Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

Live Review: “A Midsummer Night’s Concert”

September 1, 2010

THE SHAKE, LILY & THE PARLOUR TRICKS, CHAPPO, RACCOON FIGHTER, THE WALK-ONS AND F. MICHAEL HAYNIE AT CAMEO; CITIZENMUSIC PRESENTS “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S CONCERT.”

Post by Meijin Bruttomesso (aka, The Damn Sexy Scenester)

Last Saturday night, North 6th Street in Williamsburg overflowed with musical possibilities. I played my cards correctly and hit Cameo Gallery, the intimate hideaway space behind The Lovin’ Cup. With splendid sound quality and eye-catching décor, spaghetti-like strings draped over the stage, that performers enjoy swatting much like cats mesmerized by yarn, the dimly lit venue hosted a hefty line-up organized by CitizenMusic Presents: The Walk Ons, Raccoon Fighter, F. Michael Haynie, Lily & The Parlour Tricks, The Shake, and Chappo.

The Walk-Ons

The Walk-Ons - Photo by Meijin Bruttomesso, aka DSS

I’ve taken on a bad habit of a scenester, arriving late to shows now, missing the acoustic set by F. Michael Haynie before The Walk Ons ran away with my heart. Music that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but also rocks, is a rare find. This quartet has found a balance between blazers, ties, and rock ‘n roll; their new EP, We Did This On Purpose, features a handful (literally five) tracks that elicit smiling, dancing, and repeating. Take a listen to my favorites, “Can’t Be Satisfied” and “State of Affairs” at www.thewalkons.com/The_Walk_Ons.html.

Raccoon Fighter - Photo by Meijin Bruttomesso, aka DSS

Raccoon Fighter - Photo by Meijin Bruttomesso, aka DSS

Up next, Raccoon Fighter, a trio of multiple talents, played musical chairs as vocalists/drummers/guitarists Sean Gavigan and Zachary Ciancaglini traded places, and bassist Gabe Wilhelm held down the foundation and backing vocals. Despite some amplifier difficulties, the three blues-rock gentlemen handled their run-ins with grace, and impressed listeners with their small band, big sound dynamics and selections from their two, new, FREE EP’s, Liars Feet and Terrified, available at http://raccoonfighter.bandcamp.com. In an effort to apologize for the technical snafus, Gavigan observed, “You paid ten dollars to get in, but you get eleven tracks for free!” Good point. My top picks include “No Lover” and “Rollin’ Wheel.”

Lily & The Parlour Tricks - Photo by Meijin Bruttomesso, aka DSS

Lily & The Parlour Tricks - Photo by Meijin Bruttomesso, aka DSS

Stepping outside for a long moment, I returned at the final two songs of Lily & The Parlour Tricks, barely able to fit into the venue. The costumed ladies had magically shoe-horned the sextet on stage and attracted an influx of onlookers. I am still disappointed in my concert attending strategies, but according to some reliable, musically savvy sources, Lily and company not only dressed to impress but astonished listeners with their vocal range, harmonies, and precision. Find out on how I slacked at www.myspace.com/lilyclairemusic.

The Shake - Photo by Meijin Bruttomesso, aka DSS

The Shake - Photo by Meijin Bruttomesso, aka DSS

A favorite of the DFH’s and mine, The Shake, crammed the venue even more tightly. Their set gave fans “the hits” from The Shake Go Crazy, spotlighting the irreplaceable talents and solos of Eliad Shapiro, a sample of tantalizing new material with a dancier pop direction, and a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock,” featuring bassist Jeremy Stein on dead-on lead vocals. Probably one of their best gigs, these boys have honed the spirit of that “old time rock ‘n roll.” My Shake staples remain “Your Idols” and “Merry Musket;” decide which are yours at www.myspace.com/theshakeband.

Chappo - Photo by Meijin Bruttomesso, aka DSS

Chappo - Photo by Meijin Bruttomesso, aka DSS

Around 1 AM, I imagined I had begun hallucinating. Instead, it was just Chappo. The tri-member group floated onto the stage, donning feathers, capes, and feathered capes. The tribal influences were not lost on front row fanatics, who danced and chanted in a circle. I think one guy even commented on my lack of participation, “Come onnnn! Get in the circle! You’re missing out!” One lucky lady was crowned with an elaborate headdress from front man Alex Chappo. Chappo were pleasantly exotic and psychedelic to say the least, and I would enjoy seeing their spacey, Native American get-ups again. I’ve been rocking out to “Sci-Fi Bandits” and “Space Shoes” (Maybe I just like S’s?) from their Plastique Universe EP. Enter a new dimension at http://www.chappomusic.com.

I emerged from Cameo a “merry wanderer of the night” (Thanks Shakespeare!), satisfied with the full evening of memorable bands. Next mid-summer, let’s do it again!

-Meijin Bruttomesso, aka The Damn Sexy Scenester

Album Review: MGMT’s “Congratulations”

April 20, 2010

Now this album is a very pleasant surprise. A pleasant surprise, indeed! I thought Oracular Spectacular was okay. Songs like “Electric Feel” and “Time to Pretend” (my personal album favorite) certainly made MGMT not only a recognizable brand, but offered a defined and recognizable sound. But, despite a few indelible singles, something was always really fucking irritating about the band and the album. I don’t know about you, reader, but this dirty fucking hipster always found something terribly inorganic about OS. So, as a result, I never bought the record, never attended an MGMT show (which I had heard were awful, anyway) and never gave a thought to keeping up with their goings on. Fortunately for the band, they might have achieved the ultimate conversion: this stubborn, music-righteous dirty hipster just might be a fan now. Boy, I hope Titus Andronicus is reading this right now.

<i>Congratulations</i> from MGMT

'Congratulations' from MGMT

Congratulations starts out with a song, “It’s Working,” that had me hitting ‘pause’ and calling my friend to rave about how impressed I was; and to ask if what I was listening to was really MGMT. It certainly wasn’t the MGMT I remember hearing buzz by in every third car going down Metropolitan in the fall of 2007. It is rather off that a band who had built up so much support with their debut release decided to completely, and I mean completely, redefine their sound. And it is rather astounding that they were able to do so with such deft facility. It’s a whole new sound MGMT have cultivated, and it’s far superior to the old sound.

Stereogum cited a slew of influences that were apparent in the record, from David Bowie to The Beatles, The Kinks to Pink Floyd (and, to be honest, none of these comparisons are all that off-base, especially The Kinks comparison). Positing the band in such rarified air one would thing that Stereogum were sold hook, line and sinker on Congratulations, but, for some reason, they maintain that the jury is still out on the album’s merits. Well, this dirty hipster knows good music when he hears it and he’s not afraid to jump the fence and take a stand. This is a great, great album.


MGMT’s “Flash Delirium”

I suppose I’ve been getting a series of good recommendations because it’s been a while since I didn’t rave about a release. (She & Him didn’t release anything, I just happened to find and immediately hate them.) I’m going to leave lengthy description and summary aside on this one – as I suppose I seem to do anyway. Go into this one fresh. This is a different band. It’s corny, but I have to say, Congratulations deserves one gigantic cheer of “congratulations!” It’s musical, it’s brave and creative, and catchy as all hell. Certainly a lot of serious borrowing here, but that’s for another post. (And, it’s also not necessarily a bad thing. Zeppelin ! was, after all, more or less a series of borrowed blues progressions and lyrics.)

There will be another article on this album soon. There is something iconically Hipster about it and I’m looking forward to getting a little theoretical and writing a proper essay. Stay tuned, reader. In the meantime, either get on MGMT’s website to stream the album, or hop on iTunes and pay for a copy. -DFH

Eric Clapton and the Past, Present and Future of Rock n Roll

January 7, 2010

The Beats begat the Hippies;

Who begat the Punks;

Who begat the 80’s;

Who begat scenesters;

Who begat the hipsters;

Who begat ?

For a movement that has shown itself to be nothing if not self-conscious the hipster brigade has great trouble answering the simple question, “what is a hipster?” Is it the clothing, the neighborhood, the music, the diet, the, the, the…? Well, in short, no; it’s not any of those. But, far too often, when faced with the question of what a hipster is, the most common answers given by both hipsters and, um, others alike, revolve around those things. The look, the location, etc. Isn’t that rather silly? In fact, doesn’t that, as a hipster – if you are one – kind of offend you? Have the phenomena of Facebook Live Feeds, Twitter, blogging and internet dating made us so surface-oriented? Have I used enough question marks in this paragraph?

Sorry.

Think of how you’d describe the Hippie movement. I’ll tell you, when I think of those people, the first thing that comes to mind is an ethic, a credo, an ethos – you know, like the tenets of National Socialism, say what you will about them. Same with the Beats and the Punks. Sure, there were physical expressions (clothing, music) that allowed them to identify themselves and be identified appropriately by others; but, to be identified as something and to be defined by something are two entirely separate issues. Yes, a hipster wears a flannel shirt and a vest, and the girls don’t show off their tits or their legs. Yes, a hipster listens to Grizzly Bear. Yes, a hipster lives in north Williamsburg, Greenpoint or Bushwick. Beyond that, there must be something more, no? A definition?!

Before I deliver what I can only imagine will come across as a self-indulgent sermon about hipsterdom, watch this video of Eric Clapton. Trust me, it’ll make sense once put into context.

Hipsters started popping up around the country in the late-90’s. Saddle Creek packed the hipsters’ lunch while Rivers Cuomo put their clothes on. Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond, Jr. brought the hipster to the big City right around the turn of the Century, and, as typically happens when something catches on in New York, the whole world caught wind. That’s why Lebron needs to come to the Knicks. But, that’s for another post. (And, to be totally honest, this dirty hipster half wishes he’d stay in Cleveland and teach the children a thing or two about loyalty. You remember which sin is Al Pacino’s favorite in The Devil’s Advocate, don’t you?) Once the identity had been disseminated to the masses, pockets of hipsters began sprouting in cities around the world, especially in the northeastern part of the United States. Philadelphia jostled for rank with Brooklyn for the first several years of the aughts. Man Man, The Teeth and Dr. Dog shaped the scene in Philly, which, in turn lent its sound to the Brooklyn bands like White Rabbits and The Harlem Shakes.

Rivers Cuomo - a lesson for all hipsters in fashion

So, that’s the identity. But what about the fucking definition? What. The Fuck. Is. A hipster?!

This dirty hipster has an idea, and it’s not a particularly pleasant one. Ahem…

the hipster movement has no definition!
It’s not a movement!

It’s not a revolution! It’s a reaction.

It’s a reaction of a generation firewalled. This country has grown too big to have a collective consciousness. No number of Facebook messages is going to incite a riot on Pennsylvania Avenue. And, why would we want a riot, anyway? We’re safe aren’t we? Even in these “trying economic times,” are we really all that afraid of slumming in the shadowed streets with distended bellies? Are we worried our president is going to ship us to gas chambers or have his guards open fire on public gatherings? Americans are comfortable. (It’s impossible to stave of generalization, here, so just deal with it. You get my point, don’t ya?) Americans have been comfortable for quite some time now. So, it kind of makes sense that this generation feels the need to be uncomfortable. Self-imposed poverty is nothing new to youth movements. In fact, it’s more or less a staple. The difference this time round is that there is very little more to the movement than the notion of self-imposed poverty, and there need not be more to it. It’s a simple reaction. It’s half conscious, half unconscious, and it’s simple. It may suck to realize that it’s so ordinary, but that’s also kind of the idea, isn’t it? We hipsters are not giving a middle finger to the world. Rather, we hipsters are engaged in a conversation with those who will write our biographies and we are pretending to listen. Is it just me or is there something perfectly and beautifully ironic about that?

One thing the hipsters can certain hang their hats on is that there has been a resurgence of Rock n Roll as a result of the movement’s attitude. Granted, it’s not what Pitchfork or Rolling Stone would classify as “Rock Music,” but that’s because Pitchfork and Rolling Stone don’t get it. Sure, it’s typically more lilting, typically less extravagant than Led Zeppelin or The Rolling Stones or Cream. But, what Rock n Roll is, always has been and always will be, is the musical and ethical expression of the nation’s youth. Luckily, the hipsters survived the 90’s and have successfully separated themselves from the grossly over-produced, over-hyped, over-syndicated dog shit that wedged its way into this country’s treads after Kurt passed. And some really beautiful music has come out in the past five to nine years, and it seems to really only be getting better. As radio dies, bands no longer have to adhere to the 3.5 minute pop structure. As music videos die, bands can once again concentrate on their words and meanings instead of their hair. It’s very nice, but we should be very, very careful about taking too much credit for that. For, who this can all be attributed to is Eric Clapton. And John Lennon and Paul McCartney. To Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. To Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Marc Bolan. To Bonzo, to Roger Watters. It’s attributable to Tina Turner, Bono and Paul Simon; Eddie Vedder, Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante, Kurt Cobaine, Billy Joe Armstrong, Thom Yorke, Julian Casablancas and Jack White. It’s all Rock n Roll, man. All of it. Department of Eagles, Girls, Phoenix: Rock n Roll. It’s the way that “Badge,” a track originally recorded in 1968 (that’s 42 fucking years ago, people) was still powerful in 1986 in Switzerland, and was still powerful when Clap, Ginger and Bruce got back together at The Garden in 2006 – and people went ape.

Let’s keep the pressure on. Let’s not let bullshit find its way into the hipster identity, because the hipster identity is all the hipster has. Let’s remember what Rock n Roll is and what it’s all about. It’s about inclusion through filtration. Everything gets a shot (how else is a little spanish dude like Santana going to make it big unless someone says, “yeah, you can open for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band?”) but it’s got to impress to stick. The hipster movement will be dead soon and there will be nothing left but nostalgia. And that nostalgia can either be reminiscent of that which hovers around the 60’s, or it can be that which hovers around the 80’s. I know which one I’d prefer… “Where is my place?” Think about it. -DFH

Album Review: Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature”

January 5, 2010

Being afraid of cliché, this dirty hipster hesitates to call Black Taxi New York’s best kept secret, but, shit, they just might be. Though, from the recent press and the kinds of shows they’ve been headlining, it’s difficult to define them as a secret. Each time this band takes to stage they project something more professional than what can often be expected from a New York Indie band. (Anyone who’s seen Titus Andronicus will know what I mean when I infer that so many Indie bands look and play like amateurs.) There is a level of poise and confidence that is rare, but they are derived from the fact that these fellas are terrific musicians and they write killer songs. The band had previously released two EPs, “Black Taxi EP” (2007) and “Untitled” (2008) that offered small windows into their range within the Indie/Pop/Rock format. “Pretty Mama,” the third track on their first release is the sort of song that makes one a fan of a band based on one track. Luckily, the band’s latest release, “Things of That Nature,” an ambitious 13-track EP, opens the doors to a mansion of creativity and pop brilliance.

Black Taxi's Ezra Huleatt at MEANY Fest
Photo courtesy of Denika Peniston

Now, since this dirty hipster has always found album reviews that articulate the reviewer’s most minute, second-to-second thoughts track by track to be unbearably boring and unhelpful, I’ll keep this (and all reviews to follow) brief and accessible. First off, the album is great. Really, really great. Another common reviewing practice that this dirty hipster abhors is the use of comparison. That is, saying that a band like Dr. Dog reminds one of The Beatles is not interesting; nor does it seem necessary or effective. Who doesn’t sound like The Beatles? Shit, Black Taxi sounds like The Beatles. There are also elements of the dancier tracks from The Talking Heads; pop elements from The Bravery and, and, and… see what I mean? What Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature” is all about is strong, driving beats from the rhythm section (bass – Krisana Soponpong :: drums – Jason Holmes) that you can dance to if you’re a chick or head bang to if you’re a dude. The guitar work (Bill Mayo) is absolutely superb. Superb! I say. He has excellent taste and timing. He knows when he needs to be the rhythm guitarist, he knows when he needs to shred and he knows how and when to create a lead melody. He also has a gorgeous voice (esp. “It’s a Ball” & “Can’t Bring Myself to Care”).

Now, every great rock band needs a frontman. One that, while the other members may have presence out the ass, you in the audience can’t help but fixate on this one dominant figure. Black Taxi has their Mick Jagger in the form of Ezra Huleatt. In concert he is the emcee. He’s the shirtless dude with the American flag bandana and glitter paint on his face. On the album he is provides the band’s grit, the intrigue. Huleatt displays his diverse musical ability as he can be heard either belting out earnest vocal lines, laying down a trumpet solo or pumping out melodies on the Fender Rhodes. Not to mention various percussive instruments sprinkled throughout the album.


Courtesy of Artisanal Television

Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature” is an album for which you should really shell out the $9.99 on iTunes. I did. And I’ve certainly already gotten my $10-worth of enjoyment out of it. One thing this dirty hipster would like to stress is how good these guys are live. Theatrical, endlessly entertaining and pitch-fucking-perfect with their instruments. Get out there and see them January 28 at Bowery Ballroom, it’s one of the best shows you’ll see, well, maybe ever. Certainly would be nice to catch them at a joint like Bowery before you have to pay $50 to see them at The Garden. I’ll be there, for sure. -DFH

Debut Post / Hank and Cupcakes 12.15.09

December 16, 2009

This initial post has been a long (long, long, long) time coming. Finally, thanks to a terrific performance by one of the hip, Brooklyn scene bands, Hank and Cupcakes, this dirty fucking hipster has put down his sub-par grandma slice from Sal’s and has gotten the inspiration to start this darn blog.


Photo courtesy of SUPRAMOD

On a Tuesday night in Williamsburg there’s not typically that much going on. Metropolitan isn’t flooded with large groups of newly-acquired New York residence like it is on a Saturday night; Union Pool (really, since the first cold day of the year) is a barren wasteland; the hotbed that is N. 6th is uncomfortably tame; but, there is luckily a great act playing at Knitting Factory. I hadn’t been there before, so this was a welcoming invitation to check the joint out. Not exactly the charming back-room digs at Cameo, though not quite an overdone venue that you’d find in Midtown – overall pretty nice.

Anyway, Hank and Cupcakes took to stage a little after 8, opening for The Prigs. Right off the bat this band introduced something sexy, something raw and taboo to a room full over cross-armed hipsters. Apologies in advance for the liberal use of sexual simile and metaphor that is to follow. To paint a picture of how the set started, imagine it’s 3am on a Friday and you’re a guy who hasn’t been laid in a while. The 60 hour work week sucked – again. You’ve just gone out with the guys and sauntered home drunk alone. Suddenly, as you’re brushing your teeth, you get the text message you’ve been fantasizing about getting for the last several years. It’s that girl you always wanted to fuck, and she’s looking to get down. She shows up at your door before you have time scatted open books around the living room and create an iTunes playlist. And it’s fuckin’ on! Two songs hit you in the face and before you’ve had time to put into perspective how awesome what’s happening really is, you’ve had an orgasm.


Photo courtesy of SUPRAMOD

Cupcakes, the band’s drummer/lead-singer who proves you neither need kick triplets nor a drum throne to make a phat beat, clad in glittering purple spandex tights, utters between songs, “well, so much for the foreplay.” Just what must have been on everybody’s mind. The next several songs continued on with the same sensual, erotic fervor. Smack in the middle of the set is a brilliant cover of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control.” Hank, the bass player extraordinaire, who surrounds himself with an arsenal of pedals and triggers fit for a space shuttle pilot, and hammers out intensely intricate melodies. At times it seems as though there are 10 people on stage all playing rare, exotic synthesizers, when in fact, of course, there are only two. Following the an excellent cover Cupcakes flitters from behind her drum kit and drifts nymph-like along the front edge of the stage while Hank fiddles with his whistles and bells in preparation for the next song. It was a perfectly placed comedown from a previously (nearly-)overwhelming set. It was that moment when you (remember that you’re a drunk mid-20’s guy finally getting it on with that girl you’ve always wanted) hold the girl in your arms, both completely out of breath and acknowledge in a silent embrace how great the sex you just had was. The duo ended the set with a new song that was the hookiest song of the night. Sent me home singing about some dude named Jimmy who’s apparently got a TV show, question mark?

In this dirty fucking hipster’s estimation, you’re doing yourself an injustice by not seeing this band. I recommend bringing a date because you may not make it out of the venue before getting laid. -DFH