Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top 40 Songs of 2015

Top 40 Songs of 2015

Last year, I put out a list/Spotify playlist of my top forty song picks.  Why should this year be any different?  Starting from the bottom...

40. B.o.B - "Back & Forth"
Bump this and try not to sing along.  Also, it takes on a different meaning if you've seen Me & You & Everyone We Know.

39. Dawes - "Right on Time"
I really like the guitar work in this one.

38. Jr. Jr. - "Hypothetical"
They may have dropped the Dale Earnhardt from their name, but fortunately they also dropped this chill jam.

37. White Reaper - "Pills"
Lo-fi and cocksure.

36. Warren G feat. Young Jeezy, Bun B, & Nate Dogg - "Keep on Hustlin'"
It was a total surprise when some new Nate Dogg music came out this summer.  Jeezy and Bun don't add much, but Nate's hook is as smooth as always.

35. Kacey Musgraves - "Pageant Material"
Musgraves makes it apparent that she's not just another pretty face with her clever lyrics in this song.

34. Trey Anastasio - "In Rounds"
Funky ditty from Phish's frontman.  When he can't help but smile out a couple "yeah"s during the horn jam, you can tell this was recorded live.

33. Gold Clubb - "Sweat It"
The Majorleans may not have dropped a new LP this year, but that didn't stop Nicky Franchise from flowing over this Ben Foldsian beat.  Not on Spotify, but you can stream and download here.

32. Leon Bridges - "Better Man"
I don't really think he's the next Sam Cooke, but he ain't bad.

31. El Vy - "I Am the Man to Be"
It's great to finally hear the National's Matt Berninger cheer up a little.

30. Jenny Owen Youngs - "Over the Bow"
Hear Jenny tell the story behind this swirling brute of a song on my podcast.

29. Courtney Barnett - "Pedestrian at Best"
Thankfully, the title isn't indicative of this crunchy rocker.

28. Death Cab for Cutie - "Good Help (is So Hard to Find)"
Death Cab does dance-punk.

27. My Morning Jacket - "Get the Point"

26. Fool's Gold - "Lady of the Lake"
It's hard to describe Fool's Gold without making them seem like some sort of gimmick, so just chill out and listen.

25. Young Buffalo - "No Idea"
Nice harmonies, but so much more.  Listen to Jim and Ben talk about these harmonies and emus over beers.

24. Battles - "The Yabba"
Maybe it packs in too many ideas by its denouement, but this proggy instrumental's main groove really taps into my core.

23. Mike Doughty - "Can't Believe I Found You in That Town"
In what began as a way for him to put out acoustic versions of his songs and live recordings of his shows, Doughty's channel transformed into a public demoing outlet, where he sometimes released as many as five songs a week.  This little ditty, which has been hitting home recently, is not on Spotify, but you can hear a preview of it here.

22. Animal Liberation Orchestra - "There Was a Time"
Zach Gill's lyrics paint a vivid depiction of humanity throughout history: past, present, and future.

21. Hey Anna - "Little Things"
This is how you build momentum.  Listen to Erin talk about this track and more on The Next Round.

20. Adele - "Hello"
When I finally got around to hearing the smash hit of the year, I wrote down, "This song is powerful as shit."  You already know it's not on Spotify and you already know what it sounds like.

19. The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face"
I like this song for the reasons everyone else does.

18. Justin Bieber - "Love Yourself"
Yes, Justin Bieber.  Get over it.  Here he's accompanied by a single guitar and a well-timed trumpet part.  The lyrics are fairly universal, but Bieber's name is one that would actually mean something at a club.

17. The Arcs - "Stay in My Corner"
Reminds me of a Hendrix ballad.

16. T-Pain feat. Juicy J - "Make That Shit Work"
T-Pain has been a guilty pleasure of mine for years.  When he calls in the wind chimes, you'll see why.

15. Electric Light Orchestra - "When I Was a Boy"
Jeff Lynne reflects on his childhood dreams of becoming a musician.  Beyond thrilled to have new ELO music and to have seen them live!

14. Saintseneca - "Such Things"
The boisterous title track from Saintseneca's fantastic third LP.

13. The Weepies - "Early Morning Riser"
Such a fun song about loneliness.

12. Penguin Prison - "Never Gets Old"
Chris Glover never gets old.

11. They Might Be Giants - "Ecnalubma"
TMBG had a very busy year, putting out a song each week via their rebooted Dial-a-Song service.  This number, which would've been right at home on John Henry, was my favorite.

10. The Revivalists - "All in the Family"
It's difficult to capture the inescapable energy of a Revivalists show in the studio, but they managed to snag some of that magic for this cut.

9. Lord Huron - "Fool for Love"
Honestly, I could've picked any song from their excellent Strange Trails record, but this one has that irresistible Buddy Holly element to it.

8. Son Little - "Go Blue Blood Red"
One of those songs on my iPod where I instinctively go, "Aww, shit," every time it pops up.

7. The White Buffalo - "Go the Distance"
"You're not just my woman, you're a piece of ass."

6. Ryan Montbleau Band - "Pacing Like Prince"
Thankfully, RMB laid down this gem right before they split up.  Listen to Ryan and I discuss the split over milkshakes.

5. Alabama Shakes - "Don't Wanna Fight"
I expected so much more from Sound & Color after this outstanding leadoff single, where Brittany Howard just crushes it.  Oh, well.  I'll just listen to this on repeat.

4. Jason Derülo - "Want to Want Me"
When Derülo does it right, I'm always on board.

3. Frank Turner - "Song for Josh"
Recorded live at the 9:30 Club, where Josh Burdette had worked up until his death in 2013, this tribute to Frank's departed friend tears at my heartstrings and tear ducts.  I frequented the venue as a youth, so while I never knew Josh personally, I felt like I did.

2. Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds - "Every Road"
I don't normally focus on the drums in songs, but holy hell, this is some funky drumming.

1. Rayland Baxter - "Yellow Eyes"
One of those songs I want to hear again and again right after I listen.  I talked with Rayland about this and more on my podcast.

Monthly Mix #10: December 2015

December 2015:
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  (Sorry, I'd wanted to get this up sooner because no one listens to Christmas music after this week, but I've been going through a lot.)

1. Kishi Bashi - "It's Christmas, But It's Not White Here in Our Town"
Originally released only on flexi-disc, check out this dreamy snowflake of a song.

2. Paul McCartney - "Wonderful Christmastime"
Pretty sure this is my favorite Christmas tune.

3. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - "Big Bulbs"
A little holiday innuendo.

4. Donny Hathaway - "This Christmas"
So soulful.

5. Oppenheimer - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
Sounds enough like the original, but they definitely make it an Oppenheimer song.

6. The Band - "Christmas Must Be Tonight"
An often-overlooked holiday gem.

7. They Might Be Giants - "Feast of Lights"
I had to throw in a Hanukkah song, so it might as well be a good one.

8. Willie Nelson - "Here Comes Santa Claus"
Willie Nelson is somehow able to make any song he sings sound like he wrote it.

9. Jack's Mannequin - "The Lights & Buzz"
I don't listen to any of Jack's Mannequin's other stuff, but this song really hit me hard back in 2009 when I was living in California.

10. Bob Dylan - "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"
It's now a family tradition for me to see how deep into Bob Dylan's Christmas in the Heart we can get before my dad yells, "Turn it off!"  Funniest Christmas album ever, though perhaps unintentionally?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Monthly Mix #9: November 2015

November 2015:
It hasn't really gotten cold yet, so this could really be played in any season.

1. The Weepies - "Early Morning Riser"
This is what the Bell Brigade's last album should've sounded like.

2. Foo Fighters - "Saint Cecilia"
It was nice of the Foo Fighters to release a free EP last week.  It was even nicer of them to make it better than Sonic Highways.

3. Trey Anastasio - "In Rounds"
Funky, horny fun from Phish's axman.

4. Diamond Rugs - "Couldn't Help It"
I agree with the guy at the Partisan Records booth at a record fair I went to that their first album is superior.  But I couldn't help but like this track.

5. Band of Horses - "No One's Gonna Love You"
I thought the Horses were supposed to have dropped another record by now, but that hasn't happened.  So I'll tide you over with one of my favorite songs ever.

6. Electric Light Orchestra - "One Step at a Time"
ELO have a new album out and I got to see them live!

7. My Morning Jacket - "Believe (Nobody Knows)"
The Waterfall was a bit of a letdown as a whole, but this first song is a good one.

8. Edelweiss - "Withering Heights (Island Remix)"
The Pennsylvania band you may remember from my podcast released a compilation of their first two EPs with a couple new remixes.  Here's one.

9. Eagles - "Life in the Fast Lane"
The girl I'm dating is a big Eagles fan, so I'm exploring their catalogue.

10. Lettuce - "Trillogy"
You'd eat more salad if all lettuce was this good.  I saw them play it live too.

Monthly Mix #8: October 2015

October 2015:
I'm beginning to form my opinions on 2015 as a whole.

1. Gary Clark, Jr. - "BYOB"
I thought it was interesting to reframe this soulful interlude as an intro track.

2. Son Little - "Go Blue Blood Red"
Try not to move your head to this.

3. The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face"
Sometimes, millions of people can be right.

4. Saintseneca - "Sleeper Hold"
Zac Little and Maryn Jones trade lines with a joyous intensity that the Decemberists lost a few albums ago.  Happy to fill the void with Saintseneca.

5. Animal Liberation Orchestra - "There Was a Time"
Glad to hear the accordion making it back into ALO songs.

6. St. Vincent - "The Antidote"
Found this hard-edged St. Vincent rocker on the Twilight: Breaking Dawn pt. 2 soundtrack of all places.

7. Monophonics - "Lying Eyes"
Hard to believe this isn't some lost cut from the '60s.

8. Whitney Houston - "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)"
I put this on the playlist when we were returning from apple picking, and literally everyone in the van sang along.

9. Tame Impala - "The Less I Know the Better"
Everyone's creaming their jeans about this album.  It's decent, but this is definitely the standout track.

10. Battles - "The Yabba"
This is a bit of a challenging listen at first, but stick it out and you'll be handsomely rewarded.

Monthly Mix #7: September 2015

September 2015: 
This mix is all over place, sort of like the weather.

1. John Legend & the Roots - "Hard Times"
I finally got a chance to check out this collaborative record.  Great track one, side one.

2. Courtney Barnett - "Pedestrian at Best"
This one grabs you by the balls and doesn't let go.

3. Pearl Jam - "The Fixer"
I didn't get to go to Global Festival, but this pick was influenced by that.

4. The Lucksmiths - "Sunlight in a Jar"
I wish that I could capture sunlight in a jar, but sadly, the days are getting shorter.

5. Earth, Wind, & Fire - "September"

6. Steve Miller Band - "Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma"
I've been listening to a lot of Steve Miller Band recently.  This track reminds me of Phish.

7. Nas feat. Keri Hilson - "Hero"
"Try telling Bob Dylan, Bruce, and Billy Joel they can't sing what's in they soul."

8. Leon Bridges - "Better Man"
Sam Cooke he is not, but just listen to how he sings the words "Mississippi River."

9. Rayland Baxter - "Mr. Rodriguez"
Another good one off Rayland's Imaginary Man LP.

10. Hey Anna - "Little Things"
A slow build, but one of my favorite tracks on Hey Anna's debut full-length.  Hear Erin talk about the song on my podcast.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Monthly Mix #6: August 2015

August 2015:
The most summery of months gets the most summery of mixes.

1. John Brown's Body - "Picking Up"
This came up on my brother's iPod while we were on the beach at Assateague.

2. The Thrills - "Don't Steal Our Sun"
I don't want summer to end.

3. The White Buffalo - "Go the Distance"
Probably the only love song you'll hear with the word "peckerwood" in it.

4. Warren G feat. Young Jeezy, Bun B, & Nate Dogg - "Keep on Hustlin'"
Relivin' that G-funk era with some new music.

5. Mayer Hawthorne - "No Strings"
Actually, I usually listen to this one in the winter, but it sounds just as good in the sunshine.

6. Van Damsel - "The Sunshine, Girl"
I got this song for free on Noisetrade a few years ago, and its pop shine has yet to tarnish.

7. Lord Huron - "Cursed"
The whole album is fantastic.  It was hard to narrow it down to one.

8. Grace Potter - "Your Girl"
This should give you an idea of why Grace had to go solo.  This ain't a Nocturnals track.

9. Delta Spirit - "Tellin' the Mind"
BBBBLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEE! I always want Delta Spirit to play this live.

10. Frank Turner - "Silent Key (Acoustic)"
I haven't made up my mind about the new FT album yet, but it sounds a little over-produced to me.  Here's an acoustic version from the Deluxe Edition, so you can focus on Frank's voice.

Monthly Mix #5: July 2015

July 2015:
Chilled out for summa.

1. Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds - "Sugar"
Let's get this mix off to a groovin' start.

2. Tony! Toni! Toné! - "If I Had No Loot"
I may have sung "Anniversary" for Free Rad Jokez's birthday, but this is one of my favorite songs ever.

3. Primus - "Tragedy's A'Comin'"
I'm excited to see Primus after last fall's letdown.

4. Chicago - "Saturday in the Park"
Fourth of July actually fell on a Saturday this year.

5. Sea Wolf - "The Water's Wide"
I revisited this album after being disappointed the first time.  Standout track.

6. Billy Ocean - "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car"
How can you not like this song?

7. Booker T. feat. Jim James - "Progress"
This tune is just so chill for being called "Progress."  I like to throw it on mixes, and I always sing along.

8. Fool's Gold - "Lady of the Lake"
Unable to find it on Record Store Day, I was able to score a copy off eBay.

9. Death Cab for Cutie - "Good Help (is So Hard to Find)"
Finally got around to hearing Kintsugi.  This might not be the best track on it, but it's certainly a new sound for Death Cab.

10. The Revivalists - "All in the Family"
Up until now, I've been closing these mixes with a slower track.  Rules were made to be broken.  Rock on outta here.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Nightmare of You 10th Anniversary Show at Bowery Ballroom Setlist

Review to come.

BRIAN BONZ - 12.11.15 - BOWERY BALLROOM (40 minutes)

Apparitions* / Man from Munich / Eisenberg's Ghost Bike / Dee the Dinosaur / Freestyle / Judy & the Alpha Queen / Doo Wop (That Thing) > Seafence / Terror in the Bonneville

NIGHTMARE OF YOU - 12.11.15 - BOWERY BALLROOM (53 minutes)

The Days Go by Oh So Slow / Dear Scene, I Wish I Were Deaf / Thumbelina / My Name is Trouble / Why Am I Always Right? / I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard / Ode to Serotonin / Marry Me / In the Bathroom is Where I Want You / The Studded Cinctures / Heaven Runs on Oil

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Monthly Mix #4: June 2015

June 2015:
A good mix of catchy tunes for the summer.

1. St. Lucia - "The Night Comes Again"
Young Buffalo took the stage to this song last month and it stuck with me.

2. The John Butler Trio - "Livin' in the City"
I spent an extra night in Vegas just to see JBT.

3. Rayland Baxter - "Yellow Eyes"
Preview single for the upcoming album.  I really like this song.

4. Toots & the Maytals - "Gee Wiz"
This isn't the best Toots song, but he sounds so happy singing it.

5. ZZ Top - "TV Dinners"
I recently started getting into ZZ Top.  When this song hits 1:24, you'll see why I picked it.

6. Orgone - "I'm a Woman (I'm a Backbone)"
Just saw them in Vegas. I also interviewed them on my podcast.

7. Saigon - "Blown Away"
Sometimes I feel it may come across that I don't listen to hip-hop.  That isn't true.  I believe a lot of today's emcees either have nothing to say or they don't have a flow.  Saigon is an exception.

8. Dawes - "Right on Time"
I was let down by the new album as a whole, but this pulsing, guitar-forward song stood out.

9. Tokyo Police Club - "Miserable"
Just interviewed Dave Monks for my podcast.  This is an infectious number by his band Tokyo Police Club.

10. The Arcs - "Stay in My Corner"
Dan Auerbach's latest side project strikes gold with this lush dreamscape.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Morning Jacket Beacon Theatre Night One Setlist

Review to come.

MY MORNING JACKET - 11.24.15 - BEACON THEATRE (2 hours, 14 minutes)

At Dawn / Bermuda Highway / I Will Be There When You Die / Nashville to Kentucky / Golden / The Bear / A New Life / Circuital > Xmas Curtain > Outta My System > Just Because I Do > Dondante / Knot Comes Loose / Down on the Bottom / Old Sept. Blues > Picture of You / O is the One That is Real > What a Wonderful Man / In Its Infancy (The Waterfall) / Holdin on to Black Metal

Into the Woods / Carried Away / Dancefloors / Gideon

Saturday, November 21, 2015

ELO Play Their First NYC Show in Over 30 Years

"When I Was a Boy" is the leadoff single from Electric Light Orchestra's new record, Alone in the Universe.  The crescendoing ballad finds Jeff Lynne reminiscing about his time in Shard End as a child, listening to the radio and dreaming of a life in music.  We all know how that turned out.

When I was a boy, I never thought I'd be able to see ELO live.  Due to their breakup in the '80s, I deemed it impossible in a similar way that I'd never see Peter Tosh or Hendrix in concert, even though Lynne was still alive.  Fortunately for me and those lucky enough to procure tickets, I had my dream come true on Friday night at Irving Plaza.

When we arrived at Irving Place, the line was the longest I'd ever seen it, hugging the wall around the corner and halfway down 16th St.  Then again, I assumed most of the ticket holders were old enough to be retired and probably weren't coming straight from work.  As it turned out, some had come from much further locales, as I overheard a couple claim they had travelled all the way from Vancouver.  Eventually we slithered into the venue, grabbed beers for the wait, and found a spot on the packed floor to the right of the soundboard.

A baker's dozen of musicians (counting Lynne) took the stage to roaring applause.  They wasted no time at all, bursting into a joyous "
All Over the World" from the Xanadu soundtrack, which I'm not too familiar with because I regrettably sold my father's LP when I was in high school.  I was definitely familiar with the next entry, "Evil Woman," which featured Jeff headbutting a smiley face balloon that had wafted into his sightline.  Not only did Lynne still possess his familiar mane of curly brown hair, his instantly recognizable voice was somehow miraculously untouched by time, whether slinking along the stanzas of "Showdown" or floating freely out of the falsetto refrain of "Strange Magic."  I found myself laughing hysterically into my date's ear as they delved into each essential song.  I was obviously not the sole smiler in the house, but even the bandmembers found themselves unable to suppress their grins, the string players beaming as they plucked out "Livin' Thing."
While most patrons weren't acquainted with the new numbers yet, thankfully they didn't dare talk over them.  "When the Night Comes" was actually superior to its recorded version, Jeff's vocals cutting cleanly compared to their processed predecessors.  At its end, Jeff announced, "Here's another one off the new album.  Sorry about that."  The crowd chuckled.  "It's good though," he offered, serving up the uptempo "Ain't It a Drag."  It was a little bit of a drag that he felt he had to apologize for the fresh tunes, especially when the band kept banging out hit after hit, including their biggest one ever, "Don't Bring Me Down."  My favorite performance of the night was "Sweet Talkin' Woman," with all parties on point, and Lynne crushing every "No, no, no!"  "Telephone Line" was a close runner-up, the crowd happily howling every "Oh!" in the chorus.  The band closed the set with fan-favorite "Mr. Blue Sky," veteran ELO member Richard Tandy tying things up with his vocoder solo.  Jeff thanked the crowd and exited the stage, leaving his twelve mates behind, foretelling an imminent encore.  After all, it would've taken awhile for everyone to file into the wings.  Lynne wasn't long, returning for a rollicking "Roll Over Beethoven" before taking his final bow.

Clocking in at eighty minutes, the show could've been longer.  That's not so much a complaint as an observation that none of the members, including the two sexagenarians, looked fatigued.  I just wanted the night to last forever I suppose.  I had the best time I've had at a concert all year.  It was everything I'd wanted it to be: a once-in-a-lifetime experience for this boy who never thought it would happen.

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA - 11.20.15 - IRVING PLAZA (1 hour, 20 minutes)

All Over the World / Evil Woman / Showdown / Turn to Stone / When I Was a Boy / Livin' Thing / One Step at a Time / Strange Magic / Don't Bring Me Down / Steppin' Out / Sweet Talkin' Woman / Can't Get It Out of My Head / When the Night Comes / Ain't It a Drag / Rock 'N' Roll is King / Telephone Line / Mr. Blue Sky

Roll Over Beethoven

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lettuce Crush It at PlayStation Theater

I've seen Soulive a handful of times.  I've even seen Eric Krasno solo.  But until Saturday night, I'd yet to have seen their sister band Lettuce, despite the fact that "By Any Shmeeans Necessary" is one of my favorite instrumentals ever.  Unfortunately, that song didn't make an appearance, but this show was the second in a two-night stand to celebrate their latest release, Crush.  It's a fitting title.  From the moment the seven-piece funk powerhouse took the PlayStation Theater stage, it was obvious that crushing was what they intended to do.
Kicking things off with the aggressive, staccato fanfare of "Evil Wu," Lettuce commanded the room's attention and never let go.  The first half of the set was mostly reserved for newer material, ones of the highlights being "The New Reel," a Neal Evans-penned tune that the keyboardist injected with a fresh batch of spookiness.  Krasno rounded out the song by layering in some g-funk Moog lines.  The next number was the perfect complement, an as-yet-untitled outtake from the Crush sessions that was decidedly chiller than most of Lettuce's oeuvre.  "Pocket Change" presented itself as a soloing vehicle, with both Kraz and saxophonist Ryan Zoidis taking the reins.

As the band barreled through "Lettsanity," they welcomed Nigel Hall to the microphone.  Hall seemed determined to get the crowd clapping along to James Brown's "Bodyheat," instructing, "If you've got a drink, hold it with your mouth or something."  At its completion, Nigel admitted the anxious excitement that he'd felt backstage: "I've been chomping the bit all night.  I've been like a Rottweiler on a leash."  Surprisingly, Hall didn't perform any tunes from his day-old album Ladies & Gentlemen..., but stuck to material he'd sang on earlier Lettuce LPs, along with forays into "Bustin' Loose" and "Joy & Pain."  During "Move on Up," which he dedicated to the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks, Hall moved on upstage to the organ, allowing Neal to have some unabashed fun with a tambourine to wrap up the set.  Lettuce returned to the stage with Nigel once more for an encore of "Do It Like You Do."  The satisfied audience couldn't help but sing along.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Next Round - Episode 42: Findlay Brown

Though still in his 30s, Findlay Brown already has a lifetime's worth of stories.  From chocolate factory hijinks to being run over by a taxi to watching his girlfriend move countries when he was at his lowest point, Findlay pulls from his experiences to create albums that are not only accessible to the masses, but also time capsules of his life.  Brown's latest release, Slow Light, is no exception, inspired by '60s minimal music, relocating to New York City, and his personal revelations at South American shamanic ceremonies.  Listen to these tales and more as we drink beers at Troost.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes.

Buy Slow Light and We Make Peace on iTunes.
Follow Findlay on Twitter.
Check out his newest Daytrotter session.
Open The Next Round Companion Playlist in Spotify or stream it here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Donut Rat: An Essay on Rodents, Fame, & Free Food

As any regular reader of this blog knows, this site transitioned to almost exclusively music-related content years ago.  Please forgive me, but I feel I have to write about this now.

I shot the Donut Rat video.

If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it below.

After a Tinder date on Wednesday night, I went down into the subway at East Broadway to catch an F train back to Brooklyn.  As I descended the staircase to the platform, I noticed two rats at the bottom, nibbling on two donuts from Dough.  One of the rats rounded a corner (It later returned, donut-less, charging past me to where the infamous Donut Rat had gone.), but the other started dragging one of the donuts away.  I pulled out my iPhone and captured the moment.  I posted the video on YouTube today.

Certain publications have insinuated that I gave the rats the donuts on purpose to try for some sort of Internet stardom.  One even went as far as to say the video "exemplifies just everything wrong with New York."

First off, I didn't give the rat the donut.  If you know me, you know I'm the last person to waste food.  I'm also the first person to accept free food.  I was scheduled to be off of work on Wednesday, but once I found out the boss was treating us to lunch, I decided to go.  To be completely honest, the reason the video isn't zoomed-in is because in my other hand I was holding a baguette that a bartender in the neighborhood gave to me, as they hadn't sold any cheese plates that night.  In other words, if I were a rat, I would definitely be one that takes advantage of free food on the platform.

After the world's adoration of Pizza Rat, it's easy to assume that I shot this video solely for the opportunity to become "Internet-famous."  Sure, I'd love to be dancing on Ellen, but did I think I would achieve actual stardom for shooting this video?  No.  But it is an entertaining video.  I showed a couple of people at work the following day and they loved it, so why wouldn't I share it with the world?  If one person smiles today because they saw a rat carry a donut, that makes me happy.

I wouldn't mind being famous, but I'd rather it be for something I actually worked on, like the concert reviews on this site that I spend hours writing after scribbling down setlists and notes in the dark during a show.  Or my podcast where I interview musicians after tirelessly reading every previous interview with them I can find, so I don't ask the same questions.  Or my stand-up comedy, which I've been honing for nine years, especially in this past one-and-a-half, where I've been producing the most fun rooftop show in Brooklyn.  I'm busy pursuing these things in my free time.  You really think I don't have better things to do than stage a rat video at 2:30 in the morning?  I went to NYU for Film & Television.  Donut Rat! is not my best film.  My best ones are fiction, and they are ones where I did feed the talent.

I have a lot more to offer the world than a video of a hungry rat.  That's just what I offered it this morning.  If you were entertained by it, great.  If it makes you angry that other people are entertained by it, you are a sad excuse for a human being.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Monthly Mix #3: May 2015

May 2015:
Not as many new songs on this one as I'd like, but maybe May is a nostalgic month for me?

1. Tall Tall Trees - "Picture Picture"
Somehow Mike Savino managed to make internet-stalking endearing.

2. Young Buffalo - "Sykia"
The boys totally rocked this one at their Bowery Ballroom show.

3. Kool & the Gang - "Get Down on It"
I remember how jazzed I would be when this song would come on my mom's car radio on the local classic R&B station.  I still get excited for it.

4. Alice Cooper - "No More Mr. Nice Guy"
This song has become a staple in the edit room at work.

5. Oscar Isaac feat. Marcus Mumford - "Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song)"
I just watched Inside Llewyn Davis for the first time.  I wasn't in love with the film, but I think Isaac's voice is pretty great.

6. Brokedown in Bakersfield - "Squeaky Wheel"
This full-band treatment on Tim Bluhm's song is so damn good.  The back-and-forth parts between him and Nicki are super-cute.

7. Heart - "Magic Man"
Heart rocks a lot harder than you remember.

8. Sublime - "Greatest-Hits"
This is probably my favorite Sublime song, and I just revisited Robbin' the Hood for the first time in years.

9. Robert Ellis - "Good Intentions"
Had a nice little chat recently with Robert on The Next Round.

10. Kurt Vile - "Wakin on a Pretty Day"
When I saw Kishi Bashi (and Tall Tall Trees) at Le Poisson Rouge this month, this song played over the PA before the show.

Monthly Mix #2: April 2015

April 2015:
These songs are all vying for that "stuck in your head" spot.  I'm not sure what that has to do with April, but here you go.

1. Lord Huron - "Time to Run"
Finally got around to checking out Lord Huron after hearing them on Beck's Song Reader, and I'm kicking myself for not listening sooner.

2. Van Morrison - "Moondance"
A classic.

3. Catfish & the Bottlemen - "Kathleen"
This is what the new Kooks record should've sounded like.

4. They Might Be Giants - "Unpronounceable"
TMBG have been very busy this year, putting out at least one song a week through their Dial-a-Song service.  This is one of my favorites so far.

5. The Barr Brothers - "Burn Card"
A nice, little b-side from their leftovers EP, Alta Falls.

6. Jason Derülo - "Want to Want Me"
Derülo is one of my few guilty pleasures, and this new song is one of his catchiest.

7. Tom Petty - "I Won't Back Down"
I've been on a big Tom Petty kick recently.

8. Cody Chesnutt - "Look Good in Leather"
I sang this at my birthday comedy show.

9. Ryan Montbleau - "Pacing Like Prince"
I had a great talk with Ryan over milkshakes on my podcast.  Such a funky number.

10. The Shouting Matches - "Seven Sisters"
Many know Justin Vernon as Bon Iver or for his work with Kanye West, but he also made a blues record with some of his buds called Grownass Man.  I dig it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monthly Mix #1: March 2015

I'm trying to transition away from concert reviews, but I still want to keep you informed of what I'm listening to.  Back in March, I decided I would make a Spotify playlist each month of ten songs that you needed to hear, from brand new tunes to old favorites.  However, right when I decided to do this, Spotify did away with its embed option.  They revived it a few months ago, so now it's time to start posting them.

March 2015:
After all the snow we've had, I needed some funk to thaw me out.

1. Chappo - "I'm Not Ready"
I saw Chappo at Baby's All Right last month.  They kicked off the show with this glam rocker.

2. Alabama Shakes - "Don't Wanna Fight"
If the rest of the new LP is this good, sign me up.

3. Dr. John - "Right Place Wrong Time"
Heard this in an episode of American Horror Story, and I'm amazed at how fresh it sounds today.  Hard to believe this came out in 1973!

4. Raphael Saadiq - "Keep Marchin'"
It's March.  Saadiq is due for another album.

5. Son Little - "O Mother"
I didn't realize Son Little had a new song out.  It's good.  As always.

6. Nick Lowe - "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass"
Coincidentally, I was already on a Nick Lowe kick when this song came on at Supercollider moments after the bartender knocked over some glasses.

7. The Jungle Giants - "Skin to Bone"
This song was used in a commercial at work, and it's been stuck in my head.

8. Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds - "Mama Knows"
The first single from the upcoming Sister Sparrow record.  Listen to singer Arleigh Kincheloe and her brother Jackson on harmonica make their mama proud.

9. Penguin Prison - "Never Gets Old"
Another dancey treat from Penguin Prison.

10. Jenny Owen Youngs - "Over the Bow"
I just had a great conversation on my podcast with Jenny.  Learn the story of how this song found its way onto her new EP.

They Might Be Giants Horntoberfest Setlist

Review to come.


SET I (58 minutes) -
The Mesopotamians / Music Jail, pt. 1 & 2 / Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal / She's Actual Size / Cowtown / Museum of Idiots / Which Describes How You're Feeling / Mr. Me / Nanobots / Brains Everywhere* / The Darlings of Lumberland / Cloisonné / Withered Hope / Authenticity Trip / Gonna Fly Now (tease) / Electric Car (feat. Robin Goldwasser) / Eye of the Tiger (tease) / Birdhouse in Your Soul / When Will You Die

SET II (45 minutes) -
No One Knows My Plan / Let Me Tell You About My Operation / Metal Detector / S-E-X-X-Y / Bee of the Bird of the Moth / Dirt Bike / Answer / Call You Mom / Underwater Woman / Lie Still, Little Bottle / Particle Man / The Statue Got Me High

ENCORE I (10 minutes) -
Working Undercover for the Man / Turn Around / Doctor Worm

ENCORE II (8 minutes) -
See the Constellation / Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Next Round - Episode 41: Rayland Baxter

Rayland Baxter's Feathers & Fishhooks was one of my favorite albums of 2012.  So when it was announced that he'd be playing a show at Rockwood Music Hall to promote his follow-up LP, Imaginary Man, I knew I had to interview him.  Listen in awe as he writes lyrics on the fly based on the stuff on our sidewalk table at Epstein's.

My brother has been anxiously awaiting this interview since I recorded it in July, and today is actually his birthday.  So happy birthday, Greg!  Here's a present for you.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes to get new episodes hours before I post them here.

Follow Rayland on Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, September 28, 2015

They Might Be Giants Apollo 18 Show Music Hall of Williamsburg Setlist

Review to come.


SET I (1 hour, 2 minutes) -
I Palindrome I / Music Jail, pt. 1 & 2 / Answer / My Evil Twin / Pencil Rain / Hypnotist of Ladies / Mammal / Dinner Bell / See the Constellation (tease) / Barracuda (tease) / The Shadow Government / Apes vs. People / Bills, Bills, Bills / Istanbul (Not Constantinople) / The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) / We Want a Rock / Can't Keep Johnny Down / If I Wasn't Shy / Cowtown

SET II (36 minutes) -
Spider > Rhythm Section Want Ad / Number Three / Letterbox / Which Describes How You're Feeling / Dig My Grave / She's Actual Size / Turn Around / See the Constellation / Space Suit / Good to Be Alive / Narrow Your Eyes / The Statue Got Me High

ENCORE I (7 minutes, 30 seconds) -
Drum Solo / I Was Dancing at the Lesbian Bar / Robot Parade

ENCORE II (13 minutes) -
The Mesopotamians / Birdhouse in Your Soul / Fingertips

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hey Anna Acoustic Hifi Records Setlist

Review to come.

HEY ANNA - 09.25.15 - HIFI RECORDS (15 minutes, 30 seconds)

Island / By the Bay / If You're Wondering / On the Sea

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Findlay Brown Baby's All Right Setlist

Review to come.

FINDLAY BROWN - 09.21.15 - BABY'S ALL RIGHT (37 minutes)

Sweet England / Run Home / Alone Again / Make a Getaway / Ride Into the Sun / Made of Stone / Born of the Stars / All is Love

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Next Round - Episode 40: Hey Anna

Lordy, Lordy, we've made it to forty!  The Next Round's 40th episode is a charming chat with Erin Rauch-Sasseen from Hey Anna, who recently released their debut album Run Koko.  The NJ/NY indie pop group consists of Erin, her twin sisters Katie and Anna, and friends Matthew Langner and Jamie DiTringo.  Find out what it's like to play music with your sisters, how Anna ended up with the band's name, and who makes the best meatballs.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes like a model citizen.

Buy tickets for Saturday's Run Koko vinyl release show.
Show the band some love on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Next Round - Episode 39: Orgone

I'm really excited to post this one because it's the first podcast that I recorded outside of New York.  I went to Las Vegas back in June, and I got to catch up with Orgone's Sergio Rios and Adryon de León before their funktastic show at Brooklyn Bowl.  Find out what comfort item each needs to have with them on the road, whose hair smells better, and much, much more.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes.

Buy Beyond the Sun and view tour dates on their website.  They're coming to the original Brooklyn Bowl on 8/25, so get tickets and "get lifted."

Listen to "Losin You" and a song from every podcast guest on The Next Round Companion Spotify Playlist.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Primus & Dinosaur Jr. Pier 97 Setlists

Review later.

DINOSAUR JR. - 07.30.15 - PIER 97 (49 minutes)

Bulbs of Passion / Start Choppin / Back to Your Heart / Watch the Corners / Pieces / Out There / Feel the Pain / Freak Scene / Just Like Heaven / Sludgefeast
PRIMUS - 07.30.15 - PIER 97 (1 hour, 37 minutes)

Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers / Last Salmon Man / Wynona's Big Brown Beaver / American Life / Semi-Wondrous Boat Ride / Lee Van Cleef / Jilly's on Smack / Mr. Krinkle / Drum & Whamola Jam / Eleven / Southbound Pachyderm / My Name is Mud / Jerry Was a Race Car Driver

Mr. Knowitall / Too Many Puppies

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Next Round - Episode 38: Gill Landry

It seems almost crazy to leave your position in a Grammy-winning band to focus on your solo career, but Gill Landry did just that when he released his self-titled third album in March.  Then you hear the record and his decision totally makes sense.  A far cry from the foot-stomping nu-grass of Old Medicine Show, the LP sneaks up gently and then takes hold, with Landry's lyrics of different experiences with love forcing you to reckon with your own feelings, past and present.

I got to talk with Gill before his show at Mercury Lounge in June.  As anyone who reads this blog knows, I go to Mercury Lounge all the time, but it was honestly one of the best-sounding shows I've ever been to at the venue.  Landry's deep voice cut through the silence perfectly, and despite his modesty when he talks of his guitar-playing, he offered up some skilled, extended intros on both "James Alley Blues" and "Lawless Soirez."

Stream our conversation below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes.

Wanna hear how good he sounds for yourself?  Buy Gill Landry and see him on tour.

GILL LANDRY - 06.19.15 - MERCURY LOUNGE (48 minutes, 30 seconds)

Funeral in My Heart / Never Coming Here Again / James Alley Blues / Lost Love / Waiting for Your Love / Just Like You / Dixie / Lawless Soirez / Lately Right Now / Emily / Take This Body / Bad Love

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rayland Baxter Packs Out Rockwood Music Hall

I'd never seen Rockwood Stage 2 so crowded.  Yet I squeezed into the sweaty room, my back pressed against the metal railing at the entrance and my backpack containing my podcasting equipment (along with the fresh interview I'd just conducted with Rayland Baxter) wedged between my legs.  If it were a lesser artist, I would've foregone the claustrophobic conditions and hopped an F train home.  But this was Rayland Baxter, an amazing songwriter that I hadn't seen since he opened for Scott Tournet at Brooklyn Bowl in 2013.  And this time, he came armed with a slew of new tunes from his about-to-drop second LP, Imaginary Man, and a full band, including Cage the Elephant's Nick Bockrath on guitar.

Rayland took the stage solo, informing the packed house, "Okay, I've gotta kill ten minutes."  He drifted gently into the beautiful love song "Olivia," one of my favorites from his first record.  His bandmates joined him by song two, "Bad Things," which was followed promptly by "Marjoria."  The old tunes out of the way, they took a stroll with "Mr. Rodriguez," opening up its finale to incorporate a Dead-inspired jam session.  "As many of you know, my wife is pregnant with our first child," Rayland remarked to supportive applause just prior to "Your Love."  Ever the joker, he clarified, "I'm just kidding. I don't have a wife."  While Baxter tuned his electric guitar for "Freakin Me Out," keyboardist Jimmy Rowland tapped out a few rounds of "Charge" until Rayland chimed in with a perfectly pitched strum.  They chased that with another type of freakout, "Temporary Queen of a Bad Time," a number reminiscent of early Santana, and based on a true story of Baxter meeting a woman in the early morning at a music festival.  The hippie chick had handed him an orange juice, which he gulped down for the vitamin C.  Unbeknownst to him, the O.J. was spiked with LSD, and the day took an unexpected turn.  They wrapped things up with the loudest rocker in the bunch, "Young Man."  I squirmed my way slowly through the masses and bought the t-shirt.

RAYLAND BAXTER - 07.27.15 - ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL (1 hour, 2 minutes)

Olivia / Bad Things / Marjoria / Mr. Rodriguez / Mother Mother / Interlude / Yellow Eyes / Oh My Captain / Your Love / Charge / Freakin Me Out / Temporary Queen of a Bad Time / Young Man

They Might Be Giants Music Hall of Williamsburg Setlist

Review to come when I have the time.


SET I (55 minutes, 30 seconds) -
Pencil Rain / Damn Good Times / Can't Keep Johnny Down / The World's Address / Bills, Bills, Bills / Stand on Your Own Head / Piece of Dirt / Kiss Me, Son of God / How Can I Sing Like a Girl? / Istanbul (Not Constantinople) / Cage & Aquarium / Number Three (aborted) / Number Three / Man, It's So Loud in Here / Careful What You Pack / Shoehorn with Teeth / Underwater Woman / Cowtown / New York City

SET II (50 minutes, 30 seconds) -
Purple Toupee / Music Jail, pt. 1 & 2 / They'll Need a Crane / Birdhouse in Your Soul / Memo to Human Resources / Lie Still, Little Bottle / You'll Miss Me / Snowball in Hell / Answer / Santa's Beard / Where Your Eyes Don't Go / Let Me Tell You About My Operation / The Mesopotamians / Mr. Me

ENCORE I (9 minutes) -
Ana Ng / Robot Parade

ENCORE II (2 minutes, 30 seconds) -