Friday, May 30, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 19: Mad Caddies

Just prior to the Mad Caddies' first NYC show in seven years, I sat down with trumpet player Keith Douglas for two beers at the Whiskey Tavern.  Douglas let me know why it also took seven years for the Caddies to release their latest LP, Dirty Rice, and how he was instrumental in the naming of the record.  We also covered his favorite foods to eat on tour, the band's long-term relationship with Fat Wreck Chords, and the essential thing a band on the road has to do that you might not think about… laundry.  We even geeked out on trumpets a bit.

Subscribe on iTunes to get new episodes hours ahead of the curve, download directly, or stream below:

Visit the Mad Caddies' website and follow them on Twitter.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Maxïmo Park Powers Through Technical Issues at Gramercy Theatre

Despite a myriad of technical difficulties, Maxïmo Park put on the best show I've seen this year last night at Gramercy Theatre.  While the Newcastle band played a whopping 10 out of the 11 tracks from their latest Too Much Information, they interspersed the tunes with fan favorites from their previous four albums.

I first discovered Maxïmo Park in 2005 as an opening act, so I made a point to check out opener Jeffrey Lewis & the Jrams.  Lewis began with "When You're by Yourself."  His flat vocals coupled with the rudimentary musicianship of the Jrams wasn't really doing it for me, but I paid attention, as 
I could easily relate to the song's lyrics about dining alone and having to take your backpack to the restroom with you.  "Time Trades" careened into
"Important for Me," the most punk-sounding of Lewis' numbers, which had him shouting over discordant blasts of guitar.  Lewis is also an artist (The merch table was blanketed with issues of his comic books.), so the next song found him flipping through the pages of a homemade storybook, singing the tale of the French Revolution to a rhythm supplied by the Jrams.  His ode to a neighbor with night terrors recalled a sped-up version of Weezer's "Island in the Sun."  He followed that with a poem entitled "WWPRD" (That's "What Would Pussy Riot Do?").  I was amazed at how respectful the crowd was as he delivered the spoken-word piece, especially as the message took a sudden turn into the dangers of selling out.  Lewis squinted a lot as he spoke, and while I'm sure he believes his words, he looked more like he was painfully trying to remember them than profess them with conviction.

Maxïmo Park were supposed to go on a little after 9:30, but the sound techs moving about the stage with confused faces foreshadowed a later start time.  Twenty minutes later, the stage manager signaled with his flashlight, and the room went dark.  The band emerged, starting the set as they do on TMI, with "Give, Get, Take."  Despite Paul Smith revealing afterwards that he had heard the band Chicago in his in-ear monitor during the entire song, it was a great entrance for the band.  They followed with my favorite MP tune "Our Velocity," and it blew the roof off the place.  Duncan Lloyd opened the song up with a guitar solo, and Lukas Wooller garnered cheers with a slightly different keyboard breakdown, not to mention his trademark half-jumping jacks.  After three more uptempo rockers, the moody electronic "Brain Cells" came a little out of left field for much of the crowd.  The Park snatched everyone back up with "Hips & Lips."  Paul Smith's antics as a frontman, which include exuberantly jumping around and acting out the lyrics would be utterly ridiculous if not for the fact that the music is so infectious.  Sort of like how you forgive Mick Jagger for his peacocking because the Stones are so good.  Smith commandeered a megaphone for "The Kids Are Sick Again," the night's only entry from Quicken the Heart, but sadly, the bullhorn malfunctioned at the start.  The propulsive "Leave This Island" was one of the best-received new tunes, so it was a particular shame when the house sound completely shut off halfway through it.  The band played a few more bars, hoping it would fix itself, eventually petering out when they realized it wasn't going to.  "This has never happened before," admitted Paul.  "If we had an acoustic guitar, we would play for you, but we left it in England."  If it came to it, I hoped Jeffrey Lewis would offer up his six-string, so they could finish their set.  I was genuinely worried that that would be the end of the show.  They decided to take an intermission to try to resolve the issue.

Within a few minutes, they got the okay to return.  While "Books from Boxes" is a great song, they probably should've chosen something with a higher octane to reclaim the stage.  The energy in the room faltered for the next couple songs, but "Limassol" got everyone back on the same page.  "This is a punk song.  Even though punk is very much dead," announced Paul prior to "Her Name Was Audre."  Sensing some resistance from the audience, he continued, "It's only dead in kind of a historical way."  "Quit taking the piss!" someone yelled from the crowd.  "Get this man to a toilet forthwith!" Smith shot back.  There were a few dropouts during "Audre," but they were brief one-second pops that the band didn't draw attention to.  "Apply Some Pressure" was the second set highlight, the room shouting back each "Start all over again!"  They wrapped things up with the nocturnal crescendo of "Midnight on the Hill."

The band came back for an encore, beginning with the Phil Spector-inspired "Where We're Going."  Even that wasn't immune to issues, with Smith's mic crackling on the first line.  Although he realized he could've kept it to himself, he also confessed that he could not hear Lloyd's guitar for the whole song.  "This is not just a rock and roll show.  We explain things.  We go behind the mask," Smith informed the crowd, further comparing it to a tour of the Parisian sewer system.  And if you didn't know where they were going, it was "Going Missing," which had the room wildly clapping and singing along to finish the show on a high note.  If so much can go wrong at a concert and it's still that good, the band must be doing something right.

I interviewed Paul Smith before the show for The Next Round, so if you want to find out why he dances so crazily, check back in a few weeks.


When You're by Yourself / Time Trades > Important for Me* / The French Revolution / Support Tours* / Stop the Torture, Old Man* / WWPRD / Painted Into a Corner

MAXÏMO PARK - 05.23.14 - GRAMERCY THEATRE (1 hour, 24 minutes)

Give, Get, Take / Our Velocity / Signal & Sign / The National Health / My Bloody Mind / Brain Cells / Hips & Lips / A Fortnight's Time / The Kids Are Sick Again / Graffiti / Lydia, the Ink Will Never Dry / Leave This Island

Books from Boxes / Drinking Martinis / I Recognise the Light / Limassol / The Undercurrents > Girls Who Play Guitars / Her Name Was Audre / Apply Some Pressure / Midnight on the Hill

Where We're Going / Going Missing

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 18: Berlin

There have been too many dudes on the podcast so far.  In fact, at the top of my desired interviews list, it says, "NEED LADIES!!!!"  So I'm tickled to present the first episode of The Next Round with a woman... the extraordinary Terri Nunn of Berlin.  Terri has been in the music business for decades, so we covered it all, from the band's eureka moment of "The Metro," to what it's like having to perform a mega-hit every night, to last fall's EDM-inspired Animal LP.  It's one of the most laid-back, fun interviews yet, and it's also historic, as it was the first time Terri has ever had a drink before a show.  Okay, no more words.  Just listen.

Subscribe on iTunes to get new episodes hours before they show up here, download directly, or stream below:

Link attack!
Read a review of the post-drink concert.
Purchase an autographed copy of Animal.
Watch my latest stand-up video.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mad Caddies Return to NYC After 7 Years

In the weeks leading up to the Mad Caddies show at Gramercy Theatre, a change of venue occurred.  Santos Party House would be hosting the show, and ultimately, the relocation hurt the experience for a lot of fans, myself included.

It was pouring buckets when I arrived at the venue, my socks soaking in my shoes.   I retracted my umbrella, and went into an entrance clogged with people watching the rain douse Lafayette St.  Dripping, I approached the ticket booth.  "I should be on the press list for Mad Caddies," I said, producing my ID.  "You have to go around to the other side," informed the woman.  Even though the booth continued through to that side behind her, I had to go back out into the downpour.   I guess I'd gone through the smokers' exit, but why was it so easy to get in that way?  I went into the other door, showed my ID, and waited as the woman on that side scanned the list for my name.  "You're not on it," she claimed.  A cheer from inside as the Caddies took the stage, opening with "Shot in the Dark" from the new album, Dirty Rice.  I texted and emailed my contacts, but the show had already started, so I didn't expect a response.  I swallowed my pride quickly, and offered to buy a ticket.  "It's sold out," remarked the teller.  I heard the band move into "Backyard."  I started grasping at straws, texting a friend inside to see if anyone around him might have an extra ticket they hadn't been able to get rid of.  When I heard the squawking trumpet intro to "Leavin," one of my favorite MC songs, I was pissed.  "Can I show you the email from my contact?" I pleaded with the teller.  I turned over my phone, and she began looking through the email chain.  "You already did the interview?" she asked snottily.  "Yes."  "At a bar?" she laughed, like I was trying to pull a fast one.  "Yes."  "I have to text someone to find out."  By now, the Caddies had dropped into "Without You," another fave.  "Okay, you're good," she said, and stamped my wrist.  I bolted down the stairs to check my bag, and entered the room to the applause at the heels of "Without You."  I spotted my friends in the back, and breathed a sigh of relief.  I'd missed four songs, but I was in!

This was when the differences between Santos and Gramercy became glaringly apparent. Santos' upstairs capacity is listed at 480 on their website, but there's no fucking way that's true, considering Gramercy maxes out at 499.  So it was packed.  The space is also interrupted by six large columns, two of which invade the stage, which forced bassist Graham Palmer to take his spot behind one of the monstrous structures.  The two sets of columns flanking the room are connected by benches, making it impossible to travel through the crowd without going directly up the middle.  The result at the back of the room was a near-constant shoving of people passing in both directions.

Thankfully, the Caddies are pros, so they didn't let the building's shortcomings affect them.  Even a flash flood warning, which simultaneously lit up every phone in the crowd, couldn't distract them mid-"Mary Melody."  It was interesting to hear the tunes with the addition of Dustin Lanker on keyboards, especially since he's joined the band as a full-time member.  He's in the forefront on Rice, giving an almost Ben Foldsian touch to new number "Down & Out."  "That song's about a dead hooker," singer Chuck Robertson informed at its end.  While Sascha Lazor strapped on his banjo, Chuck schooled us that although he had a beard and there was a banjo onstage, this was not a hipster thing.  "Just to be clear, this is an incestual banjo and a lazy beard."  The crowd jumped to life for the Caddies classic "Monkeys," which was followed promptly by the pirate singalong "Weird Beard."  Robertson exited as his bandmates embarked on an extended dub jam, with Keith Douglas taking the melody on trumpet.  "Brand New Scar" was the last of the new songs to be played, and the rest of the set continued like a greatest hits compilation, which I'm not complaining about.  A raucous "Road Rash" made way for a gentle "Drinking for 11," and then Chuck growled through the one-two punch of "Contraband" and "No Hope."  Unfortunately, the venue scheduled some bullshit DJ set after the concert, so they had to wrap things up early.  Lanker turned his keyboard into an accordion for "All American Badass," and Ed Hernandez jumped into the crowd to play his trombone, finishing the night with screeching feedback.

I taped a two-beer podcast with Keith before the show, so be on the lookout for that.

MAD CADDIES - 05.16.14 - SANTOS PARTY HOUSE (1 hour, 25 minutes)

Shot in the Dark / Backyard / Leavin / Without You / Tired Bones / Mary Melody / Lay Your Head Down / State of Mind / Down & Out / Monkeys / Weird Beard > Dub Jam* / Brand New Scar > Coyote / Road Rash / Drinking for 11 / Contraband > No Hope / Villains / Falling Down / Distress / All American Badass

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 17: Hollis Brown

Following Hollis Brown's RSD release party at IND Music, Mike Montali and I went upstairs to L'isola Restaurant in Williamsburg.  Born and raised in Astoria, Montali explained what it means to be in a band from Queens, how they came to record a Velvet Underground cover album, and why he enjoys European tours.  He also discussed some recent lineup changes in the group, including new drummer Andy Zehnal, who makes a brief cameo.

This podcast also features an exclusive peek into next week's episode with Terri Nunn of Berlin.

Subscribe on iTunes to get new eps before anyone else, download directly, or stream below:

Hollis Brown is playing at Rough Trade NYC tonight, so click here for tickets.  And click here for upcoming tour dates.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Of Montreal Le Poisson Rouge Setlist

Review to come.

OF MONTREAL - 05.11.14 - LE POISSON ROUGE (1 hour, 46 minutes)

Lanc Intro / Girl Named Hello / Triumph of Disintegration > Disconnect the Dots / Id Engager / Spike the Senses / Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider / Faberge Falls for Shuggie / Fugitive Air / Plastis Wafers / Coquet Coquette / Obsidian Currents / Raindrop in My Skull / Happy Birthday / Mingusings > St. Exquisite's Confessions > Oslo in the Summertime > The Party's Crashing Us / Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse

Lanc Intro > Don't Fuck the Candyman / Suffer for Fashion / Gronlandic Edit > She's a Rejecter > The Past is a Grotesque Animal

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 16: The Revivalists

This week's episode is with New Orleans' renowned live act, the Revivalists.  Well, three of them.  Ed Williams, Michael Girardot, and Andrew Campanelli welcomed me into their van while it was parked outside of Brooklyn Bowl, just prior to their first show of a two-night residency.  Gain insight into the inner workings of the band through this hilarious hangout.  Find out what they like to eat on tour, how they write songs, and who makes the "dad joke of the day."  This episode also features a recurring cameo by their lighting technician, Shepherd Flashman Lowrey.

Subscribe on iTunes to get the podcast hours before anyone else, download directly, or stream below:

Visit the Revivalists' website for tour dates and to buy City of Sound on vinyl.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Late Night with Berlin at the Cutting Room

A wave of guilt washed over me at 11:50pm.  Berlin were supposed to have taken the Cutting Room stage twenty minutes prior, and there was no sign of Terri Nunn.  Why the guilt?  I taped a podcast interview with Terri earlier in the day, and she informed me that her glass of red wine was the first time she's ever had a drink before a show.  Sure, her last sip had been around 7:00, so there was plenty of time for the buzz to wear off, but what if after that first glass, she kept going?  "Oh, no," I thought.  "She's somewhere in the building, tanked and crying.  I blew it."  Fortunately, drummer Chris Olivas appeared and announced they would be starting shortly, as they were having some technical difficulties.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

Just after midnight, following a brief video intro of Berlin's history, Olivas, guitarist Carlton Bost, and keyboardist Dave Schulz embarked on the dance track "With the Lights On."  Nunn emerged, clad in a long black skirt (with quite the revealing slit) and a feathery shawl.  Her two-toned hair framed her ageless face, which was grinning from ear to ear.  Even if some in the room weren't familiar with the tune from her most recent album, Animal, her enthusiasm was infectious.  And let's face it, they were finally playing!  They followed with "No More Words" and the crowd went bonkers, shouting back the chorus.  Those in the rear who couldn't see tiny Terri over the heads of the audience could watch her 30-years-younger self in the Bonnie & Clyde-styled music video playing behind the band.  Before the band's first single "A Matter of Words," Terri removed her shawl to reveal a sexy, sparkle-outfitted top.  If the energy level in the room was high for "No More Words," you can only imagine what it was like for "The Metro," where Nunn turned her mic to the crowd for the refrain.
With an act like Berlin, whose popularity peaked in the '80s, the audience could meet new material with a lot of resistance.  Hell, the title track of Animal even features a fully fledged dubstep breakdown.  Although the crowd wasn't moving and singing like they were for the hits, they didn't start having side conversations.  Their eyes were pinned to Terri for the entire show, a feat even more incredible given the over-stimulating Disney's-Haunted-Mansion-meets-art-gallery interior of the venue.  For "Pictures of You," a montage of childhood photos played behind the band, allowing everyone to see what they looked like before they turned goth.  Terri revealed that the Animal track "Nice to Meet You" was written about her fear of people.  And what better way to overcome that anthropophobia than to mount a dude's shoulders and have him parade you through the crowd to shake hands?

While her bandmates' backup vocals could've used some work, Terri continuously crushed it, with many performances besting the album takes.  If her belting on the standout "Like Flames" proved anything, it's that her age has only given her voice more depth.  Though the crowd began to thin a bit by 1am (The show would've been over by then, so patrons had trains to catch and babysitters to relieve.), the band soldiered forward.  "So this one's about my fear of intimacy.  Lot of fear in this record," Nunn said, introducing ballad "It's the Way."  Some concertgoers in the front received wristbands before the show, and those lucky folks got to join the band onstage for "Dancing in Berlin."  I laughed for the whole song at a guy having the time of his life on stage right.  The dancers were corralled off the stage, and the band segued into their final number, a hard industrial take on "Sex (I'm A...)" that sounded as if Trent Reznor had remixed the original tune.

A minute and a half later, Terri and Dave Schulz returned, with Dave taking a seat at the piano.  The duo performed "Mom," a dedication to Nunn's mother.  As Bost and Olivas took their places, Schulz relocated to the synths.  At the first note of "Take My Breath Away," you could feel the audience melt.  Bost's guitar solo got a little sloppy towards the end, but no one seemed to care since there was nothing to compare it to in the original song.  At this point, everyone had had their cake, so Terri squirted on some icing with an electronic cover of "Somebody to Love" to keep everyone singing along.

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for the "Gettin' Tipsy with Terri" episode of The Next Round.

BERLIN - 05.03.14 - THE CUTTING ROOM (1 hour, 29 minutes)

With the Lights On / No More Words / A Matter of Time / The Metro / Animal / Pictures of You / Nice to Meet You / Pleasure Victim / Like Flames / Masquerade / Blame It on the World / Secrets / Will I Ever Understand You / It's the Way / Dancing in Berlin > Sex (I'm A...)

Mom / Take My Breath Away / Somebody to Love

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Frances Cone Celebrates EP Release at Rough Trade NYC

After months of delays, Rough Trade NYC has opened the doors to its music venue.  I stopped by to check it out during Frances Cone's self-titled EP release concert.  (Hopefully my signed copy from PledgeMusic arrives soon in the mail.)  The room continues the shipping container theme established in the record store, with the stage at the N. 8th wall and a bar along the left side.  Unfortunately, when it gets crowded, the narrow area between the bar and the soundboard creates a bottleneck situation.  Although it appeared to be off-limits during the show, there is also a balcony on three sides, creating a space reminiscent of the 8x10 in Baltimore.

Lou Reed playing over the PA was an easy transition into the Majorleans, who kicked things off with "Go Down All the Time."  The house sound was definitely bass-heavy, almost drowning out Chris Buckle's and Nicky Francis' guitars.  
Sean McCann, who was subbing for Christian Bongers, handled the bass parts nicely, so thankfully we didn't have to only hear wrong notes.  The mix improved by "Imaginary Plane," which sizzled more than its studio version.  Their stage presence was a tad subdued, but they loosened up towards the end, pumping their firsts and shouting out the "hey"s and "ahh"s of "Under Ma Wheels."  Download three free tunes from their upcoming Black Belt below.

I realized five minutes before Doe Paoro took the stage that I could've been in the store looking at records during set break.  I made a mental note to do that before Frances Cone, though I quickly attained I probably should've shopped straight through Doe's set.  Doe Paoro is music for hipsters, by hipsters.  She's a less-danceable Lady Gaga that makes R&B-influenced pop, but hey, there's a cello onstage, so it must be cool, right?  It wasn't horrible; I just didn't get the hype, unlike the girls with bad haircuts bouncing in the first four rows.

Frances Cone couldn't hide the grin on her face during "Better Man," so she shook her head from side to side on each "the best couldn't be this way."  She took to acting out her lyrics again in "Come Back," though this time it wasn't intentional.  "Your arms are shaking" could've been applied to Cone, her right arm flailing about as if she were a marionette controlled by a giant in the rafters.  This wasn't the chilled-out version from their debut; it had a spring in its step, no doubt from the evident elation of the band members.  This pure joy pervaded the set, including "June," which showcased the sublime harmonies of the band's three core members, Cone, Jeff Malinowski, and Andrew Doherty.  Sadly, someone behind me screamed right in the middle of the final "I forgotttt."  "Alex is gonna go now because it's his birthday," announced Cone, bidding adieu to drummer Alex Baron.  The trio took on "Rene & Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War" as Baron watched from above.  The crowd got pretty chatty during the gentle Paul Simon song, which worked better as an encore during their soft-release party in March.  They recaptured the room's attention with the final number, a cover of the Walkmen's "We Can't Beat Beat" with Doe Paoro on lead vocals.

THE MAJORLEANS - 05.02.14 - ROUGH TRADE NYC (33 minutes)

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

DOE PAORO - 05.02.14 - ROUGH TRADE NYC (35 minutes)

Intro > New Lows / Nobody / Born Whole / Can't Leave You / Walking Backwards / I'll Go Blind / Body Games / Hypotheticals / Nostalgia

FRANCES CONE - 05.02.14 - ROUGH TRADE NYC (42 minutes)

Better Man / Come Back / Wiser / June > Soon / Rene & Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War / Rattles Your Heart / These Days / 85 / We Can't Be Beat (feat. Doe Paoro)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 15: The White Buffalo

I caught up with the White Buffalo before his show at Irving Plaza in April.  We didn't have a whole lot of time, but we snuck into a back hallway for a quick beer and conversation.  Alcohol often figures into his songs, so we discussed his collaboration with Oskar Blues Brewery on the White Buffalo West Coast IPA, his first drink, and his handmade leather coasters.  We talked music too.  Listen to find out why his first CD is so hard to find.

Subscribe on iTunes to get new episodes hours before anyone else, download directly, or stream below:

(There were some audio issues with my mic channel, but you're probably not listening for me anyway.)

Don't be an asshole.  Check out his website for tour dates.