Saturday, March 31, 2007

Song of the Week 3/30/07

Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 - "NY Doll"

Last fall I wrote the following line about this track from Ole Tarantula:

"'N.Y. Doll' is sung from the point of view of the late New York Dolls bassist Arthur Kane. I honestly don’t know much about Kane and his life, but I can’t imagine any man getting a finer tribute in song. It’s the perfect closer to great album."

Over the past few months I've listened to this track over and over again and I'm convinced it's one of the finest songs Hitchock has ever written. The day before seeing Hitchcock and the Venus 3 at the Knitting Factory, I discovered a clip on You Tube from the new documentary Sex, Food, Death...and Insects:

I couldn't help but think of what Peter Buck said in that clip when they played it Tuesday night. It was beautiful performance in another geat show put on by this group of musicans. One can only hope they'll continue to work together in between the times the R.E.M. machine has to roll around the world.

And just because I can, here's Hitchcock and company playing "N.Y. Doll" just a couple days ago:

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Song of the Week 3/23/07

Hoodoo Gurus - "Like-Wow Wipeout"

The Police. Genesis. Hoodoo Gurus.

Okay, the first two are selling tens of thousands of tickets because they reunited for the first time in many years. But I was absolutely ecstatic to see the third act return to the U.S. after a 14 year absence. I was so excited that I even went to B.B. King's (blech) in Times Square (double blech) to see them. For a band marking the 25 year anniversary of their debut single, they rocked just as hard as groups half their age. And seeing "Like-Wow Wipeout" in a New York club was thrilling. I couldn't help but scream along to these words frontman Dave Faulkner penned about the band's first trip to the Big Apple:

"I kiss the ground on which you walk,
I kiss the lips through which you talk,
I kiss the city of New York where I first met you."

As a bonus, here's the very colorful video:

They're supposedly coming back in October. There were so good that I would skip a Mets playoff game to see them again.

Paul Gill's 40th Birthday 3/23/07

Friday night was a rollickin' good time at Magnetic Field as we celebrated my bandmate Paul's 40th birthday. As if to prove that life doesn't end at 40, the band played a wild and somewhat drunken set with great performances by a bunch of regulars. Then our stellar soundman Chris broke down the equipment so I could DJ for a couple of hours. Here's what you heard (or what you missed if you were a little too drunk to remember):

Nada Surf - “Blankest Year”
Cheap Trick - “Hot Love”
Guided By Voices - “Motor Away”
The Replacements - “Color Me Impressed”
The Figgs - “Ginger”
The Knack - “Good Girls Don’t”
MC5 - “High School”
Ramones - “Judy Is a Punk”
Big Star - “In the Street”
Blue Oyster Cult - “Godzilla”
The Monkees - “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone”
Joe Jackson - “I’m the Man”
Soul Asylum - “Sometime to Return”
The Only Ones - “Another Girl Another Planet”
Raspberries - “Go All the Way”
The Soft Boys - “I Wanna Destroy You”
Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians - “Madonna of the Wasps”
Hoodoo Gurus - “Leilani”
Humble Pie - “30 Days In the Hole”
Graham Parker and The Rumor - “Discovering Japan”
The Nazz - “Open My Eyes”
NRBQ - “Riding In My Car”
Badfinger - “Day After Day”
The db’s - “Love Is For Lovers”
The Beatles - “A Hard Day’s Night”
The Lovin’ Spoonful - “Do You Believe in Magic”
Nick Lowe - “Cruel to Be Kind”
The Strokes - “Someday”
XTC - The Mayor of Simpleton”
Jellyfish - “Baby’s Coming Back”
Lemonheads - “Different Drum”
Elvis Costello and The Attractions - “Radio Radio”
The Modern Lovers - “I’m Straight”
The Pretenders - “Stop Your Sobbing”
The Kinks - “Days”
Bee Gees - “To Love Somebody”
Teenage Fanclub - “What You Do to Me”
Nada Surf - “Happy Kid”
Sugar - “Helpless”
Matthew Sweet - “Sick of Myself”
Raspberries - “Tonight”
Big Star - “September Girls”
Weezer - “Photograph”
The Posies - “Dream All Day”
The Smithereens - “Only a Memory”
The Buzzcocks - “Even Fallen in Love”
Brendan Benson - “Spit It Out”
The Candy Skins - “Wembley”
The Cars - “Let’s Go”
The Figgs - “Jumping Again”
Guided By Voices - “A Salty Salute”
Jonathan Richman - “Springtime in New York”

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Song of the Week 3/16/07

Pete Yorn - "Splendid Isolation"

I finally got to see Pete Yorn.


I mean, I've missed this guy every time he's played in New York since 2002 because of:

--I had a DJ gig

--I was upstate visiting family

--I got to Jones Beach too late because of subway hassles and traffic on a Friday (Yorn was opening for R.E.M.)

--I was going out of town to see The Figgs (twice!)

--And I was in Austin for ACL.

I almost thought I wouldn't make it this time due to the snow/sleet/freezing rain/ice cube storm that seems to strike us every March just after we've gotten that taste of sunny spring weather. Yet I slid along the streets of midtown with my friend Molly up to Roseland to catch Yorn and his band deliver a great set that included this cover of my favorite song from Warren Zevon's 1989 album Transverse City. Yorn covered it for the Zevon tribute disc Enjoy Every Sandwich and threw it on his latest album Nightcrawler. This week I listened to that album a couple of times to refresh my memory and every time "Splendid Isolation" came on, I thought, "Wait, this is on this album? I love this cover."

And I really, really hope Viacom doesn't destroy You Tube. How else would I be able to show you visual proof of the song:

I love the shaky camera work. And I love these lyrics too, even if they are a bit dated:

"Michael Jackson in Disneyland
Don't have to share it with nobody else
Lock the gates, Goofy, take my hand
And lead me through the World of Self

Splendid Isolation
I don't need no one
Splendid Isolation"

And you know what, this bridge is pretty great as well:

"Don't want to wake up with no one beside me
Don't want to take up with nobody new
Don't want nobody coming by without calling first
Don't want nothing to do with you"

Yorn has written some really good songs, but he'll never match Zevon's pen.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Song of the Week 3/9/07

Ben Kweller - "Penny on a Train Track"

After watching BK's set get cut short last year due to a wicked nose bleed, I finally got to see my fellow Brooklynite play an entire set Friday night at Webster Hall. Last fall Kweller toured with a six piece band, allowing him to flesh out the arrangements from his fantastic self-made and self-titled 2006 album. This time around the States Kweller stripped his band down to a trio and I couldn't help but think it was an improvement. Since he had no one else to help out with guitar and keyboard parts, Kweller had to focus on carrying the songs by himself. And with the rhythm section of Chris Morrissey and Mark Stepro locked into a groove that can only be honed over a tour behind him, Kweller was--quite simply put--on fire. Great solos, powerful vocals and witty banter--the kid had it all on this night.

"Penny on The Train Track" was the final song, and the best, of the night. Kweller introduced it by saying he had shot a video with his grandmother dancing to the song, and he seemed genuinely surprised to announced that the video had been played on MTV's TRL. And then the pure enthusiasm and joy he poured into his performance was so infectious that I couldn't stop myself from singing along to every word.

When I got home (a trip which took 2 hours and 15 minutes, MTA fuckers!) I searched for this "Penny On the Train Track" clip. And Kweller was right--it's just a fun video of his grandmother dancing and occasionally lip-synching to the song. May it get played on TRL some more:

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Song of the Week 3/2/07

Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"
I've heard this slice of British soul for a couple of weeks now on the World Cafe and it never fails to make me laugh. Not because of anything in the song itself--it's just that the celeb rehabs of the year (Britney, Lindsey, Isiah Washington) seem to have diluted the whole concept. Check in, check out, do whatever since you'll be out in 28 days not any better physically of emotionally. I suppose I could be wrong, I have been before.

Winehouse has a great smoky voice and looked pretty smoking...until the past few months. Looking at these comparison photos of Ms. Winehouse from 2004 till now, perhaps she needs a dose of rehab herself:

Last fall.........and here's 2004

Whew--where did all that sexy weight go? Maybe "Rehab" is a true life tale. In any case, Amy Winhouse's second album, Back to Black, is due out March 13th.