Archive for July, 2010

“The Geese of Beverly Road” takes on a whole new meaning

I recently took my first stroll through Beverly Road in Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park, and let’s just say I was enchanted. The houses are brightly colored and mostly Victorian in style, and there are trees everywhere. It’s one of those streets you just walk down with a smile on your face.

A house on Beverly Road (Photo 'Flatbush Gardener')

Shortly after I walked to the subway stop (and vowed to find a way to live in Ditmas Park), I began to think about the National song “The Geese from Beverly Road,” and I got this great image in my head of Canadian geese hobbling down the road.

Canadian Goose (Photo John Glass)

Fast forward a few weeks, and I can’t believe what I’m reading in the paper. The New York Times ran an appalling story that detailed the capture and execution of thousands of geese in an attempt to lessen the complications between geese and airplanes.

The captured geese are placed alive in commercial turkey crates. The geese would be brought to a secure location and euthanized with methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Euthanized geese would be buried.

On Tuesday night, The National played their song “The Geese of Beverly Road” in Prospect Park where sadly, the geese had been wrangled up and killed, but they refrained from getting into the politics of the situation much, saying only “This song has definitely taken on a different meaning recently, but we don’t want to be distasteful.”

Here’s hoping the zombie-like impulse that drives “Conversation 16” doesn’t come back to haunt us, too.


Big news, pt. 2: A brief interview with Owen Ashworth

So it’s official. After thirteen years of playing, recording, and touring under the moniker Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Owen Ashworth will be playing his last show (as CFTPA)  on December 5th of this year… but that doesn’t mean he’s quitting music for good.

Owen Ashworth of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (Photo Thomas J. Hartnett)

Here’s what he had to say on his website:

You may have heard that I’ve decided to end Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. I’d just like to clarify that this doesn’t mean that I’m quitting music. I love writing & recording songs, & I hope to make lots more records in my lifetime. But, after nearly thirteen years of being the dude from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, I’m ready for a fresh start & a new challenge. So, after December 5, 2010 (the thirteen year anniversary of my first show), I’m throwing out the old songs & I’m trying something new. I’ll have more news about new projects and plans in the coming months.

*Read the rest of Owen’s open letter here, on his site.

I caught up with Owen before his recent show at Monster Island basement to get the inside scoop, and here’s what he said…

Check out the final tour dates here.
(He plays two shows in NY – one at Mercury Lounge on 10/14 and the other at Monster Island Basement Ridgewood Masonic Temple on 10/15).

Big news from Owen Ashworth of CFTPA

Over on Todd P’s site, I was sad to see the following:

Before Sunday night’s show at Monster Island Basement, I talked to Owen about the announcement, and footage from the interview will be going up within the next week or so, but for now, I’ll just leave you with this short clip from the show. (To see the full review, head over to BV.)

More to come!

Siren Fest 2010: Will you brave the heat?

Well, the Siren Festival is happening this afternoon over at Coney Island. With temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s, it looks like it’s going to be a scorcher. (Maybe Matt & Kim will get naked?) What do you think? Is it worth standing around in the unkind rays of the sun for a few hours to catch the couple of bands you like (that you’ve already seen numerous times anyway)?  The sensible might seek out an air conditioned alternative or check out Thee Oh Sees in Williamsburg (also a free show), but I’ve got a feeling it will still be packed. See you there?

Fun at the waterfront – rain and shine

Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof + Why? + Fang Island + Pictureplane – Williamsburg Waterfront – July 11th

Given the names on Sunday’s bill, I was afraid that the waterfront for the season’s first free show would be swamped, but when I arrived at around 3:30, I was delighted to see that I didn’t even have to wait in line to get in. That said, the sights and sounds till offered plenty of stimulation. The Williamsburg waterfront is made for people watching. People paraded around in strange outfits and meticulously managed hair. At the far end of the park, a guy played dodgeball wearing a dress shirt, vest, and bow tie. I only wish I had had my camera to catch the action.

Williamsburg Waterfront (Photo Lauren Farmer)

When I arrived, I surveyed the stage only to see a woman wearing some kind of flesh-colored fat suit cavorting around to the music of Pictureplane.

By the time Fang Island took over, a modest crowd had accumulated on the sun-drenched cement pit at the foot of the stage.  A light rain began to fall over the grateful crowd, but luckily the stage was covered so the show went on. I was shocked to see that two of the five members of Fang Island were wearing short-sleeve hoodies (one more comfortably than his sweat-drenched bandmate).

Fang Island put on a fun show, but things really picked up when Why? frontman Yoni Wolf took the stage. Thanks to Yoni’s sick dance moves, clever (and oh-so-decipherable) lyrics, and a full-band sound, Why? proved to be the highlight of the day for me – even if the rain did pick up a fair amount during the performance. Why? offers an intriguing blend or hip-hop and whimsical indie-pop, complete with lyrics that are astute and deeply confessional. He has a real knack for drawing in an audience, which is quite a feet given the distracting nature of the Williamsburg waterfront. My only regret was not having a video camera to capture Yoni’s dance moves. When confined to the mic stand, he used his hands animatedly. Then as soon as he had a few beats, he pulled out the high kicks, flips, and spastic arm movements – even if the instrumental interlude was only a few seconds long.


Take a listen to an excerpt from Why?’s last song, “Hollows”:

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that none of the Jelly-sponsored pool parties would exist this year without the support of Senator Chuck Schumer, who of course was present at Sunday’s show and had this to say before Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof performed:

Senator Chuck Schumer at a 2009 Pool Party (Photo Amanda Hatfield)

As you can probably tell from the clip, Schumer’s mic kept giving out (almost as if to limit Schumer’s speech and keep him from getting into politics too much), but for the most part he was still met with enthusiasm.

Xiu Hoof (Deer Xiu?) (Photo Jason Persse)

Next up: the main event. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof have partnered to cover Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, but I really wanted to see what it was like with my own eyes.

Take a listen to yourself of back-to-back clips of “She’s Lost Control” – first of Sunday’s show, followed by the original by Joy Division:

Overall, it was a decent show. Like Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, Xiu Xiu singer Jamie Stewart has an undeniable intensity when he performs (even if their presentations are rooted in different types of urgency). A major highpoint came during the last song when I realized that recent Xiu Xiu convert Angela Seo was throwing wine glasses into a metal garbage can in time to the music and bashing the broken glass with a metal pole in order to create some pretty sweet effects.

Here’s a clip (listen carefully for the smashing glass):

Sadly, I won’t be able to attend the majority of the summer’s free shows since I work on Sundays, but check out the schedule for future shows here:

New songs and fantastical stories from The Blow

The Blow – Joe’s Pub – July 9th

On Friday night, I had the pleasure of seeing The Blow again. (Post on Brooklyn Vegan) Though I reported on her recent show at Glasslands recently, I went into Joe’s Pub with the advantage of having my recorder, so I thought I’d let you hear some excerpts from Khaela’s (most-likely untrue but wildly entertaining) banter. Khaela is definitely a performance artist, after all. Her dancing is mesmerizingly awkward and wonderful and the stories she tells between songs are wildly entertaining. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture her dancing, but I was able to log some sound.

Khaela of The Blow (Photo Devyn Manibo)

Here’s an intro to the evening in which Khaela introduces the meme of the unnamed celebrity that will carry through the evening and sings a new song:

Khaela goes on to explain why it would have been such a big deal to have had these new songs come out the unnamed celeb’s never-to-be-released album and launches into another new song (the ‘you’ she refers to is the unnamed celeb):

And finally, here’s a good chunk from the old favorite “True Affection” at the end of the evening:

At the end of the night, the veracity of Khaela’s celeb story was still in question, but true or not, it certainly made for quite an entertaining evening.

An overdue (rooftop) review

Rooftop Films – Old American Can Factory – July 2nd

A lot of summer festivals rely on bands who have already proven themselves and are perhaps already past their peak. Rooftop Films has a knack for picking up Brooklyn indie acts on the rise.

Last Friday marked my second time seeing the duo Bow Ribbons. The first time was at the small DIY Brooklyn venue Shea Stadium last April with High Places. From the first few notes uttered by “Bow,” I was intrigued and curious to see more. After seeing them perform a second time, I admit I’m still not sure if Bow’s dramatic stage presence and  deep, (often painfully) husky voice is an act or if she is truly moved by the music they make. I can definitely see why they might grate on some peoples’ nerves. Their music is quite a shtick.

Bow Ribbons

But then for better or worse, part of me wonders what good music is if it’s universally liked. Shouldn’t it be challenging? Should some people balk at the sound? Or have I just been tainted by my work with Brooklyn Vegan and all the haters who love to defend the crap and rail against bands that actually put in the time and effort in the studio and out (think Grizzly Bear and The National).

Again, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about Bow Ribbons, but I do think that their moody music somewhat fit the ghostly post-industrial landscape depicted in the evenings’ shorts… even if Bow Ribbons is a band the probably thrives more in small, intimate settings instead of on a rooftop full of 9-5’ers who sadly come more for the view and the booze than the main events.

Of course, the music was not the only thing that interested me about the evening. I simply couldn’t resist to see how Werner Herzog would voice a plastic bag as it blew around, wandering the world in search of its maker.

Rooftop Films is only getting warmed up. Visit their site for more info on upcoming events.

"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being