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.