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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.)  

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