March 31, 2009
This Wednesday at Bar Matchless, Craig Chin (pictured), Dexter Scott, Heidi Sidelinker, and Abby Payne will perform at Resonance, for FREE. Showcasing a potent quartet of talented songwriters, this April Fools performance will be no joke.
Craig Chin boasts such quirky, hilarious titles as “Universe Boat” (which can be seen gyrating through the sky) “Sad Cowboy” (who has no horse, no hat, and no boots) and his greatest hit, “The Hot Dog Song” (“you got a great big winner, and I’ve got a warm soft bun”). Craig’s humor and subtle wit have the ability to make the listener laugh, and even sing along, but are conveyed in a clever way that keeps his music short of outright musical comedy. These songs are smart, funny, and without sap. Where many singer-songwriters sing about relationships and personal emotions, Craig revitalizes the genre with serious songs about spaceships and hot dogs.
For show details, click HERE.
2009 | Constant Clip Recordings
With the recent shuttering of the old Knitting Factory (which was actually the new Knitting Factory, relocated after the first one closed), I guess you officially, finally, can no longer refer to someone as a “downtown” musician. I’ve often heard that term in reference to New York musicians who aren’t from here and don’t sound like they live here now, so now that there’s no “downtown” music scene (formally anyway), what do you call someone like Alexa Woodward – from Virginia and sounding something like a cool breeze set to music? Woodward’s easygoing second album, Speck, sounds like a mildly psychedelic Gillian Welch in a self-imposed artist’s retreat.
More on Alexa Woodward | Speck
March 30, 2009
IN THE TUBE
Bob Dylan is releasing his 46th album, Together Through Life, on April 28. And assuming it’s even a tenth as good as Modern Times, then I’m prepared, her and now, to declare it the best songwriter’s record of 2009. Straight up. Modern Times was incredible, as were Time Out of Mind and Love and Theft and Tell Tale Signs. And I’ll stretch back even further and extend Dylan’s new era of greatness to include Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong. It’s one of the great inspirational pleasures in life, surveying Dylan’s discography chronologically: meteoric rise, waver, Blood On the Tracks, waver, free-fall into near obscurity. And then one of the greatest comeback kid stories ever told. Anyway. I’m sure nobody needs to hear me ramble on about Bob Dylan. Instead, here’s the gorgeous video to the unspeakably beautiful “When The Deal Goes Down,” from Modern Times, to get the salivary juices flowing for April. (Unforunately they disabled embedding, so you’ll have to click the link and skip over to YouTube to check it out.) This is one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, and I think truly emblematic of Dylan’s recent discography: it is a body laced with nostalgia and regret. “When The Deal Goes Down” is heart breaking in every aspect, from it’s timeless (stolen) melody to its imagistic lyrics. And I love the video too. Even Scarlet. It could have so easily been a disaster but instead it’s, you know, not. It’s infused with the same quiet longing as the song, an account of a life, a registry of memory, and an attempt to understand better one’s own history. “We live and we die, we know not why, but I’ll be with you when the deal goes down.”
by Chris Kiehne
LOCAL SPOTLIGHT NYC
It’s always a pleasure to discover new pop music that excites – because, so often, at best it succeeds at being merely pleasant and chummy. Fortunately, singer-songwriter/pianist Todd Alsup proves that some pop can still transcend the suspect platitudes most listeners have come to expect. Alsup accomplishes this by balancing his serious musicianship – his piano chops have merited a sponsorship by Yamaha – with a hint of gentle playfulness. Consequently, his talent never feels forced upon the listener. Rather, his songs shimmer with warmth, allowing them to be pensive and personal without ever teetering on standoffish and insular. He admixes into this recipe his significant vocal range. He hits the notes right, with an integrity equal to that displayed by his piano playing. In addition to venues outside of the city, Alsup frequently performs around town at places such as Rockwood Music Hall. As his career keeps galloping forward, be sure to check out its vital velocity.
by Alicia Dreilinger
March 29, 2009
Big Love: Hymnal
2008 | Suma Records
For those unfamiliar with the TV series, HBO’s Big Love focuses on a family of polygamists who believe in old-school Mormon beliefs, and hide their polygamy from all but a few confidants. The show is both about being faithful to a religion that is misunderstood and harshly judged, and also about the interpersonal relationships that have formed because of this unique situation. Big Love has had two of the most compelling and talented composers, who have crossed over from the rock world to the film/TV world, on their staff – Mark Mothersbaugh and David Byrne. Byrne took over after the first season, and much of his work on the second season is collected on Big Love: Hymnal.
More on David Byrne | Big Love: Hymnal
No previous file-sharing service openly aggravates trade organizations and lawmakers quite like The Pirate Bay. As previously reported here on the site, The Pirate Bay is on trial in Sweden for making copyrighted material available online. While the verdict is pending, the Swedish government has crafted a strict anti-piracy law, modeling the European Union’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED),that makes collecting personal data from suspected file sharers easier for copyright holders.
More on The Pirate Bay Launches Torrent Cloaking Device
March 28, 2009
Of Fungi and Foe
2009 | Prawn Song
Okay you pig-loving bass connoisseurs, Les Claypool and his snouty mask are back. His ingenuity has boggled listeners, enhanced film and video games, mastered Zappa, and confused Metallica. Lately, he’s been touring with his Fancy Band. There hasn’t been much output from him on the solo plane recently, but in the past week Claypool gave his fans a new piece of candy to suck on, Of Fungi and Foes, released just last week on the Prawn Song label.
Whenever something is branded by Claypool, there is no doubt it will surpass his previous level of oddity and intelligence. His satirical punches geared towards American political oopses and oh-nos have claimed part of his fame since the days of Primus. His remarkable slap-style and flamenco strumming techniques are direct insignias of his mind, but Claypool doesn’t describe his style beyond percussive. According to him, it’s just the color he picked out of the crayon box.
More on Les Claypool | Of Fungi and Foe
There are three distinct eras in Journey’s career: first, the stadium filling, Steve Perry heyday; second, the 90s, in which the band was largely considered a bad, distant memory that would hopefully fade over time; third, their current redemption trek, in which the band is regarded as ragged heroes by fans old enough to remember their stadium shows, and as a strange kind of hit machine by young fans. Journey, and their biggest song, “Don’t Stop Believing,” have been deemed cool again: cool enough to be selected as the last music ever played on The Sopranos; cool enough that their 2008 album Revelation went platinum (seriously, can The Strokes even claim that their entire catalog has sold a million copies?); cool enough to have had an Atari 2600 game (Journey Escape) designed around their likenesses; cool enough to be played on endless repeat in seemingly every bar I’ve set foot in over the past five or so years. It’s like that weird alternate universe in Superman comics in which Superman is a dim-witted bad guy, spinach is poison, and Journey are cool and hip.
More on Journey | “Don’t Stop Believing”