Archive: July, 2008
I know you are thinking who the hell is Nathan Holscher? Well....he's a musician who just happens to be the brother of a friend of mine. That automatically makes it seem like I just did this interview because of the personal connection. Which really...is kind of true. But, not 100%. Firstly, Nathan resides in the city of my college, University of Cincinnati. Secondly, he has a mellow writing style and wicked musicianship and lastly, I feel really bad that I'm skipping out on him to see George Michael this weekend. So, to make up for that - I want you to read a bit about him below and check out his sounds. If you like what you read and dig what you hear, go see Nathan at World Cafe Live on Saturday for free! Meanwhile, me and my leather pants will be sending some good vibes from the Wachovia.
Although I hate classifications, they are a part of the music world. Can you tell us a little bit about what your music sounds like?
I love being classified- it makes me feel safe. So I guess you could call it folk/pop or singer/songwriter. One writer said it was dark Americana. We've made use of traditional country instruments at times, but I wouldn't say that what we do is country or even alternative country or whatever it's called.
You are based out of Cincinnati. Why Cincinnati?
Come try our chili. You'll see.
Since launching your career, can you tell me about the changes that you've seen in the music industry, or in your genre and how that has influenced your music any - if at all?
The obvious change is the ease with which artists can record, promote and distribute their music. It used to be that a label was needed for all of this. Today, more and more people are bypassing labels and just hiring a good manager. It's tempting to say this shift has freed artists to make more authentic, personally- representative art, but I'm not sure that's the case. Whether it's an A&R staffer, or a random person on Myspace, the average listener still wants to hear stuff that's well-produced and has the capacity to move a person. That's probably for the best, as no one wants to hear the noise rock version of my diary entries.
What are the new things on the horizon for you?
Soon it'll be time to do another album. The last one opened up a couple doors as far as geography and writing are concerned, which should make this next one an interesting experience. I've got a band back in Cincinnati that is as good as I've had, and I' also have the chance to work on projects other than my own career as a performing singer or songwriter.
Comparisons suck - I know, but for those unfamiliar - do you ever get compared to anyone?
How does one answer this without sounding like a tool? The ones I do get the most are Damien Rice and Lyle Lovett. Sometimes someone will throw a Springsteen or Townes Van Zandt in there. They're all wishful thinking I am sure. For the purposes of Saturday night, can we just say George Michael?
What can people expect out of your show? Expect to hear, experience, etc.
It'll just be Chris- who plays bass- and myself. Playing as a duo is something we enjoy because there's really no way to half-ass a song. We don't have the option of just letting our drummer or instrumentalists carry us through the tunes. You can't really bring any intimacy issues with you to the performance, because there a few barriers between singer, song and audience. We've been writing a lot, so it will also be a chance to play some new stuff.
Is this your first time playing Philly? If so...tell me how you are feeling it? If not, tell me about playing in such a city so deep in soul music?
We've never played in Phildelphia. All we have to go on are the words of Spinal Tap's legendary manager Ian Faith: "A real rock 'n roll town."
I know what's on all of your minds. "Who's going to be the next Elle Woods on Broadway?" MTV's pink-core reality hit concludes tonight, with the winner snagging the prize of replacing Laura Bell Bundy in Legally Blonde The Musical.
I know you've been following along, but in case you haven't here's what's gonna go down tonight:
There are three contestants left:
(Methinks Lauren got jobbed in last week's episode, but that's life.)
The way it works is that the Broadway show's casting director — who we've not met yet — only wants to see two contestants in the final audition, which means that the finale will start, ostensibly, with one of the three remaining contestants getting the boot.
So call it, CritMass readers.
- Bailey's got the dance moves and the "look."
- Autumn's got the voice and the maturity.
- Rhiannon's got the "it" factor.
Place your bets wisely.
|HarperCollins, June 24|
In The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century, Edward Dolnick delves into the lesser-known depths of the art world: He follows the story of Han van Meegeren, a painter turned forger, in his search of retaliation on the “expert” critics who had snubbed his work.
Van Meegeren found success painting portraits for wealthy customers, but his other paintings were often discarded as superficial and weak. Frustrated with their lack of enthusiasm for his talent, Van Meegeren decided to strike back at critics and create the fame he desired. What he chose to do was entirely illegal but wildly successful in achieving both celebrity and revenge. After completing some smaller scale forgeries, Van Meegeren took on the challenge of 17th-century master and fellow Dutchman Johannes Vermeer.
Soon enough, and even during World War II, a time of despair for many, Van Meegeren’s “Vermeers” were selling for the equivalent of millions to renowned museums, business tycoons and powerful Nazis — a tie that eventually exposed Van Meegeren. He confessed to forging the paintings to avoid charges of treason for sympathizing with the party. Scorned at first, Van Meegeren eventually earned praise for conning Nazi Luftwaffe commander Herman Goering and pompous art critics.
Dolnick’s book goes into extensive detail, at some points too much. His examples and anecdotes, while informational and relative, like maybe a third or fourth cousin is, are not all part of the immediate family that is the Van Meegeren story. Dolnick is clearly well-versed in the topic of art forgery and reveals to those of us who visit art museums to simply see a nice picture that there is much more involved than just artist and paint brush.
Put me in coach.
|The Baseball Project
Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails
This year’s 100th anniversary of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” only underscores the fact that no recent baseball songs have captured the public’s imagination — even John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” is almost a quarter-century old now. With The Baseball Project, four veteran rockers have worked hard to change this sorry state of affairs.
R.E.M.’s Scott McCaughey and Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate front the group, as they summarize signature moments in the game’s history, from the breaking of the color line (“Jackie’s Lament”) to Fernando Valenzuela’s prominence (“Fernando,” with lyrics in Spanish) to Mark McGwire’s saga (“Broken Man”). “The Death of Ed Delahanty” commemorates the 1890s Phillies slugger who met his demise by drunkenly falling off a Niagara Falls bridge in 1903 (“He socked some homers, four in one game / when the ball was dead and the fences far / … Big Ed don’t let them weigh you down / Big Ed don’t let us weigh you down”), and five one-time Phils are mentioned in “Past Time.” Bonus points if you spot the allusion to Richie Ashburn.
If occasionally a little too esoteric, this hard-rocking Volume 1 proves that an album with a Ken Burns-level love of baseball certainly doesn’t have to sound like “Ashokan Farewell.”
|"Go see my namesake,"
Every Monday, the Showdown tells you who to see and where to see 'em.
Monday: Teddy Geiger was introduced to a small portion of the trash TV-obsessed population (we prefer cultural critic, thank you very much) as a finalist on VH1's "In Search of the Patridge Family," as neo-Keith. He'll get an introduction to people with taste, as a member of Rainn Wilson's band in "The Rocker," out on August 20. Brag that you saw him when. With Hilary McRae and Scott Harris, World Cafe Live, doors at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $19-24.
But if pretty boy pop ain't your style, check out the sludgly, trudgy all-lady metal of Philly's own Hatchetface, who get extra points for presumably naming themselves after the best character in "Crybaby." With Amplified Heat and the Murderkill 100, at Johnny Brenda's, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $8.
Tuesday: Anthony David is swanky to the max. "Though he's got that new jack Musiq Soulchild-meets-Talib Kweli thing down cold, David is even more reminiscent of Bill Withers in the way his trilling vocals and supple flow take to funked-up acoustic instrumentation," says A.D. Amorosi. Need we say more? No, we think not. At the World Cafe Live, doors at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $19.
Wednesday: Out of the entire Tim Kinsella arsenal (Make Believe, Cap 'n Jazz), A.D. Amorosi calls Joan of Arc, "the most experimental and melodic of them all." With 10-plus records under his belt (not to mention all those other bands), Kinsella's got to have this live thing down pat. With Ponytail and Olafur Arnald, at the First Unitarian Church, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.
Friday: Tonight's all about movie star cred. There's the boy-girl indie pop of She & Him featuring guitar-virtuoso M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, who is one of few actors to try their hand at music making without thoroughly humiliating themselves. But how can you ignore the queen of soul. You say Aretha's got no movie star cred? We beg to differ.
Saturday: Mark Knopfler sailed to Philadelphia on one of his many post-Dire Straits solo albums. Ask him how his trip was, then stay for one of the best guitarists still working today. At the Mann Center, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $69.50.
Sunday: The Showdown has always had a soft spot in our hearts for the great state of Tennessee: Graceland, Dollywood, the Grand Ol' Opry, oh my! That's why we got to give it up for Ten out of Tenn, a tour featuring some of the best and brightest folkers of the Volunteer State. With Butterfly Boucher, Griffin House, K.S. Rhoads, Erin McCarley, Andy Davis, Tyler James, Trent Dabbs, Matthew Perryman Jones, Katie Herzig, Jeremy Lister, at the World Cafe Live, doors at 6 p.m., tickets are $14-19, with a $10 food and drink minimum.
Here's your finale: "Iron Man" into "Crazy Train" featuring Zakk Wylde's compulsive noodling, an awkward fans-rush-the stage debacle and a brief NSFW moment as only heavy metal can deliver. Ozzy at the Tower? Awesome.
|Episode 1's winning design
CP fashion platelette Rebecca Grites sizes up Season 5 of Bravo's Project Runway every week on Critical Mass.
When it comes to a Gristedes challenge, who doesn’t love a little run-around-the-kitchen freakout over wilting greens? But alas, we got skimped in the lifeless lettuce department this time around. Season 5's attempt at the "ultimate transformation challenge" left most models in tablecloths and most PR devotees underwhelmed. It wasn’t a worthless premier, though: Kelli’s winning hand-dyed vacuum cleaner bag dress with notebook wire hook and eyes, Daniel (who's the next Daniel V, no?) and his blue Solo Cup sweetheart and Wesley’s delicate fly swatter detail left us anxious for this season’s go 'round at becoming America’s next big fashion designer.
No hard feelings about the loss of Jerry, who was beyond creepy and — what do ya know? — talentless! Maddeningly enough, I see a lot of Season 3’s Angela in the pint-size punk-rock grannie Stella — always complaining, creating hideous crap and somehow never getting kicked off. Though, kudos to her for icing the cake called stupidity with her "my fabric is trash" comment regarding trash bags.
If I had to speculate about next week’s mayhem, I’d say it’s going to be one ugly team challenge. Fabric and fury will fly — and with any luck, they'll both land right in Blayne’s windpipe.
View all the designs from Episode 1 here.
Pour your grains out.
Okay, so there's this Web site where you pour sand. You just hold down the mouse button and it come pouring out of the cursor. You can change colors, of course. You can even implement a gradient, regularly switching between any two colors of your choosing. The whooshing sound is mesmerizing, like the ocean, like highway traffic. Kinda sucks you can only draw mountains, but at least they're pretty mountains.
|In another life, we shall be together ...|
I should have known something was up when some cowboy started whistling at me from the roof of a parking garage. "Come on!" he screamed. "At least gimme a wave!?" But, alas, no time for that — I was running late to Dean & Britta's set, the second-to-last of WXPN's Xponential Music Festival, and I would damned if I had taken three trains into Jersey for nothing.
Skirting a band of rowdy tailgaters, I finally came upon a row of barricades and yellow-shirted security guards. I stepped up for the pat-down, just in time to see a drunk dude turned away as his be-tatted companion asked, "Has Crew gone on yet?"
I stopped mid-spread 'em. Crew? What cr — and then suddenly, it all came together: The screaming, the drunkenness, the tailgating. I had almost wandered into a Motley Crue concert.
I made a quick exit and, minutes later, found myself in the midst of middle-aged summerland — kids, funnel cake and mid-thigh-length khaki shorts as far as the eye could see. Lucky for me, Dean and Britta had been pushed back, so I got to see the entirety of their performance. It was a relaxed (if slightly uninspired) affair that lulled the summer-drunk crowd with silvery, melting harmonies and dreamy aquatic instrumentals (punctuated, of course, by the roars of enthralled Crue-heads). The setlist was a democratic sampling of their four albums, topped off with a couple Luna and Galaxie 500 tracks for good nostalgic measure. As always, D&B drew their fair share of hardcore fans who, judging by their age, have been following the pair since the early '90s.
The night finished off with Michael Franti & Spearhead on the main stage. The crowd went nuts for their energetic danceable set, not to mention Franti's broad political proclamations (FOR freedom of speech and AGAINST the war, for the record). Yet standing there, in the middle of that public radio lovefest, I couldn't help but wish — just a little — that we could all just forget politics for a second and join together in a collective rendition of "Dr. Feelgood."
|Photo | Colleen Brogan|
This past Friday, F-yeah Fest 2008 rolled into the Starlight Ballroom, its amorphous collection of artists, comedians and musicians in tow. Aside from cultivating an alternative fan base, FYF takes a political edge by supporting causes like the U.S. Campaign for Burma. It's come a long way from its modest origins in L.A.'s Echo Park — this year, they rattled off 27 dates in as many days; the last show went down July 13 in Brooklyn.
Ami Shaley, frontwoman of Israel's Monotonix, started her band's set by mooning the crowd during the first song. The band made a spontaneous exit out the fire escape to play in the street, culminating when drummer Ran Simoni, kit and all, was lifted above the crowd and played on the shoulders of fans.
|Matt and Kim|
|Photo | Colleen Brogan|
Next up was Matt & Kim, charming Brooklynites who played a short, poppy set, he on the keyboard, she blasting away on the drums. Matt kept trying to get the stage hands to turn the spotlight onto her and away from him, even though he was the one singing.
Icons Dillinger 4 and Circle Jerks closed out the evening, but the biggest noise of the night came from local heroes Paint it Black. There was a telling change before they took the stage, as the lighthearted, Ray-Ban-donning hipsters who'd been bouncing along to Matt and Kim's "Yea Yeah" scuttled away to make room for the spirited aggression Dan Yemin and Co. are so adept at drawing out of a crowd.
|Paint It Black|
|Photo | Colleen Brogan|
The frontman offered the requisite less-than-complimentary remarks about George W. Bush, as well as a partisan call to arms this election season: "Anyone who is against gay marriage or reproductive rights is our fucking enemy, and we will fucking throw down right now if that's your style. I won't fucking stop until you're on your back — and you will be."
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