Archive for May, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

May 26, 2010

Every now and again something happens that puts a big ol’ smile on this dirty fucking hipster’s face. Recently, more and more of these smiles have been entreated by my favorite Israeli-born Indie duo, Hank & Cupcakes. This coming Tuesday, June 1st, the band will be at Mercury Lounge as part of a concert they have arranged to support a fellow scene-blog, Beyond Race Magazine. Like so many others, BRM has fallen on difficult financial times, so, since they have proven to not only be a hip journal that shows love for our talented NYC musicians, but have also proven to be good people, H & C have put together this benefit show. A benefit show that this dirty hipster fully endorses.

They’ve also made a promo vid with tits, really nice tits, in it. Maybe we’ll see tits at the show?!

Some very cool t-shirt (again, incorporating boobies) have been designed by Seasick Mama, and are available both on the Seasick Mama website and will be sold at the show. “The Plastic Shopkeeper,” Alan Lugo, will be distributing prints of his fantastic photography, included in said collection are shots of the evening’s hosts. Danny Ross, another rising NYC star, will be the opening act, and he’s sure as hell worth checking out. Amongst all the Indie brotherhood, an international big-shot has stepped in to join the good cause. Converse will be there, and will be raffling off some of their hot new styles. All you sneaker geeks best get your tickets. And, shit, it’s a Hank & Cupcakes concert! You never know who will show up, but you do know you’re getting to see one of the very best acts this beautiful, ever-warming city has to offer. I’ll be there, for sure. -DFH

“The Once and Future King,” or, “A Review of a Review”

May 25, 2010

For those of you who frequent the mainstream blogosphere, you’ve likely become accustomed to lists and top-10’s and best-of’s, etc., etc. that seem designed to stir up controversy rather than settle debate. Spin’s “125 Best Albums of the Part 25 Years” is no different. Remember when Rolling Stone put out their “100 Greatest Guitarists of All-Time,” and put David Gilmour at 88, I believe? Well, clearly there are arguments that support such an artists ranking far higher than that, but it is difficult to get too angry about their top 3, which were, in ascending order, Clapton, Allman and Hendrix. (If I hear one more person complain about how Clap gentrified the blues I’m gonna shit.) Very difficult to get too riled up those choices.

So, before I begin to opine with irritating aimlessness, I’ll say that these lists have their merit. Never mind who or what gets lumped in the middle, that’s simply a matter of taste. The cream that rises to the top is typically universal – or, as close to universal as one can get. Spin ranked U2’s 1991 masterpiece “Achtung Baby” as their #1 album since 1985. This dirty hipster takes no issue with that in the slightest. What he does take issue with is the article that accompanies the nomination. The author, Charles Aaron, – a brave soul who is not afraid to attach his real name to his work – delivers a difficult message to decipher. With a heavy hand he cites U2 as “bumbling through periods of bloat and self-delusion and irreverence” following the release of “Achtung Baby.” Simultaneously, Aaron asserts that the band were “flailing and directionless” during the time when they released 1988’s “Rattle n Hum.” I wonder if these “serious” music journals, unlike the Dirty Fucking Hipsters of the virtual world, demand that their journalists raise their noses at all costs, if for nothing else, for the sake of letting the artists they cover (and from whom they earn their paper) know who the real boss is.

U2's Achtung Baby

U2's Achtung Baby

Nevertheless, I think they have hit the nail on the head in giving the nod to U2, even if it may not be the best U2 album of the past 25 years; “Joshua Tree” was pretty goddamn good, and produced one of those sounds, triggered those particular emotions that will never and could never be duplicated. -DFH

A “Song” for Assholes

May 25, 2010

Typically, to be the sort of band who gets love on Stereogum, you’ve got to be either half-way decent or somewhat interesting. It’s rather rare that a band who simply sucks dick gets written up. But, perhaps the tide is changing. This might be the worst “music” I’ve ever heard in my life. I must have hit the “pause” button forty times, but it wouldn’t work, and I ended up listening to the whole thing. Bloody Panda, as they call themselves, are a group of six grown-ups who (purposefully?) try to make their music sound like a group of eighth graders starting their first band, assuming that they’re too damn cool and affected to take lessons. Fuck the establishment, right?! No, fuck you, Bloody Panda, and fuck you, Stereogum for endorsing this atrocity. I will be at Knitting Factory tomorrow night, and I will rip this band to shreds immediately afterwards.

(Blood Panda don’t get a link to their myspace, nor do they get a picture. They don’t deserve either.)

Here’s the article, if you have interest in ruining your day with some serious bullshit.

NOTE: Wasn’t it Stereogum who was on the fence about the new MGMT? Maybe Stereogum just blows. -DFH

Some Crap About LCD Soundsystem

May 14, 2010

I have to admit, I’ve never been terribly into these guys. Always found their vibe, well, faggy. But, since I got turned on to Yeasayer – super faggy – I’m open to the notion that this band might have something good to offer. I learned that their new record is being streamed on their website, so, thinking that that’s a nice usage of the interweb, I checked it out. I gotta say, the internet seems to finally be getting manipulated in the proper way, and music is all the better for it. (There will be a bigger article coming soon about the new wave of music and how the internet is living up to its potential and providing a unique platform for the modern movement, which, this dirty hipster believes, will be just as good as the Golden Era of the 60’s and 70’s. But that’s for another time. A review of the LCD record is in the works, too.)

This was my favorite of the LCD videos on their website. If you’re already a fan, you’ll love it. If you’re not, like me, you’ll love it. -DFH

Album Review: Hank & Cupcakes Self-titled EP

May 10, 2010

For the past year or so the duo of Ariel and Sagit, better known as Hank & Cupcakes, have played relentlessly at seemingly every hip venue in New York. In so doing, they have established themselves as one of those uniquely elite groups that one simply must see. On Wednesday, May 12 the band will celebrate the release of their debut EP at Le Poisson Rouge. Fortunately, for this dirty hipster, Hank & Cupcakes, and the burgeoning NY-scene on the whole, this EP not only translates their live show into recorded form, but, in rare fashion, delivers an even grander glimpse of the band’s ability.

Hank & Cupcakes

The album kicks off with “Ain’t No Love,” the band’s indelible, straightforward banger that historically gets the crowd dancing more than any other in the set. In classical H&C fashion the two awesome musicians manage to make drums, voice and bass sound like a five-piece band. Something refreshing about the recorded version is the purity of Cupcake’s vocals, which are occasionally marginalized by the electrifying performance. This is a recurring theme throughout the four-track EP (five, if you count the music video for “Pleasure Town), and at no point is this more apparent than on the duo’s one ballad, the beautiful and lilting, “Roses.”

Cupcakes delivers her vocals with a gentle grace that this dirty hipster wasn’t aware she could. Subtle tinges of vibrato make her voice flitter over an understated rhythm section. It’s here that we also find Hank, not surprisingly, expressing the utmost taste in restraining his virtuosic ability for the sake of supporting and not crowding the song itself.

Apologies for harping on the track that least represents the strobe-light dance pop that defines Hank & Cupcakes, but “Roses” stands out as a captivatingly honest and delicate tune. This isn’t the salacious, sexual Cupcakes here, the one who stands on her drum throne and beckons the male – and possibly the female – members of the crowd to swoon over her curves, but this is a touching ballad from a daughter to her father. Lines like, “My face is lined from the wind / Now you are letting me back in,” and “I have let myself go / You have religion to hold you” speak of an astute consciousness in dealing with a disparity in the father-daughter relationship, but render the kindred connection strong nevertheless. Such unexpectedly touching sentiment broadens the scope of their songwriting prowess and make Hank & Cupcakes, as individuals and not simply artistic spectacles, as human and ordinary as they are special and talented.

“Pleasure Town” directed by Mark Bockelman

The music video for “Pleasure Town,” directed by Mark Bockelman matches the direction of the recordings: let the creativity of and chemistry between the two musicians carry the production. It’s fun, it’s stylish and it’s perfectly Hank & Cupcakes. The self-titled, self-released freshman EP is perfect, and certainly gives this original duo what the firepower they’ll need to change Hank & Cupcakes from New York’s favorite import into its proudest export. -DFH

Live Review: The Morning Benders (MHoW) 4/24/10

May 3, 2010

I still don’t know the name of the openers’ opening act, but let’s just say that their “lead” woman came off as something closer to terminal cancer patient who had been granted her wish to perform at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Rubbish. This dirty hipster, as lazy as he may be, does not have enough time to waste discussing such a band. Painful. Fortunately, the two bands whose names were written on my ticket, Holiday Shores and The Morning Benders, were terrific.

After taking a stroll down Kent to try and wash the bitter taste of the opening act’s set out of my brain, I reentered after Holiday Shores had begun their set. The room was beginning to fill up, and a much-needed adrenaline boost was delivered to the audience by an (unexpectedly) excellent band. I couldn’t help but say out loud: “this is the kind of music you want to hear at a show,” even though I was at the show alone. I got a weird look from an unattractive girl. This is when sunglasses at night come in handy.

Holiday Shores
Holiday Shores

Following Holiday Shores, I grabbed a beer , okay, a couple beers, drained the lizard and heading back into the room. Doesn’t it suck when you leave for ten minutes only to find that the only place to stand is right next to the stinkin’ sound guy? Either way, anyone who has read this dirty hipster’s review of The Morning Benders’ album will know that I was highly anticipating this show. I did not leave disappointed.

The Morning Benders
The Morning Benders

The Morning Benders lived up to their title as the headliner and put on a truly remarkable show. They were charming, engaging and, perhaps most importantly, tight as all hell. They executed every note to utter perfection. Julian, the lead guitarist, manned his instrument with a noteworthy adeptness, striking notes with both a machine-like precision and a genuine passion. But the show really rotated around Christopher Chu. Chu is a singer’s singer, ya dig? He delivers his lines with a contagious youthful sincerity. And, despite the fact that he resembles the sort of fresh-faced dweeb I’d push down the stairs in middle school/a prostitute in Apocalypse Now, he bears a commanding and professional presence on-stage. Heartfelt, melancholic songs of love, upbeat dance songs, brilliant musicianship and an undeniable band chemistry made for a truly outstanding performance. This dirty hipster highly, highly recommends seeing this band from Berkeley as soon as the opportunity presents itself. There are, allegedly, still tickets remaining for their July 28 show at Summerstage with the Black Keys. Skip Union Pool for a night and put that PBR money towards a ticket to see The Morning Benders. -DFH