Archive: February, 2009
The Tale of the Tapes
|MISTER TNT: That's Josh Grier in the white shirt.|
City Paper: Which part of Tapes ’N Tapes are you, the Tapes, the N, or the apostrophe? What was the story behind it the name?
Josh Grier: Well originally we had three members in the band and we were just kind of being smart asses and thought it would be funny but then once we became a four piece we pretty much dropped it because there wasn’t really anyway to support the three letters with four people, so that’s kind of why we went away from it. We originally thought it was funny and then we were like, eh, now we have four people and its just confusing and not as funny anymore.
CP: Between The Loon and Walk it Off, which was your favorite to record?
JG: You know it’s kind of like... I kind of view all that stuff as like I don’t know. Its kind of like having kids, you don’t really have a favorite you just have different experiences with them you know. Definitely with recording the Loon, there’s some memories there and recording Walk It off it was really cool to be recording with David Reichman because he’s somebody who we all really admired and to actually be working with him and have him be a very relaxed dude who’s a great engineer. We got to basically live up at his place for a couple weeks so that was just a lot of fun too, but between the too I really can’t say that one was my favorite at all they’re both fun experiences that are so different from one another that its hard to compare the two you know?
CP: Speaking of favorites, my favorite Tapes N Tapes songs are the “Illiad,” “Insistor” and “the Dirty Dirty.” Which are your favorite ones, if you have any, to perform live?
JG: Awh, geez you’re making me pick all of my favorites here. Uhm, I don’t know really, honestly it kind of depends on the night, like any given night, like what songs to perform cause well just kind of I don’t know, any night we’ll kind of mess around with stuff and sometimes when we mess around with things it’ll work really well and it’ll be really exciting and really fun so I think on any given night any song could be my favorite to perform. Honestly I do have to say that playing “Dirty Dirty” is a lot of fun because we can mess around a lot and it’s different than a lot of the other songs we play. But I don’t know it’s not always my favorite to perform but it’s definitely fun.
CP: Last time you played in Philly it was also an R5 show. I think it was actually on the night that the night that the presidential primaries were happening and you guys played at FUC and were amazing. This time you’re playing at Johnny Brenda’s, have things changed since you were here last?
JG: It’s crazy, I totally remember the Pennsylvania Primaries were that night when we were in Philadelphia. Because I remember everybody seemed to be talking about it, it was big. Back in the day it was a very big deal, everybody was like is Hillary going to win, is Obama going to win? And nobody knew. But for us now, I don’t know. I mean like obviously like with last time our record had just come out so we were doing a lot of touring around then and we were all just really excited about getting the record out. Now its getting up on a year since it came out and we’re starting to work on some new songs and so I guess that’s like the major difference for us is just that were working on new material and were playing some of those new songs out on this tour and just kind of messing around and having ourselves a good time. There’s not really a whole lot else that’s happening right now. Were excited to be out and touring because we hadn’t toured since June and we’re excited to be playing these songs because its been an even longer time since we’ve been playing these songs.
CP: How’s the tour been so far this time around?
JG: It’s been great. We’ve had a blast. We’ve been to a couple cities we’ve never been to before. I honestly just really like playing the new songs and after having a little break from touring I feel like all of us have been energized and we’re having a blast. Like the first three weeks of the tour ended like on the Fifth or Sixth of February and then we were home for two weeks so today’s actually our first day out again and I think all of us are feeling well rested and looking forward to playing some more shows.
CP: You were talking about new material… Do you guys have any idea when your new album will be coming out?
JG: We have no solid plans right now, like we haven’t set any timelines for ourselves about when were going to start recording or anything. Like right now we have a whole lot of new song ideas but we’ve only worked out a handful of them so I think we’re just going to keep on working on stuff and when we kind of feel like things are at a good point then we’ll start working on recording but we’re not there yet, we’re still working stuff out. Since I don’t know a timeline, I can’t give you any more info, if I did I’d let you know, but that’s where we’re at.
Tapes ’N Tapes play Sat., Feb. 28 at Johnny Brenda's. It's sold out.
Taking the stage with confident nonchalance, Jersey natives (now Brooklynites) The Vivian Girls rocked out lo-fi jams like “Wild Eyes” and “Tell the World,” grinning all the while. Recalling trips to the Troc as fans of acts like Taking Back Sunday and bands like Brand New, the act's performance was sadly marred by drowned-out vocals due to some overamplified guitar. They worked through it, though, later swapping instruments and roles for the latter part of their set.
She & Him’s him, virtuoso M. Ward, sold out the show in support of his latest, Hold Time. Beginning with Transistor Radio’s “Fuel For Fire” and his new title track, Ward’s voice washed over his attentive audience, tossing listeners into bluesy, folksy auditory rapture. Backlit by the glare of green and blue stage lights and projected constellations, “Lullaby & Exile,” which Ward performed alongside musician/engineer Mike Coykendall, was lyrically lush and honest, not unlike She & Him’s “Change Is Hard.”
Wedged in the middle of the set, Post War’s “Poison Cup” poured out in bittersweet cadence with Ward’s stutter-like starts (“one, one, one, one or two won't do"). That laidback romanticism flowed into “Stars of Leo,” followed by the lovelorn “Oh Lonesome Me.” Between “One Hundred Million Years” and the down-south rockin' “Never Had Nobody Like You,” Transfiguration of St. Vincent’s “Vincent O’Brien” spurred a sing-a-long reaction in the crowd. Ending with a throwback to Buddy Holly, Ward’s rendition of “Rave On” was the perfect nightcap to a lovely 20-song-plus evening.
Set list after the jump.
Fuel for Fire
Lullaby & Exile
To Save Me
Some Lucky Night
Fisher of Men
Change Is Hard
Stars of Leo
Oh Lonesome Me
One Hundred Million Years
I’ll Be Yr Bird
To Go Home
Never Had Nobody
In which my friend Tommy Button and I have far too intense discussions about American Idol.
Tommy Button: I did not watch Obama's address to the nation on Tuesday.
Instead I went to bed early because there is no 1-866 number to call or
a panel of judges. Just talking followed by more talking. And after
such a humdrum Tuesday evening with absolutely no singing, you might
think the second batch of the top 36 would wanna bring their A-game and
show the Prez who the real American Idols are but mostly it was a whole
Molly Eichel: Agreed. I already voted for Obama. What's the fun in paying attention to him now? And last night's show was beyond suck. This is Top 36 people, let's get it together.
TB: Most everybody picked a terrible song. It seemed like they were choosing songs by how much they liked them. I mean, go ahead and sing a song you like but make sure it's a song you can sing first. Jasmine and her rendition that "not gunna write you a love song" love song was arguably the worst choice of the night. and her eyes look like they're about one inch too close to her ears, like a fish.
other person that could possibly have beat her out was Matt
Giraud with that damn Coldplay song. And he was so good Hollywood week.
I liked him, he reminds me of Eliot Yamin. Siiigh...it's just
ME: I had such high hopes for Jasmine. She killed it at her audition, she had a nice little story and owned throughout Hollywood week. She needed a big ballad to bring it all home. The girl's got the chops and, as Randy so eloquently put it throughout the rest of night, she didn't blow it out the box. These two encompassed the whole night: The thing about pop stardom, not everyone has a stellar voice (why, hello Taylor Swift), so when you add vocal runs to a song that can't handle vocal acrobatics like that, you're asking for trouble.
TB: Most everyone else was pretty forgettable, except for Allison Iraheta with sassy red hair and balls to the wall voice. A little shy, but hey, that's nothing a few weeks on national television won't fix.
ME: Worst. Personality. Ever. Seriously, how hard is it to say some canned answer about how going to school and doing American Idol is hard but you're really enjoying yourself. It's just like Crash Davis said in Bull Durham: You gotta learn your cliches. But daaaaaaaaaaaamn, girl's got a voice! And she can work a mic, unlike Tat Single Mom, who did this weird shimmy dance the entire time. I thought she sounded awful, but the judges disagreed. I think it was Randy who compared her to Duffy/Adele/Amy Winehouse, but having a smoky voice and sounding off-key are two different things.
TB: My least favorite of the night was tool bag extraordinaire,
Adam Lambert and his neck full of gaudy jewelry. Personally, I don't
think you should mess with the Stones but I guess I can see why the
judges like him. Randy likened him to Fall Out Boy, which would explain
why I hate him. But no doubt America will vote for him, though.
ME: I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this one. Yeah, he sounded idiotic most of the time but he also performed the shit out that song. Half of this show is performance, which is why a totally competent singer like Ricky Braddy from the first group had no chance. Sure, he had a nice voice but he was so innocuous and boring, I forgot about him by the end of the show (there's a reason the producers stuck him in the beginning). At least Adam Lambert had stage presence. And he's cute as a button.
TB: The real star of the night was one Mr. Nick Mitchell, otherwise known as Norman Gentle. After three lackluster performances, that red sweatband appeared, slinking the stairs like a khaki shorted sex tiger.
ME: YES. My theory about Nick is he auditioned to make a fool of himself on television and when they let him through, he was like, "Holy fuck, this was a joke. What the hell am I supposed to do now?" He said it best in his intro: He's not going to be the next Justin Timberlake. So why not put on a show?The funniest thing about him is he can actually sing. When he held the note at the end of "And I'm Telling You," it was clear and in key, which is more than most of these clowns can say for themselves. Norman Gentle is my American Idol for now and forever.
TB: Norman Gentle is actually one of the only contestants on the
show who actually bears a little part of his soul when he performs.
Everyone else is some kind of pop culture Frankenstein pieced together
with last month's OK! magazine and VH1 clip shows. While Oilrig [Matt B.],
Flouder Face [Jasmine], Kalamazoo [Matt G.] and the rest of 'em are trying so hard to be
themselves (or at least how they want America to see them) Norman is
spazzing out all over the stage celebrating the sparkly-shirted freaks
that we all know we really are. As the economy tumbles and more shit
flies at the fan I can't help feeling ignored, helpless and frustrated.
And it makes me wanna do crazy things. I wanna stand on my desk and do
a little tap routine. I want to come to work dressed in a zoot suit and
called everybody daddio. I want to walk around my neighborhood shouting
scripture and poetry. I want to go on stage at American Idol and give
a double fuck you to Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Clay Aiken, Taylor
Hicks, and Carrie Underwood and scream "NO! YOU'RE TIME IS OVER! THIS
IS THE YEAR OF THE FREAK!"
Norman Gentle might just be able to save America. Maybe Even the world.
ME: Well said, sir, well said.
Going through this week:
Nick Mitchell (Norman Gentle)
Sleeve Tat Single Mom
What do all these videos have in common? I like them. Except for one. I shouldn't have put it in.
In this classic clip, Bjork deconstructs her TV. You shouldn't let poets lie to you.
In the words of Larry Moss, “make it stop!”
Featuring: The rebooting of computers and plotlines.
Our announcer warned us: “this is the hour that changes everything.” Really, though, one might argue this was more like “the hour that just kind of rewords everything a little bit and changes a couple of names.”
We begin with the reveal that Erika, aka the poor man’s random Arquette sibling, is not just a bad girl because of all of that adultery she has been committing. No, apparently she and Sean like a little treason with their pillow talk. Double moled!
Meanwhile, Jack and Renee sweet-talk their way out of being arrested, and spend a little quality time arguing over the fate of Marika. “We didn’t have a choice,” Jack growls. “She was our only asset.” “She’s not an asset, she’s a human being,” Renee whines. Yawn.
Meanwhile meanwhile, Marika shows up at the meet with Dubaku!, and we prepare to watch him crush her with his evil evilness. Instead, he just kind of wants to make out and forgive her. He feeds her a line about the media distorting that whole “sadistic killer” thing, and she hesitantly agrees to go with him. There is a lot of awkward face touching.
Jack and Renee are in hot pursuit of Dubaku!’s vehicle, under the guidance of Chloe “Big Brother” O’Brien and her love of traffic cameras. In a voice not quite as soothing as the GPS lady, Chloe shouts to turn left, so Jack takes the scenic route through a park in what has to be the least subtle, least covert trailing job ever. Dubaku!’s driver sees Jack’s maniacal driving and takes off. Chasing commences, followed quickly by Jack and Renee slamming into a “Zippy” cab. It seems like those crazy kids might just get away, but Marika chooses this moment to go badass. She grabs the driver’s face and a struggle ensues. Crash. RIP Marika, we hardly knew ye.Renee, still holding on to a tiny piece of her soul, desperately tries to pull Marika’s body out of the about-to-explode vehicle. Jack tries to stop her, but Renee pulls a Bauer and threatens to shoot Jack if he doesn’t help her prevent Marika Flambé. He helps, and you know he was secretly a little proud of his girl.
Back at the hospital, Mme. Pillowface is in quite a state, and would prefer sitting in the waiting room for the next 5 episodes while her skelehubby is in surgery to actually being, like, president. Chief of Staff Maybebad tries to remind her of the whole “leader of the free world” aspect of her job description, not to mention the matter of the country she just invaded. None of this seems to sway her, until Bill runs in, blinds her with his glowing white locks, and tells her the hospital is not safe but he has “secured the White House.” According to the previews for next week, nice job, Billy.
Back at the accident scene, Jack decides it’s a good idea to wake the half-dead Dubaku! and then bait him into cardiac arrest by threatening to kill his kids. Before the eye-rolling and seizing this plan inevitably causes, Dubaku! mentions that list he has of all of the conspirators. As the paramedics try to use a defibrillator on Dubaku!, they run into an issue: it seems there is something metallic somewhere inside our man. Jack does the sensible thing and orders the paramedics, at gunpoint, to cut Dubaku! open in the middle of the street so Jack can go digging for gold (or metal, at least). Turns out that Dubaku! has been using his innards to store his portable flash drive. What, he’s too cool to wear a lanyard?
Jack realizes he is now holding the most incredibly valuable piece of information ever, so he decides the best course of action is to… hand it over to a COMPLETE STRANGER. Did he hit his head in the Zippy crash? Turns out Complete Stranger is more reliable than anyone with whom Jack ever worked intimately, though, since CS actually delivers the chip to Larry, rather than immediately turning out to be a mole.
Speaking of moles, Sean and Erika are arguing in a bathroom. After seven seasons of 24, you’d think someone would learn that moles always hatch their plots/make their secret mole calls in bathrooms. Sean spills the beans to Erika that the list is out and they are screwed, unless they can crash and reboot all of the FBI’s servers. He calms the hysterical Erika by seducing her with sweet nothings like “nobody’s better with those servers than you are” (If he was going for ubercreepy delivery, then hand that man an Emmy). Somehow his dirty server talk convinces Erika that this plan will work.
Dubaku! has been transferred to the hospital, where Renee is in a snit and tries once more to appeal to Jack’s sense of morality. Heh.
|Special Agent Foxy Mole (derr)
At the FBI, Chloe explains to us that this chip/flash drive/whatever is a “PX 17 drive,” which means it has an “auto-erase function,” so they only have one chance to download the information. Of course. Erika does her server magic, and gleefully tells her boyfriend that they are safe. He responds by making out with her and shooting her. This might go down as the most obvious but also ickiest death in 24 history, mostly because of Sean’s full-body, slow motion bend to allow him to closely observe Erika’s death swoon. His eyes don’t work without moving his whole upper body? To finish his dastardly plan, Sean shoots himself in the arm.
Larry and Chloe bust into the server room and Larry eats up Sean’s story about Evil Erika being the mole. Chloe looks more skeptical, but maybe that’s just her neutral face. Dummy Larry tells Sean everything as his wounds are tended to, and Sean has the gumption to try and give Larry guilt for not trusting him. Sean’s diabolical story hour comes abruptly to an end, though, when Chloe magically restores the files and Larry stupidly tells Sean. Sean attempts to run away (telling the always befuddled Janis that he needs to “run an errand”), and is immediately captured. Larry has a moment of Bauer zen and throws Sean against a wall, but Sean uses Larry’s weakness for civil liberties against him and demands a lawyer.
At the hospital, Renee falls apart for the 700th time since the season premiere as she has to tell Marika’s sister, Rosa, that Marika is deadsville. Renee takes her pain out on Jack, actually questioning his status as a human being. In the season’s most ridiculous moment to date, Renee gets slaphappy with Jack to test his pain response, then dissolves into a sobby hug. It was the least convincing emotional collapse since Jessie Spano’s speed-induced breakdown on Saved by the Bell. Jack responds to this show of what humans call “emotion” by telling her the next time she pulls her weapon on him, she “better intend to use it.” “I did,” she snarks back, to which Jack has no response, but you know he totally wanted to ask her out for coffee and/or torture.
It’s 5:47, Dubaku!’s in custody, the list is safe, people are being arrested, the conspiracy is over, and we are going to commercial. Anyone who has never watched 24 would say, “I don’t get it, what could possibly go wrong now?” Anyone who has ever watched 24 would say, “oh, right, there never was a virus/nuke/whatever. Time for the real plot to start.”
And start is does, but not before Mme. Pillowface and her not at all Pillowy daughter show off their family dysfunction, and not before Billowy White Buchanon asks the Prez to get Jack out of that pesky Senate Subcommittee thing. It sounds like he is saying “Senator Mayor,” which is funny, but IMDB tells us it’s “Senator Mayer,” which isn’t funny at all.
Somebody apparently told Jack the season was over, though, because he is sitting and staring at the Washington Monument, preparing to have a good cry. Not so fast, Jack – here comes Tony Almeida. Tony succinctly tells us that it “ain’t over yet,” which is good because it’s only 6pm. Dubaku! is only a second-tier psycho, remember – we still have General Juma to contend with, and he already has a giant terrorist plan ready to go (it’s always good to have a backup). Almeida lets us know that Juma has a “high value, high impact” target lined up (ahem, Bill “Secured it” Buchanan), and that Senator Mayer’s chief-of-staff is involved. Even though the conspiracy is “over,” Tony gives several not-at-all convincing arguments why Jack needs to handle this the “rogue” way rather than, say, calling 911 and then taking a nap.
Of course, it turns out that the nameless bad guy on the other end of all of Dubaku! and Sean’s phone calls is none other than Mayer’s chief of staff. Mayer has to take a little trip to the White House, since BILL asked the president to talk to him about letting Jack off the hook. Mayer asks his evil chief of staff to go with him to the White House. BILL!
Next week, two hours you will never get back, and we get to see just how secure the White House really is.
1 Dubaku! Driver
1 good lady (Marika)
1 bad lady (Erika)
1 “brain worm,” according to Dawn Stensland’s overdramatic promo for Fox News.
Every Monday we look at what's what and tell you who'll be where and when.
|Watson Twins. It's only raining on one of them.|
Monday: Superfruit four-piece from Cincinnati play their brand of artsy rock pop with surf undertones. Pomegranates with Mercury Radio Theater & Western Dresses. At Kungfu Necktie. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $8.
Tuesday: Despised Icon’s badass metal-core breakdowns and riffs will make you two-step and throw down, so make sure to wear your dancing shoes and bring the mosh. With Beneath the Massacre, Carnifex & Neuraxis. At First Unitarian. Doors at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $12.
Wednesday: Indie experimentalists Folklore team up with members of Elf Power for a night of bohemian beats and sixties rock transcendence. With Hesta Prynn In Civil Shepard, Instamatic & the Lemon Treasures. Khyber. Doors at 8 p.m.
Thursday: Less painful than Dan Deacon, Philly’s Mincemeat Or Tenspeed's live set will stupefy and surprise your ears. With Drums Like Machine Guns, Satanized, Memes, Hot Guts & My Mind. At Kungfu Necktie. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $8.
Friday: Identical backup singers for Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis open for Ben Kweller at the TLA. Let’s hope these Watson Twins play their folked out dreamy cover of "Just Like Heaven" before the night is through. With Jones Street Station. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $20.
Saturday: Mellow instrumental indie rock by Atomic Square tonight at Doc Watson’s. Think Mogwai but from Philly and less melancholy. With It’s A King Thing & Makeout Part. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $8.
Sunday: Portland natives Blitzen Trapper, masterminds behind "Furr" (below) and "Silver Moon," unpack their collection of acoustic indie country songs. With Alela Diane. At First Unitarian. Doors at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $12.
I’ve seen the future, brother. And it is murder.
When I excitedly dropped the notion of a Leonard Cohen show at the Academy of Music in Icepack over a month ago, I didn’t do it to merely blab the rumor I’d heard. I mentioned the now-confirmed May 12 show (tickets go on sale March 2) as a way of sounding trumpets.
As a wordsmith, poet, novelist and the raspiest of mummy-lizard singers (getting raspier, lizardy and mummier and gloriously so with age) there is Cohen. Then nothing. Everything and everyone else you can take and stuff it up the hole in your culture.
From the crowd of elders (like Harvey Keitel and Richard Belzer) and kids (Adrien Grenier, Rufus Wanwright) at the Beacon’s front door, Cohen’s first show in the U.S. in 15+ years meant more than just a comeback.
It was a zealously religious experience, truly zealously religious experience. Better than Zeppelin’s reunion. Better than seeing Dave Grohl behind McCartney at the Grammys.
Besides, Cohen actually hadn’t gone away. Since 2000’s he released two new studio albums (Ten New Songs in 2001 and Dear Heather in 2004) a live album or two with a new live DVD coming out next month. A film and soundtrack called Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man of 2006 proved how his dark romanticism, skewered political outlook and gloomily apocalyptic envisioning inspired Nick Cave, Antony and U2. And a new book of poetry and drawings Book of Longing came, saw and sold.
You wouldn’t know that from how the crowd reacted to Cohen. Every time he kneeled before a player or tipped his chapeau in appreciation of a solo, the crowd ahhhhed. “It’s been a long time since I stood onstage in New York. I was 60 years old then – just a kid with a crazy dream,” said Cohen creamily in a baritone voice one note above the rasp that had been his sing-speak just previous to this announcement.
During his 15 years away from American stages he took to Buddhism and teased about having taken to Prozac, Xanax , even “Tylenol, full strength” and though he “turned to a study of religion and philosophy, cheerfulness kept breaking through.”
A thin man hale and spry at 74, Cohen bounced slightly on his heels, swayed and boxed in to mid air while taking “The Future” in his hands. In command of a craggy knuckled dragging baritone barely more than two notes, it’s the quickest of emphatic words and phrases that caught the audience off guard. “The blizzard of the world/has crossed the threshold/and it has overturned the order of the soul/When they said repent repent/I wonder what they meant.”
As he dragged those words through mid-air — through the pop-jazz-folk prickle of Spanish guitars, smooth saxophones, nearly layered keyboards and sunny background vocalists — Cohen didn’t holler or punch his “repent”s. Their merest emphasis was implied. It was the phrase “overturned the order of the soul” that had come with stress. As if something could be done. But alas, no. “I’ve seen the future, brother. And it is murder.”
Sex, death, spiritualism, Joplin, depression, the solitary isolation of night — each of these caught their breath on Cohen’s greatest songs “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “Suzanne,” “Famous Blue Raincoat and the stammering “I'm Your Man.”
The way he murkily intoned “baby” in a mono-voice so low and gravely during the gospel groove of “Ain't No Cure for Love” was awe inspiring. The funereal cloud of “Bird on a Wire” the gypsy country groan of “Everybody Knows” and the acoustic guitar noir of “Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye” were poignant and rapturous without growing overblown. Even as the music stays smoothly billowy Cohen’s dry icy croon brought you down to earth.
He spoke the words to “Anthem” before singing them — which was an epic touch. A haunted “The Gypsy’s Wife,” a windy “So, Long Marianne” — they all became part of a two-and-a-half hour plus marathon. Still, the Biblical relief of “Halleluiah” was a major highlight (a tough call what with “The Future” and a rousing “First We Take Manhattan” and a redemptive “Sisters of Mercy”). Not only did it loom as a black-light poem to gods and lovers whispering into the darkness. It outshined all those who dared brave that song ably since Cohen penned it. But neither Buckley nor Cale nor Wainwright (who sang the song at the Kimmel the week previous) could find the holy grace that Cohen did the other night.
Not a one.
Hopefully Pat Rapa and the music section will give me another space to talk about what is to come.
See you May 12 you beautiful losers.
See Also: Kathryn Yu's photos on Flickr.
You might not like what he's saying, but you gotta admit North Philly MC Gunz has flow. Or whatever. You don't have to admit anything. It's an NSFW modern gangsta three-fer.
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