Tuesday, December 29, 2009

THE CUGEROCK TOP 15 ALBUMS OF 2009!!!

2009....what a great year for music despite a shit-year for our country. One helps the other I guess.

Here are my top album picks for 2009. Not as obscure as pitchfork (no pun intended given my top pick)...I go by what Ive continually had in my playlists across the year or what Ive picked up recently that I'm "beating to death". Hipster media darlings don't always make for repetition on the street, in the car or at home over time.

1. Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career: Late pickup but I cant stop listening...incredible album. I loved their last one and this one "kills-it". Best of '09 by far.
2. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: See my post on 6/11/09. Media blitzkrieg but a rock-solid showing from my favorite Frenchmen. Relatively on par with Its Never Been Like That which is one of my top albums of all time.
3. The Thermals - Now We Can See: Saw them a few times over 2009 and they continue to sustain themselves through their records and live performances as one of my favorite bands of all time .
4. Dinosaur Jr. - Farm: Saw them live recently with Sonic Youth which didn't blow me away per usual (see my post from 5/7/09) but this album is so strong. Takes me back to the Without A Sound/Where You Been/Hand It Over days.
5. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest: Great work boys. Album is solid. Thanks for the reco Stricklands.
6. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion: See my post on 2/4/09 - Takes a bit to get used to but the sound is so unique its like no album Ive ever heard. Start off with the singles and you'll warm up to the full album.
7. Sonic Youth - The Eternal: See my post on 9/4/09. Unreal how these legends continue to raise the bar of rock year by year. Most evident in their live shows...just saw them on 11/21/09 in NYC with DJr...blown away.
8. The Von Bondies - Love, Hate and Then There's You: See my post on 3/26/09. Sleeper hit of '09 for me.

9. Superchunk - Leaves In The Gutter EP: See my post on 5/22/09. Its like they were cryogenicaly frozen for a decade. Awesome.
10. Real Estate - Real Estate: Recent pickup (per a Facebook reco from my old college buddy Carl) that oddly matches all of the reviews of being Beach-Boys esque, "dream-pop" etc. Solid.
11. Built To Spill - There Is No Enemy: See my post on 11/18/09.
12. Matt & Kim - Grand: Album and subsequent videos make me miss my younger NYC days.
13. Lamb of God - Wrath: NSFE. You want to let off some steam (aka - smash something) buy this album (ladies...might want to side-step)
14. The Doves - Kingdom of Rust: These brits continue to make solid rock records. Id say this album is parallel to Last Broadcast which was my inaugural Doves listening experience.
15. Silversun Pickups - Swoon: Got bad reviews from the music press but I think their sophomore record is pretty rockin yet different from Carnavas.
In conclusion...
I still have a few to listen to per the top '09 lists Ive been receiving from my friends including these Dirty Projectors I keep hearing so much about. Been a little preoccupied the past few months.

There's so many albums dropping in early 2010 so this year should start off "correct" then climax when I see the first NYC Pavement reunion show in Sept (suckaz!). Then we got Halloween, my birthday, turkeyday and the return of crappy-sappy holiday jewelery commercials.

See you in "Oh-Ten" kiddos. -TC

Thursday, December 17, 2009

DUST OFF YOUR DEVIL-HORNS COMPADRES!!

Well...(sigh)...looks like I'm going to "summer" in Poland & the Czech Republic come 2010.
Holy...


This divine intervention of metal (ironic choice of words as most of these bands are affiliated with Satan) better come state-side or I will threaten to get my 7th grade metal band Solitaire back together and we will "counter-tour". Then it will be metal up YOUR ass Lars.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BUILT TO SPILL: The Trocadero 10/16 (Philly)



One of the fondest memories I have of college was when I was blaring the Built To Spill record Keep It Like a Secret while scrambling to get cleaned up for an early morning graduation commencement at the University of Delaware (I may or may not have been still drunk from the night before...my sister can confirm). I was pretty pumped to graduate despite a "heroic" intake of cocktails the night prior. EverItalicy time I listen to that album I get flashbacks of me gleefully running around dodging passed out stragglers in my POS house on North Chapel St.

I haven’t seen Built to Spill play live since the Ancient Melodies tour. I didn’t catch the Perfect From Now on album tour last year or any You In Reverse touring. That said I was pretty psyched to see them again for the Know Your Enemy tour and not in NYC (apparently Doug agrees..I’ll explain later). The Trocadero in Philly has so much history not only as an old burlesque hall in the late 19th/early 20th century but also for me personally has I saw so many bands there for the first time (Pavement) and some for the very last time (Elliot Smith). So many memories of packing into cars out in the burbs and driving into the city only to leave more sweat-soaked and jazzed up then when we were on our way in. I digress.

I caught a set-list from a recent B2S show in NYC off Brooklyn Vegan and was floored…tracks like Kicked it in The Sun, Stab and Time-Trap. My cousin Danny will tell you...I’ve been waiting to hear Time-Trap live for a decade. Every show we would go to in NYC I would be “that guy” yelling out (booze on breath) “Tiiiiiiime Traaaaaaaap” constantly. Its worked only a few times in my life…one time at a Lemonheads show I yelled out “Frying Pan” and Evan responded “I can do that”. I think it worked at a Quasi show at the Knitting Factory once as well for “All Bent Out of Shape” a rare gem. Again I digress.

I thought I knew what to expect by looking at prior setlists. I almost wished I didn’t see the NYC set-list prior cause I was pretty blown away from the Philly set. Here is is:
  • Traces
  • Distopian Dream Girl
  • Stab
  • Nowhere Lullaby
  • Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss
  • Wherever You Go
  • Else
  • Nowhere Nothin Fuckup
  • Stop The Show
  • Planting Seeds
  • Sidewalk
  • Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)
  • (Encore)
  • The Weather
  • Goin' Against Your Mind

The crowd was amazing. Young, old...me. They were so into it. Doug made a point to mention to the crowd how awesome they were and that the NYC crowds that he just played to nights before absolutely sucked. Knowing that NYC crowds in general suck from my 8+ years of going to shows there...I knew he was being sincere and it wasnt "lip-service" ("Hello Cleveland!")

The biggest highlights for me was Nowhere Nothin' Fuck-up and Sidewalk. I normally wasnt to thrilled with Goin Against Your Mind off the YIR album...however as a live ENCORE...un-fucking real. Its absolutely floored me (see also: "Oops, I crapped my pants").

They played the full catalog which is always refreshing as no one wants to hear a live version of the new album. However, the new album is SOLID and the tracks live sounded great. Sadly...no Time Trap...oh well...next time. It is truly my white-whale.

Happy Turkeyday kiddos.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Its gross"

http://pitchfork.com/news/36792-watch-sonic-youth-on-gossip-girl/

(fingers in ears, eyes closed, stomping feet) LALALALALALALALALALAICANTHEARYOUICANTHEARYOUICANTHEARYOU.

Remember when the Walkmen were on The OC?...multiply that feeling x100.

Remember when the Doobie Brothers were on What's Happening?...subtract that feeling x100.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

BEULAH UPDATE...sort of


http://tinyurl.com/yaomx5z

(I told you Pitchfork was still my place for news)

So that’s what Miles from Beulah has been doing the past 5 years…growing out his hair and hanging out at Hooters…with…with hooters. “Miles Kurosky – Owl Whisperer. “

I know I’ve peppered Beulah into a few of my posts. They are one of those great bands that remind me of college/early NY. I first heard tracks off of “Handsome Western States” on WVUD while driving around Newark, DE delivering pizza (Grottos) my junior year. There was no iPod auxiliary jack (or CD player for that matter) in the Ford Escort/Pizza Warmer hybrid they had me pilot. Wild West kids…wild western Delaware.

HWS was such a hard album to find if I remember correctly. I think it was an Elephant6 release which didn't have much distribution at the time...let alone to college indies. I scoured Bert’s on Main St but I think I ended up picking it up in Philly. Great story Tom…cheeeesus.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pitchfork’s Top 500 Songs of the 2000’s: A CugeRock Commentary

Out of all of the music sites I check on a regular basis…I go to Pitchfork for news and reviews most every day. News is news and the reviews used make sense to me despite being two paragraphs longer than they should have been. Lately I haven’t agreed with some of their reviews retroactive to me purchasing and listening to the album reviewed. This concerns me.

On a similar note, their “Top x of x time period” lists are always way off the mark in my opinion. Currently on the site they are doing a “Top 500 Tracks of the 2000’s” ( http://tinyurl.com/qn9ygo ) or what they view as the top 500 influential songs given the past decade. They also have many other related articles and lists including the top 200 albums of the past decade which oddly enough I completely agree with…aside from a few rankings in question.

Now back to the issue at hand. Someone high up at Pitchfork (I’m acting like its Globex Corp.) or Mr. Pitchfork’s son/daughter (Pete or Penny Pitchfork) must absolutely love the band The Knife cause I feel like they’re on every top whatever-the-fuck list they put out…and they suuuuuuuuuuck. Antony & the Johnsons is a close second. One year I think two of the Knife’s albums were in the top 5 for the year. So I thought…wow…these guys must be good. Notsomuch. I know Pitchfork doesn’t like to make obvious ranking choices but peppering in obscurity for obscurity’s sake or pop-music singles for pop-music singles sake does not do anyone any good. You shouldn’t reward artists who cater to what would sound good at a pro basketball game during a timeout. I used to give Pitchfork the benefit of the doubt as they are music experts (and honestly…I still do) but once you read the disparities below you’ll see how I’m starting to have doubts. Keep in mind…this what they are saying is the top 500…FIVE HUNDRED SONGS OF THE PAST 10 YEARS….top 500….last ten years.

KEY MATCHUPS IN QUESTION - (#Ranking. Artist – “Song” vs #Ranking. Artist – “Song”)

1. Outcast – “Bombs Over Baghdad” vs 301. The Shins – “Kissing The Lipless” (SHOULD BE #1…or at least in the top 10…301? Crickets!)
4. Beyonce – “Crazy in Love” vs 142. Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize?” (I don’t deny Beyonce’s hit track and its importance but #4? Whaaa? #142 for the official state song of Oklahoma!)
5. Daft Punk – “One More Time” vs 99. MGMT – “Time to Pretend” (Time to check your list one more time so I can pretend you’re not serious. Wheeoa!)
7. Missy Elliot – “Get Your Freak On” vs 44. Franz Ferdinand - “Take Me Out” (That’s fair…oh gaaa!)
17. Annie – “Heartbeat” vs 155. Coldplay – “Clocks” (makes ZERO sense)
19. R.Kelly – “Ignition (Remix)” vs 89. Postal Service – “Such Great Heights” (I feel like R.Kelly pissed on my head from a very SHORT height when looking at this ranking. Swish!)
21. Kelly Clarkson – “Since You’ve Been Gone” vs 84. Peter, Bjorn & John – “Young Folks” (So not fair…Young Folks has been played to death but its such a unique and important song within the decade in indie that it should have ranked ahead of “Miss Independent”)
28. Antony & The Johnsons – “I Hope There’s Someone” vs 286. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - "Another Morning Stoner" (MY GOD THIS GUY SUCKS. WHY? WHY DOES PITCHFORK SUPPORT THIS GUY? He sounds like a cup of vanilla pudding on valium. They gave TOD album Source Tags and Codes a 10.0 rating in which I gave PF the utmost respect but then ranked the top track #286 Arrrrgh!!!)
29. Hot Chip – “Boy From School” vs 175. Usher [ft. Lil Jon and Ludacris] - "Yeah" (More like the boy from drool…hahaha. No? Guys?)
32. Amerie – “One Thing” vs 123. Kanye West – “Jesus Walks” (Ok. Who the f is Amerie? I fully admit my tastes do not skew to the “blazin hip-hop and r&b" genre but I’ve heard of every other artist on this list aside from this one. And she ranks #32? Really? The “one thing” I’m not complaining about is the album cover – sorry ladies...that was inappropriate)
63. The Hold Steady – “Stuck Between Stations” vs 196. NoAge – “Teen Creeps” (why…why do people like the Hold Steady?…they sound like a Thin Lizzy/Springsteen wannabe hybrid. Teen Creeps so out-rocks it)
77. Three 6 Mafia – “Stay Fly” vs 104. Eminem – “Lose Yourself” (I’m sorry…I would like to hear the argument that “Stay Fly” had a bigger impact than this track)
101. Jurgen Paape – “"So Weit Wie Noch Nie" vs 307. Wolf Parade –“Shine a Light” (see my comments below regarding frauline Paape. Ask anyone who’s heard of which artist…you know the result)
106. The Mae Shi "Run to Your Grave" vs 143. Feist – “1234” (makes sense…sigh. wow.)
111. Aaliyah - "We Need a Resolution" vs 364. Elliott Smith - "Everything Reminds Me of Her" (neither are RIP with this unfair ranking. I feel ill)
113. Kelis – “Milkshake” vs 395. Death From Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights” (I take this “diss” personally - I still have a DFA79 sticker on my car for gods sake…look at my shirt in the Cugerock photo!)
125. The Field – “Over the Ice” vs 216. Sleater-Kinney - "Jumpers" (The Field? This isn’t even a genre of music. A 6th grader could make this. Please listen to the song if you don’t believe me. Then listen to Jumpers. Good lord.)
133. Belle & Sebastian – “Your Cover’s Blown” vs 456. Doves – “Black & White Town” (The ONLY B&S song I skip)
141. Britney Spears – “Toxic” vs 186. Fugazi – “Cashout” (Jaaaaaaaaaaaysus f-ing Christmas…perhaps the most influential band of my generation…comes out with a stellar album after a 3 year hiatus…and hasn’t put anything out in 8 years…and you throw them 45 songs behind
Britney….my BPH is going through the roof. IM SEEING RED!!!)
146. Fennez – “Endless Summer” vs 255. At the Drive-In - "One Armed Scissor" (WHAT A LOAD OF FENNEZ CRAP – LISTEN TO THIS – IT’S NOT EVEN A SONG. How can you kick ATDI in the crotch with that ranking?)
158. Art Brut – “Formed a Band” vs 402. My Morning Jacket – “Off The Record” (Like the band formed…don’t understand the ranking or choice of song)
180. Gwen Stefani – “Hollaback Girl” (should be #500,000,000,000) vs 191. Vampire Weekend – “Oxford Comma” (Words…’pause’…sigh. Words can’t even describe how much I hate Hollabackgirl…the kids didn’t stand a chance)
197. Joanna Newsom - "Peach, Plum, Pear" vs 224. The National - "Abel" (Good, God, Why? Ugh. Fausts – back me up on this)
354. Tinariwen - "Matadjem Yinmixan" vs 363. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" (clap your hands if you can pronounce that higher ranking band’s name…sheesh)
381. Crime Mob – “Knuck If You Buck” vs 401. The Walkmen – “In The New Year” (wow…I um….wow)

Oh and thanks for integrating “Lala” as a partner for this listing. Id say 90% of the tracks require you to register before listening. Now bands that I wanted to preview (given they’re on this list) and possibly purchase in the future I swiftly dismiss and move on cause I’m pissed…30 second sample…that’s all I would have needed. Bad marketing…bad. There’s other ways to drive conversions. Don’t piss off the potential consumer. Hmph!

Maybe it’s just me but the list seems to have too much LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, Robyn and of course…Outcast. Don’t get me wrong most all of the pop-songs I detail above are no doubt important and should be a part of this list as they have had relevance across the decade…I mean…especially Jurgen Paape – “So Weit Wie Noch Nie”…no one could deny the catchiness of that one (eyes rolling like a slot machine). Seriously, just because I personally don’t like them doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be included or are important (except for Jurgen…I mean…c’mon). Outcast songs like “Hey Ya”, “Ms. Jackson” and “Bombs Over Bagdad” are great tracks. I love them…any normal human being would. “I am foreaaaaal”. I only have issue with the ranking…I just have issues in general. Bombs Over Baghdad…the top song that defines the decade? I’m sorry….am I being completely biased to rock songs here?

TRACK MIS-STEPS: No tracks on the list were off of the latest Fucked Up album? They threw an older track on for indie cred I guess. No New Pornographers songs off of Twin Cinema? Sing me Spanish Techno? Bones of an Idol?

BANDS LEFT OFF THE LIST ALLTOGETHER: Mates of State, The Anniversary (No DANB tracks?), Quasi, Maritime or Promise Ring (No Electric Pink EP tracks? That was 2000), Stephen Malkmus, Stereolab, Blood Brothers, Matt & Kim, Pilot to Gunner, Radio 4, SLOAN (you have something against Canada?), Rainer Maria, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Beulah. Really…no Stereolab…nothing off Sound Dust. Really? WTF LMAOOL OMG Pitchfork.

My friends will tell you that I enjoy making people mixes…often. I do repeat bands within the mix on RARE occasions. In terms of the top 500 songs of the decade so many tracks could have been cut from bands who appear multiple times on the list (albeit good bands) and so many great tracks could have been included from the aforementioned bands left off.

I could go on but I feel so jaded that there is a sense of physical pain. I’m not an angry person…but when it comes to music...I can get spicy. I just don’t understand the logic applied in terms of what songs are considered more important or more influential than others not to mention the bands that were left out entirely. Please give me a job at Pitchfork and we can discuss…as frienemies.
(Special thanks to Ms. Cathy Cribb for her awsome graphic design skills. Not easy to marry Brit with Ian with Carrie. "Great Job!")

Friday, September 4, 2009

SONIC YOUTH: Retrospective/Album Review -The Eternal

This post is dedicated to Eric & Carrie who pushed me to start this blog a year ago and are huge Sonic Youth fans. They recently welcomed a brand spankin new lil munchkin into their home named Poppy…who totally rocks. Congrats again guys. Your daughter is a peanut btw.

Some bands that have been around awhile, 25 years or so and still tour (less likely to record new tracks) usually sound like garbage…more pop…lyrics lose complexity…tempo decreases. The term “going through the motions” comes to mind. They play the songs that made them popular as an opener and encore but they are usually a lot slower than the originals. Then there is Sonic Youth.
When I heard the Sonic Youth track 100% when I was a kid I thought. “Ummm this is cool”. That was probably the first track I ever heard…then I heard Dirty Boots and said to myself “Umm holy shit this rocks”. They had a way of closing tracks so kick-ass. Then I proceeded to pick up the albums Goo and then Dirty (on cassette tape). I especially liked Goo as this was a nickname I had for a brief period when I was a pre-teen (don’t ask). I listened to them constantly as I delivered pizza in high school. I must be honest that I didn’t dig Kim Gordon’s voice at first…that quickly changed when I heard Kool Thing. Man she’s awesome. Her duet (so to speak) with Chuck-D was reminiscent of Debbie Harry, Blondie-esque but for a new generation. Daydream Nation I didn’t get into later although it came before those other two albums mentioned. Teenage Riot is hands down one of the top songs of all time in my opinion. When I lived in a dingy (that’s being polite) basement on 2nd St in the East Village with my cuz we would go to this local bar called The Library for happy-hour pretty much every other Friday. We would throw in 3 or so bucks and would play the same songs every single time…mine were Minot Threat and Misfits. Danny’s were Pavement and Sonic Youth…no other song but Teenage Riot.

Sonic Youth has so many albums that on the later records I would only pick and chose tracks to download as most of them sucked in my opinion. They were too much of what they are famous for which is long track times filled with feedback. Rather Ripped was refreshing as the tracks had some structure and vocals to them (Download - Reena). I remember seeing them when I was in high school with Pavement, Bosstones, 311 etc at the Philly WDRE fest in the early 90’s. They headlined but their set sucked as all they played were 10min long songs filled with distortion (that’s what I remember). As a teenager I didn’t really “get” what they were trying to do with a live show. I was filled with angst. “Whatevs”. I wonder if that tour many years ago brought them together with former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold…who is now a permanent SY band member. Hmmm. I heard them live two other times. Once my cuz and I couldn’t get into the Central Park Summerstage show so we listened from outside the fence…so good. The last time was literally a year ago on Labor Day weekend when I saw them at the final Macarren Park Pool show in Brooklyn. That weekend actually spawned the Cugerock blog. They were so freakin good. The songs they played were across the catalog and the sound was amazing. Thurston played guitar behind his back for Gods sake. Such a great night. That brings me to their latest album The Eternal.
This album is truly a Sonic Youth album but the melodies and guitars are slightly different. It has the perfect mix of distortion and melody which skewed other albums one way or the other. The first track Sacred Trickster could have been off of Dirty. Same goes for Thunderclap For Bobby Pryn which comes later in the album. Pretty hard not to rock along with either of these tracks. That said they weren’t very different from that their back-catalog. The first track that hooked me was Leaky Lifeboat as it didn’t sound like the normal SY intro. While Anti-Orgasm, the second track is one of those classic 6minute distortion rants. Antenna (the 4th track) is 6minutes of great rock melody and vocals (with a little distortion mixed in which is expected). What We Know if very rockin and pop-ish. Its refreshing and puzzling altogether. Total rocker…maybe Mark had some influence on it?…theeeeen you hear the distortion….classic SY. That was Thurston’s turn and Kim was next with Malibu Gas Station. I feel like Thurston took a few pages out of his solo effort Trees Outside the Academy with tracks like Walkin Blue. This is my favorite track on the album. The husband and wife come together (rare) on No Way which is so kick-ass I can’t even tell you. If I ever hear this live I will pee my pants. Good thing I’m going to see them with Dinosaur Jr in November. WHU-WHU-WHAAAAAAAA??? Such a lineup….reminiscent (yeah I’ve used that word twice in this post) of the Swervedriver/Hum tour.

Like I said, Sonic Youth has such an extensive catalog of music. My bro in law Rob, Eric or my cousin Danny could definitely school me on SY history. I only have experienced a small chunk which had a definite impact on my teenage years….stepped away…and now is back in a significant way. The staying power and relevance of this band is unparalleled. They are an influence on countless bands from mainstream to indie. Most bands from the 80s that are still “on the scene” just plain suck now - U2 I’m looking in your direction. “Blackberry loves U2”…great well Tommy doesn’t. I “Used2”. Ha!

Happy Labor Day kiddos.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Grizzly Bear News




Two things I observed today regarding the band Grizzly Bear:

1. I heard "Two Weeks" in CVS over the in-store radio station (file under "wtf")
-See Video Here - Pretty cool/creepy. http://tinyurl.com/nvomtq

2. Apparently Michael McDonald is a guest vocalist on one of their upcoming singles (that said they may be my favorite band now)

That is all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Joe Pernice (of Pernice Bros.) @ Tin Angel - Philly (8/8/09)

I’ve been a Pernice Brothers fan for many years now but the only full album I own is 06’s “Live a Little” which was their last. I have five or six tracks from every other record. I think there are four others. Unfortunately iTunes won’t let me “Compete My Album” for any of them. The first track I ever heard was “Baby in Two” and then I was hooked. I was delighted to hear more upbeat tracks as I sampled more of their music including “Clear Spot” which was apparently on the Gilmore Girls soundtrack. This is a point of confusion that I will address later in the post. Like I had said, I’ve been listening to them for a few years now and I’m still not sure if there are actual Pernice “Brothers” or if that is just Joe Pernice’s name for when he plays with a backing band. I think his brother is/was in the band. I know the band is 100% of Massachusetts origin (home of indie music legends such as Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, Pixies etc) born and bred in Dorchester Mass. Joe Pernice also has been in two other bands – The Scud Mountain Boys & Chappaquiddick Skyline - which I just recently learned about. Joe also has written a novel called “It Feels So Good When I Stop” which was just released. Everything is starting to make sense to me. Joe has to have three different bands and a book because he has too much to say.

For me personally, the one thing that makes the Pernice Brothers different from any other band I listen to (and I listen to many) is the lyrics. The lyrics really get to me. My girlfriend laughs because I am definitely a “tunes first, ask questions about the lyrics later” kind of guy. Plus unlike her I don’t read many “books” per se. I read a lot of content on the web, city papers and magazines…that counts right? Its called AADD…look it up. The music is important of course but Joe Pernice tells a short story in every song which has always drawn me closer to his personal story. The songs/stories often deal with women, money, love, drugs, booze, social standing etc but not in the typical rock-star lyrical formula you’re used to. It’s hard to explain but for me personally, the songs are very relatable yet unrealistic in the same vein. They remind me of situations I’ve been in throughout my adult life but I couldn’t give exact matching contextual detail if you asked me to. You’ll see when you download tracks like “Blinded by the Stars”, “One Foot in the Grave”, “PCH One”, “How Can I Compare”, “Clear Spot, “Working Girls” and “Somerville”. I’ve been trying to keep tabs on Joe Pernice as the years went on hoping to catch a show. After the last album was released, every so often I’d read an article about Joe moving to Canada (he lives in Toronto) or him guest lecturing at UMass (he has an MFA in creative writing) or some other side project. So when I read that Joe had written a book and more importantly was playing music to compliment/support it I was pretty psyched. There were two weekend dates in close proximity to me geographically. Friday at the Bowery on NYC or Saturday at the Tin Angel in Philly. I attended the Tin Angel performance…

I had never been to the Tin Angel. The venue is located in the Old City section of Philadelphia. It is a small upstairs venue with table seating/singular waitress service…a far cry from the sweaty venues I normally frequent (aka it was refreshing). Seeing as Joe played at the Bowery Ballroom the night before I guess I expected something slightly smaller but nothing like this…the place was tiny. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I thought in the back of my mind that Joe just might get up there solo with an electric acoustic. I was right. We walked in and he had a small table set up by the sound board with copies of his books, the IFSGWIS album and some Pernice Brothers recordings. He also had some eco-friendly cloth grocery bags with his label logo (“Ashmont Recordings”) on them. The opening act was a comedy duo consisting of two brothers from Mass called “The Walsh Brothers” (I think?). Pretty hilarious improv. Then Joe came on stage. Surprisingly he had a noticeable Boston accent. His singing voice sounds 180 degrees different then his speaking voice. Honestly…I was scared as you know when you really get into a band but never had seen them perform (or even any photos) so you have a certain expectation of how they’ll look or act? The way they appear in your mind when you hear the tracks on your iPod or in your car. You are afraid “the real deal” will ruin it. I know it sounds silly but it’s true…at least in my case. Luckily Joe looked and acted how I expected. He was a little more average-Joe (no pun intended) in personality than I thought but it really didn’t matter.

The whole show was kinda mellow and laid back that I felt like he was playing on my friends back porch or something. There also wasn’t any mention of the city he was playing in. There wasn’t any cliché greetings like “Hello Philly”, “Great to be back in Philly” or “Philly…hell of a town”. This was again…refreshing. However he was very conversational with the crowd. He got up and joked around, explained what he was going to do which was read some passages from his book then play some of the covers from the album. He opened with a passage from the book. The story of the novel revolves around a young NYC struggling musician who meets the love of his life then leaves the city her after one day of marriage and heads to Cap Cod/South Shore Boston. The story goes back and forth from the past to the present (which reminds me of 500 Days of Summer). Of course this is how the book is described and what I felt from the readings. I haven’t read it yet. The passages were hilarious and well written (a la Joe Pernice). One passage involves a funny story about Joe meeting Lou Barlow from Sebadoh/Dinosaur Jr outside the late Brownies music club in NYC. Apparently in real-life Joe called Lou and told him he was putting him in the novel but not to worry because he made him out to be a good guy. Lou basically said to Joe – Thanks for the heads up but you can write me in as a total dick if you want.

I’m calling it now. If the entire book is anything like what he read that night…this will be turned into a High-Fidelity-esque indie film years from now. Again…just a hunch…I have to read it first. Joe actually makes reference to High Fidelity in some interviews (that he’s trying to stay away from that comparison) and is apparently friends with Nick Hornby.

The covers he played are amongst his favorite songs that had a significant impact on his life and thus translated well to the story line of the book. I heard of most of the bands but never heard any of the tracks he played except for the Sebadoh track “Soul and Fire”. There was one song “I’m Your Puppet” by Bobby & James Purify that I particularly enjoyed. Most of the bands were obscure and pretty old school (in my eyes at least). I guess the Pernice Brothers have an older skewing fan base judging by the attendees at the show which were in their late 30s/early 40s. I think we were the youngest people there besides the waitress. Given the press I’ve seen and the Gilmore Girls association I thought maybe he appealed to a younger sect as well. Why do I even care? All I’m saying is that it was just noticeable. Regardless the songs were great. I shouldn’t judge. I’m a Blink-182 fan (dead serious).

Then after Joe was done with the book reading and song covers he said he was going to play a few Pernice Brothers songs. My eyes lit up. TOTALLY unexpected. He picked a few tracks he thought would translate better to acoustic versions including “How Can I Compare” which has significance to me personally and one of my favorites so I was pretty blown away. After the show was over I immediately bought a book (yeah) and walked over to Joe to introduce myself and get it signed. He was a really nice guy. I was completely star-struck…you’d think after seeing celebs on pretty much a monthly basis living in NYC for 8 years I’d play it cool. It’s different when you meet someone who created something that has such a significant impact on your life. He asked me who I should make the autograph out to and I said “Tommy” (like I’m fucking 10 years old). My girlfriend seeing that I was incapacitated, stepped in and asked Joe if he could make it out to “Cuge”. Thanks T. I might as well of had a bib on…however I hope I never lose that level admiration for musicians…at any age.

BOOK EXCERPT: http://tinyurl.com/lcc8w8

DOWNLOAD THESE: Somerville, Blinded By the Stars, PCH One, Clear Spot, How Can I Compare, Baby in Two, Lightheaded

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Album Cover Wars: Jay-Z vs. Secret Machines


















Just saw Jay-Z's new album cover for The Blueprint 3 and the first thing that came to mind was the album cover for Secret Machine's early millenium Now Here is Nowhere. Jay's is a little more "crumpled" or packed with "instrumentation" with a dash of color but similar no? BTW - Download Jay-Zs new track DOA if you haven't already...good beats (why wont any other artists follow suit?)...and I can't fucking stand Auto-Tune. Which puzzles me as to why his next single release was a collaboration with Kanye...aka "Mr. Auto-Tune". Wtf I say. Am I missing something?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Afternoon Delight: Videooh-yeah

Wasn't there a show called "Friday Night Videos" on one of the networks back in the 80's when MTV came out? Anywho, as a Friday treat I thought I'd share some of my favorite music videos with the Cugerock readers (all 3 of them). Most are relatively recent. Take a look at your leisure. Happy Friday kiddos.


1. Architecture in Helsinki - Do The Whirlwind: Get out you Turbo Grafix, a packet of Big League Chew and some Garbage Pail Kids. Love this video...current yet nostalgic.

http://www.mtv.com/videos/architecture-in-helsinki/56960/do-the-whirlwind.jhtml#artist=1244091


2. Mogwai - Batcat: Such an intense track and the creepy video matches the song so well...I really haven't seen a better fit.

http://www.mtv.com/videos/mogwai/293394/batcat.jhtml


3. Blur - Coffee & TV: How can anyone not identify with this guy?

http://www.mtv.com/videos/blur/181200/coffee-tv.jhtml


4.The Eagles of Death Metal - I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News): Good cameos and a great song...man I wish I could pull off a mustache and aviators.

http://www.mtv.com/videos/eagles-of-death-metal/77014/i-want-you-so-hard-boys-bad-news.jhtml


5. Every Time I Die - Ebolarama: One of my favorite hardcore bands from Buffalo NY. Fuck disco...hardcore flows so much better at the roller rink.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw_6dNXxyJM


6. Belle & Sebastian - Step Into My Office Baby: Ha! I can like...so relate to this. Reminds me of my first job in NY. "Cheeky Scottish humor"

http://www.mtv.com/videos/belle-sebastian/25091/step-into-my-office-baby.jhtml

Monday, July 27, 2009

TOMMY'S TOP ROCK SHOW MEMORIES: THUS FAR...

Haaaay y’all. I know…I know. I’ve been lagging on posts. This usually happens when my professional and personal lives join forces to get a little more frantic than usual. Why can’t I just blog for a living? (whu-waaa) I’d have so much crap to say you’d get sick of me. Anywho, I’ve had three weeks or so to reflect. I thought now would be a good a time as any to take a trip down memory lane and rank the top shows I’ve seen in my life thus far (since I was a young punk).


1. RUSH “Roll The Bones” Tour (or was it Presto?) - The Tower (Philly) - 1980something – My first show EVER (My aunt Joanne instructed my cuz Danny & I “not to breathe” while in the venue – marijuana reference…we had no clue what she was talking about at the time)


2. Death From Above 1979 @ Bowery Ballroom (NYC) 2005 – I threw my full cup of beer to the ground I was so pumped…my voice was shot for a week


3. Quasi, Elliot Smith and Sebadoh @ The Astoria in London 1999 (Study abroad…the line up from heaven in my book…one of a few times I saw Elliot…once in Philly/NYC/London…my friend Cathy and I bailed on a class mandated theatre outing…umm I think it was worth it…f-the Old Vic).


4. Guided By Voices + The Strokes + David Cross – Apollo Theatre – NEW YEARS EVE - Harlem NYC 2001 - Need I say more? This was exactly what we needed after such a shit-September (thanks Osama). Unfortunately that was the only time I’ve been to the Apollo. Tried to go to one of those Morrissey shows but the Moz as always was sold out)


5. Any Pavement or Bouncing Souls show ever seen…most taking place at the Troc in the early to mid 90s


6. Sonic Youth – Last McCarren Park Pool Show – August 2008 - The term “still got it” is insulting…the night was steamy but clear…rocked so hard…Thurston played like he was 18yo…”I love you Kim” was a common outburst by men and women


7. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Bowery 2002 – JSBE are one of the top live acts I ever seen…Elliot Smith came out midway through the show as a surprise to debut some new stuff…it was the last time I saw him before he passed


8. Blur - The Black Cat - DC - 1996 (Favorite brit rock band of all time…I wept)


9. Swervedriver/Hum @ Irving Plaza (NYC) 1998 – Chris…remember?…so seeeeeck


10. The Quasi Tour NYC 2002 w/ Danny Cuge – Brownies, Knitting Factory, Maxwells and Coney Island for Siren Fest (Manhattan/Brookyn/Hoboken NJ)


11. The Charlatans – Irving Plaza 1996 (I was obessed with these guys in high-school. I think this was before their keyboardist Rob Collins passed away…I had foot surgery the day before..it was a delicate situation but I managed to stay up front)


12. The Thermals – First Unitarian Church Philly 2007/Bowery 2006 – Both Unreal (The Philly show was on my b-day….yaaaaay Tommy)


13. Morrissey – Electric Factory – 1998 - I felt like a little girl….he covered “Shoplifters Unite”


14. The Lemonheads – Black Cat - DC – 1990somethin (Car/Button/Cloth Tour?) - Wasn’t that crowded…my friend Paula and my sis got on stage and sang with Evan Dando…hilarious…absolutely hilarious


15. Mates of State – Knitting Factory – New Years Eve 2006 (NYC) – They Covered Anne Murray’s “Danny’s Song”…nuff said.


16. Mars Volta/The Rapture 2003 - Roseland – Rapture was so much better - I was on crutches and I think my girlfriend at the time broke up with me the very next night…”swish!”


17. Weezer – The Roseland – 2002 - So good…they played a boatload off of Pinkerton and the blue album…not much off of the crappy green album which just came out


18. Blood Brothers – Irving Plaza 2006 - Rawkous. God I’m so pissed they broke up…along with DFA79…The Kinison…the list goes on.


19. Beastie Boys, Roots & Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – OLD Phila Civic Center 1992? - We got really drunk in Ron B’s minivan before the show…Creepy Rick P puked on the side of a Wawa


20. H2O, Bosstones, Warzone – 1996 UMD Student Union – I chatted with Dickey Barrett after the show and Warzone ended up staying in our apartment as my roommate was the college radio program director…and they were broke….and they were definitely not acting “straight edge”


21. Hall and Oates & Chicago at the Sony E-Center/Tweeter Center/Susquehanna Bank Center/Partridge in a Pear Tree Center – Camden 1998? - We were the only people under 40 there but god damn are those guys are legends…Chicago played all of their old tracks with a horn section…incredible


22. Fucked Up, Pissed Jeans – Kung Fu Necktie (Philly) – 2009 – See my post from 1/29/09 & 2/2/09

23. New Pornographers - 9:30 Club (DC) - Winter 2005 - Twin Cinema Tour, Neko on vocals, my sister was 7-months preggers with my niece "Rosie" so her husband and I were holding onto her belly with one hand...beers in the other...one of those shows I'll never forget. Chris...remember when Rob tackled an evergreen tree in the park after the show? Sorry Amy. "Three Men and a Baby...almost"

Those are the top 23 off the top of my fat head….in no particular order except for maybe the top 3. I’m sure there’s a ton I am forgetting. There were a number of SKA shows I went to in the early-mid 90s but nothing crazy comes to mind. In terms of most recent (in the past 12 months), I’ve seen M83, Phoenix, Walkmen, Thermals (Philly & NYC shows) among a few others. These were top-notch shows and the first time I had seen M83 or Phoenix but nothing so life-changing that I would throw it on the aforementioned list. Phoenix would have made it up there if we hadn’t missed the first 3 or 4 songs. TIP – If you are going to see a band at Terminal 5…get there at 9pm no later. There are many shows coming up in the late summer/early fall I want to hit up including Animal Collective, Bouncing Souls/Lifetime, Joe Pernice, Slackers, Dinosaur Jr and another round of Phoenix shows so there will definitely be “Volume II” of this post…when Im 50. Hopefully I can keep this going till I’m an old man and die. Yeah…I’ll be that guy at a show.

(In the “future”)
Kid #1: “Who’s that geezer in the back?”
Kid #2: “I know…so lame…doesn’t he know that Green Day broke up in the 20’s”
Kid#1: “Hahahah what a loser…you want a hit of these neon space-dust-crystals”
Kid #2: “Totes McGoats bro...let's get stoopid

Friday, June 26, 2009

JON & KATE + EIGHT + JOEY?























Does anyone else think Jon from J&K+E looks like Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago? Compare the photos but then look at this Pixies video for Head On live (Jesus & Mary Chain cover).

I was so pissed this live version wasn’t on Trompe Le Monde (at least the one I had) but rather the more produced track. Anyway, take a look. Its uncanny I tell ya.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blur = Catalyst For World Change

I don’t think the return of Blur could have come at a better time. The global economy is in shambles. Civil unrest overseas. Heidi and Spencer are getting tortured on live TV. Britain needs this. America needs this. The world needs this. I personally need this right now. The universe absolutely needs this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oiIUaQCrkI&NR=1

Thank you boys. If you come state-side I guarantee universal harmony all over the world will be achieved (whatever the f that means). Now if only Obama could open the shows with some witty stand-up. “Good evening ladies and germs. How about them Blur boys huh? (cheers) Aaaaanybody here from the USA? (thunderous cheers)”. Hope/Change.

Friday, June 19, 2009

QUASI IS BACK - NEW ALBUM COMING IN FALL

….now whether they're bringing “sexy” with them is another story.

http://www.killrockstars.com/news/

http://www.theequasi.com/

(eyes closed, fingers-crossed with a rabbits-foot dangling from my wrist) Please have Roxichord on the new album…oh PLEEEEEEASE. I miss you Sam. Your guitar skills are great but it’s the Roxichord (distorted clavinet-ish, guitar sounding organ thingy) which hooked me from the beginning (Our Happiness is Guaranteed…first Quasi song ever heard…but that’s a whole other post). I know you dig it out for live shows but I need some new tracks son. Bottom line…we need another Sword of God. A live Quasi show is something to be seen my friends (saw Sam hump the keyboards a few times). Just seeing Janet drum in general is a thing of beauty.

Fun Facts: I saw Quasi so many times when I lived in NYC that my cousin Danny and I (Cugini means “cousins” in Italian btw…look it up) went on the “Quasi Tour 2002” seeing them in Manhattan (Brownies), Brooklyn (Coney Island) and Jersey (Maxwell’s) over a 5-day period. Here is the set list I swiped from under Sam's Roxichord after the Brownies show.

We were going to talk to Sam & Janet…but we were pretty hammered. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a white loose-leaf sheet of paper under the keyboards. So I went for it! (cougar sound). I was acting all stealthy-like (sweating, drunk, heart racing, giggling). It was the best feeling I’ve ever had. Second best feeling - When the opening band was playing at Maxwell’s (during Cugini Quasi Tour ’02) I realized that I was standing next to Janet Weiss (Quasi/Sleater Kinney/SM & the Jicks). We were sort of off to the right towards the back of the crowd. In a bold move I brushed-up against her (my lower forearm to her upper – she’s kinda short). Only so I could say to my friends “I touched Janet Weiss” (sounds creepier then it is….oooor not). I’ve been bragging about it ever since. Pathetic. Oh and I also shook Heidi Klum’s hand (not a joke). Been bringing that one up for years. (see also: pathetic).

A year prior to the CQT02 we saw Quasi at the Knitting Factory down in lower Manhattan on Leonard Street…not even a week after 9/11. They just started letting people back down below Delancey St. I’ll never forget the smell (like turpentine mixed with gasoline and burnt rubber x1000) before and after the show. During the show I didn’t really think of what was going on outside the venue. Thank God for music. xoxo

Friday, June 12, 2009

OMGOMGOMG!

Read the last paragraph of the interview. Oh man I would be psyched for a ATDI tour. Then check the second link to find out why I would be psyched.

http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4137051?most-read

One-Armed-Scissor:

http://www.mtv.com/videos/at-the-drive-in/55550/one-armed-scissor-version-2.jhtml

Thursday, June 11, 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: PHOENIX – "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix"

Ok…this is going to sound weird but the last Phoenix album It’s Never Been Like That reminds me of my mom’s 60th birthday. I was home from NYC running around in my folk’s car trying to pick up poster-board, markers, double-sided tape and other supplies for my moms party. Going into this mission I knew I needed tunes but unfortunately my dad did not have an iPod adapter and there were no cds in the car except for Cary Simon and Sade. That said I immediately popped into Coconuts Music in Exton, PA and picked up Phoenix per a recommendation from a friend. God forbid I drive around for 30 minutes listening to the radio. The album was so tight that I couldn’t stop listening to it all weekend while at home. That was 2006 and I really haven’t stopped listening to it since. It was one of those “life-changers” or “milestones” records for me. Some albums just sink in when they come around. Albums more prominent in your memory and played a lot more as they remind you of going through certain abnormal periods of your life.

Needless to say the lead-up to the latest Phoenix album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was torture. I’d get little snippets of news now and again. The song 1901 was released in April (I had thought that was the title of the album for a long time given what they cryptically had on their website). I’m glad they led off with that track in terms of singles. Then all of a sudden they were booked on SNL (see my post on 3/26). Any news related to the new recordings slowly leaked out from early ’08…then all of a sudden they were all over the place. They even sponsored an episode of Free Radio on VH1 (which is hilarious btw). The sound of WAP skews more towards the electronica spectrum but in a good way. Some bands try to go new-wave and miss the mark completely. Don’t get me wrong the new Phoenix doesn’t have a new wave sound. They just added in some synths to their already guitar-pop stylings. Songs like 1901 and Fences illustrate this new direction more readily than Lisztomania which is the other single. Fences actually sounds like their earlier work from United (the few tracks I know). All of the tracks on Wolfgang are different and most all of them are completely rockin like Countdown and Armistice but there is one track…one track…that absolutely floors me and that’s LASSO. If you throw this song on and don’t start grooving when the chorus kicks in…then I don’t want to know you anymore. I’m not kidding. Pick up Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. You’ll dig it and if you don’t have Its Never Been Like That yet then please go pick up that album prior to WAP. Listen to one then the other and see if you have the same view of album progression as I do. If you don’t then…again…I don’t want to know you anymore. Hahahaha…this time I’m totally kidding…OR AM I????? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8of00uEVRRA

If you haven’t seen Phoenix live you’ll be happy to know that they seem to be ever adding US tour dates. Unfortunately most are sold out at the moment. Thank God (more like "Thank Rob") I am going to one of the NYC shows.

http://wearephoenix.com/journal/?page_id=254

Friday, June 5, 2009

RANT ALERT: NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL

Is anyone else sick of hearing about Neutral Milk Hotel or Jeff Mangums latest projects…none of them ever involving new music. “NMH help save a carousel”…”Jeff Mangum joins the circus”. If it isn’t about Neutral Milk Hotel or Jeff Mangum recording new music then I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT. Then there will be articles about speculation of Mangum maybe…maybe…hopefully…oh god please…showing up to play acoustic at some Elephant 6 collective or Merge related event. Does it ever happen…no. Please comment on this post and correct me if I’m wrong. It’s like Jeff Magnum thinks he’s the living ghost of Jeff Buckley, Elliot Smith or Kurt Cobain...oh…what’s that? HE’S ALIVE?!!! Record some new shit Man-gum. I can only be this harsh because I enjoyed NMH albums so much and think Jeff is a gifted musician/vocalist. It absolutely KILLS me that they haven’t put anything out since the late 90s (see also: Fugazi). Why do they keep getting press like they’re still an active band? Enough already!!! I am so fucking mad at bands that put out absolute life-changing music then fade into obscurity after a few albums…think about the fans for once ya jerks. (sigh…eyes closed) I need a Mr. Pibb.

Friday, May 22, 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: SUPERCHUNK - "Leaves in the Gutter EP"

There are very few bands that take a long hiatus (5-10 or so years) then come back with recorded material that has the identical sound and energy of their previous work. Superchunk is one of these bands. After a long hiatus of any popular alternative band, the material is usually a bit slower, more produced, a band member or two may be missing and the lyrics become formulaic (Weezer I’m looking in your direction). While Metallica has to enlist Rick Rubin to get back that feeling of old-school speed metal with Death Magnetic, Superchunk just seemed to plug in their instruments. Their latest EP Leaves in the Gutter, has the intensity and melodic chemistry of any of their previous albums recorded in the 90s. Mac’s higher pitched vocals have honestly not dropped a decibel. It’s really kind of strange…like they have been teleported from 1995. The lead-off track Learned to Surf might as well have been off of 1995’s Here's Where The Strings Come In. Misfits and Mistakes on 1999’s No Pocky For Kitty and Knock Knock Knock could have been a additional tracks on 1993’s Foolish. Screw It Up has a newer sound which I cant quite match yet but its kickass. Some tracks like Learned to Surf and Misfits & Mistakes are fast paced and raw while others like Screw it Up have more harmonious aspects to them. I must say I have never enjoyed an acoustic version of a hard rock track more than Learned to Surf (which closes out the EP).

I was kind of a late bloomer with this band, not really getting into them until the late 90s. Once I heard Hyper Enough live I couldn’t get it out of my head and was on a mission to pick up whatever album it was on...turns out it was HWTSCI (my personal favorite album of the band). It was the early Promise Ring, Modest Mouse or Ben Folds Five effect in where once I heard one album I had to get them all YTD recordings immediately. Superchunk kind of dropped off the scene as a band after 2001’s Here’s To Shutting Up came out. They (two of the band members I believe) concentrated on running their own label MERGE (such a solid roster of artists) and subsequently I had thought the band would never record again. I’m pretty glad that they did. Please pick this EP up whether you’re a long time fan or newcomer. A new full length is still TBD but look for them on tour this summer (7/17 with Versus @ South Street Seaport NYC).

“I can’t hold my breath anymore, I stopped swimming and learned to surf”

DOWNLOAD THIS: Learned to Surf, Screw it Up, Hyper Enough, Driveway To Driveway, Iron On, Detroit Has a Skyline

Friday, May 15, 2009

HOLY FU#K!...BUY OUR PRODUCTS!

I heard a Holy Fuck song in a Chrysler commercial the other night. Thanks government bailout. Good band name choice for your "we're rebuilding" ad campaign. The song was Lovely Allen…which…I must admit lends itself well to the re-branding of a failed auto company. Although, I hope no middle America soccer moms (hip to the internet) think to themselves (imagine Sarah Palin's voice) “Oh gee whiz, that is a mighty catchy tune…I’m going to search for the music group that performs it and download the song…oh…here it is…oh…oh dear.”

Many musicians have whored-out their talents to support advertisers since the beginning of time. Being a music freak and working professionally in the advertising field…my senses are heightened, Whether it’s personalities in the ads themselves - Chris Brown (boooo) endorsing Double-Mint Gum, Santogold,/Julian Casablanca’s endorsing Converse and MXPX endorsing Pepsi or songs used in place of a “jingle” such as The Postal Service endorsing UPS, Blur endorsing Levis/Nissan or Of Montreal plugging Outback Steakhouse (aka - oh my god if I hear that one more time I’m going to murder…a bloomin’ onion…dammit) . The most notable are typically car commercials as there really isn’t a lot to communicate expect the car driving in an unrealistic setting (outdoorsy or futuristic). There no need for detailed ad copy so attention grabbing music is key for sustainability.

I used to be a complete snob when hearing these songs, crying “sell-out!” I was visibly upset when I heard Modest Mouse in a mini-van commercial back before Johnny joined the band and more recently with Interpol in some cologne ad? Then I reached my 30s and realized that musicians do not make a ton of money (at least not consistently over the long term) unless you’re U2, Coldplay or Madonna. A little extra cash (depending on the campaign you can make a great deal of money….after you split it with the record company and ad firm). Most are done tastefully (Mates of State for Royal Caribbean) but with others you totally want to throw up and burn your records (Weezer cover for Sandals Resorts).

I think I finally let go when I saw the recent ad campaign for Cadillac staring Kate Walsh. She’s all sexy and soft spoken then slams down the pedal in her stilettos while the thundering riff of Hum’s 90s epic trak Stars thunders as the sports car speeds down the highway. There are two ways I could have taken this.

1. "WTF…now some yuppie car company is having that Grey's Anatomy spin-off chick pedal their product using our beloved alt-rock gods Hum? That’s bollocks."


2. "Holy shit…I forgot how f-ing kickass that song is and revolutionary that band was…time to throw all of my Hum albums into a playlist. Thanks advertising! (giving the double thumbs-up to the camera)"


(Answer Key)
#1 = 22 year old TommyC
#2 = 32 year old TommyC

Friday, May 8, 2009

WEEKEND “TRIPLE-DIP DOWNLOAD” RECOMMENDATION (NEW FEATURE!)

Support the artists…go to their websites/iTunes/Rhapsody etc and purchase downloads. I’ll make weekly recommendations…I’ll try to do it daily. This “job” keeps getting in the way. Crickets.

OLD: “Start Choppin” from DINOSAUR JR (off Where You Been in honor of my last post)

SLIGHTLY WORN: “Cheap Champagne” from SLOAN (see my album review of Sloan’s Parallel Play in the “Top Ten ’08 Albums” post on 12/19/08)

NEW: “Learned to Surf” from SUPERCHUNK (off the Leaves in the Gutter EP – Full Cugerock review next week)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

DINOSAUR JR - GOOD AS NEW

New album out 6/23 entitled Farm. I first saw this on IFC Music Blast/Pitchfork Airwaves and was blown away. If you’re a longtime Dinosaur Jr fan (since highschool for me – Faust/Danny/Budz…you know the deal) you will “cream your jeans” when you watch this video for a new Farm track recording entitled I Don’t Wanna Go There. If you you do some exploring on the site you can see the band interviewed and check out another new track.

http://pitchfork.com/tv/#/episode/75-dinosaur-jr/2

I was never crazy about the old-old albums with the Lou Barlow/Murph line-up (Bug, You’re Living All Over Me, Dinosaur) but the last album Beyond (2007) with them reunited proved me wrong (download – Crumble). One of my vivid memories from high school was me trying to wire up boom-box speakers to my Suzuki Samurai car stereo so I could blast D-Jr's Where You Been album and more importantly the lead-off track Out There…I also felt compelled to blast Mudhoneys Suck You Dry. Such powerful tracks…I guess I’m a child of 90s alt rock. Seeing frontman J.Mascis play live has always been an experience I can’t really describe to people. You have to be there to witness it…however this video gives you a pretty close idea of the pure sensory overload you would experience. Do not let the grey hair fool you. If you are close to the stage…tears well up…the solos are so fucking powerful and skilled you are left with a gaping mouth…regardless whether you’ve ever played yourself. If you have played the guitar in the past, which my cousin Danny has, try to get up front to see what pedals Jay is using to get that sound. Danny & I once saw J.Mascis solo at the Mercury Lounge in NYC…yeah…small venue + loud guitars = awesome. Danny pushed toward to the front to get a glimpse of the hardware. Not sure if any conclusions were made. Danny?

WARNING: If you do have a chance to go see Dinosaur Jr live…please wear ear-plugs. There was a legend about a Lollapalooza show back in the 90’s where a man who was in the audience sued the band claiming that Dinosaur Jr was so loud that they literally blew-out his eardrums. I laughed at that story for a long time…siding with the band and dismissing the story as a gold digging scam…then I saw them live. Holy…

Friday, April 17, 2009

2nd Annual Record Store Day! - Sat. 4/18


Werd up kiddos. THE 2ND ANNUAL RECORD STORE DAY IS TOMORROW!!! Please go out and support your local independent record stores. This is a fitting lead-in from my last post (thank you for pointing that out in advance Dominic. Go Flyers). With digital and mass market music distributors taking over, the smaller locally owned/operated record stores face big challenges to keep up. THEY NEED YOUR SUPPORT. This is the second annual record store day and there is so much going on I can only give you some highlights. There are countless rare split 7inches, collaborations/compilations, t-shirts, vinyl/CD re-issues, unreleased live material and in-store performances. Please check the official website (http://www.recordstoreday.com/ ) for participating shops in your area. If you live in the northeast here are some Philly/NYC notes on in store performances (I may have missed some so triple check the site):

- Generation Records NYC: BOUNCING SOULS ACOUSTIC!!!!!! (Not sure what that’s going to sound like but it’s the Souls so it should be pretty kick-ass?)
- Other Music NYC: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Prefuse 73 (again not sure how this will go live)
- Main Street Music PHILLY: Good Ol’ War (a newer version of CSNY in my opinion...should be cool live)
- AKA Music PHILLY: Smog (thanks Chris B)

RELEASES: Some special releases that deserve highlighting (sorry for the crude format):

Bad Religion
Original EP 7" reissue
colored vinyl; 6 tracks from 1981


Blitzen Trapper
"War is Placebo/Booksmart"
7" - two exclusive tracks w/die cut sleeve


Bruce Springsteen
7" "What Love Can Do"/"A Night With The Jersey Devil"
packaged in clear sleeve with 3x5 photo


Camera Obscura
"French Navy" 7"
7" (RSD exclusive)


Cold War Kids
Live at Fingerprints 5 song EP


Cursive/Ladyfinger
Split 10" picture disc
four songs, two unreleased and two new
Dandy Warhols
Remix CD #2

Death Cab For Cutie
T-Shirt - exclusive design for Record Store Day


Dead Weather
Hang You From the Heavens 7"
Jack White's new band! The debut release from both the Dead Weather and Third Man Records


Depeche Mode
7" "Wrong"/"Oh Well"


Dr. Dog/Floating Action
Split 7"- exclusive


El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez (Mars Volta)
“Cryptomnesia”
Limited Edition Vinyl for RSD (3,000 pieces)


Elvis Perkins
"Lorraine Lookout" 7"
two tracks, one unreleased


Flaming Lips/Black Keys
split 7" "Borderline"/"Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles"


Flight of the Conchords
"Pencils In The Wind"/"Albi The"
7" - two exclusive tracks w/die cut sleeve


Gaslight Anthem
Live from Park Ave 10" - 6 tracks


Grizzly Bear
Live on KCRW 7"
two tracks, "While You Wait For The Others"/"He Hit Me"


Gomez
Airstream Driver 7"
non-album b side


Guided By Voices
Hold On Hope LP
Three bonus tracks


Heaven & Hell
7" "Bible Black" / Neon Knights (Live)
Created exclusively for Record Store Day


Jane's Addiction
7" "Mountain Song" / "Standing in the Shower…Thinking"
7" Mtn. Song/Standing In The Shower- Packaged in original replica picture sleeve



Jenny Lewis/Elvis Costello
7" --"Carpet Baggers"/"Go Away"
Never before available in the US


Jesus Lizard
9 x 7" pack
A pack of nine 7"s


Loney Dear/Andrew Bird 7"
split 7" - hand-silk screened covers; tour & mail order item


Mastodon
T-Shirt - exclusive design for Record Store Day


MC 5
7" "Kick Out The Jams"/"Motor City Is Burning"
Packaged in the original rare picture sleeve, first time available since 1969


Metric
"Help I'm Alive" 7" Picture disc
"Help I'm Alive"/"Help I'm A B-Side"


Misfits
Walk Among Us LP
Pressed on 140 gram vinyl


Modest Mouse
7" --"Satelite Skin"/"Guilty Cocker Spaniels"
both tracks are brand new


My Morning Jacket
Celebracion De La Ciudad Natal
CD & 2 x 10" Vinyl - 4-14 Street, Vinyl one time shot. Recorded LIVE in LOUISVILLE


New Order
7" (live) "Temptation" / "Hurt" - as and A&B side.


Neil Young
Sugar Mountain Live at Canterbury House 1968 2LP
The special vinyl package


Oasis
Falling Down Remix LP
Falling Down Remix LP


Pavement
"Live in Germany 1988" LP
unreleased show from 1988


Poison The Well
Six track CD
6 track CD, taken from 2 7" singles that the band sells on the road, and an upcoming 7" single that will be out later this spring


Radiohead
10" vinyl series (see list of titles in NOTES)
THESE ARE BEING RELEASED EARLY FOR RSD: Drill, Creep, My Iron Lung, High & Dry, Fake Plastic Trees, Just, Street Spirit, Paranoid Android, Karma Police, No Surprises, Pyramid Song, 2+2=5


Rivers Cuomo
Live @ Fingerprints CD and CD/DVD Combo


Russian Circles/These Arms Are Snakes
Split !2 - Previously Unreleased songs on Clear Vinyl (1,000 pieces)


Silversun Pickups
Pikul 12"
exclusive release ahead of their new album


Slayer
7" single "Psychopathy Red"
packaged in special X-Files-style, "confidential" packaging


Sonic Youth/Beck
split 7" (RSD exclusive)


Sonic Youth/Jay Reatard
split 7" (RSD exclusive)


Sublime
"Superstar Punani"/April 29, 1992" 7"
7" single with 2 live tracks, first time on vinyl


Taking Back Sunday
7" Carpathia/Catholic (live)


Talking Heads
77 LP [reissue]
Pressed on 180 gram vinyl


The Decemberists
7" "The Rake's Song"/"East India Lanes"
B-side, "East India Lanes" is unreleased


The Smiths
7" "The Headmaster Ritual" /"Oscillate Widly"
Never before available in the US as a 7" single.


The Stooges
7" "1969"/"Real Cool Time"
Packaged in the original rare picture sleeve


Thermals/Thao
split 7" Get Down Stay Down (4 tracks unreleased)


Underoath
T-Shirt - exclusive design for Record Store Day


Wilco
Ashes of American Flags DVD
DVD is released with an exclusive window of two weeks for indie stores and mail order


Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
It’s Blitz LP
vinyl version of forthcoming Yeah Yeah Yeahs CD


So much I am getting anxiety just looking at the offerings. Really…I’m experiencing shortness of breath.

GET OUT THERE AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT YA BEAUTIFUL SONSABITCHES!!!!!

ALSO - It doesn’t hurt that the weather on Saturday is going to be (singing) soooooooo sweet. Um in the northeast at least.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Are CD Collections Akin To The Laserdisc?

I have a pretty massive CD collection. I know we are living in a digital age and I have countless gigs of music on my computadora as well but I still take pride in my CD collection. Is that wrong? Should I be hiding these CD towers of power? Every once in a while I like to dig through my collection and whip out old classics and load them into my iTunes. Plus, certain album jackets take me back to certain times in my life. The college ones usually have some weird stains or burns on them as cd often doubled as coasters or cigarette “resters” (while you tossed you darts or launched a ping-pong ball). Any of the REM records I pull out bring back such vivid memories I can’t even tell you. Then I think about all of the CDs that I’ve tossed and sold throughout the years (not many) and wonder of the lost potential. I know my friends often like to browse the collection and say “Whoa…I forgot about this record or this band”. Lately I’ve been re-kindling my love-affair with punky SKA bands from the 90s with such legends as the Pietasters, Mustard Plug, Bosstones, Goldfinger, Stubborn Allstars, Buck-O-Nine, Skankin Pickle, Dance Hall Crashers, Slackers etc. Slackers are still good. See…this is why I have a cd collection. Who’s with me?! (crickets) Anyway, I’m now trying to build a vinyl collection but it’s slow going. I look at my CD collection and feel a sense of accomplishment and security. Which I guess is all that matters but thought I’d put it out to the group. I had a pretty big tape collection in high-school as well often duplicating my CD collection….mainly because I was a pizza delivery guy and music freak combo. I was too cheap to buy a cd player for my car (Suzuki Samurai) or a CD walkman. Sony-Sports bitchaz. Auto-Reverse.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

ALBUM REVIEW PEPPER SPRAY

Let’s face it. We live in a fast paced society. The kids want quick, short bursts of communication. If you’re not tweeting their language then you’re out…ya blew it. It’s called the “fragmentation of media” people. There’s an engagement factor that must…(mid-sentence pause)

OK...here’s the deal. I’ve been incredibly busy (which is good given the hell-hole that our economy is in…freaking consumers out will bolster confidence right?). I’ve listened to numerous albums in the past few weeks but I don’t have time to review them to you in the long (winded) format so here is the “short-short” version of a few…

Trail of Dead – Century of Self
The full length album definitely did NOT live up to the excitement generated around the Festival Thyme EP (see my review on 11/11/08). Bells of Creation and Inland Sea remain the top songs on the full length. Century of Self is not bad by any means. Its a lot more rockin that the previous concept-esque albums. The faster guitars mixed with some mellow piano tracks and vocal pair-offs between Conrad and Jason (seen on Far Pavilions) is reminiscent of their masterpiece Source Tags & Codes. However, this album is so “polished” it’s a little concerning. Some songs I couldn’t tell if I was listening to TOD or Fall Out Boy (ok…maybe that’s a little extreme…but you’ll get my point). Century of Self is good but falls a little short…oh but the album art is UNREAL…serious. Take a look. Download this: Bells of Creation, Inland Sea, Far Pavilions, Ascending

Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
I’m gonna be honest. The “feeling” behind the cover of Neko Case’s latest album Middle Cyclone didn’t really match the sound in my mind. All I hear is “Barracuda” when I see that cover. Anyway, I listened to Neko’s solo work for the first time with this album. She is truly an amazing vocalist. I only knew her previous work with the New Pornographers with songs like Bones of an Idol on Twin Cinema and the title track off Challengers just to name a few. As for Middle Cyclone goes, it is a pleasant listen but lacks anything unique in my opinion. It’s a true Singer/Songwriter recording. The lyrics and harmonies in songs such as the opener This Tornado Loves You, Vengeance is Sleeping and The Pharaohs are sublime. I could have done without Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth (I hope that track was meant as a joke) and the 30minutes of “nature sounds” at the end. All in all I feel like this album is parallel to Jenny Lewis’s solo work. It’s nice and pretty and folksy and could be more easily played on your local adult contemporary (light hits) radio station than on some indie stream/satellite channel. I know many will disagree but I’m just being honest here. Download This: This Tornado Loves You, I’m an Animal, The Pharaohs

Von Bondies – Love, Hate & Then There’s You
I was wondering what these cats were up to. Everyone loved ‘04s Pawn Shoppe Heart (including the FX network as C’mon C’mon remains the theme from Rescue Me) but since then all I really can remember is that a few members left the band and Jason Stollsteimer got punched in the grill by Jack White. So I heard the new single off of LHTTY called Pale Bride and was like…”alright, I’m picking this one up”. I was pleasantly surprised. The album is pretty rockin. Some of the tracks are a little too poppy (aka title track) and forced but the bulk of the album is good. I miss the rawness of the prior album (see also Been Swank) but the new album has some meat to it. Tracks like The Chancer and 21st Birthday deserve heavier rotation. That said. Download this: Pale Bride, 21st Birthday, The Chancer, Modern Saints

Thursday – Common Existence
This might turn into a long winded one. Thursday’s album Full Collapse is in my top 10 records of all time/thus far. When it came out during the early millennium it sounded nothing like anything I had ever heard before. It blended hardcore with emo like those old Reeses commercials. To this day when a track from this album pops up on my iPod in shuffle-mode I think to myself "oh hell-yeah”. The genre “Scremo-core” began with this record. Now a billion bands mimic their sound. Once Geoff Rickly was featured on a Spin Magazine cover back in 2000(?) with Karen-O of the YYYs, Justin Hawkins of the now defunct Darkness (see also: drugs) and some other “it” music personality…I guess it freaked him out a bit. I feel like the band stepped out of the dim alt-rock spotlight after that right when War All the Time was released (Full Collapse follow-up). For me War All The Time was a let-down at first cause it wasn’t as powerful and didn’t have enough…umm…screaming…to be honest. However the more and more I got over that initial feeling and actually listened to the music and vocal arrangements, I grew to like the album…a lot. Most of the time I’m a brat when it comes to bands “maturing” their sound. The album after that was A City by the Light Divided which was even better than WATT. A great deal of the tracks were arranged differently than any of the other albums and most were pretty strong and pounding. That said when I picked up Common Existence I had high hopes. Looks like I set the bar too high. The album has no differentiating factor. It’s just bland, over produced hard rock songs. Its not awful, just strange as I’ve heard their sound evolve from Waiting (1st LP) till now and thought either (A) the sound would take a new turn or (B) they would return to form given their earlier work. I should have known there was trouble when I saw they were playing on the “Taste of Chaos Tour: Sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink”. They seemed to go through the motions on this one. Major disappointment. Download this: Subway Funeral, Resuscitation of a Dead Man