So Not the Best of the ’00s

 Oh, the list of Best of 00s TV I could write!
What a decade, huh? This one's notable as having been spent entirely in NYC, and entirely of the digital age which changed the way everybody listened to music. (Maybe not my parents but everyone else.) We had more access to everything, and less to to spend with it. That said, there was no shortage of good music, though I don't think anything hit me quite as hard as the previous decade — partly due to age, party due to aforementioned information overload. There's nothing from this year, as I feel it's too close to really tell how a record is gonna hold up over time, and only a couple from the last four years. (Though in 1999 I knew The Soft Bulletin and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides were among the decade's best and that's not changed. Different Times.) There's also way more from 2000 than I woulda thought before I spent the last month trying to figure out this list. 

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a Best of the '00s, because lists like that have to include Important Albums, Influential Albums and the like. I listened to Radiohead, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, The Knife, The Strokes, Phoenix and whoever like everyone else. (I also listened to Louis XIV and Hot Hot Heat.) But, for the most part, these are a little more buried treasure-ish. I think the records that didn't get played to death in public are the ones you come back to the most. These are mine, in chronological order.

Sfa Super Furry Animals - Mwng (Placid Casual, May 2000)
Radiohead Schmadiohead. From 1995 to 2005, no band expanded the boundaries of guitar rock while remaining what you could call "commercially viable" than Super Furry Animals. Released in early 2000, less than a year after their last album (1999's Guerrilla) and the height of their creative peak, Mwng might be my all-time favorite SFA album, a relatively stripped-down affair — not much in the way of electronics, but some of their catchiest songs ever. And it's sung entirely in Welsh. Initial pressings came with a second CD's worth of songs (also all in Welsh) that was nearly as good.

MP3Ymaelodi Â'r Ymylon
MP3Dacw Hi

AislerssetThe Aislers SetThe Last Match (Slumberland, June 2000)
With Henry's Dress and, later, The Aislers Set, Amy Linton was the sound of Slumberland Records in the '90s and early '00s, and has proved highly influential on the label's new crop of bands. Listen to "The Way to Market Station" and you can building blocks of Crystal Stilts sound.  There's a timeless quality it, and I have little doubt it will still sound awesome in 2020.

MP3:The Way to Market Station
MP3: Been Hiding

GobetweensThe Go-Betweens
The Friends of Rachel Worth (JetSet, Sept 2000)
Nearly all reunions are worthless, just "we're in it for the money" affairs with new albums merely made to give excuses to tour and play the hits to an aging fan-base. But there was a chemistry between Grant McLennan and Robert Forster, even though they wrote separately, that could never be replicated with solo material. So this understated album, recorded 13 years after their last album — with Sleater Kinney as their backing band — it's doesn't just not suck, it was the best they ever made.

MP3: Surfing Magazines
MP3: Going Blind

Cinerama CineramaDisco Volante (Scopitones, Sept 2000)
David Gedge formed Cinerama as a side project with his then-girlfriend as perhaps wrist relief from The Wedding Present. It wasn't until the band's second album that Cinerama found it's sound: indie rock meets Ennio Morricone. (Lyrically, Gedge only does one thing — endless variations of romantic entanglements.) Disco Volante ties TWP's Seamonsters (both recorded with Steve Albini) as the best record he ever made.

MP3: Your Charms
MP3: Superman

Tfc Teenage FanclubHowdy! (Sony UK, Oct 2000)
Scotland's Teenage Fanclub have never broken any ground, musically, but they are remarkably consistent songwriters. I'm not sure that this album is that different than the one before or since but this is the one I tend to come back to a lot. Stick-in-your-head melodies, great harmonies, and really nice arrangements this time. They've mellowed out by this point and it fits them like a favorite sweater. This one barely got released in America.

MP3: I Need Direction
Accidental Life


Oranger Oranger The Quiet Vibrationland (Amazing Grease, December 2000)
Underrated band from San Francisco, not unlike Teenage Fanclub in that they're clearly enamored with '60s sunshine pop. But Oranger will always a little louder, a little more raucous with a drummer who loved to go apeshit Keith Moon-style. (And appropriately, the album's title comes from Tommy.) Hands down their best record, The Quiet Vibrationland still sounds swell ten years later. Apparently they're still together, though somewhat dormant now.

MP3: Suddenly Upside Down
Stoney Curtis in Reverse

Tsool The Soundtrack of Our Lives Behind the Music (Telegram, Feb 2001)
There's a lot of '60s psych inspired bands on my list, and TSOOL were like a greatest hits of the era all rolled into one nonstop Swedish Rock Machine and one of the decade's most amazing live bands. 2001's Behind the Music was their third record, the first to get recognition in the States, though it wouldn't get released till mid-2002. Sure, you can dissect the songs into its borrowed elements but why spoil the fun when tracks like "Sister Surround," "21st Century Ripoff," "Keep the Line Movin'," and "Nevermore" sound so great cranked all the way up. 

MP3: Sister Surround
Independent Luxury

Spoon Spoon Girls Can Tell (Merge, Feb 2001)
You could make a pretty good case for Spoon being Artist of the Decade, a band who made great records all through the '00s. Pretty amazing for a band whose first album is so unremarkable. Maybe like Radiohead, it just took Spoon a bit to figure out what they wanted to be. By Girls Can Tell, they'd figured out that almost minimalist sound, where you hear every instrument clearly. I know a lot of people prefer 2003's Kill the Moonlight, but it's this one that proved A Series of Sneaks was no fluke and grabbed me the most… and still does.

MP3: Anything You Want
MP3: Fitted Shirt

Pernice Pernice BrothersThe World Won't End (Ashmont, June 2001)
This is clearly the work of someone raised on '70s AM radio pop before having their worldview (and sense of humor) informed by gloomy '80s Brit haircut music. Meet The Pernice brothers, a band who have t-shirts that say "I Hate My Life." The World Won't End (pretty sure the album's title is not meant to be a good thing.) is a gorgeous mix of those two worlds, with Joe Pernice's honeyed, weary vocals (and the swooning string arrangements) the icing on the cake. All the Pernice Brothers albums are good, but The World Won't End is the classic.

MP3: Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)
 Let That Show

Amanset American Analog SetKnow By Heart (Tigerstyle, Sept 2001)
Warm yet chilly, lovely yet sinister, American Analog set on Know By Heart made music that seems to have come from that space between waking and sleep. Like the Austin neighbors Spoon, this is spare music, but methodically put together… and will haunt you like a half-remembered dream. AmAnSet never bettered Know By Heart.

MP3: Punk as Fuck
MP3: The Kindness of Strangers

Notwist The Notwist Neon Golden (City Slang, Feb 2002)
Incorporating the glitchy sound of of the then-current laptop scene, long-running German band The Notwist finally got America to take notice with Neon Golden. Rightly so. Digital manipulation is as evident here as it is on Cher's "Believe" but the Notwist make it sound as organic as blood coursing through veins. It hasn't dated one bit.

MP3: Pilot
MP3: One with the Freaks

Edwyn Edwyn CollinsDoctor Syntax (Setanta, April, 2002)
Before being sidelined by a stroke in 1995, Edwyn Collins was an in-demand producer when not working on solo material. 2002's Doctor Syntax (unreleased in America) might be his best album, slinky funk with a wicked mean streak, mostly aimed at the record industry. The production is brilliant. You could imagine couple of the songs here — "Johnny Teardrop" and "20 Years Too Late" —  reworked to be hits for Beyonce or Girls Aloud. 

MP3: 20 Years Too Late
MP3: It's a Funny Thing 

Bss Broken Social SceneYou Forgot it In People (Paper Bag, Oct 2002)
The start of the new Canadian Invasion, though Toronto never developed into an actual scene the way Montreal did. Seeing Broken Social Scene at Mercury Lounge summer of 2003 was kind of a revelation. Most American bands didn't try this hard, or have this many members. It helped that they were touring for an album as great as this, that echoed the '80s and '90s but fresh and new.

MP3: Cause = Time
MP3Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl

Dears The DearsNo Cities Left (MapleMusic, April 2003)
Let's set this straight. Dears frontman Murray Lightburn does NOT sound like Morrissey. Damon Albarn, I can hear that, but not really the Moz. And Lightburn has bigger aspirations, anyway, on No Cities Left, an epic album in every way that might collapse under all the bombast and melodrama if the songs weren't so damn good. And their shows around the time, they were one of the best live bands in North America. One thing Lightburn and Moz do have in common: not getting any enough credit for their sense of humor. 

MP3: Lost in the Plot
MP3: 22: the Death of All the Romance

Radiodept Radio Dept. Lesser Matters (Labrador/Shelflife, March 2003)
Here's a record that I still can't quite put my finger on why it's so good. It was like the sum of everything I loved in the late '80s and early '90s, as played and recorded on shitty equipment. The enigmatic nature of the band helped too, and you could be convinced that the tapes for this album were discovered by accident while cleaning out someone's basement. 

MP3: Why Won't You Talk About It?
MP3: Ewan

Newporno New PornographersThe Electric Version (Merge, May 2003)
Canadian Invasion, West Coast Division. I know the tastemakers say their debut, Mass Romantic, is the end-all be-all. But for my dollar, The Electric Version does it better and catchier. Carl Newman and Dan Bejar' songwriting had grown even more confident… and the hooks are undeniable. 

MP3: From Blown Speakers
MP3: Chump Change


Ulrich Ulrich SchnaussA Strangely Isolated Place (Domino, May 2003)
Laptop shoegaze, beautiful and hypnotic like Slowdive and Cocteau Twins, which are the obvious and admitted influences here. Perhaps my favorite sleeping album of all time, it's also good for walking around the city, road trips and doing the dishes. Dancing, not so much.

MP3: On My Own
MP3: Monday


Komeda Kokomemedada (Sonet/Minty Fresh June 2003)
Like Stereolab's zany Swedish cousins, Komeda always swung a little too kitsch/novelty for my tastes on their first album so I checked out until hearing Kokomemedada, and my opinion changed immediately. Komeda stayed playful but became more sophisticated about the songwriting, sort of Krautrock with a personality and sense of humor. Also, ridiculously catchy stuff. 1998's What Makes it Go? is pretty great too.

MP3: Blossom
MP3: Victory Lane

Darkness The DarknessPermission to Land (WEA, July 2003)
No, I'm not kidding. At the time, debates raged — RAGED — about whether The Darkness was serious or not. Well, clearly you don't wear spandex cat suits, sing in a Tiny Tim falsetto and write a love song to a genital wart ("Growing On Me") and not understand irony, but it was clear singer/guitarist/songwriter Justin Hawkins loves this stuff. Part Thin Lizzy riff rock boogie, part Queen flamboyance, Permission to Land is all hits, start to finish. (If you can get past Justin Hawkins' falsetto.) And some of the most inspired, melodically-driven guitar solos (some songs have three) on any album of the last 20 years. Plus "Friday Night" which could almost be a Pulp song. And hilariously insane videos (especially "Growing on Me".) It all went up Hawkins' nose on the overblown second album, but Permission to Land is brilliant.

MP3: Growing on Me
Friday Night

Bs Belle & SebastianDear Catastrophe Waitress (Rough Trade, Oct 2003)
Who'd have thought having Trevor Horn, producer of some of the most bombastic records of the last 30 years, work with twee royalty Belle & Sebastian would be a good idea, let alone a brilliant one. Instead of turning them into Seal (or taTu) he focused the band back to their stong suit: Stuart Murdoch. Where B&S's three previous records had been democratic to a giant fault, letting everyone in the band contribute songs, Dear Catastrophe Waitress was almost entirely written by Murdoch who was up to the task, branching out from his VU safety zone into glam and new wave territory. Their best record since If You're Feeling Sinister and a terrific return to form, that would continue through the rest of the '00s. (Also seek out the 2004 b-side "Your Cover's Blown," one of their best, most ambitious songs ever.)

MP3: I'm a Cuckoo
MP3: Stay Loose

LomaxLomax A Symbol of Modern Living (93 Records, Nov 2003)
Of all the bands aping Gang of Four's postpunk in the early '00s (and there were tons of them) Lomax came the closest to feeling like the real thing — the anger, the aggression, the politics. And almost nobody heard this record, which is strange in some ways Lomax's frontman was Paul Epworth, who ended up producing some of the most hyped bands doing nearly the same thing (Rapture, Futureheads, Bloc Party…). Maybe because this record was never shoved down my throat is why I still listen to it.

MP3: Brought to Rights
MP3: Modern Life

MoonbabiesMoonbabies The Orange Billboard (Hidden Agenda, Jan 2004)
Sparkling pop music with lovely boy-girl harmonies, chiming guitars and a twinkle of electronics. It's just a lovely lovely record that got almost no attention at all at the time, though that changed somewhat when Moonbabies ended up on one of the Grey's Anatomy soundtracks. This is the musical equivalent to what I imagine Sweden to be like in the Springtime. Defintely one of the '00s unheard gems.

MP3: Sun A.M.
MP3: Forever Changes Everything Now

ThefallThe FallReal New Fall LP (aka Country on the Click) (Action/Narnack, March 2004)
Though 2000's The Unutterable contains perhaps my favorite Fall song of this decade ("Dr. Buck's Letter") I have to give the edge Real New Fall LP for overall quality. Coming off of one of The Fall's worst album's ever (Are You Missing Winner), Mark E. Smith rallied with a tight new band, a focused outlook and generally seeming fairly with it. This was the last great Fall album, though I have no doubt M.E.S. will deliver another to us soon. An album on Domino (a good sign) is due in January 2010.

MP3: Green Eyed Loco Man
MP3: Mountain Energi

Scissorsisters The Scissor SistersS/T (Universal, July 2004)
Originally part of the shortlived electroclash scene, Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears envisioned that extended further than Grand Street in Williamsburg. Their debut album (reportedly recorded in Shears' apartment) is the best bits of 1976 that weren't punk: glam, glitter, and disco. An ode to the fading flame that was the NYC nightlife scene, Scissor Sisters debut has a staggering number of phenomenal songs. Like the Darkness album, it's almost all hits. "Take Your Mama Out" and their Gibb-i-fied take on "Comfortably Numb" may have been the showpieces, it's ballads "Mary" and the stunning "Return to Oz" are the showstoppers.

MP3: Mary

Rakes The RakesCapture/Release (V2, Aug 2005)
In a sea of similar bands to pop up in Franz Ferdinand's wake, The Rakes were the best because they had personality and a point of view thanks to spazzy singer Alan Donahoe. They actually sang about something. "Everything's temporary these days/Might as well go out for the fifth night in a row" — still relevant! Capture/Release's tales of urban 20-something ennui still hold up. Donahoe's a Jarvis Cocker in the waiting, hopefully he won't give up music following The Rakes recent split. 

MP3: Retreat 
 22 Grand Job

Elbow ElbowLeaders of the Free World (V2, Sept 2005)
My top album of 2005. Gorgeous melodies, inventive arrangements and musicianship, and some of the most heartfelt (without treacle) lyrics around. And Guy Garvey's amazing voice on top of it all. Elbow finally got some well deserved recognition (and the Mercury Prize) for 2008's Seldom Seen Kid, but this album is better.

MP3: Mexican Standoff

Hotchip Hot ChipThe Warning (DFA, June 2006)
My top album of 2006 and they have yet to better it. (That could change when One Life Stand comes out, we'll see.) "Over and Over" has been played to death, but you know it still sounds great, as does the rest of this album. It’s the sound of real live people playing – not programming – synthesizers, and that human element shines through.

MP3: No Fit State
MP3: Look After Me

SloanSloan Never Hear the End of It (MurderRecords, Sept 2006)
One of my favorite bands of the last 20 years, Sloan had a rough start to the decade trying to grab the brass ring. (The Canadian brass ring at least.) For Never Hear the End of It, they went back to doing what they do best – being themselves. The result was their best album in years; a sprawling, beautiful mess of 30 interwoven songs that never gets boring.

MP3: Fading into Obscurity
MP3: Blackout


Electrelane Electrelane No Shouts, No Calls (Too Pure, March 2007)
There is nothing you could call new or groundbreaking about Electrelane's final album. It's a sound echoing of the Velvets, the Pastels, and many other indie touchstones. But they just do it so well, with lyrics so sad and romantic this time, and for whatever reason No Shouts, No Calls really stuck with me. It's kind of perfect. I wish they'd change their mind and get back together.

MP3: To the East
MP3: Saturday


MetronomyMetronomyNights Out (Because Music, Sept 2008)
My top album of '08 and it still holds up a year later. Metronomy have a distinct sound that is instantly recognizable whether it's their own tracks or the remixes they do for other artists. It's manic, with a water-damaged quality to it that sounds like what it feels to be up for 36 hours straight, buzzing on espressos (or whatever) but dead tired. In a good way, obviously. It still sounds like nothing else. Metronomy are now a four piece, with a drummer and new bassist, so who knows what 2010 will bring for them, but I can't wait to find out.

MP3: A Thing for Me
MP3: Heartbreaker

Sound Bites Best of 2007 | Albums

Just in under the wire… my Best of 2007 Albums list. My only eligibility requirement was that it had to have originally been released in 2007, somewhere in the world, in a legally-obtainable format. Hence Amy Winehouse and Jarvis are out, that was last year; but MGMT, whose album was available on iTunes though the CD isn’t out until 2008 is eligible. It was a good year for music. Album titles here are buy-it links, so if you dig any MP3s posted, please do pick up the record. See you in 2008.

ElectrelaneNo Shouts, No Calls (Too Pure) |There is nothing you could call new or groundbreaking about Electrelane’s fourth album. It’s a sound echoing of the Velvets, the Pastels, and many other indie touchstones. But they just do it so well, with lyrics so sad and romantic this time, and for whatever reason No Shouts, No Calls really stuck with me. It’s kind of perfect. That it’s probably their last record ("indefinite hiatus") makes it all the more special.

MP3: At Sea
| To the East

LCD Soundsystem
Sound of Silver
(DFA / Astralwerks) | James Murphy grapples with getting older and makes an record even better than the first. Smart, thoughtful, funny and sad… and you can dance to it. Enough has been written about Sounds of Silver in the past year that I’m not sure I can add much to the conversation apart from "I Agree."

MP3: Someone Great | All My Friends

KlaxonsMyths of the Near Future (Universal) | I read on some other blog "Let’s face it, there are a thousand bands just like the Klaxons." Really? I couldn’t disagree more. I think people heard "Atlantis to the Interzone," read all the "nu rave" crap (a term coined by the band as a joke in an interview, and suddenly it was a movement) and never actually bothered to listen to the brilliance that is Myths of the Near Future. The Klaxons encompass so many styles, ideas, bizarre lyrics…it’s like they sound like a thousand other bands… all at the same time. Genius.

MP3: Golden Skans | It’s Not Over Yet

Shout Out LoudsOur Ill Wills (Merge) | The second album from these Swedes ups the ’80s worship, yes, but with it comes sweeping melodies, a-go-go and woodblock filled percussion, and monster hooks that burrow deep into your head and refuse to leave.

MP3: Hard Rain
| Impossible

CaribouAndorra (Merge) | Maybe someday I will learn to truly appreciate Strawberry Jam and Person Pitch, but for me this is the kind of psychedelic laptop folk pop cacauphony that I crave. An amazing transformation from Caribou’s last album which did nothing for me. It’s an amazing live show too.

MP3: Melody Day | Eli

Of MontrealHissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (Polyvinyl) | One of the 2007’s first records and it’s held up all year long. A total mental breakdown (in Norway) has never been more pleasant to listen to. Of Montreal keeps getting better though I hope it doesn’t take the same circumstances to deliver this kind of quality again.

MP3: Gronlandic Edit
| DFaberge Falls for Shugie

Roisin MurphyOverpowered
(EMI UK) | I will admit to having a soft spot for sparkling Eurodisco,
and Roisin Murphy makes the kind of records Sophie Ellis Bextor can
only jealously dream of. It’s a whole album of singles. Even at her most Pop, the
former Moloko singer is just too weird turn out anything completely
normal.(Maybe I could
do with a few less Rock-a-pella production touches, but the songs are
strong enough that it doesn’t bother me much.)

MP3: Overpowered | Primitive

Sondre LercheThe Phantom Punch (Astralwerks) | Perhaps one of the most ignored records of 2007. By blogs at least. Which are mostly written by dudes. And Sondre seems to appeal to women, mainly, thanks to his Scandanavian good looks and highly romantic songs. But anyone who’s ever seen him live knows he’s a total charmer. And the Phantom Punch is syrup-free and kind of rocks in a ’80s indie sort of way. Listen to the frenzied guitar at the end of Phantom Punch’s title track — fierce stuff.

MP3: The Phantom Punch | Airport Taxi Reception

MGMT Oracular Spectacular (Columbia) | If you heard MGMT’s 2005 Time to Pretend EP, you can really tell
how much producer David Friddman (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, etc)
helped expand their sound on Oracular Spectacular, especially on the title track. What was a
pretty good synthpop rock star fantasy becomes as glorious as their
dreams of stardom. It’s one of those rare cases when a rerecording
actually betters the original. The rest of the record is nearly
as good, despite being all over the place. There’s bits that sound like
T-Rex, "Miss You"-era Stones, CSNY folk… all with some of the more
entertaining lyrics I’ve heard in a while. Bombast with tongue firmly in cheek.

MP3: Time to Pretend | Electric Feel

Arthur & YuIn Camera (Hardly Art) | Just a lovely record, one that benefits from listening to it on a real stereo with real speakers — ones that are as far apart as possible. Part of Arthur & Yu’s charm comes from the space that’s in the album, I’m not sure exactly how to describe it. Lovely, Everly-esque harmonies, perfect production… and lots of space, like I said. To think this was just a demo they decided to release as-is. Hopefully they won’t pretty-it-up too much for Album #2.

MP3: Afterglow
| There Are Too Many Birds

Albums 11 – 20 after the jump…

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Sound Bites Best of 2007 | Singles + Tracks

Goldenskans_12 As usual, I found 2007 to be a better year for songs than albums. It’s got to be that way, always, right? This was supposed to be a Top 25 but then I kept remembering other songs I wanted to be on here. Anyway, this is now a Top 30. Most of these are actual singles, but a few are just songs I liked that were released in 2007. A few tracks here I’ll admit I’m kind of sick of at this point (probably the same ones you are), and some others are admittedly silly, but I think that’s what I love about singles. It is an ephemeral art form by nature and a good picture of what’s going on culturally in the, uh, culture. And yes, Klaxons at Number 1. Anyway, in descending order:

   1. The Klaxons – Golden Skans (MP3)
   2. LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great (MP3
   3. M.I.A. – Paper Planes (MP3
   4. Justice – D.A.N.C.E. (MP3)
   5. Roisin Murphy – Overpowered (MP3)
   6. Ida Maria – Oh My God (MP3)
   7. MGMT – Time to Pretend (MP3)
   8. Let’s Wrestle – I Won’t Lie to You (MP3)
   9. Calvin Harris – Merrymaking at My Place (MP3)
  10. Richard Hawley – Tonight the Streets are Ours (MP3)
  11. LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends (MP3)
  12. New Young Pony Club – The Bomb (MP3)
  13. Yeasayer – 2080 (MP3)
  14. Maps – You Don’t Know Her Name (MP3)
  15. Black Kids – Hurricane Jane (MP3)
  16. The Clientele – Bookshop Casanova (MP3)
  17. Switches – Stepkids in Love (MP3)
  18. Sondre Lerche – Airport Taxi Reception (MP3)
  19. Pleasure feat. Brett Anderson – Back to You (MP3)
  20. Bat for Lashes – What’s a Girl to Do (MP3)
  21. Blonde Redhead – 23 (MP3)
  22. Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing! (MP3)
  23. Panda Bear – Bros (MP3)
  24. Hot Chip – My Piano (MP3)
  25. Caribou – Melody Day (MP3)
  26. Mary Onettes – Void (MP3)
  27. New Pornographers – Myriad Harbour (MP3)
  28. Electrelane – To the East (MP3)
  29. Studio – Origin (MP3)
  30. The New Sins – It Doesn’t Work Like That (MP3)

Sound Bites Best of 2007 | Gigs


A great year for shows and this list could’ve been doubled easily (LCD’s Bowery Shows, Klaxons at Studio B, Amy Winehouse at Bowery, Hot Chip, Soundtrack of Our Lives, Cribs, Black Kids, etc…).  I would’ve even been able to make a list of Best Shows I Didn’t Actually Write Up. But it’s much easier just to pull quotes from posts I did do. So, in descending order, my ten favorite shows of 2007:

Jarvis Cocker + Dirty Projectors | Webster Hall | 4.22.2007
"At 43, with a solo debut that is not only mature but mostly about
"maturing," some might have expected a toned-down the live show. But
I’m happy to report that Jarvis Cocker remains a total sex machine —
leaping around, standing on the monitors, swinging the mike, and that
elbow slide thing. Last night was his first NYC show in nearly ten
years, and from the opening notes of the roaring ‘Fat Children’ through
the final encore cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ (!!!), Jarvis had
the audience eating out of the palm of his hand the entire time —
without playing a single Pulp song."

Shout Out Louds | Speigeltent | 7.16.2007
"A truly magical show, one of those times where the setting, the crowd
and the performance came together to make something special."

Peter Bjorn & John | Union Hall | 1.28.2007
"’People think it’s always winter in Sweden, but it’s not this cold in Stockholm!’ Peter Morén
was actually talking about Friday’s barely-double-digit temperatures.
Cliche or not, it did seem fitting that the first real snowfall of the
season happened on the same night as Peter Bjorn and John‘s stateside debut at Union Hall in Park Slope, and their reception was anything but chilly."

Ida Maria | Galapagos | 10.19.2007
"Diminutive, and dressed in a mint green school marm top, a dark teal
leather skirt, purple tights and bright blue boots she looked pixie.
But when she strapped on the guitar and opened her mouth, she
transformed into a whirling, wailing little powerhouse that you could
almost compare to early PJ Harvey though her
voice definitely has a certain Bjork-esque quality that is hard to deny." She’s going to be big in 2008, I think: the video I shot from this show is my most popular clip on YouTube.

Arthur & Yu | Sound Fix Cafe | 10.01.2007
"Arthur & Yu’s sound — twangy, kinda druggy, old school harmonies — is perfect for Sound Fix’s
back room which was full but not so packed as to warrant the removal of
the tables. You could sit back, drink your tea (or a PBR) and mellow
out to the warm vibes and melodies, man."

The Deathset + The Trucks + MM/DD/YYYY | Don Pedros | 6.23.2007
"…the shouting continued with The Deathset,
a punky duo who use laptop backing and the kind of drum machines that
were probably cutting edge in 1985, making for a sound not unlike Bis,
the first Pop Will Eat Itself album or (obscure reference alert) The Sicilian Vespers.
It was a seamless, if anarchic, 25 minute set with hip hop snippets
thrown in between the short, sharp songs. I thought they were great —
and the crowd was going absolutely bananas with even some goodhearted
crowd surfing, and absolutely no water balloons."

Caribou | Bowery Ballroom | 10.06.2007
"I have stated many times before that two things that push my buttons
are a) putting the drums at the front of the stage and b) two drummers.
So this was my kind of show, even if all this pounding turned some of
the tight, perfect songs on Andorra into longer, wilder
things… with false endings. Every single song had a point where at
least one person in the audience clapped before it kicked back in,
usually with another three minutes of double-drums and flashing,
seizure-inducing lights."

Euros Childs + David Kilgour + Peter Moren | Union Hall | 11.09.2007

"’This next song is 16 minutes long… and about every two minutes it
sounds like it’s ending. But it’s not, so please don’t clap. It kind of
ruins the momentum.’ That was pretty much the only thing Euros Childs
said all night I understood, apart from some of his lyrics, what with
his thick Welsh accent.  Actually, for all I know he was speaking in
Welsh some of those times."

Franz Ferdinand | Bowery Ballroom | 6.13.2007
"Welcome to Franz Ferdinand: The Gay Disco Years. The have always been a
little flamboyant — a good thing, I think — but they’ve definitely
turned it up since I last saw them three years ago. Alex Kapranos,
decked out in some silk/poly-blend red and white cowboy shirt that was
not the most flattering thing I’ve ever seen him wear, was going crazy
with the eyebrow arching, spinning around on stage and generally and
generally camping it up. (Nick, meanwhile, was dressed in some sort of
bright red polyester suit — not a leisure suit, it was more ’60s-ish
looking — that, gauging from the amount of sweat pouring off his brow,
was hot.) Not that there’s anything wrong with that."

Sloan | Southpaw | 5.11.2007
I have written enough about Sloan in the past year so I will try to make this brief, but Sloan’s show at Southpaw was probably the best I have seen them do for Never Hear the End of It. It was part location, part performance and mostly the setlist."

CMJ 2007 Day Four | Ida Maria | Galapagos

Ida_mariaThis year’s CMJ was generally lackluster, from the variety of performers to the performances given by those I did see. But there was at least one wow-worthy show — Norwegian-via-Sweden singer Ida Maria.

I wasn’t all that familiar with her music. I knew her mainly from her duet with Pelle Carlberg on his album In a Nutshell, "I Love You, You Imbecile," which is typically poppy Swedish jangle. But my friend Toby was really high on her and sent some MP3s my way, urging me to go see her. Her new single "Oh My God" is definitely more "rock" than Pelle’s stuff. So I was expecting a pleasant, if sedate show.

Diminuitive, and dressed in a mint green school marm top, a dark teal leather skirt, purple tights and bright blue boots she looked pixie. But when she strapped on the guitar and opened her mouth, she transformed into a whirling, wailing little powerhouse that you could almost compare to early PJ Harvey (more Dry than Rid of Me) though her voice definitely has a certain Bjork-esque quality that is hard to deny. There were about 15 people watching when she first started but soon everyone (maybe another 20) filtered into the back room of Galapagos to watch her.

Idamaria2Ida Maria is a magnetic performer, pouring every ounce of energy and emotion into her songs to the point where she seemed lost in them some of the time. Mikes were knocked over, drums stumbled into and more than once she dropped to the floor onto her back where she continued to sing and play guitar. (About halfway through the show I also noticed her boots were off but I don’t remember her removing them.) And though her presence was intense, it wasn’t all anguish (though there was some of that). You also have songs like "I Like You Better When You’re Naked" that are downright joyous and she beamed throughout that one.

Her band was ace too, skilled players who also got into the act though it was never anyone’s show but Ida’s. The set was average CMJ length, maybe a little more than 30 minutes but it was the only time I really wished anyone that week had played longer.

MP3: Ida Maria – Oh My God

: Ida Maria – Queen of the World

Ida said her debut album would be out in April. Saturday, was in Williamsburg shooting a video for "Oh My God" with director Andreas Nilsson, the man behind all those creepy Knife and Jose Gonzalez clips. Speaking of…I also shot some video of Ida  doing "Stella & God," though it turned out to be one of her more restrained performances. Still pretty great. Please ignore the annoying early-90s Tony Hawk skate video they insisted on showing behind them throughout.

CMJ 2007 Day Three | British Sea Power | Bowery Ballroom

Ida_mariaBritish Sea Power are responsible for one of my favorite gigs of the last five years (NorthSix, August 2003) but it was not exactly their night on Thursday. It was still better than most of the shows I went to that week. Singer
Noble has a mesmerizing voice that my friend Kate says "is like a
cocoon." And their abbreviated set meant we only got a greatest his
set (plus two new songs, one of which being the Wedding Present-esque single "Atom"), short but satisfying. So where did it all go so-so? CMJ audiences are not the most attentive — there was a group of fratty dudes up front who would not shut up. This probably wouldn’t have been a problem if BSP were playing at their normal volume but for whatever reason the amps were below the band’s normal gale force. It definitely knocked the wind out of their sails.

The Cribs + White Rabbits + The Jealous Girlfriends | Mercury Lounge | 5.02.2007

Why are The Cribs so awesome? I think the key is filial. There is a bond between the Brothers Jarman that gives them their goofy charm — a camaraderie you can only get from knowing someone your entire life. You can sense it at their shows. Of course, they’re songs are good too, punctuated by "whoa-oh"s and shout-along choruses.

They are also of-the-people. I can’t help but think of that Lester Bangs quote about Jim Morrison. "He’s a drunken buffoon posing as a poet. Give me the Guess Who. They’ve got the courage to be drunken buffoons, which makes them poetic." (That’s the Almost Famous version, at least.) I would not call the Cribs buffoons, but they are often drunken and do silly things onstage. Drummer Ross plays while standing on his stool. Ryan chugs a beer while "playing" and often bursts his lip open from banging it against the mike. There is no pretense with The Cribs.

I have seen The Cribs loads of times, usually to half-empty rooms. But last night. Wakefield’s finest packed the room with rowdy fans (many of them screaming girls) who sang along to nearly every song. Their fanbase may be smaller than some, but it is more dedicated. (Keeping a low profile in among the crowd was Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever‘s producer, Alex Kapranos.) No smashed lip or beer chugging this time. Maybe tonight?

We got six new ones, all the hits from The New Fellas, a couple from the first album (but no "You Were Always the One" and b-side "You’re Gonna Lose Us" which contains what may be the Cribs defining statement: "When I’m drunk I can be an asshole / That don’t mean I don’t got no class, though."

The new songs all sounded great, all potential singles if you ask me, especially "I’m a Realist." The crowd, the first seven rows or so, were going mental, especially for the New Fellas numbers. I will admit to loudly "whoa oh oh"ing along with "Martel," my favorite. I think the Cribs have finally arrived. Setlist (new songs are *asterisked):

Mirror Kisses
Our Bovine Public*
You’re Gonna Lose Us [MP3]
I’m a Realist*
Girls Like Mystery*
Moving Pictures*
I’m Alright, Me
Women’s Needs*
Men’s Needs*
We Can No Longer Cheat You
Hey Scenesters!
Another Number
Wrong Way to Be

They also have one of the best t-shirts I’ve seen in a long time, a
funny homage to their hometown but given the beach souvenir treatment. Also in attendance: Spin, I Rock I Roll and Fiddle While You Burn, whose photo of White Rabbits I swiped (Flickr). This was also the first 18+ show I’ve ever seen at Mercury Lounge. Was this a first?

I should also say that the whole bill tonight was great. Opening band Jealous Girlfriends had the room filled from the beginning. I am always a fan of male-female vocals (be it Fleetwood Mac, X or Viva Voce) and guitarists Josh Abbott and Holly Miranda sounded great together. Their no-nonsense style and good songwriting were all they needed to keep your interest. Apart from bass being played on a keyboard much of the time, the Jealous Girlfriends are about as straightforward as indie rock gets these days. Who needs a gimmick?

White Rabbits
, meanwhile, continue to impress me. I’ve seen them about five times now and are among my favorite local bands. The room was packed for them too, and they certainly put on a good show. Two drummers, sometimes three, stylishly natty suits, charisma oozing from their pores along with loads of sweat. (That’s what you get for wearing a sweater onstage in this weather.) I’ve been hearing comparisons to the National, but apart from similar vocal styles and a general swaggering way about them, they sound nothing like each other. There sound is more New Orleans with hints of island flavorings. I wish their debut, Fort Nightly, captured more of the magic that happens onstage. Maybe I just need to listen to it louder.

I continue to be disappointed with my new camera’s ability to shoot flashless in dark clubs, but I fooled around with the video setting and the results turned out really good:

Jarvis Cocker | Webster Hall | 4.22.2007

One of Jarvis Cocker‘s many signature moves is this thing he does with his elbow while sliding closer to the audience. His chin goes up a little too, I don’t think I’m really describing it well, but anyone who’s seen him do it knows what I’m talking about. It’s just the coolest thing you’re ever seen. He’s also quite adept at leaping, reaching one hand toward the sky, and various shimmies and shakes that, along with his always-on wit and distinctive vocals, make him a superstar. There is nobody else like him.

At 43, with a solo debut that is not only mature but mostly about "maturing," some might have expected a toned-down the live show. But I’m happy to report that Jarvis Cocker remains a total sex machine — leaping around, standing on the monitors, swinging the mike, and that elbow slide thing. Last night was his first NYC show in nearly ten years, and from the opening notes of the roaring "Fat Children" through the final encore cover of Black Sabbath’s "Paranoid" (!!!), Jarvis had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand the entire time — without playing a single Pulp song. In fact, I don’t think I even heard anyone shout out a request for one. People seemed to know that this wasn’t Pulp and Jarvis wasn’t looking back. I hemmed and hawed about paying the $30 for a ticket (especially at Webster Hall) but I am so glad I did. This will, without a doubt, be one of Concerts of the Year.

With a five-piece band that featured Pulp bassist Steve Mackey (but, disappointingly, not Richard Hawley who I thought for sure would be there), Jarvis played almost everything from his excellent solo album, plus b-sides "One Man Show" and "Big Stuff." (Equipment problems kept them from playing songs with samples, particularly "Black Magic" which employs liberal amounts of Tommy James & the Shondells’ "Crimson and Clover.") Jarvis, the album, didn’t grab me immediately, but it has slowly grown on me over the last six months to the point where I’m wondering how it was I didn’t include it in my Top Ten of 2006. (Buy it now.)

Still, the songs came off much better live (despite Webster Hall’s recurring bass-heavy sound mix), benefitting from Jarvis’ funny introductions and stage banter. He was much more into it and engaged with the audience than at Pulp’s last NYC show at Hammerstein Ballroom on the This is Hardcore tour. Highlight was probably the angry, anthemic "Cunts are Still Running the World" which so memorably played over the end of Children of Men. (You have seen the Best Movie of 2006, yes?) Walking home from the Bedford stop, where I’m pretty sure everyone who got off the train had been at the show, I heard two girls talking about the show, saying it was like seeing Elvis. I can only assume they meant skinny Elvis, but I know what they meant. While there are a lot of performers who have "it," there aren’t many who radiate "it" the way Jarvis does.


Fat Children
Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time
One Man Show (MP3)
I Will Kill Again
Auschwitz to Ipswitch
Big Julie
Disney Time
Big Stuff (MP3)
Cunts are Still Running the World
Heaven (Talking Heads cover)
Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover)

Sometimes acts of Jarvis’ stature tend to pick openers they know won’t upstage them (Morrissey and New Order come to mind) but Dirty Projectors were pretty great. The harmonies were so perfect and theatrical that you could tell at least some of them had gone to music school, yet they almost remind me of the Minutemen (or fIREHOSE)… in a Queen sort of way. Don’t know if they’re playing the Monday Webster Hall show or not, but worth showing up early just in case.

No Requests

NewyearseveThis will be the fourth year I’ve DJ’d at  Snacky on New Year’s Eve. It’s always a lot of fun, though hopefully I won’t blow the soundsystem like last year. So if you’re in the neighborhood (or are still looking for a good option) stop by and say hi. With all the little things to eat, Snacky makes a good pre or post-party destination, not to mention a good place to ring in 2007.