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Friday, May 31, 2013

Best of May, 2013

The live shows have been few and far between this Spring for yours truly.  The few shows I have seen,  The Neighbourhood, Youngbood Hawke and last week The Hold Steady and Gaslight Anthem, entertained, but by no means overwhelmed.

Maybe I am too distracted?  The house ain't selling.  The cellar ain't staying dry.  The neighbors across the street are complete ass holes.

Maybe I am too tired.  Softball coaching, driving the Pulaski, walking blocks and blocks on the scorching streets of NYC to deliver a master key, waking up with the dog at 5am, Living. Freaking. Life.

It's a wonderful maze of heartache and joy married to periods of exhaustion, hysteria and sheer panic.  But in a good way.

The entertainment dollar, and more specifically the ability to break free for a few hours, then actually ENJOYING said time, is an elusive temptress.

Find the money to a night out?  Not overly difficult to attain.  Ok maybe a little.

Find the combination of 1) a thing you kinda want to see and 2) the want and availability of kinda doin it is as complex as the equation Matt Damon solved in Good Will Hunting.

That's a convoluted way to say it's been tough catching live shows lately.  And the past few have not had my full attention, for a shit ton of reasons.  

Lucky for me I am in the car often.  Luckier still I subscribe to SiriusXM and Spotify.  This is by no means an ad.  Pandora, ITunes,  and anything but terrestrial radio provide today's listener to an inordinate amount of music, both old and new.  I was in a rental car a few weeks back and came upon the NYC FM stations for an hour or so.  I couldn't help it.  I was trapped!  WHO CAN STAND IT??  Morning zoo's are still around.  The obnoxious car pitchmen who speak rapidly and insult your intelligence are still around.  Then, after all that, they play JLo and T Swift for hours on end.

Trust me, there is plenty of good stuff out there.  And you should be listening to it.  A healthy crop of new material from new bands, like Smith Westerns, and established acts such as The National, has made the first half of 2013 most pleasant to listen to.  We do it every month, and we dare you to say these tracks don't rock and/or roll.  Or beep and boop.  Or get all sappy on your shit.  Or gasp, make you think.  Take 15 minutes, click on a link or two, and remember life isn't all commercially interrupted nonsense meant to play in the background.   Find your outlet.  Then barge right in.

Kurt Vile "Never Run Away"  This is a guy every good indie, hipster blogger worships to.  This blogger has heard the name for several years and with great regularity confused him with The War on Drugs.  DJ's call him influential.  Other musicians speak fondly of him.  But damn it this blogger could tell you nothing of the man, and most certainly his music.  This track I know.  This track I love.  It appears on his recently released LP Wakin on a Pretty Daze.  Vile is soft on guitar and subtle with vocals.  Let's put it this way, I want to know more about this Vile character.  What kind of indie, hipster am I?  

Deerhunter "Back to the Middle"   Bradford Cox and his band of misfits I do know.  For one, he created one my my all time favorite songs.  Secondly, he played "My Sharona" for over an hour to silence a heckler.  That kind of commitment and jaded humor will get you everywhere says me.  His new record, Monomania, came out 5.7.  Good old fashioned, 70s inspired rock and roll.  Not the Zeppelin kind you might be looking for.  But we all like The Cars and Tom Petty too, right?

Phoenix "Trying To Be Cool"  On paper I should hate this song.  The French band annoys me cause they are French.  The singer is married to Sofia Coppola, who may be Hollywood's most overrated filmmaker.  ScarJo's ass aside, Lost in Translation was a colossal bore.  And don't get me started on The Virgin Suicides.  SNORE!!!!  But my daddy didn't make The Godfather 2 so I will just sit here and write the blues.  Oh, and reluctantly say these frogs are pretty good and this song is darn catchy.

Smith Westerns "Varsity"  Great harmonies, deft arrangement, and just a really fun vibe is laid out here.  Somehow I think Zach Braff would use this song if he filmed a surf movie with Greta Gerwig as an gal who just can't catch a wave, I mean break.

Vampire Weekend "Ya Hey"  Hardly seems right putting these guys in the mix.  They do have the #1 record in America.  They have a PR department that never sleeps.  Hell, they all have Ivy League educations.  They are gleefully uncool, yet massive stars who continue to put out signature hooks and whimsical lyrics.  It's in the bloodstream now, and there was nothing we can do.

Red Hands "Walk Off the Earth"  This track follows the Indie adult alt/pop blueprint circa Foster the People on.  You got your percussion.  You got your guy and girl singer.  Harmonies and tribal beats overwhelm the senses.  Let's not forget this band had the viral cover of Gotye.  Annoying and douchey (but clever.)  And when I hear "walk off the Earth" I am reminded of Sharri Shepherd's refusal to accept basic science.  You don't know the world is flat??  And you collect a paycheck to talk about things?  Good grief.  This song will have you tapping your feet though.  And isn't that what it's all about?

Small Black "No Stranger"  And now for the 80s synth part of the program.  This act has Pet Shop Boys DNA I tell ya.  Maybe a little OMD too.   Don't act like you don't know, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark!  What?  Was my school the only one that changed the lyrics of "If You Leave" to serenade the graduating class?  And am I the only one who failed chorus?  Small Black is a Brooklyn act.    If you have to label it the blogosphere calls it "chillwave."  Frankie says whatever.

The National "Demons"  Giving these guys space in an alt column is as useless as praising Vampire Weekend.  Wait, that has been done here too.  Drinking the Kool-Aid they call it.  But what a tasty blend it is.  Deep and dour yet hopeful and inspirational.   Is Small Black is Brooklyn "chill wave" The National are Brooklyn royalty.  Their triumphant return is this Wednesday at the House Jay Z built (Barclay's fool!)  They are promoting their outstanding LP Trouble Will Find Me.  Quite possibly the best band you never heard of.  Do something about that please.

Beach Fossils "Clash The Truth"  Essentially Beach Fossils is NYC multi instrumentalist Dustin Payseur's brain child and baby.  Guitars, hooks, synths are all here, front and center.  Judd Nelson might like this playing when he tears signs off the walls of school halls.

Frightened Rabbit "Woodpile"  Before I knew anything about these guys I heard this song and thought "Hey, Snow Patrol have a new song?"  Then I found out they were from Scotland and probably were spoon fed Gary Lightbody and his power ballads.  Sean Connery's accent has nothing on this guy and it works so well.  I have heard far worse influenced by total lame o's.  I am talking to you Olly Murs!!

Have a great month all and enjoy the summer!!

Keep cool, be safe and tell all your friends about this silly little blog you can't get enough of.

(I mean this one)

Asbury Park, 5.23.13  Restore the Shore!!

It was far from an ideal night for a concert.  Cold and 50 degrees with a steady rain is NOT Memorial Day weather and it kinda sucked.  We left before Gaslight Anthem.  Sucked.  And for the record there is never a need to see a show here again.  Save the money, stay on the boardwalk and watch from there.  The sound was super loud too!!  I Know, I know if it's too loud, you're too old.  Not so, there is loud good and loud bad.  This is loud bad, trust me.

The Hold Steady, Stone Pony

Embarrassed this was my first visit to the historic Stone Pony (albeit never inside the doors.)  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Youngblood Hawke, Santos Party House 5.13.13

The Strobe @ Santos Party House
As a father of an active 10 year old let me state the obvious, it can difficult to get a night out.  Without family nearby we often employ "sitters" to watch her for a few hours.  As a parent of a higher maintenance, 18 month old Whippet, the "sitter" often spends more time with him, than my child.  It is a juggling act to get coverage on a Friday or Saturday night.  Weeknights are an ever greater challenge.  We are fortunate to have good friends and neighbors who let us act like children more often than your average suburbanite.  There are folks in town who NEVER get to NYC for a night out.  Why on Earth would you live in the footsteps of America's greatest city if you refuse to enjoy its cultural, intellectual and spiritual rewards?  That's a different story.  Point is, it can be a challenge living here.  Even the "fun" times are burdensome.  For instance, when you add the babysitting costs to dinner, tolls, parking, and concert tickets a night out costs some serious coin.  That is all a very complicated way of saying you tend to have high expectations when you step out on the town.

A few Mondays I drove into NYC for work, back out to make school pick up, feed dinner, set up for practice, meet up with partners in crime, then back into NYC, meet with other partners...  then away we go.  No violin necessary, but the whole thing can be a bit taxing for someone at my advanced age.  Your damn right it's easier to couch and watch bad tv until you fall asleep around 9.   Sometimes that is a lot more satisfying believe me.  Which brought us to Santos Party House in Lower Manhattan.

Or, likely, will never get us back to Santos Party House.

It started with a phone call earlier in the day to the venue itself.  "What time will Youngblood Hawke come on?" I asked.

"Um, 9pm they are on." the daffy teenage girl informed me.

Seemed about right.  The doors opened at 7:30.  Figure an opening act could play a half hour set at 8 and YBH would be up and running on schedule.

We rolled back into town around 7 which gave us a nice 2 hours to otherwise have a drink and attempt to be merry.  Santos Party House is in an awful part of town.  It is a few blocks north of City Hall.  After 5pm the place is deserted.  Law and Order MUST film all their crime scenes here.  It is a mix of scaffold, trash, closed storefronts and empty promises.  1970s Times Square is embarrassed of this place.

Dinner ended up several blocks away near Bowery, Mercury Lounge, Little Italy.  Right, why not just go a show up there then?

Brinkley's Pub hosted our dinner the week before when we saw The Neighbourhood @ Bowery.  They have an impressive beer list with several local offerings on draft.  After two visits though it is hard to imagine ever eating there again.  The first time there was a tragic mis-order that involved a burger that tasted nothing like beef.  Worse, the texture totally fooled me.  Imagine taking a sip of what you believe to be iced cold lemonade and getting a thick, chocolate milkshake.

830 or so we were in line to get into Santos.  The place is small.  Capacity is 570, so they say.  They allow about 4 or 5 people in at a time.  But wait, you show ID outside, then go in to scan ticket, then wait back in line to get stamped and allowed in by another bouncer.  Some of this process can, and should be done outside.  After all the inside lobby is smaller than most studio apartments closets.  It was one of those weird, windy May evenings too.  Maybe it was 50 degrees once the sun went down.  The ladies had coats.  We were directed to a downstairs area that promised restrooms and coat check.

There were restrooms.  Coat check did not exist.

OK, maybe we will just get one drink and calm down a bit from the added frustrations.  Santos has two bars on opposite sides of the adorable little dance floor and tiny stage.  The beer choices are limited and the liquor even more odd.  No drinks for us!  Only Dos Equus on their 8 taps!!???  Odd choice to say the least.

Fine, it's 8:59.  The music will be on soon.

And it was!  But it wasn't Youngblood Hawke.

Some nice kids called The Colourist came on stage.  They did fine and had a girl drummer who was spunky, talented and easy to watch.  Drummers who sing continue to amaze and impress me.  The sound and feel for the club were ok during their set.  There were moments I felt the place could be special.

Then, at 10pm, and jam freaking packed, Youngblood Hawke came to stage.  With coats in hand
we all felt the temperature rise.  We may have already been too hot (under the collar.)  A few happy, feel good songs later, including the sugary sweet "Stars, the couch came calling.  Sometimes you have to cut your losses.

We never made it to "We Come Running," the massive hit that put these guys on the map.  Maybe it's too much girl and guy singer- Grouplove, Givers, Naked and The Famous come to mind.  Maybe it's too many drums on stage- Foster the People, White Rabbits, Gotye for example.

I love the 80s, believe me.  I also believe bucking trends, showing originality, standing apart...

It all felt too familiar, except in a dumpy part of town in a club we weren't really digging.

Mondays can be bad, but we don't need to pile on.

When we left the venue for some fresh air we were greeted with this scene.
Seemed fitting.  I see toy dogs smaller than these things.  Rats I tell ya!  We will get em next time.

NY clubs you should know says NYU Local. Amazingly Andrew WK's Santos Party House is on it. Apparently I am too old

The Colourist

Youngblood Hawke, 5.13.13

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Left Wing Conservative - Disaster Relief

The recent, heartbreaking destruction from the tornado in Oklahoma once again has disaster relief on the front pages.

As a citizen of New Jersey, I continue to be grateful for the support we received from all over the country after Hurricane Sandy. And, while admittedly not his biggest fan, I gave Governor Christie props for putting New Jersey first and partisan politics and his national political ambitions aside in criticising his fellow Republicans in Congress for delaying, and in some instances, voting against, Hurricane Sandy relief.

One of the most vocal opponents of Hurricane Sandy relief was Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who voted against the bill, calling it "loaded with pork".

Now, he sees the request for relief for Oklahoma as "totally different". Do tell.

As a citizen of New Jersey, I am fortunate to live in, like California and New York, an affluent state. However, by most estimates New Jersey also has the worst return on investment on tax dollars (about 62 cents on the dollar) sent to the Feds v. Federal largess returned to New Jersey.

And I note that Oklahoma gets upwards of $1.36 back to their state for every federal tax dollar they pay.

From a purely moral standpoint, if someone is in need, and we have the ability to help, then we have a duty to help.

However, from a political standpoint, I more and more question whether federally centralized taxing and spending is the right approach.

More to come on this topic soon. Look for my upcoming post "Against Big Government"...

New York Daily News Article on Imhofe

Info from Tax Foundation on States "Return on Investment" on federal taxes 1981-2005

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Songs from the Background: "The Girl From Ipanema"

“What stands fast does so, not because it is intrinsically obvious or convincing; it is rather held fast by what lies around it.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty    

It is common now to refer to music mawkishly as the "Soundtrack of our Lives".  I think this phrase was invented by K-Tel Records. Or maybe the producers of Jersey Boys. I'm not sure.

Psychologists tell us about "Flashbulb Memory", or how we will recall a detailed picture decades later, if it has been associated with a dramatic event. For Baby Boomers, it was "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?"  For us Gen Xers', substitute "Reagan" for "Kennedy". For all of us, its "Where were you when the second plane hit?"

Songs in a movie soundtrack, therefore, can take on a new life forever associated with a certain powerful dramatic scene. For example, the 1972 hit by Stealer's Wheel Stuck In the Middle With You is no longer a folk/country rock easy listenin' song about the absurdity surrounding music stardom, but a chillingly absurd torture theme:

Stealers Wheel "Stuck in The Middle With You"

And a dreamy New Wave synth-pop tune like Q Lazzarus's"Goodbye Horses" , rather than being a trip down memory lane about love gained and lost on a 1980's dance floor, is forever associated with this hauntingly surreal dance partner:

"Wasn't she a great, big fat person?"

.....which in turn inspired this even more disturbing kabuki performance:

Jay and Silent Bob take on Buffalo Bill

Dramatic examples of songs pushed to the foreground and typecast forever, to be sure. But what about songs that time after time, movie after movie, and performer after performer, are able to always remain in the background?

The greatest of all of these songs from the background is The Girl From Ipanema.

The Girl From Ipanema is one of those songs used to specifically set a tone to evoke emotion or some of the certain time or certain. As a song from the background we don't often take the time to actually listen to it, as we are instantly carried away by what the song suggests, and where the filmmaker or television director wants to take us.

The Girl from Ipanema suggests pre-flower power 1960s. Coco beach, Mercury astronauts, white eye shadow and lipstick, and flip hairdos. The Pill and sex, but before hippies and protests.  Cocktails like an Old-Fashioned,  a Brandy Alexander , a Cuba Libre', or a piña colada served in a coconut.

The song is reputed to be only exceeded by The Beatles "Yesterday" as the most covered song of all time.

A huge, Grammy winning hit  in 1965, Here is the original version, sung by Astrud Gilberto - You will recognize it as soon as you hear it:

Original Girl from Ipanema

Gilberto, untrained as a singer at the time, has an unmannered delivery that evokes an ethereal, dispassionate observer of a young girl's inadvertent power over a man lingering in a Rio de Janero sidewalk café.

Another take on the song from Old Blue Eyes:

Sinatra sings Girl from Ipanema

Here, Sinatra's signature voice is only half of the strength of this version - the other is how Sinatra uses his own well known persona as a jaded roué to take on the perspective of the man in the café. You can hear and feel how the young girl's beauty "passing by" suggests his own life passing by with her now unreachable image.

Finally, an arresting and provocative interpretation from Amy Winehouse:

We miss you Amy

Winehouse takes the role of the girl watcher as well, but not in an imitation of Sinatra, or as sexually interested observer. Rather, Winehouse, with her trademark acerbic wit and with full confidence in her own iconic, genre-crossing talent, winks at us about the song's cultural position as a timeless background tune. She is fully aware of the song being a pop-culture artifact, and ironically plays with it accordingly.

Curiously, I could not find many examples from the movies online, but this use of The Girl From Ipanema's in the background of cinema is a sharp commentary on its ubiquity:

We Miss you too Mr Belushi

So what keeps a song timelessly in The Background? Is it the tune? The melody? Is it the moment in time the original song captures?

Is it the way, like a beach ball, we pass it lightly from genre to genre, never letting it land and stick?

Do we all secretly conspire to keep it alive?

Tell me your favorite Song From The Background.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Left-Wing Conservative: Marriage Equality in New Jersey

There is still no marriage equality in New Jersey. It lost by one vote - Governor Christie.

I wrote him a letter about it, and received his reply, reproduced verbatim below.

Office of the Governor

Office of Constituent Relations

Post Office Box 001

Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0001


March 29, 2012

Mr. David M. Snyder

Kendall Park, New Jersey

Dear Mr. Snyder:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for Senate Bill No. 1 and
Assembly Bill No. 1, both of which would establish the "Marriage Equality
and Religious Exemption Act."  I appreciate hearing your views on this

As you may know, I conditionally vetoed this legislation.  While I believe
the wisdom of same-sex marriage can be debated, it is beyond dispute that
such a step represents a profoundly significant change.  The framers of our
State Constitution created the referendum process as the sole mechanism by
which the Constitution can be amended to consider precisely these important
issues.  I have repeatedly encouraged and continue to ask that our State
Legislature trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing
our citizens to vote on the question of same-sex marriage.  I believe this
is best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our state.  An
issue as important as this should be left for the people of our state to
decide, not 120 legislators in Trenton.  Moreover, public polling has shown
that the majority of voters in our state support same sex marriage.  I want
to leave it to the people of our state to decide, and will be guided by
their will.

Some have said that the impetus for same sex marriage is that regulations
related to our state's civil union statutes are somehow flawed or not being
enforced.  This is a charge I take very seriously.  Same-sex couples in a
civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married
couples - as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits.
Discrimination should not be tolerated and any complaint alleging a
violation of a citizen's right should be investigated and, if appropriate,
remedied. That's why I have called upon the Assembly and Senate to revise
this legislation to immediately create an Ombudsman for Civil Unions in the
Department of Law and Public Safety. The Ombudsman will work with the
Attorney General and would be charged with increasing awareness of the law
regarding civil unions and will provide a clear point of contact for anyone
who feels that the law is not being followed or that they are not being
afforded the protections and rights to which they are entitled.  In this
way, we can ensure equal treatment under the law.

While I understand that we may not agree on this issue, I hope this
information clarifies your concerns about this matter.  Thank you again for
writing and best wishes.


Chris Christie


Monday, May 6, 2013

The Neighbourhood, Bowery Ballroom 4.29.13

First the good news, and there is plenty.  California indie rockers The Neighbourhood have released a rather solid debut record (released 4.23), I Love You.  From it, we have been fortunate enough to learn/devour/enjoy some exciting new songs; namely the comely and sedutive "Sweater Weather" and pulsating/spooky "Female Robbery".  The band, Jesse Rutherford (vocals), Jeremy Freedman and Zach Abels (guitar), Mikey Margot (bass), and Bryan Sammis (drums) have youth on their side.  As I struggle to get out of bed these days it is easy to lavish praise on kids.  And these guys are kids!  For that reason it is easy to give them a pass when it comes to identity, stage presence and overall live presentation.

With that in mind their sold out performance at Bowery Ballroom 4.29.13 must be graded as an incomplete.  Some more positives if you will allow.  For a Monday evening show the place was jammed and most of the crowd was energetic, engaged and polite those in attendance old enough to be their parents.  It must be noted that my ever growing sample size indicates concert crowds under the age of 30 are far more behaved than thirty somethings and beyond.  Also, although it can adversely effect your morning routine for days to follow, seeing a concert early in the week can be rewarding in a few ways.  That is, if you head to a concert on Monday you are making a firm commitment.  So are the rest of those in attendance.  These folks really want to see the band on stage.  Worst case they are eager to see a live act and jump on the bandwagon.  My posse qualified for the latter.  

Go to Terminal 5, or even my beloved Webster Hall, on a Thursday or Friday and the crowd is vastly different.  Some are out for a good time.  Some are out to get drunk.  Some are there for the band.  The chatter intensifies among the concert goers as the night moves on.  Not to mention those evenings might find the band hitting the stage after (gasp!) 11pm.  That kind of night screws up your morning routine for weeks!

Anyway, the kids on stage and the kids in the crowd were clearly having fun.  For my money, the hour long set was entertaining, but not captivating.  Rutherford seems to be trying 1) to establish himself as a large than life lead singer in every sense of the phrase while 2) still trying to figure out who exactly he is?  

Is he a tough, leather jacket-wearing rap/singer jumping on stacks and leading the crowd in a sing along?

Or maybe the soft spoken, misunderstood romantic you might see in an Abercrombie ad or Twilight film?

He works real hard, maybe too hard.  His voice is strong and his hit singles were all played to perfection.  Many times a new band will try desperately to "re-work" their notable songs in an effort to show their versatility.  When you roll into a town the first couple times you are better server playing them as we all know, and love them.  The Neighbourhood did exactly that and both "Female Robbery" and "Sweater Weather" were high points.  

It was during the quieter times that Rutherford and his mates became more worrisome.  Some songs were similar sounding.  It was not bad, just similar.  

More troubling was Rutherford's styling as opposed to the rest of his crew.  Sure they all wore the same crew cuts, but that is where the similarity ended.  Rutherford was in all white, covered in ink, with sharpie written messages sprawled on his ripped white jeans.  His bandmates wore things like Anaheim Mighty Ducks t's, wife beaters, blazers and scoop necks.  All.  Over.  The Map.

While that might not seem like much, trust me, it is.  Because during those "off" moments when the song performed does not captivate your eyes start roaming.  They notice a disconnect.  They start wondering about cohesion.  Then you start listening to the song again and think "maybe this isn't sounding quite right cause they are not ALL feeling it."  "Perhaps the lead singer is wielding too much influence and turning the others off?"  

Listen, if your mind starts playing tricks like that then something is amiss.  

But, as mentioned earlier, these guys are young.  They roll through NYC in June for stops at Bowery again and Music Hall of Williamsburg (tix here).  Maybe this added time on the road will seem them mesh even stronger.  Maturity is a wonderful necessity.  Marrying maturity with the inherent adolescence rock and roll demands is a tall task.  

Time will tell if The Neigbourhood remains up to it.

The Neighborhood, 4.29.13

The Question Mark:  Is Jesse Rutherford on an island?

Or a man committed to the "band" The Neighbourhood?

Best of April, 2013


Please excuse the tardiness.  Tis true, the calendar does indeed say May, 2013.  That said, this new crop of tracks should more than make up for the delay and provide plenty of happiness as the summer approaches.  Add these tracks to the already impressive March, February, and January lists, press play and enjoy.   The list can be found here on Spotify too.

Wild Belle "Keep You"  Chicago born siblings Eliot and Natalie Bergman released their debut record, Isles, in March.  That, and this single, which has a little ska/reggae feel to it, is about all the information you need to know for now.  The jury is most certainly out on the long term staying power of this act.  What is certain is this song is pretty darn cool.

Caycucas "Cayucos"  Seeing double?  It's like Bad Company singing "Bad Company."  The band, another sibling act, this time twins Zach and Ben Yudin, are from Santa Monica, CA.  The sound, is all about the left coast.  Their debut LP, Bigfoot, was released LP.  There are hints of Beck as well as newer surf/mood rock alt favorites Local Natives, Grizzly Bear and Beach Fossils, to name a few.  

Savages "She Will"  All female, British post-punk rockers who have gathered quite a bit of buzz during the early part of 2013.  Their debut record, Silence Yourself, comes out tomorrow, 5.7.13.  This single owes a lot to early the Edge and early U2 and even more to Patti Smith and the NYC punk scene of the late 70s.  No video for this song yet but you can see them perform "Husbands" from the Jools Holland show here.  One, super hot seeing chicks rock out.  Two, why on Earth does the US not have a show like Jools Holland live?

Foxygen "No Destruction"  This is the second track from these flaky, psychedelic newcomers.  Last we heard from duo Jonathan Rado and Sam France they were shouting at concert goers at SXSW in Austin and canceling their European tour "for the creative health of the band."  Sometimes too much attention, too soon, can be a very bad thing.  The fact is their LP, the pretentiously titled We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, is a must have.  This track would fit neatly into an early Bob Dylan record and features the best lyric of 2013:  You Don't Have to Be an Asshole/You're Not in Brooklyn Anymore.

Biffy Clyro "Black Chandelier"  This is a confusing one.  The Scottish act released their 6th(! who new??!!) record, Opposites, earlier this year.   This single plays like a Incubus, or Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, or other 90s alt rockers of that ilk, track.  At first you want to dismiss the holy hell out of it.  Then you see the video and the images/styling are not AT ALL what you expected the band to look like.  So. Freaking. Weird.  But for some reason you start humming the damn thing when you least expect it.  Then you look forward to hearing it on the radio.  It wears you down damn it.  That is a recipe for success, right?

Wavves "Demon to Lean On"  More post-punk.  More music played by children for adults.  More left coast rock and roll.  Another group who released a record earlier this year, Afraid of Heights (March.) For those who like Everclear, or Local H, or maybe even Green Day (except Nathan Williams voice won't make you puke.)

Orwells "In My Bed"  Ok, this song is a few years old.  But most of you haven't heard it before.  And wait for this...  these kids graduated high school a few years ago.  They make Wavves (who were born in 1986) seem downright geriatric.  Illinois kids with a few chords and plenty of bang for your buck.  They too would fit into the post-punk theme this column has taken on.  Fun fact, the lead singers name is Mario Cuomo.  Another fun fact:  it is super queer to write or say fun fact.

Gospels "Animal Feelings"  A little bit of Band of Horses, a little bit of Portugal, the Man, a little bit of that same neo-surf that has taken over the alt landscape.  Here is the real surprise- these guys are from a borough in NYC and it ain't Brooklyn!!  Forest Hills, Queens thank you very much.  They are releasing a debut EP this spring that shares its name with this easy going and feel good single.

Waxahatchee "Peace and Quiet"  Holy cow does this sound like a Liz Phair song.  90s angst as sung and performed by Philly girl (by way of Alabama) Katie Crutchfield.  You should know she too has a twin who she once performed with.  That makes 3 acts on this list with siblings (2 of which are twins.)  She split from her sister to focus on a solo career.  From that we have this no frills, alt country Cat Power meets Beth Orton meets Suzanne Vega meets, ok, you get it.  How many alt songstresses can you name of the top of your head?

New Politics "Harlem"  Straight forward dance rock.  Punk meets pop that brings to mind The Offspring and more recently Neon Trees.  Not much to say other than turn it up and have some fun.

Serena Ryder "Stompa"  It's fun to pick tracks that totally unnerve my better half.  Typically those songs appear on the Sirius XM station "The Spectrum."  That channel plays to my more sensitive tendencies.  Adult contemporary and all the soft things in between make up their programming palette.  Adele and Paul McCartney are staples.  So too are any songs by woman who play guitar and repeat the same lyric over and over again.  Ryder hails from Toronto and fits this mold perfectly.  She won a Juno award (like Arcade Fire!!) for her work up North.  I could have chosen ZZ Ward's "Put the Gun Down" Emeli Sande's "Next to Me", or worst of all, Vicci Martinez's "Come Along."  Much to her chagrin Ms Ryder gets this column's approval.  Does it get yours?

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