CMJ ’09 Highlights: Pete & the Pirates

I overdid it this year at CMJ, breaking most of my rules of weeklong festival-going — "don't forget to eat," "no booze after 1AM," "make time for a nap," — and spent most of the week following in bed with a bad cold. I will probably not go back and recount all of this year's fest, but without a doubt my favorite band of the week was Pete & the Pirates who were so good at their first show of the week (10/21 at the Bell House) I ended up seeing them three more times during the course of CMJ. The band are so tight, so tunefull, so entertaining to watch (and not in a showy way) that I don't know how you could go away unimpressed.

The Bell House show was the closest P&Ps did to a full show. They headlined, the crowd was genuinely pumped to see their first NYC show and seemed to know all the words, and we stomped and clapped until they sheepishly came back for an encore. But the best gig was probably at the Brooklyn Vegan day party at Pianos on Saturday (10/24) where they played with no monitors and almost in the dark. But again, the crowd was so into it, Pete & the Pirates lit up the room with their own energy. It was such a success, Pianos had them play again later in the day in the main room. The crowd was even into the three or four new songs the band tried out on us and I think we're all counting the days till we can hear them again — whether it's a new album, or another visit to these shores.

MP3 Pete & the Pirates – Jennifer

Here's video I shot of them doing "Bright Lights" from the Bell House gig:

Casiokids: New Single, Coming to NYC, SXSW


Casiokids' second single for Moshi Moshi is out today and both sides are great. Instrumental "Fot I Hose" has a big fat synth bass hook that is hard to get out of your head (and has a hilarious video), but I think I prefer the flip, "Verdens Storste Land," probably because it was the absolute highlight of their great CMJ show at Cake Shop.

MP3: Casiokids - Verdens Storste Land (buy it from Moshi Moshi)

The Norwegians are attacking SXSW with eight performances in four days, plus two shows in NYC beforehand. I'll definitely be at the Bell House on March 16, get tickets now

Mar 16 Bell House / Øya festival showcase w/the New Wine New York City (US)
Mar 17 the Annex New York (US), New York
Mar 18 SXSW / Hype machine / Blog fresh party @ peckerheads Austin (US), Texas
Mar 18 SXSW / Moshi Moshi / Club 1808 Austin (US), Texas
Mar 19 SXSW / Moshi Moshi / The Red House Pizzeria Austin (US), Texas
Mar 19 SXSW / Øya festival showcase @ the music gym Austin (US), Texas
Mar 20 SXSW / Green owl showcase @ tba Austin, Texas
Mar 20 SXSW / Big stereo showcase @ Canvas bar & gallery Austin, Texas
Mar 21 SXSW / Moshi Moshi / Lamberts Austin (US), Texas
Mar 21 SXSW / SESAC day stage conference centre Austin (US), Texas

And here's the video to "Fot I Hose"

And live footage of "Verdens Storste Land" I shot from CMJ:

Casiokids Come Back to NYC/SXSW in March

Yes I know this is totally blurry but I really like this picture.

Norway's Casiokids were hands-down the best, most fun show I saw at CMJ this year — usually it takes Hot Chip to make me dance in public. And I'm glad to report they're coming back to the U.S. in March for SXSW with a stop in NYC along the way. They're playing The Bell House on March 16 as part of an all-Norwegian showcase being currated by the Øya Festival folks. Also on the bill are fellow Bergen-ites The New Wine. Maybe there will be a third added too. I know it's not till March, but I'm excited. Here's a track from their double-A-side Moshi Moshi single:

MP3: Casiokids – Grønt Lys i Alle Ledd  

MP3: The New Wine – I Had to Tell You

Before that, Casiokids' profile is likely to be much higher as they nabbed the opening slot to Of Montreal's European tour. Around the same time as the Bell House show, March 2 to be specific, Casiokids will release their second Moshi Moshi single, "Verdens største land," which was the song that really killed the crowd at Cake Shop during CMJ. Casiokids just added it to their MySpace page so have a listen. I shot video of them doing that song, well until my flash card's memory ran out:

AC Newman + The Oranges Band | The Bell House | 11.15.2008


"I live seven blocks from here!' Carl Newman made no bones about The Bell House being his favorite venue in the city, adding "I will only see bands here and can't imagine why I'd go to Manhattan again." Artist and venue are so chummy, the Bell House was Carl and his band's practice space for this show. "They said we could have whatever we wanted from the bar. This is when I realized that I was an adult. I didn't get wasted, I just had a couple gin and tonics and worked on the songs."

This convivial relationship made for such a relaxed atmosphere that the show, Newman's first solo show in 3 1/2 years, felt more like a party than anything else. And it was a good one. His band on Saturday, six-strong, included a violinist, a accordionist/trumpet player, and the lovely Nicole Atkins on backup vocals and percussion. I'm not sure that this is the official band that Newman will tour with next year once the album is out (surely Atkins won't be) but they seemed to have it together.

This was the first time most of us heard songs from his forthcoming second solo album, Get Guilty (out Jan. 20), of which we got seven from it and the same amount from 2004's excellent The Slow Wonder. The set started with the only song released yet from Get Guilty, "There are Maybe Ten or Twelve," which isn't quite the immediate pop number "Miracle Drug" (which followed) or "On the Table" were, but it's growing on me. Some of the other songs, including "Seven Ways to Stockholm" and a couple whose names I don't actually know (though I scribbled down chorus lyrics like "Yo Ho" and "Straight Shot) were the kind of zippy pop songs we're used to from Newman. The Slow Wonder was one of my favorites of 2004 so I have high hopes from the new one.

Newman came out solo for the encore and told us that he'd submitted two covers for an upcoming Starbucks' Valentines Day compilation. "The one they took was A Ha's "Take on Me," he said. "The other song, which I genuinely like, is this one" and he proceeded to play of The Go-Betweens' "Love Goes On!' from 1989's 16 Lovers Lane. The crowd applauded so much he did an impromptu second encore song, the New Pornographers' "The Fake Headlines" because they hadn't practiced any of his other solo songs.

SETLIST: There are Maybe Ten or Twelve*  | Miracle Drug | Like a Hitman* | Secretarial | Seven Ways to Stockholm* | Come Crash | Heartbreak Rides* | Palace @ 4AM* | The Cloud Prayer | All My Days* | Drink to Me, Babe, Then | Changeling* | On the Table | The Town Halo | ENCORE: Love Goes On | The Fake Headlines


MP3: A.C. Newman – There are Maybe Ten or Twelve (pre-order Get Guilty [$3 off!])

MP3The Go-Betweens – Love Goes On! (buy it)

I got to the Bell House too late for openers Bird of Youth, but Baltimore's The Oranges Band were were solid indie rock '90s-style which makes sense as singer Roman Kuebler spent two years as Spoon's bassist and the band also features ex-Guided By Voices/Cobra Verde/My Dad is Dead guitarist Doug Gillard. The set also featured an appearance by Kuebler's dad who made a plea to the audience to check out the merch table where we could pick up The Oranges Band's forthcoming new record right now.

I really meant to buy that but I was too consumed with the idea of heading outside the club where one of the Red Hook Ballfield vendors had set up shop. I might have prefered tacos or hurraches, but the Ecuadorean pupusas dished up with vinegary slaw and a big dollop of crema were the perfect end of the evening. Delicious. Carl Newman was enjoying one too, and I almost asked him what kind he was eating, but decided not to bother him at his home away from home.

Also there: Music Snobbery (with some much better photos than mine), Bumpershine, Eugene Mirman, Todd Barry, Nada Surf

A.C. Newman is Guilty

Acnewman_get_guiltySo Matador just released the details of Carl Newman's second solo album and follow-up to The Slow Wonder, one of 2004's best albums. Get Guilty will be out January 20 and features a bunch of guests including Superchunk drummer/funnyman Jon Wurster, Mates of State and Nicole Atkins.

I loved The Slow Wonder and am really looking to an all-Carl tour-de force. For those in NYC, you can hear a lot, if not all, of Get Guilty's live debut when Carl plays The Bell House on November 15. Tickets are on sale now. This will be Carl's second appearance at the Bell House, the first being an impromptu performance at the Club's opening party when Nada Surf coudn't make it. Here are a couple YouTube videos of Carl goofing around with Eugene Mirman, then performing The Slow Wonder's "Miracle Drug":

Also, did you ever see Carl interview me on New York Noise?

Welcome to the Bell House


Brooklyn's newest rock club, The Bell House, officially opens tonight but there was an opening party last night for those in the know or, in my case, friends of those in-the-know who are kind enough to bring you along. The night featured performances by The Mugs, Tim Fite and Carl Newman, plus host Eugene Mirman. Newman, who is a regular at Union Hall, subbed last minute for Nada Surf when singer Matthew Caws' flight home got delayed. Nada's Ira helped out on percussion. Here they are doing "Miracle Drug":

Located on 7th Street in Gowanus, the 500 capacity venue from the folks who brought us Union Hall reminds me of a lodge — all wood and warm lighting. The main space is wider than it is deep, sort of the way Tramps was if you remember that place, but with the bar on the far end that features 17 kinds of beer… in cans. Not sure what's up with that but it's kind of cute. The stage juts out from the wall in the middle of the room, allowing viewing from three sides which I like a lot. Sound was good on opening night, never so loud you needed earplugs, but that may change. On either side of the soundbooth on the back wall are raised areas with tables for VIPs, shortys or both.

Adjacent to the main space is a separate bar that is open to the public (no ticket required) from 4pm and features plenty of couches about 20 beers on tap. There's not much else in the immediate area so it will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood I think, especially to bands using the rehearsal spaces that are nearby. I will hold full judgement on The Bell House until I see a show with a packed house but I can already see this becoming one of my favorite venues in the city. Bowery Presents, you've finally got some competition.

Tonight's the official opening night, with a free show featuring Matt Pond, PA, the Lilys, Takka Takka, Robbers on High Street and "special guests." Club booker Skippy doesn't fool around when he promises "special guests" so be prepared. The upcoming schedule is available on The Bell House's website.

Here's some video of Eugene and Carl stalling for time by performing a Guns N' Roses classic "in the style of Belle & Sebastian":

Here are some more picures from the party:

The Mugs

Tim Fite

Carl Newman and Eugene Mirman

Hey, nice cans!

The bar in the performance space

The entrance