Portland Oregon’s Menomena recently got signed to Barsuk Records and will debut their new album in early 2007. I still think this is one of the best names for a band and their experimental indie jazz compliments the moniker. You can tell this trio is extremely creative and they enjoy playing with sound and it’s textures. Although it’s not that crazy, I feel their disruptive tempo changes and unique compositions are very accessible and enjoy feeling uneasy while tapping my feet when I listen to their songs. The show lacked the energy I witnessed last year at Sin-e and I got the vibe that the crowd didn’t like them as much as I had hoped, but then again, they were probably just waiting for the perfect indie pop songs of the Long Winters.
You can’t deny loving The Long Winters. Their catchy pop songs are perfectly crafted and you’ll find yourself singing along to the clever lyrics. Their new album “Putting The Days To Bed” is an extension of their Ultimatum EP and feels more personal than on the previous recordings. I got a taste of the new new stuff a few weeks ago at the Mercury Lounge and was happy that they were headling the Bowery Ballroom, which they have never done before. John Roderick’s nerdy demeanor and stage presence added more color to the show and stated that Seattle and New York have always been the most receptive to his music. He came out with an American Flag guitar and at one point played the blues per request becuase “He never needs an excuse to play the blues.” The band performed a multitude of songs from all their albums, playing and dodging the countless requests yelled out. As a thank you to their fans, they continued their tradition of not playing encores and proceeded to play for almost 2 hours! The band and the crowd was exhausted but it was worth every second.
Pictures from the show.
but I still like this old one better
The Long Winters
New York’s Regina Spektor has really developed into an incredible musician and has been gaining attention with her new album, “Begin To Hope”. The songs contained within have a great deal of passionate and intimate stories and is easily one of the best albums of the year. She quickly sold out 2 shows at the very large Town Hall and I got lucky with front row tickets. Despite having most of my view blocked by her piano, it didn’t take away from the incredible performance she gave us. Her first few songs were done solo and focused on her older songs. Her band then came out and helped her songs reach a fuller sound. She played a range of new and old songs and people sang along to their favorites. She played one of my favorites “That Time” on solo guitar and a dramatic rendition of “Better”. This petite girl has so much energy in her seemingly unpolished songs but her untamed voice brings it all together. An incredible performance and highly recommend seeing her live.
Brazillians emit a sense of sexiness in everything they do, from their music, their dancing, and their language. Cibelle’s music and stage presence amplifies the emotional and sensual attributes that seems to surround her. She fuses a variety of elements to expand the bossa nova foundation of her songs. She combines traditional live instruments with electronic noises, children’s toys and random elements to create a captivating landscape of sound grounded by her voice. She even had a toy voice mutator that I actually own.
When Cibelle took the stage at midnight she was wearing a beautiful yellow dress and had tattooed her entire body with geometric shapes using black marker. Her live set stayed away from her slow and delicate songs found on her album and rather played a very lively and energetic set. Despite having some problem because of “gremlins” in the instruments, she was perfect on stage, captivating the crowd with her melodies and movements. A real treat was when she asked Seu Jorge to take the stage with her and to sing duet. The night was hot, sexy, and pulsating with energy. Being only a few feet from her I couldn’t help be swept away by Cibelle’s beauty and music. Despite playing for over 2 hours, and clearly tired, she invited Seu Jorge to jam with the band and he proceeded to sing impromptu over the soundscapes of sound. He told us the story on how he was asked to cover Bowie’s songs and even sang one and then gave us one of his own tunes. A real treat indeed. I wish the night never ended.
Many pictures from the show.
Sol Seppy played a swirly set of reverb and electronic lullabies. Reminiscent of Mazzy Star, her solo endeavors explore the mood of being in a solitary place. Her voice is captivating and no surprise that she worked on Sparklehorse’s previous albums. Her slow fuzz songs really surprised me.
After a much too long hiatus of over 5 years, Sparklehorse makes a triumphant return. The new album, “Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain”, has Tom Waits and Danger Mouse working on it, and if that doesn’t grab your attention, their live act will. I will admit that Sparklehorse’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” is easily one my top albums in my collection and so happy to have them making new tunes. The last time I saw Sparklehorse was when they made a surprise 2 song appearance before The Flaming Lips 4 years ago testing out new material. I couldn’t believe it and made that night even that more incredible. Mark Linkous is a production genius and can create these precious songs that seem to envelop and disintegrate around you. Even the more upbeat songs on the new album has dark undertones and desperate cries for happiness. The music is like a non-linear movie soundtrack of pure emotions. The lo-fi melodies make you feel so vulnerable but in the end Mark makes you realize that it’s all just a dream.
His live show gave me goose-bumps as though I was seeing a ghost that I had forgotten about. He played some old songs and some new and gave the sold out crowd an incredible performance. Sophie from Sol Seppy came out to back up a few songs but the real treat was seeing Nina Persson of The Cardigans sing “Apple Bed”. Wow! They not only gave us 2 encores (which they mentioned they NEVER do) they came out for a 3rd encore and played a new one. It truly is a wonderful life.
Pictures from the show.
Gabba Gabba Hey
The Continental has been home to many local and global bands that have shaped the landscape of music. The Heartbreakers, Jesse Malin, to Iggy Pop played here and it later became the home for the Ramones. Joey even lived across the street from the club. For it’s last hurrah, this punk venue hosted live music from Handsome Dick Manitoba (Dictators), Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Band) and a full Ramones set played by CJ Ramone, Daniel Rey and Walter Lure.
Approaching St. Marks, I am always struck by the dichotomy that occurs on this street that made up my musical upbringing. Seeing the grungy historic Continental sign buttressed against McDonalds, rising condos, and scaffolding. I walked into a very crowded and smoky club and felt the energy in the room. A melancholy excitement as this would be the last time anyone would hear live music in this tiny room.
I was intrigued to see how the Ramones set would be pulled off and who would be the special guests. There was applause when CJ Ramone, holding a beer, took the stage. He would announce each song before playing and I must admit, they sounded great. It was really special to hear the Ramones music played live and loud. The crowd was pretty subdued until the end when the music picked up and there was some crowd surfing. There were great special guests that took turns singing the nostalgic songs. Trigger took the stage to play the final song after giving a short speech saying good bye to the music in his club. Throughout the night, the musicians bid farewell and pointed the blame for the loss of the soul of music and it’s venues to Corporate Condo America and especially to NYU which has gobbled up, destroyed, and created nothing that attributes to the essence that is New York Fucking City. It’s such a shame to lose so much history in such a small amount of time. It’s crazy to bring my friends to my old parts of this city and to reference all the good things that once were in the past tense. The night ended with “I Wanna Be Sedated”, and I wished that those short 2 minutes could have lasted just a little bit longer.
Pictures from the show.
Spent many hours biking 100 miles around New York City hitting several places I never knew existed. A great ride, well organized, and I didn’t see any bad accidents. Can’t wait to do it again next year.