Monday, June 30, 2008

"Bonaroo Kanye" Cries a River into His MacBook Air (ala Lewis Black)

For those just hearing about this, Kanye West went on two hours late for his set at the recent Bonaroo Festival in TN, pissing off a bunch of attendees who loudly vocalized their anger about it all sorts of publicly. Kanye responded to the jabs and bad press about it on his website, and blamed everyone from the "squid brains" among us, to Bonaroo organizers, to Pearl Jam, whom he claims went over their appointed time, to your mom, to my dog….the list is rather endless.

I learned about all this when reading Brooklyn Vegan's post on it (be sure to hit the comments, I was crying laughing), and as I read through Kanye’s rant, I hit the following line:


Dear readers, I'm going to lift, in blatant Joe-Biden fashion, from the great Lewis Black to hopefully prevent someone's life from ending too soon.

Kayne West, a man clearly in need of many Valium and a long nap, uttered the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life ... He said, 'REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A SHORTY AND WATER WOULD HIT THE TV??????'

I'll repeat that. I'll repeat that because that's the kind of sentence that when you hear it, your brain comes to a screeching halt. And the left hand side of the brain looks at the right hand side and goes, 'It's dark in here, and we may die.'

See, words get in your head, and those words don't go away. But every so often, somethin' like that happens: 'REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A SHORTY AND WATER WOULD HIT THE TV??????' He said, 'REMEMBER WHEN YOU,’ meaning everyone reading, remembering when something happened, some universality that everyone would know about, like life, death, taxes-- WERE A SHORTY, “shorty” being slang for an attractive female--'AND WATER,' that is water, the thing you drink, a liquid- 'WOULD HIT THE TV??????,' as in an electronic device that typically doesn't mix well with water.

So your brain goes, 'LET'S FIGURE IT OUT! Son of a bitch! I wonder what that's about! I wonder, was this post supposed to be read by just women, or more specifically, people who used to be women? No, that makes no sense, the booing populace of Bonaroo couldn't have been just female and trannie hippies, plus, Kanye’s pretty mainstream popular...maybe he means "shorty" as in "young kid? Ok, fine, but then what's up with this collective childhood memory he thinks the readers share with him about tossing water at a tv? Whose childhood had games of aiming water at a tv?? That seems rather dangerous, was he raised by some odd cult? Maybe his parents were nomads and had a tv outside and the hose would hit it when watering the lawn? No wait, I read he's from an upscale family in suburban Chicago....OH MY GOD, WHAT THE @*#! ?!!

The American medical profession doesn't know why we get an aneurysm. It's when a blood vessel bursts in our head for no apparent reason. There's a reason. So don't think about 'REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A SHORTY AND WATER WOULD HIT THE TV?????? for more than three minutes, or blood'll shoot out your nose.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Soulful Saturday: Otis Redding, Live at the Whiskey A Go-Go, Hollywood, CA (4-10-66)

(Photo via Georgia Music)

When I was digging around for that perfect quote that best summed up Otis Redding's live show to include in my review of The Weather Underground's recent show at the Mercury Lounge in NYC, I stumbled across an entire performance of Otis Redding's second-of-two 4-10-1966 shows at the Whiskey a Go-Go in West Hollywood, CA. Rather ironic, given my assertion of The Weather Underground being more Otis than James Brown, then I find Otis covering Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag"...Talk about some full-circle movement, eh?

A little taste (this from the 4-10-66 first show):

Then the 4-10-66 later show for your downloading pleasure:

Download: Otis Redding Live at the Whiskey a Go-Go, 4-10-66, Show 2.mp3


Your One and Only Man
Good to Me
Ole Man Trouble
I Can't Turn You Loose
A Hard Day's Night
These Arms of Mine
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (false start)
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

(Thanks goes to Up the Downstair for the original)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Show Review: The Weather Underground @ Mercury Lounge, NYC (6-20-08)

(Click on any photo above to enlarge)

As you may tell from the things I’ve been reviewing as of late, my ears have been cocked westward to things coming from the Silver Lake/Echo Park music scene in Los Angeles for the last little while. For the most part, I hear many of these bands aren’t just great to listen to, but they also put on stellar live shows. One such group I’d heard this about was The Weather Underground; “Think James Brown fronting a punk band,” was what I heard specifically, which is one damn tall order. Thus, I blocked my calendar out when I saw they were playing DC last week.

Now, as I wrote, they were good and I definitely enjoyed their Rock n Roll Hotel show. But when I think of James Brown, I think of going to the bridge in a lavender cape, and a charisma and energy that bounces off the stage, into the crowd, and back. That wasn’t really The Weather Underground’s DC show. As I think I mentioned there were glimpses of it and the songs themselves were energetic, but you can’t feed off the energy of an audience if there really isn’t one (as was the case in the sparsely-attended DC show). So I thought hmm, why not catch the Mercury Lounge show in NYC that following Friday, maybe do a comparison and see? I mean, hell, it would be NYC, where folks go to shows even when it’s raining, on a Friday, on a bill of four bands with two relatively known (Band of Thieves and Parlour Mob), so there was bound to be more than 20 folks there. Plus, I knew that these boys, all proud Los Angelinos, would probably want to “represent” in this rival city to LA, and show the crowd that LA isn't all Motley Crue and "The Hills."

Thank you Lord for giving me good instincts because whatever it was, I was dead on, this was in no way the Bonaroo-weary-but-determined band I saw in DC. Energy radiated off that stage from the minute they tore into “Fight Songs of the Desajolos,” the opener. “Little Sparrows in Boyle Heights” followed, and by the time they hit the title track from their latest EP, Bird in the Hand, lead singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist Harley Prechtel-Cortez was bouncing up on the balls of his feet, that baritone voice and soul-filled howl pouring forth flawlessly. His ability to maintain a long banshee yell on key in a single breath continually friggin’ astounds me.

It looked like the rest of the band had also gotten some rest because they too were right there with Prechtel-Cortez. During “Neal Cassady,” lead guitarist/keyboardist Soichi Bagley, who plays tambourine on this song, actually knocked it out of his own hand from the force at which he was hitting it, and drummer Diego Guerrero throttled the maraca with both hands, shaking it madly. Prechtel-Cortez sang their new song, “Letters,” with such passion and intensity, he looked almost surprised by it, as was the case during “Trainwreck.” This intensity carried through into a much more punk version of “Old Man Jude” than I'd seen in DC or heard on record even, and by its end, it was almost a punk/gospel sing-along. Well, for the band at least.

Sometimes you experience a show differently from the person next to you for whatever reason. Maybe the music struck me in a different way from the person next to me. Maybe the person next to him was having a bad day. Maybe the couple next to him was just biding time until Band of Thieves came on. But something made Prechtel-Cortez apparently feel that the audience, despite Weather Underground’s best efforts and a pretty scorching set, wasn't engaged because in addition to again dedicating "All Ye People" to his stepfather who passed away last year, he paused for a second and added, “Yeah, we’re almost done here folks.” Towards the end, “All Ye People” seemed to get through to the crowd though because I noticed that folks to my right stopped talking and folks to my left started clapping along.

Perhaps to capitalize on this breakthrough, the band did one more song, one I didn't know at all. Suddenly, Prechtel-Cortez came down into the crowd, still singing (this is something he typically does in the west coast shows I heard later). He then said, "A little bit of love and kindness is all you guys need," hugged the guy next to me, and returned to the stage after the chorus, apparently needing a short break....

...before the band went into a cover of The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" with gusto, complete with harmonica...

...and then they went back into whatever the previous song had been, to end the set. (Check out the picture stream at the top of this post where you can see the progression of things as they're shown in order. Alas, it totally escapes me now how Prechtel-Cortez wound up laying on the stage again playing guitar.)

So was it really “James Brown fronting a punk band”? Dunno if I'd go quite that far based on what I saw at this Mercury Lounge show last week, maybe that's an experience you only get by attending their hometown shows. But would I give them "Otis Redding fronting a punk band"? Yup, Otis, I'll give you, without question. Cause while Prechtel-Cortez may not don a lavender cape, he and his bandmates, like Redding, brilliantly synthesize the evangelical fervor of a church and the rambunctious vibes of rock 'n' roll. The Weather Underground is definitely a band with soul.

As we speak: The Hold Steady show at the Paradise, Boston, MA

The awesome Heather over at Fuel/Friends posted this note yesterday about The Hold Steady doing a free show tonight in Boston. A probable mob scene as you could well imagine...in fact, as of noon today, an awesome writer friend and SXSW compadre Mayer said he was going and that "Last I checked they had nearly 2000 rsvps for a 650 capacity club..."

Mayer sent this a few minutes ago from the show.... yup, crowded. But remind me to see a show at this club, the sight lines look awesome!

Download:Little Hoodrat Friend-The Hold Steady.mp3

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch Slams Nestle'

"Your girlfriend screams when M.C.A.'s in the place." Especially if she's a representative for the Nestle' company apparently.

From today's Page Six:

BEASTIE Boy Adam Yauch is going to fight for his right to criticize Nestlé as an irresponsible, environmental monster - and the Swiss-based food giant is furious.

Last weekend, a top female rep for Nestlé pitched a fit at the Nantucket Film Festival, which Nestlé co-sponsored, during a screening of "Flow" - a documentary bashing Nestlé Waters as harming the environment.

The flick, distributed by Brooklyn-born Yauch (best known as Beasties rapper MCA) and his Oscilloscope Pictures, probes growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh-water supply. It blames the crisis on Nestlé along with Pepsi and Coca-Cola. "It takes a good look at Nestlé pumping communities around the United States and how they pull water out in order to bottle it and sell it. It depletes the water for farms and irrigation," said one insider.

When Nestlé was mentioned in the movie, the shocked company rep jumped to her feet, spun on one heel and stamped out in full view of the producers.

"She stormed out about an hour in when the film named Nestlé," said one attendee. "The company obviously had no idea this content was in the movie. She told an audience member, 'That was one-sided,' on her way out and didn't come back for the Q&A session afterwards."

But Yauch - known for his activism, including helping the Free Tibet movement - makes no apologies. He told Page Six the problem is that Nestlé is "promoting bottled water in general. It's the bottles themselves, the amount of pollution they create and then disposing of them are problems.

"They put pretty pictures of springs and forests on the bottles, but in this movie they're getting called out. I think it's great. They lock down water as a commodity they can buy and sell. It's terrifying."

The movie, directed by Irena Salina, hits New York screens this September. A rep for Nestlé declined comment.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Show Review: The Weather Underground @ Rock n Roll Hotel, Washington, DC (6-16-08)

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

I assume a rock show on a rainy Monday night is tough to get a huge crowd at most places, but in Washington, DC, it's REALLY hard. If you're a smaller band from another coast who is also playing second on a bill of three on a rainy Monday in DC, you might very well be playing to a handful of folks and the venue staff for your set.

This is, unfortunately, what happened for The Weather Underground's show last Monday at the Rock and Roll Hotel. They wound up playing for around 20 people plus the bartender and the sound guy in total; but DC, I'm here to tell you, you should have showed up because you missed one hell of a rock show.

Out of the super hot Echo Park/Silver Lake music scene in Los Angeles, The Weather Underground plays rock music that is tinged with the influences of folk, soul, punk, gospel, and Latin, the latter making sense as lead singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist Harley Prechtel-Cortez is very tied to his Guatemalan heritage (more on that later). But I'm not talking Gipsy Kings imitators here, I'm talking “the Strokes meet a mariachi band meet Otis Redding,” or “The Cribs meet Hank Williams meet Bono, with some Sandinista-era Clash" thrown in for good measure. The neat thing about listening to this band is that each musician's piece is really interesting and creative separately, so that when they pull it all together it becomes one amazing sound.

Diego Guerrero's drumming is truly a thing of beauty. It's a crisp and clean but driving force, and in at least one song, he uses a maraca and a tambourine in place of drum sticks, making for a really neat and different sound. And Guerrero doesn't just tap the drums to keep time and the beat, he beats the bejesus out of them in a way that would make Topper Headon proud (how they don't have holes in them is beyond me). Lead guitarist/keyboardist Shoichi Bagley only learned how to play a few short years ago when his cousin, Prechtel-Cortez, was in dire need of a fill-in guitarist for a radio show he was doing. But when you hear Bagley, you'd think he's been playing forever; always the true sign of a natural talent. Bagley’s slide guitar playing is effortless and truly adds another dimension to the songs. Bassist Ryan Kirkpatrick disproves the notion held by some I know that a bassist is just there for filler, and something like the bass line from Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" is the only thing a bassist aspires to play. Kirkpatrick's sound is full of movement and inventive, and almost seems to follow the lilt of Prechtel-Cortez's voice at times. Sid Vicious he is not.

Prechtel-Cortez has one of the better rock singer yells I've heard in some time and he sings like his life depends on it. With a baritone voice similar to Eddie Vedder's and a Robert Plant Led Zeppelin-era wail, the man can sing. Prechtel-Cortez typically appears onstage sans shoes ("It's a comfort thing, like you would be when you're at home," he told me later), and sings with his eyes closed most of the time, almost like he's having a private moment with the muse that's inspiring him….until, that is, he lets out a lyric in a melodious yell, like a preacher in an evangelical church trying to summon the heavens.

Rock and Roll Hotel’s space may have been small but The Weather Underground’s sound was HUGE. They started the set with two songs from their newest EP (entitled Bird in the Hand), “Little Sparrows in Boyle Heights” and the title track, the latter of which Prechtel-Cortez played so hard on that he literally lost the hat he was wearing. "Neal Cassady," dedicated to Bo Diddley, followed suit, followed by “When I Was a Soldier,” and then an INCREDIBLE new song, “Letters.” Prechtel-Cortez plays keyboards on this, giving Bagley and Kirkpatrick center stage, with Guerrero doing that cool substitution I mentioned earlier, using a maraca and a tambourine for drum sticks. From this swirling din, came “Something’s Gotta Give,” this one dedicated to Otis Redding, and I see why--it screams soul but backed with a tribal beat. I recall thinking “I hope to hell he’s using a pick” as I watched Bagley play this because it seemed he was trying to literally tear the notes from his guitar. Guerrero’s drumming was so intense, I saw his kit moving around.

Then they got to “Trainwreck,” this fabulous standout song about addiction on the the new EP. Even if they’d just spent the last three days in the hot sun playing the Bonaroo Festival and “lost their minds there,” as Prechtel-Cortez commented earlier in the night, even though they looked exhausted and probably felt more so, I’m pretty sure folks 11 streets down at the Capitol could feel Guerrero’s drumming, and were most likely asking each other where that catchy keyboard/guitar sound was coming from. But I’m damn sure they all heard the melodious banshee yell of “I’m coming hoooommmmeee” by Prechtel-Cortez. You think I’m exaggerating here, and maybe I am...Ok, maybe it was only five streets down not 11, but I’m dead serious about all the rest of it. The band was like a group of demon children on holiday, playing fast and furious, to the point where I saw Bagley visibly go “whew!” when the song was finished.

“Old Man Jude” followed and is a nice “musical fake out” (it starts off all slow and bluesy, complete with Prechtel-Cortez playing harmonica and doing a little ad-lib singing of “Anyway, the Lakers are a whole lot better than the Celtics, and anyway, it’s just a game).” But then the song jumps to 60 miles an hour with four quick taps of Guerrero’s drum sticks. This calm-to-raucous dichotomy seems to happen in many of The Weather Underground’s songs, and that’s probably why I enjoyed them so much. To me, the ability to switch tempos on a dime like that has always been indicative of a band that a) is incredibly tight and b) contains incredibly competent musicians. As The Weather Underground *seemingly* did this switch flawlessly over and over in various songs throughout the evening, I’d say both of these apply.

Almost to give band and audience some time to breathe from this energetic onslaught, they then did a slow gospel number called “All Ye People,” which brought “Let It Loose,” off The Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street” to mind. Prechtel-Cortez dedicated “All Ye People” to his step-father who passed away last year (“He always wanted to be a preacher so I dedicate this one to him,” he told the audience). It’s a gorgeous and lush song about the solitary nature of dying, and how one must live in the now. “All Ye People” is definitely a song that weeps.

The band ended with “Fight Songs of the Desajolos,” another song off the new EP, and was inspired by the month Bagley and Prechtel-Cortez spent in Guatemala last year. I read somewhere that one reviewer heard this track and wondered if he’d received the wrong record. It’s got an upbeat “mariachi band at a carnival” sound, paired with serious lyrics (about displaced field workers), and is sung entirely in Spanish. Admittedly, on record, this song didn’t do much for me, but live, live, I was sold. Is it a typical song for a rock band to play? Nope. But than again, it appears that The Weather Underground isn’t really your *typical* rock band, so it all makes sense.

In the end Washington, DC, you missed a rousing show last Monday from a top-notch live band who rocked our 39 socks off (would have been 40 but I wasn't wearing socks with heels). The Weather Underground will be back, and when they are, even if it’s raining, be sure you go. I guarantee you won’t be sorry.

Download: All Ye People-The Weather Underground (MP3)

Friday, June 20, 2008

In NYC tonight and looking for a good band to see?

Yes, I know the Cure is playing MSG but what if you want something different, more raucous and definitely cheaper? Come down to the no-longer-as-dirty-as-I-recall Alphabet City (specifically Avenue A and E. Houston Street) and check out The Weather Underground from Los Angeles. The Silver Lake/Echo Park area to be exact.

Where? Mercury Lounge, 217 E. Houston Street (corner of Avenue A and E. Houston Street)
When? 9:30

Besides how many bands do you typically see whose lead singers sing sans shoes? None probably, plus they're all hot as hell, so go check them out. They will blow your mind.

I'll be the one furiously writing or taking photos, so come say hello!

"Gasoline," Track 3 of the Airborne Toxic Event Acoustic Video Series Released

Ok, ok, it's even irritating to me that this makes a back-to-back posting about the same band, but this song off The Airborne Toxic Event's new record is probably my favorite.

You may recall my telling you awhile back about Airborne's acoustic song series, where they're doing an acoustic video version of each of the forthcoming record's tracks, in disc order, shot around the city of Los Angeles. This week is track three,"Gasoline," which was shot "on the back of a train in a train yard in downtown Los Angeles, on the East side of what is referred to as "the LA River." (Heh, here's my east coast ignorance, I thought LA only had lots and lots of cars.) At the SXSW show, they started the set with this song, and I was hooked from the cool bass line; the song just rocks. About "teenage sex" according to the band's songwriter Mikel Jollet, it's crafted typical to his style; that is, where the song is written so vividly and with such imagery, it plays like a 3:26 movie in your head. And it's a pretty good movie considering I read somewhere this was a quick-one-more-song-we-are-in-the-studio piece. Plus, it contains a line that goes "let's burn these sheets down to the seams," which I find just incredibly hot.

Last week's video was "Papillon," which you can see here.

(Airbone's first full length LP is out August 5th on the Majordomo label, and will be performing at, among other places this summer, the Monolith Festival in September.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Show Review: The Airborne Toxic Event @ Pianos, NYC (6-12-08)/Webster Hall, NYC (6-13-08)

(Click on the photo to enlarge)

So as it turned out, the weekend I was heading up to NYC to visit college friends was the same weekend that The Airborne Toxic Event was playing two shows there, this past Thursday night at Pianos in the Bowery, and this past Friday night opening for the Fratellis at Webster Hall. Given that the room at Pianos holds roughly 130 people, I had a feeling that it would be the show to see, given the “personal" nature of Airborne shows. Listening to Airborne’s lyrics is somewhat like hearing a close friend pour his heart out about a romantic relationship that went array but set to music. That sort of thing is better to hear about in a smaller setting than in the midst of a giant crowd (and Webster Hall holds three floors of giant crowds), so the choice of which show to attend was obvious.

Having last played in NYC in early 2007, the band looked cheerful, chatty, and happy to be there. But don’t be mistaken, once they got started, the set at Pianos could only be described as “intense.” I’d discovered Airborne this past March during SXSW, late one night in an outdoor courtyard. And they were fantastic. But something was definitely different this time 'round (and it wasn't just the trannie fashion shoot taking place across from the bar (heh)). It could have been the smallness of an enclosed room in a tiny Bowery bar that begged for its walls to be blown out versus a courtyard surrounded by a vast Texas night, but believe me when I tell you the songs were leaping off the Pianos stage Thursday night, grabbing the audience by their collective lapels and shaking madly.

This was a band on a mission, like they were telling the many press folks in the audience (based on the number of notebooks and mad scribblings I saw going on), "Go forth and tell others what you have seen here tonight." Lead singer/songwriter and rhythm guitarist Mikel Jollett had a look of vivid determination on his face as he sang the 10-song set, and he didn't just sing/scream his lyrics, he SCREAMED them in a passionate caoinadh. Lead guitarist Steven Chen, who normally appears rather stoic onstage, was crouching and swaying over his guitar and keyboard, almost as if his fevered playing was taking everything out of him and he was about to drop. Violinist/keyboardist Anna Bulbrook was either on her knees and tearing the sound from her violin, or a whirling dervish of dance, hitting her tambourine so hard I feared some nasty bruises would result. Drummer Daren Taylor was standing up behind his kit at times, but only to better beat the bejesus out of his cymbals and snares. This passion, coupled with the size of the room, created a definitive bombastic wall of sound especially during "Papillon," "This is Nowhere," "Sometime Around Midnight," and "Innocence." “Does this Mean You’re Moving On,” a hit on Los Angeles radio, jumped and cut more than the recorded version; there was definitely an edge to it this night. “Something New” isn’t a song I was familiar with, but when you hear it, pay close attention to Chen’s guitar riffs as they are quite catchy; all I could think of was Dick Dale if he was in the Smiths with Johnny Marr. Bassist Noah Harmon is probably the only classically trained bassist who could teach a class on how to do rock kicks and stances without looking foolish, and man, can the man play. The crowd ate him up especially during “This is Nowhere.”

If folks weren’t converted in these first seven songs, the last half of Airborne’s set changed all that. Jaws hitting the floor people, I saw jaws hitting the floor, and this all started with “Sometime Around Midnight.” I personally know at least three people from that audience who had never heard Airborne before this show, and liked what they were hearing ok, but “Midnight” was what hooked 'em for real. I’ve tried no less than 10 times now to write what I saw/felt, both in terms of the vibe in the room and what I saw on stage during these last few songs (“Sometime Around Midnight,” “Wishing Well,” and “Innocence” specifically), but I’m just not finding the words to do it justice. I think it’s because these aren’t songs with just words, these are songs that drip with vulnerable emotion. The way these songs are constructed lyrically, you’re sharing the same mind/body with the person running into that ex-lover who could always break you with a look, sharing that same busted heart from a love tangled in blue, feeling that same screaming sense of despair, regret, loneliness. The way they are constructed musically, you can’t think or focus or look away from this barrage of sound and hooks and screams of lyrical pain coming at you from the stage, even if you wanted to. It is a rather exhilarating and slightly uncomfortable experience, all at the same time.

The encore song “Missy,” Jollett’s ode to a girl and Los Angeles, didn’t lose any of this power. (Let us also not forget to state here the apparent rarity of an opening act getting an encore in NYC.) I read someplace Bulbrook loves this song because she gets to jump into the crowd and dance around, a comment I thought of when I saw her crouching down by the monitors, waiting, waiting, waiting for Jollett to scream “Well I swear that there’s still some good in me,” which is the point in the song where it goes from a bouncy little melody to something full-on and raucous. And she does it in heels no less.

Jollett, in a conversation we had about songwriting awhile back, told me, “I always spend a lot of time trying to find the right words to say, and I don't know if I always do.” From the number of “Tell me you just saw what I saw” looks of amazement on many faces after the show, I think it’s safe to say his word search, for these 10 songs at least, was a stunning success. And I think the band knew they’d tapped into a something major as a band and with the audience this night too, given the big shit-eating grin each of them wore at the end of the set.

And I did wind up seeing the Friday night show at Webster Hall after all. I hadn't planned on it initially because a) I couldn’t score a press pass and tickets were around $30, and b) Webster Hall isn’t always the greatest place for a show , a venue known to “ruin the live-show reputations of good bands.” But we wound up scoring reaaally cheap tickets at the last minute, and I thought eh, what the hell, maybe I should actually *see* the show once (after the Thursday show, friends asked me if I actually watched any of it with my eyes because I was so focused on writing stuff down). Plus who knew, maybe Pete Townshend would show up for this Fratellis show too. So we went.

Airborne’s set at Webster Hall was good and I think many of the Fratellis' fans were won over based on the enthusiastic level of applause at the end of their set. But was it a hair-raising-on-your-arms kind of intensity and energy that moved from the audience to the band and vice versa like Pianos the night before? Not really, though I think that had everything to do with the vastness of Webster Hall than anything to do with the band. Hell, Bulbrook couldn’t even jump out into the crowd during “Missy” because jumping from a stage that high up and whatnot, she’d probably broken an ankle. A guy near us at the bar, who had only ever seen Airborne live at this show and the Pianos show, made an interesting point: “Last night was more personalized, more energized. At Pianos you could almost reach out and touch them, you felt the energy. Here, it is such an expansive and big place it’s tough to have that same connection. To hear the lead singer make comments like “We want to know you so come say hello” and stuff, to hear that said at a big place like this, it just doesn’t ring true in the same fashion, though they obviously mean it, given what I saw at Pianos last night.” So do I regret seeing both? Of course not, but it did prove to me that we didn't hallucinate it, that Thursday night Pianos show was something special, so much so that it spoiled anyone who attended both.

Airbone's first full length LP is out August 5th on the Majordomo label, and will be performing at, among other places this summer, the Monolith Festival in September.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Scarlett Johansson, words simply fail me

Dear God, how did this happen? I like Scarlett Johansson as an actress and ok, she's not the first star to try this (Leif Garrett and Shawn Cassidy, Don Johnson and Bruce Willis, Lindsay Lohan...really the list is friggin endless), but c'mon, Tom Waits, for real?? She couldn't start small with I dunno, some Beatles tune that everyone covers, then move up? I'll give it to her, that took real guts. At least they hooked her up with a really good backing band. Maybe between the solid band and studio trickery the record is somehow better and Nico can stop rolling in her grave?

Something tells me that's not the case. I'll put it to you this way...I sent the video below to a friend and he said he turned this off faster than Wing's cover of Hell's Bell's that I sent him from SXSW. In fact, I think his exact words were, "Dude, I had to turn it off, the birds flying by my 25th floor office were crashing themselves into the windows."

But don't take my word for it, see for yourself with her version of Waits' "Who Are You" below or view the rest of the videos here

However, please move your computer and any speakers away from the windows for the sake of the birds (and yourself) when doing so.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Airborne Toxic Event to release 10 videos of 10 debut album tracks

The Airborne Toxic Event, this site's first big interview and an Ipod favorite around here for the past couple months, sent word out yesterday that each week between now and August 5th, when their first full length record is released, that the band will post a video a week on their Myspace page. Each video will be an acoustic version of each of the 10 tracks from their record in disc order, in one take, and in different locations around Los Angeles. "Wishing Well" (the first (of the series) was shot in Thayer Hall at the Colburn School of Music in downtown L.A. (across the street from Disney Hall)," they said.

What a brilliant and innovative strategy, both artistically and marketing-wise. Artistically, this is something Bob Dylan has been doing for years, the whole idea of tearing apart of a song to build it back up into something new, which I've always found really interesting (plus, if you've ever seen Dylan live, it allows you to play the "What the hell song is he playing?" game, because his voice is now so grizzled you can barely make out the words). The possibilities for a thing like this are endless, and I'm sure it also breathes new life into songs for a band, especially if they've been playing them awhile. Marketing-wise, it's a great idea, especially on Myspace, because it gives new folks exposure to your record in advance, which could mean more folks buying it when it comes out, and provides something extra for folks who already dig you and and are already planning on buying it. Very smart move indeed.

Update: Woops, seems some things didn't transfer properly with my initial posting so here you go...

Thought you may want to check out the first in the acoustic series yourself. See what I mean, the song takes on a different feeling doesn't it? It still rocks out but it's more...mournful. In the album version, it's a heart breaking but with a brave face on like it doesn't matter...with the acoustic, it's a heart breaking in its fully exposed form.

Album Version
Download: Wishing Well-The Airborne Toxic Event (2006 demo)


Monday, June 2, 2008

The Whigs' are now bloggers too!

Was poking around band sites tonight to compile the 899 shows that seem to be set for Mid-Atlantic stop offs during June and July, and as I hope to catch The Whigs again during this very kick ass tour but this time near the bar in a venue with air-conditioning, I hit their site. What I found instead of a tour date was this...This Is a Blog and We Are the Whigs. With pictures! Of Chuck E. Cheese! And Vegas baby! And lots of food items! And batting cage poses! How Julian Dorio fit all that hair under a batting helmet one can only wonder...