Independents’ Day: Woodsist / Captured Tracks Festival | 7.04.2009

Dum Dum Girls

The Fresh & Onlys



Some people spent their Fourth of July watching fireworks. Others barbequed with friends. One guy spent his eating 68 hot dogs in ten minutes. Me? I hang out in an empty lot underneath the JMZ line in Bushwick Brooklyn watching a whole bunch of awesome bands on the Captured Tracks and Woodsist labels. I skipped out on the first night of the Fest after, due to threat of rain, it got moved from the empty lot to adjacent Market Hotel which by all accounts was like being in a bbq smoker. (I ended up at the Seaport instead watching Here We Go Magic and Bachelorette.) Saturday, however, couldn’t be more idyllic — upper ’70s, mostly sunny and no humidity. Despite some technical and sound issues throughout the day,  vibes stay positive throughout.

I go with my friends Don and Kelly and their 5-year-old daughter Diaz, who wears pink sound-blocking earmuffs the whole day and thinks there aren’t enough girls in the bands. I also try to get her to be an on-camera reporter, reviewing the show via fed lines like “I’d rather have German Measles than watch German Measles again.” But she’s not having it.

German Measles aren’t actually that bad, I just thought it would be a funny line. But they’re also not very good. And that kind of seems to be the point. Shambolic is an understatement, like “why rehearse when we can just play shows?” They played a couple night before, opening for Thee Oh Sees at Glasslands and Don asked me if the songs were all improvised on the spot. No, they’ve got some songs and if you see them more than once you might remember some of them, like “Patty Girl” which they almost play with something approaching competence. Or maybe they’re just totally wasted. The singer sure was, having finished a bottle of red wine while his bandmates set up and moving on to Budweiser by the time they first note is played.

Real Estate probably sound the best of any of the bands that day, their dreamy Greatful Dead meets New Zealand good vibe noodling that is not all that far from the Meat Puppets at times too. They play through PA problems like it doesn’t matter, and you know… it doesn’t. They’re good. When they stick to the a-sides, it is sunny day perfection. When they start jamming, they lose me. It’s a festival, you’ve got 25 minutes, please stick to the hits.

The Beets have bass amp problems so the other two dick around with Beatles covers till equipment is switched out. “Thankyouverymuch,” mumbles guitarist Juan Wauters which is the only banter you ever get from The Beets, before he kicks his amp again to unleash a squal of reverb. The Beets don’t sound that loud on their records, but they can be deafening live, with the kind of feedback not heard since the early days of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Thier songs don’t so much end as stop, but they’ve got some really good tunes, rooted in ’60s party rock, making them perfect for an outdoor show like this. Do they still make Sun Country wine coolers?

I get burgers and check out the merch table while The Great Excape play. It is some kind of reunion but I don’t remember them so I didn’t pay much attention. Ganglians are up next, one of many California bands in town for the fest. They’ve got two good new records out: An mini-LP which rocks, and an LP of lovely Brian Wilson-influenced acoustic psychedelia. We get strictly the former today, which is too bad as “Lost Words” or “Candy Girl” would sound great here, though I guess when the M train rattles by every ten minutes (with confused conductors craning their necks to see what the hell is going on down below) you gotta battle that with full-electric mayhem. Their guitarist, who kind of looks like he’s 14, does some amazing things on his instrument and is like, totally into it, man. He’s a lot of fun to watch. But I prefer the poppy stuff over more drony material like “Never Mine” which there is video of below. I imagine seeing them indoors is a different experience.

As all-girl, C-’86-influenced trios go, San Francisco’s Brilliant Colors might just be the best of the bunch, writing songs that rival Vivian Girls’ catchiest, and keeping it tight like Sweden’s Liechtenstein with more attitude than either. (Check out “I’m Sixteen” for serious snarl.) They might lack a little in stage presence but playing in the heat of the sun can drain even the most charming performers.  But these ladies are quality, one of the day’s best. Am really hoping another NYC show will materialize before they go back.

Budweiser is delicious when drunk fast and often. Even when it is lukewarm, like it is today. Just putting things in perspective.

Next up, the band I am most excited to see today: The Fresh & Onlys. They wowed me at the Woodsist/Todd P party during SXSW and have since becoming a superfan. Singer Tim Cohen broke his wrist a couple weeks ago punching bassist Shayde Sartin in a particularly drunken and violent bit of horseplay, so here he’s playing keyboards instead of guitar. Not tied to his instrument, he now makes a lot of operatic gestures with his arms, leaving the guitar heroics to slickly-dressed Wymond Miles who pulls out all the rock moves. I am biased, but they sound pretty amazing, rivaling Real Estate for best sonics of the night. I think they won for stage presence too (the only band of the day to attempt audience participation), though if I’d stayed for Thee Oh Sees I might be saying second-best. (Oh Sees were phenomenal at Glasslands two nights previous.) F&Os have three records out now, and like seven more things coming out this year on nearly as many labels. To date it’s all been home recordings which gives things a vintage feel, but live they sound more in the now and less like a group in love with 1966. “Invisible Forces,” which is on their upcoming Woodsist LP Grey Eyed Girls, is a minor chord stunner.

Following  their performance I finally meet Shayde face-to-face — he participated in an email-interview for this blog you may remember. “You’re Bill Pearis? I pictured you as a fat, bearded 50-year-old dude.” Um, thanks. I buy a cassette-only release of theirs, Bomb Wombs, and then remember I don’t own a cassette player anymore. I’ll figure something out.

I spy Crocodiles’ singer Brandon Welchez with his guitar at the grocery store around the cornerand think maybe they’re going to play in the “???” slot on the schedule scrawled on a piece of cardboard that’s tied to the stage. But then I remember that he’s got ties to Dum Dum Girls‘ Dee Dee (tied the knot in fact, it turn out) so it’s no real surprise to see him playing guitar in DDGs’ first ever show. The band also includes Captured Tracks head honcho Mike Sniper on bass and Frankie Rose of Crystal Stilts on drums. Dee Dee, is decked out in a a black dress with fringe, and black tights, which would’ve probably looked more appropriate in a dark club with smoke machines and strobes. Here, it seemed a bit silly but damn if the four of them don’t look like a real band, not some pick-up match. Black and denim, the shades, they are classic cool. And they sound like a band too, and a good one too. Dum Dum Girls got it together. Shirley from NY Noise uses the term “twee goth” and that’s pretty much right on the money. Or maybe a little like Siouxsie fronting Tones on Tails, whose hit “Go!” comes to mind during DDGs’ final number. It seems a shame this may be the only show these four play together.

Woods suffer the same problem that Real Estate do: they are quick to delve into the extended jam, though their version is a little more Crazy Horse and less blissed-out stoner noodles. But like Real Estate, when Woods stick to the songs, like the great “To Clean,” it’s absolutely lovely. (Their album Songs of Shame comes highly recommended by me.) As singer Jeremy Earl runs Woodsist, he can do whatever he wants. It’s his festival. (Well, half his.) But that doesn’t mean I gotta pay close attention.

I have seen Woods now upwards of seven times and I still can’t figure out what the one guy in the band does. He’s always off to the side, fiddling with some piece of homemade equipment involving cassette tapes, and sings through an old pair of headphones that are put on sideways. Using phones as a mic, I guess, gives a tinny, “old timey” sound to the vocals but it also kind of looks like he’s wearing a ball gag that is tethered to the floor. Every time I see them I think of the gimp in Pulp Fiction. Maybe this is the look they’re going for but I doubt it. Still, some lovely songs.

The sun is now setting and I am losing steam. (So is my camera battery and the flash card is full.) As Kurt Vile takes the stage, I take my leave, also missing Vivian Girls and Thee Oh Sees (who I already saw this week). I’m gonna need a nap if I’m gonna make it to the afterparty.

Also there: Stereogum, PopJew, StarkOnline, The Pop Filter , The Village Voice and, of course,  John Norris.

My Canon Powershot has turned out to be a much better video camera than a regular one. I shot every band of I saw, but ended up deleting German Measels for space reasons only. Video and a couple more pictures after the ol’ jump.

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Hooray for America: Woodsist/Captured Tracks Fest is July 3 and 4


No need to feel like a second class NY-er for not going out of town for Independence Day this year. If you're around, might I suggest the Woodsist/Captured Tracks Festival? Two of the city's best vinyl-centric labels (with help from Todd P) are bringing together some of the best garage/lo-fi/psychedelic bands in the country, playing over the course of two days.

A combined two-day ticket is $25 and on sale now via PayPal. But if you had to choose one day ($15) I think you'd have to go with July 4, what with Ganglians, Woods, Beets, Real Estate, Thee Oh Sees, Dum Dum Girls, Brilliant Colors and the NYC debut of San Francisco's amazing Fresh & Onlys. All the fireworks you'll need are right here.

Here's how it breaks down, with MP3s for most of the bands:

Friday July 3rd @ 979 BROADWAY BACKYARD


9:45pm : CRYSTAL STILTS (MP3: Love is a Wave)
9:00pm :: Blank Dogs (MP3: Setting Fire to Your House)
8:15pm ::: Psychedelic Horseshit (MP3: New Wave Hippies)
7:30pm :::: caUSE co-MOTION! (MP3: You Lose)
6:45pm ::::: the Mayfair Set (MP3: Desert Fun)
6:15pm :::::: Gary War (MP3: Bounce Four)
5:45pm ::::::: Little Girls (MP3: What We Did)
5:15pm :::::::: Kid Romance
4:45pm ::::::::: Beachniks (MP3: Coney Island)
4:15pm :::::::::: the Gutsies (MP3: Surfer Body)

Saturday July 4th @ 979 BROADWAY BACKYARD


9:45pm : THEE OH SEES (MP3: Meat Step Lively)
9:00pm :: VIVIAN GIRLS (MP3: Lake House)
8:15pm ::: Kurt Vile (MP3: Freeway)
7:30pm :::: Woods (MP3: To Clean)
6:45pm ::::: Tyvek (MP3: Hey Una)
6:00pm :::::: Dum Dum Girls (MP3: Ship of Love)
5:15pm ::::::: the Fresh & Onlys (MP3: Love and Kindness)
4:30pm :::::::: Brilliant Colors (MP3: Should I Tell You)
3:45pm ::::::::: Ganglians (MP3: Hair)
3:15pm :::::::::: the Great Excape —— reunion, pre-Home Blitz
2:45pm ::::::::::: the Beets (MP3: Devil)
2:15pm :::::::::::: Real Estate (MP3: Fake Blues)
1:45pm ::::::::::::: German Measles (MP3: Patty Girl)
1:15pm :::::::::::::: Beach Fossils (MP3: Vacation)


979 Broadway btwn Myrtle Ave & Ditmars St | Bushwick, Brooklyn

JMZ-Myrtle, L-Jefferson, G-Myrtle-Willoughby | 


Crystal Stilts: New Single, Touring, Etc.


Following last year's fantastic debut Alight of Night (which nearly topped my Best of 2008 list) Crystal Stilts are back with a brand-new single. They've been playing "Love is a Wave" since last summer at least and is almost always in their set, so it should be familiar to anyone who's seen them play since then. But it does represent the bands first truly new material in a long time, certainly since they became a real band, as the album was supposedly recorded three years ago. Like a lot of their new songs, "Love is a Wave" really zooms along with Frankie's motorik drumming keeping the gas to the floor, and guitarist JB Townsend's Clean-esque lead line bouncing around. 

MP3: Crystal Stilts – Love is a Wave

"Love is a Wave," backed with "Sugar Baby" (not sure if I know it or not) is out at the end of the month on the red-hot Slumberland Records. Crystal Stilts headline a pretty stellar bill on Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg that includes Canada's Women and Blank Dogs who I have yet to see. Tickets are still available. It's a busy night, what with A Classic Education, Knight School, My Teenage Stride, We Have Band and Post War Years playing that night at various places, but there's a lot of value for the money. Crystal Stilts and Women are touring together pre-South by Southwest and here are the dates:

Mar-14 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
Mar-15 Washington, DC DC9
Mar-16 Lexington, KY Al's Bar
Mar-17 Jackson, MS 121 Milsaps
Mar-18 Houston, TX Rudyard's
Mar-19 – 21 Austin, TX SXSW 

Sound Bites Best of 2008: Gigs

"Seeing Jarvis Cocker makes you realize that almost all other bands are chumps. This is how it's done. This is a show. This is charisma. This is It. You can't take your eyes off him. My #1 show of 2007 was his show at Webster Hall (and I hate Webster Hall) and this one was better."

And also these…

"Featuring members of infamous garage rock collective CPC Gangbangs, this was Red Mass' first-ever live show and clearly they wanted to make a statement. As their name would suggest, Red Mass were about 10 strong and all-clad in red… apart from the one dude who wore only a Speedo and gold paint."

"The Muslims played an astounding 10 shows during CMJ, and this was the last… despite being obviously tired and guitarist Matty McLoughlin having his fingers wrapped in black electrical tape because he'd busted them open repeatedly over the week, with blood spattered all over his guitar, they played like it was their first show of the week."

Casiokids | Cake Shop | 10.25.2008

"…It was at this point that Ketil squeezed through their wall of keyboards, past the monitors and got face-to-face with the crowd, basically standing directly in front of me the whole time. My friend Erin said it looked like I was being serenaded."

Late of the Pier | Music Hall of Williamsburg | 10.22.2008

"These are youngsters but they rock like pros, pulling off the guitar heroics, the funky parts, everything. And we danced to it. Even more than the Klaxons, Late of the Pier seem to truly come from outer space. But they make it seem like the most natural thing on earth."

Women | Cake Shop | 10.21.2008

"Women are so much better live than on record. The album, while good, is a little too drenched in Animal Collective-style reverb, while onstage (or in Cake Shop's case, the floor) they hit pretty hard."

Kirsten Ketsjer | Lit Lounge | 10.16.2008

"This is the definition of power trio (not to compare them to Cream or anything, there's no bass), three as one — you know, very New Testament but in a rock sort of way… If you like Velvet Underground, Television, Bettie Serveert, the Greatful Dead, Marnie Stern, metal, indie rock, Denmark, spoken word, noodling, no-bass bands, twin-leads, or Nordic good looks… this might be the band for you."

This was a swoon-worthy night. The Bunnymen are 30 this year, hence this celebration of what they consider their crowning achievement with three shows: London, New York, and their hometown of Liverpool."The Killing Moon" is what a lot of people were there to hear, and many unbelievably left after that, but for me it was the album's more obscure gems that made my knees a bit weak. 

"Main Oh See John Dwyer is one of those mike eaters, it spending more time in his mouth than not, all the better to get that overdriven, distorted vocal sound. But I wouldn't want to be the band that used it after them. He's also a Give 100% performer, who slams his guitars around and whose eyes bug out a little when he sings. The rest of the band are no slouches either (they've got a whalloper of a drummer) and there was a nice interplay between Dwyer and Thee Oh Sees' other singer, Brigid Dawson. They played their hearts out."

BOAT | Cake Shop | 8.17.2008

"If BOAT lived here instead of Seattle I have a feeling they'd be my favorite local band.  All their songs are catchy, and funny without being jokes. The band also has good stage banter and a penchant for props — big signs, confetti and shakers made out of Solo cups."

Witch Hats | Santos Party House | 8.11.2008

"Witch Hats really benefit from clear sound; the sludge turns into organized noise, even if it's just as loud. (Super loud!) It still takes a minute or two for hooks to break through the chaos, but they are there. Witch Hats are wild but with purpose, a bit gothy without looking the part, and possess a wise-ass sense of humor."

Metronomy | Union Hall | 8.01.2008

"Metronomy are better live than you think they're going to be. It probably has something to do with the stick-it-and-clickit lights they had affixed to their chests. Aware that they are three dudes playing keyboards and guitars and bass (and occasionally saxaphone and melodica) with no drummer and a fair amount of pre-programmed music, they know you have to give the audience something more if you want them to actually pay attention to you."

"We are in the midst of a heatwave here in New York with temperatures in the upper '90s during the day and only dropping to around 80 at night. I have spent a lot of it in semi-legal performance spaces with zero air conditioning. There has been a lot of sweating but Sic Alps were the first band I've seen all week that made it feel like the heat was being generated from the stage."

ants Yell! | Pianos | 6.13.2008

"A tight cohesive trio with a beast of a drummer, Pants Yell! were on fire in the packed room. On their excellent third album from late last year, Alison Statton, they sound polite, but live it's more hyperkinetic. You could even say they rocked."

"I texted my friend Don before they started: "There are like 10 girls here. Five are bartenders, the rest are here against their will." I was excited to see Swervedriver's first NYC show in ten years, but all this, um, dudeness was freaking me out. But then Swervedriver came out and just killed it. Like the last ten years never happened. Jaw-droppingly, why-aren't-you-still-a-band-and-making-records good."

"I know this wasn't the coolest show of the night (Sigur Ros) or the coolest show of Love Is All's visit (Cake Shop or Market Hotel win over this) but what show! And band-for-band one of the best I've seen this year."

Violens + Savoir Adore + Amazing Baby | Union Pool | 5.10.2008
"It pleases me greatly to go into a show mostly blind and come out a fan of every band on the bill. That never happens anymore. Maybe I'm just going to the wrong shows."

"This was the first night of their American tour for Elbow's great, just-released fourth album, The Seldom-Seen Kid which is full of the heartfelt mini-epics the band are so good at. Joined on this tour by two violist/backup singers, Elbow were grander than usual, but it was Garvey's charm, humor, and smokey voice that makes people lifetime fans."

"Liela Moss is a pistol. As much as you wanted to check out the rest of the band, it was hard to take your eyes off her. She knows what she's got and she knows how to work it. There is no doubt Moss is beautiful, but she's got the pipes to match and, obviously, a stage presence to hold it all together. Moss held the crowd but certainly the rest of the band kept her up. A lot of crushes were made Wednesday night but The Duke Spirit are the total package."

Liars | Warsaw | 2.09.2008

At 6-foot-somethingorother, Liars front man Angus Andrew is a magnetic, kind of menacing presence. Even in a raspberry colored suit. While sitting down. As you may have heard, Andrew threw out his back shortly before Liars were to begin their current tour with No Age so he's being doing the shows from a chair. (The accompanying table is a nice touch.) For some bands this might have been a major setback but it didn't seem to affect Liars' ferocious performance at Warsaw one iota.

"Jeepers, how good are The 1900s? It's been almost two years since I saw them open for Midlake at Mercury Lounge and had kind of forgotten how good they are. And they've gotten better since. Watching last night's fantastic show at Union Hall makes me wonder why I left their album Cold & Kind off my Best of 2007 list." 

Quasi + Crystal Stilts + Sic Alps + Soft Circle + Marnie Stern + Jeff Lewis | Knitting Factory | 12.20.2008



Wow, one of the best single-show line-ups of the year currated by and staring Quasi, that had us ping-ponging between two floors so there was no downtime. (Though there was some, in my opinion, unecessary overlapping going on which was slightly annoying.) The last time I saw Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss was at NorthSix five years ago and I'd forgotton how good they are. This was also my first time seeing them as a trio (Joanna Bolme, who like Weiss, is also a Jick). Coomes spent a lot of time on guitar instead of keyboards which clearly he enjoys. And it's always a pleasure watching Weiss play drums.

Perhaps following Quasi's lead, Sic Alps made their debut as a trio last night, adding former tour-mate and fellow San Franciscan Ty Segall on drums. Segall is a great performer in his own right, and anyone who's heard his great debut from this year knows he's a perfect addition to Sic Alps' sludgy, swampy garage rock. The band flew in from San Francisco just for this show and left behind The Monolith — their towering Jenga-like stack vintage equipment that is such a visual presense at their shows. But with Segall on drums, it freed up Matt Hartman to crank out all sorts of weird noises on his guitar and occasionally sing. Mike Donovan still scrunches up his face when he sings, as if someone is resetting his shoulder. For my money, it was the set of the night.

An aside about the Monolith for you Sic Alps fans: Talking to Hartman after the show, he said that with Segall on drums in the space that the Monolith would normally be, it may now morph into more of a Wall. Sounds like they're gonna need a bigger van.

Crystal Stilts' set in the Tap Room was marred by not-so-great sound and not having keyboardist Kyle Forester with them this time but it was still a good set. I've written about them enough this year so I won't bore you with more, but I did get video of a new song, the one that was called "poopface" on their setlist at Le Poisson Rouge. It's below.

Somehow, this was my first time seeing blog-adored guitar-slinger Marnie Stern, who has been praised upon high by all the heavyweights. While I appreciate her energy, and it's fun to watch a cute girl doing Steve Vai style hammer-on guitar flourishes, she is just not my thing. 

Neither was Soft Circle, which is ex Lightning Bolt and Black Dice drummer Hisham Akira Bharoocha. Like Andrew Bird, Liam Finn, Feist and others, Bharoocha uses loop pedals to be a one-man-band, building his creations from the bassline up… but he focuses on grooves, not so much songs. Which I think was my problem. He does it very well, but the songs don't really go anywhere, they just get bigger until he decides to stop.

Wearing a ratty Watchmen t-shirt, Jeff "Jeffrey" Lewis opened the night with his charming, funny, thoughtful, absurdist folk and spoken word. He's a real charmer if you ask me, and we got a couple "movies," both of which were works in progress: "Low Budget Detective Flick" and "The Complete History of Communism in Korea."

This was also my farewell to the current Leonard St. location of the Knitting Factory, which will close on New Years and reopen in February in Williamsburg in the former Luna Lounge space. The Leonard St locale opened just before I moved here in '95 and I've seen a lot of amazing shows there over the years: Wedding Present, The Fall, Jonathan Richman, The Chameleons… the list goes on. I hope they'll transform the Luna space into somewhere more pleasant to see a show. See ya in February.

There are a few more photos up on Flickr. Here are those videos:

Sic Alps – Message from the Law

Crystal Stilts – Untitled new song

Crystal Stilts | Le Poisson Rouge | 12.17.2008


Though I thought they were great the first time I saw them, Crystal Stilts have gotten so much better over the last six months in which they've gigged almost constantly. I've seen them upwards of ten times since June (which is kind of crazy I know, I know) and it's been interesting to see them come out of their shell. Singer Brad Hargett not only smiled and talked to the audience Wednesday night at Le Poisson Rouge, but he even took the mike off the stand for a couple songs.

Their album, Alight at Night, which will sit in my Top Five of '08 once I get around to finishing my post about it (soon), was apparently recorded four years ago, which is kind of amazing/shocking and also explains why they've got all these great songs that aren't on the record. I grabbed the setlist this time to see what the names of them are. One of them, which they've been playing for a while now, is a Bo Diddly type number, 2/4 time, that is called "Seeds" — though my friend Toby says it was called "Sycamore Tree" at the show he saw. I shot video of it which is at the bottom of this post. And another Diddly-esque new one, with a killer bassline, doesn't seem to have a real name yet as it was listed as "Poopface."

SETLIST: Through the Floor | Seeds | The Dazzled | Converging in the Quiet | Shattered Shine | Crippled Croon | "Poopface" | Love is a Wave

MP3: Crystal Stilts – Departure (buy Alight of Night)

Hopefully, we'll get a new album or EP with some of those sooner than later. The band are going on an extensive European tour in February, but New Yorkers will get at least a couple more opportunites. They play Saturday (12/21) at Knitting Factory as part of a three-floor extravaganza currated by Quasi that also includes the awesome Sic Alps, Marnie Stern, Jeffrey Lewis and more. Tickets are $20 but the line-up makes it entirely worth it if you ask me. Crystal Stilts also play Market Hotel on January 10 with Tyvek.

Here's that video of "Seeds/Sycamore Tree" that I shot:

Also, there's an official video for the Chills-esque "Prismatic Room":

Slumberland Goes to Glasgow for Sexy Kids and Bricolage

Slumberland Records knows how to make a comeback. One of the most influential indie labels of the '90s, they went dormant, for the most part, in 2001. But then last year, like the Wonka factory, things began to stir in Slumberland land, with the label being fully revitalized this year. We've gotten great full-lengths from The Lodger and Crystal Stilts, a swell caUSE co-MOTION compilation, the awesome Searching for the Now series of split 7" singles and the promise of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's excellent debut album due in February 2009.

Now add to that absolutely fantastic singles from two of Glasgow's best new bands.

First is Sexy Kids' debut single "Sisters are Forever," which features half of the short-lived, dearly-missed The Royal We. Like that band, it still owes a lot to that city's '80s new wave scene, though this really sounds more like Altered Images than anything on Postcard. (More specifically, it sounds like The Wedding Present's cover of "Think That it Might.") It's pretty great:

MP3Sexy Kids – Sisters are Forever (buy it from Slumberland)

MP3The Wedding Present – Think That it Might

Slumberland has also signed Bricolage who definitely evoke the Postcard sound. The band have been together for two years and have toured with Franz Ferdinand and punk legend Vic Godard (who Orange Juice covered). "Turn U Over," their fourth single, reeks of Orange Juice but yet it tastes fresh, not from concentrate, and the chorus is insanely infectious and bonkers good. I love it. 

MP3Bricolage – Turn U Over (buy from Slumberland; earlier releases on Emusic)

MP3Orange Juice – Satellite City

Bricolage's debut album, which "Turn U Over" is from, is due out in February on Slumberland.

Crystal Stilts + Los Fancy Free | The Fader Fort | 10.22.2008


The Crystal Stilts were scheduled to play but it was clear to me that they weren't going on next. I said as much to the girl and she said, "I think that person is in the band," pointing to a girl on stage wearing what looked like a paint-splattered chef's jacket. "No," I said. "This is definitely not the Crystal Stilts."

Two people took the stage and looked around nervously, and conferred with one of the stage managers at the Fader Fort, who took to the mike and announced for the drummer to please come to the stage. After a couple minutes, one of the two grabbed the mike and said, "We are Los Fancy Free from Mexico City. Our bassist is stuck at the airport and our drummer is here but missing so we are going to just go ahead and play."

What they lacked in members they made up for in enthusiasm. Singer Martin Thulin ran around the stage throwing flamboyant rock poses, climbing on the drums, the speakers, and jumping into the audience. The crowd was baffled but immediately won over, and when the drummer bounded onto stage midway through the second song it errupted in whooping and hollering. And Los Fancy Free reciprocated with hooping and hollering (and banging) of their own — not unlike the weird, sneery L.A. new wave of 1980. The crowd errupted again when the bassist made it from the airport to the stage for the last song. Thulin was beaming. From a technical standpoint the show was a disaster. From a rock n' roll one, it was a rousing sucess. 

MP3Los Fancy Free – Beatles Suit 

No idea what happened with the schedule but the Crystal Stilts did show up to play after Los Fancy Free. Maybe they were getting in an extra hour of sleep after playing till around 5AM the night before at Stereogum's party at Studio @ Webster Hall. Singer Brad Hargett seemed like it was the last place they wanted to be, but it was a pretty good short set nonetheless. In particular, they've got this new songs that I've heard four or five times now but have no idea the name of that is like goth Bo Didley, a 2/4 time bone-rattler that I don't seem to get tired of. Definitely the highlight. Anybody know the name of this one? Stereogum actually caught it on tape at their event:

Crystal Stilts are taking a break from allowing me to stalk them here in NYC to head out on tour with their Slumberland label-mates caUSE co-MOTION for a tour of the West Coast. Go see them if you can. Their debut album, Alight of Night, came out yesterday and is one of my favorites of 2008. 

MP3: Crystal Stilts – The Dazzled

Oct 31 Kenji Shack  Oxnard, California

Nov 1 Che Cafe  San Diego, California

Nov 2 The Echo  Los Angeles, California

Nov 3 House of Nostromo  Oakland, California

Nov 4 Bottom of the Hill  San Francisco, California

Nov 5 Luigi Fun Garden  sacremento, California

Nov 6 Samurai Duck  Eugene, Oregon

Nov 7 Holocene  Portland, Oregon

Nov 8 The Big Room  Olympia, Washington

Nov 9 Chop Suey  Seattle, Washington

Crystal Stilts + Violens + Chairlift | 92y Tribeca | 10.11.2008





This was the "soft opening" of 92Y's new cultural and arts center in Tribeca. Three of New York's most buzzed-about new bands played and we were allowed the wander around and explore the space, which includes a screening room (showing Anna Biller's faux cult film Viva and and genuine article, Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos), a cafe, galleries and classrooms. The main draw was the very nice performance space with its swanky bar, nice lighting, well-lit stage and two giant support beams that will block the view of many during crowded performances. Despite that it wil be a nice place to see a show if they work out the kinks.

I was a little shocked there weren't more people there for this — it was free to get in and the lineup was kind of amazing, in a NYC up-and-comer kind of way. Lord knows I've written about Crystal Stilts enough, and Violens and Chairlift too. Most of the folks who might've attended were probably at that Diesel 30 extravaganza out in Red Hook. I'm going to guess there were maybe 150 attendees, many of whom seemed to be there just to check the place out.

The biggest problem of the night was the attrocious sound. All three bands featured keyboards prominently but apart from Chairlift you couldn't hear them at all. Crystal Stilts, playing in the most brightly lit stage of their career, still managed a great good show. The band are clearly loosening up — singer Brad, usually stoic with eyes closed, actually cracked a smile more than once. Violens suffered the most from the poor mix — Jorge Elbrecht's guitar was knock-you-back loud, overpowering everything else. Given the right sonics, Violens are amazing; tonight was more violence than violins.

Chairlift had the best sound but really should have played first. By the end of the evening people were talking more than paying attention and their ethereal, synthy sound (which I do really like but at times drifts perilously close to Enya territory), light on drums, just didn't hold the crowd's attention. Two girls standing in the front row next to us talked loudly enough to cause my friend Kelly to tell them to shut the hell up — and she's one of the nicest people I know! 

Anyway, a trial run like this is just the sort of thing a place like this needs, and certainly the sound seems like something that isn't a permanent problem (like those big-ass columns, shades of Tramps if you remember that place). They'll figure it out, and 92Y is a welcome addition to NYC's venues.

Crystal Stilts + caUSE co-MOTION | Death by Audio | 10.04.2008

Saturday night I saw two bands with standup female drummers. Before heading to Mercury Lounge see Glasvegas (standup drummer Caroline McKay), I went to Death by Audio to catch Crystals Stilts (standup drummer Frankie Rose) who were playing with their Slumberland label-mates caUSE co-MOTION. I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to see either of them. Death by Audio's set times would be loose if they actually posted them anywhere, and when I asked the two door persons what band was on next, they looked at each other before looking back at me and shrugging their shoulders. I had to leave DBA by 11:30 to catch Glasvegas… who knows when Crystal Stilts would go on.

To my surprise, Crystal Stilts went on before caUSE co-MOTION, taking the stage around 10:15. The room was packed (it's not that big, but everybody seemed to be there to see them) and almost pitch-black. The band seems to like to play in the dark. I've actually seen singer Brad Hargett unscrew lights before performances. I guess it suits their moody sound but they could learn a little from Glasvegas in this department, some strategically placed lights would do them a world of good.) 

Despite not being able to see them very well, you could certainly hear them and it was another good show by one of my favorite NYC bands. A band I've seen way too many times in the last six months, though to be fair, they've been hard to avoid, they play about twice a week here in NYC. Some might say it's too much gigging, but what it's really done is make Crystal Stilts really tight. There's little-to-no downtime between songs, even less stage banter (pretty much none), just good song after good song.

MP3Crystal Stilts – Shattered Shine (pre-order)

Crystal Stilts full-length debut, Alight of Night, is out October 28 and is one of the year's best albums. Great songs and production that is just high enough fidelity to do them justice. And they actually improve on the songs that were previously on their self-titled EP. That said, some of my current favorite Crystal Stilts songs have yet to be recorded.


The annoyingly capitalized caUSE co-MOTION (seriously you try typing their name more than once) are always a good match to Crystal Stilts, as they also love echo and reverb but traffic in short (under two minutes), spiky, nasally, pop songs in the Pastels or Joseph K mode. Where Crystal Stilts are fairly motionless, caUSE co-MOTION spazz out on-stage, especially the bassist is prone to high jumps. Songs can be a little samey but they whole thing is over before you realize it. They're good. Check out their compilation of 7" singles, "It's Time!", which is also out October 28.

MP3: caUSE co-MOTION – Which Way is Up? (pre-order)

caUSE co-MOTION open for Franz Ferdinand this Wednesday at Music Hall of Williamsburg, so get there early if you have tickets. If you don't, it's sold out but they'll be playing CMJ a bunch of times and then out on tour with Crystal Stilts where they'll finally make it out of the five boroughs…

Oct. 04 Brooklyn, NY Death By Audio
Oct. 23 New York, NY Pianos (Force Field PR CMJ Showcase)
Nov. 01 San Diego, CA Che Cafe
Nov. 02 Los Angeles, CA The Echo / Part Time Punks
Nov. 03 Oakland, CA House of Nostromo
Nov. 04 San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill
Nov. 05 Sacramento, CA Luigi's Fun Garden
Nov. 06 Eugene, OR Samurai Duck
Nov. 07 Portland, OR Holocene
Nov. 08 Olympia, WA The Big Room
Nov. 09 Seattle, WA Chop Suey