Jesus and Mary Chain, Webster Hall, May 21, 2007

What year is this? Last time I saw these guys on this marquee it was 1987, it was the Ritz, and there were all of two Scottish guys and two small speakers onstage.

more guys onstage; more speakers

pal Rebecca in line outside: “Well, I wasn’t sure I was gonna go, but then someone said, ‘they are really dark’ and I thought Shoegazer music! So I came.”

how dark were they?

Not that dark. By the time we heard “I wanna die. . . . like JFK. In the sunshine. . . .” we were looking at each other. Monica noted, “That’s not that dark!”

And indeed they weren’t. Time has mellowed the Reid bros.

But they put on a fairly awesome show, nonetheless. Fresh off a triumphant appearance at Coachella where Scarlett Johansson guested on “Just LIke Honey,” the Jesus and Mary Chain opened up with “Never Understand Me” and delivered a polished, energetic performance of some of their big hits from Psychocandy – not enough for my taste – as well as lots of good stuff from the later records (to which I readily admit I really didn’t listen). “Happy When It Rains was a highlight.

The crowd really went for “Just Like Honey,” mainly cuz the song is a fave from the Lost in Translation soundtrack.

and tho’ the light show was decent, the Reids were never a particularly gymnastic band on stage; so the show looked mostly like this.

but it sounded fantastic! The drunk boys were screaming, “Louder, Turn It UP!” and they did. Yo! feedback forever, boys. . . .

Vroom! Viacom (& Simon & Schuster) vacuums up more rights

Today’s news marks a troubling grab for content rights in the book world — by one of the biggest players.

New book contracts from Simon & Schuster (a Viacom company) now stipulate that once an author sells book rights to Simon & Schuster (S&S), the rights are theirs forever – until the copyright runs out. Even if S&S lets the book go out of print. Even if they refuse to print and sell it.

Background: Authors own their writing. When they sell a book to a publisher, they sell only the rights to print and distribute that book. They own the copyright; they basically lease the printing and publishing rights to the publisher. When demand diminishes and a publisher does not reprint or supply copies to bookstores, the book goes out of print and the author gets the rights back. The authors can then sell it to another publisher or print it themselves. Let the free market rule! Let authors control their work.

But not if Simon & Schuster (S&S) has its way!

S&S claims that as long as they have the ability to make a digital copy of a book available to a potential buyer, the book rights stay with them, even if the book is nowhere available in physical form any more.

Why would S&S not want to sell books if there was demand? Cause there is not ENOUGH demand to justify the costs of printing. Why the hell does Amazon do such a big business in used copies of out-of-print books? There are TONS of titles people want that are just too expensive for big publishers to keep in print. But smaller publishers, with smaller overhead, can do just fine with them. They can work on a smaller profit margin.

Authors are freaking. They are ENRAGED. Agents are freaking. Less money for them! Lots o’ insidery coverage in
Galley Cat and Jim Milliot’s excellent summary in Publishers Weekly’s daily feed for the interested.

S&S is part of Viacom, one of the DUMBEST media groups out there when it comes to dealing with new technology. Witness their suit against Google/YouTube. They pulled all their MTV, Nickelodeon, etc. content off YouTube – even stuff they didn’t really own! They sued for copyright infringement — even tho’ the YouTube clips were basically free advertising.

Viacom seems stuck in one model and one model only: it’s MINE. i OWN it. TOTAL CONTROL.

Rather than use new technology in innovative ways, Viacom uses it to reinforce restrictive, rigid, old-model ways.

And I see this as a very, very bad thing for book publishing.

Viacom would have the power to keep authors’ books unavailable basically forever if Viacom deemed them unpopular or unprofitable. Based on greed, that’s capitalism. Were it based on politics, that’d be scary.

The possession of total control is easily subject to abuse of that control.

Decentralized, clearly limited authority – to publish, to print, to communicate ideas widely – is a very good thing for the free thought. And free markets.

And freedom, in general.

Taking more rights from creators and awarding them to corporations just isn’t a good thing. And it’s happening more and more, in ways both subtle and gross, both widely reported (Viacom v Google) and underreported (S&S v Authors Guild).

Keep your eyes open people. Watch the rights dissappear.

Holy F*ck !!! Bowery Ballroom May 16

Holy F*ck !!! @ Bowery Ballroom, Wed May 16
Category: Music

Okay, those are two separate bands that played last night at the Bowery.

Makes a nice headline!

First up, Holy Fuck: four guys from Toronto. They play electronica-type dance music without electronics. Seriously. Per their Wikipedia entry, they are “a lo-fi improvisational electronica band.” “The band uses live instrumentation and miscellaneous instruments and non-instruments (including a 35 mm film sequencer) to achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of laptops or programmed backing tracks.”

Lo-fi indeed! Does an ocarina count as a non-instrument?


Set was 35 minutes. Two goofy guys in front on homemade trestle tables, an ocarina, the 35 mm film sequencer, and some really cheesy keyboards – as in physically decrepit-looking things, not particularly Farfisa-sounding things. The two live musicians were a drum-beating moptop with an admirable Moe haircut, and a hyperkinetic bald and excellent guitarist.

To me, they weirdly suggest a little prog rock in their soaring keyboards, laid over and in between lots of twitchy dancing stuff and crazy beats working together and off each other. And intense guitar work off on the side. It was like . . . Emerson, Lake, and Palmer at 90 bpm on Red Bull. And lots o’ it.

Hey, everybody had fun. They have good t-shirts.

!!! is dance punk. Look it up in Wikipedia. (Seriously. It’s an entry. With x-refs. Yikes.) Don’t look up dance punk. Just go see !!!

Frontman Nic Offer looks a hell of lot like Hyde on That 70s Show.

But he never stops moving, channeling a breathtaking repertoire of 70s disco moves extraordinaire. I have not seen a shirt like that since Connecticut in 1980. And I have not seen moves like that since Nightbirds disco in the Norwalk, CT strip mall in 1977. Almost expected a faint whiff of Bonne Bell lipsmackers and Love’s Baby Soft in the air. Whoa.
Offer is near impossible to catch standing still.



The crowd wasn’t standing still either – sweat, water bottles, arms, legs, heads – were flying for 1 hour 15 mins straight.
Overheard behind me
“Your hair is in my beer, man. I’m just telling you. Your hair is in my beer, man.” (said by tall skinny tweaking yet drunk hipster-beard-wearing dude. To a girl)
“Your beer is in her hair. I mean, your beer is in her hair.” (reply by boyfriend of girl with hair thing going on)
The nine-member band was channeling some massive mix of funk and rock, rock, rock. Besides Offer, there were two other vocalists, including an amazing woman resembling a short, compact, pumped version of Grace Jones – she got down in the crowd and worked it like a . . . major disco queen. Their new album Myth Takes is pretty good, but NOTHING like their shows. They apparently hang w/LCD Soundsystem – and share Tyler Pope on guitar and electronics sometimes – but they are way wilder and much less tight than LCD Soundsystem. And they were loud, loud, loud.

As the crowd stumbled out onto Delancey around 12:30 pm, one stoked guy hollered up the Bowery, “I’m not ready for that show to be over!”
!!!

nyc street art – a plague of frogs!

a plague of frogs this morning, 15 May, on 28th St and Lexington Ave.!

there were a bunch of flies like these on 36th and 2nd, ’bout 3 weeks ago

they are very nice frogs. they seem sort of Japanese to me?

or maybe they are just a marketing ploy

whatever: frogs 12, ads 0, per me!
anyone know the truth? give a shout.

LCD Soundsystem @ Webster Hall, New York

Silver, silver, silver. How’s that sound again?

Sound of Silver is the title of LCD Soundsystem’s new album, and it ain’t just the cold sound of cash money; it’s sound of the giant silver disco ball on the cover of their first album and the glitter mirror globe slowly spinning above the dancefloor @ the Ritz (aka Webster Hall these days) last night. That’s what the sound of silver makes me think of, after last night’s show.

LCD was freakin’ incandescent (ha!) on stage last night @ Webster Hall, and their mix of indie rock, techno, punk, dance, disco house pop whatever was one big tight sweaty smart dance bliss thing.

lcdOpening with “Us v. Them,” James looked pretty relaxed – he told us this was the last night of the tour and he didn’t have to save his voice. And he didn’t. His crisp white shirt devolved into wrinkled chaos around the middle of the next tune, “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” from the first album (Daft’s not playing at my house – yet – but they are gonna be at Coney Island’s Keyspan Park in August – I got my ticket, whatcha waiting for?)

Somewhere in between somehow conjuring up Pere Ubu’s big man, Dave Thomas for a second, hollering “Welcome to the Ritz!”, and noting he’d been kicked out of a Sonic Youth concert there once (in a nod to those audience members born BEFORE Reagan took office), Murphy made it burningly clear that LCD knows its shit inside out – its roots are in NYC club music – punk club, indie rock club, and most freakin’ definitely DISCO.

Murphy knows whereof he speaks about New York disco and house (ck out he interview in earplug). And punk. And indie rock. And whatever else musically he speaks of. He lived it; we lived it; and the crowd at the Ritz/Webster was living it too.

al and nancyWith Pat Mahoney crouching on drums to Murphy’s left and the great Al Doyle (catch him here postshow while you can on the LCD site) on glockenspiel, guitar, and drums to his right, LCD started that spin-tingling house party explosion buildup near the end of “Time to Get Away,” achieving near total sonic dance liftoff right in the middle of “North American Scum” – possibly the best lyrics heard this year. (I would suggest all the U.S. writers for Vice should read and memorize) – and totally blowing it up during “All My Friends.” “Get Innocuous” with Nancy Whang whanging on the piano flowed into a glorious “Tribulations” and a massive “Yeah Yeah.”

Yeah, good dance music does emulate the pace of everybody’s favorite activity. I would say the polyrhythm orgasm of three drums was somewhere around either set-ender “Yeah yeah” or the encore with “Someone Great” and “Watch the Tapes.”drum

Murphy started playing a little drum kit right in front of Mahoney – occasionally playing Mahoney’s drums too. By the time “Watch the Tapes” was in full swing, Murphy was bouncing water bottles off Mahoney’s drum, one at time: toss it, bounce off, toss another. In time. Then he just poured the stuff over the cymbals and watched it be all sparkly.

“But it looks good on the video. Got to look good on the video” he exhorted Mahoney, who was not too down with the Poland Spring cascade. Followed that with a goofy sardonic declamation to the crowd: “Radio is dead. Next year, no more records. It’s all gonna be CDs. Won’t be listening to radio no more. And video. You say, ‘who wants a CD?’ Next year, it’s all CDs.”

Who got it? Who knew? Who cared? Between the smart, smart lyrics and the booty-shaking beats, the theoretical underpinnings were moot.

Yeah, he knows where LCD came from. The show was grounded in the NYC scene of the 80s, but it didn’t sound anything like a pastiche and everything like a new celebration.

Could be no better finale than the love song to the city that ends Sound of Silver, “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” sung my Murphy on his knees, to Al Doyle (who is appearing with them only on this tour). the first verse last night – “Al Doyle, I love you but you’re bringing me down” was pretty hilarious, in the way of good-natured, sweaty musician buddy love. Then Whang and Pat left the stage. Doyle handed his guitars to the audience at the end. The lights came on.

Damn, back in the day these things didn’t’t end at 11:45! You know that LCD remembers that, and a lot else besides. And they are keeping the party going.

——————————–

Alas, the same cannot be said for the opener, Jona Bechtolt, aka Yacht, of Portland, Oregon.

yacht

he sank. (inserT an addiTional consonanT for deTail in that last verb)

meta metric music mags, my a**

LIVE show time again in my house – woo-hoo! Going to see three shows in the next two weeks, & I’m back on the beat.

So to rev up, I’ve been checking out some reviews. And what should I find but two newish websites: criticalmetrics.com and metacritic.com. Both, in an earnest attempt to make sense of what can seem like the 20-foot-diameter pipe of information that threatens to blow us out of our computer chairs daily anyway, compile reviews and music recommendations. Into two neat sites. Critical Metrics tabulates how many times a new song is mentioned; metacritic.com checks out how many reviews are positive vs. negative – it’s rottentomatos.com for music, via megalith CNET.

Neat bits of quantitative stats on qualitative stuff. And you bet they try for kudos on their visual display of quantitative information — which isn’t too bad, actually, in the case of criticalmetrics.com

I will not be using them much, tho’ I’m happy I saw them. They do answer the questions: “Does anyone else like this? Are they cool or lame? Am I cool or lame for liking this?” (not questions I ask myself too often, I have to say.)

I might wonder, tho’: “how many other people liked this for the same reasons I did?” But stats won’t answer that questions. Every taste of the musical madeleine unleashes a separate set of stories for every individual. In these meta-meta-palimpsest-layers-of-reference times, one critic likes that song cuz it reminds him of that Cure record he played in a basement near Cleveland, in 1997; the other cuz it brings back a sweaty night at Malibu laughing about how Spin mag named Dead or Alive the best band of 1980-something, and then dancing to it anyway.

One likes the dance-punk sardonic-love-song lyrics cuz they just broke up with someone they never really went out with; someone else cuz the bass thumps them at the base of the ass and and then travels directly up the brainstem to the ass-shake neurons.

Some, of course, actually review the music and not any metacontextual madeleine memory bullshit.

One critic grooves on the 808 and the brass sounds, often performing feats of musical analysis far beyond mortal bloggers (that would be the inimitable Sasha Frere-Jones of the New Yorker – for his peculiar blog, which is nothing like his reviews, check out S F/J).

Anyway, I got a kick our of seeing what publications Critical Metrics surveys, compared to my own reading list.

Let’s see: I read Insound and Other Music’s mailers, sometimes look at Pitchfork, Fader and Filter, but not Blender, quite like Dazed & Confused, Fact (ooh, they don’t have that one yet! SCORE!), and earplug (they don’t suss that one, either, DOUBLE SCORE!); I click thru brooklynvegan and stereogum, and devour XLR8R’s every shiny issue. Can I eliminate those hours with my beloved magazines and blogs and just get a cool summation from CM and meta-C?

No fucking way. I misspent my youth among the piles of Creem and The Bob and the prized NME sucking down paper and printing and bylines and design – and Critical Metrics and Metacritic ain’t music mags, no matter how quantitatively cool. I’m sticking with the shiny paper covers.

And I’m going to see LCD Soundsystem tonight – a band with a name my hubby once referred to “the stupidest band name I ever heard” – well, thanks to his geek wife and piles of paper, at least he heard it way before anyone else.

and gets to hear it again tonight. YEEE-HAH.

A blog post tomorrow, I hope.

I don’t think it’ll make it onto the metacritic list. I don’t mind. Continue reading