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Sigur Ros’ Glorious Return To New York

Written by Jonny-Leather on . Posted in Music, Posts



Sigur Ros

United Palace Theater
9/17/08

When Sigur Ros played the Manhattan Ballroom back in June, it was quite possibly the most ethereal concert experience I’ve ever had. Every moment of their performance was true bliss, and most of the others who were there felt the same way. Concerts of this emotional magnitude come very very rarely. This particular concert transformed me from a mid-level fan to worshiper of the band.

Last night, the epic Icelandic post-rockers returned to New York to play the magnificent United Palace Theater. Stripped down to a quartet for the first time in years, it was a more intimate version of the band than what we saw in June—no Amiina and no horns. Opening with the now classic “Sven G Englar,” there was a noticeable difference in the scale of their sound without the extra band members. The performance never quite reached that degree of ecstasy that was felt at Manhattan Ballroom on June. The setlist may not have been as strong, lights not as glorious, and the sound not as crisp, but it was still about as good a concert as you could ever see.

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Human Highway Debuts in NYC

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Borrowing their name from a Neil Young movie, Human Highway is the new side project for Islands' frontman Nick Thorburn and former Island member Jim Guthrie. Their album Moody Motorcycle was released in mid-August. Though not as deep or unique as Thorburn's Unicorns and Islands work, Moody Motorcycle is a perfect end-of-summer record, which the band as described as being Everly Brothers'-influenced.

The band debuted in the live form last night at the small LES club, Cake Shop. The 3 back-up musicians came out first, picking up their instruments and setting the groove for "The Sound" before Guthrie and Thorburn joined them. Interestingly, the band essentially played the album straight through, throwing in Jim Guthrie's "Now, More Than Ever" midway. There were points where it showed that the band was new to playing the material live, and Thorburn often became distracted by the buzzing of his amp. They even had the chord progressions for set-closer "Duties of a Lighthouse Keeper" on a paper at their feet. Introducing the song "Pretty Hair," Thorburn told the audience that it was about Brooklyn, more specifically Toxic Brooklyn (a subject NY Press is quite familiar with), and talked a little bit about how crazy it is for the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area to be the most toxic place in America. Then Thorburn shed some dark words with something like "I spend a lot of time there too, so we'll all die together," before starting up the best song of the night.

If you missed them last night, you'll get a second chance when Human Highway plays Joe's Pub tonight.

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Those Crazy Kooks

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The Kooks, Stellastarr* and Illinois

Central Park, 9/10/08


In front of me stood young British rock stars The Kooks, and behind me was a pack of young screaming girls, held back by a weak metal barrier and little else. The photo pit at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield felt like no man's land on Wednesday. Rarely do I ever see a band with such a young enthusiastic crowd, enveloped with that aching desire to touch a member of the band. It never made much sense why fans want to do whatever it takes to get a piece of a sweaty rock star, but I guess it has to do with making a surreal dreamlike experience feel a little bit more real.

The Kooks are essentially a new British boy band. Their crowd is very young, and the girls go wild for them, especially singer Luke Pritchard. Basically, they're cute young British boys playing insanely catchy pop music. I am in no way comparing The Kooks to American boy bands like NKOTB and N'Sync. These kids are far more talented. The Brits always produce better boy bands, starting with the first one ever, The Beatles. Of course, unlike the American boy bands, bands like The Kooks weren't assembled as some crazy product to sell to unassuming teenage girls.

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The Sweet Sound of Silence

Written by Jonny-Leather on . Posted in Music, Posts



Liam Finn/The Veils
Bowery Ballroom
9/4/08


It takes a hell of a lot to get an entire room full of people loaded with drinks to shut the fuck up. It's never made much sense that people pay to go to concerts and then proceed to talk through the entire show, including the headliner. Occasionally, they may take a break from conversation to hear the one or two songs they're their for and whistle with approval, but only for a second. Sometimes the band has a hard to even hearing themselves over the insane chattering of the inconsiderate crowds.

Liam Finn was well aware of this when he decided to attempt a the part acappella lullaby as part of his encore. Fin told the crowd that the only possible way they could make this beautiful song work was if it was dead silent in the room...

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Celebrating 5 Years of East Village Radio

Written by Jonny-Leather on . Posted in Music, Posts



Originally scheduled for Saturday, the rains came pouring down and pushed the East Village Radio Festival to Sunday. Luckily, Sunday turned out to be a really beautiful day, and nearly every act from the eclectic lineup was able to perform on Sunday, including headliner Boris  (pictured), who brought the rock all the way from Japan. Legendary MC, KRS-One, hosted the event and summed it up best when he described the day as a community event. No two performers were totally alike, giving the patrons of  the South Street Seaport a nice variety of talented local and international acts.

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At Last: Sixto Rodriguez’ First Ever New York Performance

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Not everyone can rise to fame as quickly or as easily as someone like Vampire Weekend. Many factors play into the success of an artist, and no matter how good they are or how hard they work, a little bit of luck goes a long way.

38 years after its release, Sixto Rodriguez’ debut “Cold Fact” is only finally getting recognition in America as a brilliant musical accomplishment.

Released in 1970, the Detroit-native’s first album never got any attention in his homeland, which led to an early end to his career as a musician. Amazingly, across the world in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, people were discovering the record and falling in love.

Unknown in America, and getting on with his life, Rodriguez was slowly becoming a sensation far from home, and would eventually embark on a few small-scale tours in Australia in 1979 and 1981.

From then on, his life became a mystery drenched in rumors that he wasin a mental institution, jail, or no longer living.

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The Walkmen at Bowery Ballroom: Night 2

Written by Jonny-Leather on . Posted in Music, Posts



I gave The Walkmen's new record You & Me a good 30 spins before writing my recent story for NY Press in which I boldly called it the "Year's Best Album." The record has been in such heavy rotation on my iTunes that I've been listening to it more than once a day on average. It's very rare that an album can be devoted such attention, especially with so much great music coming from publicists every day, but it's really just that good. (If you don't believe me, just ask Pitchfork.)

Last night's show at Bowery Ballroom (the band's 2nd of 2 sold out nights) was my first chance to hear the new songs live, aside from watching their Good Day New York performance on Monday morning...

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A Fond Farewell To JellyNYC McCarren Park Pool Parties

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We've had a lot of fun together. Friends since day one, I've given you nearly every one of my summer Sundays since that first one in 2006, and you've given me some really great times. As good as they all have been, nothing quite compares to our first day together.

With the sun beating down on the hot concrete,Tim Harrington ran wild, getting beaned by dodgeballs, flopping around in puddles, and soaking himself on the slip'n'slide—all while rocking out. It was fun, fresh and free, without all the hype that now brings in the masses of scenesters...

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Fasciinatiing: The Faint at Terminal 5

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Back in 2001, I was lucky enough to catch The Faint on consecutive nights at Bowery Ballroom and North Six. Each night, they took forever to set up, but it was well worth the wait. Both shows started the same way—keyboardist Jacob Thiele stood front center on a dark stage singing the slow-moving "Sealed Human." Fog, strobes, and the thunderous metal guitar playing of Dapose all ignited with perfect timing to make for the perfect start to two of the finest live performances I've ever seen. This was The Faint at their peak. Danse Macabre had just been released, and with the addition of Dapose on guitar, their live sound had been given an extra boost.

Following the release of Wet From Birth, I saw them at Webster Hall. Though the band had implemented the element of video into their performances, the concert wasn't quite as moving as back in 2001.

Then, until releasing new single "The Geeks Were Right" in June, they seemed to have disappeared. Spending nearly four years between Wet From Birth and 2008's Fasciinatiion, The Faint took the risk of being forgotten...

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