Photos (for Impose): Fergus & Geronimo, Mr. Dream, and The Honey Dos at Cake Shop

That Fergus & Geronimo.  They sound good.  So, so good.  A hard rocking band with some good old fashioned organ sounds thrown in and enough energy to power at least a small portion of China.  Their show at Cake Shop last Friday (oh my, I’m behind this week) was very late; I guess half of the band ended up getting stuck in the snow somewhere, but it was definitely worth the wait.  The only bummer was that they didn’t have their new album for sale on vinyl.  I talk about Fergus & Geronimo a lot, though, since they’ve moved to Brooklyn, so it’s definitely time to give some praise to Mr. Dream.  I know they’ve been around for a little while, but this was my first exposure to them.  I loved their direct rock approach to their music (and the fact that all three of the members are totally gorgeous).  Check out a song from the below.  I have nothing nice to say about the music The Honey Dos play, but it seems like they’re having a fun time being in a band, so that’s good.  I’ll leave it at that.  Check out the song below and pictures over at Impose.

MP3: “Crime” – Mr. Dream

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Recommended Wednesday Show: Lower Dens, Inoculist, and Gross Relations at Glasslands

Lower Dens

I’ve posted about Lower Dens a few times on this blog, but never as the main event.  It’s Jana Hunter’s new band, and they’re very good.  Think Jana’s solo stuff: atmospheric, guitar with lots of space, strange and simultaneously familiar- but a bit rockier.  This Baltimore act is going places, so check them out now.  Inoculist is a Brooklyn band that keeps popping up in cool places, like Whartscape.  Their songs have the same sort of low fidelity cool that a lot of their peers have, but their music is based on really great guy/girl vocal melodies.  It’s pretty cool!  Check out their MySpace.  I also like Gross Relations, totally MySpace-based.  Of course I do.  Their “influences” section is nearly entirely based on 70s NYC punk + GBV.  The songs seem to point to a lazy punk, that I’d like to check out in person.  It reminds me a little of Handglops, but a bit more listenable.

MP3: “I Get Nervous” -Lower Dens

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Photos (for Impose): Sonic Youth, Grass Widow, and Talk Normal at Prospect Park

Oh Sonic Youth.  Right up there with George Clooney, they are the poster children for aging gracefully.  How many other bands can you think of that play seriously kick-ass live shows, actually make meaningful music contributions, and were one of the most influential bands of all time some twenty-five years ago?  The guitar gods rocked the faces off of an incredibly packed Prospect Park bandshell.  There were people still trying to get in even as they were playing their last few songs.  The band is a monument to practice.  When you do something for a long time, you learn to do it damn well.  The trick is not to lose any of your fire, which was not a problem for the band at all on Saturday.

Grass Widow and Talk Normal each tried to hold their own, but neither were really up to the task of holding down such a large stage.  Talk Normal plays fairly interesting drone rock.  They use two basses and a drum kit, so the sound is fairly unique, but the drummer couldn’t quite seem to keep the beat well enough to make it a totally captivating performance.  As for Grass Widow, I really enjoyed listening to their songs for the first time before the show, but was confronted by a band with weak guitar sounds and no personality.  I’m definitely going to put their album in my iTunes, but I won’t jump to see them live again.  You check out photos from the night right here at Impose.

MP3: “My Friend Goo” – Sonic Youth

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Recommended Monday Show: Wavves, The Smith Westerns, and Total Slacker at Bowery Ballroom

Smith Westerns

Wavves hater or not, you have to admit that his new album, King of the Beach, is at least a lot of fun.  Personally, I think it’s more than that.  I might even say it’s a perfect slacker anthem album, and it will be on repeat in my apartment until the weather stops making me want to go to the beach every day.  If his recent show at the Knitting Factory is any indication, Wavves’ live show keeps getting tighter and better, though I’m not sure he can carry a space as large as Bowery (his show at the large Brooklyn Bowl was abysmal).  The Smith Westerns put out one of my absolute favorite albums of last year, and their tough-as-nails-teen-heartthrob vibe makes for a fun live show.  Plus, it’s Total Slacker’s Bowery debut!  After months of constant playing, they totally deserve this next step.

MP3: “Idiot” – Wavves

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Recommended Sunday Show: St. Vincent, tUnE-YaRds, and Basia Bulat at Summerstage (Free!)

St. Vincent

Someone saved all the amazing free shows for the end of the summer.  Three awesome women will be performing this afternoon, making this a don’t-miss Central Park show.  St. Vincent, of course, is the fabulous songstress behind last year’s Actor.  She’s also got great taste in music videos.  tUnE-YaRds also came out with one of the most innovative albums of 2009, Bird-Brains.  And Basia Bulat is a Canadian-based singer-songwriter.  Check out her beautiful songs on her MySpace.

MP3: “Sunlight” – tUnE-YaRds

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Recommended Saturday Show: Sonic Youth, Grass Widow, and Talk Normal at Prospect Park (Free!)

Sonic Youth

Free Sonic Youth!  Free Sonic Youth!  Sonic Youth at Irving Plaza in 2001 was the first concert I ever went to.  I was a very innocent 15.  I went with my older brother and sister, and a drunk girl passed out in front of me.  My only complaint about the show was everyone was just standing around instead of getting into it.  All of those impressions seem hilariously funny now, and I’m excited that this FREE show tomorrow will be my first time seeing the tock and roll legends since.  If you’ve never had a chance to catch them before now, this is a great opportunity!

The two openers are also extremely cool.  Grass Widow is a group out of San Francisco who play fairly basic garage rock, but with frequent layered twists.  They take classic bass lines and guitar riffs and turn them into something new.  I’m really loving them.  Check out the track below.  Talk Normal, from Brooklyn, play dark-tinted drone rock.  It’s very moody, and sort of makes my insides squirm, but in a good way.  And it’s all free!  And in the most beautiful park in New York!

MP3: “Shadow” – Grass Widow

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Recommended Friday Show: Julian Lynch, Ducktails, Campfires, Big Troubles, La Big Vic at Glasslands

Ducktails

I’ve been bumming pretty hard on music recently.  It’s one of those dry spells where nothing new seems to capture your interest.  This, however, has pulled me out of my slump.  It’s hosted by the wonderful blog, Microphone Memory Emotion, and is decidedly one of the best lineups of the summer.  You’re probably already familiar with Julian Lynch, Ducktails, and Big Troubles.  I’ve never blogged about La Big Vic before, though.  They reside in a place of wonderful “scapes,” dream-scapes, haze-scapes, sound-scapes.  It’s a lot of beautiful noise, and somehow ends up being catchy pop music.  I’m loving it right now, and you should definitely get to this show early to check them out.  Campfires, from Chicago, also play beautiful, beautiful music.  It’s steeped in lots of guitar and has that sort of magical Pavement-y feeling, but sound more like experimental Velvet Underground.  Sort of.  Point being, I like them a lot.  Get to this show early, and stay late!

MP3: “Lyny” – La Big Vic

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Recommended Tuesday Show: The National and Beach House at Prospect Park

The National

The National.  Beach House.  The National.  Beach House. Outside!  This is one of those really, really great big shows, worth getting excited about.  The show is way sold out, but it will totally be worth it to grab a ticket off of Craigslist.  Both of these bands have “Best of 2010” albums out, and The National certainly put on a beautiful live show.  If you can, make it out to this one.  A Brooklyn evening for the ages.

MP3: “Slow Show” – The National

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Recommended Saturday Show: Ariel Pink, Puro Instinct, and Magic Kids at Irving Plaza

Puro Instinct

Well, you missed your chance to see Ariel Pink at a tiny venue.  The has-been-around-making-so-much-music-forever-but-is-finally-getting-the-deserved-recognition artist of 2010 is moving on up and out to Irving Plaza, for the best non-free show to hit this city since the summer touring slump started.  I feel a little guilty talking him up too much because a lot of bloggers have been onto him for awhile, whereas I’ve only been listening for the last year and a half.  So, I’m a little late to the game, but his new album is pretty great and you should check it out if you haven’t listened yet.  It’ll be on all sorts of 2010 best of lists.  Puro Insticnt, who used to be Pearl Harbor, are the immediate support.  I wasn’t so thrilled by their set at SXSW: it was interesting, but not entirely competent.  I suspect some of their success has stemmed from the fact that they market themselves as two very beautiful women playing rock.  But still, they’re an interesting LA band and worth checking out.  And of course, Magic Kids, one of our favorites, are opening up the show, armed with new songs from their forthcoming album, which I hear sounds all grown up and better than ever.  This is THE place to be tomorrow night, so make sure you don’t miss out.  Ariel Pink single and new Magic Kids song below.

MP3: “Round And Round” – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

MP3: “Summer” – Magic Kids

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Photos: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at Governors Island

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros Governors Island

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros are a lot of fun.  Getting to Governors Island is not.  First you wait on line to get on the line for the ferry.  Then you wait on the ferry line.  Then they herd you onto the ferry like cattle.  Then you wait in line to get off the ferry.  Then you wait in line to get into the concert area.  You wait on line to get your 21+ wristband, then you wait on line for the bathroom.  There’s a beautiful view of the skyline once you’re there, but unless you’re with a ton of friends and you’re very excited for the band, it may not be worth it to see shows at Governors Island.  The simple logistical problems are just really tricky- it’s not the fault of the concert organizers, it’s what happens when 1,000 people get off a boat at the same time.

The opener for the evening was one of the worst bands I’ve ever heard.  I actually don’t know who they are and it doesn’t say on the Bowery Presents website, but wow, hackneyed lame-o country rock to the max!  Plus, the guy was wearing a hat!  I was offended that any booker thought we would want to listen to them.  The lead singer was clearly surprised that they were playing as well.  He was very gracious thanking the powers that be for the opportunity to play, but then did things like throw his pick into the audience because he’s “always wanted to do that.”  Instead of being charming, it just made him seem like an aging mediocre musician sent to bore us before we got see Edward Sharpe.

We Are Each Other were up next, which confused all of the teenagers standing around me (and apparently the reviewer for The Huffington Post).  It’s all the same members as Edward Sharpe, except Alex sits and plays the bongos and their piano player sings instead.  The songs they played had promise, jangly and orchestral, much like Edward Sharpe, reminiscent of classic acts like The Band, but none of the musicianship or charisma was there to take it to the next level.  In fact, that’s also what I’d say about Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, who returned to the stage in that form about a half hour later.

The band has three really, really good pop songs.  Their aesthetic stands out in today’s popular music landscape, but is nothing new.  They present themselves as hippies from the desserts of 1960s Los Angeles.  Alex Ebert never picks up an instrument, he sings and entertains, prances around in linen pants and a bare chest, a nicely sculpted body that looks more like the result of yoga and cigarettes than any sort of masculine efforts.  He’s captivating, but not quite captivating enough.  As I said, there are three really, really great pop songs (“Home,” “Kisses Over Babylon,” and “40 Day Dream”), but the rest of the music falls flat.  The musicians in the band either don’t have the chops or aren’t in quite the right combination to produce that little bit of magic that this type of music requires.  I sort of felt badly for the kids around me.  They fell for Alex’s stage tricks, his insistence that he would, “do the best to make sure this barrier isn’t here,” and that “this is a two way street, what we’re doing here.”  Those are things that a greater band with a greater lead singer would communicate with their performance, rather than have to state.  I heard many of the adoring kids say, “This is the greatest concert I have ever, ever been to.”  All I could think was that they hadn’t been to enough concerts yet.

The one truly amazing element of the band is Jade Castrinos.  She’s bashful and brash at the same time, with a voice that could melt butter and cut through a phone book.  She’s got the magical X factor.  Someone needs to give her her own band, stat.  She should sing every song and call all the shots.  Maybe that would take away from her timid charm, but I think that given the reigns, she would only end up kicking ass.  At the end of the night I walked away feeling alright about Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros as a project, but a huge, huge Jade fan.

Here’s a bunch of pics.  I’ve just lumped them all together.  The first two band pics that don’t have Edward Sharpe people in them are of the opener, whose name I do not know.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at Governors Islands:

Governors Island Ferry

Governors Island

The Beach at Governors Island

Jade Castrinos

We Are Each Other

MP3: “Home” – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes

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