Stranded In Stereo: June 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Band of the Week: Maribel

Lately, it seems that a simple analogy could be used to sum up the musical preferences of two of the Scando territories: Sweden is to sunny pop what Norway is to dark shoegaze. Norway has taken over and added to this decade's shoegaze, especially when you look at bands like Sereena-Maneesh, Simon Says No, and the Megaphonic Thrift.

Add to that list Maribel, who just recently released their debut album, who take fuzzed out dreamscapes to a new and exciting level. Long-player Aesthetics is nine tracks (plus a bonus song only available on a Norwegian 7") of what we have come to love from this genre. Now the next thing we want to know is this -- when are you coming to the States?

Download: "Ecstatic" [mp3]

Monday Morning Newsletter (6/29/09)

How does one write an obit for Michael Jackson? José sees it this way: Suffice it to say he is possibly the most over-rated recording artist since Elvis. Popularity isn’t everything. Mayonnaise is popular, Wonderbread is popular. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is popular. Most things with that level of near-universal popularity are utter shite. The man’s most popular two records were largely written by Quincy Jones. His most recent album Invincible came out 8 years ago and sold 2 million copies, barely a tenth of his album HIStory from 6 years earlier, that itself is a fraction of the 109 million that Thriller sold. He peaked early. He’d been on the way out for 20 years. His freaky self-mutilation kept him in the spotlight long after his 15 minutes were over. His claims to genius are arguable. The evidence for pedophile is much more convincing. More revolting is our instant lionizing of the publicly unrepentant pederast. He’ll share a room with Gary Glitter in hell.

In much more amusing news, Lemonheads lead vocalist Evan Dando is suing General Motors. His lawsuit claims that the automaker copied his 1992 single "It's A Shame About Ray" in an ad for Chevrolet and Buick. If you’ve seen the ad, you already know they are gonna lose bad. The Lemonheads will release their new album, Varshons, later this month.

José is way into this EP of down-tempo electronica by Mouse Kills Tiger. This LA-based trio kept it high and tight. They rock an uncharted region triangulated between Tommy Guerrero, Radiohead and Stellastar. Free Download HERE.

Billy Corgan has finally confirmed the identity of his new drummer. Replacing long-time smack-head Jimmy Chamberlin is 19-year-old Mike Byrne. Bryne is a Berklee College of Music freshman and former member of the Oregon-based band, Moses, Smell the Roses. He is already recording demos with Corgan.

Alice in Chains has gotten a tad more specific about their new album. The title has been revealed to be Black Gives Way To Blue and the record will drop September 29th. It will be their first album featuring new singer William DuVall and their first album of any kind in 10 years.

The Killers have stated that they intend to record an album of cover songs this fall. Singer Brandon Flowers stated that they were talking about covering songs by Joe Cocker, Billy Squire, The Baja Marimba Band and even Grover Washington Jr.

And on a lesser note, Phish have announced some details on their supposed “comeback” album. José askes: Come back to what? The 10-song album Joy was was recorded with producer Steve Lillywhite. Trey Anastasio stated “We played one long noodling riff over and over and over till everybody left the room.”

HOLY CRAP Oxford Collapse broke up. Their last two shows will be July 17 and 18 in Hoboken and New York. The bands official statement reads: After eight years, 450 shows, and four albums, we’ve decided that we’ve reached the end of the line. To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, “what a long, strange, eye-opening, stomach-bursting, heart-breaking, bittersweet, educational, enlightening, mind-numbing… absurd, amazing trip it’s been.” Damn.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Republic Tigers: "Made Concrete" Video

When they were first mentioned on Stranded in Stereo as a Band of the Week,
The Republic Tigers had me sold by the song "Made Concrete." In the past two years, it has seriously been one of my favorite songs, one of the few on their debut album Keep Color about lead singer Kenn Jankowski's divorce. So now there's a video for "Concrete," a video I dreamt up in my head a thousand times over, a thousand concepts the band did not go with. Instead we find Jankowski in an out of body experience and the rest of the band performing surgery. I don't think it's Grey's Anatomy and that's probably a good thing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Portugal. The Man: Satanist Leaks, Band Responds

In the music world today, the leak of an album prior to it's release is inevitable. It's almost commonplace for sometime before an album's release date - sometimes too early, sometimes just before - some fan or someone in the industry will upload an album to the internet and everyone will get a chance to download it. I've spoken my peace, re: leaks when Grizzly Bear leaked months ago. And now, the new Portugal. The Man album The Satanic Satanist has leaked four weeks prior to it's July 21st release date. When their previous albums leaked two weeks in advance of being on store shelves, lead singer John Wayne Gourley would come out and more or less champion it, saying it's ok, give us feedback we enjoy it. But this time he painted a different picture...

In a longwinded piece posted online yesterday, Gourley points the finger directly at who was responsible before going on to talk about bands like Grizzly Bear and others who would have benefited better than they already did if it wasn't for a leak.

"I had mixed feelings when I hear the album had leaked. On one hand it was exciting to think that people were actually searching so hard in advance (We have never had an album leak more than two weeks in advance of release date). On the other hand I was somewhat frustrated, not in an angry way. Just looking back at our history of touring and shows gradually getting bigger and bigger but still watching sales drop from our low thousands to the lower thousands. It was more frustrating to hear how it leaked seeing as how all the links we had sent out were private and coded. There is a certain level of professionalism that has been lost along with the idea that is the album. To hear about these things happening from the people that should understand music as much as any musician is just heartbreaking. I am happy vinyl is coming back, it needs to. We need to have albums and music. I need to."

This is just one more example that makes me sad for the artist. It's not that they're sad but they're disappointed and it just makes me feel bad. Now, granted, I've had this album for quite some time from a source inside the band but still, makes me feel bad hearing the whole thing so far in advance. I, too, champion the return of vinyl in the marketplace and can only dream of the day when I can be my 13-year old self again, having my parents take me to the record store after school or on the weekend to get the newest albums that I was so excited to hear.

Here's another new
Satanist song, it's my personal favorite, actually. No matter what you do, though, please buy this record. They have lots of awesome pre-order options on their website that you should check out. Also, read all of John's letter on their website.

Download: "Do You" [mp3]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Movers & Shakers, Quixote Open for Fake Problems in Boston

Those looking to kick off the long 4th of July weekend early are in luck as the Middle East has a pretty good line up for Thursday July 2nd. Side One Dummy newer signing and road warriors Fake Problems will be supported by Boston local faves Movers & Shakers and Quixote. Both bands have recently released new albums as Movers dropped Larrabee on June 9th while Quixote released their self-titled debut last week.

Download: "Adventures in an Unrealistic Life" [mp3]
Download: "Hubris" by Quixote [mp3]

Monday, June 22, 2009

Band of the Week: Alan Pownall

Jumping feet first into the burgeoning and crowded new English folk scene, Londoner Alan Pownall has already made a name for himself via his unique takes on pop hits from Kanye West and Beyonce, but come 22 June, listeners will be able to look past what some may call gimmicky moves when Young and Lost Club releases his debut single.

You can hear "Clara" now on his MySpace, an engaging tune that is flush with an enigmatic quality that brings to mind Johnny Flynn. Pownall is currently at work on his debut album, which has a tentative release date of early 2010, and as well, he'll be playing select dates this summer.

Download: "Love Lockdown" [mp3]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Matador Sign Harlem

So this time last year, I was getting bored with music. And it's not that I'm necessarily bored again this year but I just needed something new. And I've been listening to WOXY and now I know where our own D. Sloan finds a bunch of good things. The following is something I did not find via the Future of Rock 'n Roll.

hail from my future paradise of Austin, Texas. I took a look at them and was intrigued. I put on the video for "Think I'm Thinkin' Bout" and it's a house party. It's something else. It's all funky and junky and jankly and pure. It's probably been done by a shit ton of bands before: they're a step above Times New Viking, but the track "Disneyland," also on their album Free Drugs, starts out staticy and reminded me of something on an Ariel Pink record. Guess it sounds like Black Lips, too.

So, congrats to Harlem. Matador will issue their next album in 2010. Free Drugs is out now via Female Fantasy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Zaza: Cameo EP / Download it Now!

Rather than just be listening to albums front to back, or just having the ol' iRust on shuffle this week, I have been listening to WOXY non-fucking-stop. Seriously, I think I have an obsession. I think I now have a reason for obsession: giving me new music to listen to! One band that stayed with me through and through this week was called Zaza. From the depths of where else but Brooklyn, the shoegazers are releasing an EP, Cameo, via Kanine Records, this August on vinyl and digitally.

You know where I'm going with this, right?

Taking a page from the book of Titus Andronicus, the band is giving away the entire EP, for free, right now, on their website. Not even for the price of an e-mail address or your first born. Just a click. Well, get on it already, wouldja? "Sooner or Later" is where it's at.

Download: Cameo EP [here]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Soft Reeds EP Available For Download. For Free.

I remember sometime in last year discussing Soft Reeds, the new project from former Golden Republic frontman Ben Grimes. He had some songs up on his MySpace, and now after spending the months of April and May recording them at home in Nashville, he wants you to hear what he has come up with.

The oh-so-aptly titled
Three Songs by Soft Reeds features two songs you might've heard before on the said MySpace page - his take on the what was once a Golden Republic song, was then the lead single from The Republic Tigers and now Soft Reeds takes a stab at "Buildings & Mountains" and my jam "Thick of Thin Things". In the middle of those two songs is the super 80s swagger of "This Affair." According to the Soft Reeds site a full length is in the works; just give the world "Hemel Dalingen" and I'll be happy for life.

Download: Three Songs By Soft Reeds [here]

Monday, June 15, 2009

SIS At The Club: The Fiery Furnaces

The last time I got to see The Fiery Furnaces in concert it was the first time. It was a balmy Austin night at SXSW '06, and they were a few weeks away from releasing the recently leaked Bitter Tea, probably my second favorite album of theirs (behind Blueberry Boat and Gallowsbird's Bark - wait a minute, I can't do math.) Their performance had let me down; the band known for their somewhat zany live performing walked on stage sans the one thing that makes them sound so crazy in the first place: Matt Friedberger's keyboards. Instead he stayed on the guitar all night and just a made a bunch of squakking noises with his six string, while they played sped up version of songs from Rehearsing My Choir, the album that featured the grandmother of Matt and sister/lead singe Eleanor on vocals. No, Grandma FF was not there nor was it really that good.

The Fiery Furnaces were the first band I got in to in the blog age, so they will always and forever hold a specal place in my heart and that's why I had to give them another chance 3+ years later. On the heels of their eighth album,
I'm Going Away, the band scheduled a few dates wherein the band would play the new album in its entierity - and they did - just not in sequencial order, which I thought was interesting but worked at the same time. Just a few hours before the show, I was given my copy of Away and, as said fan listed at the start of this paragraph, I put it on immediately but tuned it out halfway through on purpose. Why you ask? I guess it's kind of like I didn't want to read the book before seeing the play or vice versa, didn't want the night spoiled for me.

Matt again left the keyboards at home, but it seems that this time it worked for the better - his guitar sounding much cleaner and direct as opposed to the sound of it having a seizure or something. After opening with a few classics, including an awesome rendition of
Bark fave "Leaky Tunnel," the Away party commenced. Opening with the lead track, Elenaor found herself quipping ahead and out of sync of the band at times, but that's just a trademark of the band that their fans should know by now. "Charmaine Champagne" was a highlight of the evening, not only because noted as Elenaor's favorite but also mine. The core outside of the Friedberger duo, Sebadoh bassist Jason Lowenstein and drummer Bob D'Amico, have been with the band almost long enough at this point they might as well be called members of the group. They gave life and showed their presence in new numbers like "Ray Bouiver" and "Staring At The Steeple", while helping to fine tune older numbers like the epically spazztic "Chris Michaels" and pompous rocker "Single Again."

And after the show and I let it digest for a day, I listened to
I'm Going Away very intently. Surprisingly, I was happy with the live performance this time around; although the album is filled with scales of piano and left and right, the band did just find to interpret it as a four piece rock band will nothing more than one guitar, a drum, a bass, and that person up in front who kept blowing their whistle all night.

Set List:
Here Comes The Summer / Leaky Tunnel / Chris Michaels / I'm Going Away / The End Is Near / Charmaine Champagne / Cut The Cake / Ray Bouvier / Staring At The Steeple / Even In The Rain / Keep Me In The Dark / Lost At Sea / Cups And Punches / Take Me 'Round Again / Drive To Dallas / Duplexes of The Dead / Ex-Guru // Single Again

Download: "The End Is Near" [mp3]

Band of the Week: Kumka Olik

I really have no idea what they're singing about, but I guess the same can be said for plenty of English bands. Kumka Olik is from Poland and play very English-sounding indie rock, and while it can be quite derivative at times, their latest album Jedynka is an excellent listen.

Download: "Zaspane Poniedziałki" [mp3]

Monday Morning Newsletter (6-15-09)

Epic. Fail. At the Tony Awards after Poison finished their guitar-wanking set singer Bret Michaels walked head-first into a lowering backdrop. The reality star and hair-club-for-men member took a definitive face-plant and broke his nose. José laughs at his misfortune.

The record label Warp Records is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with a commemorative box set. The set will include five CDs, five 10" records, and a 192-page book. The packaging is complete but they have yet to release a definitive track listing. José is expecting some Aphex twin b-sides.

Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic is running for office again. This time his sights are set on the desk of the county clerk of Wahkiakum County, WA. Novoselic, has spent much of his post-Nirvana career meaningfully in local politics. Presently he lists his party affiliation as the non-partisan organization “Grange.” Nice beard dude.

Portland band Nurses have signed with record label Dead Oceans. Their first release on the label, Apple's Acre is scheduled for August 4th. Dead Oceans has posted an MP3 here.

Clear Channel and Front Line Management are trying to attract listeners to internet radio thru celebrity branding. The platform is called Artist Personal Experience (a.p.e.) radio. The program will launches this July. Participating artists include the Eagles, Christina Aguilera and Weezer. Aguilera's playlist will include songs from Santigold, Black Sabbath and Etta James. Weezers will include Will Smith, Lawrence Welk, and Stryper.

Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson got tapped to give the keynote speech at the UCLA College of Letters and Science commencement. On Friday Delson was came into sub for actor James Franco, who bowed out at the last minute. Delson is an actual UCLA graduate so the invite isn’t random. He graduated in 1999 with a BA in Communications.

Collective Soul is releasing it’s first album in three years. The album Rabbit is coming out on Roadrunner on August 25. It was recorded at vocalist Ed Roland’s Lake House studio. José had to look that up because they haven’t sold a platinum record in a decade.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stranded in Stereo Volume 14 Is Here! Download Me!

We're kicking up Summer 2009 with a digital version of our latest sampler. For those of your on our mailing list, this is the only format that it comes in, so download away! With the digital move, we hope to have more editions next year, which is good for you, because you'll get your hands on even more new music.

We're particularly happy with this sampler, as we have new stuff from Son Volt, LoveLikeFire, The Beautiful Confusion, Rubicks, Fitz & the Tantrums, Gliss, Pull in Emergency, Sky Larkin, The Ringers, Longwave, The Hundred Days, and The Love Language.

1. Son Volt - "Down To The Wire"
2. LoveLikeFire - "William"
3. The Beautiful Confusion - "December Morning"
4. Rubicks - "Red Rock"
5. Jeff Who? - "The Great Escape"
6. Gliss - "Beauty"
7. Pull In Emergency - "Planes"
8. Found - "Let Fidelity Break"
9. The Ringers - "Rough In The Diamond"
10. The Proclaimers - "17"
11. Archways - "Jinx"
12. Conshafter - "Bought And Sold"
13. The Hundred Days - "Spin"
14. Looner - "I Love My Tamagotchee"

1. The Rushing - "Step Inside"
2. Fitz & The Tantrums - "Breakin' The Chains of Love"
3. Jason Reeves - "Someone Somewhere"
4. Cocktail Slippers - "St. Valentine's Day Massacre"
5. The Urgency - "Revolution"
6. LoveLikeFire - "William"
7. Franz Nicolay - "Jeff Penalty"
8. Sky Larkin - "Antibodies"
9. The Love Language - "Sparxx"
10. Longwave - "The Devil & The Liar"
11. Gene Dante & The Future Starlets - "A Madness To His Method"

Download: SIS v14 Audio [zip] // SIS v14 Video [zip]

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sonic Youth Gets Tricky on Letterman

So, I was flipping around last night, and at 12:29AM I turned Letterman on. Kathy Griffin was still running her big mouth. I was starting to wonder if she was going to bump Sonic Youth kind of like that GM Asshole did with Grizzly Bear before them. Luckily, at 12:34AM the Youth took the stage and tore through a great version of The Eternal lead track "Sacred Trickster". For being well over 50, they all still rock like their playing to nobody in the early 80s on a tour from Hell with Swans. And, oh, Kim Gordon, you can still shimmy and shake like no other and it's still the sexiest thing I have ever seen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Detroit Cobras on Tour

The Detroit Cobras are abotu halfway through their U.S. tour. It is presently scheduled to wrap up July 11th in Louisville. But do not despair, more dates are TBA. The entire stretch is with the Dexter Romweber Duo.
Jun 08th - Local 506 Chapel Hill, NC
Jun 09th - Rock and Roll Hotel, D.C.
Jun 10th - Johnny Brenda’s Philly, PA
Jun 11th - TT The Bear’s Boston, MA
Jun 12th - Southpaw Brooklyn, NY
Jun 13th - Mercury Lounge New York, NY
Jun 15th - The Gypsy Hut Cincinnati, OH, OH
Jun 16th - Mr. Small’s Theatre Millvale, PA
Jun 17th - Beachland Cleveland, OH
Jun 18th - Birdy’s Indianapolis, IN
Jun 19th - High Noon Madison, WI
Jun 20th - Magic Stick Detroit, MI
Jul 11th - The Riverfront Belvedere Louisville, KY

Monday, June 8, 2009

Band of the Week: Chew Lips

I didn't know what to make of Chew Lips at first -- they seemed to be more style than substance, so I wanted to go running the other way. Luckily I gave the band a chance, as "Solo" is shaping up to be one of the best single of the year. It's minimal dance pop with just enough backbone to keep you involved for the entire song, and lead singer Tigs is smart enough to never take it over the top. Their debut single is out now on Kitsune.

Stream: "Solo" [MySpace]

Monday Morning Newsletter (6-8-09)

Absolutely Kosher Records and Misra Records are giving away a free 8-song digital sampler of upcoming releases titled Soon. It includes new cuts from 60 Watt Kid, Rollercoaster Project and Buttonhead among others. Download Soon here.

The Pet Shop Boys in the face of unrelenting ridicule have decided to brave a North American tour. The sojourn begins in Montreal on August 29 and ends in Las Vegas on September 26. The tour supports their new album Yes. José just says No.

Perpetual pop poseurs Fall out Boy are making a comic book. The new comic titled Fall Out Toyworks will be published by Image Comics. The book is based on their song "Tiffany Blews" and will be on stands September 2nd.

Drake is deep in the drama this week. IODA released The Girls Love Drake online this week despite the fact that the samples are not yet cleared. Drake is in the middle of an A&R war over his debut release and IODA may have spoiled the deal. Drake claims not to have authorized IODA and now is planning to sue the Canadian-based company.

Rhino Records is releasing a complete Woodstock box set this August 18th. the box includes thirty-eight previously unreleased recordings. The set, titled Woodstock -- 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm box uses a track listing accurate to the actual running order of the legendary 1969 festival including stage announcements. José says don’t take the brown acid.

The Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor died last week of complications from surgery. Taylor won more awards than any other blues artist in her lifetime, 29 Blues Music Awards in all and was nominated for eight Grammys. Her last performance was a May 7th appearance at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. She was 81.

Japandroids album Post-Nothing is being released worldwide release on CD and vinyl August 4. Polyvinyl does the honors leaving the digital download date scheduled for June 9th. The LP follows up their 2007 and 2008 EPs All Lies, and Lullaby Death Jams respectively.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Yo La Tengo Have Popular Songs

The best way to come down from the high that was three nights of Grizzly Bear (including meeting them?) - coming in the morning after to find out there's a new Yo La Tengo record ready for consumption!

My pick for #2 or #3 favorite band of all time have a new set,
Popular Songs, set to come out on September 8th through Matador. No tracklisting has been served up yet, but first taste "Periodically Double or Triple" says it's #5 of 12 songs. A dozen new YLT songs just in time for the fall - hooray!

Man, listen to the organs jam. Look at that album cover! YLT overload.

Download: "Periodically Double or Triple" [mp3]

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Portugal. The Man: "People Say"

It seems like just yesterday the SIS HQ was getting excited about Censored Colors from Portugal. The Man. And it is like yesterday because it wasn't even a year ago that they dropped the epic record, and now they're already back with its follow-up, The Satanic Satanist.

Aside from its demonic title,
Satanist is probably going to be the feel good record of the summer. The titles, and songs, are concise and short - they flow seamlessly from one to another and are probably the catchiest batch of songs yet. Who would have thought they would have followed-up Colors with this, not I.

The Satanic Satanist
drops on the band's Approaching AIRballoons label through Equal Vision on July 21st. We have the lead track, just for you, "People Say." If you're like me, you'll be humming and singing along by the third listen.

Download: "People Say" [mp3]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Love in the Time of Mashups

Music is as diverse in form, power and dynamics as the ocean itself. Like the ocean, music can be calm and powerful, beautiful or violent; it can bring pain or health, it can isolate and it can communicate on a level that reaches far beyond language, symbols and time. DJs are the captains that navigate the uncharted oceans of music that connect our world. Like the seafaring captain, the DJ, turntablists and party rockers risk life and limb, career and reputation to control and navigate through the often hostile, unpredictable and uncharted landscapes of audience and technology all in an effort to make people move and transcend.

So why risk it all in an already unstable world? The answer, quite plainly, is love: Love of music, love of adventure, love of life. Many a musical mariner has run aground in pursuit of sirens like fame, glory and money. Long after the remains of these novices have sunk to the depths, it is the pirates and the captains who will sail on. Why? Because love was and remains the purpose of their quest and DJing is most definitely a lifelong quest of love.

It is getting harder and harder in 2008 to keep your love for the sea. Celebrity DJs and mash-up cracks pollute the waters. Technology is replacing skill. Emotion is automated. What you are about to read is a first person account of the sea life, the DJ life, from a young man with the heart of an old salt.

This is Love In the Time of Mashups.


A random first entry. It’s 12:41am on technically Sunday morning.

I have to DJ for another hour and 45 minutes. My partner in crime for these select evenings at the Golden Bear bar is DJ Riff Raff; as a duo we are called Jive as Fuck and I feel we completely represent the double-sided nature of this name. Riff’s mixer had a malfunction earlier in the night so we were an hour late starting: this is jive as fuck. I totally didn’t care; it’s the night after Halloween and its dead. All chodes, no rhythm and no open minds: It’s the worst possible scenario for a DJ like me. I just ordered a White Russian to kill some time. Boredom always gets me in the end. I always do the worst shit when I am bored.

So back to tonight’s venue sucking: tonight sucks.

I always try to imitate the example set by my favorite DJs: Built For Speed from San Francisco.

These two DJs, Fashion Hooker (Dee) and Platform Whore (Rachel), play only what they want, the will of the crowd be damned; these two are jive as fuck. They seem to be against the traditional role of the DJ as a crowd-pleaser. DJs are there to cater to the will of the mass at weddings, clubs, whatever. These two ladies completely dismiss that notion. I don’t know why they DJ then? To amuse themselves? Share music with unknowing masses? It’s definitely not the reason I started DJing: namely to please my high school peers and make a name for myself in the adolescent abyss of my teen years.

It worked, though. I made a name for myself: Rob Fatal. It got me recognized, but for what? Maybe I am idealizing their nature, but it seems as if Dee and Rachel don’t need DJing to exist. I myself often wonder who I’d be if I wasn’t DJ Rob Fatal? But then again, who would any of us be without the things we did? For example my professors, filmmakers, artists, friends who sell drugs, etc… The list goes on. People need to be known for something; to have their identity tied to something. Is that not the true nature of identity? DJing is not a bad thing to be known for. At least I’m not Rob the asshole or Rob the homophobe or Rob the burnout.

But who are any of us?

I look around this bar, at all these faces, and ask the same questions as countless people before me: who are any of us without our clothes, jobs, hair styles, drink orders and words.

I like DJing because it separates me from some of these sad fucks.

I have a purpose here; I mean something, have worth and standout in this collage of people.

But what good does that do when some chode I despise and seek to differ myself from heckles and gives me shit about the music I play?

It’s as if I’m a server in the food service industry: I try to hold power, but ultimately I serve this paying customer.

But not tonight. While getting heckled I start to play the most alienating music I can in an effort to get him, his Diesel Jeans, $700 leather shoes and striped collar shirt the fuck out of my venue: Eddie Cochran, Sam Sham and the Pharos, Nancy Sinatra, Brazillian baile funk and Ukraine gypsy punk; Anything to make him doubt his sexuality, nationality or privileged white male superiority.

I smile as he leaves in a rush, frustrated that he can’t sing along to songs in another language or at the thought that he is shaking his anus to the Scissor Sisters’ “Filthy Gorgeous”; a tune countless gay men he is terrified of have copulated to mercilessly.

I give a nod as he scowls on the way out.
You don’t fuck with the people who serve your food DO NOT FUCK with the people playing your music. Dee and Rachel I think would smile if they saw me tonight. Oops, time to get back to work.

Can't Stop Spinning: Hombre Lobo by Eels

There hasn't been any band like Eels that have been an important part of my life since entering it at the turn of the century. Sure, "Novocaine For The Soul" was a song I requested a lot on my local radio station in my early teens, but it was earlier this decade when Souljacker was released, and E dawned the cover with a grizzly beard that gave the unabomber a run for his money. At the same time, I obtained my copy of their epic Electro-Shock Blues, an album to this day that still holds the specialist of places in my heart. It has always been my go to in times of endless grief and sadness with the few deaths I've had to implore the last few years, and it always will be: "Dead of Winter" being the cornerstone of ultimate loss.

With those two albums, I could always see myself in E's lyrics. And a few months ago, I was given my copy of his latest,
Hombre Lobo, and the beard from the Souljacker days hath returneth, along with my pension for living vicariously though his pain. Subtitled 12 Songs of Desire, E has decided to live through the character of the Dog Faced Boy that Souljacker's lead song is about, down to that gnarly beard. The songs are rough, brash and loud at times; chunky guitars and overmastering fill the speakers during the rocous "Tremendous Dynamite" and the opening "Prizefighter". And facing off are the songs that follow; in a near album-length loud/quiet/loud dynamic from song to song, the first half follows this sequence to a T. After the prize is the quiet and wanting "The Look You Give That Guy," before the gritty bastard child of anything off of 2005's Blinking Lights & Other Revelations' "Lilac Breeze" finds E with a rather humorous tongue when he states 'Birds do it / Bees do it / I wanna do it / The Only thing we to do is get down to it.'

And after the bombast of "Dynamite" comes the mournful "The Longing." Right up there with "Winter" in the Saddest Eels Song category, E woefully strums his guitar as he tries to just move on, to get her out of his head, to detach her venom and poison that has seeped in to his brain. He hasn't sounded this frail and desperate, whether he's singing as a charcter or as himself, since
Electro-Shock; especially in the way he delivers to us what he misses: "Her smell, her touch / Her Smile, her laugh."

No two Eels records are ever the same really, but to compare it sonically to anything before this, you could say
Lobo is a dirtier, and grittier sounding Shootenanny. Catchy straightforward guitar licks and other rhythms are covered in dirt, stomped out like our protaganist's heart has been on a song like "What's A Fella Gotta Do". "All The Beautiful Things" is the furthest this album gets from the sound achieved on the other 11 tracks with a cleaner sound as E is aware of how he is great and how she knows he is great, yet she won't accept him just yet.

Blinking Lights was named Album of the Year by me in 2005. Whether Hombre Lobo will take the cake this year remains to be seen, but what can be seen is that E has once again made an album that his fans will love and appreciate, as he branches out in to making a record unlike Blinking Lights, and another dozen songs that I will forever and always be able to identify myself with.

Stream: Tracks from Hombre Lobo [MySpace]

Monday, June 1, 2009

SIS At The Club: Grizzly Bear

(Photo by D. Antonaccio)

Ever since that Veckatimest record leaked, the thing that kept me in anticipation with the Grizzly Bear was the fact that I bought tickets, two and a half months in advance mind you, for both nights at Town Hall in New York City to celebrate not just the best album of 2009 (surprise much?) but also to celebrate my birthday. It was the least I could do for being one of the many who downloaded the album far in advance. I also bought it on CD. And vinyl. And, ok, yes I am obsessed with it.

, I was giddy, I was sitting in my seat and as the lights went down and the band walked out, I told the person sitting next to me how this had been something that was two months in the making. And they did not disappoint. Not one second.

On the eve of this pair of homecoming shows, it was announced that the band would be joined for the first night by their friends in the Brooklyn Youth Chorus that helped bring together some of the greatest moments of
Veckatimest, and they just made the night at Town Hall even better. Joining them for "Cheerleader" and "Fine For Now" was one thing, but returning to the stage to later perform the final moments of the Veck were as epic as the songs themselves. "I Live With You" found drummer Chris Bear and his signature fits of rage coalescing with the harmonies provided by the ladies in black, who then said goodbye with the segue in to "Foreground," displaying a moment that was ever the more powerful than one would think from just hearing it on anything from a low-quality file or direct from the CD or LP itself.

(photo by D. Antonaccio)

And for those who didn't make it to the first night, those who showed up the second night got an equally awesome surprise. In place of the choir, the Griz was joined by the ACME String quartet for a set of songs during the second half of their set. They even played the song that Ed Droste introduced as the one that they "failed to perform on late night TV last week" ("Ready, Able"). Getting to see this in the flesh, from the front row mind you, totally makes up for that Letterman guy talking too much to the CEO of GM last week. Lucky for you, the Letterman performance got rescheduled for July - it will not disappoint.

After the string quartet exited, and the band tore through immaculate renditions of "On A Neck, On A Spit" and "While You Wait For The Others," they returned for the simplest of encores. To utilize the impeccable acoustics of Town Hall, the band ended the two night run with an acoustic version of "All We Ask," kind of like that recent Black Cab session. While Bear played a stripped down kit, Dan Rossen strummed an acoustic guitar while Droste sang and bassist Chris Taylor stood there and harmonized.

And then, it was over. I have found very few people not buying in to the hype that is Grizzly Bear and their new album; I know I am a card-carrying member of said hype. But it's not just because they have made a great album, but it is also because they are talented musicians: they are tight in their live performances. They don't waste time, there was such little small talk outside of a few pleasantries between songs. They came onstage, they played their songs, they smiled politely and left. They've been given praise not just from this blogger, but lots of other places, and I know my opinion isn't as regaled as that Pitchfork site or Rolling Stone or Spin, but know this: it is worth every last ounce of hype and attention.

5/28/09 Set List

Southern Point / Cheerleader* / Fine For Now* / Service Bell / Knife / Little Brother / Colorado / Two Weeks / Ready, Able / I Live With You* / Foreground* / While You Wait For The Others // He Hit Me / On A Neck, On A Spit

*with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus

5/29/09 Set Lis

Southern Point / Cheerleader / Lullabye / Knife / Fine For Now / Two Weeks / Colorado / Dory* / Ready, Able* / I Live With You* / Foreground* / While You Wait For The Others / On A Neck, On A Spit // All We Ask
*with the ACME String Quartet

Monday Morning Newsletter (6-1-09)

Jay Bennett, the multi-instrumentalist and ex-Wilco member died last Sunday morning. He was known to have clashed with band leader Jeff Tweedy, but to have been prolific since his departure from the band. He had been in poor health and passed in his sleep. He was 45

Billy Joel is being sued by former drummer Liberty DeVitto. DeVitto now claims that Joel failed to pay him royalties. DeVitto worked for Joel for 30 years stretching from 1975 to 2005 and helped write some of his singles. José says that drummers don’t write songs, they hit things with sticks.

The Atlanta rapper Dolla was fatally shot last week at the Westside Mall. The shooting began at about 3:00 p.m. Monday afternoon. in the parking structure of the popular Westside mall. Dolla, whose real name is Roderick Anthony Burton II, was killed instantly by a shot in the head. D.J. Shabbazz escaped uninjured. Los Angeles police have already detained a suspect.

Green Day lost the battle but won the war with Wal-Mart. Despite the fact that Wal-Mart freely stocks T&A flocks unedited, they requested the punk band bleep their lyrics. Green Day refused. In a move widely seen as political and not fiscal, Wal-Mart refused to stock the record. Billie Joe Armstrong commented: "They want artists to censor their records in order to be carried in there. We just said no. You feel like you're in 1953 or something." Their album 21st Century Breakdown still managed to debut at number one last week without Wal-Mart.

The Beastie Boys have announced their new LP will be titled Hot Sauce Committee and is due for release in September. 2009 has been a productive year for the Beasties as they have re-released Check Your Head, Paul's Boutique and Ill Communication. Let us not forget that the brass monkey is a funky monkey.

Muse has announced that their new album will be titled The Resistance. The record is tentatively scheduled for a release this fall. Muse is also doing a handful of dates opening for U2 in North America this summer. This will be their first release since 2006.

Pete Yorn and actress Scarlett Johansson have recorded an album together. The unlikely album will be a collection of duets titled Break Up. The album is scheduled for a September 8 release. Last year her album of Tom Waits tanked like a bad layup. York is releasing his own album Back And Fourth on June 23. He was quoted as saying “Because seriously, she is that hot. That’s why.”

You may recall that Depeche Mode vocalist Dave Gahan was hospitalized on May 12th with gastroenteritis. The cause turned out to be a malignant tumor in his bladder. Several shows on their tour have been canceled; doctors have ordered him to rest until at least June 8th.Jose can think of precious few places worse than that for a tumor. take all the time you need.