The Rich Girls Are Weeping

31 July 2008

We've totally relocated & switched to the Tumblr interface: (once the name server does its switcheroo -- if the link doesn't take you there, try this one).

Thx for stopping by -- enjoy the archive (no, we can't repost old files!); hope you like the new version of The Rich Girls are Weeping. Now with more ideas & way fewer mp3s.

cindy & pinkie

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01 July 2008

And so you say to us, Cindy, Pinkie -- what is pleasing to you tonight?

And we reply: Michelle Williams' showy, glowy club anthem "Break the Dawn" -- girl, may we please borrow your dancers? Pretty please?

[And, summer jam watchers -- this is being pushed with roughly the same strategy as "Umbrella" ... hit in the clubs with a bolted-on rap version (with Flo Rida instead of Jay-Z, natch) for the Hot 100 chart position.]

We hope you are doing well so far this summer; I got a sassy vintage banana seat bicycle & Pinkie found some classy art deco jewelery @ the Brooklyn Flea over the weekend, which was fun, despite the pouring rain.

Oh, and are happy to report two things: Le Poisson Rouge is a lovely, if slightly stiff venue and Andrew WK is playing bass for Baby Dee, and he's lookin' fiiiiine (her whole band is pretty fabbo, actually). It was a lovely, intimate show, even if the bar didn't have Campari and the seat covers were a little ... rough. Looking forward to seeing more shows there in the future -- especially if they continue to use Brown Paper Tickets. Seriously. Surely I'm not the only one peeved that Ticketmaster is borderline gouge-y with the fees for Bowery Presents shows.

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18 June 2008

(photo courtesy of the airborne toxic event mi espacio)

Item No. 1: Okkervil River are playing Lollapalooza? How did I miss that?

Item No. 2: It was grand to finally catch Airborne Toxic Event -- you may remember that we wrote about them in October 2006 (!!!) -- at Piano's the other night. Those kids sure put on a hell of a show -- tight, sharp and fun. Look for a new album later this year -- the new songs blow the band's first efforts out of the water (not that those were terrible, mind you -- see below for the video for the chipper shaft track "Does This Mean You're Moving On?") -- especially the epic "Sometime Around Midnight." (Hear it on their MySpace page.) Someone get these guys on a tour with The National, stat.

Item No. 3: You're coming to see Shearwater with Evangelicals and Frog Eyes at the Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight (6/19), right? And you bought Rook when it came out a few weeks back? Ok, good. Evangelicals put on one of the best shows around, btw -- and remember when Frog Eyes played shows with neckties about their heads? (OMG, that was eons ago!)

Item No. 4: Our dear Bellmer Dolls play their last show of the summer @ Lit on June 28 with Foreign Islands and Chinese Stars. (Wait, how can that be the last show of the summer when it's actually the first show of the summer?) Well, that means we won't have a reason to enthuse about them for a few months at least, so you'd best come out and brave the skeeviness of Lit. Worth it! Mostly!

Item No. 5: Baby Dee plays the lovely new West Village venue Le Poission Rouge June 25. If you don't go to any other show we recommend, please go to this one. I guarantee you won't regret it...

Item No. 6: Au revoir to Florent, the official favorite Manhattan eatery of The Rich Girls are Weeping, which closes on June 29 after 23 years in business in the Meatpacking District. Thanks especially to Darinka Chase, Vestal "Like a Virgin" McIntyre (a/k/a The OTHER Pinkie), Coffy, Mrs. Pierce and all the charming busboys whose names we never caught. Oh! And those two drunk Frenchmen we met outside No. 69 Gansevoort Street late one night who implored us to join them for postprandial dancing the Cock! And of course, Florent Morellet himself! We'll miss you all something terrible.

We regret nothing. Ever.

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05 June 2008

(photo credit: WOMAN myspace)

I've become so jaded these days about going to shows. If a band doesn't, well, destroy me with their live set, I'm just so not interested. And that doesn't mean that the band in question has to consist of a bunch of crabby, hollerin' loud-ass dudes, mind you. But it uh, kind of helps.

Which brings me to WOMAN. (Yes, that's all caps. Perhaps you should imagine me yelling every time you read their name in this post. It's really too bad I can't record a little mp3 of that, actually.)

Anyway, we'd been trying to catch a WOMAN set for like, 6 months. (No, really!) We kept missing them for no particular reason, much like how, not surprisingly, we're missing M83 tonight -- I've been trying to see him for like, what, 5 years? It was the usual round of excuses: We were either late getting to venues, or broke (we aren't actually rich, you know!), or out of town, or just plain old and tired.

And honestly, I'm the kind of person who avoids going out on Fridays before holiday weekends, but the promise of Portland's Magick Daggers, our dear Bellmer Dolls and the elusive WOMAN
was too much to pass up. Besides, it was at Union Pool, which we can get to via the bus. (BTW, we were recently informed that we are "totally gangsta" for taking the bus in fancy dresses and furs and stupid shoes. Um, damn, it feels good to be a gansgta?)

But I digress.

Now, I wish I could say that I was totally pleased with the Magick Daggers' set -- the first half was absolutely brilliant, Jessy Montaigne (x-Subtonix) really, really kills on bass and Maximilian Avila (x-Get Hustle, Antioch Arrow) is equally wicked on drums. The problem is, Montaigne's vocals are just kind of okay, and it's really only interesting when she's caterwauling and wailing on her bass in a way that lonely metalhead boys in suburban basements only dream of ever pulling off (and would uh, probably cream their jeans to see this fierce dervish of a woman actually doing so). Less interesting, though, is when Montaigne tries to bring the dark cabaret; without that deliciously phallic bass in her hands, she is lost onstage, and resorts to the kind of girly vamping that's uncomfortable-making and rather dull to watch. The fierce momentum that carried the first half of the set just kind of fizzled from a bang to a whimper.

Thank goodness, then, for WOMAN. The best recommendation I can give: I turned to Pinkie at some point during the set, with an insane grin plastered on my face and hollered "WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE LOVE THIS!?!?" "Because they're stupid and have no souls," she astutely replied.

We have a tendency, it's true, to kind of crush out on loud, squally swampy blues bands with tight rhythm sections (check!) and dudes who holler (they have two, even!) -- I'm sure this is surprising to no one at this point. But the thing about WOMAN is that ... well, for all the dark and dangerous poses, they're just balls out wicked and fun. (Though, I guess that part when Skeleton Boy threw his bass, with the pickguard covered in blood, across the stage at the end of the set was kind of dangerous...) Anyway, frankly, after the spring I've had, I needed a good time, and WOMAN delivered.

Oh, okay -- look, sometimes a little embedded video is the best way to show you what I'm talking about -- this is from a show @ Cake Shop at the tail end of last year, via

The less we say about the plagued-with-technical-difficulties set from the Bellmers, the better. They did, indeed, actually finish the set -- but it was kind of like that time you sort of didn't memorize that recitation for 9th grade English class and you spent all of gym cramming in the outfield, but everything fell apart during lunch, and by the time it was your turn to go in 5th period, you just kind of collapsed -- but you still managed to pull it off anyway. Or maybe that was just me.

That being said, we have no doubt that things will be better this Friday when the Bellmers bring together the best of the Charleston shows -- Preacher and the Knife and Cosmicide (Josh & Brandon of Secret Machines) [ed. from Pinkie - we never said we could spell] -- for the Neighbor of the Beast (6/6/8 -- get it?) show at the CSV Theater, 107 Suffolk (yeah, the building that looks like ... a school). I have no idea what I'm going to wear, as the weather reports promise nasty, humid heat -- but hey, our trainee Ms. Churchill, who's recently back from the UK and is doing well on her Eno regimen (she's stuck on Warm Jets right now), will be joining us -- always a good thing.

Sunday we'll be at the dreadful MHOW where FrictionNYC presents These New Puritans (who we discussed recently on the Tumblr), School of Seven Bells (which is, oddly enough, the new project from Benjamin Curtis, formerly of Secret Machines, and the Dehaza twins, formerly of On! Air! Library!) and Effi Briest (yay!) -- looking forward to that, even if not too thrilled about the venue, or the fact that it's on a Sunday night. But I guess we'll live.


04 June 2008

(photo: jean lannen)

Oh, hello! I owe a review of the Bellmer Dolls/WOMAN/Magick Daggers show a few weeks back (OMG, do I ever have to go to Union Pool on a Friday night on a holiday weekend again? Please promise me I don't.) -- and a reminder of a few things that are coming up in the next week or so. I promise, I'll post that tomorrow. I swear.

In the meantime, we're a bunch of crabby grumpuses over here at Castle Rich Girls tonight, which meant that there was only one thing to do -- pop in disc two of the super-obsessively wonderful Roxy Music 2-dvd set The Thrill Of It All: A Visual History 1972 - 1982. We'd watched the first disc about a month or so ago, but tonight we needed some broken hearted Bryan Ferry to make us feel better. Or something.

Make no mistake about it, I'm pretty sure that Roxy Music is my favorite band of all time, and the 1978-1980 years are my absolute favorite, if mostly for Andy MacKay's amazing mullet and special pointy sideburns. And possibly all the leather suiting. And sharkskin. And the sweater with the saxophone on it.

Anyway, smack in the middle of the disc is the band's cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy." I turned to Pinkie and declared, "I believe this is one of the best songs ever written." Which is odd to say, really, because it's actually quite chilling when you stop and think about it -- a man's jealousy can be a terrifying thing sometimes. But Lennon's unapologetic apology is just so ... painfully real, which is why I imagine so many dudes have subsequently covered it (nearly 100, according to Wikipedia). I love the original, I love Roxy's version, I love Donny Hathaway's version. And I'd completely forgotten about the Deftones cover -- thx, Wikipedia!

It's also odd to think about the fact that when Roxy covered the song after Lennon's murder, they were accused of cashing on tragedy -- when in reality, it fits in quite well with the band's other songs at the time. Ferry was still clearly smarting from his split from Jerry Hall -- something he didn't artistically bury until the video for "Avalon," really. (Which I've also included for your viewing pleasure because it's so very lovely.)

John Lennon -- Jealous Guy

Donny Hathaway -- Jealous Guy

Roxy Music -- Jealous Guy

Roxy Music -- Avalon

See, now we're in a better mood, yay! Hope you are, too.

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19 May 2008

Hello all. We're not dead in a ditch, promise. We were out of town for over a week, got new hairdos (I am so blonde now, no longer everyone's favorite dyed-black grumpus. I'm still getting used to it, thx.), and then had to recover from all that travel. We're cool. Just mad busy! Oh, and our server is still in limbo, so ... hope you like words and embedded videos! I'm only partially kidding, we're working on getting that resolved ASAP.

But hey! If you need yr daily fix of Rich Girls blather, we post on our Tumblr ... a lot. (Add the RSS feed to your reader?)

Furthermore, hello to anyone directed from the Boston Metro -- thanks for the link, y'all.

So, things that we'll hit on soon:
  • Seeing The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle play a solo show @ Brooklyn's lovely Masonic Lodge -- it was pretty rad. And some some drunk guy complimented me on my "glorious stockings" -- they were pretty badass, actually.
  • Seeing John Darnielle read from his new 33 1/3 title -- Black Sabbath's Master of Reality -- at the Housing Works cafe/bookstore, the hidden gem of Soho (no really!), where we found some amazing books, including one of easy piano/guitar versions of fave New Wave joints, published in 1978 -- which means I can now play "Psycho Killer" or "Love Comes in Spurts" on the autoharp, should I so chose.
  • Our shopping spree @ Austin's End of an Ear -- look for us in their print ads soon! Pinkie plans to tell you all about the awesome Crass record she found there. I, however, will probably only be reminding you how awesome ... The Style Council were. Or subjecting you to my rilly pretentious David J 12" that isn't even mentioned in his Wikipedia article!
  • The Ting Tings record -- it's the worst thing EVER! The Madonna record -- it's possibly the best thing in recent memory!
  • So where, exactly, are the summer jamz? We're with Sasha Frere-Jones on this one -- it's a little disturbing. I blame the excess of club tracks (not a bad thing, mind you...) and skyrocketing gas prices, which will make it hard to drive around blaring The Summer Jam(s) for all and sundry to hear.
In other news -- we'll be out an about this week -- it's my BIRTHDAY.

Blacklist and The Mary Onettes play Union Hall on 5/19
Bellmer Dolls, WOMAN, and Magick Daggers will appear @ Union Pool on 5/23
The Muggabears play the Knitting Factory Tap Bar on 5/25

And, though we've become devoted to quite a few things lately, nothing has moved us quite so profoundly as ... Fall Out Boy's cover of "Beat It." Pinkie says, "If you think Fall Out Boy suck -- or that you're too cool for them ... you clearly have no soul."

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07 May 2008

(photo courtesy of bumpershine)

It is distinctly possible that this post will be the end of me. And, you may not want to read this review, either, come to think of it. (See a few weeks back for the first of my unreadable reviews...)

I was actually kind of hoping it would write itself. These things sometimes do -- and when the Bellmer Dolls closed out their set on Saturday night with a cover of Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into the Fire" with assistance from a whole slew of people including members of The Choke, Preacher and the Knife and Golden Triangle, I thought to myself, "Oh, it would be brilliant if Shearwater would play their cover of Brian Eno's 'Baby's On Fire.' This fucking review will write itself."

Sadly, Shearwater did not play "Baby's On Fire." And this review, in hindsight, most definitely did not write itself.

But that's okay, actually.

I have another way to open it. Let's start over?

There's an old, wizened black man who sings soul music in the Columbus Circle subway station. If New York City is heart of the world, then he sits squarely in its broken core, perched atop an old amp that cranks out backing music that sounds like it's coming through all the way from 1964. I generally kind of hate waiting for a train there; I despise being uptown, and it always seems like it takes longer for a train to arrive there than in any other station -- I don't know why, but it does. Perhaps it's due to the fact that, I kid you not, the base of Central Park is some kind of Bermuda Triangle of train traffic. It's where multiple lines split and mutate and take off to Queens or the hinterlands uptown. It's where class and race divide more distinctly than they do at other subway junctions in town; trains that creak through Brooklyn double back and circle around to Queens after gliding through a handful of Manhattan stops; trains that germinate in the bowels of the financial district also head that way; in the meantime, the A train just keeps plowing up the west side, hitting every formerly undesirable (yet now "up and coming") neighborhood in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Oh, please don't let me get distracted talking about the subway. I can go on and on -- as you can see.

The man who sings soul music in the broken heart of the world was just the salve I needed Monday night, as I stood in the train station and cried, my heart kind of broken too, after seeing Michael Gira and Shearwater at the Florence Gould Hall. I'd been kind of inconsolable through the last five songs or so, and managed to make little pleasantries with people after, but I was crying all over again during the walk past the Plaza Hotel all the way to Columbus Circle, and was now letting tears roll down my cheeks, not really caring if the opera patrons and tourists and students and people just trying to get home after staying too late at work saw me -- anyway, it was more likely that, like me, they were all drawn in by the busker's luminescent and crumbling voice.

Pinkie gave me a few bucks (I hardly ever carry cash!) to tip the man who sings soul music in the broken heart of the world -- it seemed almost perfunctory, but was certainly not given out of mere obligation. He really was amazing; I hope you'll have a chance to hear him sometime -- try a weeknight at Columbus Circle, but I make no guarantees.

It was actually the perfect ending to the day, to the evening -- even if I was a terrifying emotional wreck -- but I should start at the beginning.

I know I've ranted about my job here and there recently, but really, you know there's nothing like trying to get things tied up when you're about to head out on vacation. I was literally fixing the table of contents on the hugest book I've edited to date when I should have been headed out the door to get uptown in time. So then I was a little frazzled and running late and kept Pinkie waiting in the lobby of my building, which, naturally, also made me feel bad; I changed into my heels before I realized we were walking a few avenue blocks, which made me cranky. To top it all off, I was a bit out of sorts in general, convinced I'd forgotten to tell someone somewhere to take care of something while I was out of the office. (I'm not a control freak, really. I swear!)

By the time we made it to the hall, I was a bit rough around the edges, but otherwise fine. The interminable wait for the N train had calmed me down somewhat, though we did get a bit disoriented somewhere in the vicinity of Central Park South, near the carriage horses -- I hate going uptown!

So, of course, the first person I saw as we went in was former member of Shearwater and Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff; we used to see each other all the time in Austin, naturally -- and even though he's in NYC all the time now, it seems, we totally never cross paths. So it goes. But, of course, he had to see me in my frazzled state, which was vaguely embarrassing. There were lots more familiar faces inside, though, and even if seeing Shearwater in NYC will never be like the nights in the front room at Emo's with Joanna and Summer Anne and Dylan and Phil and Dorothy, that eight-piece string section kind of totally made up for it.

Then again, this isn't the same Shearwater, either, the string section aside. We've all grown up and moved into different directions, and the band I believed from the very beginning is poised, with Rook, to further cement a reputation as a culty tour-de-force that will achieve gobs of critical acclaim, but never be wildly popular.

Which is a shame, really. But something tells me that the wide world isn't exactly ready for frontman Jonathan Meiburg's gorgeous falsetto vocals, stunning stage presence and byzantine story-songs -- not to mention the one-two punch of Thor Harris on any number of creepily beautiful percussive instruments and Kim Burke on bass, who, as ever, placidly, wickedly and beautifully keeps the whole performance on track.

But enough of my useless prattle -- you want to know about the actual show.

I'd never had the pleasure of seeing Michael Gira play a solo set before, and there's no way to describe how I felt during it all, except to say that he scooped out all the bullshit of my day -- of the past few months, even. I've recently been listening to the Angels of Light record Everything is Alright Here, Please Come Home a ton lately, and a massive dose of Gira's brand of the blues -- even if just for four songs -- was incredible to see and hear. He's the kind of performer who demands attention the moment he steps on stage, even when he hasn't yet sung a note. And he's aging handsomely -- his voice has mellowed to into an even bigger, booming instrument over the past several years. A song in his hands is something dredged up from the depths of the darkest corners of his, your, my soul and brought up into the light. The imperfections of his voice suddenly become the sharp edges of a perfectly cut diamond, almost too painfully beautiful to hear. An inopportune broken guitar string isn't a catastrophe -- far from it: Gira finished the song acappella without missing a beat, his voice both filling the room and crawling deep into my chest, pouring into the empty spaces I didn't even know were there to begin with. (Though, to be fair, perhaps the catastrophe was that the time spent switching out the broken string, however, robbed us of one more song.)

Gira, naturally, was quite possibly the best lead in for the latest incarnation of Shearwater -- we used to talk about how they transitioned from airy-fairy folksy to just plain evil over the course of a few years, which culminated in the incredible live shows that followed the release of Palo Santo. The band's a little less evil now, but no less intense. (I think this is most notably due to the absence of the taut and mercurial energy brought to the stage by former bassist/keyboard player/manic tambourine shaker Howard Draper. I didn't quite realize, though, how much I missed Howard until the second half of the set -- "Red Sea, Black Sea" really isn't quite the same without his demented turn on the tambourine over the chorus.)

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. The first half of the show was, as promised, Rook, played in its entirety with assistance from a string section, trumpets and harp. Though I'm currently quite enamored with the new album and think it is, quite clearly, the band's strongest and most challenging work to date, there were a few problems with this part of the set -- and there's a distinct possibility that I (and Pinkie) were the only ones bothered by these kind of nitpicky details. The sound mix left a little to be desired, though this could have been due to the problem of amplifying so many instruments on stage at once. The piano was too muffled while the drums were, at turns, too sharp and then completely inaudible. (I wanted to run down to the stage and throw the piano lid open; it seemed a shame to keep a grand closed in a hall that intimate ... perhaps when open it drowned out the strings?) This all wasn't terribly distracting once I got used to it, but compared to the mix, say, at the band's stunning set last summer as part of the city's River to River festival, the sound was pretty muddy and grim and, as Pinkie noted, a little too "adult contemporary" at times.

And, I'm not entirely sure that the projections, which relayed the story of the album's songs in some prettily-shot short films directed by Kahn and Selesnick (who also did the cover art for Rook) and starring multipercussionist/hammered dulcimer wrangler Thor as the archetypal last man, really worked for me. That is to say, I'm not sure that the music really needs this embellishment, and at times it was even a little distracting when I was trying to focus on the band's actual performance. If I didn't know better, I'd accuse them of precious pretentiousness, or even of using the projections as a crutch as they get used to the new lineup and new songs on tour, but I don't really feel that's the case -- and I even think that under better circumstances, all the parts of the whole may work well together. And, truth be told, we're very much looking forward to seeing Shearwater at a proper rock venue in June (not that seats aren't great, mind you, but they make the rocking out a little difficult) after they've had time to work out the new material on the road over the next month or so.

The second half of the show, on the other hand, more than made up for the slight weaknesses in the first bit; at the risk of slipping into yet another moment of over-sharing, I felt like revisiting Palo Santo and assorted b-sides (especially some of the older ones that the band played for years before recording them -- like my long-time favorite, the sinister and lovely "Mountain Laurel") was just what I needed after that ultra-fantastic Bellmer Dolls set a few weeks back that totally threw me for a loop and the deep-down blues that opened this show. I was perfectly primed for an emotional purge of the highest degree, and thus spent the last five songs or so completely in tears -- of fierece pride, for this band, who I love so much and of pain, too -- for my dead past that still haunts me when I least expect it to.

A few weeks back, I mentioned my little private aerie that I lived in after leaving my fiancé, before I moved to Brooklyn -- it was always really, really perfectly cold there (the air conditioning was new, and really worked) and I had ice blue bedding and there was tons of natural light that filtered in through porthole windows 15 feet up, and it was kind of like living in a ship sailing to the Antarctic. There were many, many nights I would come home from work in the spring and summer of 2006 and just blast Palo Santo (a clandestine promo of the Misra version of the release, mind you -- a burned CDr with a hand-written tracklist), ensconced in my perfectly cold studio flat, freezing out the parts of my life that I wanted to forget; consigning them to the furthest, most compartmentalized places of my brain and heart as dusk fell, making everything purple and dim until it all went black. And I felt that chill again as Shearwater moved backward in time for about half an hour, hitting the high points of that album. I'd almost very nearly forgotten that it -- that they -- got me through that terrible summer and fall, when I was so miserable and disjointed (really -- go read the posts from that time -- they're kind of ... frightening) as I tried to recover from the awfulness that had been the past five (ten?) years of my life.

I had to practically flee the venue when it was all over for fear that I would start crying all over again on some unsuspecting acquaintance -- I wasn't nearly as successful at avoiding post-show conversations this time around as I was a few weeks back, but I didn't regret most of them, as I had a chance to catch up with a few people I miss seeing because, uh, they kinda don't go to shows in basements in Williamsburg. Ever.

Speaking of basements in Williamsburg, I'm actually kind of sad to report that the Bellmer Dolls' residency at the Charleston has come to an end (though, they've got shows planned for the end of May and early June already, so we'll survive until then, I suppose!) -- as predicted, it was pretty freakin' legendary. The Choke were actually much better than I expected -- or more accurately, they're much better live than the tracks up for offer on their MySpace would lead you to believe; unfortunately, the performance does start to wear thin after a handful of songs, but what they may lack in sophistication and nuance, they more than make up for with some of the biggest doses of enthusiasm than I've seen in quite some time.

The jury's still out on Golden Triangle, though. Were they fucking amazing? Really terrible? Somewhere in between? What can you even compare them to, really --- save maybe if Throwing Muses were on K Records instead of 4AD? (Something tells me that about 14 people will understand that reference ... ) How about if we say the following: when it works, it really works (the psycho girl-group action that prompted Pinkie to mention the cold, unison vocals of Lansing Dreiden project LD Section 1), and when it doesn't (the falling-apart improvisational messes that reminded me of what I hate most about "Brooklyn" bands), it kind of feels like you're being beat over the head with affected oddness. That being said, Golden Triangle is definitely a band we'll keep our eye on in the future. And, if we could dispense any advice here, it would be to practice more -- until those falling-apart moments are an intentional part of the performance, and not an unfortunate side affect of your relative inexperience. (Really, it's not cool to leave your audience waiting for five minutes between songs without some kind of explanation. We understand technical difficulties; it's the silence that comes off as amateur-ish.)

As for the Bellmer Dolls, how could they not please after all this time? We're glad to report that after three Saturdays of shows in a row and a week on the road with Secret Machines, they hadn't killed each other (always good ... ) and were tighter than ever. The new songs are really filling out nicely and we can only imagine they'll be really great recorded. Highlights of the evening included Peter donning a black sequined dress thing that was either a kurta or a caftan -- or maybe just formerly belonged to a really, really big lady -- for the first part of the set, and then an absolutely hideous J. Peterman ca. 1994 caftan for the delightfully unhinged encore of "Jump Into the Fire" -- the song with the hottest bassline and the most ridiculous drum solo and the best naked male pain hollerin' of all time. Which makes it wholly appropriate for cover treatment by our dear No. 1 crushes, even if they've sworn off ever playing it again. (The only thing better would be some Wolfgang Press, perhaps -- hint, hint!)

In summation, I would just like to ask: why is it that no one falls in love with bands anymore? It dawned on me as we rode the local late-night A train back to Brooklyn after seeing Shearwater that over the past few years, we -- the music consumers of the world -- have become grabby, drunk party girl sluts who want to make out with every guy in the room, and take no joy from it -- just a killer hangover once the party's over. And the more I hear hundreds of new bands that just leave me cold -- the more I want to remind everyone about the virtues of falling in love. Try it. Go see new band, let them seduce you. Go to every show, talk incessantly about them, tell everyone you know to buy their music, drag friends to shows, put them on mix cds. We are all the tastemakers now, don't squander this gift.


As a sidebar, I'm writing this on a plane back to Austin (not surprisingly, Matador's Gerard Cosloy is also on this flight!) and I'm listening to the XM radio (thanks, JetBlue!!), which is a dream for a musical omnivore like me. I've listened to a slew of my favorite top 40 hits, some big band standards, 50's do-wop, Interpol, a Lizst symphony during takeoff, Spiller's "Groovejet," Lil' Wayne's "Lollipop," Jonny Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood -- and now some Vaughn Williams followed by Tchaikovsky and Chopin followed by some dance remixes! I think the dude sitting next to me, busily hacking away on a Powerpoint for a prototype of a fascinating-looking consumer electronics device of the future, must think I'm nuts, flipping between genres the way that I have for the past two hours -- especially when I was trying NOT to sing along with Flo Rida and Lupe Fiasco and Chris Brown and Gnarls Barkley and, god help me, the dreadful yet catchy Ting Tings. But the most notable thing I've heard so far is Miley Cyrus' "See You Again." And I've heard it THREE TIMES on three different stations. I admit, I was pretty much a mere spectator when it came to Ms. Cyrus before now -- I'd actually never heard her music and hadn't felt particularly compelled to seek it out, but now I totally understand what the big deal is -- she's a little girl with a grown-up woman's voice singing about teenage longing -- a trope that's infiltrated popular music since the advent of recording. (And possibly before? This might take more research ... ) Think of Judy Garland, Timi Yuro, April Stevens, etc -- she's on par with where they all were at fifteen, even if the songwriting is a little weak (then again, most of standards we cherish today aren't exactly the pinnacles of intellectual lyricism either ... ). And what's more, Ms. Cyrus has what Shirley Temple Black's mother called "sparkle," so how could she not be wildly popular -- especially heading into an economic depression as we are?

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30 April 2008

(photo totally ganked from the preacher and the knife-space because we know how to use the mac version of prtscr)

Look, I know I don't write so much anymore about bands you haven't heard me yak on and on and on about -- which is why I'm going to devote this section of the post to fawning over (relative) young 'uns Preacher and the Knife, who, along with Effi Briest and Crystal Stilts, are the one of the only new bands we've heard in the past year who are worth ... well, fawning over. We really are trying to let new things gestate for a little bit before we write some disconnected text about how they sound like this, that or the other -- and try to keep everything in context.

I wish I could come up with some pithy catchphrase for these bands who totally bring it with a mix of bizzaro psychedelia and minimalist no wave action -- all reverb-drenched hollering and cowbells and thumpy drums. I guess I'll leave that to some other tastemaker.

The first thing you need to know about Preacher and the Knife is that they're incredible live. The second thing you need to know about Preacher and the Knife is that their ep The Beginning, available for free on their website (and recorded, perhaps not shocking to hear, by the Bellmer Dolls' omnipresent knob-twiddler and expert hollerer, Peter Mavrogeorgis) perfectly captures the energy, intensity and awesome fearsomeness of the live Preacher experience. Here's our fave track, if you're hesitant to check them out without a specific endorsement:

Preacher and the Knife -- Darkness Comes

For a band that's played a mere handful of shows, Preacher are spectacularly tight. Frontman Daniel Barcelowsky (scroll down at this link to see him lookin' dapper and sedate...) has a stage presence that's almost uncomfortably confrontational -- or perhaps, well, it is uncomfortably confrontational, if you're not up for having him come up and, well, holler in your face. Or if a band with a ridiculously wonderful rhythm section and absolutely no guitar won't work for you.

We have really only one request after being blown away by their much too-short set in the basement of The Charleston last Saturday night: darlings, next time -- please give us more cowbell. Maybe not quite as much as the following but ...

Liquid Liquid -- Bellhead

(Also, if you don't believe us about the awesomeness of the live set -- check out their appearance at P.S.1 last summer ... believe me, we'll be sure to tell you when they're playing another show because we'll totally be there.)


As for the rest of the show Saturday?

Seeing Fresh Kills is still like watching The Hold Steady do an impression of Joy Division as interpreted by The Dead Kennedys. (Ha!) They've really improved greatly since we saw them last. And, as much as it kind of kills me to say this, they have an interesting commercial appeal now that certainly needs to be exploited ASAP. Because when the kids who dress like members of Tokio Hotel start showing up at your shows, it's time to start thinking Hot Topic. And I mean this in the best possible way -- really!

In the meantime, troublesome PAs always seem to muck up the most ambitious sets; I'll try not to hold it against the Bellmers that I was mostly deaf in my left ear for two days.

And so, the last night of the (potentially legendary) Bellmer Dolls' residency at The Charleston wraps up this Saturday (May 3); added bonus, it's Peter's birthday. Bring cupcakes! Or whatever! The Choke and Golden Triangle also play. Remember, right across from the Bedford L stop. You can't miss it. Or us, really. We're the ladies who are dressed.

I'm going to stop here and apologize for the brevity of text this week; we're still having server issues, and if you see me this weekend, I'll probably tell you the story of how my (former) assistant quit. It's a wonderful story, really. I also finished editing the biggest book of my career. I think my brain may be entirely dead.


That being said, we will sign off with our new MTV Hits boyfriend, O'Neal McKnight, and his charming track "Check Your Coat" featuring Greg Nice. McKnight's music scored the Conde Nast "Fashion Rocks" special earlier this year; don't hold this against him as he's styled some of your favorite hip hop videos and can totally out-Michael Jackson Michael Jackson in the way we thought only, perhaps, that Romanthony could ... Get on this bandwagon now-ish. This is clearly a late spring hit that might have some momentum into the summer ... we love it! (Count the guest appearances in the video, and try not to hold the Back to the Future pastiche against him either.)

O'Neal McKnight feat. Greg Nice -- Check Your Coat

Daft Punk -- Too Long

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28 April 2008

Hi -- we're having some technical difficulties stemming from a DMCA takedown notice that arrived early Monday morning (4/28). Pls. excuse the broken images & links. We're getting things cleared up as soon as possible.


25 April 2008

It just occured to me that our new header (hit refresh if you can't see it!), which was inspired by this image (thx Mr. Hill!), kind of looks like a creepy, gloopy version of the Idolator logo. Totally unintentional, I promise!


23 April 2008

I'm pretty sure that no one will want to read this review.

But before I start berating you, I should start at the beginning. This story is really about ... yarn.

Now, I know what you're thinking, I can hear you all the way over here. "Cindy Hotpoint has jumped the shark for reals this time. I mean, we tolerated her moving to NYC and no longer providing us with the best remixes in the known universe and her incessant rantings about The Mountain Goats, Shearwater and the Bellmer Dolls. But ... yarn?"

(It's funny you mention Shearwater, actually. Can we just tell you how amazing Rook is? I mean, really really amazing. We're listening to it right now. Pinkie just muttered something about "Mariachi Meiburg" -- eerie horns! -- and now there's some weird creepy percussion groans. But we'll tell you about that some other time...when we've had time to digest it properly. And, if you're nerdy for studio details, go check out the blog of recording engineer Matthew Barnhart, owner of Echo Lab, the Denton, TX studio where Shearwater also recorded Palo Santo; he's documented the entire recording process, much to my delight ... )

So, yeah, yarn.

It won't surprise you to know that I have a problem finishing projects ... and that I have no problem starting them. About 10 years ago, I picked up knitting. It was an innocent enough habit at first, but as I became further entrenched in the terrible relationship with my former fiance, I spent more time at the yarn store hiding from him and the reality of our relationship and more money buying yarn I was never going to knit up into anything.

This is a common enough affliction among knitters and other people with obsessive tendencies. I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about. You don't actually need that thing, but by god, you want it NOW. And you can't get rid of it because, heaven forbid, you might need it someday. At various points in my life, I've had this attitude towards all kinds of things; for instance, I'm currently trying to curb my obsession with adorable dresses and antique autoharps. I'm doing okay with the former, not so much with the latter.

So yes, I collected a lot of yarn. And I took it with me when I moved out of the shared apartment and into my protective aerie in South Austin, and again when I moved to Brooklyn at the end of 2006.

And despite the fact that I have a side business that actually involves knitting, most of my hoarde remained in plastic bins, generally untouched. I lugged it all up to the fourth floor front room closet (technically the Kindling & Tinder workroom is in Pinkie's apartment, not mine...) and occasionally riffled through the four musty casks looking for something or another, but mostly all that yarn just sat lumpen in the closet, a wad of wool-shaped unhappiness. Thousands of dollars and thousands of hours spent avoiding ... everything. And I couldn't let it go.

Until Sunday afternoon, that is.

Ok, now this is probably the part of the story you're really interested in, which is how the Bellmer Dolls made me clean out the deadwood. How, for the maybe third or fourth time since I've started this blog, did I see a show that literally changed my life. No, I'm not exaggerating.

I'd had a really bad week. I was supposed to hire a new assistant, but the budget won't allow for it now. (I basically had to demote my old assistant, and as such am now doing 2.5 peoples' work, as I'm also missing an intern ...) I'm editing 5 books currently. Thousands of pages of minutae. When I get home, my eyes ache and burn (the recent arrival of spring isn't helping on that score either); I don't want to go out, I don't want to write for this blog, I don't want to listen to music, I don't want to knit. I want to fucking stare at the wall. I'm not complaining, really -- I actually quite like my job, and the people I work with. But between sinus headaches, taxes general bullshit, I was beat.

So, you'll understand how important it is to have somewhere nice and cozy to go on a Saturday night; enter the Bellmers' residency at The Charleston, week two. As the rest of loathsome Williamsburg teems above, I am safe in a low-ceilinged firetrap of a basement (see last week's review for a full accout of the glories of The Charleston's performance space).

I admit, I was only mildly interested in openers The Brides and Shock Cinema. And, they were only worthy of mild interest; but we were all the more amused by the presence of Pinkie's darling co-worker Miss Arabella Churchill, who is seriously a Rich Girl-in-training. Raised on Roxy Music and Bowie, we're gonna start easing her into the intensive Eno programme shortly.

A few picturesque details about the Bellmer Dolls this week: Peter's shirt was hideous, but at least he didn't split his pants. At several points in the set, a staple gun and drumsticks were used as weapons. With love, of course. And, one of the things I love about being crammed into a space that tiny is that you can hear the jangle of Anthony's tiny prayer bell tied to the headstock of his bass, ringing out a demented call to prayer as he bends his instrument into some kind of submission.

A demented call to prayer indeed -- Peter brought the dirty preacher act back. Unlike the nearly rareified comfort of last week's performance, the air was brittle with the itchy, creaky tension of boys who'd been locked in a practice room all day. We knew we were in for something quite different. And from first tight rhythm lines to the last broken holler and squall of feedback in the dark, I was, as ever, transfixed.

It's all at once too much and sometimes not enough ... but as the set progressed, blazing through 2.5 minute messy garage raveups (including "Automation," one of the band's very first songs) to the more eloquent filth of old faves "The Diva" and "Push! Push!" it became clear to me that we were all going down together. Or maybe it was just me; I barely registered the people around me, at one point it felt I was in some sort of Lynchian nightmare: words of fire hung in the air; the band became smudgy shadows behind a wall of distorted sound.

Wait -- not really, but it sounds cool, huh? I mean, it felt like that at least. It did.

The perverse finale of "Push! Push!" really can't be put into words without edging towards ridiculous hyperbole. I always look forward to this moment of performance with sick glee; we all know Peter's going to molest Anthony in some way or another whilst Daniel steers the ship straight into a maelstrom of noisy, feedback-drenched petits-morts. There was a great amount of shoving and hollering and near-destruction of various instruments (keyboards, kick drums, etc.) until the lone, hot light bulb shining on stage was unscrewed and the rest of the lights came down, leaving us in the dark, the air so thick with sinewy, booming feedback that you could nearly taste the sound waves bouncing by. (See, I told you ... ridiculous hyperbole!!)

And when it was all over, I found I couldn't speak. Didn't want to speak. I couldn't even tell anyone good night and loitered on a patch of sidewalk outside the Charleston, watching everything through the wrong side of a spyglass; everyone around me was so very, very tiny, and everything inside me was so very, very large. Somewhere in all that bloodletting and hollering, something had rattled loose inside, and I wasn't sure what drawer in my compartmentalized brain it had tumbled out of.

You must understand, it is very unlike me to be this way.

And I was really quite out of sorts all the way home the roundabout way -- all the way across the river to 8th Ave. on the L to catch the late-night A train all the way back home to Bed-Stuy. (Believe me when I tell you Williamsburg is as far from Bed-Stuy as it is from ... Mars.) Even a late-night snack didn't bring me back around, and I stayed up far too long, just thinking of nothing before drifting into a stretched-thin sleep that ended far too soon.

Which brings me back to the yarn.

After a crabby morning, bolstered by a few Americanos, I suddenly decided -- apropos of nothing, really -- to clean out the workroom closet. Specifically, all that bloody yarn. And I pulled out everything. Sorted abandoned projects from viable ones. Threw away grotty plastic bags. Re-balled falling-apart skeins. Ripped out unfinished pieces. Threw everything I couldn't stand to look at ever again into an empty 20-gallon plastic bin, which was soon overflowing with the last cast-off bits of an old life I thought I'd discarded long ago. And it's all earmarked now for donation to worthy causes -- to teach kids to knit, or to make hats and scarves for the homeless, or baby blankets for tiny little souls new to the world. Because some good should come of all that.

So, there you have it -- the Bellmer Dolls show that changed my life, and the tale of the yarnpocalypse. As a reward for making it this far, some tracks selected by Pinkie (and I threw in the last one...because I am a sap!); it was amusing, once I was able to speak again, we both remarked upon the fact that we never mentioned that the Bellmers owe more than a little to the stark, spiky early work of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Especially when Peter opens up and ... bellows with abandon; or the way the formidable combo of Anthony and Daniel in the rhythm section fill out the remaining corners of every song, barely leaving any room for the guitar at all. Yes, just like that.

Siouxsie and the Banshees -- Carcass
Siouxsie and the Banshees -- Metal Postcard
from The Scream, 1978

Siouxsie and the Banshees -- Dazzle (Glamour Mix)
from the "Dazzle" 12" single, 1984

Morrissey & Siouxsie -- Interlude
single-only, 1995; cover of a standard popularized by Timi Yuro in 1968

The Bellmer Dolls play the next two Saturdays at The Charleston in Williamsburg, right across from the Bedford L stop. See you there? Preacher and the Knife open this week (great if you love hollerin' boys) and Fresh Kills, who are like, you know, the oh-my-gawth version of The Hold Steady.

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21 April 2008

We've caved. We have a Tumblr (like all the cool kids, apparently), which we totally adore. We've already linked to lots of thrilling things: scopitones, recipes, show schedules ... you name it. One thing I hate, however is the lack of comment functionality, but I'm sure that serves some esoteric Web 2.0 purpose that I can't fathom. It feels so self-indulgent with no feedback! And yet! It's high on the instant gratification factor! There's good and bad, I guess. (Speaking of new toys, I've dabbled with Muxtape, but haven't posted anything yet.)

Anyway, add our Tumblr to your RSS feed reader, or we'll kick yr butt.

And, watch this space for my review of the Bellmer Dolls @ The Charleston, Week Two (yay, my turn to write about them!) and a rundown of the best and worst that's passed through our post box lately. Thrills!

14 April 2008

Sunday night is 120 Minutes on VH1 Classic. Just like the uh, good old days. (Yes, we are so that old!) What follows is a transcript of an actual conversation between your friend, Cindy Hotpoint, and the illustrious Pinkie Von Bloom, which took place just a few minutes ago.

[Love and Rockets' "So Alive" on the TV]

PVB: Blegh!
CH: Oh yay! Man, I was so obsessed with this song when it came out.
PVB: I'm sorry. This is is totally the worst Love and Rockets song ever.
CH: Oh, cut me some slack, I was like 10 years old!
PVB: You were older than that! This was 8th grade.
CH: Ok, fine -- I was 12, 13 at most. Again, cut me some slack.
PVB: [makes scissor motions with her fingers] I'm cutting, I'm cutting!
CH: I mean, really -- what else sounded like this then?
PVB: [sighs heavily] Nothing.
CH: See! My point exactly. I still love it!!! [sings along loudly]
PVB: [mumbles] It still sucks. The whole album sucks.

So, that being said, here's some assorted Love and Rockets (and related projects...) that Pinkie deems worthy; you're welcome from the land of late-night vinyl ripping.

(Also, you know that they're getting back together and playing Coachella in a few weeks, right? I'm fundamentally opposed to reunions -- even when they're of badass bands -- so I'm not too bummed to be missing that particular nightmare in the desert with drunk LA hipsters. Seriously.)

Bauhaus -- Kick in the Eye

Tones on Tail -- Go!
Love and Rockets -- The Dog-End of a Day Gone By
Love and Rockets -- Kundalini Express

Love and Rockets -- Ball of Confusion.

We'll be back with our weekend recap tomorrow night. We may or may not still be recovering from the awesomeness.

ps -- If you're wondering about the header image, more about the fantastic Love and Rockets graphic novels by Los Bros. Hernandez can be found in this handy Wikipedia entry. Because they're awesome too -- even though I pretty much universally hate all pretentious comic books. Except these. Because er, they're not pretentious.

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23 March 2008

(photo courtesy of iandavid)

Well, sorry we didn't get to the post-apocalyptic playlist last week; I'll save that for another time -- promise.

What to say about The Mountain Goats show at Webster Hall? I'll admit, it was weird. It's always kind of weird to see your friends play that venue; its so huge, and hey, remember that time you saw them with 30 other people in a tiny room a million years ago? (It's an old story around here...) But it was an amazing show nonetheless; it was the first time I'd seen them play with drummer John Jon Wurster, who's amazing. And, though reports varied about the sound quality, it sounded pretty damn good on the balcony level. And I'm a little bummed that I didn't think to swing by the merch table and pick up one of the new hoodies.

And we must sincerely thank Mr. Darnielle for playing "Have to Explode" (off sentimental fave Tallahassee) during the 'solo' bit of the set -- I think that's one of my very favorite songs in the entire tMG ouevre. Also, we simply must let you know that Peter Hughes may indeed have (finally!!) ascended to the post of Best-Dressed Bassist in Indie Rock, snatching that coveted post from the grabby hands of Carlos Dengler. (Fashion-forward cardigans and sharp topcoats are rad, but NOTHING trumps Etro.)

We send our very best wishes to Mr. Darnielle & co., and hope that he's feeling better soon; illness recently forced the band to cancel the upcoming Australian/NZ leg of their spring tour.

The Mountain Goats -- Have To Explode

In the meantime, I can't help but want to share this with you: YouTube videos of Mountain Goats covers. Everyone from Ben Gibbard to teenage girls in Europe. Amazing stuff.

(photo courtesy of ryan muir)

As for The Gutter Twins -- it was sublime. We still don't have words -- especially when it comes to discussing, say, that bit of "Amazing Grace" in the midst of an 8-song (or thereabouts) encore. We'll just let Dinah Washington tell you about our general feelings.

(That being said, those guys are touring like gangbusters, and if they're headed your way, you really need to go -- I'm looking at you specifically, Europe -- if you're in need of some soul saving at the bottom of a grim, hazy, red-lit oubliette. Or something like that.)

Dinah Washington -- Fat Daddy


One of the best things that happened at this one-two punch of shows at Webster Hall this week was the chance to see two bands that were sorta on our radar who totally blew us away in person.

The Moaners, who opened for the Mountain Goats, are some fine ladies who play some very fine blues music. We're always glad to see women who don't play like "girls" (sorry, really, it happens); and this guitar-and-drums duo pack a vicious wallop. (Also, don't listen to anyone who compares them to The White Stripes; think early, early Quasi instead.)

That being said, I have to take someone to task here: neither the band nor their label, Yep Roc, provide a sample mp3; however, you can stream their new album, Blackwing Yalobusha, at the Yep Roc site. So, go buy the album, people, okay? Because Melissa and Laura seem the type who would not appreciate you engaging in piracy.

As for Great Northern, they are consumate professionals -- L.A. scene veterans whose lush, epic sound brings to mind a bizarre hybrid of Fiona Apple, Medicine, and Slowdive. Early demos suggested a more twinkly L.A. powerpop sound (by way of the band's associations with Earlimart and Grandaddy), but the band's definitely decided that a more dark and mysterious sound is the way to go live -- or maybe it's just touring with the Gutter Twins that's brought out their wicked side.

This means, unfortunately, that any of the recordings out there, especially from their debut Trading Twilight for Daylight, frankly don't do Great Northern justice. It's hard to say that because they do have so much promise live. That being said, I very strongly believe that they need to possibly license the hell out of the following song and embed it into the brains of teenage girls, who, I believe, would totally eat it up.

Great Northern -- Telling Lies


We're WAY busy this week; we've got a hastily-scheduled Kindling & Tinder photoshoot and two dj gigs -- Wednesday we'll be curating the music selections at Sidecar Bar in Park Slope at the second installation of the Brooklyn Based Cocktail Club. We'll be bringing the Mexican music to go with the tequila theme, so come by between 6:30 and 9pm and say hello.

And Thursday we're the guest djs at Corduroy, the new monthly at Cakeshop. Also on the bill are the inimitable DJ Jennifer and the perky pop of The Fourelles. Again, stop by and say hello!

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