Monday, June 30, 2008

Brianna Taylor (from MTV's Real World) - Live @ the Canal Room, NYC 6-24-08

Brianna Taylor, who rose to fame on MTV's Real World (Hollywood), opened for Blake Lewis last Tuesday at the Canal Room. Brianna is touring behind her debut self-titled EP which was just release on iTunes.

Brianna played to a full room and her strong voice and stage presence held the crowd's attention. One of the highlights of her set was a cover of Chris Cornell's version of "Billie Jean".

Brianna is back in town on July 11th. (It say @ 'Live Nation' on her MySpace page but I thought Live Nation was the promoter who booked The Fillmore, Roseland, etc. and not a venue).

Brianna Taylor's MySpace Profile

Thoughts and Impressions on Harmonix's Rock Band for the Wii

Thoughts and Impressions on Harmonix's Rock Band for the WiiI was a heavy videogamer growing up but it has only been the last few years that I have been getting back into gaming. I have had a PS2 for about two years and got Guitar Hero III for my birthday this past January. Guitar Hero was the end-all, be-all for a few month...until I mastered the songs. The game loses some of its novelty when the only challenge is ensuring that I can still hit 100% of the notes on the same core 42 songs. Unfortunately, the majority of the bonus songs don't hold my attention as I have never heard of most of the bands (Nast, Gallows, LA Slum Lords, etc.) While I still play the game every now and then, Cars: Mater-National (I have a 4 year old) has taken over the PS2.

I got invited to try Rock Band for the Wii a few weeks ago (the Wii version was released earlier this month) and it was honestly head-and-shoulders above Guitar Hero. Admittedly, the the Wii is a nicer machine than the PS2 (512MB of RAM vs 32 MB, for starters) but I was really impressed with Rock Band's game play. Rock Band allows you to pick from vocals (which are scored based on vocal pitch), bass guitar, lead guitar and drums. Difficulty levels can be set for each individual instrument. I went for the guitar and Rock Band's Fender Stratocaster replica felt more like a real guitar and less like a toy. Compared to the Guitar Hero guitar, the buttons are part of the fret rather than raised above the fret and there is also an effects switch that allows the user the ability to toggle effects like flange, echo, etc.

Anyway...aside for listening to my younger brother attempt to sing, it was a really cool experience. I didn't get a chance to try the drums but I liked watching the action on them - I was told that the Rock Band drum kit is designed to simulate the movements of a real drummer and it is especially cool that the drummer has the opportunity to play some free-form fills as part of a song.

The soundtrack on the initial disc seemed a bit more diverse than the Guitar Hero soundtrack (I'm to the point where I can't stand to be in the room if someone is playing "Slow Ride" on Guitar Hero). The disc that we were playing had tracks that ranged from classic rock (Deep Purple and Blue Oyster Cult) to modern rock (Foo Fighters and The Clash). I have been intrigued by reading that one can now buy full albums to play on Rock Band. The initial albums have ranged from The Pixies (Dolittle, of course) to Judas Priest (Screaming for Vengeance).

Rock Band is certainly a major step forward in video gaming.

Rock Band Official Website

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nadja - Desire In Uneasiness CD Review

Nadja - Desire In Uneasiness CD ReviewNadja has to be one of the most prolific bands that I know. "Desire In Uneasiness" contains all new material and was released in April. The band has already announced their next album of new material, "The Bungled and the Botched", which will be released on July 10th.

"Desire In Uneasiness" is the first release for Nadja where the core-duo of Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff added a live drummer to the recording process. The live drummer and Baker and Buckareff's focus on using interlocking basses seem to have opened up the band's sound and given it room to breathe. The comparisons to Godflesh no longer seem valid and a good point of comparison for this release is either Earth or the Growing. Like these bands, Nadja's music falls more in the drone category than doom as their sound has none of the menace or darkness of some of their doom contemporaries (i.e. Xasthur and Khanate). The music on this disc builds a soundscape out of slow epic riffs that rise and fall like waves.

While there are only five tracks on this release, this disc clocks in at 60 minutes and most of the tracks are well over 10 minutes. The album plays like a coherent body of work where each of the tracks identifies slight shifts in the environment but each track still fits as a piece of the overall musical landscape.

This release is an exciting step forward for the band and Nadja should find fans in both the Hydrahead and Southern Lord camps.

Nadja's MySpace profile
Nadja's Website

Thursday, June 26, 2008

John Joseph: Book Release Party Interview, NYC, 6/19/08 (Cro-Mags, F.V.K., Bloodclot)

Last Thursday, John Joseph, vocalist for many of the great NYHC bands (Cro-Mags, F.V.K., Bad Brains, Bloodclot, etc.), had a book release party for his new book at The Delancey. John's new book is an autobiography entitled "The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon" and is available from

I had a chance to catch up with John at the beginning of the night and talked with him about the new book, his new band Bloodclot, his views on the current musical and cultural scene and his plans for the future.

John also did a book reading this night (second video to follow) and played a full Cro-Mags set.

John Joseph's MySpace Profile
Bloodclot's MySpace Profile

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

American Idol Blake Lewis Plays the Canal Room Tonight

This is likely a rare chance to see one of the American Idol finalists in a small club. (Just think about how crazy Hannah Montana tickets were...)

Blake Lewis was the runner-up on Season 6 on American Idol and he is touring behind his release, A.D.D. (Audio Day Dream), which was released on Arista last year. Tonight's show is all-ages and tickets are still available. On the bill with Blake is Brianna Taylor from MTV's Real World and the show starts at 8PM.

Blake Lewis' MySpace Profile

Gang of Four Released First New Single in 13 Years, "Second Life", Yesterday

Gang of Four Release First New Single in 13 YearsOne of the best concerts that I caught in 2005 was the original Gang of Four at Irving Plaza.

It is somewhat bittersweet that it has taken now three years for new material to finally be released and, in the meantime, both Dave and Hugo have left the band. The band released the single "Second Life" yesterday, which is available on iTunes and as a limited edition CD single.

It is hard to get a sense of the band's future direction as "Second Life" was written while Dave was still in the band. Dave posted two rough mixes of the song to his blog a few months back (Second Life Demo #1, Second Life Demo #2). It is more than likely though that Go4 will return to the dance-sounds of their 1991 release "Mall" as Dave has been replaced with Gail Ann Dorsey who played and sang backup on this release.

Gang of Four's Website

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chris Willis: Interview with BrooklynRocks, NYC 6/2/08

R&B singer/songwriter Chris Willis was in town earlier this month to promote his latest collaboration with DJ/producer David Guetta. The new single is entitled "Love Is Gone" and it can be found on David's latest release, Pop Life. Chris sings on five of the tracks on this release and "Love Is Gone" is aggressively going up the charts. The song won a World Music Award in 2007 and, in 2008, it won the Winter Music Conference Club Award for "Best Club Anthem Of The Year" and the International Dance Music Award for "Best House/Garage Track".

Chris and I talked about everything from his current work with David Guetta to his background in gospel music, his work with some of the biggest names in country to his work with producer/hit-maker Desmond Child.

Here is the video for "Love Is Gone" (which has already gotten 16 million views).

Chris Willis' MySpace Profile

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bloody Social - Radio Maniacs EP Review

Bloody Social - Radio Maniacs ReviewI've been wanting to check out Bloody Social for some time as I've been reading the 'future of rock and roll' hype around this band for the last few months. I got to the Mugison show at the Hiro Ballroom last month just as Mugison was taking the stage so I completely missed Bloody Social...but I did get a copy of their new single, "Radio Maniacs".

The two songs on this single are interesting but certainly not groundbreaking. Both songs are AOR/K-Rock style alt-rock tunes. The first song, "Radio Maniacs", is an upbeat rocker and the other, "Curtain Call", is a stereotypical post-Nirvana rock ballad. A good point of comparison would be the Stone Temple Pilots. The production is a bit slick on these tunes and the band (unfortunately) loses some of the rawness that they captured on their Sharpshooter EP. I'd like to hear more from the band before making any real conclusions.

I'm intrigued by the extreme "love" or "hate" comments (there is no middle ground) about the band that have been posted to various internet sites. I remember reading an interview by the guy who signed Motley Crue in the early 80's and he described them as the most hated band in California and went on to say that any band that can get people that emotionally involved in their music (either postively or negatively) has a lot of potential.

I'd like to catch Bloody Social's live set to see what they are all about. 20+ years ago, I had a buddy in the industry who insisted that Gn'R was going to be the biggest band in the world based on "Live Like A Suicide" and I just couldn't hear the potential in that disc (but I never caught the band live while they were playing the clubs).

Bloody Social is playing Piano's on July 3rd so...check 'em out for yourself. Drop me an email after you do as I'll be curious what you think.

Bloody Social's MySpace Profile

Nick Howard - Interview and Live Footage from Canal Room, NYC June 13, 2008

Nick Howard has been playing around town for a few years and has been gaining quite a number of fans over the years. Nick hooked up with Jamie Siegel last year (who has worked with Joss Stone, Lauren Hill and others) to record his debut full length CD. Even before the disc came out, Nick's song "The Pressure was included in an espisode of MTV's The Hills.

Nick's latest disc, Something to Talk About, was released last month. The disc is getting great reviews and Nick's music is getting picked up by local (Q104.3 "Out of the Box") and national media (Fearless Music).

I had a chance to talk with Nick before he went on stage last Friday at the Canal Room and he was kind enough to let me record some of his performance that night.

Here are Nick's upcoming shows in the area:
Jul 17 2008 8:30PM The Living Room New York, New York
Jul 24 2008 7:00PM Vogue/Tommy Hilfiger In-store Performance New York, New York
Aug 18 2008 8:00PM The Bitter End New York, New York

Nick Howard's Website
Nick Howard's MySpace Profile

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lauren Harris: Opens for Iron Maiden Tonight at MSG + Exclusive Interview

Lauren Harris is opening Iron Maiden's Somewhere Back in Time tour and she and her band are in town this weekend for shows at PNC Arts Center and Madison Square Gardens (tonight). Lauren is touring behind her debut CD, "Calm Before The Storm", which was released earler this month. (There is a free download, Steal Your Fire, from this disc on Lauren's MySpace profile)

I had a chance to catch up with Lauren on Friday to talk about her new CD, the Maiden tour and what the last two years have been like as she has gone from playing in front of a couple dozen people at Don Hill's to playing major arenas worldwide.

Tonight's show at the Garden is sold out but there are always tickets on the street (and not all of them will be counterfeit)

Lauren Harris' Website

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Fratellis Are Playing an Acoustic Set Tomorrow at Virgin Mega Store

The Fratellis are Playing Acoustic Set at Virgin Megastore in Union SquareThis may be worth a trip out during the day but it probably requires a wristband tied to an advance purchase.

The Fratellis are playing an acoustic set at 12:30PM and then signing their new CD Here We Stand. The band is also playing a sold-out show tomorrow night at Webster Hall.

The Fratellis Website

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Eidolons Play First Live Show Tomorrow at Club Rehab

The Eidolons Play First Live Show @ Club MidwayThe Eidolons have just finished their debut CD, No One Ever Sticks Around That Long (Sept. '08 release date), and are playing their first live show tomorrow night at Club Rehab. The Eidolons' new disc sounds great and the band has posted a cut from this disc, "Amber", as a free download.

Tomorrow night's show is FREE and doors are at 7PM.

The Eidolons Website
Club Rehab

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Santogold, Pharrell and Julian Casablancas Collaborate on Free MP3

Santogold, Pharrell and Julian Casablancas Collaborate on Track for Converse ShoesTo celebrate the 100th anniversary of Converse shoes, Converse brought together Pharrell, Julian Casablancas and Santogold to create an original full-length track. The song is available as a free download on Converse's website.

According to MTV, Santogold, aka Santi White, said that the track is heavily influenced by Pharrell and that it’s not a case of selling out. "It's like one of the main ways to get our music heard now and so it's stupid for artists to shy away from that.”

Sunday, June 08, 2008

John Joseph (Cro-Mags) Schedules Book Release Party and Live Show

John Joseph Schedules Book Release Party at The DelanceyFormer Cro-Mag and current Bloodclot vocalist John Joseph has scheduled a book release party and live show on Thursday, June 19th at The Delancey. John is going to be reading from his recently published auto-biography "The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon" (Punk House Books)and playing a live set of Cro-Mags and Fearless Vampire Killers tunes with an 'all star band'. (It would be great to see some of the Bad Brains turn up for this)

The reading and vegeterian food (from John's Krishna Temple) are free but it is a $5.00 donation to see the band play. All proceeds are going to Food Relief for the Homeless.

John Joseph's MySpace profile
The Delancey

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tracii Guns' Version of LA Guns Now Features One Original Member

I am in the process of being downsized at my corporate job so I may go look for Nicky Alexander and Paul Black and form a third version of LA Guns. I didn't know Paul Black left LA Guns (sort of regretting missing the band's show at Don Hill's now) until I got a press bulletin that the new singer is Marty Casey, who came to fame on Rock Star: INXS.

I'm not (quite) ready to give up on Tracii but I just don't see this new guy (Marty) having the voice to do justice to Rip and Tear or Never Enough.

LA Guns is touring with Bang Tango and Faster Pussycat. Here are the dates in the area:
July 31 - Crazy Donkey - Farmingdale, NY
Aug. 01 - The Haunt - Yonkers, NY

The Return of Rococo: A Baroque Bash In Alphabet City

A Baroque Bash at teneleven in Alphabet CityI have to say that I am intrigued by any party that is described as "burlesque, contortion/escape artistry, the Human Floor, juggling, and the nouveau-baroque music of Snazz Mammoth."

The party is on June 21st at teneleven (Avenue C btw. 10th and 11th Streets) in the
East Village. It starts at 9PM and the promoters describe it as "the extravagance of 1770 rococo Paris meets the eclecticism of 2008 underground NYC nightlife. Think Amadeus, Marie Antoinette, the Marquis de Sade, etc... Champagne, chandeliers, powdered wigs, powdered faces, and big hair will all abound in the most baroque ball since the guillotine came down.

No cover! Come in costume or come as you are."

State Bird: More Live Footage from The Annex, NYC

My parents were always concerned with the music that I was listening to when I was growing up (which were bands like Thin Lizzy, Minor Threat, Led Zeppelin and The Misfits). I always thought they were over-reactionary but I find myself turning down or off the death metal when my three year old (Jake) comes into the room.

Jake wanted to see what I was doing on the computer the other night so I showed him the live footage of State Bird that I posted to YouTube back in March. Jake hasn't heard Mostly Ghostly in a few months but he was asking where the "time to come home" song was.

Given this, I uploaded the "time to come home" song to YouTube

State Bird is playing a few dates in the Mid-West over the next few weeks but it doesn't look like they have any East Coast dates scheduled.

State Bird's MySpace Profile

Monday, June 02, 2008

Apes & Androids @ Bowery Ballroom, May 30, 2008

After catching The Canon Logic at Arlene's, I headed over to Bowery Ballroom to see Apes & Androids. The show was sold out and the place was jam packed even before Reggie Watts took the stage.

After now having seen the band play live, I'm completely sold on them. I haven't seen anything quite like A&A. There are all these reviews on the 'net that compare Apes & Androids to Bowie or Queen but this comparison doesn't do justice to the band's live show.

Apes & Androids really know how to put on a show and they seem to be one of the few bands that appreciate the theatrical aspect of the show. At Friday's performance, there were strobe lights, glow sticks and glow balls, go-go dancers with day-glo hula-hoops and monsters. I have no idea what all the people in the white tunics were doing on the stage and the end of the set but they were interesting to watch as well. This was really a production (in the best sense of the word). The only other act that I have seen put on such an elaborate stage show is Alice Cooper.

There are some more pictures from the show posted over at Stereogum.

Apes and Androids' MySpace Profile
Apes and Androids' Website

Kurt Cobain's Ashes Stolen From Courtney Love's Home

Jurt Cobain's Ashes Stolen from Courtney Love's HouseThis has to be one of the craziest things that I have ever read...this is from

According to the News Of The World, the Nirvana frontman's remains – the location of which has previously been kept secret – were taken from the Los Angeles home of his widow Courtney Love.

The ashes were said to have been kept in a "pink teddy bear-shaped bag along with a lock of his hair" and were taken with some jewellery and clothes.
Here is the full text of the NME article on the theft.