Maria Callas: “I Lived for Art”

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Writing about Tosca the other day got me thinking about Puccini which got me thinking about great Puccini singers which got me thinking about Maria Callas -the great soprano and one of my favorite singers in any genre and I’m not a big opera fan. Maria callas was something of the Madonna of her time and lived a diva’s life, just like one of the Verdi or Puccini (or even Wagner at an earlier stage of her career) opera’s she sang. Dead at the age of fifty four, she was a bad tempered, plate breaking shrew. She got dissed on the …

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New CD Releases Tuesday September 29th, 2009: Genesis Show Customary Restraint

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11 CD live Genesis box set? Look at it this way: 1973 – 1975, must own. 1976 – 2007, must be shot at dawn… Dethklok – Dethalbum IIMariah Carey – Memoirs Of An Imperfect AngelMadonna – Celebration [2 CDs]Paramore – Brand New EyesAlice In Chains – Black Gives Way To BlueMiranda Lambert – RevolutionBarbra Streisand – Love Is The AnswerBreaking Benjamin – Dear AgonySelena Gomez & The Scene – Kiss And TellLa Roux – La RouxA.F.I. – Crash LoveGhostface Killah – Ghostdini, The Wizard of PoetryPush Play – FoundDawes – North HillsLynyrd Skynyrd – God And GunsThe Avett Brothers – …

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DJ Tiesto: Rock Star

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Very popular Dutch DJ Tiesto has just completed a three date sold out run at Hammerstein which is interesting but not the reason for this post. Here is the reason for this post as reported tin NYT: “Tiësto’s next album, “Kaleidoscope” (Ultra), is due for release on Oct. 20; through the Hammerstein set, the video display often showed kaleidoscopic images. The album is not a disc-jockey set — Tiësto does those for Sirius XM satellite radio — but a collection of new songs and instrumental tracks. Tiësto collaborated with singers from inside and outside the dance-music sphere, among them Jonsi …

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So you wanna be a rock and roll star…?

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Diddy has left Warner Bros for Interscope and while he is taking his record label Bad Boy he is leaving his stable of artists -why Warner Bros., would want em is another question entirely. So Diddy is gonna hafta reload and Making the Band will only give him one group to work with. This is your opening: form a band fast and sign with Bad Boy for a lifestyle of the rich and famous. You don’t have to be talented or even sell records: none of his acts do!!! So get to it folks and don’t spare the Cristal…

The Costello Show? WHAT????

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I first owned Elvis Costello and the Attraction’s Live At El Mocombo as a boot in 1978, it was a great recording of a good set, but I owned better (though not better sounding) at the time. It was officially released in 1993 as part of the box set 2 1/2 Years, and was also made available to those who bought the other three CDs separately. It’s a pretty good live album, recorded in Toronto and with EC snarling “We’ve come to ask for our country back…”. Half My Aim Is True and half This Years Model and all taken …

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No Freeze Out At Springsteen’s Giant Stadium Shows…

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Before the wrecking ball, the wrecking crew, Springsteen anounced at Izod last Spring, and tomorrow five nights of Bruce at Giants Stadium begins. That is something in the nature of 350,000 tickets available which, according to New York’s best daily rock critic, Jim Farber, means there are tix to be bought.  The lowest price Farber found on Fansnap.com (a url all live music fans should not leave home without) was an astounding $13. he also notes that tix for U2’s two stand also crumbled to a low of “between $38 and $140”. This was one of the hottest tix in town …

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Weezer To Play Halloween In NYC

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Helen Bach’s favorite band Weezer are playing Halloween at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Tickets go on sale tomorrow but here are the presale codes which were made available yesterday. For Live Nation the password is “Hollywood,” for Radio it’s 1019RXP. The price is $37.50 plus the usual bullshit handling charges.

R.E.M. Rocked the 90s…

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I am not a R.E.M. fan, not even close. I’ve seen them three times in concert and they have been dreadful each and every time. Riding their monster hit rock album Monster they put on an enormously egotistical and boring performance, last year they essentially performed the disappointing Accelerator from one end to the other at MSG. In the 80s I loved a lot of the Athens, GA bands, folks like the dB’s, Pylon, Love Tractor -anything with Mitch easters name on it, but I couldn’t bare R.E.M. I panned “Radio Free europe” as a snooze rock mumble and blew off …

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TOMORROW SOMETIMES KNOWS

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In eager anticipation of Falu’s concert at Joe’s Pub tomorrow I have been convassing Rock NYC contributers opinions of the Hindi-New Yorker. Robert Nevin said “An extremely clever mix of traditional Indian music and western pop. The lyrics aren’t especially great, but she has a fine voice. She even pulls off the Indian style vocal riffs nicely.” The ever witty Helen Bach was even more succinct: “turn off your mind relax and float downstream…”. See you tomorrow, I’ll be the one singing “Hey baby don’t go yet, please don’t go , don’t go…” while slugging bacardi’s and coke at the …

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Kanya West In Rehab???

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Hot rumor of the day: Kanye West in rehab according to the National Enquirer… apparently he has been drinking heavily since his mom Donde died in 2007. Though Kanye’s drinking doesn’t seem to have effected his productivity any it certainly could have lead to the lack of judgement in his by now infamous “imma gonna let you finish…” Grammy moment.

Britney Spears new Single “3” simply the best

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“1, 2, 3 not only you and me, got one eighty degrees and Im caught in between” from Britney Spears singles collection, this newbie “3” is yet another awesome dance pop single: infectious dance beat and saucy lyric, nobody is better than Spears right this moment. Here’s the youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn83Q-3s9UE

Muse Are Furious At You by Brett Jensen

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Muse are one of the hottest groups in the world, they just opened for U2, and have a very big new album. Rock NYC contributing writer Brett Jensen reveals all…Exactly one half of Matthew Bellamy is furious with you. The Muse front-man simply cannot conceive why you haven’t overthrown your oppressive, alien-denying tyrants yet. According to Mr. Bellamy, the governments of the world have likely conspired within the next decade to instigate an alien invasion. I’m not joking. Muse’s last two albums, Supermassive Black Hole and the recently released The Uprising have been utterly awash in revolutionary furor. Aliens are …

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Tiger Mountain Taken by Mike Nessing

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Rock NYC contributing editor Mike Nessing reviews Brian Eno’s 1974 classic Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy. The first time I heard Eno’s second solo album was when I was about 15 years old.It was recommended to me by an older sibling who intrigued me with talk of this English conjurer who was too busy to be in a band, and strove for a higher form of aural expression. Eno was more interested in treatments of sound, and playing his tapes in order to experiment with pitch, timbre, and effects. Tipped off that this album could be taken out at the …

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New Music Week Of September 28th, 2009: Miranda, Madonna, Mariah and Hayley!!

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White Liar – Miranda Lambert – The crazy ex-girlfriend is back and this country singing sweetheart of the rodeo is as tough and smart as she was on her terrific sophomore effort. I bought a couple of other songs off album # 3 Revolution and they are all great, especial “The House That Made Me” -a lovely, lump in the throat, ballad, but this country swing with what sounds like a hand picked steel guitar rocks in all the right places country rocks your world. Single Of the Week.  Celebration (Benny Benassi remix) – Benassi’s remix sounds old fashioned but not …

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Celebrate?

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I am guessing Madonna’s latest greatest hits package Celebration is a money move and I sure do love the songs, especially the “Celebration” remix. And I realize the collected videos being sold on DVD is the true reason behind it, because for any Madonna fan it is essentially useless. Still, Madge shoulda got together some cutting edge DJs and given us the dance mix of our dreams and not yet another greateregurgittion of songs from the 80s. I think all that Kabbalah stuff is ruining her business sense.

Adam Lambert’s Debut Album Beating the World In Presales

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Sexiest man alive (he’s the one with the eyeshadow) and one of the top two talents to get their start on American Idol pre-order’s of his debut album has beat out the Madonna greatest hits package and The Beatles to take the number two spot in Amazon.com sales. The album features redone (Lady Gaga’s producers) and max martin, the bloke behind “Since you’ve been gone”. With the possible exception of Kelly Clarkson there hasn’t been an AI remotely close to the thrilling, star power, vamp camp spotlight stealing Lambert. If the debut album has anything as powerful as his cover …

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itunes have sold more than 5 billion songs

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How much is 5 billion songs downloaded?? Something like 500 million albums. Doesn’t sound so much right, but figure it is increasing by a billion a year by now and it sure feels like a monopoly. Amazon.com and Walmart.com are much cheaper but they aren’t as easy. Unless the online universe is ready to concede the game to Itunes, somebody somewhere (hey Gates, if at first you don’t succeed) better do something. Itunes will soon be at $1.50 -if some enterprising young man takes a hit and comes in at $0.50 they can run itunes out of business.

Lucy Is Really In The Sky With Diamonds Now

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Lucy O’Donnel Vodden died of lupus yesterday. She was forty-six. In this day and age lupus (it is an inflamation of various body parts that occurs intermittently and kills off the immune system, Huffington post call it: “a chronic disease where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue”) is rarely fatal which is sort of odd but Lucy’s life must have been altogether odd. Julian, John Lennon’s son, drew a painting of Lucy O’Donnell when they were both three year old children, and it was the inspiration behind “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. “I remember Julian and I …

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Fooey On the Foo Fighters

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In 1998 I couldn’t throw a brick without hitting a Foo Fighter, Dave Grohl’s very succesful follow up to Nirvana. If they weren’t opening for the Rolling Stones they were playing interminable sets and bringing festivals to a full stop.    “This Is A Call” wasn’t terrible and the band are energetic enough but Dave Grohl writes terrible songs, “My Hero” is just awful and “The Pretender” is worse. His loud-fast, verse-chorus pales in comparisons to, forget Cobain, Stone temple Pilots. Grohl has precisely two gears: slow and fast and the fast is bad and the slow is worse. Foo Fighters has …

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Darkness On the Edge Of Giants Stadium

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I will be catching Bruce Springsteen on October 2nd at Giants Stadium and I am particulalry thrilled because he will be playing an E Street masterpiece, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, in its entirety. This is particularly significant not only because Darkness is a great album but also because I think it means we won’t be dogged by his miscreant new album Working On A Dream all night .  Before we go further, here is Springsteens studio albums graded for you  Tunnel Of Love, Grade: A+Nebraska, Grade: A +Born To Run, Grade: A +Born In the USA, Grade: A+Darkness On The …

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Devoted To The Everly Brothers

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In the early 60s two Jewish kids from Forest Hills, Queens wanted to be the Everly brothers, so they formed a duo and wrote a song called “Hey There Little Schoolgirl” and nothing came of it till one of them went to England as a solo act and rode the tailcoats of the folk explosion before returning to the States and joining back up with Art Garfunkle to form a hugely successful duo performing folk music mixed with Everly Brothers harmonies.  Tom and Jerry weren’t the only musicians inspired by Don and Phil Everly. All of the Beatle’s country-rock material borrowed …

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Falu’s Indie Hindi Sound Playing Joe’s Pub October 1st

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We can thank George Harrison, or at least Ravi Shanker, maybe I mean Bollywood for making Hindu music no longer exotic. But it still isn’t, how you say, rock. The problem with Sitar music is that it is classical not pop and the problem with Bollywood soundtracks is it is a sort of overblown orchestrated pop: it sounds like it’s waiting for Celine Dion to make her entrance. Enter Falu, Thursday October 1st at Joe’s Pub 930p. Falu is a gifted Indian singer who lives in New York city and plays an awesome conglom of traditional India music using electric …

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2010: THE FUTURE IS HERE STICK IT IN YOUR EAR

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As the autumn turns to the winter of our discontent and we hold onto our jobs with both hands, let’s think of better times ahead. 2010 is round the corner and this is what we expect…  Arcade Fire, the Shins, Vampire Weekend: VE have their sophormore effort to hoise upon us after what will be a two year recorded hiatus come January and from what I’ve heard they may well have blown it. The Shins James mercer has fired his drummer and keyboardist of nine years and will be releasing his follow up to Wincing The Night Away, formed his own …

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Worst Beatle Commercial Ever

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The worst commercial ever made for anybody ever is the Abbey Road Road Band coming attraction. To say this is creepy doesn’t do it justice -you know those smiling Jesus Christs? What they do to John Lennon is much, much worse. It is necrophiliac horrorshow bullshit. I want to see em burnt like the Jesus freaks burnt Beatles albums after Lennon said they were more popular than the big J. Watch it on youtube and die. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpQkEF4WhJk

He Flies By Night

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In 1982 keyb and co-songwriter (not to mention singer) for Steely Dan broke up the band and recorded an album as good as Steely Dan’s very best. The Nightfly is the story of a college kid at the turn of the 50s who falls in love, leaves to Cuba where he outruns the revolution, loses the gitl (tp death?) and moves to Miami.That simple description doesn’t begin to express the joy of a song like “New Frontier” where there doesn’t seem to be an ounce of sarcasm (let alone cynicism) in the lyric of seduction “I hear you’re mad about …

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Writer On For Rock NYC

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Rock NYC is looking for writers. No, we don’t pay but when I first started writing for East Village Eye I wasn’t paid and I took my published work and got gigs at the Voice and Creem to start. Rock critics aren’t frustrated musicians, we’re frustrated writers and given the opportunity a good writer can start a career here. So far I’ve had the good luck to find three writers who could take what they’ve posted here and get a gig anywhere. Now it’s your turn. Writing is like anything, just write about anything musical and email it to me …

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Soon… Maria Callas!!

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Love Verdi? Puccini? You’re gonna worship Opera superstar soprano Maria Callas. We’re gonna tell you all about her…. soon!!!

The Playlist September 27th, 2009: Bounce Bass

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Make Me – Janet Jackson – See, it’s easy. Just stick a bouncing bass under a throbbing drum riff, have Janet sing a sexy lyric and have background vocals whoop like MJ and there it is: a great dance track that should be mammoth for her. So why hasn’t she done it since Velvet Rope? The World 99 – Pulp VictimHear Me (AC Slater) – Drop the Lime – Both these songs are where the bass really will get you into trouble. Drop the Lime is a blues-rock song with the melody nearly totally in the vocals and the bass …

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Barbra Streisand at the Village Vanguard Set List

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I saw Streisand ten years ago at MSG and was blown away -it was her first retirment concert and over two hours of chestnuts. And I put my name in the lottery for her concert at the 250 persons seating Village Vanguard concert last night but didn’t get in. Here’s the setlist anyway: “Here’s to Life”“In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning”“Gentle Rain”“Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most”“If You Go Away”“Where Do You Start”“Make Someone Happy”“My Funny Valentine”“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”“Evergreen”“Some Other Time”“The Way We Were”

Luc Bondy’s vision of Puccini’s Tosca booed at The Met: shouldn’t this stuff be organic?

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For the past twenty-five years the Metropolitan Opera has been producing Frnaco Zefferilli’s lush, plush, production of Puccini’s “Tosca”. Anybody who has seen it will never forget the gorgeous decor so it is hardly surprising director Luc Bondy’s darkly lit and brooding vision is roundly hated by the Met faithful and booed on opening night. Nobody is complaining about the most important thing: Puccini’s music, they hate Bondy’s vision of a Puccini without glamour. New Met director Peter Gelb warned of a shake up in an effort to get the Met to go further than simply resting on the canon …

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Ornette Coleman at Rose Hall, September 27th, 2009: Jazz Is Alive

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Before Ornette Coleman opening the 2010 season of Jazz at the Lincoln Center at a sold out Rose Hall last night I went to see the French director superb story of a father and daughters love for each other Claire Deny’s “35 Shot Of Rum”. at the Film Forum. Reading the reviews on line before the movie I noted a comparison between Deny’s improvised camera work and Coleman’s equal opportunity harmolodics. But they might have meant the aliveness of both artists: they pulsate with the inner remarkableness of simply being here. Along with Dave Brubeck, Coleman is the last of …

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Welcome To The Modern Dance

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Back in the 80s dance (or electronica or club… whatever) was a simple enough thing: stick on a bass, bleed out the rest, and ride em cowboy but digital technology has exploded in the 00s and dance has merged (sometimes!) with hip hop concepts and away we go. Now there are as many types of dance as there are DJs and producers and try dancing to trip hop, I dare you, you might be able to wave your arms around in a sorta dead hippie daze but…. It is similat to what happened to rock, blues , jazz and r&b, …

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Review Of the Beatles “You Won’t See Me”

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Writing a post  about Pet Sounds with Mike Nessing got me thinking about back up harmonies. Many years ago I was wandering round Manhattan listening to a mix on my walkman when one of the earphones blew out in the middle of “You Won’t See Me” off Rubber Soul  so I couldn’t hear Macca, only the back up vocals. Everybody notes McCartney’s back up singing to Lennon on stuff like “Dig A Pony” where he doesn’t appear to be there at all -the singing is almost subliminal but “You Won’t See Me” is proof if any was needed that the …

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Superdrag on daytrotter.com: perpetual opening band kills

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I wonder if Robert Nevin remembers that he and I caught Superdrag opening for Weezer on the Pinkerton tour? Superdrag were riding a real good alt rock song “Sucked Out”. A perennial opening band who lived up to Helen Bach’s comments about oreo cookies in a previous post (the good stuff is in the midle) they broke up in 2003 but they are back now and their session with daytrotter.com -available free, is absolutely great, especially “Aspartame” which cranks out on apower pop rhythm guitar hook.

Alessana and Medina Lake Live At Webster Theatre , Hart Con, September 25th, 2009: Mismanagement by Helen Bach

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I seem to be trending in my desire to see opening acts. The ‘alt’ scene is so incestuous (how timely!)that its more like hey Ill open for you tonight you open for me next time. Why on Earth Madina Lake is opening for Alesana is way beyond me.  I chalk up Madinas obscurity to bad management.  They should be so much more. On this Autumn night its a hop skip and jump to the old former porn cinema The Webster.  Yeah, honest engines it used to be a blue movie house.  They’ve ripped out the seats but the filth remains.  But …

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Swedish Pop Stars…

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Rock NYC UK editor Remy Caplan has the best taste in music imaginable so when he name checks two thirds Scandinavian, one third US electro pop trio Miike Snow we check out Miike Snow. And boy are we glad we did. The two thirds Scandivanian Bloodshy and Avant, the guys responsible for Britney Spears masterful “Toxic” from back in 2004. The US third is Andrew White and between the three of them they’ve worked with everyone from Madonna to Vampire Weekend to Mark Ronson. The Miike Snow stuff is something very special, the hit song “Animal” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn08z0IeGbA&feature=related is a simple …

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Review of Monsters Of Folks album: Not bad in a self satisfied way

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All of those pix of bffs Oberst, Yames, et all, kidding it up in interviews, wallowing in superstar comraderie, chucking each other under the chin. That New York Times article the other day: it’s a bit nauseating and self satisfied and though I have long admired most of the cast of characters in the supergroup Monsters Of Folks, I expected the worst of Monsters Of Folk the album. And I didn’t get the worst though I didn’t get the best either.  For one thing, all of Conor’s song are pretty good Bright Eyesy stuff with the shared sweetness of “Say …

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Review of Now That’s What I Call Dance Imports: Vince Clarke?!?

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It’s not that Europe has anything on New York dance -New York is second to no one in the “you want more bass?” school of advanced djing, it’s that dance is mainstream in Europe in ways it isn’t in the US. The big revelation for me was looking at the UK charts how completely dominated it is by dance music. Remixes are all over the placees but the Black Eyed Peas at the top of the charts sure aint a remix!    The result is the newly released Now That’s What I Call Dance Imports ( which can’t be purchased song …

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Review Of Jarvis Cocker’s Further Complications: Lacerating Desire

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The flip side of itunes is a bad single can make you miss out on a good album. I was so disappointed in “Angela” -a rocker about a stripper that still doesn’t work it for me, I all but gave up on Jarvis Cocker, a singer who has seemed to me to be a mix of Serge Gainsborg and Ray Davies and who, as the leader of Pulp, released the two best Britpop albums -the opening salvo Different Class and the nail in the coffin of Britpop Hardcore.    Also, while he was pretty good live the first solo album wasn’t up …

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Purify Yourself

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A quick search of my itunes account will find emoish indie pop group the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart‘s “Young Adult Friction” firmly in first place as most played of the year, so there was joy as well as purity of the heart on finding the new EP Higher Than the Stars released this Tuesday. The EP finds the band sounding as much like themselves as they do on their brilliant eponymous debut -sorta Belle and Sebastian with better echo. There are three re-mixes of “Higher Than The Stars” the best of which is Saint Etienne’s where they sound …

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Professor Tupac…

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According to a press release: ” The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation and Afeni Shakur-Davis, mother of platinum recording artist, actor and poet, Tupac Shakur, will partner with the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center to make available for scholarly research Shakur’s manuscript writings and other papers.” All dead poets are dead poets the same way.

Metacritics Top Ten albums Of 2009: eh?

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In my contiuing efforts to be completely baffled by the rock critics of the USA here is the Top Ten albums of 2009 as compiled by Metacritic. Metacritic links to album reviews of every new release, rates the review (ie if a reviewer gives an album 4 stars out of five stars, Metacritic gives it an 80). Metacritic put it this way: “All critic scores are converted to a 100-point scale. If a critic does not indicate a score, we assign a score based on the general impression given by the text of the review” 1: Raekwon Only Built 4 …

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Papa and Daughter

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All over the papers are Mackenzie Philips allegations that she had an incestuous relationship with her father Papa John Phillips of the 60s harmony group the mamas and the Papas. For the sake of this post we are going to assume the allegations are true and that the punchline isn’t Mackenzie’s claim that her father was full of love and sick with drugs but that he was the poster boy for the dark side of the baby boomers. I’ll get to that but start with the question of consensual incest, a subject I feel comfortable discussing as I have no children …

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Taping of Elvis Costello’s “Spectacle” at the Apollo Theatre September 23rd, 2009: starts like fascination, ends up like a trance

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Three hours later, walking to the train station after the filming of an episode of Elvis Costello’s musical talk show on Sundance Channel last night, a woman turns to her companion and says “I can’t believe Elvis was so rude to Lyle (Lovett),, he wouldn’t let him answer a question. I wanted to know why Lyle left to Nashville and Elvis didn’t let him speak.” Costello can not interview. He is a blabbering bore who can’t listen and who must have been saved in the edit last season because he talks all over his interviewee. It was an awful performance on …

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Avenue With No Name Freeze Out: U2 cover Springsteen Last Night At Giant’s Stadium

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Steve Diamond told Rock NYC that U2 covered “She’s the One” in honor of Bruce Springsteen’s birthday last night. “A good show” , Diamond claims, which I would translate as meaning NOT A GREAT SHOW!!! Here’s the set list: BreatheMagnificentGet on Your BootsMysterious WaysI Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking ForShe’s The One/DesireElevationYour Blue RoomBeautiful DayNo Line on the HorizonNew Year’s DayStuck in a MomentUnforgettable FireCity of Blinding LightsVertigoI’ll Go Crazy – RemixSunday Bloody SundayMLKWalk OnOneWhere The Streets Have No NameUltravioletWith or Without YouMoment of Surrender

Enoch Light and the birth of stereo by Robert Nevin

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Contributing writer Robert Nevin raises a glass in praise of Lounge Music practioner Enoch Light. There was a time when modern relaxation was an art form. To go along with the fine smoking jacket, briar pipe and the perfectly mixed martini served by a knockout dame in a tight dress, the right music was absolutely essential to complete the mood. As the Big Bands waned and before Rock’n’Roll had taken its first breaths, there arose in the mid-fifties a type of music created specifically to fit the bill. Lounge Music is the overall term, and it comes in several different …

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