Friday, December 12, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 29: Cookies

Anyone who has seen my standup knows I love cookies, so why wouldn't I also love a band called Cookies?  Ben Sterling (of said band) met me for a drink at the Owl Farm to discuss technology's effect on happiness, involving your spouse in your work, and breakfast.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 28: Fancy Colors

After a week off for Thanksgiving, The Next Round is back with this meandering, whimsical chat with Fancy Colors.  Multi-instrumentalist Zac Colwell and drummer Dave Heilman have such a rapport that it's over seven minutes in before I even ask what they're drinking!  Take a ride on Spaceship Earth, find out the favorite song of each member's mother, and savor the special visit by one of the artists they've remixed.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes to get new episodes hours before anyone else.

Fancy Colors are playing a free show at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 on Monday, 12/8, at 11:30pm.
Like them on Facebook.
Buy Island of the Dead for only $7.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Majorleans Bring Three Guitars to Mercury Lounge

Any martial artist will tell you that a black belt takes time to earn.  So it makes sense that the Majorleans' new album Black Belt took years to make, from recording in a poisonous Chinese church basement to the lead singer's living room to a professional studio, where it was engineered by a Grammy-winner who has worked with everyone from Faith Hill to the Fugees.  The record finally dropped on Tuesday.  Last night, the band took to the Mercury Lounge to celebrate.

The show was opened by Boston's McAlister Drive, or four guys who don't look like they belong in the same band.  If you based them solely on appearance, the bearded, bespectacled guitarist could've been in Beck's backing band, the long-haired drummer from a stoner-rock group, the floppy-haired bassist in a dance-pop outfit, and frontman Christoph Krey fit the part of a bartender at Western-themed watering hole in Bushwick.  Their sound was nothing like the combination of these styles, however.  It was Americana-infused pop-rock.  They weren't bad, but they weren't original enough for me to really care.  That doesn't discount the fact that they are enjoyed by others, including a recently married couple who first met at a McAlister Drive show.  "Thank you for listening to the band all these years.  We write terrible music," said Krey, dedicating "Best Dressed" to the newlyweds.  "This is the part where y'all put your hands together, y'all raise your drinks, and y'all just sing along," instructed Christoph before the final number, "Got It Right."  And exactly how does one clap their hands and raise their drink at the same time without making a huge mess?

While the setlist hasn't changed much in the times I've seen the Majorleans, the addition of a third guitarist, David Andreana, brought a new dynamic to the show.  The triple-guitar attack on the intro to "Mr. Magic" boiled so ferociously that when they turned things down to a simmer for the verse, Nicky Francis' talkin' blues vocals seemed almost sinister.  I don't think I'm off-base by suggesting that the presence of Andreana freed up Francis to concentrate less on his playing and more on his singing.  Take the lyrics in "Never Had Enough," where Francis implores, "I'd like to see you both at the same time with me / I'd like to see you both some time."  While you could interpret this as the desires of his inner monologue, the way he sang it last night felt like he was actually propositioning two women at a party for a threesome.  With a smirk in his voice and drawing out the "both some time" of the second line, he wasn't reiterating; he was correcting a Freudian slip.  The ladies definitely heard him, but they probably smiled and went home with him anyway.  My favorite song from the album, "Real Bad," got the crowd dancing, not to mention the old guy next to me who jumped for joy as soon as he heard the first notes.  Riding the wave of Chris Buckle's feedback on the tail of "See the Seams," "Under Ma Wheels" proved a formidable closer, a fun country rocker that never eased off too much thanks to Colin Brooks' insistent kickdrum and cymbals.
(To learn more about the making of the album, check out the podcast below, recorded at Mission Sound during the Black Belt sessions.)

Although it was the Majorleans' release night, they shared the bill with their longtime friends, Frances Cone.  After eating a banana on the stairs beside the stage, Christina Cone took her spot at the keyboard in the center and began playing "Heartland" from the band's first album, Come Back.  Her bandmates joined her and they launched right into a new song, "Wait Right Here."  Though repetitive in its lyrics, the song eschewed boredom nicely by its variety of sounds: Alex Baron's simultaneous shaker-work during his drumming, bassist 
Andrew Doherty's vocal harmonies, and a few well-placed handclaps.  The result was a song that you're singing along with before it's over, a testament to the band's writing abilities. "Better Man" underwent another remake, as Cone stepped away from her keys, accompanied by Jeff Malinowski's slowly jangling guitar and Alex's mallet-drumming.  Their cover of the Black Keys' "These Days" was excellent, as always, and the hints of classical music in another fresh tune, "Not a Man," proved that the best is on its way from this young group.

MCALISTER DRIVE - 11.21.14 - MERCURY LOUNGE (43 minutes)

Ocean Skip Away / I Met You* / 22 / Devil's Ghost / Best Dressed / Another Day / United South / Got It Right

THE MAJORLEANS - 11.21.14 - MERCURY LOUNGE (32 minutes, 30 seconds)

Go Down All the Time / Coal Mine/Cold Mind / Mr. Magic / Never Had Enough / Imaginary Plane / Real Bad / See the Seams > Under Ma Wheels

FRANCES CONE - 11.21.14 - MERCURY LOUNGE (37 minutes)

Heartland > Wait Right Here > Soon / Better Man / Wiser / Come Back / These Days / Not a Man / So So / 85

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Revivalists Debut New Love Song at Irving Plaza

The Revivalists started last night's show at Irving Plaza by flipping the script.  Every time I've seen them, their set has ended with "Criminal," but they put the moody, crescendoing rocker right up front.  It was a powerful move on the band's part, a way of saying, "We're not gonna make you wait for the song you want to hear the most.  We have just as much confidence that we're gonna rock the shit out of anything we're gonna play after this too."  "Stand Up" was the frank rallying cry to unite everyone under this mission.  That was followed directly by another fan favorite, "Concrete (Fish Out of Water)."  Michael Girardot, who was jumping around more than I'd ever noticed before, took the song into his hands with a rip-roaring organ solo that had the crowd screaming for more.  Instead, as soon as he was finished, he picked up his trumpet and soloed on that to even more applause.  Singer David Shaw's hair, which had been tied back for the first few tunes, came unraveled during the number, his brown, shoulder-length curls exploding outward to give off a Sideshow Bob appearance.  "Monster" was next, David pleading in the lyrics, "Stop, save yourself / You could have anyone else."  But it was clear that this audience didn't want anyone else, only the Revivalists, especially when Rob Ingraham picked up his baritone sax for the explosive "All in the Family."
The New Orleans band was keen on inserting fresh songs into the mix, from the gentle finger-tapped melody of "It Was a Sin" to the soul-drenched "Fade Away."  But none of us knew just how new they would get.  After the encore break, Shaw and Giradot emerged for the debut of "Men Amongst Mountains."  Ed Williams joined midway through the heartfelt love song, laying down a solo on his pedal steel that would've made any '80s power ballad's ax-slinger jealous.  As the other bandmates returned to the stage, David quizzed the crowd, "New York City, are you ready to tear this place apart?"  Cheers from the crowd as Michael and Rob convened at the keys to start up the Who's "Baba O'Riley."  Guitarist Zack Feinberg and Williams did their best Pete Townshend windmills as every person in Irving Plaza came together to sing the chorus.  The room was all smiles at its conclusion, and the crowd craved another.  "One more song!" they demanded, the band still onstage.  A brief band meeting made the decision: "Forgot About Dre."  And while I would've preferred another Revivalists original, something along the lines of a "Bullet Proof Vest" or "BTBD," it was hard to deny the wave of excitement that surged through the crowd when Feinberg started playing those familiar staccato notes.

I drank beers with a few of the Revivalists in their van back in April.  You can listen to our conversation here:

THE REVIVALISTS - 11.20.14 - IRVING PLAZA (1 hour, 34 minutes)

Criminal / Stand Up / Concrete (Fish Out of Water) / Monster / All in the Family / When I'm Able / It Was a Sin > Elementary / Navigate Below > Upright / Not Turn Away / Fade Away / Catching Fireflies

Men Amongst Mountains / Baba O'Riley / Forgot About Dre

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 27: The Majorleans & "Bassy" Bob Brockmann

This interview has been in the archives for over a year, waiting patiently for the release of the Majorleans album, Black Belt.  Just like the rocking record, it's well worth the wait.  Nicky Francis and Chris Buckle tell how their origins in Baltimore and Liverpool eventually merged together in the Lower East Side to mint a sound that is undeniably New York City.  Their Grammy-winning engineer and co-producer, "Bassy" Bob Brockmann, who has worked with everyone from Christina Aguilera to Biggie Smalls, also drops in to discuss his career and the state of the music industry.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes for the best experience.

Buy Black Belt on iTunes.

Grab a ticket for their show at Mercury Lounge on Friday.

Read reviews of previous Majorleans shows:
05.02.14, Rough Trade NYC
12.18.13, Mercury Lounge
04.03.13, The Bowery Electric 

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 26: Vacationer

I've listened to Vacationer's album Relief more than any other album this year.  I've listened to their song "The Wild Life" more than any other song this year.  So there's no reason why you shouldn't listen to this podcast interview with Vacationer's Kenny Vasoli more than any other podcast this year.  Find out Kenny's favorite Thanksgiving food, what it's like to get a present from Jay-Z, and much, much more.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes to get new episodes hours before they're posted here.

Visit Vacationer's website for merch and tour dates.
Read my review of Vacationer's gig at Webster Hall's Marlin Room.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Primus Only Play Six Songs at the Greene Space

"It's not your normal score to Willy Wonka.  It's Primus, so it's more of a Tim Burtony…"  I'll cut John Schaefer, the host of WNYC's Soundcheck, off there.  I should have seen the bad omen in his introduction.  Les Claypool has only said in every interview about Primus & the Chocolate Factory that part of his motivation in recreating the soundtrack was his distaste with the 2005 Burton remake, going as far as to compare it to feces.  I'll be the first to admit that was what intrigued me most about the cover album, considering I haven't listened to Primus that much, even though I appropriated their "Primus sucks" slogan for my Twitter handle.  But I do think the Johnny Depp version is fucking garbage, so I was onboard immediately.

About 100 Primus fans, some dressed in various Wonka-inspired getups, crowded into the small Greene Space, anxiously waiting for the band to take the prop-candy-covered stage.  The band emerged to cheers and proceeded immediately with their creepy take on "Candy Man," Claypool pausing dramatically before each utterance of the sweets purveyor's name.  The reunited Primus lineup was expanded by the Fungi Ensemble of Mike Dillon on percussion and Teddy Parker on cello.  Dillon's vibraphone solo on "Golden Ticket" was the clear winner for musical highlight, although Larry LaLonde's guitar work on "Pure Imagination" was a close runner-up.  Tim Alexander's drum hits transitioned out of the song as t
wo dancers donning giant Oompa Loompa heads emerged from stage right.  They bobbed up and down to the version that occurs right after Mike Teevee meets his Wonkavised demise.  It seemed a little strange to me to be playing that verse first.  Then the lights came up and Schaefer returned to the stage.  Okay, a short interview.  I get it.  But then they did something that was as giant a waste of time as it sounds: a costume contest on the radio.  Les and the band seemed bored as John questioned audience members as to their favorite adaptation of Roald Dahl's book (Obviously, everyone preferred Gene Wilder.) and then asked about their costumes.  The winners were a couple dressed as Wonka and Veruca Salt, but with rubber fish masks for faces. (I voted for the older guy dressed as Augustus Gloop because the Wonka-fish seemed totally unaware of his resemblance to Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica cover.)  Claypool pointed out that the winner for him was the child in the front row dressed as a box of Nerds.  I just wanted it to be over, so we could get back to the show.  Finally, Schaefer said the treat for us would be more Primus songs.  Claypool strapped on a bass that had glowing green guide dots along the top of the neck, which made it especially interesting when his hand would slide across it in the darkened room during "Fisticuffs."  They followed with the chant-inducing "Here Come the Bastards" from 1991's Sailing the Seas of Cheese.  But once it was finished, there went the bastards.  I guess the show is called Soundcheck because it's not a real show; just a little taste.  And while I enjoyed the performance I saw, it was way too short for the ticket price of $28.95.  They played six songs in just over 30 minutes, which means I paid $4.83 a song.  The runtime of the entire album is just over 40 minutes.  Why not play the whole thing and skip the stupid costume contest?  I'm glad I saw Primus.  I'm glad I saw them in such a small room.  But it's a crime to charge almost a dollar per minute for live music.  You can now stream the show on the Soundcheck page.  At least that's free.


Candy Man / Golden Ticket / Pure Imagination > Oompa TV

Fisticuffs / Here Come the Bastards

Jon Langford Revenge of the Mekons Afterparty at the Bell House Setlist

Review to come.

JON LANGFORD - 10.29.14 - THE BELL HOUSE (1 hour, 21 minutes)

Drone Operator / Pill Sailor / Haunted / Hell's Roof / Mars / What Did You Do in the War? / Millionaire / Oh No, Hank! / Youghal / Streets of Tamworth / Tom Jones Levitation / Tubby Brothers / Luxury / 1234ever / Sugar on Your Tongue / Streets of Your Town / Homburg

Big Eye / Delilah / Are You an Entertainer?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 25: The English Beat

The Next Round is finally back, and what an episode to come back on!  Right before the English Beat skanked up Brooklyn Bowl, Dave Wakeling invited me onto the group's tour bus to talk about diuretics, crowdfunding, and Johnny Cash's ghost.

Subscribe on iTunes, download directly, or stream below. (Subscribers on iTunes got this episode last Friday, so get on that shit.)

My first exposure to the English Beat was through the movie Kingpin, so what better venue to see them in than a bowling alley?  The Beat emerged from backstage, Wakeling in a polo shirt with a black-and-white checkerboard collar.  It was the perfect wardrobe choice, simultaneously representing his age and his two-tone history.  They kicked things off with "The Love You Give Lasts Forever," a peppy tribute to Dave's departed mother.  Sound issues plagued the set from the first notes, Wakeling walking over to the onstage tech to try to rectify the situation.  The bass wasn't loud enough, the guitars weren't audible, and Dave's banter was indiscernible through the reverb.  Sadly, the botched mix persisted for most of the show, creating a disconnect between the stage and the floor.

Fortunately, with a legacy act like the Beat, the crowd was quite familiar with the material and able to piece together the gaps in their heads.  Well, maybe not the heartfelt "Said We Would Never Die."  The new number will be on the upcoming For Crying Out Loud, the Beat's first LP in over thirty years (and you'll have to listen to the podcast to learn who that one's about.)  Dave recommended "I'll Take You There" to those looking for a bid at the White House in 2016, as both Clinton and Obama had used the song on the campaign trail, both elected to two terms.  As you'd expect, the set focused heavily on tracks from I Just Can't Stop It, but a pair of General Public tunes, "Never You Done That" and "Tenderness," had fans giddily dancing, fully earning their late-set placement.  But that was nothing compared to when "Ranking Full Stop" dropped into "Mirror in the Bathroom" with the scorching howl of Matt Morrish's saxophone.  A cheer erupted from the crowd as the floor turned into a gyrating punky reggae party.  
Although they are known to play a two-hour-plus set, the band turned in early without an encore, most likely a result of the frustration over the sound issues.  Bittersweet, sure.  But damn, I loved what I saw in that "Mirror."

THE ENGLISH BEAT - 09.17.14 - BROOKLYN BOWL (1 hour, 39 minutes)

The Love You Give Lasts Forever / Rough Rider / Tears of a Clown / Twist & Crawl / Happy Birthday / Hands Off... She's Mine > Children Crying > Hands Off... She's Mine / Best Friend / I'll Take You There / I Confess / Click Click / Save It for Later / Said We Would Never Die / Whine & Grine/Stand Down Margaret / Two Swords / Can't Get Used to Losing You / Sole Salvation / Never You Done That / Tenderness / Ranking Full Stop > Mirror in the Bathroom

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Vacationer Set a Whale Loose in the Marlin Room

The most common reasoning I hear from people as to why they don't go to concerts is that it doesn't sound as good as the record, specifically the vocals.  Last night in Webster Hall's Marlin Room, Vacationer's Kenny Vasoli put those naysayers in their place, with every lyric sounding at least on par with its studio version.  The band began with "Trip," set against a projection of waves crashing on a Pacific shoreline.  As he played bass, Vasoli turned to the backdrop to watch his shadow dance around like a silhouette in an iPod commercial.  They followed with a trio of songs from their latest LP, Relief, including the plucky double-guitar groove of "Shining," which had Kenny "woo"ing a few more times than the album cut.  "I'm gonna give you the world," he stated, emptying a trashbag full of globe-emblazoned beach balls onto the audience for a sprightly "In the Grass."  "I'm glad you're down with the chillness.  Here's some old ones for you," Kenny offered, easing into "Summer End."  There was a marked change in energy as the band found their way back into songs from their debut, which could be identified by the lack of air-filled planets bouncing around.  After "Be with You," Vasoli remarked, "They gave us a long-ass set.  We're gonna have a lot of fun in this room."  That is, if your idea of fun is a large, inflatable "chiller" whale being tossed around the floor during "The Wild Life."  If we'd been in the main ballroom upstairs, there could have been some real Free Willy--err, Free Chilly moments of the whale soaring high above the crowd, but the lights rigged from the Marlin Room's low ceiling made it damn near impossible for the pool toy to get any air.  If the whale came close enough to you, you got stuck hitting it repeatedly against the shit hanging above you.  When Chilly came back around during the second chorus, the guy behind me dropped his beer, drenching the back of my legs with a sticky pumpkin stench.  And I actually wouldn't have minded as much if this had happened during another tune, but this was the jam I've been bumping almost non-stop for two weeks.  A gentle "Glimpse" provided a satisfying reprieve from all the whale-beating before Vacationer finished out their set with the opening salvo from Gone: "Everyone Knows" and "Good as New."

I sat down for a beer with Kenny on Friday to tape an episode of The Next Round, so look for that in the next two weeks.


Trip / Stay / Paradise Waiting / Shining / In the Grass / Summer End > Great Love / Be with You / Farther / Warmer / The Wild Life / Glimpse / Dreamlike / Everyone Knows / Good as New

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Delta Spirit Mercury Lounge Setlist

Review to come.

DELTA SPIRIT - 09.30.14 - MERCURY LOUNGE (1 hour, 37 minutes)

From Now On / Devil Knows You're Dead / Tear It Up / Empty House / Strange Vine / Live On / Hold My End Up / People C'mon / Take Shelter / Yamaha / Bushwick Blues / Language of the Dead / Trashcan / California / Children / White Table / Parade / Into the Wide / People Turn Around

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tedeschi Trucks Band Beacon 9/26 Setlist

Review soon.


Christopher Columbus / Nothing to Fear* / Hard Wired / You Don't Know* / Wild Card / 
Bully's Lament / Word of Mouth / Late July / Dearly Departed

TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND - 09.26.14 - BEACON THEATRE (2 hours, 10 minutes)

Rollin' & Tumblin' / Do I Look Worried / Don't Miss Me / Midnight in Harlem / There's a Break in the Road / Loan Me a Dime (feat. Jackie Greene) / Idle Wind / You Got the Silver (feat. Jackie Greene) / Crow Jane / Shelter / Part of Me / I Pity the Fool / Angel from Montgomery > Sugaree (feat. Jackie Greene) / Bound for Glory / More & More

(Night Time is) the Right Time (feat. Jackie Greene) / Palace of the King

Fancy Colors Rockwood Music Hall Setlist

Review to come.

SUNRUNNERS - 09.18.14 - ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL (40 minutes)

We Are at War / Save Everyone / It's a Start / Mexico* / Stars & Colors / The Writer / Everybody / Sailing
FANCY COLORS - 09.18.14 - ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL (55 minutes)

The Last One / History of Civilization / Africa / The Way You Walk Away / Castle in the Snow / Love is Easy / Island Rose / Infinity / Last Summer

Cookies Baby's All Right Setlist

Review to come.

COOKIES - 09.16.14 - BABY'S ALL RIGHT (33 minutes)

1,000 Breakfasts with You / Boycrazy / July Seventeen > Crybaby (A) > Go Back / Go-Getter / Summer Jam / Music for Touching

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds Give Madison Square Park a Free Show to Remember

One of the primary reasons I've stuck around New York for so long is the seemingly endless amount of free concerts.  While some artists are content with providing a little background music for picnickers, some go that extra mile to satisfy their longtime fans as well.  Last night in Madison Square Park, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds proved they have no interest in only being paired with hummus, grapes, and prosciutto; they exist to make you shake your ass.

I took a spot on the ground near the soundboard, surrounded by couples on blankets.  Arleigh "Sister Sparrow" Kincheloe, dressed entirely in white, bounced out onto the stage to the intro of "The Long Way."  I realized quickly that I was too far away.  The mix was only coming out of the speakers framing the stage, so the h
orns sounded thin.  I relocated to the standing section to the right of the stage, discovering that part of the reason for this was the absence of trombonist Ryan Snow.  I overcame my longing for trombone as soon as the Dirty Birds plunged into their second tune, a cover of "The Way You Make Me Feel" that sounded like the love child of MJ and Dr. Funkenstein.  Josh Myers was absolutely murdering it on the bass, and they even spiced it up with a pinch of "Kashmir."  Following a powerful "Freight Train," Arleigh encouraged the audience to come forward.  "I feel like you're afraid to get a little closer to the Dirty Birds.  They don't smell too bad," she confessed.  That's all it took for the crowd to sweep in like pigeons spotting breadcrumbs, nodding their heads to each "uh-huh" in "Don't Be Jealous."   "This is a song I wrote for my best friend.  It's kind of about troublemakers in your life," announced Arleigh before the groovy new summer track, "Prison Cells."  "Disappear," another fresh tune, came next, allowing for some raspy riffing by Kincheloe at its end.  Sister Sparrow-staple "Make It Rain" spotlighted an extended saxophone solo from Brian Graham, with Arleigh shaking a tambourine and giving a look to the crowd that she was also genuinely impressed by his sax skills.  The last Sister Sparrow show I'd been to was their Zeppelin IV cover concert, and a whole lotta Led must've rubbed off on new number "Catch Me If You Can," with Arleigh giving off serious '70s rocker vibes over the chunky blues of the Birds.  Myers let another fantastic bass bomb drop to kick off the final ditty, "Boogie Man."

Less than a minute after their departure, Arleigh ran back onto the stage and let out a guttural scream into the microphone.  Sister Sparrow then turned her tail to the crowd for a photo op.  "You ready, boys?" she said after the Kodak moment, gathering her flock for the encore.  The band tore into their "Bulls on Parade/Rock & Roll" mashup to finish it out, with Jackson Kincheloe serving up a positively wicked harmonica solo.

Requests for a podcast interview have been made, so look out for that later this year.  SSDB will return to NYC for a two-night stand at Bowery Ballroom the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Arleigh's advice?  "Come on out. Work off that turkey."

SISTER SPARROW & THE DIRTY BIRDS - 08.06.14 - MADISON SQUARE PARK (1 hour, 17 minutes)

The Long Way / Sugar > The Way You Make Me Feel > Kashmir (tease) > The Way You Make Me Feel / We Need a Love / Freight Train / Don't Be Jealous / Prison Cells / Disappear / Borderline / Make It Rain / My House / Horn Section Solo > Crawdaddies / Catch Me If You Can / Boogie Man

Bulls on Parade/Rock & Roll

Friday, August 1, 2014

José González & yMusic Lincoln Center Setlist

Review to come.


Stay in the Shade / Deadweight on Velveteen / Hints / Hand on Your Heart / Teardop / Crosses / The Nest / Promises to Keep* / Fold / Instrumental* / Lovestain / Abram / Killing for Love / This is How We Walk on the Moon / With the Ink of a Ghost


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Give the People What They Want at Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival

Review to come.


Stop Your Crying / What About Me / Clear a Space / Look at What Mistake / Bad Self Portraits / I Don't Care About You* / Use Me Up / Hello? Goodbye! / Bobby Tanqueray / Just Ask / Rabid Animal / Seventeen / I Want You Back / You Go Down Smooth


Intro > Hot Shot / Gonna Make Time / In the Night* / Stranger to My Happiness / You'll Be Lonely / Calamity / Long Time, Wrong Time / I Heard It Through the Grapevine / If You Call / Now I See / Making Up & Breaking Up (and Making Up & Breaking Up Over Again) / He Said I Can / People Don't Get What They Deserve > There Was a Time > Slow Down, Love / Get Up & Get Out / Retreat! / Outro

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Phish Save the Best for Last at Randall's Island

Review soon.


The Moma Dance / Kill Devil Falls / Ya Mar / Bathtub Gin / 555 > Rift > Sample in a Jar > The Wedge / Waiting All Night / Stash > Theme from the Munsters (tease) > Stash

Steam > Down with Disease > Golden Age > Limb by Limb > Fuego > David Bowie / Cavern

Character Zero


AC/DC Bag > 46 Days / Yarmouth Road / Devotion to a Dream / Free / My Sweet One > Back on the Train / Halfway to the Moon > Sparkle / A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing / The Line / Run Like an Antelope

Punch You in the Eye > Carini / Ghost > Wingsuit / Rock & Roll > Harry Hood > St. Thomas (tease) > Harry Hood

Tube / Joy / First Tube


Sand / Winterqueen / Reba / Birds of a Feather / Water in the Sky / Possum > Runaway Jim / Bouncing Around the Room / Maze / Split Open & Melt

Chalk Dust Torture > Light > St. Thomas (tease) > Light > Tweezer / Wading in the Velvet Sea / Sing Monica / Slave to the Traffic Light

Backwards Down the Number Line > Tweezer Reprise

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 24: Speak

For this week's show, I sat down with Nick Hurt and Joey Delahoussaye, who play guitar and bass in the synthpop quartet, Speak.  The band recently released their three-years-in-the-making second record, Pedals, taking control of the writing/mixing/mastering duties and more.  Hailing from Austin, the guys admitted there's a bit of an expectation to be good live, but as anyone who saw them perform at Rough Trade or Firefly Festival can attest, they are quite capable of the task.  As a tie-in to the new album, the band collaborated with Tristan Michael on a computer game for their song "Be Reasonable, Diane," so I had my video game expert roommate review it.

Subscribe on iTunes if you're awesome, download directly, or stream below:

Visit Speak's website for a free download of "Peaks."
Play the video game.
Follow them on Twitter.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chris Mills Does Not Disappoint at Big City Folk Festival

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  I'd just done an open mic at the Creek & the Cave, so I moseyed on over to LIC Bar to catch Chris Mills' spot at the Big City Folk Festival.  After squeezing my way through the bar packed with World Cup fans, I slipped out the back door to find a patio full of people singing along to songs by Niall Connolly.  The festival's founder was onstage, tucked away in a garage of sorts, with wooden chairs stacked in the rear by a fireplace, charred with use.  Connolly finished with "Jesus is Coming," and there was a brief lull while Mills set up.  "When I was asked to perform on this festival by its creator, Niall Connolly, directly after a 25-minute set of his greatest hits, with everyone singing along, all I could think was collateral damage," mused Mills.  And while the audience had thinned following Niall's set, Chris made the best of the situation by just having fun playing his tunes.  After the uptempo "Atom Smashers," Mills slowed things down with "Rubicon," a song he'd actually written for one of Connolly's songwriter workshop nights. (Learn the story in my podcast interview with Chris.)  "Dry Eye" had to compete with some World Cup revelry coming through an opened window, but thankfully it was closed in time for "Helpless Bells."  It was my first time hearing the song live, and guitarist Clint Newman's subtle backup vocals were on the money.  Though Mills claimed he'd used all his banter at a gig earlier in the week, he managed to get a few good quips in.  Likening his set to the meat in a "sandwich of disappointment," he explained that after Niall's barn-burner performance, he was to be followed by a full-band spot by the Sky Captains of Industry.  "This is a song I wrote when I was living in my parents' basement at the age of 29... some forty years ago," Chris joked before "Chris Mills is Living the Dream."  He closed with "Castaways," his face turning red during the powerful refrain.  To think, my stomach has been hurting for the last two days, and yet I had no problem digesting a disappointment sandwich.  The Big City Folk Festival concludes tomorrow at LIC Bar.  "It's like the World Cup of Folk Music... except more honest," offered Chris.

CHRIS MILLS - 06.28.14 - LIC BAR (37 minutes)

SET - 
Atom Smashers / Rubicon / Blooms / Suicide Note / Dry Eye / Helpless Bells / Alexandria / Chris Mills is Living the Dream / Castaways

The Next Round - Episode 23: Miniature Tigers

Miniature Tigers began when Charlie Brand and Rick Schaier met over MySpace in 2006.  They've since added Algernon Quashie and Brandon Lee to their ranks, and all four guys had beers with me at 68 Jay St Bar in Dumbo to talk about their latest release, Cruel Runnings.  In addition to the new album, we discussed how social networking has changed in such a way that they likely wouldn't have met if they were forming a band today.  The Tigers also reflected on VHS tapes, McDonald's burgers, and the finale of Lost.

Subscribe on iTunes like a cool kid, download directly, or stream below:

Miniature Tigers kick off their summer tour at Westway in NYC on 7/10, so get your tickets now.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Amos Lee & Lake Street Dive Celebrate Brooklyn Setlists

Review to come.

LAKE STREET DIVE - 06.20.14 - PROSPECT PARK BANDSHELL (1 hour, 10 minutes)

Stop Your Crying / What About Me / Clear a Space / Look at What Mistake / Bad Self Portraits / Love Doctor / Henriette / Use Me Up / Neighbor Song / Spectacular Failure / Bobby Tanqueray / Just Ask / Rabid Animal / Seventeen / Hello? Goodbye! / You Go Down Smooth

AMOS LEE - 06.20.14 - PROSPECT PARK BANDSHELL (1 hour, 27 minutes)

Windows Are Rolled Down / Jesus / Stranger / Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight / Bottom of the Barrel / Tricksters, Hucksters, & Scamps / Flower / Seen It All Before / Simple Things / Arms of a Woman / Cup of Sorrow / Fat Bottomed Girls > Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) / Won't Let Me Go > Freestyle > Shower of Love > If I Ever Fall in Love > Won't Let Me Go (feat. Mutlu) / Sweet Pea / Street Corner Preacher > Game of Thrones

End of the Road (feat. Mutlu & Lake Street Dive)

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 22: Jon Cleary

I first saw Jon Cleary when he was opening for Soulive at Brooklyn Bowl, and I was immediately impressed by his piano-playing skills.  He could pay homage to Jelly Roll Morton with "The Crave" one minute and then shift to the modern blue-eyed soul of "When You Get Back" the next.  I made sure to get him on the podcast when he returned to Brooklyn for his gig at Prospect Park.  After an early flight from NOLA and a 90-minute cab ride, Jon needed some breakfast, so excuse his chewing while he tells me how not to pronounce New Orleans, what it was like portraying himself on HBO's Tremé, and how he met John Scofield over turkey.

Subscribe on iTunes like a champion, download directly, or stream below:

Follow Jon Cleary on Twitter.
Check his website for tour dates.
Mark your calendar for 7/23 when he plays Madison Square Park.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Speak Step Into "Pedals" at Rough Trade NYC

Pedals, the sophomore record from Speak, drops next week.  Last night, the Austinquartet took to the Rough Trade stage to give fans a taste of what they can expect.  Being a music journalist has its perks; I've had the album for a few weeks now.  Pedals is moodier than its poppy predecessor, I Believe in Everything.  The LP has a strong electronic bent, and I was skeptical as to how it would translate to the stage.  My worries vanished immediately as Speak sprang into "Mystery Lights."  The cymbals crashed.  The drums thundered.  The guitars crunched.  They played like they wanted to be there, imbuing "Peaks" and "Heavy Metal War" with a spunky energy.  The only giveaway that the songs were new was the absence of the audience singing along, the crowd maintaining a respectful attention usually reserved for more familiar material.  After a tease of James Blake's "The Wilhelm Scream," drummer Jake Stewart clacked his sticks together and they sailed into "Falling" by Haim.  Singing backup together and sporting eyeglasses, matching haircuts, and identical black outfits, there was no reason to think Nick Hurt and Joey Delahoussaye couldn't be brothers.  "This one's ours," said lead singer Troupe Gammage, grabbing a guitar for the hooks-for-days single, "Be Reasonable, Diane."  Gammage picked up a bass for "I Should've Guessed," Speak's collaboration with RAC.  The tune's digging bassline struck a chord with the crowd, turning the first few rows into a dance party.  They wrapped things up with album's opening track "Gates," finishing it off with a chunky coda.  My only criticism was that the set was too short, which could've been remedied by not allowing Australia's awful Vampire Weekend copycat, the Griswolds, to play.  Then they might've had time for few songs from I Believe in Everything.

SPEAK - 06.18.14 - ROUGH TRADE NYC (29 minutes)

Mystery Lights / Peaks / Heavy Metal War / The Wilhelm Scream (tease) > Falling / Be Reasonable, Diane / I Should've Guessed / Gates

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Barr Brothers Debut New Songs at Rough Trade NYC

"We've spent the last year recording a new record.  This is the first show we're actually gonna try some of these songs," Brad Barr disclosed last night at Rough Trade.  It was the final day of Brooklyn's Northside Festival, and the Barr Brothers show was the only one I wanted to see.  Just days before, the band had announced their long-awaited follow-up album, Sleeping Operator, due in the fall, so I was jonesing for some new music.

The band began the set huddled together as a unit, harmonizing sweetly on "Little Lover."  Two minutes in, the members spread out to their positions, Andrew Barr kicking in on the drums and Sarah Page swapping her smaller harp for the imposing full-size one stage left.  The audience was a tad chatty for new song "Wolves," but they quieted for "Even the Darkness Has Arms," which saw Brad, Andrew, and Sarah all picking up guitars to play the Appalachian-style number.  At its completion, Brad took the time to wish everyone a happy Father's Day, adding, "I became a father recently."  The crowd clapped.  "You drink enough Jameson, it's easy," he laughed.  Brad started "Half Crazy" on banjo, but abandoned it for an electric, whipping the tune into a blues rock dragon with his slide as Page plucked frantically at her harp.  They followed it with the familiar "Ooh, Belle" and "Beggar in the Morning," with Brad lyrically tugging on the crowd's heartstrings as he literally tugged on the strings dangling from his guitar.
The Barr Brothers have a complex stage setup in that every member of the band sings and plays at least two instruments, not to mention that half of said instruments look like they were found in the scrap heap at a junkyard.  An earlier mishap had reset all the work done during soundcheck, so it was a constant battle for the band to get the correct monitor levels and avoid feedback.  They were patient with the sound crew though, and aside from Brad's mic being a little too quiet, the house sound was fine.  The band closed with three more Sleeping Operator cuts: "Love Ain't Enough," "Come in the Water," and "England," the last of which Brad played on a guitar fashioned out of a rusty toolbox.

"Whoever said fathers should not take LSD was not on LSD," said Barr as he picked up his toolbox once more for the encore.  "Just kidding," he clarified.  The Barrs plowed into "Lord, I Just Can't Keep from Crying," turning in a nearly 
9-minute rendition.  Brad played with such intensity that the toolbox became unlatched by the song's end.  That would've been a perfect finale, but the fans wanted more, rattling furiously on the COSCO shipping container wall of the venue.  The band chose "Cloud (for Lhasa)," which was a little too soft a finish after the dirty blues of "Crying."  According to the onstage setlist, both "Crying" and "Cloud" were to be played in the set prior to "England" with an encore of "Please Let Me Let It Go" and "Give the Devil Back His Heart."  And while I would've preferred the devil (Probably the first time I've ever written that!), I wasn't disappointed.  The Barr Brothers finally have a new album coming out.

THE BARR BROTHERS - 06.15.14 - ROUGH TRADE NYC (1 hour, 28 minutes)

Little Lover / Wolves / Even the Darkness Has Arms / Half Crazy / Ooh, Belle / Beggar in the Morning / Love Ain't Enough / Come in the Water / England

Lord, I Just Can't Keep from Crying / Cloud (for Lhasa)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cody Chesnutt Apollo Music Café Setlist

Review to come.

CODY CHESNUTT - 06.14.14 - APOLLO MUSIC CAFÉ (1 hour, 17 minutes)

That's Still Mama / Let's Go Pop (Let's Pimp the Ghetto Lie) / 'Til I Met Thee / When I Find Time / Up in the Treehouse / Everybody's Brother / Under the Spell of the Handout / What Kind of Cool (Will We Think of Next) > Goin' Downtown (tease) > What Kind of Cool (Will We Think of Next) / Goin' Downtown (tease) / Love is More Than a Wedding Day

Gunpowder on the Letter

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 21: Jeremy Messersmith

This week on the podcast, Jeremy Messersmith sat down with me at One Mile House before his show at Bowery Ballroom.  He revealed how different elements of his life, from his Christian upbringing to his computer science degree to his job as a college professor have all played a part (be it subliminal or obvious) in his songwriting process.  Find out why all of his albums have 11 songs, including his latest, Heart Murmurs, which has garnered praise from NPR to Time Magazine.

(This episode also features a tease of an upcoming interview with Jon Cleary.)

Subscribe on iTunes to hear new episodes first, download directly, or stream below:

Follow Jeremy on Twitter.
Check out his tour dates.
Buy the album on hot pink vinyl.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Jeremy Messersmith Gives the Fans What They Want at Bowery Ballroom

It had only been four months since Jeremy Messersmith was last in New York, playing his sold-out album release show at Mercury Lounge.  While that set was heavy on Heart Murmurs, only dipping back as far as 2010's The Reluctant Graveyard, Messersmith made sure to give his fans something more than a repeat performance, playing tunes from all four of his albums, a new song, and a surprise cover.

Jeremy began with "I Don't Trust That Boy," an unreleased cautionary tale played solo on electric guitar.  As soon as he finished, the band charged into an energetic "Tourniquet."  A jolly "Lazy Bones" had Jeremy and his comrades flashing smiles at each other.  As "You'll Only Break His Heart" wrapped up with Messersmith strumming his acoustic and guitarist Peter Sieve experimenting with harmonics, the other members snuck off the stage.  The two axmen performed the soft "I Want to Be Your One Night Stand" to chuckles and "aww"s from the floor.  As he departed, Sieve put a reassuring hand on Jeremy's shoulder as if to say, "You got this, man."  Standing alone in the middle of the Bowery stage, he polled the crowd for requests.  Although it was unclear if he'd actually taken someone's suggestion, Messersmith made up his mind.  "This is one from the subgenre of subzero Minnesota songs," he announced, gently fingerpicking into the emotionally gutting "Beautiful Children."  Then he granted a concertgoer's wish with a cover of Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend."  Jeremy revealed that "Novocain" was "the first song I wrote that I actually kind of liked a little bit."  He explained that he penned the tune while contemplating life at his first job: "Is this the American Dream?  Working in a temp office and driving a Ford Festiva?"  As the song progressed, his bandmates joined in one by one to complete it as a unit.  With the band back together, Messersmith chose to rock out for the rest of the set, which included "Dillinger Eyes," "Heidi," and "Hitman."  Jeremy informed the crowd that he and the band would be hiding offstage for thirty seconds, adding, "I want you to just promise me that you'll applaud the whole time we're over there."  The smitten spectators had no problem obliging.  After two full-band numbers, "Ghost" and "Violet!" Messersmith thanked his band and closed with a "song he stole off the Internet" (actually just inspired by a Reddit post), the sweet yet profane "Someday, Someone."

I had a pre-show drink with Jeremy for The Next Round, so subscribe on iTunes so you don't miss it when it drops.

JEREMY MESSERSMITH - 06.10.14 - BOWERY BALLROOM (1 hour, 7 minutes)

I Don't Trust That Boy / Tourniquet / It's Only Dancing / Lazy Bones / Franklin Avenue / You'll Only Break His Heart / I Want to Be Your One Night Stand / Beautiful Children / Call Your Girlfriend / A Girl, a Boy, & a Graveyard / Novocain / Dillinger Eyes / Organ Donor / Heidi / Hitman

Ghost / Violet! / Someday, Someone