the revenue!!!  Tell you what, go out and buy arenas and all the other things that it would require to start a league and see if anyone shows up.  Oh, and make sure you pay your performers have the take.

There is not a business in America that works like that (and stays solvent.)  March Madness is several months away.  Why do I get the feeling they will cave before the Ides are upon us.

All for now...  Foo Fighters await!!!  Tune in tomorrow for a full recap.

Wish you could join me...

Tonight's bill:

Joy Formidable:  "Whirring"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2BUEzdjfpY

"Cradle"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W66yhfMb4d0&feature=relmfu

"Austere"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbYghzgt9IU

Social Distortion:  "Story of My Life"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oh8zcbC_Dcw&ob=av2e

"Ball and Chain" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NWjehpGSO0&feature=relmfu

"Bad Luck"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQOJY4NXYzM

Foo Fighters:  "Everlong" http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=everlong&aq=f  Still one of my favorite videos

"My Hero" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqWRaAF6_WY&ob=av3e

"Walk" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PkcfQtibmU



Friday, November 11, 2011

Paterno, Veterans and Your weekend soundtrack enhanced

My sister posted something clever regarding a certain story that transfixed the nation this week.  "So, anything ELSE to talk about this week???"
Have we had enough coverage folks?  ESPN has so many folks in State College, PA they could probably rationalize another sister station.  ESPN Worst Humans Ever Network.

What exactly are we surprised at here?  That the awful atrocities could have possibly taken place?  No, we have all lived through enough evils to comprehend the realities.  We need not accept them, but it should not surprise us.

Could it be the falling of an icon?  An inglorious end to an illustrious career?  Hardly.  Isn't it we are all waiting for anyway?  Aren't we disappointed when it ends happily.  Lou Gehrig seemingly went out as classy and dignified as we could all hope for.  Then he died shortly thereafter. 

Allow me to argue/defend agism.  Joe Paterno is an 84 year old man employed to lead 18-25 year olds in a world very much different than the one he grew up in.  He does not use social media.  He has been injured and frail so often lately he cannot even coach from the sidelines.  He thought by resigning and telling the trustees not to bother wasting anymore time on it the situation would die. 

This is a man clearly out of touch.  Much like he was when he heard of a horrific child rape and thought the only play was to tell the Athletic Director.  This, after his subordinates let the accused live to finish the assult and systemically carry out others for years after. 

If one man is so powerful that a University president and all its staff is unable to report a crime to the police it is time for that man to leave.

Right and wrong is not only defined by holding penalites and out of bounds calls.  Turns out there are REAL kids and young men who need an example set outside the playing fields.  That might mean turning in someone from the inner circle.  Doing what is required legally is not the ONLY alternative. 

It has become chic to suggest 1 bad act can hardly wash away 60 odd years of good work.  Bull***!

Who cares about the countless linebackers Mr Paterno taught at this moment in time?  Tell that to the young boys who were assaulted AFTER the inital report.

"Sorry son, he may have had a moral obligation, but did you see what his defense did to Vinny Testaverde?"

Hypocrisy at its lowest level.  How can it not remind you of the Catholic Church (Paterno's religion?) 

"Problem?  Us?  No way.  We are as pure as can be."  Maybe not.  Or, likely not.  Right, not at all.

Wake me up when we can look at a sports program, or political institiution, or hedge fund, and find nothing wrong with it.  Better yet don't, let me dream.

Happy Veterans Day
As our military continues to fight invisible enemies and ever changing battlefields a moment to give thanks.  It is quite a country that allows me to conduct a quality meeting with good people, grab a quick and delicious meal, spend some time on a computer typing nonsense while listening to any digital song I could ever want to hear.

It is a better country for you being able to ignore it, shop online, spend time with your family, take a walk without worrying about stepping on a land mine, go outside without a burka on, stroll the mall, buy a house, rent a car, take a flight, see a movie, whatever the hell you like.

Never take it for granted and always be thankful.  This is still a great country, and it is in large part because of our service men and women.  Thanks.

Music Section:

Finally, it has been an eye opening couple of weeks musically.  Lots and lots of good stuff out there these days.  Next week there are (2) live shows on the horizon: Foo Fighters in Newark and Lykke Li in Montclair.  For more info take a look here: http://www.foofighters.com/us/home  and http://lykkeli.com/.  Also, one of my new favorites I have been touting all year, Caveman, got their first headlining gig at Bowery Ballroom!!!  The show is 1.20 and tix went on sale today.  I suspect they will sell out.  At $13 a ticket I am urging anyone within earshot to join me/us/Cave people...  For more:  http://www.boweryballroom.com/ It's a Friday people!!!!

In the meantime...  some notable tracks from the 3 very diverse acts listed above and some others you should download, immediately.  Unless you really have to watch more PSU coverage...  or the debacle they call the Republican race...  or whatever the hell passes for entertainment these days.  Ashton Kutcher tweets?  Lady Gaga's wardrobe?  CMA's?  Adam Sandler movies????  Ugh.

Foo Fighters:  "These Days"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPHzknP7jNQ  A performance from David Letterman.  Great stuff here in terms of both production value and performance.  Dave Grohl is an American gem/icon/hero.  The more success he has I am further reminded how overrated Nirvana/Kurt Cobian is/was.  Grohl did the strong thing and kept living.  We have all benefited from this.  Taylor Hawkins' drumming is off the charts too.

Lykke Li: "Get Some"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TTPGAy5H_E&ob=av3e  Is she Swedish?  Is she Indian?  Who cares?  This is pure pop/rock gold.  Maybe the grooviest song of the year.  "I'm your prostitute, you're gonna get some."  Yes please.

Caveman:  "Thankful"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ZNibtHuEA  Moody, hypnotic and easy going rock.  Percussion and bass section so solid with this group.  The more this album enters my bloodstream the better man I become.

She Wants Revenge "Take the World"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQJVeOiC-wc  Super sounds and an insanely hot video.  Think Madonna's "Justify Your Love" meets Harold Faltemeyer meets The Suicide Girls.  Director/one part of She Wants Revenge duo Adam Bravin has made a video very much equal to the sultry voice and beats created by he and his partner Justin Warfield.  This seems to be a trend...  artists making their own videos... 

like Mute Math's: "Blood Pressure"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv2mjAgFTaI&ob=av2e  Drummer directed/conceived this high energy and visually compelling piece.  Song kicks a little ass too.  Give me these guys over Black Keys anyday!!!

Figures Brit pop/synth act Wolf Gang would wear me down after hearing them for months now.  Indeed, "The King and All Of His Men" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZLv36LvRo8 is parts Pet Shop Boys, part Robbie Williams and every bit Foster the People meets Naked and the Famous.  Bubble Gum alt: yes please.

Finally, a moment on Ridgewood, NJ's Real Estate.  There 2nd album was released a few weeks back and it is the perfect fall weekend companion.  Think foliage drive soundtrack...  or folding laundry watching the big game...  preparing a nice meal...  mellow background party music...  Good, clean stuff for your not so clean living.

Some choice picks:

"Green Aisles"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVms4qIKYRI

"It's Real" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3v1dW0aws8&feature=related 

GO NJ!!!  Represent!! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Perspective

Saturday morning after a lovely date night with my wife I rolled over and caught the news I missed.  These days that means heading to the smart phone.  Emails and instant messages are first.  Then the social media. The routine soon became heartbreaking.

A post by a dear friend asked for thoughts and prayers for their daughter, my goddaughter, after she had been hit by a car the previous night.  The rest you kind of black out.  The details are irrelevant.

Now, it has been years since I visited them (a mere 100 miles away.)  Life is funny that way.  We both went our separate ways several years ago and that tiny distance has felt like a continent away.  But nothing has changes other than distance.  I love them today as I did before.  I would do anything and everything I can for them.  I simply cannot get there as much as I would like.

I moved across town a few years back and rarely see my old neighbors, although I would love to spend time with them every damn weekend if I could.

That I was receiving this horrible news via Facebook is both alarming and comforting.  How can we all expect to maintain these tangible friendships without the help of electronic assistance?  But that is a different discussion.  The frenetic pace in which we live our lives marries itself to social media.  We should all embrace it.

At that instant it was clear I was making a trip south.  A friendship was renewed and an overwhelming feeling of optimism followed.  We can never be there physically for those important people in our lives.  We are responsible to ourselves and family first.  That should be clear.   But social media, although 85% nonsense, gives us the window into our friends lives.  Next thing you know you are sharing a beer with a trusted friend telling him it's gonna be ok.  Life may be an unbearing battle that tests you every step of the way...  but sometimes it's good to know you can get in the car and connect with those who have defined you.  And I mean it, guys, it's gonna be ok.

You have the support of many and your amazing daughter is a fighter.  Stay positive.  Stay strong.  And when her eyes are open you can expect another visit.


Makes the rest of the week/month/year seem somewhat comical.  Look at the news this week.  Gloria Allred is calling more surreal (thanks Benjy Bronk: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/sharon-bialek-press-conference-hijacked_n_1080623.html) press conferences.  How is Herman Cain still on anyone's radar???  Forget the harassment charges, has anyone heard him speak???  I am sorry, if you cannot use the English language I do not want you to run the Country.

Exhibit A:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1Tb4MYDoj4  We deserve a more eloquent and grammar savvy speaker.   Go to the 2:35 mark for an abusive attack on the language.  His use of "reject" scares me.  And he really does use the phrase "Ain't gonna happen."  Ugh.

Fact is there are problems with these charges and accusations too.  It is understandable if a young boy is scared to talk about being molested in the showers (I will get to you next JoePa) but a 25 year old woman who has someone try to lift her skirt should know a little better.  Either a) you report it/slap him in the face and press charges IMMEDIATELY or b) ignore it and move on like the countless women who deal with this type of assault every day from us disgusting men.

Hardly seems like the right circumstances to have a photo session/press conference.  What exactly is the end game here?  Maxim spread?  Dancing with the Stars spot?  Couple grand pay off from the Democratic party?  Republican party?

Either way it is cheap, ugly and distasteful.

But not half as distasteful of the news coming out of State College, PA.

It goes without questions that the accused/disgraced coach Jerry Sandusky's alleged actions are the most horrifying thing to come out of this story.  The remaining parties come pretty close in their negligence, apathy and seemingly blind eye.

Did no one realize what was witnessed is wrong?  Was their game plan against Minnesota more important than the innocence of these young boys?  When the man continued to hang around campus and nothing ever came of  what was witnessed no red flag game up?

Could he have abused more kids?  Could he have been doing it all along?

A phone call to your superior satisfied each and every one of them.  Had a man been shot and killed would the reaction been different?  Had a woman getting mugged would a call to the police been in order?

A young boy raped in your locker room shower and the police are not called?  Worse, the assailant is not forcibly removed from the victim and beat unconscious???

And now thousands of Penn State's student body gather on Joe Paterno's street and cheer for him in support?  And Paterno himself shields questions yesterday yet is able to run his team's practice??

He has announced today that he will step down at the end of this season.  Thanks Joe.  Make sure you go out and mold those young boys into men on Saturday afternoon.  Get that W!!!  It is clear that has been your priority all along.

Your example, once revered, has now been forever damaged.  It would be better to admit your negligence and walk away with whatever dignity you have left.  The last thing anyone needs to see is to see you in the coaches box this week, or ever again.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Sounds, Natalia Kills and Antonio Banderas... perfect together

Sometimes the suburban man needs to step out of his comfort zone.  That could mean an hour or so in the Nordstrom shoe department.  Maybe your personal hell is waiting in line at the grocery store?  Or being in the grocery store altogether?

Those moments can also provide an unexpected treat.  Perhaps your daughter finds a pair of shoes that signify her maturity.  Maybe you find a zen moment in the cereal aisle hearing a piped in song from the past.

Friday night this suburban man once again found himself in Webster Hall, NYC.  It is the oldest concert venue in America's finest city.  It has charm.  It has ambience.  It has tremendous character in addition to its exceptional acoustics.

And for a few hours it was dance/rave central on a bill that included The Limousines, Natalia Kills and headliners The Sounds.  Comfort zone very much tucked away.  Fish out of water very much in play.

You know what?  Not a bad place to be.

Natalia Kills, it was learned, is a 20 something Brit songstress somewhere between Katy Perry and Lily Allen.  Confident and brash she pounded out some candy pop with a touch of edge in her 30 minute set.  You know you are old when the lead singer asks "Anybody out there have a boyfriend or girlfriend?) Kills was on the bill supporting their debut album Perfectionist.   Lots of energy and fun mixed in with the whoa is me when will I find love routine.  Kills has a sound that could easily fit between Gaga and Adele on your FM dial.


"Free" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K2r5mmktLc  

"Kill My Boyfriend" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDwQ7tzTlbE&feature=related

For more info on the band:  http://www.nataliakills.com/splash/   Should you have a daughter 8 to 16 N Kills is an act worth checking out.  Or, if you know an immature 30-50 year old man...

Oklahoma City "music project" Kids at the Bar handled the music in between sets.  They are, simply put, two white boys with computers and beats.  Mixing and sampling contemporary dance tracks much to the delight of the 20 something, arm waving crowd, Kids at the Bar were a nice diversion from the house music that usually transitions band to band.  20 minutes might be a bit too long for said diversion.  How much duunnshh, duunnshh, duunsshh can you take?  Unless of course you are on X, which is a different story.  For more on Kids at the Bar: http://kidsatthebar.com/
Swedish dance/rock outfit The Sounds came on promptly at 9pm and proceeded to bring the groove.  From the moment singer Maja Iversson pranced on stage, smoking a cigarette, the stage was all hers.  A true leading lady with all the sexiness and persona of today's finest actress.  Picture Kate Winslet with a microphone and attitude.

Oh, and she can sing too.  He vocals were most notable on her new single "Dance with the Devil" and the 80s throwback "Something Worth to Die For" and "No One Sleeps when I'm Alone."  Around since 1999 it was most apparent The Sounds are a close knit and polished group.  If you ever found yourself tapping your feet to Pat Benatar, or Blondie, or Human League...  take a listen.  

"Dance with the Devil" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQS8kEAhdHc  Overly dramatic and campy but Iversson is smoking hot (and undressed.)
 
"No No Song" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXXiatbQM8Q&feature=related   The Strokes meets Scandal.

"Something to Die For" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1Efwi916U0  Live version from the Gullfisken Awards earlier this year.  What, you never heard of them???  The Sounds= the Nordic Beatles.

"No One Sleeps When I'm Awake" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksj2FqOSt2I&feature=related  A good live version and probably their finest song.  If you love 80s pop please tune in.

For more info on The Sounds: http://the-sounds.com/




Finally, a moment about this weekend's box office.  Turns out the Antonio Banderas vehicle Puss in Boots beat out Tower Heist with an impressive $32 million haul.  It's a shame folks will not be pouring their money into Banderas' other current film, The Skin I Live In.  


It is easy to forget Mr Banderas was a suave and daring leading man for acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar long before his puzzling marriage to Melanie Griffith and feline Shrek character.

In The Skin I Live In he is once again teamed up with Almodovar and the results are fabulous.  Based on the novel Tarantula, by Thierry Jonquet, it is a tale of suspense, romance with same biting humor that has defined Almodovar's career.  You don't want to laugh, but sometimes the absurdity (and plausibility of it all) are too much to take.

Banderas plays a surgeon with immense skills and unparalleled bad luck.  Those two worlds inevitably collide with monster truck force.  Almodovar, as is his want, fills the screen with lush colors and bold, beautiful locations.  His classical music soundtrack is spot on too.

But this is Banderas show and he steals it.  Every moment is very much calculated and controlled, whether it is torturing someone or caressing them.  His steely glance dominates the screen.  Folks made a big fuss about Travolta's return to form with Pulp Fiction.  That's easy...  play a stoner and dance with Uma Thurman.  Who couldn't do that???

Banderas turn here is a commanding return to form and should remind us all why we know his name in the first place.  And it ain't cause he laps milk for Dream Works.

Plenty of plot twists and other details that could go into this review but why bother.  It's playing on about 5 screens nationwide so look for it when it comes to DVD/On Demand.  Think The Crying Game meets Dead Ringers meets Human Centipede.  Really, that is not much of a stretch.

For more: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1189073/




Friday, November 4, 2011

Classic Rock revisited

As folks begin to celebrate Halloween (on November 4th!!!) and mailboxes and airwaves are filled with political ads we take time to remember the important things...  art and culture.

After all, the lead story on NBC News with Brian Williams last night was the trial of Conrad Murray.  And the Today Show had the nerve to lead with Michelle Bachmann this morning!!!  Do we really need her opinion of Herman Cain?  She did not give it.  Or her life changing tax plan/idea?  She does not have one.

This is what makes news now?  Personalities and headlining stories.  It is why a reality star most known for her bedroom talents and larger than life posterior remains in the public eye for her sham wedding.  It is why we know far too much about Lindsay Lohan's community service schedule.  That is what interests the 99 %.

Oh, and in an attempt to have a family hour of television last night "X Factor" made its way to a television near me.  The giant opening number touting the 12 finalists was marred by an absurd lip-synching moment.  A voice/talent contest with lip synching??  Um, check the hell out!!!  Take a look for yourself before Fox pulls it...  http://blog.chron.com/tubular/2011/11/x-factor-houston-we-have-a-problem/

So what if Greece is dying and the Occupy everything movement is being stifled even further in its attempt to make tangible change.  Haven't you heard?  The new thing is to ransack Whole Foods Stores and block commerce at blue collar ports  (the essence of commerce in the US.)  So sadly misguided they are.  More blocking of Goldman than hurting merchants and their employees please.  And that is a stretch too.    Let the folks who are working do their work.  Should we really want change to take place the better alternative is voting for it next week.

Find a leader and write him or her in.  Start legislation at the small stages demanding term limits.  Vote those legacies out.  In New Jersey there are incumbents that have spent lifetimes in state house/senate.  Michael Moore ran a Ficus tree against Rodney Frelinghuysen as a lark about 10 years ago.  He contended a plant had a better chance beating him than a human.  No matter, Frelinghuysen won then and will seemingly stay in office until he wants to no longer.  He started in 1995.

This is not to say Mr Frelinghuysen is a bad man or politician.  It is meant as a gentle reminder.  Things have gone pretty poorly over the past 5, 10 years.  Perhaps a different voice is in order?   If he worked at Goldman would they have put up with this much underperforming?  If it is insufficient for the private sector it should be for public employees too.

This is not important stuff though.  Folks continue to be without power a week after a snowstorm.  Unemployment still linger around 10%.  The Dow is shaky and uncertain with its uneasy eye keenly on Europe.  No matter, we have more pressing matters.


America continues to be deprived of NBA basketball.  Ben Stiller is a big movie star.  LSU/Alabama play for college football supremacy (ok, that is pretty good stuff.)  If you can't beat em join em.

Enjoy these music videos for your weekend.


It makes no sense that FM radio continues to assault us with the rock and roll canon.  We need not hear Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" or Stones' "Start me Up" ever again.  These days if you really want to heat those tracks you are but a mouse-click away.  The Gods of the 70s and 80s were all pretty prolific.  Dig a little deeper and give us something we haven't heard in a while.  Not like anyone's really listening anyway.


The Rolling Stones:

"Moonlight Mile" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5QwJDlImV0  Disregard the Kiera Knightley.

"Torn and Frayed" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBaY-82Qch8  Here from their 2002 tour.  Will take any and all arguments NOT suggesting Exile in Main Street is not their best work.

"You Got the Silver" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iThRbr8dtVs  Keith live and being funny.  There is no one cooler.  There will never be another like him.  Oh, and Ronnie Wood is beyond underrated.  Sure, Mick Taylor was their most gifted guitarist (which drove Keith crazy!!)  Wood can play a little...  and it shows here.

"Dead Flowers" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osoeMtSbxtU  Here from a 1971 live show.  Very new to them.

Led Zeppelin:

"Gallows Pole" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kBX0K9nxPc&feature=fvst  Do not, I repeat do not, take acid and listen to this song over and over!!!

"Down by the Seaside"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zuKklBRlzY

"Bron-y-aur Stomp" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbQ0Cb6h3Ew

"In the Light" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbQ0Cb6h3Ew   Clearly Physical Graffiti and III are a force to be reckoned with.  Plenty to choose other than "Stairway", "D'yer Maker" or "Immigrant Song."  Ugh, ugh and more freaking ugh.


Fleetwood Mac:

"That's All for Everyone"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pZipYTm_9o  Tusk will forever be under Rumours shadow.  But there are moments of true beauty in their "disappointing" follow up album.  How dare they only sell 2 million copies???  It was, at the time, the most expensive album ever made.  Perhaps that was its undoing.  Strip away all the hype and reputation that preceeded the band and uncover Lindsay Buckingham at his best.  The broads are pretty good too.

"Walk a Thin Line" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9_JLOjy_7M

"Honey, Honey Hi" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uaTarTBuys  Christine McVie is really something special.  A proper Englishwoman who happens to be a stone cold killer.  Helen Mirren with gift of song.

"Beautiful Child" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOV1YVtnEW4  Why this was not as big as "Landslide" escapes me.  In fact, to hell with "Landslide"!!!  Oops, did all the women stop reading?  For the record, check your pulse if you can get through this live version without goosebumps.

That's it for now...  could do this all day.  But it's trick or treat time soon!!! (Halloween was postponed in several NJ towns due to power.  It will be observed 11.4)

Go get yours!  Enjoy the Weekend.










Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Talking Points and Listening Suggestions

The Chatham, NJ public school system will not open this week.  There are still thousands of folks (all around the East Coast) without electricity after Saturday's record setting storm.

The wet leaves mixes with a heavy snow downed countless trees and caused severe damage.

But shouldn't we have the capability to correct these issues sooner?  Is this a small scale Katrina?  That is, does it further illustrate how America (in every part of this country) is unable to handle/maintain crisis?

Texas had wildfires that spread and remained untouched for several months this summer.  Could a better effort been made?  Did they have to do as much destruction?  Hmm

It was determined that JCP& L visited Madison, NJ about 36 hours after the blackout occurred this weekend.  Surely they could have someone assess the situation sooner, no?

If 1955 Madison had 6 inches of snow in October would it have caused such a calamity?  Would it have accepted JCP&L's erratic and unfathomable excuse.  They needed a rep from the non-operational train system to hold a flag before work could commence.  Of course they did.

The scorecard seems to suggest we are failing not only in the large scale banking world (see: sub-prime mortgages, Madoff, etc.) but on Main St too.

Volunteer fireman are relieved of their duties and fires tend to spread, stay active.

We put less emphasis on trades and services and soon utility companies are undermanned/underperforming.

We overestimate the value of a college education and we produce countless practically useless Psych and Communications majors.  Worse, they graduate in a mountain of debt they may never get out of because Abercrombie and Fitch does not pay well.  Luckily their folks don't charge rent.

There is a movement out there.  It is strong enough to stop Bank of America from fleecing you.  It is resilient enough to Occupy Wall Street and raise its voice.

Problem might be it does not know what is it fighting for?  Or with whom?



In the Meantime there are plenty of musical distractions for you these days.

Tori Amos and Florence and the Machine both put out new records.  It is easy to link these two flame-haired songstresses together.  Their hair color is but one of their similarities.  They both happen to rock too.

Florence and The Machine "What the Water Gave Me"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am6rArVPip8"

No upcoming dates but plenty of info here: http://www.florenceandthemachine.net/index

Tori Amos "Carry" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gzKwOcCOYA
"Job's Coffin" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y_AiD6K2zA   A collaboration with her 11 year old daughter  Natashya Lorien Hawley .  What a freaking voice on this kid!!!  


Ms Amos will perform locally next month.  For those dates and more: http://www.toriamos.com/


Canadian singer Feist has a new record too.  Tough to follow the SMASH "1,2,3,4" and its amazing video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABYnqp-bxvg


You could do worse though...
"How Come You Never" here from David Letterman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw10KHJlx_Y&feature=related

She will appear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music 11.2

Keeping with the ladies please take a look at Louisiana's Givers.  It's a collaboration for sure, but Tiffany Lamson stands out.

"Meantime" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqsV0l5xtiA&ob=av2e  Infectious jamming with a nod to Dave Matthews amongst others.  Givers play overseas for the winter but will sure to be back soon.  Take a listen!!!

LA's Dum Dum Girls have a nifty, 60s vibe to them.  There second album, Only in Dreams has created a good buzz.  With songs like "Bedroom Eyes" and "Coming Down" it is no wonder.  Girl Power!!!
"Bedroom Eyes" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBSs3-RfLKk
"Coming Down" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JjvOR-e4kw  Mazzy Star has to be a little mad.

For upcoming shows and more:  http://wearedumdumgirls.com/

Finally, a moment about Zooey Deschanel...  It is confirmed she and Death Cab for Cutie husband Ben Gibbard are officially separated.  This, to an alt hipster dufus, is FAR bigger news than Kim K and that tall guy who doesn't play for the Nets.  Now maybe she can go back to making bad sit coms and good music, like she does here with She and Him (the him being alt folk hero M. Ward.)

"In the Sun" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ3cTwI9bIw
"Theives" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeAgLIaHj0M&feature=relmfu
"Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkzRyHa9a6g&feature=relmfu
"The Fabric of My Life"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cayXJcf4LjY    That's right, this is the cotton commercial!!!

For more info on She and Him:  http://www.sheandhim.com/