Saturday, December 31, 2005

Big in 2006

2005 was so last year. And these guys are gonna be big in 2006.

Aberdeen City - Aberdeen City produces a big rock sound with angsty vocals, but manages to stay melodic at the same time. After two EPs, their outstanding first full-length, The Freezing Atlantic, was just released. They've done well in their native Boston, and spent the past couple of months touring the country. They'll be at the Mercury Lounge on January 19th. Right click "In Combat."

The Changes - The Changes are your new indie-pop crush. A bit like early The Police, with a little bit of Phoenix thrown in, they play great guitar driven indie-pop songs. They just came off three strong shows in NYC, and are headed to Park City this January to play the Sundance Festival opening night gala. They need a little more seasoning, but The Changes are well on their way. Right click "When I Wake," off of their self titled EP.

The Diggs - Featuring an indiscernable yet expansive mid-90's indie rock sound - perhaps Dinosaur Jr.'s Where You Been crossed with shoegazer reverb? - The Diggs have had a lot of support in NYC, especially following their recent Sin-e residency. Their debut album Commute was just released by Sugarspun Records. Right click "Stagg."

iForward Russia! - Frenetic, upbeat, and sharp. This dancepunk outfit is getting a lot of love in their native UK and are keeping up with their busy 2005 schedule by releasing a new single in January ("Twelve") and touring all over the UK this winter. Their live shows are supposed to be outstanding, and I hope they make it over to the US in 2006. Right click "Thirteen."

MSTRKRFT - As the kids say, they're shit hot - remixing Annie, Bloc Party, Metric. MSTRKRFT is definitely the discopunk production team du jour. They do great work with basslines and handclaps. Their debut album The Looks comes out this Spring. Check their myspace page for tunes.

She Wants Revenge - Perhaps derivative, but at least they take the best from dark electro bands I like - The Cure, Joy Division, Depeche Mode. Their self-titled debut album (with outstanding cover art) has been on iTunes for a little while now, but will be physically distributed this Spring. Jeff CV says that their single has been getting all sorts of radio play out in LA. And "Tear You Apart" was the free iTunes download of the week last week - just in time to fill up all of those new iPods sitting under the Christmas tree. Here's their video for "Sister."

The Sunshine Underground - Zane Lowe of BBC's Radio 1 said "Commercial Breakdown" is the hottest record in the world when he played it on Nov. 22. How's that for a compliment. This dancerock band is part of the burgeoning Leeds scene and is playing a Barfly tour of the UK in January. Right click "Put You in Your Place," which kinda has The Music-esque vocals. (They now have a new website, so the song is no longer available - check out their myspace page for tunes).

These New Puritans - Electro/art rock band that can be compared to The Fall or Joy Division. Although a lot of bands get that comparison, these guys deserve it. They're playing Liar's Club in Nottingham with MSTRKRFT at the end of January. Right click "Chamber."

White Rose Movement - A throwback New Wave synth rock band, WRM deserves the hype that they are getting. WRM had one of the best songs of 2005 with "Love is a Number." They have a debut LP coming out soon and they'll be in New York this January (Mercury Lounge and Don Hill's). After that, they'll support Rakes across the UK. Stream the video for "Love is a Number" (and listen to that "Transmission" bassline).

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Step ... into ...the ... future...

So while I was home for Christmas I decided to transfer old videotapes on to DVDs, primarily for the music videos I still had on VHS. These videos were almost exclusively from MTV's 120 Minutes. Remember that show? It was outstanding - the reason that I developed a fondness for "alternative" music. It was great watching the old episodes of 120 with Dave Kendall as the host (what ever happened to that guy? this interview kinda goes into it), which included interviews with The Cure, live shows from The Cure and a bunch of their videos circa Disintegration and Wish, a special on Siouxsie and the Banshees on the eve of their tour with Lollapalooza, Morrissey interviews and videos from Your Arsenal, videos from The Charlatans, The Sugarcubes, and early Manic Street Preachers videos. It was interesting to see how 120 covered the "movements" of that time - especially the Manchester "baggy" sound (videos from Flowered Up, The Farm, the Mondays, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, The Soup Dragons) and the grunge sound. 120 Minutes basically became useless once the "alternative" became mainstream - like when the "new" video from Nirvana wouldn't cut it after 11pm on a Sunday night - and when Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. became really popular, 120 was unnecessary. I miss those days though - I loved coming home from school on Monday afternoon and watching the episode of 120 that I taped the night before. I can still remember the first time I saw the video for Lush's "For Love"...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas from Editors / Happy 2006 from Tiswas

Editors give us Christmas wishes and hope that people will come out to their shows in America. After selling out Mercury in less than 15 minutes, I don't think there will be a problem.

And now for Tiswas 2.0. Nick Marc is re-launching Tiswas in 2006. First up is The Longcut plus Mani on the decks! (Jan. 14) Then it's Editors (their "secret" show) with Peter Hook DJ'ing! (Jan. 21). There's also a rumor that Nick's trying to bring Babyshambles to town, although I have no idea how Pete Doherty will get a visa. It's good to have you back Tiswas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Impressing Me in 2005

Here goes:

Bloc Party editorscover HardFi2
Witching Hour franz depeche
Doves gorillaz Goldfrapp

10. Goldfrapp - Supernature - This album is the soundtrack to a sci-fi sex scene. They've really improved on Black Cherry, and made a deliciously addictive album. "Slide In" and "Ride the White Horse" are outstanding.

9. Gorillaz - Demon Days - Sure it's a little over-done, but there are some gems here - even the over-Appled "Feel Good Inc." "DARE" is outstanding, if not just for the fact that it brought Shaun Ryder back from the dead. "Manana" is excellent as well.

8. Doves - Some Cities - A blend of both Lost Souls and The Last Broadcast, but it followed the more pop oriented sound of the latter album. "Black and White Town" is absurdly catchy.

7. Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel - I'm not going to say that it is better than Violator or that it's a return to form (Ultra and Exciter were the usual dark synth pop), but this was a surprisingly good album. It took me a little while to get into it, but I have. "Precious," "Lillian," and "Nothing is Impossible" are stand outs.

6. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It Much Better... - Possibly a better album overall than Franz Ferdinand. Franz managed to mature their songs without diluting their trademark sound. There's no "Take Me Out" on this album, but it may be stronger from start to finish than Franz Ferdinand. Nice to see that the sophomore slump didn't apply here.

5. Ladytron - Witching Hour - Ladytron took the best parts of 604 and Light & Magic and really put it all together for this album, with a little more live instrumentation than the first two. "Destroy Everything You Touch" is an incredible song, one for which words cannot describe.

4. Hard-Fi - Stars of CCTV - The Clash meets dub with a little Britpop thrown in for added measure. Very strong singles on this LP, and "Hard to Beat" is one of the best songs of the year - essentially what Daft Punk's "One More Time" would sound like if a guitar band covered it.

3. Editors - The Back Room - Sure, they have the Interpol comparisons, but they stand out in their own right, primarily because Tom Smith has a much better voice than Paul Banks. This is dancerock that doesn't need to be remixed to make you dance. While some of the slower tracks are bitter pills to swallow, songs like "Munich," "Fingers in the Factory," and "Blood" are dark dancerock staples.

2. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm - I played this non-stop back in January/February. And I keep coming back to it. It's impressive that one album can have such staying power throughout the year. "Helicopter," "Banquet," "The Price of Gasoline," "Like Eating Glass," the list goes on and on.

1. The Departure - Dirty Words - Guitar driven dancerock with a hint of new wave. Starting with the excellent "Just Like TV," the album is strong all the way through. Many outstanding tracks, including "All Mapped Out," "Be My Enemy," and "Talkshow." The YE$ remix of "All Mapped Out is incredible. They unfortunately won't tour the U.S. until after their second album, which they are presently working on. Here's to 2006.

Honorable mentions:
- Oasis - Don't Believe the Truth (after a few listens, I realized that this was an excellent album)
- New Order - Waiting for the Siren's Call (you can't recreate the magic, but this was a nice album with a couple of great dance songs)
- Stereophonics - Language, Sex, Violence, Other (same great Stereophonics)
- The Tears - Here Come The Tears (nice to have Anderson/Butler back, but it's no Suede)
- The Bravery - S/T (yes, I still like this album and you would too if you didn't spend so much time talking about what poseurs they are)
- Out Hud - Let Us Never Speak Of It Again (outstanding indie dance music)
- LCD Soundsytem - S/T (outstanding indie dance music, with cowbell)
- Royksopp - The Understanding (a lot of nice downtempo electronic tracks here, and a wicked album cover)
- Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger (Britpop alive and well - three minute guitar songs)
- Ian Brown - Solarized (some nice tracks, standard Ian Brown)
- Babyshambles - Down in Albion (tabloid fodder aside, this is surprisingly good)
- Madonna - Confessions on the Dancefloor (not kidding, the production is incredible and I'm always impressed at how she always reinvents herself).

Individual tracks I loved not mentioned above: Performance - "Love Life", White Rose Movement - "Love is a Number", Annie - "Heartbeat (Alan Braxe remix)"

Other best of 2005 lists - Ricky Wilson from Kaiser Chiefs (he name checks Britpop new and old); Blake Miller from Moving Units (mostly dancepunk and indie rock); Donewaiting; Yeti Don't Dance.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tinselfrenzy 2005

Nice work by Nora and Nicola On The Pull for putting together Tinselfrenzy last night at Rothko, featuring Morning Theft, Beat Radio, The Changes, The Diggs, and Lakota, with Britpop OG Brian Molloy and The Shut the Fuck Up DJs.

The Changes are your new indie rock crush. Somewhere between early Police, Tahiti 80 and Phoenix, they craft outstanding indie pop songs. And they feature a glockenspiel, the cowbell of 2006! Enjoy When I Wake.

The Diggs, as usual, were outstanding and loud. Such incredible musicianship from a three piece. After playing some outstanding tunes, including my favorite Stagg, they closed with a note for note cover of "Waterfall." Are you kidding me? It sounded better than when Ian Brown played it at Webster Hall.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


White Rose Movement are playing Mercury Lounge on January 12. They are a synth rock band that I've discussed before and put out one of my favorite singles of 2005 - "Love is a Number." They're also quite the London scenesters who host/DJ scenster parties around England's capital.

January is shaping up to be a good concert month for me, as three of my favorite bands of recent times will be in town - Editors, Hard-Fi, and White Rose Movement.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hard-Fi at the Bowery

This just in. Hard-Fi will play the Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday, Jan 17. The tickets go on sale on December 14. I saw them at the Mercury Lounge last summer. Outstanding show.

Songs of 2005

Rachael Underrated lists her favorite songs of 2005 (along with mp3s) and she does an excellent job of capturing 2005. I'd put most of these on "my favorite songs" list as well.

Speaking of, I have to work on my cliche "Favorite Albums of 2005" list. I'll try to follow these instructions, but I'll likely put Bloc Party's Silent Alarm at #2.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Come to Route 85a this Friday for another installment of Unsavory! and you'll hear me play Britpop, Indie, DancePunk and Electro tunes until 4am.

[Setlist here. Thanks to Matt GoStation for guest DJ'ing.]

Touring the Angel

Really, what can you say? Depeche Mode at the Garden was incredible. Two hours of hits and Playing the Angel tracks. The entire areana roaring with applause, and singing along with "Question of Time," "Policy of Truth," "Enjoy the Silence," "Everything Counts." The stage setup was quite elaborate - massive video screens turned slightly asckew showing images of each band memeber and a large globe with flickering lights and neon words such as "pain," "suffering," "love." And Martin in a black Roman centurian outfit.

David Gahan may be the best live frontman ever. Not only is his voice top notch, but he owns the stage - owns it. He slithers around, wields the mic stand with a vengence, plays off Martin and Fletch, and lets the audience sing when necessary.

The sound was incredible. I vowed never to return to a show at MSG because the sound is so bad, but it really worked last night - the low notes of David's vocals and the bass note on the synth really came out. And as much as I hate arena shows, Depeche Mode can really pull it off.

The setlist ran:

Intro /A Pain That I'm Used To / John The Revelator / A Question Of Time / Policy Of Truth /Precious / Walking In My Shoes / Suffer Well / Damaged People / Home (stripped down Martin version) / I Want It All / The Sinner In Me / I Feel You / Behind The Wheel / World In My Eyes / Personal Jesus / Enjoy The Silence

encore 1: Somebody / Just Can't Get Enough / Everything Counts

encore 2: Never Let Me Down Again / Goodnight Lovers

As for The Bravery, what can you say? Not the best arena band. The large venue really accentuates how poor Sam's voice is. His hystrionics may work at a small Lower East Side venue, but they're not gonna carry at an arena. They plowed through a 30 minute set to a 1/3 filled MSG. A couple of people were cheering - other than that, no one really cared. But good for The Bravery - going from Pianos to the Garden in 16 months.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Instead of dancing alone, I should be dancing with you.

Unknown Pleasures + Black Celebration + dancerock + painful breakups = She Wants Revenge. Excellent show at the Mercury Lounge last night. Dark music with a great beat. I think every song is about dirty sex with a naughty girl, or trying to have dirty sex with a naughty girl, or someone who used to having dirty sex with a naughty girl. Great warm up music for tonight's Depeche Mode show. She Wants Revenge will be back in NYC at the Bowery on February 11th.

I caught the tail end of
Rock Kills Kid and what I heard, I liked.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I know a girl called Elsa, she's into Alka Selsa

For the Oasis fans in the midwest, the boys are touring in your area next March. Pre-sales start today, and the password for the links below is Oasis (very creative).

3-22-05 Milwaukee - Riverside Theater - GET TIX HERE
3-23-05 Indianapolis - Murat Theater - GET TIX
3-25-05 Cincinnati - Taft Theater - GET TIX
3-26-05 Nashville - Ryman - GET TIX
3-28-05 Houston - Verizon Wireless Theater - GET TIX

Less than 1%

A couple of months ago I decided to streamline my apartment a bit and shelve the stereo (much to the horror of my bootleg tapes). I replaced it with the JBL On Stage for my iPod, since most of my music was on there anyway. It worked well for the most part, but recently there was an annoying buzzing sound and the volume control was frozen. So I checked out the JBL website to see if there was any product support for the On Stage and this is what I find: "You may have heard that a very few customers (currently fewer than 1%) have experienced a problem with JBL On Stage." It then goes on and blames a specific chip in the unit, and tells you to enter the serial number of your On Stage to see if it has the defective chip. So I enter my serial number and in fact, my unit has the defective chip. So that means I'm in the 1% of On Stage owners that has a defective On Stage. Are you kidding me? How is it that I'm in that 1% group!?!

You know what else fails 1% of the time? Condoms. I hope to God I'm never in that 1% failure statistic.

(As for the On Stage, it's ok - pretty clear, but not loud enough. I should have gone with the Bose product).

Friday, December 02, 2005

Ulrich Schnauss and shoegazers at the Knitting Factory

Loveless Music Group has put together another great night of shoegazing music. The great Ulrich Schnauss - an electro meets shoegazer sound - plus Mahogany and Loveless Music Group regulars Project Skyward and Autumn Thieves will play the Knitting Factory on December 30. Buy tickets here.

As a special treat, DJ Robin from Club AC30 will be behind the decks. Club AC30 is a great "shoegazing" night/label out of London. I recently went to one of their nights (with Client and Sing-Sing), and the music is spectacular.