Thursday, February 28, 2008

Los Angeles and the Track of our Lives

I admit I've been bad at keeping you updated, but I had the pleasure to fly out to Los Angeles to interview Gnarls Barkley. They have a new record out called "The Odd Couple", it sounds a lot like real cool "Pet Sound" Beach Boys, jus a likkle darker. My hit tip: A beautiful track called Surprise.

The real discovery for me in Los Angeles musically was a Swedish band called "The Soundtrack of Our Lives". I have somehow ignored them up to now, and their music thus hit me with the force of chills down the spine and knots in the stomach. Highly recommended from now on -i hope they come to New York soon. There's another great band I neglected to mention on this blog so far, they are called Shack and are from England. The songwriting and leadplaying brothers Head made two great records as the Pale fountains in the Eighties. Lucky you, if you find them.

My friend Minnie Cho has finished her record with Swoon: A great sounding, lush landscape of music, tender, but sharp with lots of room for Minnie to lament love lost and black fate. "Doubt" would in my opinion make a great single. Minnie chooses to keep her voice calm and almost understated. An egdy anger or growling fury here and there wouldn't hurt, though. Them guys don't deserve to be spared, Minnie!

Then I missed two of Anton Sword's shows, one in Jersey, one in the East Village. That, though, doesn' mean I'm getting lazy but rather that Anton is getting busy, craftily aided, I might add, by the mighty guitars of Kristofer Widholm. Let me know how the show was and send pix - i'll post them.

The rest of the action this summer seems to take place in Switzerland. C. Gibbs, currently on Broadway, is planning to visit the quaint country with the good taste, but also Melomane are organizing their tour - Bookers, take the chance to get them to your club on March 29th! Send last minute offers to: Frank Heer, who has been heard playing with both these artists moreover joined Modfather Charles from HeadQuarters and Zurich legend vocalist Johnny for a series of folksy gigs. Wish we could be there. Already reserved is the 23rd of May for the Silver Jews at the Palace in St. Gall. Moreover, the elusive Here Hare Here have vowed to play together for the first time since 15 years.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Shalitas bring their rock and roll dance party to BScene

Check out the video of our favorite soul girls, The Shalitas, shot right here in Brooklyn.

The busy girls and their band are playing Philly, Baltimore and DC, but will alo haunt their favorite Greenpoint club, Matchless, on March 6th. And then they are of to Switzerland, of all places: March 29th at Midnight The Shalitas play The Kuppel as the only American Band invited to the BScene Festival in Basel.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Animal Band Names Swarm SXSW

Taking the risk that you are not even going to see my raving Jam and Hugh Cornwell revue below, I have to post this email from Heather. Okay, the girl doesn't play soccer anymore, but that doesn't mean she's ain't funny no more. Underscoring her obsession for animals is the picture they put up for Heather and Jay's new band, Peng used to be this picture:

But here is Heather in her own words:

so, i have been kind of obsessed with animal band names for a while (rather...i'm obsessed with the fact that people keep naming their bands "bear/wolf/grizzly-something" and nobody seems to notice/is afraid to look silly by noting that there are 7 bands with that species of north american mammal in its name already. so for fun i looked at the list of south by southwest bands, which, no matter what you think of it, is some kind of cultural barometer, to see if there
were a slew of animal band names (or should i say, a "pride" or a "flock" or a "murder" of animal band names). and i was not disappointed! most prevalent were birds, especially pigeons, and tigers! so, by analyzing the syntax of some of these names, i have come up with some new ones that i will use for my next band. or you can, if you want, i do not have time for a new band right now.
so this is what i have:
(clever word play incorporating animal name): "PHANTOM LAMB"! "ROY OR BISON"
(funny combination of animal names/punctuation): "¿POODLE-POODLE-ELK?"

okay, here are the names of some animal-themed bands performing at
SXSW next month, weird, right?

Bear in Heaven (Brooklyn NY)
Bearsuit (Norwich UK)
Beasts and Superbeasts (Victoria BC)
Big Red Rooster (Dallas TX)
Biirdie (Glendale CA)
Birds Of Avalon (Raliegh NC)
Birds of Wales (Toronto ON)
Black Moth Super Rainbow (Pittsburgh PA)
Bowerbirds (Raleigh NC)
Buffalo Stance (Philadelphia PA)
Care Bears on Fire (Brooklyn NY)
The Chocolate Horse (Cincinnati OH)
Cobra Krames (Brooklyn NY)
Death Sentence: Panda! (San Francisco CA)
Deer Tick (Providence RI)
DJ Chicken George (Austin TX)
The Dodos (San Francisco CA)
Doveman (New York NY)
Dr. Dog (Philadelphia PA)
Eagle Seagull (Lincoln NE)
Faux Fox (Dallas TX)
Fleet Foxes (Seattle WA)
Frightened Rabbit (Glasgow UK)
Goat The Head (Trondheim NORWAY)
The Golden Dogs (Toronto ON)
The Goodbye Horses (Brisbane AUSTRALIA)
Gram Rabbit (Yucca Valley CA)
Grim Skunk (Montreal QC)
Guinea Worms (Columbus OH)
Horse + Donkey (Austin TX)
The Iguanas (New Orleans LA)
Lions (Austin TX)
The Lovely Sparrows (Austin TX)
Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds (Washington DC)
Mostly Bears (Tucson AZ)
Ocelot (Leeds UK)
The Octopus Project (Austin TX)
Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man (London UK)
Panda (Monterrey MEXICO)
Panther (Portland OR)
Papercranes (Gainesville FL)
Pata de Elefante (Porto Alegre BRAZIL)
Peter and the Wolf (Austin TX)
Pidgeon (San Francisco CA)
The Pigeon Detectives (Leeds UK)
Pigeon John (Los Angeles CA)
Pig Out (Buckinghamshire UK)
Plants and Animals (Montreal QC)
Pride Tiger (Vancouver BC)
Pterodactyl (Brooklyn NY)
Ravens & Chimes (New York NY)
Sea Wolf (Los Angeles CA)
Snowbyrd (San Antonio TX)
Spring Tigers (Athens GA)
Tigercity (Brooklyn NY)
Tiger Lou (Stockholm SWEDEN)
Tiger! Tiger! (Atlanta GA)
Tiny Animals (New York NY)
Vancougar (New Westminster BC)
Videohippos (Baltimore MD)
White Mice (Providence RI)
White Rabbits (Brooklyn NY)
Woodpigeon (Calgary AB)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

From The Jam: A Dream Come True

Who needs Paul Weller - long live the Jam! Don't get me wrong: In my opinion, he is one of the most talented living songwriters and deserves every award the music world has to offer. It's just that this Saturday night, when a teenage dream came true and I heard the Jam live, heard "Eton Rifles," "Private Hell" or "In the Crowd," I did not miss him a second. Russell Hastings, who has to fill the big shoes, does a great job, staying close to how Paul sang the tunes in melody as well as in timbre. In great British understatement he doesn't try to be Paul, nor does he show too much ego and attitude. Hastings delivers a solid, honest job, and one can only hope that he is as gifted a songwriter as a singer/guitar player. Bruce Foxton, whom I had the honor to talk to after the show, says they have new material that he believes is as strong as the Jam's stuff. Rick Buckler says hello to D-J Stieger. The new man on second guitar and keyboards, Dave Moore, is the quiet man in the background, precise and precious. He is also ready to testify that I sang along every single song. "Saying find here enclosed one son, one medal, and a note to say he won." Take that, America. Who says songs grow old? People do, but some of them get better, also. And yeah, we sang "We Are the Mods," but tonight we were.

The Blender theater at Gramercy is, surprisingly - a stylish old cinema, reconverted into a live theatre, bit like The Palace in St.Gallen, but that tad bit grittier, British working class. There was Debbie Harry and a few people from VH1 from New York, but the rest - xcpt me an d. - was all british blokes, the sort you would wanna see the Jam with. Quentin was missing, Brett was there (kudos!). Ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwell warmed the audience up with some dirty Stranglers versions (more about his show see below). FTJ say, they will have a record out with new material by early 2009. First, the weather proof Brits go to enjoy Australian summer.

That guy from Blondie, Bruce Foxton, the bloke who sang 'we are the mods' with me' and Rick Buckler in New York.

Hugh Cornwell: "Why can't the Stranglers Say Something Nice about Me?"

Talking backstage after the show at the Blender on Staurday, Hugh Cornwell said he is no longer in contact with his old band members from the Stranglers. Though Cornwell as well as the remaining Stranglers still tour and play some of their old material, they have not performed together since 1990. No chance for reconciliation and a reunion? "I'm just waiting for them to finally say something nice about me, you know?" Hugh told me. "Why can't they ever say something positive about me?". In the meantime, Hugh is proud of his new band and his new found lust for rock.
Cornwell has always been a gutsy guy: He left the safe career of teaching for the rocky path of punk rock, flirted with global success and horrible funk, got out of the Stranglers and went solo. He still gets Toni Visconti to produce his album, but almost nobody to buy them. (They do have great moments, though. See a review of his newest CD, "Beyond Elysian Fields," on the right sideline of this blog).

What Cornwell, opening for "From the Jam" in New York did, was very courageous: As a trio, Cornwell, a girl on bass and a maniac drummer, they went through old Stranglers material as if Greenfield's keyboards weren't an integral part of the Stranglers, and showed that Cornwell's songs indeed easily stand the test of time. Hurrahs for Hanging Around, Down in the Sewer and Get A Grip. The tough man also stayed away from the sugary Stranglers stuff like Golden Brown and Always the Sun. Bravo.
Then again, asked, if he gave the new Stranglers LP "Suite XVI" a listen, Cornwell replied with a disinterested "No." He should, and maybe say something nice about it.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Abundant Adventures of Jim Avignon

The tirelessly creative Jim Avignon is roaming the streets and clubs of NYC again, playing at the knitting factory old office this
saturday in his musical incarnation, Neoangin. All kind of weirdos will enter the stage, there will be dancers and Jim will decorate the entire place . His show will be around 10pm and next to his grand pop tunes he also announces the big welcome the year o the rat. Other performers: The Honeycomb Theatre Group, Adirana Stimola, Elizabeth Harper, Woodshellm and more. The venue will have strange people in costumes will be giving psychic insight, "an element of fire" plus much more we don't want to put on the blog just in case the feds are...oops.

The Snow In Your Living Room!

At long last, you can experience The Snow in your Living Room! Please join Hilary (one l no Clinton) and Pierre and their excellent band this Friday, February 8 at 9.30 pm to celebrate the release of their first CD, True Dirt. The CD is not yet available anywhere else so come get your copy hot off the press. The Poor Things will open, and Pierre recommends get there early! It's also the last snow show for a while - Hilary flies south until spring, we hope she'll be blogging again from there. writes “Add the Snow to the shortlist of the half-dozen or so best bands in New York…” And if all of the album is as good as the song True Dirt, which we had the pleasure to pre-listen, then add the CD to your shortlist of things to buy. Pierre's going on tour soon, too, so seize the chance to see em and say adieu.