Friday, May 30, 2008

G-U-E-R-D-O-N: Spell It to Me , Spell It to Me

Hoosier Sameer Mishra just captured the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee championship by correctly spelling guerdon. (Interesting...the word isn't in Google's spell check dictionary.) Our office has a little tradition around the spelling bee. Each employee is randomly assigned 3 contestants and the one whose contestant finishes the highest receives the office trophy. I won the inaugural contest two years ago, then refused to give up my trophy last year. I'm hoping that it's still securely glued to my desk when I return to the office on Monday.

In honor of Sameer and all those little spellers, here is our spelling bee mix for your weekend enjoyment. Had I been handed a word that was spelled in a popular song, I might not have gotten out so early in that spelling bee from sixth grade. Ooo, if only I'd heard this inspirational tale after getting dinged out on sorrow all those years before: Sameer returned not once, not twice, but 3 times to the national contest and won this year. Fourth time's a charm--congrats Sameer!

Spell It to Me Mix
Aretha Franklin - R.E.S.P.E.C.T
The Kinks - Lola
John Mellencamp - R.O.C.K. in the USA
Men Without Hats - Safety Dance
Bonus: Acronyms & Phone Numbers
Naughty by Nature - O.P.P
Tommy Tutone - 867-5309/Jenny

The Boss Sighting at Carter & Cavero

The Boss was spotted at Carter & Cavero in Red Bank, NJ a few weeks back, which got me really excited. I have been loving their olive oils and vinegars since Sam shared some bottles with me around the holidays. Since then I've ordered more bottles and love to pass them along to those who love bread, wine and cheese as much as me. (Love the Red Apple and Pomegranate Balsamics and the Blood Orange and Hojiblanca Olive Oils.) While Sam didn't have any photos of the Boss in the store, he assured me that he is also a fan of the Hojiblanca. If you're in the area, be sure to check out their store at 19 Monmouth Street, where you can sample all the oils and vinegars, then have your selections bottled in one of their beautifully etched black bottles.
(Can you pick out Sam in the picture?)

And since I'm writing about the Boss, my mind has already drifted back to the days when my affections were torn between three men: Bruce, David Byrne and Davey Jones, who I asked for on my fifth birthday and received tickets to The Monkees concert (close enough, parents). I was a few months shy of 3 years old when Born in the U.S.A was released (June 4th, 1984), but the album was so good that it remained a seminal part of my childhood in the years that followed. Bruce deserves all the credit in the world for my love of those guys who can fill out (the back of) their jeans...I also thought his ball cap was a boxing glove for some strange reason, so maybe that explains my love of a good bout, too.

My parents could often find 5 year old Jessi in the basement of our old house singing and dancing to the album's songs. When my brother, his girlfriend and I vacationed with our parents last spring, I remember filling everyone in on how I used to turn out the overhead lights, lift the needle and carefully drop it in the groove for "I'm on Fire." Bruce would ask me in that voice of his,

"Hey little girl is your daddy home/Did he go away and leave you all alone?"

Sometimes I'd lie and say, "Don't worry Bruce. Dad left and won't be home for hours." In my naivete, I thought Bruce just wanted to chill, sing me some songs, maybe talk about my favorite shows, Knight Rider and M.A.S.H.. Naturally, the next line, hell the rest of the song, always left me confused from the moment he sang, "I've got a bad desire/I'm on Fire." While I didn't know what he was really getting at, I knew he was a bad boy and that made me keep playing that album and staring at the cover with those blue jeans even more. (And in one post, we have figured out my tendencies with guys.)

My sister beat me to seeing the Boss a few years back, but my ND friends and I have tickets to see him July 27th at Giants Stadium, as he and the E Street Band return from the tour in Europe. Although saying see him might be a stretch, I have a feeling that we're in the very last row :) Nevertheless, there will be much dancing and possible some swaying during "Rosalita."

My Ellen is a huge Bruce fan and was invited to be a guest DJ on satellite radio and introduce her favorite 5 Bruce songs. She promises one day to share this recording with the me for a blog exclusive, but we live hours away from each other, so this might take awhile.

Listen Up:
Bruce Springsteen: I'm on Fire
Bruce Springsteen: My City of Ruins (Live: Asbury Park Benefit Concert)
(I'd previously written about this being the first live performance of the song and 5 months later, the saxophone still gets me.)

I feel like Daddy Lauer is going to find the blog any day now, so if you do Dad, just don't tell Mom about this and go here to enjoy this concert from the show at MSG. I'm listening to it as I type and it gets me excited for the show in a few months. And Dan, this might be a little too much info for you, as well.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Guest Spot: Jody Catches 6 Day Bender in Asbury Park

Guest Spot: Jody
I never got to be a guest-blogger on The Backroom, so I am overjoyed to be the first guest writer for Jessi’s music blog. I’m very nervous that my post will suck and that Jessi will edit the crap out of it, but I will try my best. (Ed. Note: No one is as terrified of Jessi's strength, as Jody.)

When I told Jessi that I was heading to see my cousin’s band play, she immediately gave me an assignment for The Blog. Corey’s band, Six Day Bender, played at The Saint in Asbury Park a few weeks ago. So the whole Donofrio family, plus my hippie friend Lauren, made the trip. Asbury Park, as a take-off point for bands, seems to have worked out fairly well in the past (to say the least), so I think we were all pretty excited for Corey and the bandmates. After the requisite pre-concert beers, we headed over to The Saint ready to get down.

The Saint is a dump, in every sense of the word. However, it’s an awesome place to see live music. It’s close and cramped and the sound is great. Six Day Bender started the night off with “Devil Lets You Dance,” which is my favorite tune off their new album. It got the entire crowd moving and dancing, and the boys didn’t let up for the rest of the night. Unfortunately, Jessi’s instructions did not include anything about a specific set-list, nor have I memorized any track names, so knowing the first song is the best I did (it doesn’t help I suppose that this blog post is about a month overdue). I thought the entire show was excellent, it far exceeded all of my expectations. I thought the boys played really tight and were very well put together. I tried to think of who their stage presence resembled, and for some reason, I am really struck by the comparison of The Band. That’s what their simple, clean look reminds me of. Their music is pure mountain rock, with a little funk and a little jammy-ness and a whole lot of fun. Naturally, I highly recommend giving these guys a listen. Go check them out live; they love having new fans in the crowd.

Don’t worry, for my next blog assignment, I will have video and a set-list. And maybe I’ll end up backstage.

(Ed. Note: We salute the Jody for her dedication to her guest spot, even if it is a month overdue. We're sending Jody to Bonnaroo on her own dime as she has the gumption to actually exist for days in a row without showering. I prefer Lolla or Pitchfork, where I can shower and sleep in a bed each night.)

The blog loves a lot of things, but today we're bringing you photos of two of our favorites: Moms & Moustaches. Here's Corey's Mom-Crazy Aunt Karen, her sister/Jody's mom Elaine and Jody's Sister Amy. And then a mountain moustache.
My Earlier Introduction to 6 Day Bender

Listen Up:

6 Day Bender - Devil Let's You Dance

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Frightened Rabbit - Live @ Pianos NYC 5/27/08

Frightened Rabbit played a fantastic, sold-out show (the band's first ;) ) at Pianos in NYC tonight. I've already told FBF to catch them in Columbus at The Basement and all my Chicago friends better buy their tickets to see them at Double Door this Thursday. Check out the rest of their tour dates below--they're a must-see and I'm luckyl that I was able to see them in such a small venue.
Scott brought a fabulous sense of humor to the show and seemed quite at ease in front of everyone. Most songs were accompanied by stories or banter with the audience. Before he moved to keyboard to play "The Twist" (check out the video below), he started to tell everyone that he wasn't the best at piano and had to label the keys, but the marker kept rubbing off, so his bandmates relabeled it, only it ended up reading Huge Cock. During "Backwards Walk", Scott was overcome with laughter at the beginning and had to stop and clarify that this is a serious song about heartbreak.
The band pulled off an amazing performance of "The Greys". The vibrations from the band were streaming through my legs and at one point during the song, Grant lost one of the cymbals from his kit. I had captured most of the song on video before my memory card filled up, but then I deleted it to record Keep Yourself Warm...maybe I shouldn't have done that. During the set Scott mentioned a trip to the West Village's Music Inn and he brought out a new guitar that he must have purchased there for the solo acoustic performance of "Poke" to close the set.
Should look through some old photos
I adored you in every one of those.

The video for The Twist is below, but head over to my YouTube page for videos of "Good Arms vs Bad Arms", "Fast Blood", "My Backwards Walk", and "Keep Yourself Warm". I'll be uploading more photos or at least sharing the link once I have a chance to actually look through them (probably after getting a few hours of sleep). Live mp3s from the set are below.

Thankfully the concert was fantastic, because I got to my car to find a parking ticket that was issued while they played Poke. And for once, my reaction wasn't anger. I said to myself, hell, I would've paid 80 bucks to see these guys like this. In other thank yous, much love to Jay and Wes at Liberated Matter for bringing together such a great show. Pianos for being such a wonderful, small venue with nice bartenders. And finally, my bartender and new friends at Epstein's who kept me company and well-fed before the show.

I love how this video turned out. Thank you little Sony Cybershot of mine.

Set List
Modern Leper
I Feel Better
Good Arms vs Bad Arms
Fast Blood
Old, Old Fashioned
Be Less Rude
Backwards Walk
Music Now
Heads Roll Off
The Greys
Poke (Acoustic Solo)
Encore/Cross Pollination with The Brother Kite
Keep Yourself Warm

Photos from the Cross Pollination set

Frightened Rabbit Tour Dates
05-28 Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop
05-29 Chicago, IL - Double Door
05-30 Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
05-31 Minneapolis, MN - 400 Bar
06-01 Chicago, IL - Do Division Festival
06-02 Kansas City, MO - Record Bar
06-04 Dallas, TX - Granada Theatre
06-05 Austin, TX - The Mohawk
06-06 Houston, TX - Walter's on Washington
06-07 Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon
06-09 Birmingham, AL - Bottletree
06-10 Nashville, TN - Exit/In
06-11 Columbus, OH - The Basement
06-14 Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
06-15 Denver, CO - Hi Dive
06-18 Seattle, WA - Nectar
06-19 Portland, OR - Holocene
06-21 San Francisco, CA - The Independent
06-22 Los Angeles, CA - Roxy Theatre
06-23 San Diego, CA - Casbah
06-24 Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room
06-27 New Orleans, LA - One Eyed Jacks
06-30 Washington, DC - Black Cat
07-01 Cambridge, MA - TT the Bear's * with Relay
(Touring with French Kicks through 6/11; then with Oxford Collapse through 6/30)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Radiohead Weird Fishes Video

Weird Fishes: Arpeggi from flight404 on Vimeo.

Robert at flight404 developed this video for Radiohead's Weird Fishes and eventually submitted it to their user-generated video contest. I'm no computer programmer (anymore :) ) but it seems that he used a beat detection software that created a visualization and then he filmed it. Fortunately, he is able to explain the process in much greater detail.

And I have to tell you to head over to sixeyes and grab the Radiohead April Fools Day concert. It's been a favorite of mine this spring.

Radiohead - Airbag
(This is the album cut, but I was ecstatic that it made the set list.)
(Links removed after three days--if you like this sort of music, subscribe to the blog for future songs...and if you're really heartbroken, email me.)

Sasquatch Monday Mix

Sasquatch in Stamford continues, but today we're moving the party from my backyard to the beach.

Sasquatch Monday Mix
The Flaming Lips - The W.A.N.D.
Flight of the Conchords - If You're Into It
Rodrigo Y Gabriela - Diablo Rojo
Yeasayer - Wait for the Summer
Matt Costa - Mr. Pitiful
Jamie Lidell - Wait for Me
Battles - Leyendecker
Pela - Waiting on the Stairs
Thao - Bag of Hammers
Delta Spirit - People C'mon
(Links removed after three days--if you like this sort of music, subscribe to the blog for future songs...and if you're really heartbroken, email me.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sasquatch Saturday Mix

Of all the festival lineups this year, nothing excited me more than the one for Sasquatch. As soon as it was released, Brett and I talked of heading to Seattle and dressing like Mel and Murray from Flight (don't even get us started on being shut out of the Town Hall show). But since Seattle is on the other side of the country and I used my last free flight to get Woody to New York for Texas Independence, we're bringing the Gorge to my backyard with the music from our favorite bands, food on the grill and drinks in hand.

Saturday is by far my favorite band day and would've had me at the main stage for most of the time, leaving only to catch Joshua Morrison at the Yeti Stage (hey-o! it's my second Eric reference this week) and Okkervill River at the Wookie Stage. Thankfully, I'm already seeing Dead Confederate later this week, so I wouldn't feel too guilty about missing that one.

Sasquatch Saturday Mix
Fleet Foxes - Mykonos
Beirut - Nantes (Black Session)
Throw Me the Statue - Yucatan Gold
Joshua Morrison - Westport
The National - Abel (Live at the Southstreet Seaport)
Okkervil River - Unless It's Kicks
Modest Mouse - One Chance
R.E.M. - Nightswimming
(Links removed after three days--if you like this sort of music, subscribe to the blog for future songs...and if you're really heartbroken, email me.)

It's a Brooklyn Day

I was supposed to head into Brooklyn today, but I just couldn't drag myself into the city today--it's beautiful day to sit on my patio in Connecticut, the roomies are gone and our favorite restaurant reopens tonight. So instead, I'm supporting Brooklyn from home with photos, music from my favorite Brooklyn bands, and news of a free screening at BAM--their weekly emails attempt to keep me cultured.

One of my favorite things to do with out-of-towners is to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. It can take them down through Chinatown, past City Hall and across the bridge to see the skyline and enjoy the pizza at Grimaldi's. Of course, most of my New York friends laugh that they still haven't done this. These pictures are from the day that every guy I knew was watching the NFL draft, leaving me free to a day of Jessi in the city.
BAM is hosting a free screening today at 4:30 of Ken Burns' 1981 documentary on the Brooklyn Bridge in celebration of its 125 birthday.

Speaking of BAM, I'd be foolish not to remind everyone of The National's concert at the Gilman Opera House in February.

Listen up:
Pela - The Trouble with River Cities.mp3
Pela - Anytown Graffiti.mp3
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth.mp3
The National - Gospel (Daytrotter Session).mp3
(Links removed after three days--if you like this sort of music, subscribe...and if you're really heartbroken, email me.)

Things about these songs:
-Join me for Pela at the Bowery on June 6th
-It took me at least 5 listens to like this Clap Your Hands song, but now it won't leave my mind
-This is my favorite song by The National and was lucky enough to finally see it at the BAM show. For those of you not as obsessed, the songs from the Daytrotter Session are a collection of songs the band typically doesn't play live, but there was an online petition to get them to perform these songs for the session. So the next time you see a petitioner on the street, you can tell yourself that petitioning might actually accomplish something.

Friday, May 23, 2008

How American Idol Predicts a Democratic Victory in November

This year started with me in a political euphoria. I'd been so excited by the feelings of hope and change sweeping the country and it seemed imminent. But then the primaries never stopped and I just can't wait for the DNC to take place at this point.
Nothing in the press really gets me excited about the race now, as I just need the party to name the candidate to go against McCain. At least the talk is now focusing on Obama's VP selection and my Obama Hawaii sticker sticker is making me smile again at work. However, Slate saved the day once again, relating David Cook's American Idol victory to a Democratic victory in November. Finally, a reason to thank American Idol, a show that I still don't understand and haven't since I returned from Scotland in August of 2002 to find my roommates and the rest of the country swept up in Idol Fever. And they were worried about me getting mad cow!

I Want Alexandra Patsavas's Job

For a while I watched Grey's to have a good cry, as it was guaranteed to get me once every few weeks. But then I found that the driving force was to hear what music they'd be playing each week. I always seem to take it as a musical victory when I've already got a song in my collection that makes it onto the show. That Jamie Lidell song from a few weeks back? Picked up the album in the city the week before (although the show has already been a fan of his from season 2). I have to admit that I the music gods might have been at play last week when musical supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, threw songs from my musical obsessions of the last year, The National & Bon Iver, into the same show. Last night's episode, which I got home way too late to watch, hooked me with Bryn Christopher's "The Quest".

I've got my eyes on this desk...

Thankfully, Alexandra Patsavas doesn't operate like MTV and throw whatever song might garner the most votes on TRL onto the show's soundtracks. (Before Nick Brown yells at me, I have to put in a plug for Missy Higgins' "Where I Stood", which was featured on the season finale of The Hills. He tells me it was good, not that he watches that or anything.) I never watched The OC, but loved what she did, especially the incorporation of Imogen Heap's songs in the season finales. What I wouldn't give to get Patsavas and Zach Braff on my patio to discuss indie music over a few bottles of wine on a sunny afternoon.

La Blogotheque
has filmed both featured songs by The National & Bon Iver. Check those out and be sure to listen to more below...

Jamie Lidell - Little Bit of Feel Good.mp3
The National - About Today.mp3
Bon Iver - The Wolves (Act I & II).mp3
Bryn Christopher - The Quest.mp3
(Links are removed after three days)

If you like Bryn Christopher's song, be sure to pick up his album which will be released June 9th in the UK (label: PolydorRecords).

(Note to Kelly: A-ha is on their label! And the label's website is playing Van Morrison's Soul. God, how I love that man's voice.)

Playing Tonight in Chicago: Flatbed Orange

Flatbed Orange will be playing tonight at Elbo Room in Chicago with an eclectic lineup of afro-centric, reggae and indie bands.
This is exciting for a few reasons:
1. Our friends know the lead singer, Nick Barbone, and we love nepotism
2. This might bring about our first guest column by one of my favorite people. I often think that Kelly and I were separated at birth, even though our birthdays are a year and a half apart

Our friends checked them out a few weeks ago and I haven't heard such a bewildered reaction since we were discussing a Cloud Cult concert during St. Patty's Day weekend, so I can't wait to hear what it's like from Kel. If she and I had iPhones, we'd be live blogging the event, but we don't. So she'll be texting me and I'll be enjoying the updates from some patio with a drink in my hand on this fine May evening. Summer is in the air and I could not be happier.

Flatbed Orange - Sins of My Father.mp3
Flatbed Orange - River Runs Dry.mp3

Thursday, May 22, 2008

FBF Phones It In: The Loyal Divide

FBF has been pretty silent with the music recommendations since our magical days in Athens, so I was happy when he answered my gmail challenge with The Loyal Divide. Of course, it came as no surprise that they were originally from Columbus, but had moved onto Chicago, FBF's two favorite cities. Most of their shows remain in those two cities, but the guys were in New York for CMJ and competed in Austin's Independent Music World Series last fall.

It's ambient, shoegazer music, which I always need to listen to a few times before really formulating an opinion, so be patient FBF. (Update: this has been playing all Sunday afternoon and I'm adding Lights below, which is my current favorite. Thank you FBF.) Download their self-titled EP for free or simply check it out on MySpace. If you like what you hear, support these guys and vote for them in the first round of Lollapalooza's Last Band Standing.

Listen Up:
The Loyal Divide - Ancestor
The Loyal Divide - Lights
The Loyal Divide - The Tease

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Hoodrat Gets in Trouble Again...AND Is Upstaged by a 5 year old!

I caught this video of a 5 year old in Jamestown, NY, dashing out of his grandmother's house and taking her truck for a spin last week in Tommy's office--how good is it when he has to hoist himself into the truck?

It made our day and reminded me of a guy I used to know from Jamestown, who always explained that his town was the one where the guy with AIDS knowingly infected 20+ women. At least Eric has something different to reference now.

Amazingly, the 5 year old escaped with only an injured arm after hopping the curb, down a 12 foot embankment and hitting a brick wall. Fortunately, too, his family didn't think it wise to expose him to the media, unlike our poor Latarian Milton. Seeing that this kid was stealing cars at a much earlier age than everyone's favorite hoodrat made me want to see what he was up to...unfortunately, his brush with grand theft auto hasn't taught him any lessons.

From what I've found online, Latarian started a fight with his grandma in Wal-Mart after he asked her for chicken wings and she refused. He then ordered them anyway and started to physically attack her when she confronted him. After this incident, the police picked him up for a 48 hour mental evaluation. Like I said before, the first 17 seconds of his video were funny, then it just became incredibly sad. I'm glad that the grandmother is finally taking a stand, but it's going to take quite a while to correct the negative effect that his parents have had on him.

As a final aside, McSweeney's posted some good advice from the latest Grand Theft Auto Dating FAQ. And because I love all things McSweeney's (check out their recommendations!), Believer Magazine, & Dave Eggers, I think I'm going to head to Brooklyn to check out the 826NYC SuperHero Supply Store this weekend. For any of you looking for some art, John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants will be the guest auctioneer at 826NYC's art show charity event tomorrow night in Chelsea (5.22 at 525 W. 19th St.).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Frightened Rabbit's Midnight Organ Fight + Show at Pianos on 5.27

I have been in love with this band since I heard Good Arms vs. Bad Arms on KEXP a few weeks ago. The Midnight Organ Fight is a fantastic sophomore effort from these Scots that chronicles the breakup of lead singer Scott Hutchison's long-term relationship. I haven't been able to stop listening to the album over the last few days, as it goes from my house, to my car, to the office and back. The songs meld into each other and suddenly I'm starting the cd all over again.

I've been going back and forth on who they remind me of/influences, so I'm keeping my mouth shut for a few days...I'll have plenty more to say about this band once I get some sleep.
Glaswegian blog, The Pop Cop, has a great interview with Scott that goes into the meaning/inspiration behind each song. His lyrics are absolutely brilliant.

Show Next Week:
Frightened Rabbit is playing Pianos next Tuesday 5.27 with The Brother Kite at 10. Liberated Matter is hosting their Tuesday night Cross Pollination show at 8 with Chief and Hearts & Numbers.

Frightened Rabbit - The Twist.mp3
Frightened Rabbit - Keep Yourself Warm.mp3
Frightened Rabbit - Backwards Walk.mp3
Frightened Rabbit - Modern Leper.mp3

And yes, I chose that picture because it reminds me of the game room of the castle where we spent the day on the shores of the North Sea outside of Aberdeen in Scotland.

I also need to know which football team they support--I've got my fingers crossed that it's Celtic.

Jessi's Reading 5/20

My puter has had far too many tabs open in Firefox as I tried to catch up on all my reading this weekend. Unfortunately, my crazy schedule has kept me away from some of my usuals, but here's what I've liked from my daily must-reads.

Things Younger Than McCain has grabbed my fancy since I found it earlier in the week. I especially loved the post on Scrabble, as I've never found someone who detests the game as much as I do, based on my super-competitive parents slaughtering of me at the game since a very early age. At least I'll always be competitive against Daddy Lauer in Trivial Pursuits.

After years of working in the sports industry and now in sports marketing, it seems that my life has been invaded by logos and branding. I resist logos and even designs on my clothes, which leads to a bit of a boring wardrobe, but it's better than a big logo on my chest. The folks at have created labels to stick on bulk containers for your household products to keep the brands out of your private existence.

In the same current, AdWeek has a great article about brands that are foregoing advertising revenue, in favor of building a community of loyal followers, who appreciate the focus on what the consumers/users really want from the company. Lauded brands include Threadless, Craigslist, Etsy and Zappos.

A group on Usenet has been compiling years of Billboard data to construct an analysis of the top pop songs by BPM, length, label, songwriters and chart position. The Whitburn Project has not only compiled and analyzed all the data, but have also created a registry of digital copies of all the songs featured on the top charts.

I think that I just have a thing for Albert Einstein lately and there's only one person to blame for that. Well besides Albert and his fluffy hair and wild-eyed grin. A newly discovered letter from the scientist who was born Jewish and attended Catholic schools, describes his views on religion as a childish superstition. While he strayed from relgion, he often spoke of cosmic religious flourishes. I like to think that his thoughts on the matters would have paired him well with Vonnegut's thoughts on humanism.

I love Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist on Slate. This article discusses whether smokers actually enjoy a price increase or not, based on a recent study that correlated a national increase in cigarette taxes to an increase in national happiness.

After my month of making lots of money, it might be hard to return to living frugally, but this list of great cheap wines might make life easier. If only a 2002 Brunello were about 1/6 of its price, but I'll still keep drinking it.

The Art of Manliness brings forth the top 100 reads for the ultimate Man's Library.

Fortune tries to foresee the future for the powerhouse that is Google.

The Guardian examines why Iceland is the happiest place on earth. Take that cryogenicly-preserved Walt Disney.

Release Date: A Skin, A Night + Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

Today is a big day in the release world. I've been eagerly awaiting Vincent Moon's A Skin, A Night for the last year or so and will be buying it on my lunch break and leaving work as soon as possible to watch it tonight. More info about the DVD and The National's Virginia EP, which is packaged with it, can be found in my previous post. Enjoy two of the demos I have in my collection from The National, although I'm not sure if they're the same demos that appear on the EP. I'll let you know about that later today.
Also on the market today is Chuck Pahalniuk's Snuff, which...well, I'll just let you learn about the story line...
The National - Rest of Years (demo).mp3
The National - Slow Show (demo).mp3

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stuck in My Head: Late Night Performances & Covers

While I'm usually not one for female singers, I haven't been able to stop playing these videos of Feist on the Colbert Report and She & Him on Craig Ferguson. Check them out and then grab the mp3s of my favorite covers by each.

Feist - I Feel it All

She & Him - Change is Hard

The Constantines & Feist - Islands in the Stream (cover).mp3
I first wrote about this over a month ago, but it remains a favorite of mine from the spring.

She & Him - You Really Got A Hold on Me (cover).mp3
Can I just say that I used to have a Disney cartoons video cassette that featured music videos of Motown classics and this song by the Miracles was one of my favorites on the tape? I have to ask Daddy Lauer what might have happened to it, but thank Papa Dave (I think it was him) for this present which clued Little Jessi into what good music actually is. I love their version of this song and anything by Zooey Deschanel reminds me of my favorite Japanese exchange student, Tetsuro, and his love of all things Zooey that started before Elf was even over.

Silent All This Week

The early morning shift has really taken a toll on me and has kept me from writing, but it's been a really good last week. On Tuesday I found out that the awful medicine that I've been battling with for the last two years finally worked its magic and the small tumor in my head has vanished.

Last weekend I headed into the city on Saturday and ran into one of my early morning co-workers in Chelsea, then roamed across town taking photos through the Flat Iron, down a street festival through Union Square, ended up in SoHo and realized that I was on Prince Street and only a block away from the Morrison Hotel Gallery.
They had a great exhibit of of Herman Leonard's "Jazz Giants" and I found it oddly fitting that Perry texted me right as I was looking at a portrait of Einstein. Everytime that I see a great photography exhibit, I grow a bit envious that I never took up photography seriously. There was still time for dinner before heading to Hoboken, so I roamed over to the West Village to complete the Jeff Charzan experience at Barbuto.
It was a beautiful evening and was great to sit outside, drink a glass of wine and indulge in their cooking. I trusted my waiter, Tim, to choose everything from my wine to my food to desert. The staff certainly lived up to Jeff's ravings about how wonderful and friendly everyone is at the restaurant. While I like to pretend that I could see the Palazo Chupi from my seat, there was a building in the way. Oh well, enjoy the visual as I saw it in my head:
From there I headed to Hoboken for a concert and to visit Perry. Someday that boy will come to Stamford or I might have to kick his ass, the threat of which should strike fear in his heart. He was still away on his golf adventure, so I hung out by the water for a while to snap photos of the New York skyline and got a fabulous one of the train station.
On Sunday I headed back to New York for a day with Brett. We share a love of Venezuelan food and he'd texted me that morning to say he'd already picked out the perfect spot for lunch at Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village. The restaurant was so very slender, but the food was fabulous and the sun was streaming through the window. We're still not sure who two of the three bobble heads are from the restaurant, so if you know who anyone is besides Hugo Chavez, let us know.
From there, we headed to Hop Devil Grill to sample plenty of beers and then onto the show at Pianos. I wearily arrived home around 1030 for a few hours of sleep that night...which ended up being much more than I would get the next night. I've only got 4 more days of the early shift and I cannot wait to be done with it, although I am going to miss seeing everyone at 5 am everyday.

The Loom Really Surprise Me at nyctaper Anniversary Show

Last Sunday, I made my way out of Hoboken and met Brett in the city for an afternoon of arepas, beers and music. We made our way out of the bar just in time for the show at Pianos, but it got off to the late start I'd expected at Maxwell's the night before. We grabbed drinks and were settling into the bar in the back when I was randomly spotted for the third time that day. John Fanning, lead singer/guitarist for The Loom, had found the blog and was ready for my appearance. While I'd found his website, I think it can be fairly argued that he looks slightly different from our days together at ND. It was great to run into him and after begging for musical updates from Conte and Pete about his work, it was even better to get to see him play live. (Thanks again, musical gods.)

While you might expect me to say that they were the musical highlight of the concert, Brett will back me up about it. Their collective brought a spirited performance to Pianos, which even made their mothers proud. Brett and I might have snapped as many photos of the proud parents, who were celebrating Mother's Day at the show, as we took of the band.

The Loom is returning to Pianos on 5/29 to play with Dead Confederates, who hail from my second-favorite Athens. Their live set from last weekend can be downloaded from nyctaper.

The Teenagers & Team Robespierre at Maxwell's 5.10.08

Team Robespierre
I made it into the Team Robespierre set at Maxwell's a little late last week, as I'd stopped to drop my things off and grab a beer with Perry before heading uptown. The band definitely had the crowd going when I came in, as the guys were climbing all over the stage and jumping into the crowd. They're on my list to see again this summer in Brooklyn. (Side note: one of the band members looks like Charlie from Always Sunny and while I might have taken a few too many photos of him in Mel fashion, I kept my mouth shut about it when I ran into him after the show.)

The Teenagers
This was the last stop on The Teenagers' North American tour before heading home to Europe. I stand by my statement that Feeling Better feels like the perfect 80s cartoon theme song for a show about the band. Quentin, in typical fashion, invited some girls from the crowd on stage to sing the girl parts of Homecoming (god, even that sounds dirty). Thankfully, the trio tours with two girls on keys and drum, who were able to carry the song. He then jumped into the crowd to close the set with Streets of Paris and you'll see in the photo below that the guys from Team Robespierre and what might have been their PR people ran up to help sing along. And speaking of fashion, check out his fabulous Bart Simpson t-shirt. It was a fun evening in Hoboken and I have to thank my guy at Rebel, Rebel for inspiring me to hit the show.

Set List:
Feeling Better
Fuck Nicole
No Love
Starlett Johansson
French Kiss
Make it Happen
Streets of Paris

Videos are in black and white--the lighting made it too hard to shoot in color.

French Kiss

Starlett Johansson

The Teenagers - No Love (live).mp3
The Teenagers - Homecoming (live).mp3
The Teenagers - French Kiss (live).mp3
The Teenagers - Starlett Johansson (live).mp3

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Show Tonight! The Teenagers & Team Robespierre at Maxwell's

Tonight is the last night to catch The Teenagers before the tour heads home to Europe. I haven't been able to get their songs out of my head, since Reality Check was playing at Rebel, Rebel last weekend. Their naughtily delicious lyrics, liberal use of our favorite European curse word, and The Music Slut's recap of their show at The Bowery this week sealed the deal for me.

The Teenagers & Team Robespierre - 9:30 at Maxwell's in Hoboken - May 10th.

The Teenagers - Homecoming.mp3

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sidetracked! The Tribe Takes on the Yankees

Even in sleep deprivation mode, I couldn't pass up Benjamin's offer to join him for the Yankees-Tribe game Tuesday night. As the train rolled up to the stadium, I was reliving my last Indians-Yankees game when the Tribe clinched the ALDS. The Yankee fans were just slightly nicer this time around.

Our seats used to be just beyond first base, but we're moving closer to home plate--still in the cheap seats, of course. It was wonderful to catch up with Benjamin and Alliance, Ohio was well represented--Randi was at the game and a girl that I'd gone to elementary and high school with, but hadn't seen in 11 years spotted me outside while I was waiting on Ben. So random.

The Tribe captured the victory, making all my Ohio friends proud and my New York friends had a reason to hate me for a few nights. I'm going to miss this stadium and refused to take any photos of the new one.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Upcoming Show: 6 Day Bender @ Knitting Factory

While I was catching up on my sleep last Friday, Charlottesville band 6 Day Bender ventured north to play their first show in Asbury Park. The 4 guys continue to spread their blend of mountain rock to New York's Knitting Factory over Memorial Day weekend (5.24 at 9 pm) and to Cafe 9 in New Haven the following week (5.29 at 8 pm).

Their self-titled debut was released in April and makes me feel like I'm back in Athens, listening to Catfish and Junebug inspired rustic jams. And for some reason I want to have a chili cook-off.

Check out the song, Wartime, from their new cd below and video footage from their Asbury Park set will be coming...

6 Day Bender - Wartime (mp3)

(Note to Nick Brown: maybe you should tell your roommates about the New Haven show...but they haven't reached The National status in my book yet.)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sidetracked! Fate takes me to Palazzo Chupi

I've been attempting to hit a restaurant in the Village for a few weeks now, but keep changing my plans for the day. Yesterday, I finally realized why fate had been pulling me to the restaurant--it's just a few blocks from Palazzo Chupi!

This brought about excited jumping, the kind of which hasn't been seen for a few weeks, at least. Kelly was immediately called, as she's the only person besides the kids at Daily Intel who would understand my excitement. I did a full lap around the block taking pictures and while the street was empty of on-lookers when I started, I noticed as I took a close-up look at the entrance, that there were suddenly 7 people across the street looking up at the Palazzo. My jumping and crazy photography caused a bit of intrique.

In my excitement, I never managed to eat at the restaurant, which means another reason to watch for the Schnabulous when I finally eat there. At this point, fate won't let me down.

The Schnabulous One does not like it when you park in front of his garage.