May 14, 2010
Three cheers for Kleenex Girl Wonder, one of my all time favorite bands. Singer and writer Graham Smith has a deep, primordial grasp of the whole fuzz folk lo-fi thing that seems to constantly elude the other guys and lead them astray. With eleven full-length albums under his belt and an arsenal of untold melodies he probably just keeps to himself, Graham embodies what musicians can usually only achieve during some hideous, drug-addled tornado between the piano and a straitjacket. Except for Mr. Smith, the approach is obvious and logical; music is less an anecdote to everyday life, but integrated and related to what’s happening, a mid-afternoon snack. I suppose it’s easy to be prolific if you don’t take it all so seriously. And he’s a really nice guy. Come to the Jezebel Music Feature Show June 3rd at Cameo Gallery. Epic!
JM.com: Having booked you for the Feature Show, it’s been interesting to see that pretty much one in five people I talk to about you are super stoked.
Graham Smith: That’s a lot. It’s probably one in five hundred, maybe. But the people who like it like it a lot, that’s the trick. The people who like it aren’t just like “oh yeah, I’ll throw it on”… either you dig it or you don’t. That could explain it also, because the people who are into it are passionate about it for the most part.
JM.com: That’s true, there is an aura about your music, where the fandom can reach a very intense level.
GS: And I have no idea why that is, honestly. I don’t know if that’s about the content, or because I used to try to cultivate a persona like that. Not that I tried to cultivate something that people would dislike, but I think I tried to cultivate something that would be remarkable. I don’t think I really do that as much any more. I think i try to do some online brand management type things, but I’m not saying insulting things anymore, or not showing up to gigs, or being irresponsible. Whatever I used to do. I just thought it was funny, I mean, I still do think it’s funny; I just don’t think it would be as funny to do it now. Because it’s more appealing to be earnest I guess. If there’s a fair amount of depth – depth in the lyrics – people tend to get more attached to it. I think that most people who like my stuff don’t think of it as deeply personal necessarily. It’s personally affecting to the listener, but it’s not necessarily that it’s my personal reflection on my feelings, it’s more observational. It’s still the same sort of thing that people would have for, say Dashboard Confessional, it’s the same basic thing. You have a different reaction to music like that than you do to, say, The Hives… these are all very old references.
April 23, 2010
ART OF SONG
“Dancing On My Own”
Body Talk Pt. 1
Konichiwa | 2010
Robyn was the reason my best friend in sixth grade came out of the closet. One summer afternoon in 1996, he and I were jumping on his enormous backyard trampoline, screaming along to “Show Me Love” like we always did. “I’ll love you / I’ll miss youuuuu / I’ll make sure everything will be alright” we belted; for some reason – maybe her refusal to appear in a schoolgirl’s uniform in videos – Robyn embodied pop music we could admit to liking, (I secretly liked the Spice Girls, but that’s another story). Even in her career’s infancy, the seeds of a rebel had been planted, and she resembled more mature disco queens like Kylie Minogue and Cyndi Lauper than the bubblegum droids of the day. And now, like Alec Baldwin’s Brando-ization, Robyn has come of age (the ripe old age of 30!) and flourished, leaving her Mickey Mouse Club contemporaries in the dust.
Enter Body Talk, an intergalactic dance triumvirate, and her second studio album since an infamous split with Jive in 2005. A friend of mine passed along the first single off the album, and I hate to say it, but it gives Lykke Li a run for her money.
Stream it here. Get ready to dance June 7th.
by Drew Citron
April 20, 2010
Welcome to the first edition of Stomping Grounds, a new column focused on neighborhood venues and music establishments, and the proprietors that make them unique. Free ideas, charming characters, and some friendly incentive to get off your computer and onto the street.
Not that I’ve been to the MoMA in person lately, but I did hear Marina Abramović interviewed on NPR the other week discussing her latest venture – “The Artist is Present” – a retrospective of her performance pieces spanning 40 years. The part that struck me was not Marina’s artistic mission (energy shifts, awareness, world domination?), but more the performers she cast in the roles of her younger selves, and what they had to say. Apparently, to train for the MoMA show, the group of forty lucky apprentices trekked upstate, slept on the floor of a barn without food for a week, washed in ice-cold river water, and, here’s the kicker, SORTED GRAIN all day. They testified that the experience was at once calming and energizing, and established just the sort of zen focus necessary to, say, ride a bike in a museum, in the nude, in the middle of Manhattan for hours and days at a time. This, in so many melodramatic words, describes the reverence I have for dumpster-diving. Scrounging for records, books, photographs, and clothes is a zen art form. It’s cyclical: the goods are far and away useless and recycled, and your fingernails always end up impossibly filthy. Some love junk, and some don’t get the point. Not everyone has the stamina to sort the barley from the rice; it takes one devoted kook to get it done. That kook is Larry the Junkman, founder and owner of The Vortex in Bushwick and The Thing in Greenpoint. I caught up with him this weekend to hear why he thinks the remnants of somebody’s Spring cleaning rampage, sudden breakup, or Great Aunt Elna’s passing are as valuable as I do.
JM.com: How did you become “Larry the Junkman?”
Larry: When I started in the junk business, I knew immediately I was in it for the metaphor, as well as “The Maltese Falcon” I would find one day. I knew Hemingway had his bullfight, and I wanted to have something that I could write about that no one else had done. As far as I knew, nobody had examined the world of recycled possessions and the characters who dealt in this business – except for Sanford and Son – and that really never examined the inner life of collecting or the business. Quickly, I learned that there were characters in this world who were like legal pirates capturing treasures, and that they had stories to tell about the estates they found and the collectors they sold to. I was hooked.
January 25, 2010
THIS WEEK IN SHOWS
Alright, I usually write a little blurb about each show I’m recommending, you know, arguing for why you should check it out. But this week I’m recommending these shows all for the same reason: each of them is a benefit for the relief efforts in Haiti. Hopefully you see something you like here, but if not, why not check out something new? Please help us show these artists and venues some love, but more importantly, let’s show a little love to the world outside our little pocket of the city.
MON, JAN. 25
Amber Rubarth, Ian Axel, Vienna Teng, Wes Hutchinson, Ari Hest and more
8:00, $20, 21+
WEDS, JAN. 27
Cold War Kids, Ted Leo, The Wrens, Sondre Lerche, Eugene Mirman, AC Newman
The Bell House
6:00 PM, $50, 21+
El Medio, No Eye Contact, Breakfast in Fur, Drew Citron
8:00 PM, $5 with can of food / $6 without, 21+
The Roots, Kaki King, Eric Krasno & Chapter 2 with John Scofield, Matisyahu
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8:00 PM, $35adv/$40do, 18+
THURS, JAN. 28
Flanagan Smith, Matt Jones, Alyson Greenfield, Charlene Kaye, Outernational, Automa
Public Assembly Back Room
8:00 PM, $10, 21+
SAT, JAN. 30
Blag’ard, The Barrens, Sing With Voices,
7:00 PM, $8, 21+
compiled by Erin Sheehy
January 14, 2010
LOCAL SPOTLIGHT NYC
At the risk of relinquishing my last shred of dignity, I sat down to interview the core members of No Eye Contact. To say that I am a groupie is an understatement. No Eye Contact – whose ever-shifting members have finally united to tour – is one of the best bands to have emerged from our humble hood last year. In spite of – or perhaps because of – my bias toward classic folk songwriting, I appreciate how precarious it is to do it, and how narrowly one must carve his delicate, original path. The band’s wholly refreshing brand of fuzz-garage folk recalls the best of Neutral Milk Hotel, while sifting in perfect percussive elements, found objects, and untampered mixing. The album is certainly al dente, or as Sastri describes it, “handmade, imperfect, and rough;” curious to see them live? Check No Eye Contact out tonight at the Jezebel Music Feature Show.
JM.com: How did you guys come together?
Raky: Josh and I went to high school together. He is three years my junior, so we met my senior year, in the theater department. We did a play together.
Josh: My Favorite Year. It’s really bad. We did that and we played in a Jeff Buckley cover band together. Although I couldn’t really play guitar very well at that point.
JM.com: What was it called?
Raky: Buckley Band. I played drums in that and Josh played silent guitar.
Josh: I didn’t know the chords so…
Raky: We turned his volume down and he just strummed a lot.
More on No Eye Contact
January 11, 2010
JezebelMusic.com @ Glasslands
January 6, 2010 | The Babies, True Womanhood, Total Slacker, Beach Fossils, Sundelles
[All images copyright 2010 Rachel Oakes]
Last Wednesday, an adorable swarm of stripey-teed, bespectacled Williamsburgers filed in to Glasslands for bands whose very monikers spoke volumes to the nature of the crowd: Total Slacker, The Babies, and perhaps a bit more far-fetched, True Womanhood. Although the main event was The Babies, (comprised of members from Vivian Girls and Woods), I thought True Womanhood had considerable novelty appeal and definitely won Miss Congeniality for the night. Thomas Redmond, Melissa Beattie, and Noam Elsner’s melodic doomsday drones brought out the vampire in all of us, and by the end of their set, even the bartender was rocking out.
Utilizing maudlin drum loops, beer-soaked, distorted basslines, and Doug Martsch-inspired vocals, the trio of psych rockers filled the space with a palpably hypnotic echo. The sound is a product of organic songwriting, never taking the obvious route back to a hook, barraging the ear with a pattern of recognizable basslines, and then shying away. Luckily for us, this gave way to the under-indulged timpani, whose deep and kettled voice brought new life to the roll of the kick drum in experimental indie rock. Elsner’s drumming is a sight to behold, as is Beattie’s childlike, Duff McKagan attitude toward her bass. The songs could have been tighter, but the kernel of a great structure was there, and at Glasslands, who’s counting?
by Drew Citron
Check out more shots of the show after the jump!
More on The Babies, True Womanhood, Total Slacker, Beach Fossils, Sundelles @ Glasslands | 1.06.10
December 23, 2009
photo by Mardi Miskit
LOCAL SPOTLIGHT NYC
One thing to keep in mind before the New Year – it pays to play it by ear. Last week I sprinted to meet Savoir Adore at the Bedford stop a few (40) minutes late, and found Deidre, Paul, and David chatting contentedly over beers. With no questions in mind, I thought it brilliant that Deidre suggested they interview each other. Smart cookie, savvy businesswoman. It was no Murphy/Barrymore, but I was privy to some otherwise private insights, and got a look into the iTunes-addled, creatively-torn psyche of a band on the brink.
JM.com: Would you say you’re a local Williamsburg band?
Deidre: It’s an interesting question. We live here, but all of our writing and recording happens in upstate New York.
Paul: A lot of people ask about our relationship to Brooklyn and what Brooklyn does for us, and we write most of our material upstate. We really only moved to Williamsburg about five months ago. It’s really pleasant.
Deidre: We have to work a little harder to earn a living but it’s totally worth it.
Paul: I don’t know why I never thought about living here. There was a weird stigma about living in Williamsburg when I was in college. But it really offers everything that’s great about living in New York, and everything that’s great about living in a small town.
David: Savoir has got an interesting history. It started out as a weekend concept EP, where they took 48 hours, made an EP, just Paul and Deidre as friends who wanted to do something fun. They wanted to break out of the box, they were both in a bit of rut in their singer/songwriter circles, acoustic guitar. They said, “no acoustic guitar. Keyboards, drums, bass, maybe electric guitar. Basically do something really quickly, and really fun.” And that was the first Savoir Adore.
Deidre: The name existed long before the band.
More on Savoir Adore
December 2, 2009
LOCAL SPOTLIGHT NYC
If repetition is the father of learning, then Susu has a lot to teach. Their forlorn guitar melodies, simple vocal arrangements, and lyrical mantras crown in waves of unadulterated, kickass rock-outs. With the additional treats of electronic drums, whistling, and creatively placed gutteral cries, they set themselves apart from the average Sonic Youth disciples. I had the immense privilege of sneaking a peak at their new album, and was very impressed. Read on, and if you’re interested in witnessing impeccable musicianship in the flesh, check them out next Thursday at the feature show.
JM.com: Where’s your hometown?
Andrea: I’m from Michigan originally, a suburb of metro Detroit. Mike and I are both from Michigan. Oliver is from DC.
JM.com: Have you and Mike been playing together for a long time?
Andrea: Mike and I have been playing together since 2002, definitely the longest I’ve played with one other person.
JM.com: What was the music scene like growing up in Michigan?
Andrea: Lots of hardcore and electronic music, that was the main thing. I got sucked into those scenes I guess, by my friends, but I don’t think I ever really loved either one. There were aspects of those genres that I appreciated. Touring bands coming through, a lot of Canadian music, the import section.
JM.com: Oliver, what was the music scene like growing up in DC?
Oliver: Oh you know, it was the ’80s growing up in DC, I guess Fugazi was the coolest band around, and I saw them play like thirteen times. Other great bands like Holy Rollers, and Circus Lucas, Girls Against Boys played great shows in churches, outdoors. Sometimes there would be political rallies and a whole bunch of bands would play in the park.
More on Susu