Saturday, February 28, 2015

Charlie Brand Mercury Lounge Setlist

Review to come.

CHARLIE BRAND - 02.27.15 - MERCURY LOUNGE (33 minutes)

Night Cactus > Baby Blue Motorcycle / Anasazi Inn / Malibu Yurt / New Highs/New Lows / Zen Whatever / Kool Aid / Temporary Comfort

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Elvis Perkins Standard Hotel Setlist

Review to come.

ELVIS PERKINS - 02.24.15 - THE STANDARD HOTEL (49 minutes)

I Came for Fire / On Rotation Moses / It's Now or Never Loves / The Passage of the Black Gene / & Eveline / Gasolina / Wheel in the Morning/All Today / AM / Hogus Pogus / My 2$

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Next Round - Episode 30: Cymbals

There's a reason why the podcast took a break from mid-July to mid-October.  This is the culprit.  In the intro, I explain in detail the events that took place prior to the interview.  Essentially, it was rushed and left a bad taste in my mouth.  I wasn't even sure if I should publish this one, but I decided that if I didn't, it would always hold some power over me.

So fuck that.  Here it is.  I take interviewing very seriously.  I know that may sound a little weird considering I do it over alcohol, but I put a lot of time into asking questions that the artist hasn't heard before in order to give you a unique listening experience.  There's no point in you spending your time to listen to the same old interview they've given a hundred times before.

But honestly, it's to make it unique for them.  I don't want them to be bored.  I don't want stock answers.  I want them to be involved in the conversation because their time is also valuable.  And I want to know about the things I'm asking because I truly do like the music of every person who has been on this show.

So when I was treated poorly by someone whose music I liked, it saddened me.  Especially when I reached out for the interview.  If you're going to behave like this for the people who actually like your art, how are you going to behave for those who don't really care?

I took a break because my confidence took a hit.  What if I'm just not that great an interviewer?  What if I start reaching out to more bands I like only to have them treat me in the same fashion?  What if PR companies don't want to work with me anymore because of how poorly the interview went?

Well, I can't live like that.  So I'm posting it.  And given the circumstances, it's not a terrible interview.  I wouldn't post it if I didn't learn anything.  After you listen to it, you might even say, "Hey, it wasn't that bad."  Which is actually what I would like you to say. But for me, it's hard to listen to objectively.

I reached out to interview Cymbals because I enjoyed their album, The Age of Fracture.  I don't listen to it anymore because it would remind me of that night.  I'm not going to tell you that you shouldn't listen to it.  If you like '80s-inspired indie dance music, you totally should.  They put on a pretty good live show too.  But they lost me as a fan that night in July.

Without further ado (aside from the long recorded introduction), I give you the thirtieth episode of The Next Round.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes:

Kishi Bashi Brooklyn Masonic Temple Setlist

Review to come.


Child Actor / (Mr.) Spaceman / Ode to Sophia / Baby Blue / We Are We

KISHI BASHI - 02.20.15 - BROOKLYN MASONIC TEMPLE (1 hour, 52 minutes)

Manchester / This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) / Bittersweet Genesis for Him & Her / I Am the Antichrist to You / Atticus, In the Desert / In Fantasia / A Sunday Smile / Conversations at the End of the World / Carry on Phenomenon / The Ballad of Mr. Steak / Philosophize in It! Chemicalize with It! / Q&A / Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived / Improvisation / It All Began with a Burst

Bright Whites (feat. Busman's Holiday)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Top 40 Songs of 2014

Casey Kasem passed away this year, so in his honor, I decided to go ahead and make my own Top 40.  I even put together a Spotify playlist, so if you have Spotify, it makes a damn good mix.

The Top 40 Songs of 2014

40. Kevin Drew - "Good Sex"
"Good sex, it never makes you feel hollow / Good sex, it never makes you feel clean."  True dat.

39. Foster the People - "Best Friend"
A deceptively dark song, like their smash hit "Pumped Up Kicks."  This one pairs lyrics of drug abuse with a feel-good disco vibe.

38. Jeremy Messersmith - "Ghost"
A country stomp pervades this tune, which deserves a prime spot on your road trip mix tape.

37. Robert Ellis - "TV Song"
A love song about TV that's somehow actually quite heartwarming.

36. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard - "Hot Wax"
Honestly, I first clicked on this because the band name was so ridiculous.  The song is too, but just like wax, it sticks in your ears.

35. Stars - "From the Night"
Like a cocaine-filled night at the roller rink (I suppose that's a thing for some people, right?), it perfectly conveys the image on the cover.

34. Miniature Tigers - "Oblivious"
Captures '80s production brilliantly, but still feels fresh.

33. Jon Langford & Skull Orchard - "Lil' Ray o' Light"
No matter how extreme the actions of Langford's egotist character get, you can't help but sing along.

32. Foo Fighters - "Something from Nothing"
The best song from Foo's grand experiment.  There's a reason this song was chosen as the theme for HBO's Sonic Highways.

31. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad - "Steady"
Combines three of the most popular reggae themes (love, weed, and sunshine) into one slinky ditty.

30. Fancy Colors - "Infinity"
A Talking Heads-style groove attempts to ground a series of minor hallucinatory trips.

29. G. Love & Special Sauce - "Nothing Else Quite Like Home"
G. Love enlists Ben Harper to help pile on the coal for this barreling locomotive of a song.

28. The Black Keys - "Gotta Get Away"
Turn Blue sounded more like a Broken Bells album than a Black Keys record.  This closing cut, however, is straight-up rock & roll.

27. Saun & Starr - "Hot Shot"
Sharon Jones' backup singers dropped this catchy, soulful single early in the year.

26. Delta Spirit - "Language of the Dead"
The pummeling bass and Matt Vasquez's screams cut through the electric sheen that hampers many of the songs on Into the Wide.

25. Mike Doughty - "Light Will Keep Your Heart Beating in the Future"
Mike makes the case for banjo in hip-hop.

24. Graham Colton - "Another Night"
The stream on Spotify isn't the EP version featuring Wayne Coyne that I mean.  Favorite thing Coyne did all year.  You can download it for free here.

23. Mad Caddies - "Little Town"
Never afraid to try on new genres, the Caddies take a peppy, African-inspired melody and combine it with lyrics about death.

22. Mark Ronson - "Uptown Funk"
Bruno Mars finally proves his worth on this Kool & the Gang-meets-Zapp funk fest.

21. Cookies - "July Seventeen"
Essentially an extended intro for "Crybaby," but it's just so fucking smooth.

20. Mogwai - "Remurdered"
Instrumental track.  Put it on and walk through a crowd of people.  You'll feel like a drone at first, and then you'll break through, fully realizing your potential as an individual.

19. Rx Bandits - "1995"
The Bandits let their Fugazi influence shine through on a song that could've been released in the year of its title.

18. Mike Gordon - "Yarmouth Road"
Cactus tries his hand at reggae and succeeds.  One of the few Gordon solo songs to find its way into live Phish shows.

17. Speak - "Be Reasonable, Diane"
An incredibly layered pop song.

16. Gordon Voidwell - "First Time"
Gordon deftly combines old and new, merging '80s synths with '90s R&B crooning with today's trap beat.  This isn't available on Spotify, but you can check it out here.

15. Desert Noises - "Shiver"
Despite heaps of tribal percussion, it's the serpentine guitars and gang vocals that push this one forward.

14. Phish - "Wombat"
The bomb goes off just before the 2-minute mark, followed closely by a female choir and horns.  It's a side of Phish we haven't seen since "Julius."

13. Faded Paper Figures - "Breathing"
A building block song where each time a new sound is introduced, you wouldn't have predicted it, but realize that it makes perfect sense.

12. The New Pornographers - "Brill Bruisers"
Try to listen to this without smiling.  I dare you.

11. The Barr Brothers - "Love Ain't Enough"
Rock songs don't often view love in a realistic way.  They also don't often utilize a harp.

10. Jack White - "Lazaretto"
Fuzzy, funky, fiery, fearless.

9. Hozier - "Someone New"
Hozier borrows the choir from that church he's always singing about to assist him in this ode to falling in love with strangers.

8. Penguin Prison - "Calling Out"
Glover's sophomore album didn't drop this year as expected, but he did bless us with this sliver of crystalline pop.

7. Chris Mills & the Distant Stars - "Alexandria"
It gallops along at a brisk pace, but not so fast as to miss the ingenious lyrics.

6. Cody Chesnutt - "Gunpowder on the Letter"
Cody teams up with Gary Clark, Jr. for the toe-tappingist tune about PTSD you've ever heard.

5. Kishi Bashi - "The Ballad of Mr. Steak"
A song about a steak that's sure to make your "booty booty shaky shake."

4. St. Vincent - "Huey Newton"
Never mind the explosive riffage in the song's latter half; Clark's vocal performance, which ranges from orgasmic to malevolent, is the real star here.

3. Vacationer - "The Wild Life"
Positive vibes.  My most-played song of the year.

2. The Majorleans - "Real Bad"
Nicky Francis is full of clever turns of phrase, but it's the straightforward, honest yearning of the refrain that really gets me.

1. Animal Liberation Orchestra - "Blind Tony"
Lebo wrote this acoustic song about the character from my Instagram because I enrolled as a two-year member of ALO's Hot Tub Club.  
You won't find this on Spotify.  If you want to hear it, you've got to come see me in person.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Top 10 Albums of 2014

Now I know a lot of sites like to do their year-end lists at the end of November, but that means they won't include anything released in December.  Although I don't know anyone that is still listening to the D'Angelo album (Too much hype anyway.  It sounds like a poorly-mixed Prince demo in my opinion.), I bet there were more than a few critics who would've included it on their lists.  So now that last year's dust has settled, I'm going to be putting out my year-end lists.  It all starts here with the Top 10 Albums of 2014.

10. Rx Bandits - Gemini, Her Majesty

We all knew the hiatus wouldn't last.  While I still miss the horns, the Bandits affirmed that they've still got plenty of good songs in them with this crowd-funded, rocking effort.

9. Stardeath & White Dwarfs - Wastoid

Holy fuzz bass!  These roadies have learned more than a thing or two while tuning up the Flaming Lips' instruments.  Although the FLips' influence is there in spades (Hell, they even turn up on "The Screaming."), that shouldn't detract from the fact that this is better than anything Wayne & Co. have put out this year.

8. G. Love & Special Sauce - Sugar

Fifteen seconds into "Come Up Man," it's evident that Jimi Jazz and Houseman are necessary ingredients to the Special Sauce, reuniting with G. for the first time in eight years.  And though the original lineup is the main draw, guest spots include Ben Harper, Shamarr Allen, and 20 Feet from Stardom chanteuse, Merry Clayton. 

7. Speak - Pedals

The Austin band took D.I.Y. to the extreme for this LP: writing, recording, mixing, mastering, producing, and doing the artwork.  This level of control was a risky move, but the risk paid off, resulting in 14 tracks that will make you think just as much as they make you dance.

6. Stars - No One is Lost

Over the past decade, Stars' albums have either gotten too dour or too uneven for my tastes.  On this album, the Canadian group dove headfirst into electro-pop, reinvigorating their sound for their best work since Set Yourself on Fire.

5. The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers

Easily the most fully-realized NP release yet, proving power pop is alive and well in 2014.  Albums like this make me wish I had a car, so I could roll down the windows and sing along at the top of my lungs.

4. St. Vincent - St. Vincent

I first listened to this in December, and I really wish I hadn't slept on it.  Believe what everyone says: This is the album Annie Clark has been threatening to make since she first stepped out of the backing band and into the spotlight in 2007.  Danceable, riff-heavy, sensual, and thought-provoking, this self-titled spectacle has it all.

3. Chris Mills & the Distant Stars - Alexandria

I'd been waiting for this album since I first saw Mills at Mercury Lounge in February of 2013.  The lyricism is astonishing.  I missed the first five minutes of the Super Bowl because I was waiting for the record's b-side to finish spinning.  Beautiful and timeless folk music.

2. The Majorleans - Black Belt

When a friend gives me their album to listen to, I'm tentative.  What do I tell them if I don't like it?  Will it put a strain on our friendship?  Thankfully, this one blew my expectations away.  Despite having a classic '70s feel, as if Lou Reed had fronted the Heartbreakers, Nicky Francis' ruminative street poetry grounds the Majorleans firmly in the present.

1. Vacationer - Relief

Combine Polynesian textures, hip-hop beats, and effervescent vocals, and you've got music as infectious as a tropical disease.  Kenny Vasoli and his Body Language cohorts created a record that brings the paradise to you.  No packing, no TSA, no kid kicking the back of your airplane seat.  Just press play and you're magically transported to a beach with water as crystal clear as the cover art.  There's something to be said about an album that you want to listen to again immediately after you're finished, and Relief was that album for me this summer.

Vacationer, the Majorleans, Chris Mills, and Speak were all on my podcast to talk about their albums, so make sure to have a listen.

I'll be posting my top concerts, live songs, and songs over the next few days, so don't be a stranger.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Howard Spreads Religion at Mercury Lounge

Two Brooklyn bands celebrated their EP release at Mercury Lounge last night.  One band had a definitive sound, but suffered technical troubles.  The other had no equipment issues, but also no objective.

I entered the room to see Craig Martinson in the middle of the stage, facepaint streaked across his nose and cheeks and a string of white Christmas lights knotted around his neck.  Atop his head was a fluorescent yellow beanie, giving him the appearance of a highlighter with its cap off.  He leapt offstage to perform Kanye West's "New Slaves" in tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.  I'm not so sure that Dr. King would've approved of the dedication, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it, or at least couldn't believe it.  Reclaiming the stage after his rap, Martinson started unveiling the songs from the new EP, titled My Love is True.  The songs were played well, but they lacked direction.  I don't mind eclecticism, but it just didn't seem like Craig knows what he wants to do with his music yet.  "Monster Man" recalled memories of Phil Spector-produced girl groups, while "Your Love is a Burden" was an entirely country affair.  The final number began and finished as baroque pop, but took an unexpected detour into guitar freakout territory in its midsection, Martinson nearly face-planting as his neck lights entangled his legs like a vengeful vine.  He's a unique performer, but until he gains a coherent point-of-view, he just comes across as trying too hard.

Howard were promoting their much-buzzed-about debut, Religion.  Although they've been folded under the folktronica umbrella, that genre doesn't leave room for the hard-edged, driving rock that their songs sometimes flirt with.  Onstage, it became more than just flirting, with album opener "Falling" plunging headfirst into the tribal zone halfway through.  A more accurate description of their sound would be José González fronting Hail to the Thief-era Radiohead, which was especially characteristic of "Song About Something," Howard Feibusch's smooth vocals bobbing over a jittery breakbeat.  Despite Chris Holdridge's SPD-S drum pad not working, "Spelled Out" was a subdued treat, with Feibusch's acoustic guitar interweaving sweetly with its electric brother.  After another fruitless attempt to fix the drum pad, Howard announced "Alright, bear with us.  This is the acoustic version."  Riding in on the organic sound of Holdridge's cymbals and snares, they proceeded with "Her Eyes," a tune from Feibusch and bassist Myles Heffernan's previous band, Orange Television.  "Fool" was probably the standout of the set, Chris' clacking on the rims erupting into a prehistoric climax complete with Pteranodon guitar wails from Howard.

If Martinson's songs sounded too different, Howard's only offense was that some of the tunes sounded too similar.  That could've been the fault of the irrational drum pad, however, so they took one last stab at it.  "Let's all pray to God," Feibusch suggested mockingly.  Chris reeled back and struck it with his drumstick.  "POP!" shouted the pad miraculously.  "There we go.  It works.  Religion works," smirked Feibusch.  "But Only While" quickly displaced any thoughts of the set becoming stagnant with similarity, venturing into a nearly dubstep finale.  "This is the closest thing to a single we've ever written.  So we're going to need a lot of help, especially because a lot of our technology is not working," instructed Feibusch.  "Sing along if you know it.  If you don't, don't."  The crowd clapped along to the first verse of "Money Can't Buy," swaying from side-to-side until Howard's crescendoing jangle demanded their full attention, with bursts of a dying drum pad poking their way into the din.

HOWARD - 01.19.15 - MERCURY LOUNGE (44 minutes)

Falling > Song About Something / Spelled Out / Her Eyes / Fool / Religion / But Only While (Alarm Call Rise) / Money Can't Buy

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Keller Williams & More Than a Little Irving Plaza Selist

Review to come.

KELLER WILLIAMS & MORE THAN A LITTLE - 01.16.15 - IRVING PLAZA (1 hour, 36 minutes)

Cadillac > Feel Like a Stranger > I Told You I Was Freaky / This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) / More Than a Little / She Rolls > You Don't Know How It Feels / Right Here / Let's Jam > Mary Jane > Hollywood Freaks > Mighty High

Talk to the Fist > Hey Ho Jorge