Quips and summaries from experiencing and appreciating music in a city that is as foreign and familiar as they come - New York. So here is to music anywhere and everywhere. Starting from concert one on week one after the move in 2009.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Strokes - A Secret Song

The Strokes are fucking awesome. I try to rarely cuss in my blog, a complete departure from my everyday life, but they deserve it. One of their more recent songs is actually one of my favorite, "You Only Live Once" from the 2006 album First Impressions of Earth (I don't want to even hear it music nerds, this was album had some gems). It is upbeat, catchy, and has the trademark Julian Casablancas vocals. However, this was not the original song they were going to feature on the album. The demo was much slower, more of a rock lullaby, a collection of mottos and past experiences. The song was called "I'll Try Anything Once". This title/statement is certainly in my constitution and is on a short list for epithets.
I did not know about it until a Julian Casablancas solo show, promoting his 2009 album Phrazes for the Young, on March 24. In the middle of a set that was exclusively songs from his album, he played "I'll Try Anything Once" with only a little keyboard to help him. It was poignant, he sounded great, and just fucking awesome. The high from attending the show ended up launching one of the crazier nights I have had since moving to NYC where Miller High Life, A Black Key, A Moldy Peach, a Yeah from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, expensive cigarettes, and a basement bar were all part of the background.
I have since recovered but only been able to find the song on YouTube. I have included the video with the best quality and a video montage. You can try some of the Live videos if you don't mind the chatter of the audience, the outfit and the stage presence Mr. Casablancas has almost makes it worth it. I listen to this song a few times a week, it fits any mood, and I finally thought it was time to share.
It also good vacation packing music, just keep hitting replay or work it into a Casablancas-heavy playlist of your own. I will credit this song for the efficient bag I have packed for Colombia, assuming I make the 6:30am flight...

Monday, August 2, 2010

TV That Inspires Music and Vice Versa

I would not have thought Snoop Dogg and TrueBlood would collaborate but then again, who expected to see Jaime Foxx at the Country Music Awards last year? The fact that HBO either paid for this music video to be made or fully endorsed it once it came out makes them even cooler than I already knew them to be. The marketing team behind TrueBlood have been crafty since the beginning - getting Tom Colicchio to hock the Tru Blood beverage like a Diet Coke commercial, selling the Merlotte's uniform that provided another option to the girls that are typically nurses, angels or devils for Halloween, to even building a complete site for the American Vampire League (Tru Blood also has a functioning web site!). Whether you are a fan of the show, of Snoop Dogg, or both you have to give him and the marketing team for TrueBlood credit for crossing a show with a growing fan base with an unexpected music character/pop culture mainstay.
By the way, I would kill, or at least maim, to meet any of the music supervisors HBO has employed for their hit shows starting with The Sopranos, placing Treme at the top of the list. TrueBlood features some great music placement; they are particularly good at fitting the perfect song to the end of an episode and the opening song is a perfect fit with the montage of images. If background music and song placement in shows is not something you pick up on regularly, try tuning into it for HBO, Showtime, AMC, and Current TV shows. I think The Hills and The City have taken it too far and too mainstream though; displaying the song and artist at the bottom of the screen every time there is music on is just annoying and it all sounds alike anyway.
Some of my favorite lines from the song:
"Order you a gin and juice at Merlotte's"
"We can do it in the daytime, Bill won't know a thang"
"Snoop is a thug, I smoke true bud"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wedding Soundtrack

Wedding season is in full swing, I have attended three already. Several of my friends in the planning stages have asked my recommendations on controlling the DJ, my favorite songs, and how to keep a good vibe going on all night. I am pretty sure I gave them an overwhelming amount of songs and artists to play. So in the spirit of all things white, disgruntled relatives, abusing fashion and disregarding the dress code, open bar, forgetting to eat, expensive cake, and thoughtful speeches - here is the soundtrack to fit the big day (hopefully).

Top Songs

Shout – any version

Jump for my Love – The Pointer Sisters

I Want to Dance with Somebody – Whitney Houston

You Never Can Tell – Chuck Berry

Crazy In Love – Beyonce

Pokerface, Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

Smooth – Santana

Get Off My Cloud, Beast of Burden or anything from Exile on Main Street – Rolling Stones

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

Respect – Aretha Franklin

Mess Around – Ray Charles

Ring of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash

Love Shack – B-52s

Marvin Gaye – all of it

Al Green – Let’s Stay Together or anything he does

Ain’t Too Proud To Beg (Sam Cooke?)

Piano Man, Only the Good Die Young, Uptown, Still Rock n’ Roll – Billy Joel

Hard to Handle – The Black Crowes

Once In a Lifetime, This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody) – Talking Heads

Right To Be Wrong, Fell In Love w/ A Boy – Joss Stone

In The Morning – Junior Boys

Foundations – Kate Nash

Shame – Lilly Allen

Somewhere Only We Know – Keane

Dance Songs

Rehab, Tears Dry On Their Own – Amy Winehouse

Paranoia in B Major, I and Love and You – Avett Brothers

11th Dimension – Julian Casablancas

Hard To Explain – The Strokes

Empire State Of Mind – Jay-Z

Like A Prayer – Madonna

Walk of Life – Dire Straits

Old Kind of Rock n’ Roll – Joe Cocker?

Caravan – Van Morrison

Bonified Lovin’ – Chromeo

Paris – Friendly Fires

Calling Baton Rouge – Garth Brooks

Silver City – Ghostland Observatory

Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

Play Your Part – Girl Talk – explicit lyrics

Yr Mangle Heart – Gossip

Sunlight – Harlem Shakes

The Passenger – Iggy Pop

Silver Lining – Rilo Kiley

Lyrics Born /U2 Mash up

Valhalla – K-os

D.A.N.C.E – Justice

Gold Digger/Stronger/The Good Life – Kanye West

Let It Rock – Kevin Rudolf

Mr. Brightside/Read My Mind/All The Things I’ve Done/Can’t Stay/Sam’s Town – The Killers

Fight for your Right to Party – Beastie Boys

Are You Gonna Go My Way – Lennie Kravitz

Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Light My Fire – Doors

Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt

Shama Lama Ding Dong

Daft Punk is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem

Rich Girl – Hall & Oates

Rebel, Rebel – David Bowie

Animal – Miike Snow

Marcy – Duffy

Real Love – Mary J. Blige

1,2,3,4 – Feist

Dog Days Are Over – Florence & The Machine

Miscellaneous – cocktail or reception

Kings of Leon – Only By The Night, Because of the Times

All Van Morrison

Frank Sinatra

Coldplay – Viva La Vida or X&Y

Jackson Brown – greatest hits

Cat Power – The Greatest

Demond Dekker - reggae

Cocktail/Gearing Up Songs – friendly background music with some jump and fun to it

(songs, artist)

Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix

Trouble, Long Time Gone – Dixie Chicks

Move By Yourself – Donovan Frankenreiter

Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield

Mykonos – Fleet Foxes

‘Till I hear it from you – Gin Blossoms

There She Goes – So I Married An Axe Murderer soundtrack

See The World – Gomez

Sweet Child O Mine – Guns n’ Roses

2 Point for Honesty - Guster

All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem

Melissa, Ramblin’ Man – Allman Brothers

Rebellion (Lies), Arcade Fire

Do You Realize?, Flaming Lips

Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai

Naïve Melody (This Must Be The Place), Talking Heads

Goodnight & Go – Imogen Heap

Flake – Jack Johnson

Dr. Feelgood, Multiply – Jamie Lidell

Last Goodbye – Jeff Buckley

Golden – Jill Scott

Life’s Been Good – Joe Walsh

Crawling Up a Hill – John Mayall

My Stupid Mouth – John Mayer

Daniel, Bat For Lashes

Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Beach Boys

Devil’s Haircut or New Pollution or Que Onda Guero, Beck

My Night With a Prostitute in Marseilles or Scenic World, Beirut

White Collar Boy, Belle & Sebastian

Tiny Dance, Elton John

Landed or One Angry Dwarf…, Ben Folds

Songbird or Wish You Well, Bernard Fanning

Bittersweet, Bog Head Todd

Wicked Messenger, The Black Keys

This Modern Love, Bloc Party

That’s The Way It IS, Bruce Hornsby

Lay Lady Lay, Queen Jane Approximately, I Want You or Going to Acapulco Bon Dylan

God Bless The Child – Eva Cassidy

Love Me, Leave Me – Nina Simone

Love Is Everywhere , Bob Schneider

Skinny Love , Bon Iver

You’re So Vain , Carly Simon

Case Of You, Carrie , Joni Mitchell

If I Had A Boat , Lyle Lovett

Hospital Beds, Audience Of One , Cold War Kids

Holiday In Spain , Counting Crows

Cannonball, Damien Rice

Grey Street, Dave Matthews Band

Trouble, Ray LaMontagne

Falling Slowly – Swell Season or The Frames

Young Americans, Golden Years, David Bowie

Be Mine, Babylon , Please Forgive Me– David Gray

Marching Band of Manhattan, Death Cab for Cutie

Smoke on the Water, Deep Purple

Bamboleo, Gypsy Kings

Friday I’m In Love, Love Song, The Cure

Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight – Amos Lee

True Colors, Treehouse Song – Ane Brun

No One – Alicia Keys

Glass, Concrete & Stone – David Byrne

Walking After Midnight – Patsy Cline

Just The Two Of Us, Lovely Day – Bill Withers

Somebody to Love – Queen

Obstacle 1 - Interpol

Cocktail Album – where most of the songs on it are good

Infinite Arms - Band Of Horses

Eric Clapton – grtst hits

Live Album – Ben Harper

Betty LaVette – anything she does, a more funky Lena Horne

Blonde On Blonder or Blood On The Tracks – Bob Dylan

The Last Waltz – The Band, disc 4

The Temptations – greatest hits

Sam Cooke– greatest hits

Stevie Wonder– greatest hits

Dave Matthews Band – Crash or Live with Tim Reynolds

Radiohead – In Rainbows or The Bends

Mumford & Sons

Gabriel y Rodrigo

Manu Chao

She & Him

Dark Was The Night – indie collection album

Annie Lennox - Diva

Fitz & The Tantrums

Puppini Sisters

Ella Fitzgerald

Edith Piaf

Buena Vista Social Club

Louis Armstrong greatest hits

Billy Holiday

Adele – 19

Aimee Mann – Magnolia soundtrack

Slow Songs

Boulder to Birmingham – Emmylou Harris

Do Right Woman, Do Right Man – Aretha Franklin

Landslide – Dixie Chicks

Coat of Many Colors – Dolly Parton

If It’s The Beaches – Avett Brothers

God Only Knows – Beach Boys

The Luckiest – Ben Folds

Rome & Juliet – Dire Straits

I Could Hold You – Ray LaMontagne

Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight

A Song For You – Gram Parsons

Daughters – John Mayer

Collide – Howie Day

End of the night

Forever Young – Bob Dylan/The Band

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Challenging Assignment

I was recently tasked with a fun little assignment by my cousins. There was wine involved so maybe no one took it that seriously but I sure as hell did. You can't ask a music nerd their top 10 albums of the past decade AND the top albums of the past year and expect them to blow it off. It immediately went on my list of things to do, I made a mental list of friends I would need to consult and most importantly, time to think it over. It took me over a week and now that it has been sent to all parties involved, I will share it.
I will state a caveat: these are MY top albums. I picked each one because of the value I have placed on them - in my memories and in sheer volume of listening hours. Also, I didn't want to narrow it to a specific number nor did I want to rank them - my rules.
So while I ponder how to spend the +$200 that Lala is giving me to spend in iTunes (because of the amount of money I spent on web albums) - enjoy!
Top Albums of the past 10 years
Ryan Adams - Love Is Hell
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Kings of Leon - Only By The Night & Because Of The Times
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (came out in 2009)
Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
The Strokes - Room On Fire
The Veils - Sun Gangs
White Stripes - Get Behind My Satan
Kanye West - The College Dropout
Dave Matthews Band - Crash
Florence & The Machine - Lungs (came out in 2009)
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Lady Gaga - The Fame
Romeo & Juliet Soundtrack - Baz Luhrman directed
Jay-Z - The Black Album
My Morning Jacket - Okonokos (Live Album)
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
The National - Boxer
Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane (I was an early adopter of them)
Counting Crows - This Desert Life (barely made it in there but it has memories tied to it)
Last Year Loved Albums
Florence & The Machine (see above)
Phoenix (see above)
Passion Pit - Manners
Beach House - Teen Dream
Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
Julian Casablancas - Phrazes For the Young
Miike Snow - Miike Snow
The Antlers - Hospice
The XX - XX
Avett Brothers - I And Love And You
Alberta Cross - Broken Side Of Time (the album from 2008 is great too)
The Black Keys - Brothers
A last minute addition would be Surfer Blood - Astro Coast. What validated this was my membership with the UK's Rough Trade album of the month and it just arrived. Last month was Free Energy - Stuck On Nothing, very solid as well.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Death To Lala

"Lala is shutting down. What this means for you."
Lala was recently bought by Apple to ideally help boost their iTunes platform (though there have been no new announcements about any incorporations to the iTunes platform). The deal was most certainly made to kill competition and the end result has finally reached me and all end consumers. As of May 31, 2010 I will receive $275 in iTunes credit because of the sheer volume of $1.00 web albums I bought over the past 15 months. I will certainly need it to rebuild my playlists, all of which I had to cut & paste into a spreadsheet like the true anal music collector I am - nothing left behind, no meticulous playlist building efforts lost.
So...moving on! I have decided to put my chips down for Grooveshark now - http://listen.grooveshark.com
Grooveshark is similar to Lala; you can listen to any song for free. It also has elements of Pandora in that you can build your own internet radio station based on artists you like and they will find similar songs to expand your horizons. Also like Lala, you can tap into anyone's collection to discover new music and build a community. It is free to sign up though they have a $25 annual fee for an enhanced platform that gets rid of the ads. I am not yet sure it is worth it because I have had no trouble using the free version so far. Grooveshark seems to be climbing the ranks of sites to find new music, stream music all the time and find fellow music heads around the world. 50 to 60 million songs are downloaded everyday and since last year their audience was growing 2-3% daily (the source: http://blogcritics.org/music/article/musicians-find-fans-at-grooveshark-artists/)
While I continue to figure out how I can build playlists to keep feeding all of you with new songs, I am going to start suggesting and tagging all of the many artists' web sites that stream their new albums before they come out, fellow bloggers that put up free songs and mp3s, RCRD LBL and Pitchfork.com for the newest music and remixes (although the latter also used Lala so we shall see what they offer).
Here is my first find for all of you - Band of Horses is streaming their new album Infinite Arms on their web site now before it officially comes out on May 18th. Visit their web site to listen; they organized the songs into a really cool picture pinwheel that rotate like a slideshow. I saw them at the New Orleans Jazzfest recently and their new songs sounded great live, particularly Compliments. For those in and around NYC, they are playing the Williamsburg Waterfront with Grizzly Bear on Sunday, June 20th and there are actually still tickets available so go get them: http://www.freewilliamsburg.com/h2oshows/
I am about to jump into wedding attendee season but I promise to write soon - maybe even collect my favorite songs to hear at a wedding reception and make a playlist? Comment/e-mail me your favorites for consideration!

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Don't Speak French BUT I Can Speak Music

La Blogotheque - http://www.blogotheque.net - talk about another way to share music and view intimate versions of some of your top indie artists, new versions of great songs often with other well-known collaborators in unique settings throughout Paris (think Andrew Bird adding his violin and whistling for St. Vincent in a top level apartment with 30 people at sunset). Another really cool thing about these mini concerts is that they are filmed in one take, anything can happen, it is guerrilla film making where musicians are the protagonists. Calling them 'Takeaway Shows" (in French it is Les Concerts A Emporter); is very fitting.
It only make sense that Phoenix, the French band from Versailles that finally got their big U.S. break with their last album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, recently performed for the web site. They picked one of the most visit sites in Paris, the Trocadero Square in front of the Eiffel Tower, then they hopped on top of a double decker tour bus, performed a song and continued singing as they hopped off at the base of the Parisian landmark.
My other favorite posting featured Bon Iver, the band created by Justin Vernon, the falsetto indie singer that made one of the great albums of 2008 (actually came out independently in 2007) - For Emma, Forever Ago, in his father's northern Wisconsin cabin in three months during winter. Peter Gabriel recently covered Bon Iver's song Flume in his recent album of covers (scroll down the blog to hear it).
Get on the web site, they have such a catalogue of musicians they have filmed - Wilco, The Antlers, Yo La Tango, and even Tom Jones.
If you want to check out the English's version of rogue performances, visit Black Cab Sessions - http://www.blackcabsessions.com - the name is very appropriate.

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Music in 2010 (thus far)!!!

In a flurry of album releases, these are some of my favorite songs after listening to each album a few times. The good news about albums that get released early in the year - they will spend the rest of the year touring to support the album so there is a good chance you will get to see the bands you have recently discovered and will see how good they are live.
I can vouch for how good Local Natives are live and they are making the festival rounds for maximum exposure - everything from Isle of Wight to Coachella and Bonnaroo. Their voices are impeccable live, it is refreshing. I have heard great things about Phantogram's live show and have tickets to see them in May; they have sold out all of their shows to date in NYC. Beach House is selling out their own shows and supporting The National; their music is perfect for an outdoor venue at the witching hour. The Morning Benders are also selling out in NYC and have landed a pretty great opening slot for The Black Keys in Central Park. Finally, the Drive By Truckers are always a good show and if you get close enough to the stage, Mr. Patterson Hood just might give you a swig of the Jack Daniels bottle that is on their stage every night (which was my luck at a private party on Obama's inauguration night in D.C.)
April and May are going to be big months too - LCD Soundsystem, The National, Caribou, Liars (check out their web site for a trippy video to accommodate their single Scissor - http://www.liarsliarsliars.com)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bon Iver vs. Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel is back! Well, sort of. Rather than come out with a CD of new and original material he thought he would wail a variety of songs from other people in his own way, call it a new CD, get a ridiculous amount of praise and call it a day. A bit scathing I know but is this really going to be the trend now - borrow the sounds of the youngsters and sing your same old, same old?
One of the first singles off Gabriel's new CD, Scratch My Back, is Bon Iver's song Flume from the album For Emma, Forever Ago. This album launched Bon Iver into the high court of the indie world - Pitchfork ranked it 29th in the Top 200 Albums of the 200s and NPR named it among the 50 Most Important Recordings of the Decade.
A little background helps a lot: Bon Iver is a band founded by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. In 2007, after the end of a relationship, the breakup of a band, and a bout with mono, Justin spent three months alone in his father's cabin in Northwestern Wisconsin. He ended up writing and recording the entire album, which is a collection of beautiful, melancholy songs sung in a distinct falsetto enriched by layers of voices, which is now duplicated wonderfully live by a full band. The single Skinny Love is best known and I think explains the mood of the album very well. It is a good story and one that follows Bon Iver everywhere they go, which most recently was the soundtrack for the second Twilight movie (the song is Roslyn, Bon Iver with St. Vincent). Yeah, even the vampires are hip to the know about Bon Iver.
The great Peter Gabriel covering his song, this has to be a topping cherry for Mr. Vernon and
a nice wave of publicity for the band - the song is up on the Bon Iver web site
and Gabriel made it available on his own web site. I am excited for Bon Iver, that
Peter Gabriel loved his song enough to cover it and that Bon Iver will become known
to the masses. I won't even do my typical, petty 'I have liked them for so much longer and
of course you like them now that they are everywhere' as I hear from the new wave of fans.
I'll try at least, I can't make promises if it is a bourbon drinking night though.
I just have to say though, I like Bon Iver's original version better, WAY better.
Let's try an experiment - listen to Gabriel's version of Bon Iver's Flume first.
Comment on this post and tell me which one you prefer.
The original Flume by Bon Iver:
Pitchfork or BEST YET on
La Blogotheque (more to come on this fucking amazing web site on the next post)
I will leave the album review of Gabriel's Scratch My Back to the LA Times:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Lecture By David Byrne

I recently attended a night of stories at the Bowery Ballroom
with David Byrne as the headliner. It was called Stories in High Fidelity.
New York writer Alan Light told a wonderful story of his 6 year
old's obsession with the Beatles. Dan Kennedy discussed his summer
working in a record store in the Midwest as a 'project' for his next novel
- he reflected on the perils of filing punk and metal albums and how to tell
the difference by the cover art or elements of the band name
(Ex. where does one put an album where the cover art features skeletons
with gas masks on standing over a pool of blood? - Metal).
The main event was Mr. Byrne, his laptop, a screen behind him
and a sound guy on cue. He was engaging and intelligent as I
have always seen him in interviews though he seemed a bit more
scattered even nervous for this particular showing. That said, the ideas
and views he shared during his speech was fascinating. He focused on
music (obviously) but started with music hundreds of years ago
- how music used to be created for a particular environment such as
Mozart and Beethoven performing in beautiful performance halls with
meticulously built acoustics eventually leading to huge car speakers
being a popular vehicle for rap music. He talked about how the
portable music player changed a listener's experience; you now have
the ability to hear very intricate arrangements and every lyric of a song.
He transitioned into how this change of music affects how musicians
create and are ultimately compensated for their creations
(records, performances, etc). He made this transition by explaining
how birds that keep low to the ground have a lower pitched song when
calling each other and higher flying birds, a higher pitch to their call.
However, for the birds living in and around San Francisco, as the traffic
and noise of the city has increased their pitch has gotten higher in order
to hear each other's call. I thought it was a very creative way to say that
even though the environment can change for a musician, the need to create
sound and be expressive through song will always exist and music will always
be made. Humans are just like birds in that they will adjust because we
need and love the sound. Well put, la resistance musicians!
The night was wrapped up well by singer Nicole Atkins performing an
acoustic set, just her and her guitar, where cartoonist Michael Arthur
drew a scene related to each song and it was projected on a screen behind Nicole.
With every song he started a new drawing off the last one so by the end
of her set was this cool little cluster of images. My friend said Bright Eyes
had done a similar stunt at a concert she had attended. It reminded me of this
artist that was very popular in Denver, Denny Dent, who would perform
publicly painting these huge murals in three songs or so. They were often
the pictures of the artist he would play though the way he painted you did not see
the likeness until the very end - when he painted Jimi Hendrix he had to turn
the painting upside down to see that it was in fact Jimi. Coming back from
that tangent, Nicole Atkins has a pretty great voice and the cartoons actually
helped to understand the stories of her songs.
Go see David Byrne whenever he is speaking, no matter what he
is speaking about. This one lecture gave me a new way to say the music
industry will survive and new awesome music will always be
there to discover.