I have a new gig writing about music and culture for GrandLife Hotels… check it out!
The new Mountain Goats album Transcendental Youth is, as are all of their efforts, an outstanding window into human emotional complexities. This one deals with depression, loss, and loneliness (favorite themes), and in no form is that more evident than watching solo John Darnielle emote into a microphone from a Queens garden rooftop on the song ‘Harlem Roulette,’ telling us that “the loneliest people in the whole wide world are the ones you’re never going to see again.”
If this doesn’t make you feel, and think hard and long and sad, nothing will.
Who you should be seeing at the week-long NYC conglomeration of up-and-coming acts, new stars, and established favs.
1. Shakey Graves
I literally just discovered this both musically and physically devastating Texan, who apparently was on Friday Nights Lights (sorry, I missed that boat) but more importantly can do some banjo fingerwork that will make you weak at the knees. Plus, that growl! I’m in love. True southern blues rock, esp. given how everye new act tends to sound like Mumford & Sons these days.
Thurs 10/18, 5pm @ Rebel
Back in March, I told everyone to listen to this band, because they are excellent and super chill and just all-around rad guys. Whether or not anyone listend, I do not know, so I’m saying it again: SKATERS ARE AWESOME, GUYS. ’60s and ’70s inspired harmonic garage punk. I will be jammin’ out with them tonight at Shea Stadium, and you should be too.
Tues 10/16, 9:45pm @ Shea Stadium; Weds 10/17, 9pm @ Santos Party House and 11pm @ Bowery Ballroom
These. girls. kick. ass. Female post-punk at its finest, and one of London’s best new acts. Many comparisons to Siouxsie, Shirley Manson, et al; need I say more?
Weds 10/17, 8pm @ Glasslands and Sat 10/20, 12pm @ Pianos
4. Matthew E. White
Gospel meets soft-spoken indie instrumentals. Beautiful voice, operatic arrangements, just all around gorgeous music. Plus, he’s friends with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver; also sounds vaguely like him) and John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, who has impeccable taste.
Weds 10/17, 10pm @ Union Pool
5. Icona Pop
“I don’t care, I love it.”
Weds 10/17, 8pm @ Glasslands; Thurs 10/1/8 @ Santos Party House; Fri 10/19 @ Brooklyn Bowl
6. The Denzels
Shameless friend plug, but whatever; as I’ve said before, this band rules. Surf rock meets The Smiths. Hellloooo.
Weds 10/17 @ Webster Hall; Thurs 10/18 @ Legion bar; Fri 10/19 @ Rock Bottom; Sat 10/20 @ Knitting Factory
New post up on Byrne Notice!
“You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices… The library, on the other hand, has no biases. The information is all there for you to interpret. You don’t have someone telling you what to think. You discover it for yourself.”
So said Ray Bradbury in a 2010 interview with the storied literary magazine, an interview that you can now access, along with the hundreds of others published since Review’s birth in 1953, from the palm of your hand. For free.
The Paris Review app is here, everyone, and what a tool it is. The magazine’s entire library archive is available for preview or purchase, plus all its tremendous interviews from Angelou to Updike that will leave you swimming in quotable nuggets and inspiriational writing advice. There’s also The Daily, their cultural gazette. And it’s all portable, able to slip into your pocket via iPhone (or bag via iPad) for the best on-the-go library… well, maybe ever. Got writer’s block? See what got Borges going in 1967. Forgot a book on the train? There are pages of undiscovered fiction and poetry in each new issue. And, as Bradbury so correctly put it, the choice is up to you. Your favorite authors, your creative exploration, your words-on-a-page escape. No required reading list.
the nugget: It’s free, and better than that pontificating grad student presiding over your 40K Intro to Brit Lit class.
When I told my maternal grandfather that I was moving to Williamsburg, his first reaction was silence, and then a soft, “Well, how ’bout that.” A first-generation son of Polish immigrants, he was born in a railroad townhouse (that housed his entire family between its few floors) in northwest Greenpoint in 1930. He spent childhood years tromping between McCarren Park, Newtown Creek, and the East River docks, amidst factory smokestacks and vestiges of oil refineries, before his parents packed up to Queens for more space. 82 years later, the news that his first grandchild was starting her adult life in that same neighborhood–also in a half-century old railroad apartment–was no doubt startling. “Why?”, he wanted to know. Well Grandpa, you see, there’s this thing called gentrification that took over the old ‘hood…
The tale of said “refurbishment” (or, white-people-takeover) of the Northside Williamsburg/Greenpoint neighborhoods is not a new story, but it hasn’t been quite so artfully told than in Robert Anasi’s memoir-cum-oral history The Last Bohemia: Scenes From The Life of Williamsburg. Anasi moved to a $300-a-month hellhole on Union and Grand in 1991, where he stepped over heroin addicts to get inside his front door. The book is not a woeful remembrance of “the good ol’ days,” though, but plaintively told accounts of neighborhood locals and colorful eccentrics taken from Anasi’s years of notebooks (aspiring writers, take note). Both the born-and-raised and the poor struggling artists pushed out of Manhattan and the East Village by rising rents have a voice, as do long-gone establishments like the L Cafe and Kokie’s (it is what the name implies). It’s history of gentrification by one who lived it; from carney parties in abandoned warehouses to the influx of dotcomers with more money than the artists to the millions of dollars in condos that took over the East River waterfront and forced Anasi, and many others like him, out of the neighborhood for good. Note the photo on the cover: the Williamsburg waterfront, before and after, graveyard of stolen cars to young adult concert venue. A beautiful but totally guilt-trip read that makes you at once pine for what was but also appreciate the ability to walk home alone at night without getting solicited for sex. “Good ol’ days,” maybe, but would you have lived there? Probably not. Even if you’re not a New Yorker, or into history, it’s fascinating.
the nugget: Here is the story of the coke bar that used to be where your trendy artisanal bodega is now. Feel guilty about living in Brooklyn. Be nice to your old Polish neighbor.
On Amazon and all other places where really bad ass books are sold.
For spring, he ditched the long red carpet gowns for a greaser-meets-Soho streetwalker look that is… well, pretty sensual, though a departure from his usual overt sexuality. No bared midriffs here–in fact, there are turtlenecks and pencil skirts and hoodies; but all are equipped with slits and zippers–all the better to undress you with. Easy access? If only the prices were.
the nugget: sex sells, and everything is better with a leather topper.