Long live rock, I need it every night

Monday, December 31, 2007

Gist at Iota: December 27, 2007

Despite warnings to arrive early so I didn't miss Verbal, I arrived late and missed Verbal. Two things doomed me: they actually started right at 9:00 and they only played for 25 minutes. When most clubs post a start time of 9:00 it really begins at 9:30. Not Iota. Just something to remember for future shows.

Next up was Cobra Collective. Three-fourths of band used to belong to The Bonapartes. For whatever reason that band died and Cobra Collective was born. I don't know if the music is better but the name change is an upgrade. Just look at that poster.

Cobra Collective started off with two solid songs but technical difficulties with the mike distracted from the performace. Thankfully, they got the problem fixed and the band settle in. The band has a laid back demeanor and kept the banter to a bare minimum. Usually this is a plus but in such a small venue it might have helped build a rapport with the audience. Then again not everyone is a Ted Leo wiseacre so it's best to err on the side of less chit-chat. Each song had that "wait, wait, I know I've heard a song similar to this" feel. That's not to say the Cobra Collective is just aping other bands. They seem adept at taking the best of indie and punk and incorporating it into their own stuff. In all, an impressive showing for The Cobra Collective, especially considering this was their first show in their new incarnation. They're definitely better than most of the opening bands we come across.

I've listened to Gist's albums many times (thanks Rhapsody!) but the real appeal of Gist is their live show. Sometimes we hit a streak of shows that are mellow, psychedelic, dance, polka, whatever, and we need to get back to basics. We need a band that will put it in overdrive and crank. Gist is such a rock band. When I have my big "We're Moving to Austin" going away extravaganza, Gist will be on the list of bands I want to play.*

Gist operates best at full speed but they began with "Survival", a slower track with searing guitar. After that, the flood gates opened. They played "Fugue" and then "Hold On" off their upcoming release. The vocals were less emotive than on record and for some reason it works better for them. As the set progressed the people in the back shut their yappers and gravitated to the front of the stage. I wish more bands could take command of a crowd and get people to pay attention. Excessive chatter is my biggest pet peeve while out at shows.

The show would have benefited if the music changed gears more often but it's tough to complain when a band rips it out like Gist. They play ferociously energetic rock. I'm not talking about spazz rock or out of control crap like some of the bands we saw in American Hardcore. No, unlike bands that rely on gimmicks and non-stop distortion, Gist can actually play their intruments and play them well. It also doesn't hurt that they can write some nice hooks.

Highlights of the shows included "Eclipse" and the closer "Concrete Faults" on which the lead singer played the guitar with his tamborine. When the set was over the crowd yelled for one last song. Gist complied by playing a cover of If You Want Blood You Got It by AC/DC (we love a good cover). It included an over the top, ridiculous, and near-brillant guitar solo/finale. It was a little sloppy and chaotic which only enhanced the effect.

I should note this show gets the "Unofficial Rock Club Show" asterisk since I was the only Rock Club member to attend. My buddy Steve was nice enough to serve as a proxy but I'd endorse a full Rock Club outing to see Gist sometime in 2008.

That makes me think, why don't we have a Thorkelson Award for Local Band of the Year? I've seen four very good local bands over the past month. We should consider a new category.

* Seems like a fun idea but we're far too slack to actually organize such an event

Thorkelsons 2007

Just in time for 2008, DC Rock Club presents its 2007 year-end wrap-up and awards show.

In case you weren't around for the 2006 Thorkelsons, I'll provide some background for you.

The Namesake: The Thorkelson Award is named for Washington DC musician Peter Halsten Thorkelson. You may know him better as the one and only Peter Tork, of The Monkees. Every year we present Mr. Thorkelson with his own Thorkelson, for Outstanding Achievement in The Field of Being Peter Thorkelson. Well done, sir. You win again.

The Statuette: Each Thorkelson award statuette (better known as a "Golden Peter") stands six feet two inches tall and weighs 328 pounds. These dimensions match exactly Peter Thorkelson's current height and weight. The statuette is made from blood diamonds and conflict gold. For each statuette produced, an average of 4.8 Africans die of exhaustion and starvation.

Please, this statue is very heavy. May I take a break to smoke a cigarette?

(Note: this blog has been criticized for making light of the serious situation in Africa. I want to note to our readers that we have donated the Thorkelson Party Fund--$453.28--to our favorite charities, SaveDarfur.com, and AfricaRelief.com. I highly recommend visiting these two sites for more information. Go ahead, click the links. Do it.)

The Sponsor: The Thorkelsons are sponsored by the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. Chubb: providing you and your family coverage gives us a Chubb-ie.

Okay, let's do this. Today we'll do the Music Category--best/worst albums, and best songs of 2007. Tomorrow, we move on to best live music, movies, and a little category I like to call "Potpourri," because it smells so nice.

Category: Music

1. Best Album of 2007


(1) In Rainbows, Radiohead--no doubt the best album of the year.
(2) The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, The Besnard Lakes.

Besnard Lakes
(3) Good Bad Not Evil, The Black Lips.


(1) Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon.
(2) Neon Bible, Arcade Fire.

Jumbo Slice:

It's no coincidence we've seen all these bands live. Maybe if I saw Arcade Fire, they would have made the list. Who knows?

(1) Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon.
(2) Sound of Silver, LCD Soundsystem.
(3) Friend and Foe, Menomena.


The usual caveat--for a "music guy" I don't really buy that much new music. Plus my laptop died in October so that put a crimp in my music buying for Q4. Anyway, here goes:

(1) Sound of Silver, LCD Soundsystem. Perfect album--short, punchy, full of great songs. LCD isn't just a gimmick or a mere "electronica" band, they're the real deal.
(2) The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, The Besnard Lakes. For some reason I assumed these guys were from Los Angeles--they have that sort of sound. They're actually from Montreal. It seems that hit record producer Bruce Dickinson now lives in Quebec.

Calice de tabernac, il faut que plus cowbell

(3) Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon. It's just easy for them, isn't it?

Honorable Mentions: A Poet's Life, Tim Armstrong--ex-Rancid frontman released free album before Radiohead. Imagine Our Love, Lavender Diamond--listen to this while drinking herbal tea and grooming your cat.

2. Worst Album of 2007


(1) Baby 81, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. This album blows.
(2) Some Loud Thunder, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Worse than Baby 81.


(1) Venus Doom, HIM
(2) Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus, Miley Cyrus

I seriously doubt Potsy listened to this album. For all we know, it was awesome.

(3) Young Modern, Silverchair

Jumbo Slice:

(1) Zeitgeist, Smashing Pumpkins. I tried to give it a fair shake but it was just as bad, if not worse, than his solo album. Hang 'em up, Billy.


(1) Baby 81, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Bloated and listless, just like your mom after a three-day meth and junk food binge.

3. Song of the Year


(1) "O Katrina!" The Black Lips

(2) "Teddy Picker," The Arctic Monkeys
(3) "The Pelican," Menomena

Honorable Mention: "Sea Legs," The Shins


(1) "The Underdog," Spoon
(2) "Keep The Car Running," Arcade Fire
(3) "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," Vampire Weekend

Jumbo Slice:

(1) "Okie Dokie," Dan Deacon. "The Crystal Cat" and "Wham City" are often cited as Deacon's best songs, but I'll never forget being in the middle of a dancing mob at the Pitchfork Festival when he played this song.
(2) "North American Scum," LCD Soundsystem
(3) "Bros," Panda Bear


(1) "All My Friends," LCD Soundsystem. James Murphy's best song to-date shows that he can write the serious songs just as well as he writes the funny. The man's a national treasure.
(2) "Take Your Medicine," Cloud Cult. I didn't hear much else from this band beyond this track, but man, what a song. Perfect soundtrack to a Columbine-style school shoot-up.

(3) "Melody Day," Caribou. I'm a classic rocker at heart but I love techno-type shit like this.

Honorable Mention: "Veni Vidi Vici," The Black Lips. Why can't more bands sound like the Black Lips? It doesn't seem that complicated.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Closer

Dennis Eckersley was a great closer. He had that cool side-arm delivery and pornstar mustache to boot. He was pretty much unstoppable in the late 80's (except, of course, for that meatball he threw to Gibson in the 88 World Series), but for the most part he ended ball games with confidence and a check in the WIN column.

I wish more bands would do the same. The "closer" (the last song played at a show) is one of the most important aspects of the concert going experience. We all want to leave on a high note, just like Costanza. Leave the crowd wanting more, that's my credo. The reason I was thinking about this is that I saw that University of Phoenix commercial during the Skins v. Cowboys game this afternoon. The theme song for the ad is "The Bleeding Heart Show" by The New Pornographers. This is a great closer. They played this tune at the Pitchfork festival and then again at the 930 Club show back in October. It was the last song of their regular set for both shows (not the encore). It has that great chorus "Hey-la, hey-la, heeey-laaa-laa..." and is a genuine crowd-pleaser.

Other memorable closers were "Separated by Motorways" at the Long Blondes show this year at the RNR Hotel and "My Mathematical Mind" at the 930 Club Spoon show.

The biggest disappointment was LCD Soundsystem. They played an incredibly upbeat show and then close with "New York I Love You (But You're Bringing Me down)". It a slow slog of a song and turned out to be a real bummer of a closer. (However, I heard the James Murphy's voice was shot and they usually do not close with that song. At other shows they played a cover of Joy Divisions "No Love Lost", which is an awesome fucking song)

But probably the best 1-2 punch of "closers" this year was the combo of "Rotten Hell", followed by "Evil Bee" at the Menomena shows (both Pitchfork and the Black Cat). Both songs have awesome tempo changes and excellent buildups. How anyone could leave that show without a smile on their face is beyond me. Sidenote: Menomena actually came back to play an encore ("The Monkeys Back" off their 1st LP), but I still consider the before mentioned songs the final 2 they WANTED to play..

Here is a clip from the greatest closer of them all. Alec Baldwin in perhaps his greatest non-comedic performance ever. Unfortunately, I can't get this fucking video to imbed, so here is the link

Friday, December 28, 2007

Waiting to E-mail

It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I am sitting in an airport waiting. My travels never go smoothly. I'm not sure what the delay is about this time, and knowing isn't going to get me back to DC any faster, so I haven't asked. At least I'm not flying to Philly. That flight just got cancelled due to a broken compass, and it was the last flight out tonight. My niece gave me a plastic compass for Christmas to help guide me as I snow shoe. Too bad I checked it in my luggage. It could have come in handy.

So while I've been waiting, I've had a chance to catch up a bit on what's been posted in the last week. I've been in rural Vermont without cell phone service and with only a drip-drip internet connection thanks to NetZero dial-up. Just as it should be, right? Relaxing in snowy Vermont with a fire going? But there was no Bob Newhart, and no Larry and his brothers Daryl creating situational comedies for me. Being alone with your parents, siblings, and their families while cut-off from the rest of your life is not really relaxing. Anyhow, while I've been waiting for this flight to return me back to our Nation's Capital, I've been looking ahead.

My week is coming up soon, so here is what I'm thinking. We've recently lauded the benefits of a good cover. So how about checking out a cover band? No. I'm not talking about Super Diamond, either. Seen them/him. A bit disappointing for a guy who grew up listening to the real deal (thanks mom). I'm referring to The Silver Beats. Perhaps Japan's greatest export since MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge). I know Jimbromski is a big Beatles fan. So am I. This could be fun, but could ruin our rep. Still, it's $15 at the 9:30 Club 1/11/08. If not, we got Little Pink at Iota on 1/10/08 (NOT a midget cover band of P!nk, unfortunately), and don't make me mention Jimmies Chicken Shack... Still don't like the Silver Beats option? We could watch Once instead and talk about our feelings after. Silver Beats sounding pretty good right about now, right? There isn't much going on this next week.

Also, looking ahead, I was talking with my uncle while home about music and he mentioned the Birchmere. We've not checked out the Birchmere yet for RC, and I started looking into it here in the airport. The problem with the Birchmere is that all their tix are over our limit. Another friend from home was suggesting we check out the Saw Doctors whenever they're in town. As it happens, they're coming to the Birchmere on March 5th (my week). Anyone up for some Irish folk rock? More seriously, super group ASIA is reuniting and playing the Birchmere on April 8, 2008. There's a good reason to check out the Birchmere...for $60/tix?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

DC Rock Club Kwanzaa Challenge

As Jumbo Slice noted here, all too often politicians get credit for shit that was actually due to rock musicians. Case in point: the Gulf War.

In 1991 a multi-musician/athlete/actor/carbon blob amalgamation recorded the track "Voices That Care," on behalf of our servicemen and women who were then stationed in Saudi Arabia. Days later, Operation Desert Storm kicked off and all kinds of ass-kicking descended upon Saddam Hussein and Co., who thereafter never caused any problems ever again.

George H.W. Bush got all the cred, but many veterans will tell you, without hesitation, that listening to "Voices That Care" made their bloodlust kick in, and led directly to glorious victory in the desert.

So here's the challenge: in the comments, try and name as many of the participants in this video as you can. Do not resort to Google or Wikipedia. I'll know if you do, and you will be disqualified and humiliated.

I'll wait a little bit and then post the answers. I'll do the first one for you: Ralph Tresvant (formerly of New Edition).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Concert Preview: Gist with Verbal at Iota

We first saw Gist when they opened for Travis Morrison at Iota. They put on a dynamic live performance. The songs had a surging intensity that grabbed the audience. Their last album, Diesel City, had a number of quality tracks ranging from post-punk to heavier, almost grunge like rock. I'm not a fan of classic rock, but I do like classic alternative rock (whatever the hell that means). I'm partial to bands that draw from the likes of Superchunk, the Pixies, and Mission of Burma.

This show also marks the return of Verbal, one of my favorite local bands. They called it quits and headed their separate ways at the end of last year. I guess this could be called a reunion show. Who knows. I just know that I always keep a few of their songs on my shuffle for when I go running. Their pulsing and driving instrumental rock (hence the name Verbal, get it? It's called irony bitches) keeps my fat ass moving.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Fellow Americans...

It's primary season and many politicians are claiming that they'll bring the country together. You know what I'm taking about. It's the "I'm a uniter, not a divider" thing. Politicians can't deliver on this because the nature of politics is division, disagreement, and rancor. (please take note of the Potsy comma in that last sentence)

Fortunately, good music is not like politics (shitty music is a different story). Good music actually does bring people together. For example, many people credit Reagan for the fall of Communism. Wrong. It was Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Gorky Park (see photo), Motley Crue and the others bands that played Moscow Music Peace Festival. 80's glam metal did more to spread democracy than Reagan ever could. Hold on. 80's glam metal sucked. It was terrible. That kills the whole premise of my argument. Ah, screw it. Enough of the history lesson and back to the review.

My favorite thing about These United States is their appeal across Rock Club. So far, three of us have seen them and all three are on board. Even the Wives of Rock Club (WORC) enjoy seeing them live. It's rare we all come to the same opinion on a local band.

These United States are the sort of band I expect to see when the Mrs. and I move to Austin next year. Their mix of rock with alt-country and bluegrass influences seems more at home in Austin than here in DC. I may be wrong. Ken, my good friend and Austin native, can address that better than I can. What I can tell you is these guys are one tight band. They've played over 300 shows. They display a versatility most bands can't match. Prefer stripped down lo-fi Americana? They can do that. Want a toe-tapping romp you bounce and dance to? No problem. Need a ramped up song where all five guys rock out? Done and done. These guys have more combinations than the First Citiwide Change Bank.

Their versatility was on display Saturday night. They played slow and quiet and then fast and loud. They even played a cover, "Can You Picture That?" by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem (we love a good cover). It's not exactly a holiday song, but it does include a shout out to Santa Claus.

I found it interesting they opted not to play "Business". It's perhaps their most recognizable song (it gets lots of play on Internet radio). They didn't play "First Sight" either and that's likely to be the first single off their debut album, A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden. Perhaps the band doesn't get caught up in self-promotion and just plays the songs they like best. Of course, I like those two songs so here's hoping they make it on the set list the next time we see them play. Speaking of which, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to see These United States play at Iota. They can handle a larger space such as the Black Cat but a smaller venue would make for the ideal viewing experience. We'll have to keep an eye on the schedule so Potsy can see them play. If he gives the thumbs up, These United States will receive four stars from Rock Club, which is quite a rarity.

Oh, I almost forgot to rate the show. I give These United States a Rock Club Rating of 7.4.

Chinese Democracy

Imperial China
The Red and the Black

Dec. 21, 2007

Rock doesn't stop at Christmas and neither does DC Rock Club. Besides, none of us are Christians. Here are the details on each Rock Club member's preferred religious affiliation:

1--Jumbo Slice: Mithraist. Still sore about Constantine the Great's decision to make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century AD. "Fuck him, and fuck Christmas," says Jumbo.
2--Potsy: Church of Satan. Enjoys Christmas, but only to mock it while he sips brandy from a pewter snifter and cackles maniacally.
3--Sack Lunch: Big Jew. One of the biggest in history. Like Judd Hirsch on Jew-roids.
4--Jimbromski: Cargo Cultist. It's only natural, having grown up in Micronesia.

Cargo Cult: Come back, John Frum, we've been waiting patiently since 1944

Imperial China are a local band who've been together about four months. Last Friday's show at the Red and the Black can be considered their coming out party. Metaphorically speaking, they jumped out of a closet wearing leather speedos and announced, we're all gay. Metaphorically.

For a band that's been together for as short a time as Imperial China, I thought these guys did pretty well. They're a three piece--one drummer, one guitarist/drummer, and one bassist/keyboardist. Their sound is heavy on the instrumental and light on the vocal. It's difficult to categorize but I will say that they played loud and fast, which is always a good thing.

It's lazy writing to describe a band by just naming a bunch of bands that you think they sound like, so I'll try to avoid that pitfall here. Also, once you wade into esoteric genres and sub-genres you run the risk of getting slapped down by some uber-geek. "Noise Rock? You fucking idiot, we're not noise rock, we're avant-garde post-industrial progressive alt-dada. Get it right, newb."

So, Imperial China, to me, sounded like good movie soundtrack music, the sort that would play during fight scenes. Imagine that old kung fu movie stand-by, where one dude gets attacked by 40 ninjas, and kicks all their asses one-by-one. Then, imagine he gets on a skateboard when he's done and hits the half-pipe. It's that kind of sound.

Okay, that didn't help.

I'd rather be a lazy writer than a poor one, so here goes--Imperial China sort of sound like a Prodigy or Chemical Brothers-type band, with less melody, and a less radio-friendly presentation. I imagine the band members might cringe at that comparison but I am King Softrocker the First of DC Rock Club so maybe that's what I want them to eventually sound like. Maybe a better comparison is Kinski--check out "The Wives of Artie Shaw" on Kinski's MySpace page and you'll get an idea of what Imperial China sound like. Or, better yet, visit Imperial China's MySpace page and decide for yourself. I don't give a shit either way. You should still listen to "Wives of Artie Shaw," it's a pretty bad-assed song.

Imperial China--good local band, and one to watch. As they practice more and play more shows they could develop into something special. RC Rating: 6.1.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Concert Preview: These United States

Set List for These United States

In my outstanding interview/review of Jukebox the Ghost (destined for the "Worst Post" Thorkelson Award) I opted not to mention These United States. Since I had to fend off ball massaging allegations my post was way too long. I didn't have time to give a good word on These United States. Jimbromski and I only saw half the songs they played but what we saw was quite good. Unfortunately, Potsy and Sacklunch missed the entire set because of the lines to get into the R&R Hotel.

It seems like each year Rock Club embraces a different local band. 2006 saw much love for Statehood and The Fake Accents while Georgie James received the most attention this year. Looking ahead, 2008 may be the year of These United States. Why? There are few bands that all four of us like. We can't agree on anything. Jimbromski and I disagree the most (see: Ghost, Jukebox the) yet we both liked These United States. Other reasons 2008 could be their year: the band already gets lots of internet love (the non-porn variety), tons of play on WOXY, and it has yet to even release an album. Speaking of which, their debut is due this March.

The plan is to catch These United States as they play with The Hackensaw Boys on Saturday night at the Black Cat. Hopefully, this time we won't be late.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Everyday Normal Guy

As suggested to me by Stuttson, I thoroughly enjoyed this clip. This is one of the best of 2007, a Thorkelson contender:

It was posted on my brother's 39th birthday, November 21, 2007. Happy belated birthday, Rog. Yeah, my brother's name is Roger. So what? You wanna fight about it?


There’s a DJ on WOXY who is partial to the song “Metal Mickey,” by Suede. He played it a few weeks ago and Sacklunch called me and we reminisced about the old days. Suede was the last band that we saw at the old 9:30 Club, at its original location on 9th and F NW. I can’t remember the year exactly but it must have been around 1994-95.

Some people wax nostalgic about how great DC was before gentrification. These people are full of shit. Regarding the old 9:30 Club, specifically—the place was a dump. It was way too small, and no matter where I moved, there was always a pillar blocking my view. The whole place smelled like a evil chemist’s mix of essence of vomit, piss and BO.

In general, the neighborhood around the club was sketchy as fuck—there was nothing down there but wig shops and liquor stores. Across the street were the Vault and Fifth Column nightclubs. We suburban kids used to sneak out of the house and go disco to Depeche Mode, Bronski Beat and whatever gay Eurodisco the DJ felt like spinning. Sacklunch had a fake ID with the name “Jay Gatsby.” We always counted on the club doormen and the Korean liquor store owners not being well-read sorts of fellows. We always got in.

It wasn’t just the neighborhood around 9th and F NW that looked like Escape From New York. 14th Street was the same way. I lived in Mount Pleasant from 1995-97 and depending on what block you were on your Spidey-sense would often kick in and you’d pick up your pace. When you were that far north you didn’t bother to go east of 16th without a good reason. Even parts of Adams-Morgan could be Indian country—ask Sacklunch and Potsy about living on Seaton Street.

I don’t mean to tear it all down although I know it sounds like I am. We all had a blast back then but things are better now. WHFS is long gone but there’s a ton of places on the internet where you can hear great music. There are way more restaurants and bars to hang out in. All the girls dress like sluts now, as opposed to the 1990s, when they dressed like lumberjacks.

And most of all, there’s now a bunch of venues of various sizes to see live music. We had to go to the shitty 9:30, or maybe to spectacularly misnamed DC Space, which was very small and akin to trying to hang out in the space between a midget’s sack and bunghole. Beyond that it was the Cap Centre, or the Patriot Center at George Mason. Poor us.

Anyway, here’s the video for "Metal Mickey." Suede had a cool glam sound that was driven by lead singer Brett Anderson’s unique voice—screechy and femme, but it worked. To bring things full circle, Bernard Butler played guitar for Suede, until leaving the band in 1994. He’s since moved into production, and was the producer for Cookies by Rock Club favorites 1990s.

A Holiday Message from New Rock Church of Fire

I know we can't make this show, but with such a nice note, this act deserves some publicity (to all 9 of our readers).

Hey guys, you came to one of our shows a while back, and apparently one of you got laid. Congratulations, let's make it happen again, we've got our first ever show at Black Cat Mainstage on Friday night, and it's a solid lineup It will be a very fun show. I hope you guys can make it.

New Rock Church of Fire December 21 @ Black Cat

I feel inclined to blow my mind...

...get on up, feed the ducks with a bun...

The Small Faces

That lyric is from the song "Itchycoo Park," by 1960s English band the Small Faces. They never quite hit it as big as the Beatles/Stones/Who triumvirate but they came pretty close. Think of them as Jim Kelly or Dan Marino, compared to Joe Montana or Brett Favre. Along with the Who, the Yardbirds, and the Kinks, the Small Faces were a mod favorite, owing to their blues-oriented sound and their East London roots. At least until the late 60s, when nearly all of the original mod bands started going hippie-dippie (the Who and the Kinks) or proto-metal (the Yardbirds, who eventually evolved into Led Zeppelin)--at this point the mod movement started to die out and those who were left got into Northern Soul and ska music. The Small Faces started heading that way as well before they broke up in 1969. Lead singer Steve Marriot left the group and formed Humble Pie with Peter Frampton (SUPERGROUP ALERT), while the remaining members of the Small Faces replaced Marriot with Rod Stewart (as well as future Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood) and became known simply as The Faces.

The Small Faces had some great songs in their short life. The aforementioned "Itchycoo Park" (1968) was their highest charting single in America. It's a pleasant ode to hanging out, skipping school, and doing drugs:

Most Small Faces songs had more of a rock sound than "Itchycoo Park." Here's a clip for "Rollin' Over" (1968), off of French TV. Again, lots of hot French hippie chicks. And some dork-assed French guys--keep your eyes open, at 1:11 into this clip there's a guy dancing around who looks like Jules Verne.

Concert Preview: Imperial China at the Red and the Black

I was alerted to Imperial China by Chip Chanko, a.k.a. "my neighbor Jim". He saw their set at Galaxy Hut last month and gave it two big thumbs up (seriously, the guy has freakishly large thumbs). He said they sounded like Battles with the guy from Modest Mouse on lead vocals. I love weird post-rock, electronic stuff with lots of drums. I'm pretty sure the rest of Rock Club will hate it with a passion. Therefore, I offer this video from their last show as Exhibit A:

Radhus - Galaxy Hut / November 25th

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So, what do you think? Very Battles-like, no? The dual drummers is cool as is the haunting, creepy keyboards and the screeching guitar.

If you liked this then you'll enjoy Verbal who is opening for Gist on the 27th. If you hated this song, well, too bad. At least you can rock out to Gist.

Roofwalkers at Galaxy Hut

Rock Club had a chance to see Roofwalkers when they played with Georgie James last month. Not surprisingly we arrived after their set had finished. When I saw they were playing at Galaxy Hut, I listened to a few songs and was quickly convinced to check them out.

Opening for Roofwalkers was Sad Crocodile, who plays depressing songs with lyrics that alternate between amusing and slightly disturbing. The singer mused about never having an Asian girlfriend (but he's willing to give it a try) on one song and wanting to cut someone on another. Lyrics aside all the songs were heartfelt and I enjoyed the set despite everyone talking while they played.

Roofwalkers used to be called Pagoda. Why the name change? No idea. Speaking of names, the drummer is named Elmer Sharp. It's a given a band will be good when someone named Elmer is manning the drum kit. Elmer and his four band mates have quite a mix of sounds. The whispered vocals and drums played with brushes reminded me of Cowboy Junkies (if Margo Timmons was a guy). Their heavier songs had a psychedelic sound not unlike the Black Angels. Throw in some of Caribou's mysterious and compelling tunes and you get a sense of what Roofwalkers is like. The music doesn't grab you right away. Rather it grows on you more with each listen. I know that's a shitty and cliché description but it's true.

I enjoyed Roofwalkers more than any band we've seen over the last four or five weeks. That list inclues The Hold Steady, Art Brut, Georgie James, Jukebox The Ghost, and even my beloved Ted Leo. Over that stretch the only other group on par with Roofwalkers were These United States.

Rock Club Rating: 7.5

Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma?

It's rare when I get to pick a RC show for which I am truly excited. And when it has worked out where I've been able to choose a show that I've really wanted to see, I always seem to miss it (The Gossip is the best example of this phenomenon). So at 11:30 tonight, when I saw that Vampire Weekend was playing at the RnRH in February during my week to pick, I made sure I wasn't going to miss out on this show for lack of forethought. I hopped in my car, and drove to the club and bought our tickets. Here they are...
So, it begs the question, "What will go wrong between December 18th and February 6th that will prevent me from seeing this band?" Hopefully nothing. But check back with me after Feb 6th. The Magic 8 Ball says, "Outlook not so good."

Anyhow, I know that Vampire Weekend is nothing new to the Indie Rock know-it-alls. They've even been featured on NPR. But I like to think that I have staked a claim to this band. I'm an investor of sorts. So I'm anxious for a solid show.

Below is a video for “Mansard Roof.” It is eerily reminiscent of 3/4 * RC's voyage to Newport, RI this summer, hence forth known as the "Club Crap" weekend. I got sea-sick on that trip. Jumboslice showed that he is a lazy fucker and slept most of the time. Sacklunch pulled more than his weight and proved himself to be quite the semen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Dirt, excerpt 8

(In honor of National Drugged and Drunk Driving Month, Rock Club will be running random excerpts of the Motley Crue autobiography The Dirt. Read more on our community-oriented campaign here.)

In this excerpt, Nikki Sixx plays a cheap trick on Cheap Trick:

Rick Nielsen, Cheap Trick's guitarist, wanted to introduce us to Roger Taylor of Queen, who was one of Tommy's favorite drummers. Roger took us to a Russian restaurant that he said Queen and the Rolling Stones always went to. He led Tommy, Rick, Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander, and me to a private back room with hand-carved oak trim along the ceiling. We sat around a huge antique wooden table and drank every kind of vodka shot known to man--sweet, spicy, raspberry, garlic--before feasting on a Russian dinner. Rick was wearing a black rubber jacket, and for some reason I kept telling him that I wanted to piss on it.

We were getting hammered and stuffed, laughing about what a great night this was, when a maitre d' walked in and announced, "Dessert is served." Then a whole team of waiters came in the room. There was one waiter for each of us, and each was carefully carrying a covered silver platter. They placed the dishes in front of us and one by one lifted the lids. Lying on each were seven rock-star-sized lines of coke. Though I was still weak from the night before, I snorted them all and kept drinking. The next thing I knew, we were back at our hotel bar and Roger Taylor was talking to Rick Nielsen while I sat on a stool behind them. I kneeled on the stool, pulled down my leather pants, and did what I'd been promising to do all night: peed on Rick's jacket. He didn't even realize anything was happening until it started dribbling down his pants and onto the floor. I thought it was pretty funny at the time, but when I went up to my room afterwards, I felt terrible: I had just pissed on my hero.

(Nikki Sixx, pp 150-151)

A little effort for the something?

Maybe I shouldn't have been, but I was a bit surprised when I approached the escalators at the Gallery Place Metro station recently. We've all seen folks hunkered down in high traffic locations looking for a donation. There are a variety of fund raising tactics used in cities across this great and generous land. The cardboard sign is a popular ploy. A clever message scrawled in magic marker. Magic indeed. I've been told my shoes need shining on occasion. Some day I'll look into how canvass shoes look with a shine, but I'm not sure how lucrative the shoe-shine method really is anymore. And it's especially awkward without a chair. Thankfully the windshield-washing fad seems to have lost its luster. God only knows what kind of liquid is in that spray bottle. But overall, I appreciate the effort. As Huey Lewis said, "I'm taking what they giving 'cause I'm working for a livin'." So true.

Entertainment for cash is by far the best, and perhaps most dignified way to go about raising funds. Don't forget about Tracy Chapman. What an inspiration to panhandlers everywhere. Even after she left the underground of Boston and got famous, she kept it real. Always dressing like a homeless man. The upside down bucket drums were a real innovation in the early 1990s... but actually, I'm kind of sick of those now. It's always the same beat. But I do like the musical panhandler. Heading to the ballpark and hearing "Take me out to the ball game," gives me tingles. But I've noticed some opportunists cutting some major corners. Have you seen the guy jammin' the electric guitar, accompanied by some CD playing background music to round out the sound? I think that's cheating. I had a Casio keyboard that did the same thing, but I never took it on the road.

This brings me to my whole point. I got to the Metro station and came across this guy.

He had a boom box.

It was playing music.

And he had a tambourine.
And he had a cup.
And that was it.

It's like this guy showing up at your door on October 31 demanding candy:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Same Old Lang Syne

Daniel Grayling "Dan" Fogelberg (August 13, 1951 - December 16, 2007)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Next Up

My week, yo. I see Jumbo Slice put a link to the Imperial China show on 12/21 but I wanted to make sure we know what's out there for 12/15-12/21. Or, more accurately, 12/17-12/21.

And the answer is...absolutely fuck all. There's the Lemonheads on Dec. 19 at the Black Cat. I could be up for that.

Rufus Wainwright is at the 9:30 on 12/21 but: (1) it's $35, (2) it's the type of music you hear in Crate & Barrel, and (3) I am tenaciously clinging to what's left of my heterosexuality.

Maybe it's time for a visit to Jaxx for some metal. I know I've mentioned this before but every time I check out the Jaxx calendar I laugh at how indecipherable these metal band logos are. They're all Norse runes and shit and you can't read the band names. Try and guess the names of these bands:

(1) We'll start with the easiest first.

(2) This one's a little more difficult--Belfmegor? Belf Megor? Is that some dude's name?

(3) I'm completely stumped on this one

(answers in Comments)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Something for the Ladies

I made a mix about two months ago that was all womens. Look how fuckin' clever I am--I entitled it "Estrogen & Tonic." It had the usual suspects on it: Feist, Regina Spektor, Cat Power, but also some harder stuff like Sleater-Kinney and the Duke Spirit, and finally some oddball shit by Vashti Bunyan and PJ Harvey.

This mix has proven to be very potent. I gave it to Mrs. Jimbromski, who made copies and gave it to her sister, and to Mrs. Jumbo Slice. Both are now pregnant. I was there when the sister-in-law came out of the bathroom with the test. I hugged her, taking care to avoid the urine -soaked implement, which she was still holding. Thank God pregnancy tests don't require stool samples, is all I have to say.

Anyway, the mix is powerful. It makes you fertile. Just burning it and handling it gave me a urinary tract infection, which I battled my way out of by immediately drinking two gallons of cranberry juice and watching Lifetime for 48 hours straight.

Here's two vids I found from PJ Harvey and Cat Power. Here's "This is Love." Polly probably cut herself in high school:

This is the one-and-only Cat Power with "Cross Bones Style." Chan Marshall has cleaned up her act in recent years to the point where she's actually doing some modeling for Chanel. But this song is from her Early Wacky period and she reminds me of Ally Sheedy from The Breakfast Club. Excellent song, interesting video, featuring some roller skating:

I thought I would hate you

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - December 8, 2007 at the 9:30 Club, $15

If you wanted a RockClub preview / back story for this show, you've probably already read it. As Jim-dick-ski already pointed out, my review of this show is so yesterday's news that I'm not sure why I am even bothering to spend any time on it now. But I was waiting for Dumbo-lice to write his review from the week before, as a courtesy. As much as I want it to be a civil, gentlemanly fellowship, RockClub isn't the US Senate from the 1980s. It's a back-stabbing, hyper-critical, homophobic, and ultimately ineffectual enterprise full of self-promotion. So it's more like the US Senate of today.

Since Ted Leo likes to talk politics in his music, I've given my little nod to the local industry as well. That's what happens when you live in Capital City.

I'll get to the point for once. I didn't think I would like this show. I have two of Theo and the Leo-cons albums, but I don't really listen to either of them. I picked this show as my pick of the week for 3 reasons.
1. Jumboslice really wanted to see them.
2. As a local act with prominence (with a ticket under $20), they deserve serious consideration.
3. It fit within my schedule.

As I said, I didn't think I would like this show. In preparation for the concert, I loaded the two albums to my iPod shuffle and listened more intently on my way to and fro work. I enjoyed a few songs here and there, especially the "Ballad of the Sin Eater," referenced above. But too often, I cringed at Ted Leo's oscillating voice. It reminds me of Travis Morrison, but in a more annoying way. Thankfully, this vocal signature is lost in live performances, at least for me. And that made all the difference.

I won't pretend to know a lot about this group/Mr. Leo specifically. I read what was written on wikipedia; you can too. I won't pretend to give you some earth-shattering insight into the show. It was a week ago, any how. Who cares now, anyway, right?

So here's what I can offer you:

The 9:30 Club looks better with those Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. They should do more of that sort of thing year round. It adds something to the venue that is otherwise lacking. What that thing is, I don't know. But it was a nice enhancement. Maybe like ribbed condoms. Just a little something extra.

I guess Ted + are known for covering other bands' songs. Ted was mocking someone close to the stage about this at the top of the show. Paraphrasing, "You want us to play that song? That cover? The really good one?" I like it when bands play covers. I think more of them should do it. I don't see why they don't. On this Saturday night, the cover that stuck out was the cover of Daft Punk's "One More Time." I hate the damn song. Was that song in A Nightmare at the Roxbury? I feel like it was. It is painful to hear. But it was made more palatable by Ted Leo. I recognized it, which is a major benefit of a cover, and it didn't leave me with the fingernails on chalkboard sensation that the original version does. So job well done.

The last song that I heard TL/Rx perform was the aforementioned "Ballad of the Sin Eater." I guess there is a reason that they played it "last," and that this is the one song that I generally gravitate to. It must be the song all the wannabe Ted Leo fans like. Well, count me in I guess. I heard it and was satisfied. The lights came on, music came on over the PA, and we left. Apparently Ted Leo & Co. came back for more. But honestly, I had had enough by then. As had the rest of RC, I think.

On to my rating for this show... Could Ted Leo and The Pharmacists' music help get me action? I don't think so. It might not be their fault, but their music strikes me as appealing to a rather narrow female audience. Perhaps there are few Tina Fey-types out there whose inhibitions are lowered by not-so-subtle political rant anthems, but that seems like a long shot. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by this show. I didn't hate it. I didn't even dislike it. I'll go so far as to say I enjoyed it.

P.S. The drummer (Chris Wilson) reminded me a lot of Jeff Daniels.

Who Doesn't Love Carrie Brownstein?

I'd suggest that we post our own vlogs but no one wants to see our ugly mugs. Besides Carrie is much more interesting than us. I'm a huge Janet Weiss fan, but I think Carrie is now my favorite ex-Sleater-Kinney-er.

Rock Club Scandal--Jumbo Slice Fingered in Mitchell Report

You didn't think this shit was natural, did you? Don't be naive.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fact or Fiction: The Official Jukebox The Ghost Interview

I'm almost two weeks late posting this interview/concert review of Jukebox the Ghost. My slackness has led to the spreading of misinformation. What's the best way to deal with rumors and get to the truth? That's right, it's time for "FACT or FICTION". Let's dive right in:

Fact or Fiction: After interviewing Jukebox the Ghost I fell in love with the band and I'm now unable to objectively review the show.

Answer: Fiction. Yes, I enjoyed meeting Tommy and Jesse. Did I follow up with numerous emails, a candy gram, and many, many threatening voice mails? Did I hide naked outside their house? Of course I did. It's perfectly normal. I'm hardly the only nude blogger-stalker out there.

Fact or Fiction: I massaged their balls.

Answer: Fiction. The band has a strict no touching policy.

Fact or Fiction: I am a "highbrow music critic".

Answer: Fiction. Please see previous answers.

Fact or Fiction: Jukebox the Ghost plays rock music for dorks.

Answer: This is trick question. The answer is both Fact AND Fiction because the music is for dorks and non-dorks alike. While only my fellow geeks and I may like the They Might Be Giants covers, everyone can agree that "Hold It In" and "Good Day" are great songs.

Fact or Fiction: I like playing Magic: The Gathering.

Answer: That's a FACT, Jack! It's awesome. You haven't truly lived until you've gone on a Magic binge for 37 straight hours. It's a rush like no other. And don't get me started on the Duelists' Convocation International last year. It was in-sannnnnne! I'm hoping to go pro next year. I have crazy Mana (that's magical energy for you non-planeswalkers out there).

Fact or Fiction: I'm trying to freak the shit out of Jukebox's manager with this review, thereby banning Rock Club from ever speaking to band again.

Answer: Fact.

Now that we've addressed the misinformation let's examine what I learned from my interview. Since I wasn't able to record the interview, I'm not using direct quotes. If that's the type of interview you prefer (i.e. a professional interview), go here. Trust me, it's better than the crap you're about to read. Seriously, go. Leave already...

"Did he just ask to massage our balls?"

Okay, glad we got rid of them. On to the Rock Club Band Profile. This is all the info I could gather before the restraining order took effect:

Names: Ben Thornewill on Piano/Vocals, Tommy Siegel plays Guitar/Vocals, Jesse Kristin on the drums.

Age: The guys started the band almost four years ago after meeting at GW (that's George Washington University in Washington, DC for our international readers). Seeing the crowd at the Rock & Roll Hotel show, it's clear they built quite a following while at school. The evening had more of a college feel than any other show we've attended this year.

Former Name: Originally, they were The Sunday Mail before opting for the Googletastic name Jukebox the Ghost. Why Jukebox the Ghost? I don't know because I didn't ask them. That's the lamest question you can ask a band. Rock Club is better than that (for the answer go here).

Influences: When I ask about influences and bands they sound like, the guys mention the Flaming Lips, Queen, Elvis Costello, and They Might Be Giants. I thought the Queen reference was odd but after seeing them live I now understand what they meant. The band has a flair and showmanship that Freddy and the boys would be proud of.

Bands I think they sound like: I agree with the They Might Be Giants comparison. It's most obvious when Tommy is singing on "Matter of Time". The music also reminds me of The Unicorns (if you swap keyboards for a piano) and the fun-loving, quirky work of Cake. Throw in a little Man Man with a pinch of the Violent Femmes and you have Jukebox the Ghost.

Discography: In May they released a five song EP to very positive reviews. Over the summer they recorded their first LP at Low Watt Recording in Raleigh, NC with Ted Comerford. The album, Let Live and Live Ghosts, is scheduled for release on January 26th. To celebrate the band is headlining a show at the Black Cat that very night. Judging by the early and long lines before the Rock & Roll Hotel show, the band could use the additional space of the Black Cat.

Touring: They have played CMJ, had a residency at Piano's in NYC, toured the Southeast and the Northeast. If they haven't been to your town yet, it must mean they don't love you. Well, maybe that's a little harsh. Let's say they just don't love you yet.

Radio Love:: I was impressed Jukebox got so much air time on indie music's best radio station, WOXY in Cincinnati. "Hold It In", "Good Day" and their cover of Danny Elfman's "What's This" from The Nightmare Before Christmas all get a lot of play. When I asked how they got the attention of such a big station they credited their manager and the listeners. The manager sent in the music and the requests took over from there.

The exposure on WOXY continues as Jukebox the Ghost is the featured artist on the next Lounge Act on January 10th. They'll play live on the air at 2:00 PM so be sure to tune in. If you can't catch the show live be sure to download the podcast.

They enjoy...: Making people dance, writing catchy pop melodies, Bran Muffins

They could do without...: Being called "D&D motherfuckers" (you hear that Jimbromski?), Bass Players, Pants

Tommy and Jesse work the merch table...pantsless

What's Jukebox The Ghost like in concert:

This was the third time Jukebox had played the R&R Hotel, having previously opened for Tokyo Police Club and Travis Morrison (not too shabby opening slots). The crowd was filled with chatty fans who shouted the refrains and clapped their hands at all the right times. I especially enjoyed the use of the hand clap. Done right, it's one of my favorite musical gimmicks (the rarely used air horn still being my favorite followed by the the cowbell).

The band sensed the participatory (and still chatty) nature of the crowd and tried to seize on it by playing a new song. They instructed the crowd to shout "Give me a D...Give me a C" when prompted. It actually worked well after a suspect beginning. Getting crowds that involved is a rare thing in DC and you have to give a lot of credit to Jukebox for that. It reminded me of The Dismemberment Plan concerts back in the day when people would really let loose.

The cover of They Might Be Giants' "Birdhouse in Your Soul" generated the most interesting response of the evening. Was it a little nerdy? Sure, but everyone knows geek is the new chic. If the Today Show says it's so, it must be true. I personally enjoyed the cover (I owned the Flood album growing up) but I know other members of Rock Club could have done without.

While I got into songs like "Lighting Myself on Fire", the real highlights were "Hold It It" and "Good Day". Seems like the obvious choices but what can I say? I really enjoy those songs. The provided for a really strong finish after a milder middle part of the show.

My only real gripe: I could have done without some of the people talking throughout the set. That's hardly the band's fault though. The evening didn't have the usual concert feel. It seemed more like a scene, the place to be on that night. That can be fun but it also takes attention away from the music.

Overall, I had fun and it seemed like most of the crowd did as well. I give the show a Rock Club Rating of 7.0.

Now I leave you with Jukebox the Ghost playing at the Black Cat back in May:

EP Release show at the Black Cat on May 5th