Sunday, December 21, 2008

Live Review: Oasis & Ryan Adams at Madison Square Garden, NYC 12/17/2008

This week it's another review from She Hate Me, and another incredibly awesome fucking show, apparently:

This show reminded me of the Pearl Jam MSG show this past June.  You are as impressed by the large nature of these songs – the “big” sound, the anthems, the sing-alongs, the fact that everyone knows every word to many of the songs – as you are surprised by those same things.  In many ways, this is a function of getting old.  All the sudden, it’s 14 years since “Definitely Maybe” effectively stole rock n roll back from Seattle.  And in that time, Oasis has had one great creative spurt (Definitely Maybe, What’s the Story, Morning Glory and Be Here Now, as well as The Masterplan b-sides LP), one prolonged burn out (1998-2004) and another creative resurgence (the last two records). 

So, it’s been a while since many of us have really rocked out to “Slide Away”, but not that long since we’ve listened to “Lyla” on our monthly playlists.  And so while the latter impressed with the fact that it has become a proper anthem unto itself (even hardcore Oasis fans can’t help but feel that, although the last two albums have been quite good, Oasis is somewhat irrelevant – at least in the U.S. -- in the grand scheme of things), the former completely blew you away with the things that made you love Oasis in the first place – the hooks, the sneer, the non-stop references to alcohol, the lead guitar riffs and, most of the all, the chorus.  By the time they got to “Supersonic” you had already adjusted to the early 90s flashbacks and were just enjoying these songs for what they were – drunken anthems that neatly bundled the best of The Jam, The Beatles, The Stones and The Smiths.  But what makes the new songs so refreshing is that Oasis has actually stopped aping their heroes and developed a sound unique to themselves.

I find it very natural that the opening act, the superb Ryan Adams, took a similar path to the same place – not in the sense that his songs take you back to 1994, but in the sense that his most recent record seems to effectively encapsulate all the great sounds he has aped over the years – the garage rock of the Strokes, the twang of Gram Parsons, the sad sack posturing of Morrissey and the give and take guitar licks of The Dead.  Adams’ new record is not necessarily his best, but when it all comes together as it did last night on “Fix It”, it is probably as good as anything he has done.  And while we would all prefer seeing Adams destroy The Town Hall like he did a few years back, having to fill out expanses of The Garden served him well. 

He was forced to amp up The Cardinals and marry up their soft rock / Dead-style vibe with the treble we saw on “Rock n Roll”.  The result was a very loud, very rocking show that was also very measured and very much in control.  By the time he got to “Come Pick Me Up” – with the pedal steel replacing the harmonica and Adams’ band gelling as well as any time I have heard it since 2001 – he had whipped through the best songs from the new LP and impressed the whole way through.  He made them sound different, but distinguishable and he took away the soft-rock and replaced it with a mean edge that has come to define The Cardinals in the live setting.  It could have been an incredible set, obviously, if he had two hours and chose to play the hits, but instead it was just an excellent set of new songs, with some really great moments thrown in.  He rocked out The Garden, nuff said.

When Oasis took the stage and ripped through the aforementioned new album and the old hits, they did it with the same trademark swagger that they had the first time I saw them in 1996.  They always seem like they are singing to 100,000 people, whether it’s at the Aragon Ballroom or Madison Square Garden or Knebworth.  That’s what makes them so great – the songs soar, they don’t end, Noel keeps playing, he keeps hooking you back in…and Liam just stands there the whole time.  The whole formula works so well and it made for a great night that was not as much nostalgic as it was fun.  For all their absurd rock star attitude, Oasis lacks pretension – they are what they are and they do it well. 

Great time all around at The Garden last night.

Ryan Adams Setlist


Crossed Out Name

Everybody Knows

Fix It

Off Broadway

Go Easy

Sink Ships

Natural Ghost

Come Pick Me Up


Oasis Setlist

Rock 'n' Roll Star


The Shock Of The Lightning

Cigarettes & Alcohol

The Meaning Of Soul

To Be Where There's Life

Waiting For The Rapture

The Masterplan


Slide Away

Morning Glory

Ain't Got Nothin'

The Importance Of Being Idle

I'm Outta Time




Don't Look Back In Anger

Falling Down

Champagne Supernova

I Am The Walrus

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review: 'Dark End of the Street EP'/Cat Power

Saying I liked this record would be like saying I would refuse a man membership in the Ancient Order of Ball-Punchers if he walked in to one of our smoke-filled backroom meetings, hung Chris Martin on a hook and proceeded to use his nutsack as a speed-bag while the assembled membership slammed beers and threw peanuts like the animals they are. 

And by that I mean 'It would never happen'. 

This is a terrible record and by that I mean it is terrible. I didn't like it. I've been pretty clear about these things, and I really believe that no matter how famous you are, you need a collection of regular old friends with houses and kids and real lives so that you can go over, sit on their couch, play your new album and say 'Tell me if this sucks.' That's it. This would save the world thousands of one and two star rated songs.

Imagine you are an old friend of Jason Pierce from Spiritualized. He comes over, you crack some beers, and he says 'Let me play you my new shit.' Oh, man, you say. Totally. Put that stuff on now.

He plays the record. There are some good songs (three, exactly), but you also notice that there are SIX SONGS under 1:30, ranging from 'Harmony 1 (Mellotron)' to 'Harmony 6 (Glockenspiel)', all of which are completely annoying and useless. You awkwardly look up at Jason and say the following: 'Are these really necessary? Think anyone will ever refer to these as their favorite song? Think anyone will ever throw them on at a party? Or are you just being arty and deep and therefore inducing rage in people in who bought the entire album and got stuck with these terrible, soul-crushingly douchey jack-off songs?'

Problem solved, catastrophe averted.

And so, Cat Power, we come to you. Taking good songs and singing them very slowly in a different key and blah, blah, blah makes for bad songs. 'Dark End of the Street' is the only four star here, and your voice is the only thing that carries it. Want to hear a better version? See Bragg, Billy on his Live in Australia album. Or the Commitments. But come on, you had to know the rest were snorers. Didn't you? 

'Fortunate Son' is supposed to be an angry song. Cat Power drains it of life and just tosses a lay up our way. You will not hear this in the opening montage of the next Vietnam movie while Huey's fly past, and that is a shame. 

I won't belabor the point, but just don't buy this. See below for ratings. See your friends before you put an album like this out for public consumption, or bury them on a full length LP. For the love of ball-punchery, I beg you.

Dark End of the Street (* * * *)
Fortunate Son (* *)
Ye Ould Triangle (* *)
I've Been Loving You Too Long (* *)
Who Knows Where the Time Goes (* *) 
It Ain't Fair (* *)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Concert Review: My Morning Jacket 6/20/08 at Radio City Music Hall, NYC

This week our man on the scene
She Hate Me writes in with a review of MMJ's incredibly fucking awesome show at Radio City from earlier this year. We're just getting this thing up to speed, so a few of these will be posted later than they should be. I'm assured that a review of the upcoming Ryan Adams/Oasis show is coming shortly. 

And now, a word from Mr. Hate Me:

All in all, probably one of the best rock concerts anyone could hope to see.  These guys were always known for their great live shows, but this one topped all others.  The sound was huge, the lights were bigger, the set list was long and the atmosphere was that of a huge party.  MMJ managed to make Radio City feel like a small club all while making everyone there feel like they were watching a band blow the roof off of Madison Square Garden.  

The whole show was full of amazing moments, but Jim James playing guitar from the rafters has to be at the top, followed closely by the absolute mayhem of “One Big Holiday” as the closing song.  “I’m Amazed” sounded like a huge mid tempo anthem from 1975, “Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. One” just threw everyone for a loop with Jim James donning a cape and creating a very MDMA-influenced dance vibe, “The Way That He Sings” brought in some nostalgia amongst the litany of new songs and the last five songs of the first set just went one into the other, with the aforementioned from-the-rafters guitar solo of “Steam Engine” blowing things apart.  Every song seemed to top the last one throughout the night. The set ended with “Touch Me, Pt. 2”  -- a disco ball filling radio city and Jim James singing over and over again: “Ohhh, this feeling is wonderful, don’t you ever turn it off…”

Set 2 started with a spine tingling version of “Bermuda Highway”, James’ voice filling the room like only his can.  The rest of the set was mostly guitar heroics and freak outs, old school MMJ-style jams and a light show that rivals that of a hair metal act.  James stole the show but the band shined throughout, mixing in elements of 70s folk and soul, 80s synth pop, 60s and 70s southern rock, 80s and 90s style Prince, and elements from every era of rock n roll, from The Band to Motley Crue.  It was a magical performance and if this isn’t the best show I have ever seen, I am having trouble knowing what could have made it better.  

Everything lined up:  the band hitting its stride by performing new, fresh songs in a great venue that was perfect for their sound, an unreal light show, a great, laid back college-style party crowd (and everything that comes with that) and the ability to play a 3 hour show on a Friday night.  MMJ has impressed me in a huge way every time I have seen them, but this was the culmination of everything I have seen from the Bowery on forward.  As I said, the day after the show, it was an “insane arena rock extravaganza at Radio City”. This show announced them as one of the best live bands on the planet.


Evil Urges

Off the Record

I'm Amazed

Highly Suspicious

What a Wonderful Man

Touch Me Pt. 1

Sec Walkin


Thank You Too

The Way That He Sings

Two Halves

Phone Went West

Aluminum Park

Steam Engine

Smokin From Shootin

Touch Me Pt. 2


Bermuda Highway


Wordless Chorus

It Beats 4 U


The Bear

Lay Low

Run Thru


One Big Holiday

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Review: 'War Elephant'/Deer Tick

(Note: I know this was originally released in late 2007, but I just got it and loved it. So save the snotty comments.)

Ever get a record by Various Artists and you don't know most of them and you have to find the one you do know so you can work out which is the band name and which is the song name? I imagine that happened to a few people reading the title of the post above. So Deer Tick is the band, War Elephant is the album, but it could be argued that the latter is a totally fucking stupendous band name and someone has probably already used it. Ladies and gentlemen ... we ... are ... WAR ELEPHANT.

In other non-musical news, behold their album cover and bask in the awesomeness of the rock n roll themes contained therein: girls, guns, beaches, smokes. I am positive they are intoxicated. 

Moving on, I LOVE THIS RECORD. These guys have hit the nail on the head. The singer's voice reminds me a bit of Matt Berninger from The National, although he sings in a bit of a lazier style that's very hard not to like. It's also hard not to like how he does this thing in songs where you'd swear he was freshly punched in the gut and is smoking a cigarette to get over the pain. 

You can put this on for any crowd and people will be happy. They have some stuff on here I'm a complete sucker for, you know harmonies and sing-alongs and all that happy horseshit ('Dirty Dishes'). 

'What Kind of Fool Am I' sounds like something Frank Sinatra would have sang (did he? I don't do much research for these things, and by not much research, I mean I'm not even looking at who wrote the fucking song, I'm just kind of going with it and hoping it's an original). Very cool. 

There's an extreme lack of records that are good from start to finish, even some really good bands put out the one great song/four good song/six OK song type of albums and you're stuck with a bunch of duds. This record totally fucking delivers and is worthy all the way through. Even some of the three stars could rise up to four and might have already if they weren't overshadowed by the aura of sonic awesomeness surrounding them. 

Buy this record. 

Best song: Art Isn't Real (City of Sin), although it was close between this and 'Long Time' which is also a very great song. 
Worst Song: Christ Jesus
Song That Could Potentially Get You Laid If Placed Stealthily on a Mix: Diamond Rings 2007. Just throw it on there, it's just a song, right? 


Ashamed (4 Stars)
Art Isn't Real (City of Sin) (4 Stars)
Standing at the Threshold (4 Stars)
Dirty Dishes (4 Stars)
Long Time (4 Stars)
Nevada (4 Stars)
Baltimore Blues, No. 1 (4 Stars)
These Old Shoes (3 Stars)
Not So Dense (4 Stars)
Spend the Night (4 Stars)
Diamond Rings 2007 (4 Stars)
Sink or Swim (3 Stars)
Christ Jesus (3 Stars)
What Kind of Fool Am I? (4 Stars)

Rolling Stone 2008 Top 50 ... has got to be kidding me!

Check this out. Rolling Stone: Are these guys even pretending at being serious any more? Ever get the feeling they have people working for them who are like your friend's dad who tries to be cool by throwing out random references to youth culture that he is supposedly into, only you know there's just no goddamn way he really is? 

It's not easy to pick a top 50 of anything. I'm doing it for my 2008 list now. But some of this is a joke. I dug Rolling Stone when I was a kid (pretty sure I was a subscriber age 6-12) rediscovering all of the bands my old man always liked, the classic rockers I needn't list, and then one day when I was teenager I was reading it and realized they had no clue what was really going on any more. They were totally detached from musical and political reality and they sort of became irrelevant to me. 

For some reason lately without having read it I thought they had gotten back on the horse, but some of the selection below seems to invalidate that thought completely. 

Mellencamp? Top 5? Who knew? Who knew he had an album out? Who knew he had any credibility after those incredibly annoying 'This Is Our Country' ads? 

Coldplay? I don't need to go further here.

Guns n Roses' Chinese Democracy as #12? Did you listen to it? You didn't, right? Nah, I knew you didn't. Enjoy that Dr. Pepper, though.

Duffy? (Duffy!)

Taylor Swift? The album is 'Fearless' and they write 'She should have called it Peerless'. Newsflash to corduroy sport jacket wearing record reviewer guy: She will never bang you. Ever. So just tell the truth.

Jonas Brothers? I mean, this is just INFURIATING. Who has input into this? This has to be an inside joke, correct? Please tell me this is so. 

Here's my point: If you're a reviewer, and by that I mean anyone from the guy on the next barstool to a writer for RS, when you recommend something, it should be one or both of the following: 

1) something you would be willing to put on at a party with all of your friends over,


2) something you would seriously listen to at home just hanging out. 


You cannot. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Review: 'Cardinology'/Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

Fun fact: I once spoke to Ryan Adams outside Bowery Ballroom for all of 2 minutes while having a cigarette with my friend Brian. We had both seen something on the Discovery Channel about the Mars landers and agreed that our minds were blown by this type of thing. He seemed like a really nice guy, not at all like the weirdo on that
website of his. Although, the more I think of it, the more I think half the stuff on there is an inside joke between him and his friends. Has to be, right? 

We move on. I like to keep these kind of short, so here's the short take on it: I didn't like it as much as I liked Cold Roses or Jacksonville City Nights, which is probably a common take on it. Even though six out of the 12 songs get four stars, I really don't think they're all that memorable and I doubt if I'll look back on them in a few years and want to play them all that much. It feels like an in between sort of record. 

It's fair to say that some of these are barely 4 stars. They may yet slip to 3. Nothing is forever, not even the opinions of Himself. 

Best song: 'Let Us Down Easy'
Worst song: 'Natural Ghost'

* Remember to take a look at my commentary on the left to see what these ratings mean. 

Born Into a Light (3 Stars)
Go Easy (4 Stars)
Fix It (4 Stars)
Magick (3 Stars)
Evergreen (4 Stars)
Like Yesterday (3 Stars)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Origins of the Wu

Ever wonder from whence cameth the Wu? Wonder no further

Randomly Awesome Song of the Week

'Freeze the Saints': Stephen Malkmus, off of 2005's 'Face the Truth'. What a classic. Cool opening piano, cool vocals, great lazy guitar the whole way through. Love it. 'You said done is good, but done well is so much fucking better.' Of course it is, man!


You were terrible! And annoying! And somehow against all possibility, you made Gwyneth Paltrow seem even more smug and WASP-ishly horrifying! May something heavy fall on every single one of you! See here.

Zeptember 2008 Playlist

I actually really don't like much Led Zeppelin, but Zeptember it is. Again, old playlists being posted now to make up for lost time.

  • Revelry - Kings of Leon
  • Plastic Pre-Flight Seats - Windmill
  • Liz the Hot Receptionist - Jesus H Christ
  • World Wide Suicide - Pearl Jam
  • Who Are Yu - Dr. Dog
  • Boarding Lounges - Windmill
  • 100 Years - Dr. Dog
  • Writer's Minor Holiday - Calexico
  • Victor Jara's Hands - Calexico
  • Calling and Not Calling My Ex - Okkervil River
  • Singer Songwriter - Okkervil River
  • Forget It All - Dogs
  • Hit the Wall - Brendan Canning
  • Soldier On - Dogs
  • Crawl - Kings of Leon
  • I Shall Be Released - Wilco/Fleet Foxes
  • Uncovering the Old - Dr. Dog
  • Drop Me Off - Dr. Dog
  • Rock 'N' Roll Singer - Mark Kozelek
  • I'm With Her - Rhett Miller
  • I Want You - Kings of Leon
  • I'll Be Your Bird - M. Ward
  • Stepping Out Queen - Van Morrison
  • Big John Shaft - Belle & Sebastian
  • Get-Well-Cards - Conor Oberst
  • Souled Out - Conor Oberst
  • Newsflash - Windmill
  • I Will Dare - The Replacements
  • Fluorescent Lights - Windmill
  • From the Ritz to the Rubble - Arctic Monkeys
  • Hang On - Dr. Dog
  • Story of My Life - Social Distortion
  • My Friend - Dr. Dog
  • This Here Giraffe - Flaming Lips
  • Lost Coastlines - Okkervil River

August 2008 Playlist

I know August is way past over, but I'm going back and posting playlists one by one. I have them going back to 2004, but we're starting more recently because who cares about 2004 now?

  • Ghost of Tom Joad - Tom Morello/Bruce Springsteen
  • Look At Me - Black Kids
  • Around and Around - Mark Kozelek
  • Parties in the USA - Jonathan Richman
  • NYC Gone, Gone - Conor Oberst
  • Bang Your Drum - Wolf Parade
  • Help Help - Mates of State
  • Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
  • Ain't It Strange - Dr. Dog
  • Magazines - The Hold Steady
  • I've Underestimated My Charm - Black Kids
  • Sequestered in Memphis - The Hold Steady
  • Now - Mates of State
  • Danny Callahan - Conor Oberst
  • Dig, Lazarus, Dig! - Nick Cave
  • Plasticine Plugs - Windmill
  • Always a Friend - Bruce Springsteen/Alejandro Escovedo
  • Fit - Windmill
  • Velvet Underground - Jonathan Richman
  • Chameleon - Brendan Canning
  • I Don't Want to Die - Conor Oberst
  • On a Bridge, By a Pub - Dogs
  • Turn Turn Turn - Bruce Springsteen/Roger McGuinn
  • The Rabbit, the Bat & the Reindeer - Dr. Dog
  • Racing - Windmill
  • The Girls Don't Care - Eef Barzelay
  • That Summer Feeling - Jonathan Richman
  • Could Be Worse - Eef Barzelay
  • I'm Making Eyes at You - Black Kids
  • Little Bird - Dr. Dog
  • Hurricane Jane - Black Kids
  • A Higher Power - Jonathan Richman
  • Slapped Actress - The Hold Steady

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Satriani Sues Coldplay, Awesome

Check this out, one of the most hate-able bands in the world being sued by the guy that all the guys in high school who owned weird blue Japanese guitars seemed to have huge pictures of in their lockers. What a way to send Chris Martin off into retirement to spend more quality time with his ice queen self-hating American wife and their oddly named kid. Article.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Grizzly Bear, You Owe Me $9.99

Why, you ask? Here is why. I will occasionally purchase music based on the recommendation of friends, musicians I like, stuff I read, or even the semi-ridiculous Genius Bar on iTunes. So earlier this year I bought their record and was just astounded by how wrong everyone was. What a thoroughly boring tour-de-crap.

This is funny because it's Grizzly Bear, the most overrated shitty indie band ever, and because The Web Sheriff here is clearly a complete and total douchebag.

Worst Human in Worst Band

I've hated this guy for so long, I kind of forget why I initially began to hate him. Oh, yeah, HE TURNED IN HIS OWN FANS TO THE COPS. Downloading music without paying for it is stealing music, I accept this. But you turned in your own fans, guy. Huge douche move, coke-sniffer. Also, he is now the George Michael of metal. Or hard rock. Or whatever.