Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ten Best EPs Of The Year

The blessed EP. The art of putting out a four to eight song mini-album has acted as either an appetizer for fans to temporarily stave off the hunger (throw us a bone, gives us a single, gives us something, please!) OR to signal the release of an upcoming album, but at any rate here goes my Top 10 of '07...

10. Ween - The Friends EP

You know how Ween rolls. A five song EP that runs the gamut from 8os synth-cheese (Friends) to silicon-textured reggae squonk (King Billy) to corn-balladry (Slow Down Boy), it's all here. When Gene and Dean get together to write an album, be rest assured they're always going to have a few leftovers, but these aren't necessarily throwaways, they just don't fit on the later full-length release La Cucaracha. Which is kind of weird, being the masters of genre-spoofing they are. Thanks Ween!

9. Los Campesinos! - Sticking Fingers Into Sockets
Cockney-inflected swagger over highly danceable and fun songs, the Cardiff contingency that is Los Campesinos! made an impression on me from the get-go, and leaves me in a state of extreme anxiousness for their debut full-length Hold On Now, Youngster... to be released April 1st stateside (2/25/08 in the UK). Think Arctic Monkeys crossed with a wedding band. Highlights include
We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives and the 6-plus minute You! Me! Dancing! "One thing I can never confess is that I can't dance a single step..."

8. Deerhunter - Fluorescent Grey EP
Acting as the accompaniment to the stellar Cryptograms, Fluorescent Grey is a four song EP without the strange textural ambient passages placed in between songs on their full-length album. It's basically four singles, with the closer Wash Off being the EP's best song and earning them a number eight spot on my best-of list.

7. Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Ask Forgiveness
Technically not an EP, it's more of an eight-song covers album with songs from the likes of Bjork, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra, R. Kelly, Danzig and Mekons, given the Will Oldham touch. The one original Bonnie tune is I Am Loving The Street, acting as the album's centerpiece. Basically, Will could fart into a microphone for three minutes and I'm still going to fawn all over it. He's that important...

6. Grizzly Bear - Friend
Grizzly Bear is so hawt right now, and judging from the cast they assembled to help re-do their tunes it looks as if the imprint they're making on the world of indie is a bit deeper than I could've imagined. Zach Condon of Beirut plus a choir gives some oomph to Alligator, Cansei De Ser Sexy offers their baile-funk spin on their stellar Knife, Band Of Horses redoes Plans and not to be outdone by their guests Grizzly offers two brand new tracks; Granny Diner and He Hit Me.

5. The Hold Steady - Live At Fingerprints
Still haven't seen these guys live, but judging from this all-too-short five song record these guys are America's favorite party band. A new one on here, the set closing
You Gotta Dance (With Who You Came To The Dance With). It left me thirsty for more.

4. Joanna Newsom - Joanna Newsom & The Ys Street Band EP

I have the biggest crush on Joanna Newsom. She's like the girl from middle school that no one noticed but grew into a beautiful woman over the summer before ninth grade. I'm making that analogy because the transformation between The Milk-Eyed Mender and Ys was akin to that girl we all knew once. Be nice to that girl because she may just turn you down if you ask her to the prom. Marry me, Joanna?

3. The Decemberists - Live From SoHo (iTunes Exclusive)
Released at the start of the year, I paid less than six bucks for this and have listened to it so many times it basically paid for itself after the 20th listen. As I said about Will Oldham busting ass into a mic, Colin & Company could pretty much do the same and I'd happily sniff it up my nostrils and say it was great...

2. Beirut - Lon Gisland
Pronounced lon-guy-land, as is Long Island (when it first came out I was saying lon-jizz-land...) Young Zach Condon's eastern European ditties about the plight of immigrants born in concentration camps and moving into places like Coney Island and the Little Odessa section of
Brighton Beach at times can be so moving and done with such a level of emotional honesty it's hard to believe he's only 22 years old. And this version of Scenic World is far superior to the one on Gulag Orkestar.

1. Hezekiah Jones - Come To Our Pool Party EP
Not only does Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter/pianist Raphael Cutrufello have the best EP of the year, Mississippi Sea is The Musicologist's 2007 Song Of The Year, hands down. Futuristic lyricism over a subtle and beautiful melody replete with the prettiest pedal steel solo this side of Nashville, Hezekiah himself may be the best upside-down guitar player ever (or the only...) Also look for Cupcakes For The Army as one of my top songs of the year. Bravo Raphy, keep 'em coming!

Tomorrow: The Top 25 Songs Of 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

Old Show Report...

Rakim & Ghostface Killah with Brother Ali
San Francisco

Oh, get hype. Get mad hype for this line-up.

First up, Brother Ali, an albino Muslim from Minneapolis via Madison, Wisconsin who was recently written up in Rolling stone of all publications and totally rips on the mic, warmed the crowd with his stylish flow and wit.

Then, Ghostface aka Pretty Tony aka Tony Starks aka Iron Man got on stage and held mad sway over the Mezzanine crowd.

And lest I forget to mention the backing band, The Rhythm Roots All Stars, funked the joint up on more than one occasion, providing apt segues between headliners.

Here's Dave and Myrna. We kicked it upstairs most of the night, among the VIPs...

...who received this kind of treatment, which is mad trill, yo.

Then, the moment the crowd was waiting for, the moment I've been waiting for since I was a pimply-faced pre-teen up in my bedroom with Paid In Full and Follow The Leader (on cassette, bootlegs, bought underneath the City Hall train station, Philly, circa 1988...)

It's good to be king. All hail Rakim...

...on to the next show.

Bimbo's 365 Club

The Beginning After The End
Take Me To The Riot
Set Yourself On Fire
Elevator Love Letter
The Ghost Of Genova Heights
Bitches In Tokyo
One More Night
Look Up
Midnight Coward
Window Bird
Soft Revolution
Sleep Tonight
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Ageless Beauty
In Our Bedroom After The War

The Night Starts Here
Favorite Book
What I'm Trying To Say
Calendar Girl

Okay, Stars is about as theatric as a band can get without being camp. That's not an insult, but Stars is definitely one of those bands that I've discovered people love to hate. For me, I love them because they so narrowly walk that line between heartfelt and cheesy that the uninitiated may be a bit uncomfortable by Torq and Amy's lyrics. I've watched as someone close to me squirmed while listening to One More Night, I guess the lyrics in there were too real, or maybe that person was going through something in their life that was upset by that song. That to me is the mark of great music, there's been times I hated the singer for telling me what was happening to me.

Anyway, this show was special. My shitty camera decided not to work, so no pics.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Freewheeling Yo La Tengo...

...with Jonathan Richman
The San Francisco Palace Of Fine Arts
November 1st, 2007

I keep lucking out. Is every venue in San Francisco absolutely amazing or what? Except for Bill Graham and his damn "civic auditorium", I can't really say that my concert going experience in this city has been anything less than completely awesome. And I'm not just saying "awesome", I am actually filled with awe (and wonder) at the beauty of the concert halls here. I guess some cities just don't fuck around with music...

Anyway, The Palace Of Fine Arts is actually a
1,000 seat theatre* in the Marina district. It's kind of like a museum inside.

Jonathan Richman killed it. Here's all I know of JR; I have that one album with The Modern Lovers, the one with Roadrunner that is considered along with Iggy and The Stooges and MC5 as "proto-punk" or the beginnings of punk rock. I also know my homie Jens Lekman is a huge fan of his.

Tonight, he was comedic, thoughtful, pensive, hilarious, awkward, and played some really nice little Flamenco licks on his classical guitar.

The main event: YLT. So basically, I was unaware that they were doing this "Freewheeling" thing where they take questions and requests from members of the audience. It was the most interactive I've ever seen a band. Even more than Phish, what with all their gimmicks and tricks that got the phans super-involved almost every show, YLT was on a different level, reveling in the spotlight and more entertaining than any movie I've ever seen (not to mention it was worth way more that the $30 I paid for this experience).

So in between every other song or so, the house lights come up and there's a 5 minute impromptu question and answer session, then a few requests were fielded and YLT would try to figure out what to play from those requests. It was super cool, they were all over the place, talking about the Mets' and baseball one minute, The Simpsons and Troy McClure the next, talking smack on San Francisco for only one show (LA's getting three, "read it and weep!"), their experiences on this tour, et cetera.

Mr. Tough
Q & A
My Little Corner of The World
Q & A
Black Flowers
Q & A
Little Honda
Speedy Motorcycle (Daniel Johnston song)
Q & A
Raw Power (Iggy & The Stooges' song)
Q & A
Let's Save Tony Orlando's House
Q & A
Gee, The Moon Is Shining Bright (Dixie Cups' song)
Q & A
Autumn Sweater
? (Zombies' song)
Q & A
Drug Test
? (Kinks' song)
Q & A
When U Were Mine (Prince song)

Did I Tell You

Sorry for the holes in that setlist. I did my best, I'm not a long-time fan of YLT. Funny story how Yo La Tengo discovered me: so apparently they allow people to tape their shows and trade tapes around, much like a band previously mentioned earlier in this article. (I'm not writing their name again, therefore I'm not going to let them hijack this essay). So I found them on a tape trading list, downloaded a show and I've been a fan ever since. I recommend getting The Sounds Of Science live if you can, it's pretty amazing.

Okay, peace out.

* - I spell it the olde English way.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Broken Social Scene PRESENTS...

...KEVIN DREW'S Spirit If...
The Fillmore
San Francisco, CA

So it technically wasn't an official BSS show, but it really rocked nonetheless. I was part tourist/museum gawker, part "serious journalist", and part rock fan/devil horns/w00t w00t!!1!

Allow me to explain each in minor detail.

Here's the museum part. Seriously, this place is a music mecca. Every sell-out show, that night's poster goes up on the wall and everyone in attendance gets one on the way out. So here's the first wall, from a Dance Party in 1965. Oh, Bill Graham...

Neil Diamond was here, and I bet he killed. Actually, it was Super Neil, bitch.

Here's our opener, New Buffalo. Solo. Woman. She didn't suck. Piano and effects and all that stuff a la Laura Veirs (who I'll be seeing again in 3 weeks, opening for The Decemberists. I think she's with her Saltbreakers band, however...) or St. Vincent (whom I just saw open for The National, who I can't stop talking about lately). So definitely there's a trend in solo woman acts around lately, which I think is a good thing. Then there's no Stevie Nicks-Lindsey Buckingham drama, which actually made for some really good songs...

Anyway, I really like The Fillmore. Check out the classy interior.

I heard some indie snobs arguing before the show (one of the benefits of going to shows alone is the wallflowering I do and eavesdrop on nerds like me) that it really couldn't be considered a real BSS show because so many core members were missing, but after tonight I'm pretty sure that Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning are Broken Social Scene and the rotating cast of musicians are just that, rotating. These two are the heart and soul of the band, and I can't really see them actually getting every "member" of BSS to churn out a solo album worth noting except for these two. I should've took their pic and got their names to make them look like fools.

Pics here are kinda blurry, in fact the night got blurry from here on out. I jotted down so many half-assed notes and song names, but alas, no complete (or even ordered) setlist from this show. I met this gang upstairs at the bar and they bought me mad shots of Jager and beers until I forgot things like where I parked. Then I remembered I took the BART and the owner of a 2005 silver Suzuki somewhere laughed at me.

Fun times! I like making friends that you don't have to see again. It's like a one-night stand. I'm not looking for friendship right now, sorry. Let's just hang and dance and laugh and drink and listen to really good rock music and then never see each other again.

Some songs played included:

Farewell To The Pressure Kids
Back Out On The ...
Gang Bang Suicide
It's All Gonna Break
Ibi Dreams Of Pavement
Lover's Spit
When It Begins

Here's my shitty close up of Brendan Canning.

All in all, a really good show in an absolutely stellar venue. I was able to move around and snap off a ton of pictures without getting hassled by security at all. Drinks were pricey, but I was able to get rid of my extra ticket in like .65 seconds after arriving in front of The Fillmore before the show.

Next Shows:
Thurs, Nov. 1st - Yo La Tengo
Friday, Nov. 2nd - Ghostface Killah with Rakim

Monday, October 22, 2007


Hey there, how's it going? Wanna hear about the worst concert experience ever?

I thought you would like to read about my Saturday night with the shittiest security guard in the entire world, she works at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

I'm going to call her PigVomit, because she looks like a pig an
d makes me want to vomit. (Thanks to Howard Stern for that one...) Anyway, here's the scene: some of you may or may not know that I work with a young disabled man who attends college at UC-Berkeley, and we like music. We really like music. So when I got the pre-sale offer a while back alerting me that Interpol was going to pay us a visit, we jumped at that chance, naturally.

So this last Saturday night we went to Bill Graham to see Interpol. After navigating our way up to our special seating, I was told that someone in that section would get me a chair so I could sit next to Conor. (Don't worry, he's got his own chair, it cost more than my last car...) When I arrived in the section I asked the security guard if she'd be so kind as to get me a chair. She said "uh-u
h" and stared at me. Now, a lot of actual retarded people live in San Francisco and I'm sure the city is an EOE, as Bill Graham's large building is in reality owned by the city and they may employ these retards. She wasn't retarded I finally learned, just a huge bitch. Imagine the most difficult person you've ever met. In my world she is a 350 lb black woman with breath of death and eyes of pure evil.

Literally, huge. Like 350 lbs of mean. So anyway, after I asked why I couldn't have a chair, she said that I could but our companions wouldn't get a chair. Okay, I guess. There are a bunch of open seats in the section behind us, they'll manage. But I'd like MY seat, to sit on. For the show, of course. She stonewalled me until the security guard from the next section came over and was like, "Let's chill, I'll help you." This dude was pretty rad, he was like "I'll get
you 3 chairs but you might not be able to sit in that section." Which was cool with me.

When we carried the chairs over to the section we were to sit, PigVomit came over and took the chair I was carrying, then took the two chairs dude was carrying and told us again, "uh-uh". I think she had a hard time speaking English properly because of her missing teeth, which no doubt were melted by the intensity of her foul breath. At this point I was like, "Fine, I can stand" but she was all, "No no, peoples behind you can't be seeing through you!" She was getting more and more belligerent as I remained calm, actually I was about to crack up laughing at her, but she's one of these fuckheads who takes her nine dollar an hour job serious enough to pass up dental insurance and toothpaste, so I played along.

So other guy, I'm gonna call him McRad because
he was really trying to diffuse the sitch and PigVomit wanted to keep arguing. He was like, "C'mon, do this for me..." and she was not having that. Then, when I thought the tables were turned, she was like, "Come o'er here and talk to me." So we went down these steps to a hallway and she proceeded to tell me that because I didn't say "Please" when I first asked for chairs is why she didn't help me. She said my attitude was "very demanding". This is when I lost it and laughed my ass off at her. She was like "apologize" or else. So I said sorry, but then I got the "I don't believe you".

This is where I really fucked up: I asked her what this was really all about and that this was her tripping on power. This is where she grabs me and starts to escort me OUT OF THE BUILDING. So my friends and McRad followed us down stairs where I was actually escorted out of the building! McRad was
like "stay right here, I'm gonna get my supervisor" just as the show was starting. I'm like, "Okay, it's a new song so, I'm not going to miss anything good"

So the supervisor came out a few minutes later. He's all, "Tell me your side, please." So I told him and it matched up with McRad's because I didn't need to lie. He was like, "Sorry for the inconvenience, sir, enjoy the show..." and I went back in, right as Obstacle 1 starts and I'm all pissy now because this is my jam.

Anyway, I get to see most of it, but PigVomit wants to go another round. She tried to pull my chair out from under me after I was sitting for a minute. I told her that her supervisor let me back in and that we were all cool to sit here and to step off. She's like, "I ain't got no supervisor, I am my own supervisor." Anyone who has ever said this is either 1) completely deluded or 2) a complete
asshole. They teach you to say this kind of shit in Power Trip 101 class and again in Intro to Asshole Security.

I smiled at her, said that I was very sorry for the misunderstanding (in my sweetest voice, man can I act!) and for her to have an excellent evening. When I'm being a dick, I use words like excellent and misunderstanding. Her face was priceless as I turned back to the show. I couldn't really relax because she was standing behind us all night, but Interpol's droning rhythms eased me back into their world.

Let me actually review/describe the show now.

I like a few of the new songs, All Fired Up is fucking the tightest jam on that album, and I like Pace Is The Trick and Who Do You Think? quite much, actually, the second half of the album I think is really good. Not great a la A
ntics or TOTBL, but serviceable enough. However, of the three new songs I like, they played zero.

Fair enough.

Pioneer To The Falls
Obstacle 1


Say Hello to the Angels
The Scale
Take You on a Cruise
No I in Threesome
Slow Hands
Length Of Love
Rest My Chemistry
The Heinrich Maneuver
Not Even Jail


Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down

It was a pretty good show despite that trifling ho at the onset of the evening. I was really impressed by their intensity as a live band. Carlos D didn't move around all that much, but he still throws down some of the greatest basslines around. Daniel Kessler, however, was all over the stage like a little mad man. And Sam Fogarino's drumming was quite on point, even getting a little extended fill between Stella and PDA. I thought he was
gonna go off, but PDA's opening drums started and I knew this was gonna be it for the night.

Paul Banks is a frontman, and I think he was bor
n to be a lead singer in a band with the coolest fucking self-image on the planet, all this mysterious shit with the black and red. And smoking on stage? Cigarettes do make people look cooler...

Interpol rules.

But the Bill Graham as far as a venue? Okay sight lines, shitty security, a super strict no camera policy, and the tickets were like 42 a piece, but Interpol's extreme radness overruled all things shitty that night in October
, my friends.

cell phone pics (blecch)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jose Gonzalez...

Jose Gonzalez with Tiny Vipers
October 8, 2007

Great American Music Hall

San Francisco, CA

(Note: What follows is an exact transcription of the author's seemingly vague notes from that evening. I put my editorial notes in italic. So, results may vary. You have been warned...)

The venue: Think mini-Troc, insane filagree, ornate
patina, rococco (1907 post-quake)
- was a burlesque house, featured fan-
dancers (called the Music Box after war)
- fell on hard times during 60s-70s
- beautifully mirrored walls, balconies, the
ceiling! 2 renaissance-style paintings
on either end.

Here's one of the columns

Opener: Tiny Vipers
- acoustic, picking n strummin folk,
guy/girl duo - she sounds like J. Newsom
(vocally) he - besides bass not much
else. I'd like to hear their album, I couldn't
hear them as their set progressed (as the
place filled up...)

Tiny Vipers (signed to SubPop? wow...) and all these blurry pics are not my fault. The GAMH has a no-flash policy. Actually, when I asked the gentleman by the side of the stage what the photo policy was, he said it was up to the bands. This guy is also how I got all the history facts on this place.

Jose Gonzalez - How Low (opener*)

- Encore - Deadweight On Velveteen
Love Will Tear Us Apart

overall, he killed it.
So powerfully emotive
w/o being sappy or corny.
Shush over crowd, he
owned us.

Playing at the speed of light, Mr. Gonzalez...

- He walked
by me before
the show. He's

Shhhhhhhh! Genius at work

Suddenly! the hottest fashion for the over-40 set
poncho thingys
I swear, every woman there over 40 was wearing one of those throw ponchos, those things that look like a shag rug with a hole in the middle.

* - then I met the most beautiful young woman
named Rosa. She drinks Jameson on the rocks! I
bought her one and we hung out all show. Then we
went to a Thai Restaurant. She's really pretty and
smells like fresh flowers. Floras el fresco? mmmmmm

I'll probably never see her again, she lives in San Jose (I love to crush on cuties that are geographically undesirable...) but as you can see, there is no setlist except opener and encore, because I was flirting and making googly eyes over at this shorty. Whom I'll probably never see again...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Shins...

The Shins
Greek Theatre
Berkeley, CA


I'm not going to say too much about this here show I went to last week, it was pretty solid I guess. The Shins don't really do anything all that special, they write really awesome pop songs and go on tour and play them a
nd then do that again. Outside of the lights and the amazing encore, I felt that The Shins were kind of going through the motions here in Berkeley, and lead singer James Mercer actually forgot the opening lines to Australia and they had to restart it. Anyway...


Kissing The Lipless

Turn On Me
Sea Legs
Mine's Not A High Horse
When I Goose Step
Girl Inform Me
Turn A Square

New Slang
Saint Simon
Girl Sailor
Gone For Good
Sleeping Lessons
A Comet Appears
Pam Berry

Phantom Limb
Know Your Onion!

Caring Is Creepy

The Past And Pending
So Says I

...and that's all folks.

Oh, pictures:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The National... probably my favorite band/album of 2007. I don't know if I'm necessarily hinting that Boxer is my Album Of The Year, but I wouldn't bet it against it. Not yet at least...

Anyway, I'm way behind in reviews, so I'm going to try to get these out very soon:
Interpol, Menomena, Wilco, Devendra Banhart, Minus The Bear, Jose Gonzalez, Jens Lekman, MIA, Spoon, Stars, Kanye West, Iron & W
ine, Hezekiah Jones, St. Vincent and Beirut.

That's like 15 reviews. They will be short and glib and whatever I probably won't even do them...

So there's all this then:

The National
The Grand Ballroom
San Francisco


Start A War

Mistaken For Strangers
Secret Meeting

Baby, We'll Be Fine
Slow Show
Lit Up
Squalor Victoria
All The Wine
Racing Like A Pro

Apartment Story
Daughters of The SoHo Riots

Fake Empire
About Today

E: Green Gloves
Mr. November

And they ruled the whole show through.

On to the pics section, still shitty but getting better than the cell phone...

Here's our opener, St. Vincent, which is actua
lly just one woman, Annie Clark, and she's pretty righteous.

These are blurry and shitty, but mildly p
sychedelic as well

These are slightly better. Check out this dude's bald spot. Couvre time!

We like violins.

Shot from the top during the Encore.

...and there you have a fine show.