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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September, 2014

News flash:  I enjoy agitating.   Everyone has opinions, and, for the most part, I like hearing all of them.  Social media is great for that.  In a given morning you can find yourself questioning the merits of Derek Jeter's legacy to how the NFL has reacted to its domestic violence problem.   Comments sections are the equivalent of a grade school playground.  Except EVERYONE has a voice.  Ray Rice leads to a bigger conversation about abuse.  Soon Hope Solo (and her ongoing domestic abuse charge) is involved and Emma Watson is being declared a feminist after delivering a heartfelt speech at the UN General Assembly.  They are all, in their way, meaningful dialogues that speak to our evolution in the digital age.  Online discussions leads to hundreds of thousands of people marching down 6th Ave protesting climate change.  The next day, countless pundits and nay sayers bemoan the fact that they protested at all.  After all, there isn't a climate change issue they argue.

What is that phrase about opinions?  We all got em.

And it is a wonderful thing.

For too long lately this freedom has taken a dark turn.   And it speaks to a bigger problem.

For instance, it is bad enough that major news outlets broadcast beheadings and/or the still shots of terror.    Do we have to add to it by re-posting the images?  Worse, do we have to make these acts of horror serve as your personal treatise on why Obama sucks?  Our freedoms are bigger than one man.  And last I checked we had enemies before he took office (and will have them long after he dies.)

I do not want to engage talks about "How gluten is going to save the World."  Or the "fact" that breast fed children are superior."   Keep that shit to yourself.  Same with the game requests while you are at it!

We can all have our core values and system of beliefs.  But, it is important that we don't force others to listen and/or follow them.

Since early September this site has posted a song of the day.  Why?  Because it is about time we focus on more fun, and less nonsense.  If the last 10-15 years have taught us anything it is disagreeing is our new National pastime.

So please tune in daily and take a break from the clutter that has pervaded the web.

If we are going to agitate, let's keep it light.  I am thinking "Most underrated film of the 80s"  "Best band since Cobain's death."  "Top 5 TV shows in the past 5 years."  "Best quarterback of the 90s."

I want to hear from you all.  We have the power to change the discourse.  Baby steps, ya know.

Let's start with what should be on your new friggin IPhone.  I mean really, who are these people that wait in line???
Zola Jesus

Avett Brothers full set at Lollapalozza featuring "Satan Pulls the String" opener

One of those bands, I think, you either dig or can do without.  This author kinda gets it.  North Carolina brothers Scott and Seth Avett are country boys.  Lots of you might believe the banjo thing is played out.  Many more disregard the instrument altogether.   What then must you think of the cello that is integral to the band's sound??  My sister and I were compelled enough to see them at Bethlehem's SteelStacks during Muskifest.  I have also appreciated many of their album cuts, mainly "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" and "Another is Waiting".  Both, incidentally, are amazing and inventive music videos.  You have heard them on soundtracks too, like "You and I" (live recording from Musicfest) which appears on the This is 40 soundtrack.  I had heard of a loyal following and high energy live shows.  Those reports are accurate.  Scott and Seth carry a room with bold harmonies.  The opening track to the show was a new one they are working on, "Satan Pulls the Strings."  It builds with Joe Kwon's cello, a booming bass line and drums, and some hillbilly-esque violins.  When the brothers come in to fill the sound this song is a whole lotta fun.  Sometimes that can be a problem, because things started so well, I kept wanting to recapture that moment.  But these guys are country gentleman and they keep things slow through most of the show.  It's all good, as a southerner might say.  But it's ok if you like the harder stuff too.  I have linked their entire Lollapalooza set here because the song is so new this is the cleanest format found online.  It is sure to show up on their next LP.  In the meantime, catch them live if you get the chance and prepare to get loaded.  That buzz will get you through about 30 minutes of ballads.

EMA "Neuromancer"

Ever hear of "Industrial Folk."  Yeah, me neither.  Until now.  The artist formerly known as Erika M Anderson is EMA.  She sounds a bit like the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O (herself an artist with new music) but way more synth heavy.  I have no idea where I heard this.  I do, however, know why I noted it as something worth a listen.  It's striking.  It reminds me of Blade Runner.  Or maybe David Lynch.  Pitt could be looking for Patrow's head with this playing in the background.  Know what I mean?  It makes me think.  It challenges convention.  It taunts.  Hell, I am overstating it.  It's pretty damn cool- case closed.

Zola Jesus "Dangerous Days"

Russian-American, Wisconsin raised, opera trained Nika Roza Danilova is Zola Jesus.  First off, great name.  That training has served her well.  Her single, from her third LP, is a lesson in controlling and commanding a lead vocal.  She hits her low notes as well as the high ones.   Her work with M83 seems to have helped her a bit.  This record is a more composed and cohesive one.   Maturity is a wonderful thing.

Saint Pepsi "Fiona Coyne"

I want to hate this whole thing.  Saint Pepsi is annoying.  What exactly is the point?  Are you goofing on cola?  Ironic?  Either way we are still calling attention to a brand that is hardly in need of free advertising.  Am I supposed to think of you when I see Pepsi commercials?  Or will having a Pepsi inspire me to listen to your record?  It's just dumb.  Now, for the even worse news.  This song has hooked me.  Cheerily 80s inspired synth pop with a disco groove that stays with you long after the "record stops."  I don't know who Fiona Coyne is.  I refuse to learn more about the artists who wrote about her.  But I know a good song when I hear one.

Ariel Pink "Put Your Number on My Phone"

LA based Ariel Pink will release Pom Pom this year.  This single sounds a whole like his last record, with Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti.  That is a very good thing.  The 60s psych influence has remained the focal point.  It is less homage, than it is reimagining.    I know this page exists to promote the music, but if I am going to recommend a video this month- here it is.  Weird.  Weird.  Weird.  Take a look/listen and please report back.

TV On The Radio

TV On The Radio "Happy Idiot"

Brooklyn rockers 6th record, Seeds, will be out in November.  If the first few selections this month seem a bit, soft, this might be more your speed.  "Im gonna bang my head to the wall/til I feel like nothing at all" vocalist Tunde Adebimpe's way of coping with a toxic relationship.  There are worse things.  The band, like Zola Jesus, and many others who have been honing their craft for over a decade what is clearly the most difficult time to be a musician, have also crafted a more polished, mature sound.  The production is better too.  Like many of the other acts featured in this space, they are known to excel on the live stage.  Keep them on your radar and when they are close maybe we can all go???

Merchandise "Enemy"

The thing about this song is...  it reminds me of both a Widespread Panic song AND a Missing Persons song!  I mean, what????  Seriously, the Tampa trio has me all mixed up.  Their first full length record, After the End, has gotten a lotta buzz this summer and they are touring the country all fall.  Good luck finding out much about the band (due to their ubiquitous name.)  Is that the play now?  Come up with a common name so you can be a mystery???  Guys, you need to sell music and pack venues.  Publicity is a good thing.  So too, is this record.  Are these guys the Parquet Courts of 2014??  And who knew Tampa was more than a bad baseball stadium and worse football team??

Paolo Nutini "Scream (Funk My Life Up)"

OK, I have a confession to make.  For about 5-10 minutes each weekday NBC's The Today Show is on my television.  These kinds of things are cultural no?  Your family growing up is either ABC or NBC, no?  Is there anyone out there that watches the CBS Morning Show?  And no, Sunday morning does not count.  CBS Sunday Morning, on its best day OK, I have a confession to make.  For about 5-10 minutes each weekday NBC's The Today Show is on my television.  These kinds of things are cultural no?  Your family growing up is either ABC or NBC, no?  Is there anyone out there that watches the CBS Morning Show?  And no, Sunday morning does not count.  CBS Sunday Morning, on its best day, is arguably the best show on television.  It has to do with lead in too.  For a while I watched Fox early morning- until they brought in Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly.  The douche chills run pretty high with that tandem.  Anyway,  for years now the first words that greet me in the morning are those of NBC New York's Darlene Rodriguez and Michael Gargiulo.  Admittedly, I want to purge myself of this routine.  For a while I was watching the previous nights Daily Show or music videos.  Both seemed too juvenile for a man in his 40s.  While NBC's anchors are both true pros, and have a nice on air chemistry, their producers are sick ghouls who are intent on shitting on my morning.  Path is down.  It is gonna rain later.  The President is in town for the UN General Assembly.  We are bombing ISIS in Syria.  Bears are killing people in upstate NJ.  Kids are poking each other with hyper dermic needles in a Bronx school.  DeBlasio is dancing.  And that is just the first 3 minutes- gotta get to weather and traffic on the 4s.  OK, I am working through it.  Someday maybe I will have a coffee in my den and read the pink paper and make power moves.  Maybe even a workout prior to shower/train/work/save the World.  But for now I am in man child mode and unwilling to rid myself of these nasty habits.  A few weeks ago Matt Laurer and Co were on a bit longer one morning.  The Mrs and I played hooky and enjoyed coffee and minutia.  Somewhere near the 9 o clock hour Scottish crooner Paolo Nutini came on to promote his new record.   His "New Shoes" back in 2010 was one of the better songs that year.  Apparently he is back with a brooding, soul filled album that has dominated the European charts this year.  He played this track on the show and it was a better way to start my day.  If they could only do music each morning- say the 7am hour- we might have something.  If you like Hozier, Sam Smith, Ray LaMontagne and the like, give Mr Nutini a shot.  Then you can lecture me on how I am doing mornings wrong.

Thumpers "Unkinder (A Tougher Love)

London based pop duo Thumpers will not surprise you.  Think Walk the Moon, Friendly Fires, St Lucia, and other synth-tribal percussion acts when you give this track a listen.  Their first LP came out earlier in the year and I am not going to lie to you, I have not heard anything but this song.  Whatever, if this is all I ever know I can be completely satisfied.  You get what you get and you don't get upset.

The Antlers "Hotel"

Brooklyn's Peter Silberling is the creative force behind Antlers.  Chamber pop here folks- like Beirut, or last year's indie darlings (Brooklyn based) San Fermin.  Simply put, its alt like Grizzly Bear but they add brass.   Their 2014 record, Familiars, is the band's 4th full length record.    Lounge like grooves and a haunting bass line dominate this single.  Good to hear a long, soulful guitar solo too.  That just rarely happens these days.

Enjoy the tracks folks and take a look at these clips from some recent concerts GTS has seen:

Ty Segall Webster Hall.
Absolutely wild scene.  Segall is a force and his fans are a rowdy group willing to dive right in to the mix.  Totally different from his LPs.  Loud, bombastic and maybe lacking some of the quieter moments that make his albums more approachable.  Lots and lots of guitars, that, at times, can be repetitious.  A fun night for sure, but if you plan on seeing him, be warned!  It can be intense.

Eagles at Prudential Center, Newark
Yup, a big nostalgic arena show.  Joe Walsh was the highlight and Henley not far behind.  Frey is, and always will be, an egotistical dick.  But man, what a catalog?!  As much a night at the theatre than rock concert.  These guys are a machine.  No nonsense, by the books, corporate rock.  I have had worse times that is for sure.  But after that experience another show at Prudential (I am talking to you Fleetwood Mac) is very unlikely.

Bleachers covering The Cranberries "Dreams" at Webster Hall
Jack Antonoff has taken an extended break from Fun to record a great record and start dating Lena Dunham.  One out of two ain't bad.  A good show sure, but not Earth shattering.  Dunham looked down from the VIP section in approval as Antonoff recreated the album almost note for note.  This cover was a treat and highlight.  Now, might be time to get back with Nate Ruess and see if they can recapture some of that magic.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Best of August, 2014

So Long Summer 2014

Late last night our annual trip to the Low Country (Hilton Head Island, SC to be exact) came to an exhausting end.  14 hours in the car will test anybody I assure you.

But the batteries are charged.  Relaxation was achieved.  Alcohol was most certainly consumed.

Fall must bring some sort of cleanse.  I don't think I am much of a juice diet or fad diet guy.  My willpower is pretty non existent for that matter.

Nonetheless, this summer was a rather gluttonous one.  Autumn, my favorite season, provides an opportunity to make some changes.  Some say Spring is the season full of optimism.  I view fall as equally so.  We are sending our children back into classrooms- hopeful that they will achieve all we did not, or best case, find something they love.

College campuses hosted their first football games over the weekend.  For a moment each team thinks this is "their time."  The pros will kick off this weekend.  As I write this NY Jets fans still believe!  That is true optimism.

Here in the Northeast a chill will soon fill the air most evenings.  Leaves will become majestic displays of color.  

Somehow, deep within, we collectively find a way to prepare for winter, which can be bleak and uninspiring.

Here is hoping you and your family find peace and happiness as the summer fades into memory.

As we look ahead, allow me just a moment to reflect.

Let me preface by saying Hilton Head, and the rest my summer travels were amazing.   Seriously though, who cares?

It's more fun to discuss the minutia that most often invades my juvenile mind.

First, since when is this thing acceptable at the beach?  And yes, I understand folks are concerned about protecting themselves and their children from the suns harmful rays.  But damn!  These things are big!!  As someone who basks in the sunlight (due mostly to Italian/Mexican/Who knows what kind of lineage) any umbrella is obtrusive.  But I can live with the old school umbrellas.   For the most part they provide endless entertainment.  Often times helpless dad, or grandfather if you visit Hilton Head,  efforts like crazy to get the umbrella upright.  They dig, they screw, they sweat to get that post in.  Depending on the quality of umbrellas there are mixed results.  If a strong wind blows the umbrellas can go airborne.  Most commonly the umbrella will turn itself inside/out.  If you spend enough money and have used the proper labor, these things can withstand gale force winds.  But even then you never know- which makes it exciting.

The best part is a personal umbrella does not require an immense footprint.  OK, it's a public beach, I get it.  But there has to be a limit, no?

That is, at what point is enough enough?  What's next?  Pop up campers?  Trampolines?  Given the vast space our beaches offer, perhaps we can have allotted areas for these eye sores?  Lifeguards confine certain areas of the surf for safety reasons.  Why can't we do the same thing here?  Call it "Tent City" for beach goers.  I want to look at the Ocean- bad enough I am putting up with...
Too Big?  Too intrusive?
Which brings me to point # 2.  This ain't Europe.  Keep a damn bathing suit on your kids.   Allow me to name some places where your child's nudity is acceptable.  Your home.  Ok thanks.  Let's move on.

Speaking of kids, is it now the norm to put floaties on children's arm?  Is this quality parenting or lazy parenting?  I think you know my vote.  Get in the damn water with your kid and teach him/her to swim.  He/she looks like a friggin tool with those things anyway.  You know what cool looks like.  Walking into the ocean hand in hand with mom or dad, smiling ear to ear, and taking on a wave.

You listening parents?  Maybe not, cause you were staring at your smart phone and didn't even see your kid run off.  That might also explain why you set up you and your giant tent RIGHT next to my spot.  Did you notice all the room on this beach?  Nope.  I forgot, it's your World.  We are merely pawns.

By all means, enjoy your cigar, crank up your boom box, drink your wine from a thermos, and enjoy the day.  

With all that nonsense, we still did.  Life is too short to let your ignorance ruin a good time.  That does not mean we aren't watching (and keeping score.)

My girl and I had a 320 hit rally- can you beat that???

The Fall is also a great time for Entertainment.  The fall TV season kicks into full gear.  In these parts that means a steady dose of family viewing- Amazing Race, Survivor, and The Biggest Loser.  Yeah, I know, super queer.  It's cool, judge all you like.  God knows I do.

Movie studios will be rolling out all their Oscar fare in the coming weeks too.  For a look at what Fall film has to offer take a look at Stephen Whitty's column.   No one does it better.

And their is music, sweet music.  Alt J, Weezer, and Foxygen have new records due out soon.  The CMJ music fest will invade NYC Sept 17-20.  

As for this blog, we will continue to update all the best songs, artists and live acts we can get our ears/eyes on.  The upcoming schedule includes stops at Webster Hall (Bleachers/the aforementioned Foxygen/Ty Segall) and Asbury Lanes (Orwells/Skaters.)  We have been toying with getting our nostalgia on too (Eagles and Fleetwood Mac at Prudential Center.)

Get updates here: Guide to Somewhere and find me on Spotify to get the Best of 2014 (so far.)  The tracks below are the latest additions.  Enjoy!

Frankie Rose and Drew Citron are Beverly

Beverly "You Can't Get it Right"

This surf inspired track seems like either the best (or worst way) to begin the list.  Sure summer is over, but we can always think of it fondly.   Female duo led by Drew Citron and Frankie Rose are Brooklyn based.  Citron plays live for Rose and is here the ringleader.  This is a lo-fi romp with great melody and an infectious beat.

George Ezra "Budapest"

It is hard to keep track of all these Euros invading our airwaves and concert halls.  Without thinking too much I can think of Frank Turner, Sam Smith, King Krule, Vance Joy (ok, he's Australian, but that kinda counts), Ed Sheeran, Hozier (Irish), and the crooner du jour, George Ezra, to name a few.  Ezra is 21 and has all the poise and delivery of a man much, much older.  These kids are mature beyond their years.  Like the other names on this list there isn't much original to the presentation.  But  sometimes a simple song, delivered effortlessly, is all you need.  

Jeff Tweedy "Wait For Love"

Mr Tweedy knows a little something about making difficult things look easy.  His band Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one of American music's finest achievements of the past 25 years.   His influence on the alt country World can not be measured.    Here he leaves his bandmates and brings along his son for another clinic in writing, whistling, picking, and singing.

Foxygen "How Can You Really"

After a tumultuous but highly entertaining ride with their 2013 record, it was widely assumed Foxygen (Sam France and Jonathan Rado) would implode.  They scorned the press, sometimes showered their audience with irate rants, and essentially played the parts of tortured artists unable to translate their talents to the mainstream.  Turns out they have been off making another record (due 10.14.)  The first single is a bouncy, horn filled departure from the moody-psych sound of last record. France appears more like Chris Owens (late of Girls) then the hippie we last saw a few years back.  Has he changed?  Have they?  Stay tuned.

Clean Bandit "Rather Be"

English electro-pop, plain and simple.  Sometimes all you need is a good groove.  This song, a favorite of my 12 year old daughter, is the one summer song that required NO thinking but provided many smiles.   Apologies Iggy, Nicky, Taylor, Adriana, et al.

King Tuff "Eyes of the Muse"

Subpop recording artist King Tuff (nee Kyle Thomas) will release their 4th record Black Moon Spell on September 23rd.  The guitar on this first single has the easy going feel of 70s AM Gold.  After spending all day yesterday listening to the radio I was reminded how much I love that era.  Think Little River Band, Fleetwood Mac, America, Dan Fogelberg, Gerry Rafferty, and the like.  The vocals are decidedly 2014- but the overall vibe is reminiscent of earlier times, in a great way.

Bear in Heaven "Autumn"

Last year a friend dragged me to see Brit relics Wire at Bowery Ballroom.  The headliners did not impress.  Thankfully we were smart enough to get to the venue early to see the New York synth band Bear in Heaven.  With a dearth of Bear bands- Grizzly, Panda, Hands, et al, it is easy to overlook these kids.   Their sound is decidedly NOT suitable for radio play.  Their songs can be ambient and jazzy.   Their latest release, Time is Over One Day Old, was just released and it is a real treat.  I remember talking to the band after that show, and after a few drinks telling them they were my favorite "bear" band.  It was perhaps an exaggeration, but they are worthy of some attention.

Interpol "All The Rage (Back Home)"

Another New York band, Interpol, has had a far different trajectory than Bear in Heaven.  They have been making music together since 1997 and are regarded as the elder statesman in the resurgence of the New York indie music scene (along with The Strokes- who apparently they have a feud with...)  Their fifth studio record, El Pintor, is out 9.8.14.  Paul Banks baritone is still as solid as ever.   While I would not consider myself a devotee I would concede Interpol is an essential part of the the Indie music canon.  It is good to see them back on the scene.  Better still that what they have created sounds great.

Bernhoft "Come Around"

I found this song on Palladia's music video show.  Since MTV hardly shows music it has become a staple on my DVR.  Bernhoft is a Norwegian singer/multi-instrumentalist who released his third LP, Islander, this year.  His voice is soulful like Sam Smith.  This track is an up tempo pop song.  While the video sucked me in, Bernhoft's positive disposition kept me around.  Hope you feel the same way.

New Pornographers "Brill Bruisers"

Vancouver, BC indie darlings are back with their 6th LP, Brill Bruisers, released in late August.  Like Interpol, the alt community reveres them as innovators and influential alt pioneers over the past 15 years to so.  Daniel Bejar's vocals are unique and engaging.  The title track is a good introduction to who they are.  Bombastic guitars, big drum fills, and an overall celebration of rock.  That has been their recipe for success their whole career.  Why stop now?