Long live rock, I need it every night

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Catching Up With...the Starburst Berries & Cream Lad

This is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing series, which means this one will probably be the last installment. Celebrity is fleeting these days and there's no need to wait, in this era of instant nostalgia, the requisite 10-15 years before a momentary celeb is found collapsed in a pool of vomit, pants unbuttoned, bleeding from his/her buttocks. We can do that now, minus the vomit/buttocks bleeding.

This installment features the much-beloved Starburst Berries & Cream Lad, who enthralled the nation with his merry, bus station-based endorsement of the new Starburst flavor variant in 2007. Here's the little fella:

Guess what? The Starburst Lad has a name, and that name is Jack Ferver. I found an interview with him here. Here are some highlights:

  • On how the commercial could have taken a much darker turn: "At the callback I did it at least 10 totally different ways, including crying."
  • On why the Berries & Cream Lad isn't as outlandish as he may initially seem: "I live in New York, in the hipster part of Brooklyn, so I see grown men in schoolboy outfits on the subway every day."
  • On why the spot took place in a Greyhound Bus station: "Bus stations are time warps. He is not from this time."
I won't ruin the rest for you--read the whole thing. Certainly we can all agree that the Berries and Cream vid was the best ever posted on this site, no?

I know that it's true - it's gonna be a good year

It's the last Tuesday of 2008.

So how 'bout a clip about the new year... this one courtesy of The Walkmen's 2008 release, You & Me .

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Liar, Liar, Underpants on Fire

"Isn't simultaneous masturbation the best?"

We're a lot like a family here at DC Rock Club. As the years go by we get together less and less, we argue more, and we all secretly can't stand one particular member. Oh, and I'm guessing Potsy would add: you don't want them crashing at your place if you can avoid it. I bring this up because, like many families during the holidays, Rock Club had a little reunion last week. I flew in from Austin for the week which allowed us to catch the Deleted Scenes show on Thursday night.

Jimbromski and I met at Potsy's for the usual pre-show ritual. It included: assorted beers (though Jimbromski was feeling Merry so he opted for the Bailey's), glimpses of satellite porn, malapropisms (me referring to Samuel Jackson as Sammy Davis, Jr.), a discussion of the year's best albums and concerts, etc. Sacklunch was busy managing the Keebler elves so he met us at the Black Cat. Kudos to Sack for making it out. I would've gone straight to bed had I been working 12-14 hour days for weeks on end. It's not easy producing sweets for the Gentile masses.

We skipped all the opening bands, opting instead to hang in the Red Room and drink. After chatting for while, a guy came up and said hi to me. I responded with a totally blank face. I had no clue who he was until he said his name. We went to college together and it'd been at least 10 years since I'd seen him. One reason I was so caught off guard was his hair. In college he always had very short hair and now it's a more grown out. When I see people I went to school with I expect them to resemble Rock Club - big paunch, receding hair, and an ever increasing amount of back fat.

[Side Note: I forgot the effect Red Room Ale has on me. It gives me horrible gas. I was crop dusting the Backstage the entire show. To the girl behind me, I apologize]

On to the band of the evening: Deleted Scenes. This band confounds me. Prepping for the show, I listened to their EP and some songs off their new album, Birdseed Shirt. For the most part, I really like what I heard. They're one of the best bands in DC (which, sadly, isn't the compliment it once was). The problem is that it's very hard putting a finger on the music. They don't make it easy for lazy reviewers like me to list a few song titles, name three bands they resemble and call it a review. Fuckers. Their songs varied quite a bit during the set and my reactions were almost as varied. Some of the more earnest songs were beautifully delivered but one of them came off as especially wimpy ("Take My Life"? I can't remember). I should clarify before I give the impression their broad sound was a complete turn off. I respect a band that writes, sings, and plays what they please. These guys aren't going for a particular sound or a certain niche of indie rock. They're creative and musically adventurous (whereas I'm creative and adventurous sexually). The results can be hit or miss with such a daring approach to music. In the case of Deleted Scenes though, there are more hits than misses. Songs like "Ithaca" (reminds me of that Road Trip movie), "Turn To Sand", and "Birdseed Shirt" were my favorites but the one song all of Rock Club could agree on was "Get Your Shit Together for the Holidays". It should be required listening before any Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering.

I didn't drawn any major conclusions on the band after seeing them perform. All I can say is I find Deleted Scenes intriguing. I downloaded their new album yesterday and I've already listened to it at 5 or 6 times. Songs I initially dismissed as weak now show impressive depth. There were quite a few subtleties I overlooked on the first listen. I don't know if I'll ever "get" the Deleted Scenes sound but it certainly makes me curious to see them again. Fortunately for me, they come to Austin next month.

While it's important to recount the show, we must move on to the pivotal event of the night. While walking back to Potsy's we came upon a burning pair of boxer shorts. Has that ever happened to you? Didn't think so. The oddest part was they'd just been lit. I couldn't tell if they'd been pitched out a window or if someone lit them and ran before we walked up. Either way, it caught us off guard. Why was someone burning underpants on a DC sidewalk late last Thursday night? Rock Club demands to know. Here's the video that Jimbromski sent to CNN:

We're still waiting for CNN to broadcast the clip. Not surprisingly, the Media Conspiracy is working to bury our groundbreaking video. The truth behind the burning boxers is out there and we intend to find it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Young and the Rest of us

Another Tuesday... let's enjoy another clip from Youtube, shan't we?

This clip reminds me of the story that sacklunch likes to tell every so often - the one where he and his family participate in Hands Across America - a virtual group hug for the nation.

I forget that in the 80s, someone kept telling rock stars that they could fix stuff by being photographed singing B-sides together.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 19, 2008

Obligatory Best of 2008 List

We're not doing our annual end-of-year Thorkelsons Awards anymore. Two reasons: (1) Potsy always gives curt, one word descriptors for his nominees, and (2) Sacklunch usually submits his choices in March of the following year. Fuck that shit. Every year I tell them, submit your best of list, and please accompany each choice with a pithy comment. The only one who obeys is Jumbo Slice.

Imagine, for a moment, you are an editor at Us Magazine, in charge of the "Fashion Police" feature. You have this photo of Jennifer Lopez (oh man, call the fashion police...whoo, whoo, whoo (whoo = sound of siren on fashion policeman's police car)). You gather your staff for a meeting. Listen up, staff--give me a good comment on J-Lo's dress.

So obviously the thing that stands out about that dress is, there's maze running from her left tibia up to her left titty. Many jokes come to mind: McDonald's placemats, Pac Man, Tom Cruise in Labyrinth, etc. Here are the comments you would get from Potsy and Sacklunch:

Potsy: that dress is stupid
Sacklunch: I have no comments on this outfit, but I would like to talk about the dress she wore to the Oscars in 2002, if you have the time.

So no more Thorkelsons. I'm splitting out and doing my own list. Here we go:

Best Live Performances

Okay, so the point of this website is for us to get out of our houses, away from our hectoring wives and sniveling children and needy dogs, and see live music. So in this area I feel like my choices are somewhat informed, as opposed to other categories, which as you'll see are mostly dominated by shit I first heard about 10 minutes ago. Best shows of 2008 were:

  • Bon Iver (Black Cat, 8-1-08). You could also file this under biggest surprise of the year. I thought these guys were pretty gay and didn't have high hopes for the show. One of the more ridiculous moments in local rock history was a post on craigslist that offered a free ticket to the show to whichever nadless guy or cat-loving woman wrote the best essay on "what moved you most about the album For Emma, Forever Ago." I'm kicking myself for not saving that because I can't find it now to properly mock it. Plus there was the irritating backstory about Justin Vernon and his depression and cabin, to the point where I started having flashbacks to the 1995 Jewel-living-in-her-car-in-Alaska-got-gangbanged-by-a-pack-of-renegade-Inuit hype. And yet, the show was excellent. Vernon bypassed the (predictable) spare, acoustic, folky route, and instead accentuated drums and bass. I swear it nearly sounded like ambient techno in parts. A cool move that made for some nice arrangements on songs that I was sick of hearing. Plus there was a stout gentleman in the audience next to us who came back from the bathroom with toiletpaper stuck to his show, which was fun.
  • The Hives (9:30, 3-8-08). You can't beat the showmanship. Made even better by the contrast with openers the Donnas, which is like the contrast between a nice day out at Kings Dominion, versus a few years in Belsen.
  • Holy Fuck (Black Cat, 3-19-08). March was a good month--in addition to Holy Fuck and the Hives, we also caught the Black Lips. This show featured the first time I'd seen someone use a 1930s stockticker as a musical instrument. It also featured our first acquaintance with local blind indie show guy Ahmed, who we've run into a few times since.
Best of the Rest: Kix/Z02 (Jaxx, 9-12-08), Blonde Redhead (9:30, 1-17-08), the Delta Spirit (9:30, 12-5-08).

Dept. of Of Course I Fucking Missed It: Sacklunch tells me Eagles of Death Metal (9:30, 11-20-08) was his top pick of the year and I have no reason to doubt him.

Biggest Letdowns: I had high hopes for both Super Furry Animals as well as Elbow. The SFA show lacked the freneticism, as well as cool video backdrop and wookie outfits, that I had witnessed at previous shows. Elbow were good, but it's the sort of music that Liam Neeson's character in Love, Actually would sit at home and listen to--oh, me wife's gone an died on me, let me pour a glass of sherry and listen to this soothing, soulful adult contemporary, to keep me from toppin' myself, and leavin' me dear moppet son an orphan. Keep clear.

Have you heard Seldom Scene Kid? I can burn it for you. Yer ma's nae feckin' coming back, though, so wipe that grin off yer face.

Best Albums

I'm on shaky ground here because I don't buy a lot of albums. Exhibit A: in January I heard two new awesome songs from Helio Sequence ("Keep Your Eyes Ahead" and "Can't Say No"). I buy album. I listen to album. Two cool songs, and a bunch of filler. I want to take the CD and throw it at the Helio Sequence like I'm Odd Job and the CD cuts off their heads. I'd have been better off just downloading the songs and leaving it at that, and that's what I usually do. Fuck your concept albums and rock operas, just give me the good stuff.

Nevertheless, here are a couple of good ones from 2008.

  • Santogold, Santogold. Four knockout tracks on here: "L.E.S. Artistes," "Lights Out," "Shove It," and "Creator."
  • Modern Guilt, Beck. I'm not a Beck uber-fan but the man's Thetans were firing on full blast this time around. Wait, Thetans are bad, right? Whatever. "Gamma Ray," "Profanity Prayers," "Chemtrails," "Modern Guilt" and "Profanity Prayers" are all first rate.
Best of the Rest: Songs in A&E, Spiritualized; In Rainbows, Radiohead

Best Songs

Lots of good shit for the mixtapes this year. Here are my favorites:

  • "Ark"/"The Old Days," Dr. Dog
  • "No One Does It Like You," Department of Eagles
  • "L.E.S. Artistes," Santogold
  • "This Is Not a Test," She and Him. Very catchy Mamas & the Papas throwback. It would be interesting to see Zooey Deschanel gain 100 pounds as an homage to Mama Cass.
  • "The Arm," Islands. Apparently this album sucks. This is a good song. Just goes to show, don't buy albums.
  • "Pot Kettle Black," Tilly and the Wall
  • "Never Miss a Beat," Kaiser Chiefs. I love this one. Are we supposed to hate this band? I only know what I'm told. Just let me know because otherwise I'll form my own opinion.
  • "Oh Man!" Sybris
  • "Language City," Wolf Parade
  • "Anything 'Cept The Truth"/"Wannabe in LA," Eagles of Death Metal. EODM will pummel your sack like a boxer working a speedbag. It's the UCLA grad student meth.
  • "Being Here," The Stills
  • "Fernando," Jenny Lewis. I really used to hate her, based soley on "Portions for Foxes," which is a terrible song. But this one's good, and "Acid Tongue" and "Next Messiah" are catchy as well.
  • "A Children's Crusade on Acid," Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
  • "Rigor Mortis," Wussy. Not entirely sure if this is 2008 but fuck it, it's a great song. An excellent in-car singalong moment when Lisa Walker belts out "here's a cure for rigor mortis/here's a place that you call home":

American Culture: Cheers & Jeers

I wanted to add a category where I could just pass judgment on everyone and everything under the sun without someone saying, how is this music related? Fuck you. And surprise, surprise--I found more things to complain about in 2008 than to laud.

First, the good.
Cheers to Homer Simpson for all his recent charity work!
  • New black people on Curb Your Enthusiasm. I never thought they could top Krazy Eyez Killa, or Wanda. But when God closes a door, he also opens a window, and Leon Black entered our world through that open window. Basically CYE is funniest when Larry interacts with Afro Americans and inadvertently says or does something racist. Not since Three's Company has any show so adeptly used the misunderstanding.
Umm, yeah. That's about it. Now on to the jeers!

Jeers to this rusty tailgate
  • Neo-Hippyism. Fleet Foxes, Blizten Trapper, Band of Horses...when's it ever gonna stop? Shave your beards and cut your hair.
  • Al Davis. You're insane. I wouldn't wish death on anyone but you're fucking testing me, man.
  • The Demise of the Thorkelsons. Peter Tork's publicist is gonna be pissed. Sack and Potsy, let this sin be upon you and your children.
  • FAIL/"Really?" The Jerk Store called, and they're running out of catchphrases.
  • Los Campesinos. I wish you would die.
  • ScarJo/Jonas Brothers backlash. Scarlett's Tom Waits covers weren't any shittier than 90% of what I heard on the radio this year. Leave her and her beautiful sweater puppets alone, now. Also I saw about 20 minutes of "Camp Rock" while I was waiting at the dentist's office and it was sort of gripping. Can anyone tell me how it ended? Did an uptight counselor get short-sheeted? Was there a Jonas-led panty raid?
  • Dan Bejar's voice. Talk about a weak link. A.C. Newman's the guts of that band and you know it's true.
Okay, that's all I've got. Sound off in comments if you care that much but be advised that I will delete any comment that disagrees with even a scintilla of what I wrote. But other than that, have at it, chums.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Dismantle Tom Snider

It's still Tuesday...

Bono's gotten some bad press recently having been photographed with bikini-clad teenage girls. My reaction: Bono is doing his job as a rock star. He is making me jealous of his life.

He travels the world playing music. Check
He hangs out with hot girls in bikinis. So far so good...

Now, I don't want to see Bono in some night-vision sex-tape with a teenage girl (or anyone else for that matter). That would be too much. But if young girls want to flirt with him, so be it. I can't blame him for that.

And yes, Bono has become a bit insufferable each year he has gone on and on about how I am not doing enough to stop the logging of baby whales with AIDS, etc. And yes, I could do without any more songs like Beautiful Day, and Yahweh.

But let's go to the way-back machine and have a look at when this guy and his bandmates made our acquaintences...

Why U2? There's four of you, why not U4?

There's also this little treat for your amusement too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Gitmo Mix, revisited

Here's a list of tracks in heavy rotation, used by the US government to drive detainees bonkers:

  • "Enter Sandman," Metallica

  • "Bodies," Drowning Pool

  • "Shoot to Thrill," AC/DC

  • "Hell's Bells," AC/DC

  • "I Love You," from the "Barney and Friends" children's TV show

  • "Born in the USA," Bruce Springsteen

  • "Babylon," David Gray

  • "White America," Eminem

  • "Sesame Street," theme song from the children's TV show

I'm against the physical mistreatment of detainees, no matter how much they deserve it--the ass whuppins', the waterboardins', the stress positionings. Sleep deprivation is out as well. But playing bad songs at them? Hmmm.

If I were an interrogator, I would be like one of those World War II British guys. I'd play a game of chess with my subject, and puff on my pipe, and say things like, "so you see, Ahmed, we're not so different, you and I...Rook takes Queen, checkmate."

If that tack didn't pay off, I would force Ahmed to watch this Fred Durst guitar solo:

Look what it did to Zakk Wylde:

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Too short for an upright bass

It's Tuesday and so on and so forth...

Crap. Half of Tuesday has already passed me by. I could have finished this last night, but instead I chose to watch the Ricky Gervais special (which I fully endorse). The staging for the Gervais special included five, 1.5 stories high, letters spelling out R I C K Y behind the tubby comedian. Yet another image reminiscent of the Elvis 68 Comeback Special.

Anyhow, I stumbled upon the clip below sometime last week -I can't remember why - but I've decided to post it for a few reasons.

1. It's a music video that's essentially about the perils of making a music video.
2. As it attempts to mock other videos of its era, it fails to come out on top, suffering from all the ills of its time that it makes fun of. It's like a greatest hits...of crap.
3. It pokes fun at David Lee Roth mid way through. Or maybe it honors him, you be the judge.
4. It has the potential to reopen the debate as to who was a better solo performer (this time a three way comparison). Phil Collins? Peter Gabriel? Sting? Head to head (to head).

Monday, December 08, 2008

All You Soul-Searching People, C'mon

Nada Surf w/the Delta Spirit and the Jealous Girlfriends
9:30 Club
Dec. 5, 2008

Oh, hello there. My name is Jimbromski. It's been a while since I've posted. You may have wondered where I've been. My answer: mind your fuckin' business. People have been throwing around some big words about my hiatus. Words like "Thailand," words like "penis reduction surgery," and "out-of-network expense/high deductible." Look, just let me live my life, okay? Stop prying. I don't owe you anything.

Anything, except a review of the Nada Surf show on Friday. This one was particularly complex because Sacklunch and I each brought our wives along, as both Nada Surf and the Delta Spirit make cooch-friendly music. Thankfully I was able to convince my sister and her girlfriend to come over and babysit, but we were still late getting out the door. As military types like to say, with any plan, the enemy has a say, and in this case the enemy was my wife and little boy.

Since we started this blog we've sometimes gotten on the guest list for shows which means free tickets, which is nice. Since we're stand-up dudes we try to avoid milking this for shows with local bands, since I'm thinking as a 37-year-old professional I can probably handle the $10 charge for those. But this show was a little bigger so we decided to accept the offer that the Jealous Girlfriends' publicist proffered unto us. However, we have also learned that if a band gets you on the guest list, it's a dick move to show up late, miss their set, and use the tickets anyway. It's just not done.

But, as I mentioned, my wife and wiener kid made us late, so we decided to try it anyway. People are always pulling dick moves and getting away with it, so we figured, yo, it's hammer time, let's try this. Potsy took charge and went to the Will Call window:

Yeah, I have a plus-two, on the Jealous Girlfriends list.
You're at the wrong window.

Potsy continued to take charge, this time at the right window.

Yeah, I have a plus-two, on the Jealous Girlfriends list. Last name [REDACTED].
They already went on. Also, you're not on the list.

At this point he helpfully pressed the list against the booth window so Potsy could verify the double-donged beatdown. Ouch. At this point Potsy then went back to the original window to buy tickets:

I need one ticket, please.
You're at the wrong window.

Reasonably enough, Potsy didn't want to return to the site of his bitchification, so I had to step in make the transaction. In we went. Now, who's the bigger jackass here? The Jealous Girlfriends, for promising to put us on the list, and not doing so, or us, for attempting to take advantage of their goodwill? I suspect it's us so perhaps it serves us right. Doesn't mean we won't ever try it again, though. I think Jumbo Slice sent their publicist a semi-snippy e-mail before we could tell him that, umm, there's a bit of nuance to this situation, Jumbo. This also another effect of Jumbo Slice moving to Texas, he would have never allowed this to happen. He was our moral compass. At the very least he would have gotten there early to pick up the tickets AND watch the JG set and report back on it. Now look at us, playing fast and loose with ethics, like Nixon or something. Fuck.

Okay, so we missed the Jealous Girlfriends. By this point we're probably personae non gratae with them so I'll just move on now, okay?

We did see the whole Delta Spirit set, and they were wonderful. Ode to Sunshine is one of the best albums I heard in 2008, and the band delivered outstanding achievement in the field of excellence when we saw them at Austin City Limits and also at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Matt Vasquez has one of the best rock voices I've heard in quite a while. He also looks like a Depression-era hobo, whatwith the indie mustache and the mismatched earthtone suit. I think this band has the potential to crossover into massive hugeness a la Springsteen, or even just John Cougar --they're rootsy enough to appeal to the booboisie but alt enough not to seem too VH1. It's a tough mix to pull off but they make it look effortless. Go see these guys before they play the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Enter the headliners, Nada Surf. I only have one Nada Surf album--Let Go (2003)--but, oh my, what a nice album it is. Nada Surf were on the way to one hit wonderdom (remember "Popular" from 1996?) but managed to resurrect their career (as an aside, this was no thanks to Pitchfork; I generally like Pitchfork and think it's a useful site, but this review of Let Go was, to me, an infamous hatchet job). Bassist Daniel Lorca managed to shock everyone by taking the stage while smoking a cigarette--oh my god, doesn't he know there's a regulation against that? I was more shocked by his Klingon-like appearance.

Lt. Worf

Daniel Lorca

We only caught about four songs of their set--had to get back to the babysitters, you know--but I heard "Happy Kid" and "Inside of Love," so that was cool. I'm told they played "Blizzard of '77," which is a great one:

"Blizzard of '77"
Nada Surf (
Let Go, 2003)

So there you are. Another eventful night and some good music. I hate this cold weather though, because now you have to either check your coat, and wait in line to get it back after the show, or wear it and get hot during the show. I swear, I'm never happy and never will be.

SXSW 2009

Momentum is building for SXSW 2009 here in Austin. They've started announcing some of the bands that will be performing (St. Vincent, Beach House, Future of the Left, Passion Pit). I moved here in April so I missed the 2008 festival. At the 2009 event I plan to see as many DC groups as possible. Here are some of the DC bands that made the trip last year:

Apes, Meredith Bragg and the Terminals, The Fairline Parkway, Georgie James (now defunct), Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, Le Loup, Mingering Mike, Wale, You, Me, And Everyone We Know, Exit Clov, Jukebox the Ghost, Middle Distance Runner, Pash, Samantha Murphy, These United States, and Carol Bui.

Whew. That's quite a list. Some we like, some we mock, and some I've never even heard of. Last year the Digital Freedom Campaign sponsored a showcase featuring many of the bands listed above. Hopefully, they'll do the same in 2009. Now, if I was curating the show (which I'm not), the lineup would look different than the 2008 list. Here are a few of the DC bands I'd want to see:

The Points - People (and the press) rave about their live shows. Here's a sample from a recent show at the Red and the Black:

Imperial China - I've expressed my feelings about these guys many, many, many times.

These United States - The one local band that all of Rock Club can agree on.

Greenland - Jet Age Eric turned me onto this band. You can check out both groups at Comet Ping-Pong this Saturday night.

Roofwalkers - I don't even know if these guys are still around. I saw them once at Galaxy Hut, loved the show, and haven't heard anything about them since.

Statehood - Another band that might be on a short hiatus. If you haven't heard their Lies and Rhetoric album, give it a listen.

The Oranges Band - Okay, technically this is a Baltimore band but who cares. I like everything they've released thus far.

Any glaring omissions? Do you know of any DC bands that are going to SXSW this year?

Friday, December 05, 2008

John Foster Are You Watching?

Judge this cover by its cover:

What'd he scribble on that baby's head? "I love a knob at night?"

I dig that Fred Perry shirt. More on this here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Done On Purpose

One of my favorite wuss-rock bands (and I have many) is calling it quits. Dirty On Purpose just announced they're breaking up. Why? "We got back from tour about a month ago and sat down to talk about recording another record, and realized we didn't really want to record another record." Pretty straight forward. Although they added one caveat: "Finally, we're all still buddies and live in the same town, so we reserve the right to change our minds and get back together in six months if we feel like it." When DC Rock Club calls it quits (soon, we promise) I guarantee there will be no such civility.

We never saw Dirty On Purpose in concert which is too bad. It would've been fun to see Sacklunch and Potsy next to their doppelgangers (the bassist and guitarist pictured above). We went to one show but their van broke down so we were stuck with the opening band, Cedars (they sucked).

If you happen to be in NYC on New Year's Eve you can catch their final show at Mercury Lounge as they open for A Place To Bury Strangers.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Longing for the Long Blondes?

Weekday Update

Stereogum has picked up a story from Slashdot about the use of new medical technology that might repair Dorian Cox's stroked-out hand.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Hey Jealousy

Oh, hi Tuesday.

Here's a preview of this week's Rock Club outing, courtesy of spectaculous YouTube. Today we feature a video for "How Now" by Brooklyn's The Jealous Girlfriends. TJG are openers for The Delta Spirit and Nada Surf (headliners) this Friday at the 9:30 Club. When did the 9:30 Club change its website, btw? It's all...new...and whatnot.

Space suits? Excellent.
NYC? Excellent.
Any other ideas? Not really, no.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Time

On Thanksgiving people mention all the good things in their lives. DC Rock Club likes to do things a little differently. Here are some things we're not thankful for: the worst albums of 2008. The flood of "Best of 2008" lists are just around the corner. Before that happens let's salute those bands put out the poo-poo this year for all to not enjoy.

I'll just mention a few and then let people chime in with their own submissions. I know Ashlee Simpson, Metallica, Madonna, Mars Volta, and Nickelback will top some lists. Those are givens. I had high hopes for a number of albums that were ultimately very disappointing. Here are some nominations for Turkey of the Year (in no particular order):

Guns & Roses, Chinese Democracy - yeah, I know Rolling Stone and Chuck Klosterman loved this shit but I didn't. I really, truly, tried to give it a chance. I wanted to like it but it's not going to happen. I barely make it through the whole thing. At times it reminded me of a Broadway musical and other times it sounded like Korn. Either way, the listener is the loser. Sorry Axl, thumbs down from me. Thanks for the free Dr. Pepper though.

Islands, Arm's Way - I guess I'm as much to blame as the band. I hoped they could produce something as quirky and innovative as what Nick Thorburn created while in The Unicorns. This album is scattered, inconsistent, and most of all, annoying.

Cold War Kids, Loyalty To Loyalty - Somehow I had convinced myself that their first album was an underrated gem. Then I went back and realized I only really liked two of the songs. Granted, I like them quite a lot but the rest of the tunes are middle of the road at best. On their second album, there's only one song I like (and not even that much). Then I saw them put on a half-ass performance at Waterloo Records and that sealed their fate as one of my 2008 Turkeys of the Year. Congratulations, Cold War Kids.

Thoughts? Are their bands that released worse albums this year?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fun Fun Fun Recap - Part 2

I was holding off on this post until I could access my pictures and videos from the festival. Laptop is still down though. Oh well. I managed to load a few pictures before the technical difficulties set in.

Dan Deacon

I scooted from Deerhoof a little early to catch Dan Deacon. I've seen him a few times already and I still listen to many tracks off of Spiderman of the Rings. When I first arrived the sound was absolute crap. This isn't surprising since he performs with throngs of kids jumping all over him and his equipment. The issues were fixed soon enough and the party continued (not that the poor sound mattered to most).

Here's the thing with Dan Deacon. I've seen his shtick and each show is basically the same. Nonetheless he's a funny guy and never fails to crack me up with his commentary to the crowd. And you have to give credit to a dude that can make kids go totally and completely ape shit. They love the fat man. I admire all those things (including his girth) but he's mostly a novelty to me. If I was still in my teens or early twenties, it might be different. I'm guessing the kids in the middle of his mad dancing frenzy feel similarly about bands I liked at their age. They might listen to early Dinosaur, Jr. and wonder, "what's the big deal?" Music often defines periods of your life and Dan Deacon just doesn't do that for me. However, one band that did: The Dead Milkmen (that's what I call a Segway, bitches).

Dead Milkmen

As I mentioned in my preview of the FFF Fest, I once snuck backstage and hung out with the Dead Milkmen when I was 17. It was right when "Punk Rock Girl" was the #1 video on MTV. Naturally, I thought I was hot shit for chilling out with the band. I continued to listen to the Milkmen as I entered college. In fact, at parties Freshman year we'd all pile into our tiny bathroom and crank "Gorilla Girl" as we moshed around and beer flew everywhere. Why? I have no fucking idea. Looking back it may be the ghey-est thing I've ever done. And believe me, there's lots of competition for that title.

This was a one time reunion for the band so I wasn't sure what to expect. Reunions can easily go awry. The Milkmen were in fine form though. They kicked things off with "Punk Rock Girl" and the crowd went ballistic. I actually wormed my way to the front before the start and quickly was being thrown every which way. It was insane. I lasted exactly two songs before I exited the mob. I may be too old for that nonsense but it was fun to relive some memories for a short time. I watched the rest of the set from a safe distance on the hill.

Okay, this is getting too long so let's move onto the speed round...

The Dead Milkmen - nostalgic bliss. They should do a big reunion tour. They were fantastic.

Frightened Rabbit - good but not great. It was their last show of the tour and it wasn't as intense as their shows at Mohawk. It was still funny to see a bunch of Scots dealing with the Texas heat. The sweaty lead singer commented, "So this is winter in Texas? Jesus Christ."

The Spinto Band - not exactly groundbreaking stuff but they make some delightful indie-pop. I like the Kinks influenced stuff.

The Annuals - wasn't impressed when I saw them in DC and this time was no different. It just seemed messy.

I went into fanboy mode as I spoke with James Petralli of White Denim:

Shortly after this photo was taken security forcibly removed me when I tried to retain his pants as a keepsake. Side Note: if you haven't bought their new album, Exposion, go download it now, listen, and repeat. It's sure to be in my list of top albums of 2008.

And finally, here's a video synopsis of Day 2 at the Fun Fun Fun Fest. You should watch if only to see the remarkable transformation of the Frightened Rabbit drummer. At their last Austin show, he looked like Turtle from Entourage. Now he looks exactly like one of the Geico Cavemen. Check it out:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Deep Thoughts

Another Tuesday has come, they are relentless...

You may have seen this link via Stereogum, but in case you missed it, enjoy two great artists of their time engaged in a creative mind meld like no other.

If you're giving thanks this week, be thankful you weren't driving this cab.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Marnie Stern: Shredder

I planned to see Marnie Stern on Tuesday night but she went on way too late. Luckily, on Wednesday morning I discovered she was doing a free show at Waterloo Records. The past few weeks have been dedicated listening to her new album, This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That (suck on that Fiona Apple). I'm not sure how to describe her music. It's not metal. It's not prog, math rock, or indie rock and it's not punk or hardcore either. Let's just call it experimental and leave it at that.

She plays guitar using a cool finger-tapping style that produces a frenetic sound. It's often an odd juxtaposition to her high voice (more prominent when she talks than in her singing). Normally I chalk up excessive guitar solos/shredding to egocentric musical masturbation. That's not the case with Marnie though. The songs aren't all about her guitar playing. They're complicated and give equal weight to the mad percussions. I'm not sure who was playing drums but the guy put on a show.

After 20 minutes or so she asked one of the employees if she could keep going. They ended up playing for another 15 minutes or so. Definitely the longest performance I've seen at Waterloo and perhaps the best. It was a refreshing change from the Cold War Kids who were in and out in under 15 minutes.

Finally, Marnie is also a nice, down to earth person. My wife and daughter met her while waiting for me to arrive. My kid is mesmerized by dogs and Marnie was very kind in letting Mia meet her little dog, Fig.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

10 reasons why the Eagles of Death Metal will be one of my top shows of 2008:
10. They had a very good opening band in The Duke Spirit. Sexy, Debbie Harry-like lead singer, catchy tunes, and an engaged crowd. While I wouldn't go see them again, they got the audience revved up for the headliner.
9. I had an excellent spot on the rail. It wasn't my normal spot in the corner, but more towards the center of the balcony. I stood next to an upright spooning couple, but the chick looked like supermodel and David Bowie lover, Iman.
8. The opening track, "I Only Want You" was the perfect lead-in. To be honest, I had only heard a couple of EODM songs prior to the show, but this one set the tone for the rest of the evening.
7. Lead singer and head Eagle, Jesse Hughes is probably the most entertaining lead singer this side of Craig Finn. It is really something that needs to be seen and can not be explained. A true rock and roll entertainer.
6. The other guitarist played a Flying V. Jay Reatard plays a Flying V. So did Jimi Hendrix and Randy Rhoads. Rad.
5. The crowd (and the band) were really into the show. It was one of those evenings when there was a symbiotic relationship between audience and band. The crowd was lively, yet seemingly not aggressive. Lots of dudes, but all seemed to be well behaved (unlike The Hold Steady show). The EODM seemed damn appreciative of the crowd. It was a great vibe.
4. Good 70"s style stage banter. Lots of "CAN YOU DIG IT" and shout-outs to the ladies.
3. They played 2 covers ("Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel and "Brown Sugar" by The Stones). All bands need to throw a cover song into their set. If you put in 2, well, that's even more kick-ass.
2. Unfortunately, Jimbromski had to bail on the show due to his ill offspring. I usually don't mind going to shows alone, but this was one that you kind of wanted to share with some friends. Luckily, I ran into a friend during the Duke Spirit. Karma.
1. Jesse Hughes moustache. Ridiculously bushy, like a 70's porn star. Somehow it added to the whole experience.
While probably not the best music I have seen live this year (that undoubtedly goes to the band from Oxford that played in a monsoon), this was probably the most entertaining show I have seen in 2008. I'm a believer now.

Daniel My Brother, You Are Weirder Than Me

[photo credit]

If you measure bands according to the number of people turned off after one listen than Danielson might be the best band touring today. When their highly acclaimed album Ships was released in 2006 I thought it was terrible. Absolutely terrible. On Tuesday I gave the band a second chance. I was going to see Marnie Stern at Mohawk and they were playing before she took the inside stage. I wanted to understand why they had such loyal fans and why sites gave their albums such effusive reviews. I listened to their newly released 28-track anthology (Trying Hartz) and to my surprise I liked it. The live tracks highlight Daniel Smith's engaging personality and the band's quirkiness comes off as fun instead of grating (especially on songs like "Rubbernecker" and "Flip Flop Flim Flam"). In a span of 2 hours I went from completely dismissing the band to looking forward seeing them live.

Perhaps the most distinctive thing about the band is Daniel Smith's voice. How can I even describe it? It's a bizarrely high pitched. I first found it annoying but then I became mesmerised by it. I couldn't understand how a dude could sing like that (my guess: football to the groin). Each song was punctuated with a series of shrieks, cries, and odd yelps.

Danielson doesn't look like your average indie rock band. The seven members all had on matching uniforms from their hats down to their one of a kind shoes (they were custom made in exchange for a song). The lyrics have a decidedly Christian bent but you'd have to be a Satanist not to appreciate their take on indie-gospel-rock. There are lots of twists and turns, jagged guitars, plentiful percussion, and layered vocals. Some may find the music, squeaky falsetto voice, and matching outfits a little creepy. Maybe it's just a coincidence that I saw Danielson near the 30th Anniversary of Jonestown but I think Smith and Jim Jones share certain traits. They're instantly likable and very persuasive. Smith had the audience involved in almost every song. There were clap alongs, snap alongs, and sing alongs. One song was just a drink along. Smith is like the Pied Piper. People love his music and obey his instructions. This is not to say he's going to start a church and misuse Kool Aid (if anyone starts a cult it'll be Dan Deacon). Smith just knows how to put on an engaging performance. He looked like he was enjoying every second on stage. It was a nice contrast to the brooding young rockers I often see at shows.

If you're not familiar with Danielson (or the Danielson Famile) here's the trailer for a documentary film that was made about the band and family. They seem too odd to be real. They're like a religious version of the Partrich Family (only weirder, if that's possible).

Danielson might not be for everyone but I found them compelling. They're certainly not terrible like I first thought. They're talented and unique which is more than you can saw for most indie bands out there today.

Postscript: I didn't stick around for Marnie Stern. I thought she went on at 11:00 but it turned out to be closer to 1:00 AM. Fortunately, she played an in-store show at Waterloo Records yesterday. A review of that show will be up tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ian MacKaye

[photo credit]

Ian MacKaye
St. Edwards University: Austin, TX
November 14th, 2008

My wife and I planned to check out a coffee shop on Friday night but that quickly changed when I saw Ian MacKaye was speaking. It's ironic that for five years I lived within a mile or so of the Dischord House and it was only when I moved to Texas that I finally got to hear Ian speak. Well, I guess that's not totally true. I was fortunate enough to see Fugazi a few times. I've also seen The Evens play but I've never talked with Ian or heard him in a Q&A setting. He has an unfair reputation of being a bit puritanical (the whole DIY and Straight Edge stuff). Sure, he has strong beliefs on certain issues but he's certainly not an uptight guy. I found him incredibly funny, intelligent, thoughtful, and even inspiring. The one word my wife used when describing him was "real".

We didn't have tickets so we waited in line and hoped there was extra room. Fortunately, the three of us got in (our 6 month old daughter was with us). Ian casually walked into the packed ballroom wearing his cargo shorts, sweatshirt, and muggers hat. After a brief introduction Ian explained the ground rules for the event: no video please (damn internets), you ask, I'll answer.

Over the next 90 minutes (it lasted two hours but we had to scoot early) Ian described the support he received from his family. He told a touching story about the kindness his Mom showed to the people who visited her Beecher St. home thinking it was Dischord House. His stories of growing up with Henry Rollins were especially funny. It's fascinating how life has taken them in different directions yet they remain best friends to this day.

Other subjects he touched upon were the effect of the internet on regional music, his stances on DRM (he's against any restrictions) and file sharing (he's for it). His views on file sharing were particularly interesting considering he owns a record label. His general advice is to be a patron of the arts - go to a show, buy a record album, let a band crash at your place. Just do something to support those making music. And when you do discover good music share it with your friends. He says music is meant to be free and all record companies sell is plastic.

After a while it was getting close to my daughters bedtime so we scooted out the side door. As I left with my daughter in my arms, Ian gave us a little wave as if to say "good night - thanks for coming". No problem Ian. The pleasure was all ours. Now get to work on that next Fugazi album...

Flotsam & Jetsam

Okay, I missed the Eagles of Death Metal/Duke Spirit show last night. My son's been barfing regularly since Sunday morning and he hurled just as I was about to leave last night so I couldn't leave my wife high and dry. The good news is that I seem to have happened upon some sort of perpetual motion machine because he seems to be puking up more food than he's taking in. If I can somehow harness this power I can make money/solve the world's problems. Typically, Sacklunch tells me last night's show was "f*cking awesome." He said he'd get a review up sometime.

There was a post on the Miami Sun-Sentinel's blog about shitty NFL rap videos that Stereogum linked to. This is right in my wheelhouse. As a devoted Raider fan (I've found that saying that out loud these days is like going to Gymboree and announcing "I am a devoted pedophile") I always felt "Silver and Black Attack" was the best NFL rap video of all time. The Sun-Sentinel's list is comprehensive so I won't say much more about it, but they did miss two key entries.

First, here's Jonathan Ogden (Baltimore Ravens tackle and DC native) in an insurance commercial. Technically not a team rap video, but funny nonetheless (30 seconds):

And here's the big oversight--ladies and gentlemen, I give you, yourrrrrr Glasgow Diamonds!

The Glasgow Diamonds were not part of NFL Europe. They were just a bunch of Scottish dudes who played American football and made a video. Not bad, considering. The best part of the video is the relentless dreariness that is the UK. It always looks like it's 10 minutes to sunset there and all colors are a variation of brown.


I forgot about these two vids. While we're on the international tip, here's "Ossie's Dream" by Tottenham Hotspur, to get everyone fired up for their FA Cup run in 1981. This one's not particularly funny and it's really sort of catchy, but at 1:58 Argentine midfielder Ossie Ardiles chips in with some fractured English. Watch it, it's a hoot.

And here's the New England Patriots' "New England, the Patriots and We." This is from 1986--their devastating riposte to Chicago's "Superbowl Shuffle" from the same year. Chicago had the better musical chops and bitchified the Pats on the field, 46-10.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Let the midnight special shine a light on me...

It's Tuesday and I'm reaching my hand up the small intestine of YouTube to deliver you a clip for the week.

This week's clip is inspired in part by the fires in California - though the clip really has nothing to do with fires, only its title does. The song is about a horse, actually. The choice is also inspired by Jimbromski's previous unfamiliarity with this softrock classic. Being that he regards himself as a softrock connoisseir, this track is a must have. Check out the set behind this act. Your name doesn't appear as a two-story neon sign for nothing. Neon ain't cheap.

The Midnight Special (forerunner to NBC's Friday Night Videos)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fun Fun Fun Fest - Part 1

The 2008 Fun Fun Fun Fest - 2 days, 4 stages, and over 60 bands. The music included indie rock, Hip Hop and DJ's, and Punk/Hardcore bands. They was a little something for everyone. Here are some of the bands I opted to see:

Bishop Allen

This clean cut crew plays catchy, literate, unoffensive tunes. The type of stuff your girlfriend likes and that gets played on NPR's All Songs Considered. Listening to their set I was reminded of Death Cab, The Decemberists, and The Shins. Not exactly edgy stuff. Of course, I kind of like those bands so it's not surprising that I enjoyed Bishop Allen. I was on the fence going in but I'm a fan after seeing them live. Sometimes you just want to hear a good pop song and they delivered with "Click, Click, Click", "Rain", and "Middle Management".

One final comment about Bishop Allen. A few songs into the set the lead singer starting doing this odd dance. He was bopping around the stage kicking his heels up towards his ass. It looked like a retard doing Jazzercise. Which is to say that it was awesome. Oh, and he had a huge head so that may have added to the effect. Just thought I'd mention that.

Octopus Project

This was my first time seeing Austin's most experimental band. Primarily an instrumental band, Octopus Project were as entertaining as they were innovative. There was so much going onstage and within each song (odd structures, myriad of instruments and effects) it was easy to forget there were no lyrics (there were vocals in only two songs). At times they were angular and dissonant and other times they were beautifully melodic. They displayed impressive creativity for sure.

A quick example of their showmanship: dancing ghosts. Behind the band there were a series of green and white sheets with funny faces and little ears. They looked to be covering the amps and hanging from the ceiling. Assuming they were just decorations I didn't pay attention to them until 3 or 4 songs into the set when half of them started dancing around. The crowd loved it.

The band isn't all gimmicks though. Their talent was evident as each member played at least two or three instruments. My favorite was Yvonne Lambert on the theremin (the Moog device she controls without touching). It produced lots of eerie sounds as if she was channeling the thoughts of the dancing ghosts behind her.

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

By the time Trail of Dead took the stage, the festival crowd had grown quite a bit (the will call line was LONG). They had big lineup with two drummers, two guitars, bass, and keyboards which helped create the quiet/load contrast found in many of their songs. The band had a big wall of sound dynamic that worked perfectly in a festival setting.

The group was dressed in all black, as if they were representing the dark side of indie rock, and the music reflected it. Early on they played "The Betrayal of Roger Casement and the Irish Brigade," a searing instrumental from their recent Festival Thyme EP. The set included a nice mix of new tunes along with their standards. Personally, I enjoyed "Caterwaul" of their poorly reviewed Worlds Apart album (underappreciated album IMHO). Listening to the new songs I'm guessing the album due in January will be less produced and more straightforward rock. They even had one song that was pure hardcore punk.

I used to wonder if they were blessed or cursed when Pitchfork gave Source Tags and Codes a 10.0. Answer: probably cursed. Since that review each successive release has been over-scrutinized and a backlash has occurred. There were also label troubles and a general decline of interest in the band (playing a mid-day slot at their hometown festival being one sign of this). However, none of that was reflected in their performance. They put on a blistering show and the crowd was very much into the entire set. I look forward to the new album in 2009. The Trail of Dead is ready for its Lazarus moment.


I'm down with any band that has a sick drummer and Greg Saunier is as bad ass as they come. He's the soul of the band pounding away on his spare drum kit. Not to take away from the rest of the band. The guitarists, Jon Dietrich and Ed Rodriguez, are incredible musicians, and Satomi Matsuzaka is one of the most unique front women in indie rock. All combined they produce sloppy brilliance that keeps you guessing where they'll go next (musically that is).

The band has a reputation for inspiring live shows and this was no exception. Admittedly, it wasn't as good as the past shows I've seen but it was solid nonetheless. They played a series of favorites from their last five albums. I was happy the set wasn't too heavy on the new album (Offend Maggie) because frankly, I'm just not that into it. Although I must say "Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back" is better live than on record.

I hope Deerhoof makes another Austin visit soon. I prefer seeing bands in smaller venues instead of at festivals. I tried to get close to the stage but had to leave the mob after about 10 minutes. My old man back was acting up and there were some seriously drunk people around me. One dude passed in front of me holding his hand over his mouth as puke ran down his shirt. Nice.

In the second recap I'll cover The Dead Milkmen, Dan Deacon, Frightened Rabbit, The Spinto Band, and Annuals. I'll also lament the many bands I failed to see (due to either scheduling conflicts or my nasty cold).