31 July 2009

Will I be buying one of these at the show tonight? More than likely, yes. I feel ever since last summer when I bought this one, I have become forever destined to buy the gasp-inducing t-shirt. 

30 July 2009

This really isn't a blog post as it is more of just me talking, but it seems necessary nonetheless. After some serious thinking, I think I am ready to take a jump. While I've never read the book, I'm fairly certain that in Perfect From Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life the author talks about the instrumental role Guided By Voices plays in his development towards adulthood. I like GBV, but am starting to get to a point where I think I am ready to love GBV. The only thing holding me back at the moment is the fact that there is a dizzying amount of albums that can be collected by the band, and I don't have the slightest clue as to which album should be the next one. Perhaps, I should read this book and then I'll have a better idea. Then again, I have fallen somewhat behind in my reading game. I'm finishing up Faulkner's As I Lay Dying at the moment, but I still have Bright Lights Big City, Fargo Rock City, and Fight Club sitting on the desk waiting to be read. I see this project as a massive one, and think that it may deserve special attention. 
I'm toying around with some new ideas to make this blog slightly more readable, so perhaps over time some new things will bubble up to the surface. Also, I've been having these really strange dreams lately and I think its been the cosmos' way of delivering an idea to me. With that being said, I may or may not be developing a script for a horror movie. 
And finally, I'm seeing Deerhunter tomorrow night and that is pretty rad and then hopefully some clever writing to complete the weekend.

29 July 2009

I've sparsely listened to this before, but never in the proper context.

Album in Question: Liars Liars
Where I Heard It Previously: Two falls ago, I downloaded this onto my old roommate's computer. I tried playing it several times, but it was always met with lukewarm responses so eventually I just stopped trying.

I first became aware of Liars after reading an interview with Thom Yorke, in which he mentioned one of their albums, Drums Not Dead, as one of his favorite pieces of music at the moment. A co-sign from the frontman of one of the world's most important bands was enough for me, and after that I began to actively search for this band at my local record store. If this has not been mentioned before then it can be made known now, but my local record store is woefully inadequate and very rarely do they have anything worth buying. 
The first time I had a copy of this album, I would try playing it for one of my roommates but we met the same fate every time the disc was spun. It never made it past "Leather Prowler". My roomie was borderline terrified of the song. He hated it, and resisted it every chance he got. But seriously, it was the same routine each time. The first track, "Plaster Casts of Everything", was permitted to play because it was the first song on the album. The song itself has a very fierce gallop to it, and is probably not for the faint at heart. In a way, it is the perfect song to kick off the album. If someone can't get through the first song then chances are pretty good that they would not enjoy the album, and if one does like the first song then conventional thinking would say that this individual will probably like the entire disc. My roommate and I were always both in accordance in thinking that the second track, "Houseclouds", was pretty good. I even went so far as to put it on a mix that I made once. My roommate would always comment on how normal this song sounded when compared to "Plaster Casts of Everything" and "Leather Prowler". This statement existed only for so long because we eventually saw the music video for "Houseclouds" and, well, it was a little avant-garde to say the least, and in some respects proved to be the death knell for the entire album because it never saw the light of day again while I lived in that house. 
When this album first came out, the powers that be over at Pitchfork Media gave it an 8.5 out of 10 and for this prestigious zine this supposed to mean that this album is oh, so necessary like Young Hov in the house. The best part about the P4k review is the introduction of the term "murk" which means music sounding like dub that has crossed down the stoner rock alley. Well, if dub rules and stoner rock rules then this album should rule too, correct? 
This album may not unequivocally rule, but it gets there to that kind of level at points. This is a self-titled album for Liars, but by no means is it their first album. The self-titled album can be a slippery slope, and traditionally bands get it out of the way first. Without thinking about it, the only other band that springs to mind with a self-titled album that isn't their first effort is the Velvet Underground and their third album which bore the name, Velvet Underground. (Writer's Confession: I absolutely love the third Velvet Underground album. It was one of my all-time, all-time favorite discs. In many ways, I believe that it may be a perfect album in the sense that every track is so god-damn good and that there is not a single clunker on the whole thing. You can just listen to it straight through with no complaints, and better yet you can listen to it over and over and over again. So good.) But, I digress. 
According to the internets, no two Liars albums sound the same. The first album demonstrated tremendous promise and boasted an exciting new sound. The follow-up was seen as pretty fucking strange, and while the third album elevated the group to new levels of awesomeness as music critics fawned over the disc and how the band had seemed to find their sound. Then they released Liars. They flipped the script on what they were doing, but were still managed to present themselves as at the forefront for what is happening in contemporary music. If that's too much to digest, then perhaps it would just be easier to say that the dudes in this band conceivably smoke a lot of ganja and as a result their music is kind of all over the place, but in a good way. 
Final Verdict: This album is quite good, and true treat for the ears. Furthermore, I am categorically a piece of shit for going so long without listening to it more.

28 July 2009

A lot of videos, but don't blame the writer blame Amazon Marketplace seller mister_happy. This new one comes from luminaries Yo La Tengo, and is being posted on this here space because it's something from Yo La Tengo and Yo La Tengo is incomprehensibly awesome. Viewer be warned. This video involves things being done in the air, and its slightly dizzying. But as written earlier, it's Yo La Tengo.

27 July 2009

24 July 2009

Here's the latest visual offering from the Brooklyn band, Woods. The album, Songs of Shame, is totally rad and even though it came out back in the winter months it is still a great summer record. This video is quite short, and it may not seem like a lot but if anything then it should just compel one to further explore this grand band. 

New Jay-Z

The song is called "Run This Town", and it features Kanye and Rihanna on it. Presumably, this will be the lead single for Blueprint 3. The internets say that the first single was supposed to be a joint with Drake, but for whatever reason this is the song that the people are getting first. Spotted at Nah Right, by way of Rap Radar and Mr. X
UPDATE: Apparently, there was just faulty reporting all over on this one. Drake spoke to The BoomBox, and explained that he knew all along that his track with Hov wouldn't be the lead single. As reported by Keith Murphy, 
"I don't know who came up with that rumor to be honest, but I always knew what Jay's first single was going to be," the hype-building Toronto MC told the BoomBox this afternoon. "Me and Jay did a lot of work together. Maybe at one point he was considering doing it and someone got over-excited and put out a press release that I was going to be on the first single."

So what does Drake, who is working on his Young Money/Universal Republic studio debut 'Thank Me Later' following the rousing success of his mixtape 'So Far Gone,' think about the chest-beating track? "I think Jay made a great choice," he says. "I think the 'Run This Town' song is phenomenal. I think Kanye kills that s---. I actually heard that song when it was a Rihanna track." 

22 July 2009

Conventional wisdom would dictate that The Blueprint 3 is going to be awesome anyway, but now Reuters is reporting that the album will feature guests Kid Cudi, Drake, Rihanna, and MGMT. Yeah, that's not a typo. Jay-Z was interviewed to discuss the upcoming album, and that's what he said. Read whole interview here. This is pretty impressive for a band whose name most people still mispronounce. Seems like it was just last summer when they were still shrouded in relative obscurity, but, oh wait, it was last summer. Then that one song was in a commercial for some shitty movie, and the band began to experience a surge similar to what happened to M.I.A. when "Paper Planes" was in the Pineapple Express trailer. And then it just kind of kept on going from there. When Rolling Stone was relaying their coverage from Bonnaroo the other week, you would have thought that MGMT was the premiere headliner of the whole shin-dig. Either way, this is some exciting shit to hear, and hopefully there will be a dope track in the future for the ears.

21 July 2009

The finalists for the 2009 Mercury Prize were announced today. The Mercury Prize is some sort of prestigious honor given to a British performer for having the best album of the year. The award is voted on by a group of British music critics and music industry heads. The winner gets something like 20,000 pounds which is kind of neat. Apparently, every year the nominees are all over the place. It's not just a bunch of big bands up for the nod, and at the same time its not just a gaggle of indie bands competing either. Last year, Elbow beat Radiohead for top honors and in doing so also edged out Burial as well as Grammy faves Adele and Robert Plant/Allison Krauss so this isn't one of those deals where you can call the winner weeks in advance. The winner won't be determined until September 8th, but here are the nominees. Lily Allen was noticeably absent from the list, although she did tweet that she was rooting for La Roux. Truth be told, I've only heard of half the bands on this list and the only one I actually listen to is the fabulous Ms. Khan, also known as Bat for Lashes who was nominated in 07 but lost out to Klaxons. However, this may be the year. One can hope, and it probably won't even require that much. I mean, have you heard the album? Beyond good. One of the best of the year, period, and since Dirty Projectors and Grizzly Bear aren't from England or Ireland then chances are still pretty good.

2009 Mercury Prize Nominees:
Bat for Lashes: Two Suns
Florence and the Machine: Lungs
Friendly Fires: Friendly Fires
Glasvegas: Glasvegas
Lisa Hannigan: Sea Sew
The Horrors: Primary Colours
The Invisible: The Invisible
Kasabian: West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
La Roux: La Roux
Led Bib: Sensible Shoes
Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy
Sweet Billy Pilgrim: Twice Born Men

20 July 2009

A few weeks back, I stated that I had downloaded a whole slew of mixtapes including B.o.B vs Bobby Ray. After having some time to digest it, there has been a new development. It's a lot better then previously realized, and furthermore B.o.B. doesn't sound that much like Andre 3000. There are some similarities, but not as many as previously believed. Still not sure how to feel about this whole B.o.B/Bobby Ray duplicity thing, but that can be put on the back burner for now because this tape is much more fun to listen to when you're not sweating details like that. 
Instead of doing a whole bunch of solo tracks in a row and then doing some posse tracks, this tape is pretty even on both fronts. Playboy Tre pops up on a few tracks, and if the internets is to be believed then he is supposed to be the real up-and-comer from Atlanta not B.o.B. He's pretty good, but this writer is hesitant to praise too much because a full mixtape hasn't been heard by these ears. OJ da Juiceman also appears, and he's really not as awful as advertised or at least he doesn't sound so bad when on a track with B.o.B.
All in all, the tape is pretty good. A definite must-listen for anyone who dabbles in hip hop. 

As one ends, yet another begins. Over the weekend, Joe Budden and Method Man reportedly squashed their beef after taking a walk in the woods while the Rock the Bells tour was in New York. This beef never really took off like it seemed it was going to. The loudest shot that rang out during the whole mess was the diss track that Inspectah Deck released, and to be fair he didn't really have anything to do with this dispute. However, a very large beef is simmering in other parts. The other week, Jay-Z the God MC treated fans to a freestyle that has come to be known as the "Blueprint 3 Intro". At one point in the rhyme, Jay says "I ain't talkin' about Game", and obviously he certainly couldn't be talking about the rap GAME or the crack GAME or his business GAME or any other GAME. He certainly must be talking about starved for attention Compton MC, The Game. Actually, this writer doesn't buy any of this but ever since the rhyme hit the internets The Game has been spewing at the mouth. A little history lesson will show that The Game has been waiting years to go after Jay, and has thrown several shots in the past at Hov but has never been able to get a response. Now, Jay may or may not have mentioned him in a song and its like the whole world has gone mad. The Game is in Europe at the moment on some bullshit ass tour, but for the past few nights he has been taking the stage with Jay's name in his mouth. There is video footage of him leading crowds in chants of "Fuck Jay-Z". That's some pretty disrespectful shit from a dude who really has no right to even be addressing one of the best. The Game also made sure to release a proper diss song called "I'm So Wavy". The song is not very good. The Game goes hard. He's not some limp-wristed rapper or anything like that, but at the same time this song still sucks. It's just a song full of put downs that don't really stick. The best line in the whole song is at the very end when he says, "No one on the corner has swagger like you?/No one on the corner is 42." Oh yeah, forgot to mention that most of The Game's ammunition for this attack is to keep talking about how old Jay-Z is. It's kind of ironic that The Game is making such a big deal about Jay's age when a few weeks ago there were pictures of Game hanging out with Stacy Dash, who coincidentally is 42 as well. What are you trying to say Game? That it is acceptable for women to be in their 40s and in your company, but a dude can't get that old and still get your respect? This beef probably isn't going to stop anytime soon. The Game has been waiting forever for this opportunity, and now Jay finally gives him a whiff of his ass and The Game crawls right in. But honestly, if The Game has been waiting for this long then shouldn't the song be better? If you're going to attack Jay-Z, which is a dumb thing to do, but if you're going to do it then do it right and make sure the shit you're saying has some weight to it. Basically, The Game needed to release Ether 2.0 and he didn't. Feel like if you want to go after Jay then all you have to do is look at the Jay/Nas beef and follow the numbers. What really gave that beef legs was the fact that Nas was able to put Jay in his place. Jay won the beef overall, but "Ether" was the best song to come out of the whole dispute and that's why there are still cats who argue that Nas won the beef. The Game needed to duplicate that feat if he wanted any shot at getting to Jay, but that's not what happened and now Jay is going to have to release a response track and then things are going to get real ugly. Supa Ugly, if you will. 

17 July 2009

(from Ed Droste's Twitter via Pitchfork)
This is kind of old news by internet standards, but nonetheless it still deserves reporting. On BrooklynVegan the day after Woodsist/Captured Tracks, some commenters were saying that they thought that all the bands that played were a bit to close to one another. Dum Dum Girls and Mayfair Set are both fingered as being products of the scene in question although both are real rad and its hard to see why it matters what circles they run in when they are not making music. I believe the word they used was "incestuous", and on P4K they used the term as well. Call it want you want, but its this writer's opinion that it seems pretty dope when a bunch of people get together and hang out and they all happen to be in bands and then they decide that they should jam together and possibly start a new band/side-project. In that vein yields Babies, or at least that is what they are calling themselves presently. P4k reports that the members are not completely settled on that moniker. The band consists of Cassie Ramone from the Vivian Girls, Kevin Morby from Woods, and Justin Sullivan from Bossy. They basically just exist at this point. As of today, the internet says they have performed three times with the most recent show being at the after-party for day two of Woodsist/Captured Tracks. The Vivian Girls are booked full with tours until October, and Woods is playing a few shows in various cities before hitting the road with Dungen on August 10. They might tour this winter or they might not. Either way, its something new for the blogosphere. 

(vids via BrooklynVegan)
Atlas Sound featuring Noah Lennox "Walkabout"
(via the Fader)
(Actually, if you want to get technical then its via Stereogum via Pitchfork via the Fader) 

Bradford Cox hasn't updated the deerhunter/atlas sound/lotus plaza blog a whole lot as of late, but awhile back when he was there were pictures and mixes being posted while he was on tour with Animal Collective in Europe. And now today, hot off the presses is this. Bradford Cox tells Pitchfork that Noah Lennox a.k.a Panda Bear taught him how to how to sample while they were chilling on the tour bus which led to this here collaboration. There's a sample in there somewhere, but its mainly just Bradford and Noah being totally awesome. If the internet is to be trusted then all signs seem to suggest that the new Atlas Sound LP is going to be more in this vein as opposed to the one man bedroom show that was last year's Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel. Which may mean that there are more bros involved on this project as the song sounds somewhat similar to the Panda Bear track "Bros" off of his 2007 solo album Person Pitch. (See that. Using "bros" twice in one sentence. Someone had to do it.) Then again, maybe not. Either way, this song will make your day. Right now, it sounds like the ideal song for summer but there's a strong chance that it will still sound ideal when we are in the winter months. It's quite good.

14 July 2009

I Bought This on Amazon for less than a Pack of Cigarettes

Have come up with an ambitious new plan. Attempting to create an honest and open discourse with the people. (if there actually are any). Truth of the matter is that I am not very cool. I don't know a whole hell of a lot. Just enough to pass. Oftentimes, things seem very new and radical to me. In this vein, I have come up with a plan. Occasionally from time to time and starting as of today, will be a new column in which I attempt to understand music. The column is going to be called "I Bought this album on Amazon for less than a Pack of Cigarettes", and in it I will assess one album that I found on Amazon and that costed less than a pack of smokes. I live in Maryland, and I don't pay more than $5.51 for a pack so whatever albums are discussed you can rest assured that I did not pay more than $5.51 for it. Again, the success of this will be contingent on the people but since chances of that are slim then I guess I can't lose. The first album to enter this brand new arena is Different Class by Pulp.
I first was introduced to Pulp while in my third year of university. One of my English professors casually name-dropped them while we were having a conversation after class one day. We were talking about William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and how combined they made a very formidable writing duo. I favored Coleridge, and tried making the argument that they would have been just as successful if they had worked under their own accord instead of collaborating all the time. I even went so far as to compared Wordsworth and Coleridge to Mick and Keith. My professor argued that Mick and Keith need one another in order to be successful while Wordsworth and Coleridge probably could have managed on their own. We both seemed to agree that the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts, no matter how stellar the parts may be. This led to talking about Thom Yorke's The Eraser, and how while it was pretty good it was still not in the same ballpark as Radiohead. My teacher then mentioned Jarvis Cocker, and started telling me that Jarvis was so good that she doubted Pulp would ever get back together. This reference kind of went over my head, but I didn't want that to show so I just nodded enthusiastically and said "Totally". I then went home, and downloaded Jarvis. Later on, I bought Pulp's This is Hardcore because I wanted to own a Pulp album and because I really dug the album title. The only album title better that I can think of is Yo La Tengo's I Am Not Afraid Of You, and I Will Kick Your Ass which coincidentally is a very hardcore title for an album. 
Different Class comes with a whirl of praise surrounding it, and notable distinctions include 1996 Mercury Music Prize Winner, and the #1 album on the UK Album charts for the week of November 11 1995 to November 17 1995. The song "Common People" reached #2 on the UK Singles chart while "Disco 2000" peaked at #7, and "Something Changed" made it as high as #10.
This is an album for the people. It would be nice to be able to believe that it was written by the people as well. The entire disc seems to have a case of disenfranchisement and alienation to it. Don't worry. They're reveling in it like the Velvet Underground before them. They kind of don't give a fuck. When discussing postmodernism, Nietzsche used an image of a cliff as a means of gauging how "post-modern" something is. The idea was that the closer to the cliff without regard would qualify as something as wholly postmodern. On Different Class, the people are dancing on the edge of the cliff. There are some very intrinsically postmodern concepts within Different Class. There are ideas of anarchy and deconstruction. Process, performance, and happening all seem to ring out on the album. In an article entitled "What is Postmodernism?" by Durand, it is stated that, "...writers and thinkers of the 1960 and 1970 avant-gardes spread a reign of terror in the use of language, and that the conditions for a fruitful exchange must be restored by imposing on the intellectuals a common way of speaking." (71). This is all well and good, but on "Common People" the band argues that once you've missed the boat then there is no chance of boarding it later on. In "Common People", the protagonist expresses a desire to live like a common person and to do the things that regular people do. Jarvis is trying to tell this broad that she just does not get it. "Everybody hates a tourist especially one who thinks it's all such a laugh and the chip stains and grease will come out in the bath. You will never understand how it feels to live your life with no meaning or control and with nowhere left to go." The protagonist's father can bail her out of any situation, and while that is convenient for her it is not the case for the rest of us. This sentiment continues on to the next track, "I Spy". Jarvis says that he "does these things just so I'll survive." This is not an act, or a vain attempt at seeming unique or authentic. This is being played out on a much larger scale, and the consequences are much more dire. In Don DeLillo's White Noise, the people go into a fit of panic when the air-born toxic event appears because they are not sure what to do. They feel like death is imminent, and are trying to make everything count. Nice try, but if you've spent your entire lifetime in the bullshit department then eventually it becomes hard to make up for lost time. If you've been living authentically already then the end wouldn't seem so frightening. Its kind of like in The Deer Hunter in that one scene when they are getting ready to go hunting and they are giving Christopher Walken shit about not eating lunch. He tells them that he doesn't eat because it keeps the fear up. The fear keeps people honest. They are not as prone to bullshit because they know the end is around the corner and they are trying to make everything count. These fortunate ones have already figured out what Jarvis is talking about on "Sorted for E's & Wizz" when he says that all of this has to mean something. Everything means something, but we as humans don't have the proper equipment to fully analyze it. Better off to just make the most of what we do understand. On "Mis-shapes", we are told that the one weapon we have that the elites don't have is our minds and we may as well utilize that as best we can because since it can't be bought in stores and shops and it is something that is really all for us. It's like the exclusive hook-up that you can only access if you are in the know, and the great part about it is that as long as you aren't completely full of shit then it becomes slightly easier to find. "There's only one place to go" is a line from the last track, "Bar Italia". Probably don't know where this place is, but it sounds like the place to be and if Pulp is to be trusted then there is no harm in dedicating the rest of our time to finding it.  

08 July 2009

By my second day in Brooklyn, I was bubbling over with excitement to the point that I completely forgot that it was the 4th of July. I woke up, and knew without a doubt where I was which was already a plus compared to the day before. I stayed the night in a hostel on Lafayette Ave, and it wasn't terrible but it left a lot to be desired. When I attempted to wash up, the shower nozzle fell off the wall which led to the tub filling up with scalding hot water. Not wanting to be burned by said water, I ended up standing on top of the toilet while I bravely stuck one arm into the shower in an attempt to make the water stop. After my harrowing experience in the shower, I descended once again out into the city. I managed to find something that could pass for breakfast, and with coffee in hand I entered a playground on Marcy. It was still morning and the show hadn't started yet so I figured I had time to kill. 
I have an awful habit of blankly staring at people. I do it while I walk, and I also do it while I'm in the car. It turns out that a park bench in Brooklyn is a fantastic place to sit around and people watch. I remember in one of my high school history classes, we would take tests and there was always an essay question that asked to describe the melting pot aspect of America at some particular time. I don't how I answered those questions back then, and its really beside the point these days but thats more or less how I felt about the city while sitting on the bench. There were people on the basketball courts, and there were people on the monkey bars in the playground. Some rode by on bicycles while others sauntered by slowly giving an inquisitive eye to the goofy looking white kid sitting on a bench with a pad and paper. Eventually, I left the park and started walking again. I made a left at Tompkins, and then a right on Vernon and was well on my way for Day 2. 
Walking down Vernon Avenue, the grills were already out and people were congregating in the streets. I heard a lot of reggae music coming from the stereos which I found a little surprising, but then again during the show the Grateful Dead was playing in-between sets. Before I entered the Backyard, I stopped by Mr. Kiwi's and stocked up on PBR and apples so that I could have an All-American lunch. 
The landscape within the Broadway Backyard was basically a bunch of rocks with patches of grass sprinkled in. The M train or the J train or some shit like that ran overhead which added a nice clang-clang-clang noise to the sounds outside. The train was pretty much a non-factor because the music was real dope all day which was another way I would differentiate this show from what usually passes for a festival. Normally at a festival, you reach a point in the day when you're kind of tired of shooing away acid salesman and telling other prospective businesspeople  that you are positive you don't want any ketamine. And around that time, a band normally comes on and they turn out to be pretty boring. But that's at those hippie festivals because none of that was the case on this day. The Beach Fossils were the first band to play on Saturday afternoon which also made them the first band to be totally hammered by Saturday night. Before, they started their set they asked for more reverb in the microphones. Just about every band that played on Saturday asked for either way more reverb or no reverb at all. As previously reported, all the bands on Saturday were real tight in one way or another. At one point during the day, I saw John Norris who used to be on MTV. It was kind of surreal seeing him there. Not in a amazing way, but more in a "What the Fuck" kind of way. My mind harkened back to a few weeks back, when there was a picture of him with Grizzly Bear on Hipster Runoff and Carles said something to the effect that you could tell Norris wasn't in the band because he was a bro who payed extra money for his clothes to look vintage and worn in. Upon seeing him in person, it is true. He definitely buys clothes that are supposed to look worn. His shorts looked like everyone else's, but on further inspection you could see that they were not actually cut-offs but rather they appeared to look like cut-offs. Ganglians used a keyboard, and Great Excape incorporated a saxophone into their set. The Beets were cool enough to the point where I will refrain from making Doug jokes. Interesting fact about Brilliant Colors: They are a band that consists of three women, and none of them shave their legs or their arm pits. Songs are pretty good, though. When I first arrived in Brooklyn, I was pumped about seeing Woods. That was the band at the top of my list, and they didn't disappoint. The one dude in the band is also responsible for Woodsist which in some capacity was responsible for pulling off this whole shindig. Total gratitude for that. There were jams, but it was never too jammy. They opted for for reverb in their microphones. It all made me very happy both on the inside and the outside. After Woods, was Kurt Vile. He absolutely fucking slayed. Looking around, it seemed like everyone was paying the utmost attention to this set. It was real good, and any attempt to talk about it here would probably make it sound something less than stellar. That being said, I am totally going to see him when they swing into my neck of the woods in August. Vivian Girls played next, and they were cool. There were fireworks going off in the background while they played, and that was cool. They talk a lot in-between songs and at point they pulled people from the crowd onstage to play tambourine, and that was kind of cool. They are also three women who play musical instruments, and that is very cool. The whole time I was watching the Vivian Girls all I could think about was how they would probably be skewered by snotty internet commentators come Monday morning. Hated on by people who probably weren't at the show, but for whatever reason feel compelled to piss on the parade. Thee Oh Sees closed the show down on Saturday, and that ruled. For the sake of full disclosure, I didn't know what I was getting myself into when they took the stage but it didn't really matter once they started. They tore it up to the point where I think I only managed to smoke two cigarettes during their entire set because I was too enthralled with what was going on on stage. 
I was kind of tipsy when I left the show, but I managed to make it to the subway without a problem. Navigating the subway, however turned out to be slightly more difficult. As already pointed out, I am not from New York and had never been before and was on a solo mission and was kind of drunk. Long story short, I rode the G train to Hoyt where I got off to catch the A train. I got on the wrong A train, and ended up in Queens. Twenty minutes later, I was able to catch the correct A train. I was the only person on the train at this point, but at the next stop two dudes got on. They were both big, dark dudes with long t-shirts and baggy pants. I told myself that this would not be a good time to blankly stare so I didn't. They were talking kind of loudly, and I ended up looking over in their direction a few times and in doing so I noticed something. The first time I looked over, the one guy had his hand on the other guy's inner thigh. The next time I glanced over to see guy #2 puts his hand on guy #1's face and then lightly brush something away with his thumb. The next couple times I looked over they were alternating turns putting their heads in the other one's lap. And then they made out a little bit. The only reason I am mentioning any of this is because back in the fall my senior seminar research project was on the notion of gay gangsters existing and some scholars say that they don't because of perceived stereotypes. I argued that they certainly do exist, and now seven months later I witnessed a scene that supports my claim. Brooklyn was awesome, and I enjoyed it more than I could have ever imagined. I'm probably going back to see Dino Jr when they play for free up there. The End.

05 July 2009

"How does it feel? To be on your own, with no direction home..." You know what, Bob, it felt fucking awesome. There's nothing wrong with having no direction. Just need to be able to keep your wits about you. I went to Brooklyn without the foggiest notion of what to do or where to go or anything like that. Simply put, I just went. Went to the bus station then got dropped off at another stop. Hopped on another bus, and an hour later was standing in Brooklyn. Started walking towards what I thought was my hostel so that I could check in, but I was actually walking out of Brooklyn. Probably should have known something was up while plowing my way through Chinatown. In Chinatown, all the vendors already had Michael Jackson memorial t-shirts less than a week after the tragic passing. Walked clear into Manhattan before I realized the error. Which wasn't all bad though. At one point, I was standing on the corner of Bowery and Bleecker, and was able to spot the remains of the legendary CBGB's. Its a restaurant or a hair salon or some shit like that now, but at one point it was the place to be. A sharp left turn and an hour later, I was in The Bronx. Made my way through the Bronx, and eventually arrived in front of the Brooklyn Bridge after brief stops in SoHo, NoHo, and anywhere else that was not Brooklyn. None of this bothered me though because at the time I was on a quest for two things. First, I was trying to find Lou Reed. I thought for sure I would see him walking on down the street, and then I would see him and then he would take me to a brownstone up three flights of stairs. When I think of New York, Lou Reed, Jay-Z, and the Knicks are the first things to come to mind. Don't give two shits about Bob Dylan cutting his teeth in Greenwich Village coffee houses. Give me more Lou, and his episodic reporting of all that is decadent and in poor taste. That's where I want to be. Secondly, I was looking for falafel. I found neither although I could have easily scored some falafel, but at the time I was more focused on not getting soaked. I tried hailing a taxi, but the driver kicked me out when he found out I didn't know where I was going. Could you imagine if universities had the same policy. "What do you mean you don't know where you are going? We don't have time for this shit! Make up your damn mind, or get the hell out the way. Hurry! Hurry! No time for thinking, goddamnit. Make a rash, impetuous decision and move along! Its not our problem if it doesn't work out. We are strictly in the business of producing results. We don't care how they come about as long as we have something to show the suits at the end of the day. In fact, we don't care at all. That's why we only feign responsibility for you for a short period of time. Hurry! Results! Must have results!! Grrr." (Writer's Noted: Obviously, this is what every college advisor and admissions director sounds like when addressing an incoming student. Its also what a NYC cab driver would sound like if they spoke English.)
I have a wealth of experience in the area of getting lost in major American cities, and under normal circumstances I probably should have been concerned but I wasn't. I mean, what's the point of all getting pissed off when you have no one but yourself to blame. Besides, how can one get pissed off when they are standing in the heart of the Marcy Projects and a car rolls by and Hov is blasting out of the speakers.  I was coerced into buying two authentic street mixtapes from some up-and-coming rappers. They were from Stuyvesant, and thats where Biggie was from so I wasn't really in a position to argue with them about the merits of actually paying for new music as opposed to downloading it illegally on the internets. They were actually mad chill, and we ended up talking about how Baltimore may be the place in Maryland but its PG County thats really the place to be.
My trip wasn't completely aimless, and I had very real intentions of going to see live music while I in this magical hub of creativity. I managed to attend both days of the Woodsist/Captured Tracks Festival, and Whoa!, what a grand time that turned out to be. Festival is a very misleading term to describe this showcase because this wasn't really a festival. There were a lot of bands playing which is a prerequisite for a festival, but beyond that there wasn't a whole hell of a lot that qualified this as a festival. It was basically just a really kick-ass show that lasted for two days. There was rain on Friday, and the show was moved indoors. I discovered this after circling the block several times. I could hear the music, and I could tell something was definitely going on but for the life of me I could not find the fucking place. Finally, I stopped two people who looked like they would definitely know where the show was and when I asked them "Do you know where the show is?" they responded by saying "Show? What show?" and then I tried again, this time clearing my throat before speaking, "I am looking for the Woodsist/Captured Tracks Fest-i-val. Would you happen to know where it is located?" and then the bro gave me an approving nod and explained to me that the show was going on above a grocery store called Mr. Kiwi's and that the way to get there is to slip through the door on the side. Many thanks to that dude because I found what I was looking for shortly there after.
After entering the side door, I ascended up a flight of stairs. A bro in a tank top stopped me, and asked me for identification so that he could mark my wrist so that I could drink. Then a very pretty girl asked whether I was buying tickets or had I already purchased them. A brief exchange of nervous smiles and slight giggling ensued, but once it was over I was officially in. What I saw before me was quite possibly the coolest venue I had ever witnessed. The room was very very dimly lit. In the afternoon, beams of light managed to shine through the tears in the curtains but at the night the place was virtually dark save for a spotlight that was anchored to the bar. The walls were covered in this weird paper-mache shit that looked like a bunch of Animal Collective music videos had eaten one another and the last one standing had just hurled all over the walls. There were lots of bright colors. Pale red and light blue and off green as well as orange and yellow. It took me awhile to realize it, but there were actually more spotlights stationed behind all the paper mache. This dawned on me when I noticed that there was a hand-painted image of Michael Jackson hanging behind the stage. The face was all lit up, and the colors complimented it very nicely. I saw the last few bands on Friday. Psychedelic Horseshit was real rad. I had read an interview with the lead singer from a few weeks ago, and in the article he trashed a whole bunch of other similar bands and then he started talking about how him and bros make music for themselves and that they don't really care whether anyone else likes it. So with that in mind, I was treading lightly. Last thing, I want to do is to incur the wrath of a temperamental lo-fi garage outfit. They were real good, though. Some of the guys in the band has avant-garde haircuts, and by the end of the concert the frontman had silver paint smeared around his face. Later on, I discovered that the lead singer and I smoke the same kind of cheap, bottom of the barrel cigarettes. The Blank Dogs were up next, and they really kicked ass. Super great set. The frontman for the band was one of the dudes responsible for putting the whole festival together. I would highly recommend the Blank Dogs to just about anyone. They sounded a lot like Wire, and if you're not familiar with Wire then Blank Dogs sounds slightly like Jay Reatard minus the whole putting drum sticks in one another's asses thing. Crystal Stilts were the headliners for Friday, and by the time their set got underway they certainly sounded like headliners. So fucking cool. In the future, I wouldn't be surprised if the Crystal Stilts score a sweet gig opening up for some major band. 
After the set, I made a friend! He was this real cool dude from Australia who currently lived in Brooklyn. I was a little concerned at first because at the time there were a bunch of dudes making out with one another and I thought that this bro was making a pass at me. He wasn't. He just kind of started talking to me, and was asking where all my "mates" were. I told him they were all off listening to Coldplay somewhere. We talked philosophy while drinking Budweiser out of cans. Then we started talking about Baltimore and how, while The Wire is pretty accurate it still does not fully capture what the city is all about. We also spent some time lamenting the fact that Sonic Youth was playing in town at that very moment, but we were able to console ourselves in the fact that tickets cost $38 a piece. I ended up serving as his wing man while he attempted to pick up girls. He had explained to me earlier that he had just broken up with his longtime girlfriend, and that he was trying to re-learn how to pick up women. I tried telling him that talking to girls is not part of my skill set, but he was unfazed by this. We started talking to these two girls, and it wasn't going great. It wasn't going bad either, but then my friend made a crack about the one girl's cell phone and how her parents probably paid for it. That didn't go over very well. 
Its funny being in Brooklyn I expected my head to be filled with the Velvet Underground or TV On the Radio or Grizzly Bear. Something Brooklyn-related, but that was never really the case. That Jay Rock song, "All My Life", would pop into my head while I was walking through the neighborhoods. That and "Every Girl". Part of the reason for that was because I head that song cranking out of just about every car and apartment building I passed while in town. It also proved to be very applicable. I have never in my entire life seen so many beautiful women. In Manhattan, I saw upper-echelon high class beauties, but it was in Brooklyn where the ladies really shone. 
  At the end, Brooklyn reminded me of a burnt grilled cheese sandwich. It just oozes awesomeness, but its still a little flaky at the same time. At the show, some people chose to have beards or to wear ironically large glasses. Others wear flannel. Some wear pants while others opt to hack their jeans into shorts. Brooklyn was very cool. Not achingly cool, but rather intimidatingly cool. For two days, I was constantly brushing elbows with dudes from bands and I found that to be a little overwhelming. I mean, these are bands that I spend my days on the internet listening to and throughly enjoying and now I'm standing next to them while we drink warm beer together. I wanted to say something. I wanted to say something to every single one of them, but I couldn't. I'm pretty sure I'm chickenshit. Its like I figured out a while back that at the time I was completely full of shit, and since then I have dedicated my efforts into making sure that I'm not bullshit. With that thinking in mind, I tend to choose my words very carefully. I don't want to talk just for the sake of talking. I want to say something, and I want it to mean something. So with all this swirling around my cranium, I was very hesitant to approach any of the bands. I mean, I didn't want to be that guy. (Writer's Note: This is part one of what is at least a two parter)

01 July 2009

This may be asking a lot namely in the sense that it presupposes that people actually read this, but I was wondering if anyone is familiar with the new york area specifically brooklyn. I am taking a bit of a vacation and am going to brooklyn, and while I don't think I will be swallowed up by the city I thought it would be nice to know something or know someone who knows something. Peace, love, and hope.