Thursday, January 31, 2008

vampire weekend overkill redux (or something)

updates: Vampire Weekend's eponymous debut now stands at #5 on the Amazon music sales chart. with a one to two week delay. which surprises me since I'd rarely, if ever, order a disc that wasn't going to ship almost immediately.

(and what's Graceland doing in the top 500 so many years after release?)

but the VW 'backlash' has turned into VW overkill as the Voice ran yet another VW post (in the Sound of the City section) yesterday and I believe there will be a fourth VW article (by Tom Breihan, the piece that I took pics for) that will post later today. and that's probably enough one band with one album (even if they are local).

in other news: Giuliani and Edwards did indeed drop out or 'suspend' their respective campaigns, but Will Kimbrough's WFUV appearance yesterday afternoon was taped, not broadcast live.
but he's still playing the Living Room tonight at 7.
that, at least, hasn't changed.

and I realize that my photo of VW lead singer (and former English teacher) Ezra Koenig is far from the best technical shot I've ever posted, but I do like it.
damn, he looks so young.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

elvis is dead and I don't feel so good myself

all right, so it’s been a few days. and I’ve missed some stuff. but ti-i-i-i-me ain’t on my side (no it’s not).

the day job has become even more restrictive. not only has the access to personal e-mail disappeared (months ago), but now I can’t even access this very site and access to my occasional blog feature at the Voice has been gone about as long as the personal e-mail.

and that’s just one of the things I missed.

Nicole Atkins and the Sea (they sold out the Bowery Ballroom last Friday night) is up (and has been) on Possibly 4th Street (supposedly there’s more video which might actually launch one day).

I was at the Bowery myself last night taking pics (I must be rusty – didn’t come out with much that I liked) at the first of two Vampire Weekend shows (also hard sell-outs) to celebrate the release of their eponymous debut album this week (my favorite cut is “Oxford Comma”).

which means that the Vampire Weekend ‘backlash’ is already being discussed.

today’s Voice and the online edition of New York mag both broach the topic, the yeas and nays if you will.

last Sunday’s Times piece, “A Night Out With . . .”, will definitely make you lean towards the nay camp.

but it’s a nice, catchy disc.

don’t know that the infinite Paul Simon Graceland "Afro-pop" references aren’t just a little too easy (it's more pop than Afro for one thing) as I believe there’s a strong possiblity that these guys aren’t really any heavier than Bow Wow Wow, Haircut 100 or the English Beat. you know, kind of a West Indian sound filtered through working class Britain (or in this case Columbia University).

but it’s not like that’s going to hurt anybody.

I’m interviewing John Darnielle (a.k.a. Mr. Mountain Goat) on Friday afternoon for a March piece in Philadelphia Weekly. haven’t written for that paper in a while and it’s an assignment I’m looking forward to. though, as is often the case with veteran acts, I’m having a lot of difficulty narrowing my focus already. just so much to talk about. and, of course, it helps that the Mountain Goats’ new album, Heretic Pride (out on February 19th), is a good one (some strong discs out already this year), one I can recommend (pick cuts here are “San Bernadino” and “Lovecraft in Brooklyn”).

so for the past week pretty much all I’ve listened to is either Vampire Weekend or Heretic Pride.

last movie I ever saw: Reign Over Me (lots of all over the place reviews of this one. I don't know that it necessarily helps to have a particular connection to NYC in the days of 9/11 (like being here), but it'd probably make one's reaction, good or bad, more intense. uneven? sure. simplistic? at times. Liv Tyler's part and her portrayal of it, for example, could be improved upon greatly, and I liked the movie better before seeing the special feature with writer/director/actor Mike Binder. but like it or not, this is some pretty powerful stuff. definitely worth a look. four out of five)

the one before that: The Notorious Bettie Page (fine. good. acceptable. no biggie. three out of five)

Rudy Giuliani is expected to depart the Republican presidential race today and John Edwards is expected to fold up camp on the Democratic side.

and my friend Will Kimbrough hits town today for a live radio thingie at WFUV this afternoon. tomorrow night (earlyish) he’s got a set at the Living Room. which is where we’ll be.

please don’t break into our apartment while we’re gone.

Friday, January 25, 2008

to lose relevance, one must first possess relevance

so the 2007 Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll is out this week, with its deserved cover spotlight (spoiler alert: LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver won in the album category).

and I can't remember exactly, but it seems like there were two albums out of my ten that no one (no one) else out of something like 572 voters mentioned at all (hello Zookeeper's Becoming All Things and The Silos' Come On Like The Fast Lane). so I started worrying if perhaps my desire to hermitize myself here in my tiny, tiny apartment was actually having some kind of separatist effect. maybe I was simply becoming an old fart (even though I did not mention Springsteen's Magic at all - curious that this received so much year-end notice in that I've met no one (no one) who would place the record in even their top five Springsteen albums of all-time. but, you know, it appears that if Springsteen releases an album, any album, and a bunch of folks will put it in their year-end lists). but as it turns out, if anything, I'm more of a bandwagon dweller than I could've possibly imagined.

(time out to mention that it's 1:02 a.m. in New York City and there are helicopters circling Manhattan)

looky here.
a gentleman by the name of Glenn McDonald somehow took all the votes registered in not only the Pazz & Jop Poll but also Idolator's similar effort, put them in a blender and came out with all kinds of charts and graphs and tallys that basically tell you what voters are most like other voters and how rare or "eccentric" their votes actually were (I don't understand all of it, but god bless those who can use numbers for something other than balancing a checkbook).

in any case, here's a link to the home page or index of Glenn's work. and another link that reveals my exact same votes (in the album category) for both the Voice and Idolator.

it's interesting (in a very nerdy, music critic sense) stuff.
and long story short (not really possible at this point, I know), my votes are more similar (as mentioned above) than "eccentric."
in that out of 782 combined votes, my picks ranked as #243.
meaning there's something like 540 folks who had weirder (within the community of very nerdy music critics) picks than I did.
which may lean back towards the old fart theory.

good night everybody!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

yea say hey

two pieces on Brooklyn residents Yeasayer - one originally assigned and written for Phoenix New Times and one later bastardized for San Francisco Weekly - popped today.

here's the long and the short of it.

the band's first full-length, All Hour Cymbals (pick cut: "2080"), was released last October and now the guys are about to embark on their first North American tour (though they've been to Europe a bunch it seems).

selected tour dates include:

01.24.08 - Thu - Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
01.28.08 - Mon - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
02.02.08 - Sat - Boise, ID @ Neurolux
02.13.08 - Wed - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
02.14.08 - Thu - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

19.02.08 - Tue - Nijmegen, Holland @ Doornroosje
20.02.08 - Wed - Brussels, Belgium @ AB
26.02.08 - Tue - Berlin, Germany @ Lido
27.02.08 - Wed - Gothenburg, Sweden @ Pusterviksbaren
28.02.08 - Thu - Olso, Norway @ John Dee
11.03.08 - Tue - Amsterdam, Holland @ Melkweg

the moon, by the way, is very high tonight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

more john sayles

well, the "at . . . near at . . . near City" has been corrected.

so I would've been through with this particular topic for the week, the month, whenever, except John Sayles was the "guest programmer" on Turner Classic this evening.
he started with Park Row, then Treasure of the Sierra Madre (saying that it was his "favorite American film"), Two Women started about twenty minutes ago and Paisan will begin at 1:30 EST.

all of which rang a few bells regarding some interview material (with John Sayles, of course) that hasn't been published.
so . . .

Name one thing you’ve never ever done.

"Jump out of an airplane."

Name something that you’ve done once and one time only.

"Ride a horse."

Name a book that you’ve read at least twice.

"Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Once in English and once in Spanish."

Name a movie that you’ve seen at least three times.

"Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

so as long as we're here . . .

last movie I ever saw: Treasure of the Sierra Madre

the one before that: Lianna (directed by John Sayles)

Monday, January 21, 2008

restaurant week #1

with the high temperature below freezing and near painful winds (quite biting), it must be time for restaurant week.

for those of you who are non-New Yorkers, restaurant week is actually two weeks that happens twice a year (always when business would otherwise be slow meaning January and late summer). and today, January 21st, marks the official start of the first restaurant week of 2008.

john sayles

ah yes, my John Sayles saga finally attains closure.

actually closure was reached last Friday, but I didn't realize it until this afternoon.

I interviewed Mr. Sayles and his longtime partner and producer Maggie Renzi, before Christmas, in advance of the release of Honeydripper, a movie filmed and set in my home state of Alabama.

lovely people. just about exactly the type of couple you might hope to meet at a dinner party. accomplished, well-spoken, well-informed. just delightful.

would've been a great interview except (except) my recorder didn't work. something I didn't realize until about 1:30 the next morning as I'd planned on a day off from work to meet a 36-hour deadline for the Voice film section.

and things pretty much got worse from there.

trust me, it's a long, long, ugly story. not only from the job frustration of faulty equipment, editorial misunderstandings and such, but from feeling so damn bad that Maggie and John (I interviewed him again by phone the following afternoon) had been so patient, given so much of their valuable time and for a while there it looked as if there would be nothing, nada, zilch to show for it.

but last Friday my interview, or at least part of my interview with John Sayles, ran in the Village Voice blog. of course, my intro's all screwed to hell ("at a recent dinner near at a restaurant near City Hall" when the dinner was actually at the City Hall restaurant, for example - can't waste time checking on something like that), but that's pretty much how this particular journey went.

it's always something.

in any case, here's the link to that Voice posting.

(and here's the intro I submitted (it ain't great, but it's certainly better): Just before Christmas I take the subway down to Tribeca to meet John Sayles, recipient of two Academy Award nominations for screenwriting among his sixteen written and directed films. A down-to-earth cinematic artist with an ample amount of acting work and several screenplays for movies he didn’t direct. The author of five works of fiction. A National Book Award nominee and recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (a/k/a “the genius grant”). A filmmaker who’s been labeled “indie icon” (for 1979’s path-clearing Return of the Secaucus 7) more times than December snow has been forecast in his hometown of Schnectady. In short, a suitably busy, suitably accomplished fellow who once said of his upstate upbringing, “I never thought about being a writer. A writer wasn't something I wanted to be. An outfielder was something to be. Most of what I know about style I learned from Roberto Clemente.”
One of Sayles’ most noted films, Eight Men Out, dramatizes the loss of baseball’s innocence through the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. And Sayles’ first novel, Pride of the Bimbos, relates the travels of a transvestite softball team.
Which means that, high above the discernible din of a couple dozen holiday-partying Citibankers who inhabit the bar area of City Hall restaurant, over fried oysters and countless soft drinks, John Sayles and I talk about baseball. And the beginnings of rock and roll which inform the changing times within his sixteenth and latest film, Honeydripper.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

misanthropic fields forever

my piece on the near mythic Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields (and three other groups minimum) popped today at the Voice.

the pub was timed to coincide with today's release of Distortion, the band's third album in something like eight years (it's currently #17 on Amazon's sales chart, but there's a free (at least temporarily) stream of the album on the band's MySpace page).

and I guess I should've realized had I thought about it, but I didn't think about it (mind my own business, my own piece, I guess). at least a couple other places - the New York Times and the New York Observer (theirs titled "Magnetic Personality Disorder") for starters - also ran features on Mr. Merritt today.

happy (or unhappy) reading (your choice).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

today I had a worse day than marion jones

and I don't even care how she spent it (how's that for competitive?).

has anyone else noticed that Apple stock is down around 15% year-to-date?
that includes another 5.5% shear (not quite ten dollars) today, and its down another six bucks after hours thanks to Intel missing their earnings by two cents.

"and I'm free/freefallin'"

it is not pretty out there, sports fans.

last movie I ever saw: The Best Man (Cliff Robertson was better than I expected (pretty much only knew him from those old AT&T commercials), but Henry Fonda's character and performance was a little limp, I thought - three out of five)

the one before that: This Is England (in the same vein as American History X but less animalistic, less violent, more human; and child actors usually annoy the snot out of me but this kid, Thomas Turgoose, did a fine job - four out of five)

the one before that: Klimt (I'm a huge John Malkovich fan, but this one is for completists only - two out of five)

and the one before that: Brief Encounter (maybe I'm not the melodrama type; actually I'm definitely not the melodrama type - three and a half out of five)

Friday, January 11, 2008

at least I had a better day than marion jones

though considering she was sentenced to two years in prison with 800 hours of community service to look forward to upon her exit, that's not saying much.

last movie I ever saw: Once
(though I'm a Glen Hansard fan, I still would've appreciated just a bit more story - three and a half out of five)

the one before that: The Science of Sleep (inventive special effects, and hooray for Charlotte Gainsbourg, but even whimsy can get tiresome after a time (who would've thought?) - three out of five)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

drew glackin (1963-2008)

I'm more than a little punch-drunk (no actual punch, not actually drunk), more than a little bone-weary after one too many late nights working on a Magnetic Fields piece that'll run in the Voice next week. but I wanted to make note that Drew Glackin, bass player for The Silos (and many other bands), will be laid to rest later today (Thursday) in Philipsburg, NJ.

I didn't know Drew very well. I've seen him play many times, of course, but I first booked the Silos in Tuscaloosa (you don't even want to know how many years ago) so Walter Salas-Humara is pretty much my point of entry. plus, you know, I get to a gig, do my work - either note or picture-taking - pretty much keep to myself. don't know if that's the relative coldness of Yankee environs or my own rather asocial (at times) nature. probably some of the former and a lot of the latter.

but I did run into Drew at the Mekons show last October. or rather he ran into me. stopped me actually as I was coming back from a restroom break. and at first I thought maybe he had me mistaken for somebody else. or maybe he was one of those guys who wants to chat up the guy with the photo pass. but no, Drew knew who I was.

and it's very obvious to me now - unfortunately after his passing - that Drew knew who a lot of people were. because people were obviously very important to him (trust me, I'm major league periphery).

further evidence is available at and where a number of friends and family are dropping by to share stories, photos, reminiscences. it's a beautiful thing. and, of course, makes you wonder how people will remember you.

yes, Drew Glackin died much too young, but I'm thinking if his passing inspires people to be a little kinder, a little more attentive, a little more loving, a little more like Drew to those who surround them then I'm pretty sure it was a life well-lived.

r.i.p. boss.

(photo of Drew by Julien Desmet)

Friday, January 4, 2008

never get out of the boat! I gotta remember! gotta remember! never get out of the boat!

to explain the significance (not the reference; the reference would be easy) would take too long, be much too depressing (not unlike the first 75 minutes of the Extras finale).
and I really don't want to go there again anytime soon. or anytime, for that matter.
("it's been a bad day/please don't take a picture")

so in the interest of writing something new, something safe, something unborrowed and not too blue,
here are my "best of 2007" submissions sent to those publications that bothered asking.

Top 10 Albums of 2007

Radiohead - In Rainbows
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
The National - Boxer
Zookeeper - Becoming All Things
Phosphorescent - Pride
Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High
Robert Plant & Allison Krauss - Raising Sand
The Silos - Come On Like The Fast Lane
Various Artists - I'm Not There Soundtrack
Porter Wagoner - Wagonmaster

Top 5 Singles/Tracks of 2007

The Tiger Lillies' "Kill You"
Arcade Fire's "Keep The Car Running"
White Rabbits' "The Plot"
Rickie Lee Jones' "Falling Up"
Phosphorescent's "Wolves"

Top 5 Reissues of 2007

Miles Davis - The Complete On The Corner Sessions
Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation Deluxe Edition
Warren Zevon - Preludes
Pylon - Gyrate
Paul Weller - The Hit Parade