Saturday, November 18, 2006

we had some massive nights...

I vividly remember the first time I heard Craig Finn wail out a line off of The Hold Steady's second album, Separation Sunday. I was in the back seat of a rental car, driving through the Arizona wilderness right after sunset with no cell phone service for miles. I'd had enough with family vacations--I don't know how I ended up there -- but this NPR feature was my first connection with the outside world. The Hold Steady are the first new escape I've had in years.

The release of Boys and Girls in America was something I've been anticipating, but I never would have guessed that it would get so much attention. The amount of buzz that's been surrounding this album -- since weeks before its release -- has been wild. As a follow up to the absolutely phenomenal Separation Sunday, this album doesn't disappoint. The new depth in the music is what serves as the surprise on an album from a band that could be mistaken for a Wednesday-night regular at some seedy dive.

The title comes straight out of Kerouac. Mineapolis native Finn was out to tackle the entire country this time around, and encapsulated it with piss, vinegar, and eloquence. The hang-outs may be different, but the parties and the lost loves are always the same. There are strong roots in Springsteen and arena rock, and appropriately so. I think this sound is something that the band's fans approve of. The lyrics, as in the two preceeding albums, are something you have to hear to believe. The massive nights are vivid as hell when you spin this album. For once, I can say I've been there-- Finn knows exactly what he's talking about.

I didn't set out to write this article about The Hold Steady, but their recent celebrity (including a whopping 9.4 on Pitchfork's unmerciful review scale) seemed like a good segue into the recognition of their unrelenting keyboard player. On to the feature.

Franz Nicolay just might be the hardest working man in music. The keyboardist, accordianist, and composer has been recieving so much (yet so little) exposure. His composition/chamber music collective, Anti-Social Music, started as a small project of friends who liked to make music and turned into something much more--a known name with original compositions performed live and released on CD. Nicolay's performance with the circus punk outfit The World/Inferno Friendship Society can't be described as anything less than frantic. Just listen to the opening notes of "Tattoos Fade;" Franz's fingers strike the keyboard's keys faster than your mind can even register--the next thing you know, he's moved on to his accordian.....and without missing a beat--back to the keyboard. He put in time with the gypsy punk band Guignol and he's recorded for countless others such as hardcore favorites Leftover Crack. With The Hold Steady touring extensively around the nation that it's come to love, it seems that Nicolay isn't planning on taking a break any time soon. Keep your eye on this mysterious moustachioed man. I think that we should be expecting (more) great things from him.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Day the Music Died? Tower Records to be Liquidated

The LA-based Tower Records chain record store was sold at auction to the Great American Group and locations will begin clearance immediately. Of 89 stores located in 20 states, at least 24 will close. It was quite evident that these changes were to take place immediately when I pulled into the parking lot of the Ramsey, NJ location to be bombarded by "Going Out of Business" signs. The mecca of my high school music connoisseur-ing is closing for good. We mourned by stocking up on 10% off DVDs and CDs. A full-length review of the Hold Steady's "Boys and Girls in America" will follow...

I'd like to amend this post by telling you all what we actually got!
I got The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America, along with the films Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy, and Thank You For Smoking.
My stepdad got Barry White's Greatest Hits, Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti and Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy.

AND, My sources tell me that I beat Andrew Lowden to this, who always beats Stereogum to everything. Andrew reported that the Nanuet, NY location is also slated to close by December.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Cherubs

A good place to resume this blog would be to reveal a new favorite band every once in a while that I get around to updating. So, of course, keeping with my style, here's a pretty cool local band (Potsdam, NY local) that you will all enjoy. They are the Cherubs, and they come from up above. And if you don't dance to their music, believe me, they'll be two sad boys. Here's the deal. Eric gets out his laptop and mixes crazy beats and synth shenanigans with Fruity Loops. He and Nick lay down guitar and bass (respectively) over it, and Eric lays down the vox. The product is incomparable dance powerpop house music, basically. There really aren't even words to contain their sound. Check them out, and DANCE.

The Cherubs

That all being said, imagine this. Eric leading the entire small, crowded, smoky room in a group chant. Just long, peaceful tones with a beat in the background. The beat stops, and the next song starts--one that everyone knows--so everyone claps along in just the right rhythms. The room is engulfed in smoke and chatter, but all eyes are up front. Nick stands statue-still rocking out amazing basslines, while Eric moves back and forth, sort of like that chick from No Fi Soul Rebellion. But, the more he gets into it, the more he rocks out, dancing around the stage. The set goes on, a few guys and girls in the back (who the band probably couldn't even see) were dancing crazy. The band was surrounded by friends. Everyone knew the beats, the words, the changes. Eric taught the crowd an entire song (even though enough people already knew it from recording it with him), everyone shouted the gang vox right with him. The room was one crazy, jumping, mass of humanity that just wanted more beats. It was such an intimate show, everyone left with a great vibe. Right on.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Daytrotter and Harry & the Potters

Daytrotter: The Ultimate Way to Meet Your New Favorite Band

Daytrotter is one blog that knows how to deliver on its promises. With a new band featured every week, you can rest assured that your ears will stay amused. Weekly features consist of in-depth, opinionated writing about the band as well as interviews, photographs, and 4 live-in-studio tracks available for free download. That's a pretty big bang for the buck...that you never even have to drop.

Harry & the Potters; Daytrotter Sessions

At the end of May, Daytrotter offered up four tracks by the indie rock duo, Harry & the Potters. I'll be completely honest with you. This music won't mean a whole lot if you didn't get the endless references to the multi-million dollar grossing Harry Potter franchise. Then again, the phrase "tonsil hockey" is amusing in any context. The songs are definately listenable. The music is fairly minimal, but they make due with a synth and other assorted instruments. The singer initially sounds like Conor Oberst, but these are no mentally imbalanced pseudo love ballads. Well, they're pretty mentally imbalanced, and...I suppose, since they follow the story...they're ballads. BUT THEY ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! Actually, since "The Human Horsepipe" is from Harry's POV, I'd say he's about 800x more conflicted and imbalanced than Conor. Just to clear that up. So, yes, Harry & the Potters sing in the first person about fictional characters who are more effed up than Conor Oberst could ever be. Bottom line: download it.

Best lyric: "Maybe you shouldn't have brought up Cedric Diggory because I'd rather not talk about your dead ex-boyfriend over coffee."