No TV Tonight, Just Television

Due to budget constraints, I am only able to attend a fraction of the shows posted in the Upcoming section of this site. However, tonight the co-founder of this site, Rajeev and I will be checking out Television's annual residency at Irving Plaza.

I have to admit that I am a rather late blooming Television fan, having heard "Marquee Moon" for the first time only about a year ago. Shame on me for missing out for so long on a glorious, guitar-rich album. I'd long heard of Tom Verlaine's prowess on the axe, of the band's influence upon rawk, but for some reason I avoided hearing it for myself. Now "Marquee Moon" is quickly moving up my favorites list and I expect tonight's show to convert me completely. High hopes...

New Wilco

While still too soon pass judgment, I thought I would offer my early opinion on the new Wilco album, "A Ghost is Born." Through my usual nefarious means, I acquired (which here means I downloaded) a leaked copy of the June 8, 2004 release. Tweedy please forgive me, I promise to buy two copies promptly when it drops.

Anyhow, back to my opinion. So far, this one falls a bit short of the high bar set by "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." It's missing the studio trickery of YHF, the instrumentation and layering has been stripped way back. It's also missing its predecessor's inventiveness. Most of the new songs seem to follow the same pattern: slow start, with simple guitar and piano refrains building to epic conclusions with waves of noodling guitar solos and overwhelming feedback. To its credit, Wilco never really lets it get completely out of hand.

It's in the guitar work that the influence of producer and unofficial band mate Jim O'Rourke becomes quite obvious. James obviously works some magic with Tweedy's playing, conjuring out the spirit of Thurston Moore and banishing maybe forever, the ghost of Ryan Adams.

Stand-out track of the moment: Muzzle of Bees

Waitting for tonight's show

Sufjan Stevens plays an Other Music in-store tonight, to celebrate his new release Seven Swans. His band was literally more than 10 strong at his Knitting Factory gig in January, so I'm not quite sure how they'll all fit into the tiny OM tonight. Then again, Sufjan (pronounced SOOF-yan) may not need them this time. Seven Swans is noticeably sparser than last year's outstanding Greetings From Michigan. Gone are the polyrhythms and complex arrangements, leaving just Sufjan's delicate vocals and guitar/banjo strumming. The absence of other elements, though, makes it even more striking when he pulls other things into each song - the wailing guitar solo in "Sister", the brief organ appearance in "The Dress Looks Nice on You", the layered background vocals all over, and more. It's impossible to miss the strong religious overtones throughout Seven Swans but to Sufjan's credit, they never overwhelm the songs. Highly recommended, both on album and live.

Tonight's show is tempting, but I'll save myself for one of the April gigs instead. You see, Wilco's new A Ghost Is Born has leaked and I've got some searching to do....

I am jealous

Well, the long-awaited Kompakt + Rephlex party went down on Saturday and it actually lived up to the hype. I'll try to avoid gushing, but no guarantees - be warned. I missed all of Miss Kittin's set save for her closing tune "Blue Monday". Superpitcher spun a solid warm-up set, starting mellow and slowly building for the two hours. But at the time, I was more focused on 1)avoiding the crowds and 2)finding a beer. You had to fight for your space early on, and forget about dancing. And the folks at Volume woefully misgauged the beer/liquor ratio ... plenty of gin and champagne, but a 15 minute wait for a Heineken. The crowd was thinner and beer more plentiful (read: 10 minute wait) in the Rephlex room, which featured some crazy jungle at the time. Absurdly fast beats and shuddering basslines - pretty cool, though it chilled out and got boring around 1:30.

So back to Kompakt room, where we scored a great spot by the stage. Michael Mayer came on around 2 and dropped a pretty incredible 2.5 hour set of micro-tech-house. The style was closer to his Fabric 13 mix than Immer, but with funkier basslines and more banging beats. One of the many highlights was "Waiworinao" by Villalobos with overlaid vocals from LCD Soundsystem's "Yeah". Mayer's mixes were virtually seamless - he was always pulling beats back and dropping new ones, adding layers of sound and building to insane peaks. He had a ton of energy, dancing on stage and waving records in the air, and the crowd was just as into it. Andy C has been my favorite DJ for a while, but he now shares the throne with Michael Mayer. Badass.

Apparently Kompakt runs a club in Cologne

This weekend's highlight is the Kompakt + Rephlex party on Saturday night at Volume (where else?). In the Kompakt Room, heavy hitters Michael Mayer and Superpitcher will be on the decks (along with Marcos Cabral and Miss Kitten). And in the Rephlex Room, Bogdan Raczynski and Soundmurderer are twiddling knobs (along with Markone and Plasticman - not Plastikman).

Rephlex is Aphex Twin's label, and Soundmurderer supposedly spins over-the-top jungle - so I am very intrigued. I don't know much about Bogdan but people rave about him too. That said, it'll be tough to get me out of the Kompakt room. The Cologne-based label (co-headed by Mayer himself) is pretty much the authority on microhouse (among other things), and I don't think I've ever heard a bad thing bearing their name. Superpitcher is known for his excellent live sets, but it's Mayer I'm most excited for. His mixes Immer and Fabric Live 13 are nothing short of spectacular, keeping both the chinstrokers and the househeads happy. And his marathon live sets are meant to be even better. Tonight marks a rare US visit for him, one that's been on my calendar for a while. Show up early to avoid the lines - this one is a keeper.

The best DJ's always seem to spin in NYC on Thursdays, and tonight's no exception:

The consensus is that Spirit is the worst of the new Chelsea superclubs (I've never been), despite inheriting the legendary old Twilo space. But their line-up tonight is second to none as the World of Drum n' Bass comes through. SS, Shy FX, and Grooverider (along with MC Skibadee) are my highlights, but Dara, Odi, Reid Speed, and 7 or 8 others are also on the bill. (Direct Drive helped assemble the stellar line-up and has more details.) Should be bangin' - but why on a Thursday?

Volume, on the other hand, is quickly becoming my new favorite spot in the city. Tonight they've got Luomo AKA Vladislav Delay, spinning with John Selway. Delay does the clicks-n-cuts thing, but Luomo is his house alterego. His record The Present Lover from last year just got released domestically, and it's some very smooth classic house with IDM sensibilities - layered beats and lush vocals. And word is he brings it live. You can also catch him at the Sullivan Room this Monday.

As for me, I'm eyeing Mad Professor's visit to SOB's tonight. I love my dub, and they don't come much better than him.

From the "Don't Spend it All in One Place" Dept:

I received my check from the CD Map Antitrust Litigation a few days ago. It was for a whopping $13.86. Yeah! I wonder if I can paypal this over to Soulseek to get a couple weeks worth of priority downloading?

Honestly, I forgot all about the CD Map Antitrust Litigation. 43 states filed suit against the major record labels and music retailers, charging them with illegally raising the live cams prices of CDs by using Minimum Advertised Price policies. These policies were found to have violated state and federal anti-trust laws and the defendants were ordered to pay back $67,375,000. Nice. So the litigation team took some of the money to pay its fees and spread the rest out to us little people, $13.86 per. Go buy a martini or see a movie or something. It's on them.

Well, last night's TV on the Radio show ended up selling out in advance, so April 9 it is. Southpaw can get way hot when it's packed anyway, and the pilsner will be a fine replacement. (Though I wish Daily Candy didn't decide to hype them today. Aren't there any sample sales this week?)

Prince is touring in the Midwest in April, and I hear he'll be passing through NYC in the early summer. So awesome.

Sonic Youth has revealed the track listing for their upcoming LP (with the name I hate) - 10 songs, including "Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Creme" from last year's split single with Erase Errata. The album drops on June 9, the same day as Wilco's new A Ghost is Born. Jim O'Rourke is a busy man. He's even found time for an installation in this year's Whitney Biennial - in the ground floor bathrooms, apparently.

Out today

Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand. NME's cried wolf too often for me to always believe the hype machine, but these Scottish art students actually deserve all the press they're getting. They match Interpol's dueling guitar lines with the Rapture's beats, and Alex Kapranos' voice reminds me of Jarvis Cocker (might just be me). And though I reference three bands to describe them, the mix is pretty unique and this debut's songs are some of the catchiest discopunk you'll hear on From the flawless opening trio (including UK hit "Take Me Out", which floors you the first time you hear the beat drop) through to "40 Ft" (when they sneak in a melodica), there's not a bad cut on the album. And again - the beats. LOVE the beats. We're only in March, but this is the best thing I've heard all year.

TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes. I have trouble describing this Brooklyn band. Last year's great Young Liars EP sounded like Peter Gabriel, and their first full-length adds a ton to the mix. The doo-wop vocals and harmonies, textured rhythms, and fuzzed-out production all add up to something I've never really heard before. The richness of the dirty sax and stuttering beats of "The Wrong Way" and the dubby basslines of "Bomb Yourself" take the Young Liars sound in some very interesting directions. The album slips near the middle, but the front and back certainly make up for it.

TV on the Radio open their US tour tonight at Southpaw. You can also catch them on April 9 at the Mercury Lounge, but then you'd be missing out on Brooklyn Weiss on tap.

Polly Jean Returns!

After four years of waiting, I will finally be able to enjoy a new P.J. Harvey album. According to NME, Polly's follow-up to the much-praised "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" will drop sometime this summer.

I was a bit late discovering the joys of Ms. Harvey's darkly erotic and dissonant music. I saw her open for U2 several times on the Elevation Tour and had tickets to see her at Irving Plaza back in September 2001, but missed it due to a business trip. Besides being entranced by her music, I was smitten by her unique beauty, the alluring way she prowled the stage, clothed in revealing sequins or lace. She exuded an almost demonic sexual energy, taking posession of our souls with her legs, on fire.

As stated on her official Web site, Polly wrote, performed and produced the new release, with recording assistance from Head. There's no name for the album yet, so stay tuned.