28 July 2006
I DON'T MISS BROADWAY
Tribeca Grand Sanctuary
Download: La Belle Epoque's "Miss Broadway"
Weeks ago at APT, I heard this disco band's "Starlight" twelve--brickdense and note-for-note and obviously labored over but ultimately just balls'd out Philly Intl hooks and strings--and had one of those "oh shit" moments when, from the very first seconds of the song, you can sense the impending awesomeness. I asked the DJ immediately what the hell was happening, and he said Escort, and then he said they're not old actually they're new, and then he said they're gonna start playing gigs soon. The news should have made me happy, but instead stuck me with the usual critic-y questions about new bands doing fascist-like throwbacks to sounds of eras not their own. We're talking Sharon Jones, Jet, Jurassic Five, I guess Wynton Marsalis? The real Wynton Marsalis.
Last night was Escort's first gig ever. They played the room in Tribeca Grand most people know as the room a sheepish Annie let a million cameraphoners down. You fuckers got long knives don't you. Much fewer people this time around, good so people could actually dance instead of complaining about how nobody dances anymore, and all the shit about the Tribeca Grand Sanctuary having terrible sound, I can't hear my monitor, that's why my first American gig sucked, seriously, is total bee ess. There were thirteen people or so people up on stage--inc. small string section, three piece horns, two female vocalists, one of whom had red hair and was possibly the awesomest person I've ever seen, pretty much all bases of covered here--full sound but you could hear everything. Hardly a hardknock life.
They opened with an anxious version of "Starlight," the tempo kicked up a bit but, again, nothing seemed out of place--this weird sense of restraint I always associate with my favorite disco tracks, and it was weirder to put faces to it. Especially because, I dunno, is full-on, unadulterated "real" disco still not cool among the lookyloo contingent? I know spinning and especially playing serious disco-funk is dork central, as the general public stops with disco on an ironic appreciation of Saturday Night Fever and an unironic love for Jamiroquai's hat in the "funky" "Virtual Insanity" video. But not only do disco dorks love the mostly saccharine hooks and sentiment, the endless congas, the ridiculous rhythm guitar strokes, the disconess of disco, but they know the musicianship involved, the precision, the restraint, the "I'll keep my shit together so you won't have to" altruistic streak of the best disco tracks, which Escort nailed on "Starlight," their cover of "Miss Broadway," and even their one hard funk number, Roundtree's "Get On Up": basslines on the quarters, same note the whole song, anal horns, the song's only release in the vocals but the rest's a ticking bomb.
So they played five or six songs, the non-"Starlight" tracks are good or very good, and the novelty of 13-piece disco band--mostly just pretty young white kids whose favorite song in high school was "Flashlight" when everybody else just liked the Q-Tip version--will get some internet love because the band probably photographs well. Critically though: Is there room among "forwardthinking" "artists" for just good solid hardworking bands? Or does everything on the radio have to sound like M.I.A. now.
27 July 2006
GUEST RIFFER: ROB DUBBIN
Today's guest riffer, Rob Dubbin writes for the Emmy-nominated Colbert Report and improv-comedizes around New York City as part of Dwayne's Guest House. Previously he was the lead singer and guitarist of the Cambridge-based art-rock quartet Forced Premise, whose 2003 debut The Rat-Faced Bastard EP was made into an art-rockomedy theatrical production, also called Forced Premise. Here Rob weighs in on Erlend Øye and the Whitest Boy Alive's forthcoming Dreams LP.
* * * * * * *
The Whitest Boy Alive: "Inflation (Album Version)"
The Whitest Boy Alive: "Fireworks"
Just because I didn't know until someone told me, this is a band fronted by convenience monarch and best-ever DJ Kicks curator Erlend Øye. If you knew that, awesome. If not, pretty exciting, right? I'll wait for you to go and start your torrent download.
The album cut of "Inflation" threw me because these guys more or less covered their own song. It was released as a single back in 2005, when it had the synth-pop appeal of 2003's Unrest but also the good sense to venture into new territory. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard the album version, all drumsticks and drum sets and guitars with actual strings on them.
Both versions are pretty great, is the thing. And while I would have loved to hear an album full of stuff that sounded like the original "Inflation," the fact of the matter is that me being me, I'm pretty much going to love anything that has Erlend Øye singing over it. He's in the same club as Neko Case and Jens Lekman, the one where everyone has a captivating voice and they charge a reasonable $1 for diet cokes from the soda gun. It's one of my favorite clubs, second only to the one for people who make 45-minute songs.
In terms of how it fits into the rest of Dreams, the revamped "Inflation" kicks off a nearly unstoppable 3-4-5 combo. #4 is "Fireworks" and it's the one that will get stuck in your head, #5 is "Done With You" and it's the one where you can hear the drumbeat about ten measures before it actually starts. So, to put this in terms we can all understand, it's the close-range hadoken that opens your opponent up for a fierce punch and a throw during the recoil.
Shouldn't people be making a bigger deal out of this record? I thought all of Erlend's various projects had enough collective cachet that this one would get at least a smattering of overpromotion and hype. I mean the guy's penetrated enough that the DJ at my office Christmas party felt fine playing his kicks comp straight through as if it were her own set. Not that I was going to call her out, which would have ruined my self-enjoyment of being the only one who noticed. All I'm saying is you'd think there'd be more momentum behind a guy with Erlend's combination of credibility and relative obscurity.
After all, Dreams solves this time-honored problem: Two people are getting married, and they loooooooooove microhouse. Still, they'd prefer live music at the reception--they hate those get-on-your-feet dancers that wedding DJs always bring along. I know basically nothing about microhouse, and yet I'm prepared to declare Whitest Boy Alive the world's first microhouse cover band. If Erlend takes offense to that label, and one assumes that he will, I'm sure the couple could find a suitable microhouse cover band tribute band. It's probably called Powder.
26 July 2006
MELANIE MARTINEZ BUTT SEX SAGA 50% OFF
Butt Sex Get Your Butt Sex
For Context: Click Here
Setting: "The Sandbox"
-are you eating worms again
-did you hear about the good night show
-is that the show my mommy puts on because she thinks it will help me sleep
-probably, all the mommies are doing it
-i love my mom
-but did you hear what happened
-it got cancelled. something about a guy named butt sex. know anything about him?
-butt sex cancelled the good night show?
-you know butt sex?
-i knew that butt sex was up to no good
-who is butt sex?
-butt sex is a guy that hides in your diaper. you can't see your own butt sex, but you can only see other people's butt sex
-can you see my butt sex?
-not now, but i saw your butt sex once
-what did he say?
-he said, "what are you looking at?"
-oh butt sex
25 July 2006
PUBLIC ENEMY #1: THE WHO
Fuck These Guys
This morning I was curious to see how many people on the internet still think the Who's "Baba O'Riley" is actually called "Teenage Wasteland." It's an honest mistake, as the phrase "teenage wasteland" appears several times in the song's chorus, whereas "Baba O'Riley" never appears at all. The band must think that's pretty goddamn hilarious. I remember seeing a lot of "Teenage Wasteland.mp3" on KaZaA and I know who I'm blaming. Now, word is you have to play the song backwards in order to hear something that sounds like "Baba O'Riley," but keep in mind that it's only hearsay. Everybody knows the Who are not worth this kind of effort.
So without further ado, I present the results. In youtube video form, here is everybody on the internet who still thinks "Baba O'Riley" is actually called "Teenage Wasteland":
24 July 2006
WEEKEND IN RIFFS #2
The Modern Lovers: "I'm Straight" [live]
I had to move an armoir out a used furniture shop downtown, but since delivery prices were too nuts the place offered the help of this really young kid with frosted hair and crazy earrings and a tee that said "I only do what my rice krispies tell me to." Obviously I thought he was on heroin. The exchange with the shop owner went as follows:
-I'm not paying your delivery prices--they're too nuts.
-Well maybe you can ask Ernie to help you. Hey Ernie!
-[Ernie makes a face that looks like the bunny from Donnie Darko]
-How much will Ernie cost?
-I don't know--ask Ernie! Hey Ernie, you do this for twenty?
-[Ernie does the face again]
-Ernie will do it for twenty.
Yuca Bar: 7th and A
N/A: "Oye Como Va"
As the rest of 7th Street shops and eats tend to be, this place is pretty awesome despite frequent collar-popping brodowns. Get the plantains and mushroom quesadillas, and order beers because they have what are basically wine glasses for beer, except they're bigger and sturdier than wine glasses and there's stuff written on the glass. As I hinted at, Yuca attracts serious mixed clientele, definitely a citysearch-type destination spot where go-out clothes are the norm and complaints about parking are audible. The music there is, we'll say, Latin, so most guests don't know what's what. Which is to say, nothing can prepare you for the shitstorm of excitement that is "Oye Como Va" coming on, everybody nodding their heads and making game faces and pointing up like "oh shit I know this song, do you hear it? I am pointing up to the ceiling since I hear it from above," and all the wait staff verging on tears because this is the 20th time they've heard "Oye Como Va" that night and make it stop, just make it stop.
Hit Me On My Beeper
Fam-Lay [ft. Pharrell]: "Beeper"
My new favorite song right now, there's a line that goes "my shit is bigger than knuckles on midgets." It's pretty awesome that a rapper saw a midget and thought to himself, "Goddamn that midget has big knuckles. That said, my shit is bigger." I dunno, you just don't think those two worlds could collide.