Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Concert Review: Little Jackie

Little Jackie: October 25, 2008 @ Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY

I went down to the Bowery Ballroom to catch Little Jackie perform. That's right folks, another trip to the lower regions of New York City's East side. They were doing an early show as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. The Bowery Ballroom is actually a really good place to see a show. The venue is one of those not too big, not too small places. The sound system there is excellent. My ears weren't blown to bits and everything came through crisp and clear. Their drinks are a bit weak and service was okay. Near as I can tell, every spot was a good spot as far as viewing the stage goes.

Opening the show, was rap act Lord T and Eloise from Memphis, TN. Not being a fan of rap music my first thought when I saw them on the bill was, "who?" I've since learned they do a style they've dubbed "aristocrunk." Alrighty then! For those like me, new to this group, they consist of Lord Treadwell (Lord T) who dons 18th Century clothing complete with "powdered" wig and Maurice Eloise who was painted gold and sported giant hair rollers with his running suit. They were joined by MysterE & DJ Witnesse who both looked, well, normal. Now, I didn't set out to know their names but that's the great thing about rap, they tell you who they are in their songs. At any rate, they weren't my cup of tea but the people who had arrived early enough to see them seemed to be enjoying the performance. The group interacted well with the audience and put on a show like they were playing to a packed house.

Little Jackie took the stage and kicked things off with "Crying For The Queen." Now, this being my favorite song from their album, The Stoop, it got me revved up for the rest of the set. Brooklyn's Imani Coppola was in good spirits working the stage with a bit of sass and a wild mass of curly hair bouncing around. She complained about a cramp in her foot a few times throughout the show though. Perhaps it was the footwear ... white knee-high Doc Marten boots with yellow laces ... yeah, I felt she should have left those alone. But, we're not here to talk about fashion, are we?

"LOL" followed the quirky and highly enjoyable "Black Barbie." The song, "LOL," with it's line 'you just sent the wrong text to the wrong bitch' had more than a few singing along to that line like they identified all too well. This was followed by the title track from their album The Stoop. The song is a laid back, breezy and infectious number that you can't help but sing along to.

For their cover of "Remember (Walking In The Sand), the song originally recorded by The Shangri-Las, Imani played the violin for a bit. She added a touch of drama to her version of the girl group sound. At times, I felt she was a little too dramatic for the song. "Go Hard Or Go Home" followed. Imani pulled out her acoustic guitar for this one. Here her vocal talents really shined. This song had me wishing she had done a few more acoustic numbers.

"The World Should Revolve Around Me" and the nights encore, "The Kitchen" proved to be standout crowd pleasing numbers. While the crowd was full of energy and enjoyed the entire set, the latter song especially had everyone dancing. Coppola herself hammed it up a bit while encouraging the audience to sing along when she tossed in the chat 'ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa' from Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."

All in all, for an early show, on a rainy night in New York City, you really couldn't ask for more.

Set List:
  • Cryin' For The Queen
  • Black Barbie
  • LOL
  • The Stoop
  • 28 Butts
  • Guys Like When Girls Kiss
  • 31 Flavors
  • Remember (Walking In The Sand)
  • Go Hard Or Go Home
  • The World Should Revolve Around Me
  • The Kitchen
Stalk Them Online

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Around New York ... October 25 - November 16, 2008

Upcoming shows in the New York area ...

October 25 -- Little Jackie at The Bowery Ballroom;
October 27 -- Hedwig + The Angry Inch at Highline Ballroom
(photo: Hedwig + The Angry Inch)
October 31
-- Portugal The Man/Earl Greyhound at The Bowery Ballroom
October 31 -- Res at The Blue Note
November 1 -- The Ting Tings
November 5 -- The Heavy at Mercury Lounge
November 6 -- The Derek Trucks Band at Highline Ballroom
November 8 -- Dancehall artist Sean Paul at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts
November 15 -- Bob Schneider at The Bowery Ballroom
November 16 -- Pianist Lafayette Harris at The Blue Note
(photo: Lafayette Harris, Jr.)
November 16
-- Eagles of Death Metal/The Duke Spirit at Music Hall of WIlliamsburg

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Video: Nikka Costa - Love To Love You Less (live)

Nikka Costa: October 20, 2008 @ Webster Hall, New York, NY
Nikka Costa - Love To Love You Less (live)

Concert Review: Nikka Costa

Nikka Costa: October 20, 2008 @ Webster Hall, New York, NY

I went over to see fiery haired, funky mama Nikka Costa perform at Webster Hall. Nikka played upstairs and drinks over there were between nine and eighteen dollars ... they did have five dollar beers though. Anyway, if you'd never seen Nikka live, then you just might not be fully prepared for what you were about to get.

The evening started off with Nikka's guitar player,
John Black entertaining the crowd with a few acoustic numbers. Both his voice and playing were strong. A nice start to the evening. Up next was Pictures and Sound, the band fronted by former Blue Merle frontman Luke Reynolds. They were a good band but I just couldn't get into them. I would have preferred something a little more funked up to get me ready for Nikka.

As the crew prepared the stage for Nikka's arrival, you could feel the excitement in the air. She has a very dedicated and enthusiastic following and the New York delegates were out in full force to represent. Nikka took the stage clad in bell bottoms, a bikini top and fringed vest kicking things off with the high-spirited "Keep Wanting More" from her new album Pebble To A Pearl. The lady made clear with this funky number that she came to bring it and that's exactly what she proceeded to do. She very quickly got the audience involved and we were more than happy to oblige her. It was clear from the start that she was in fine voice. She launched into the song that introduced me to her talents, "Like A Feather," which had her shakin' her thang all over the stage. Now, if you were there and weren't singing, dancing and clapping along by this point, something's wrong with you!

I was happy to hear Nikka's brilliant funked up cover of The White Stripes "The Denial Twist" live. She donned her acoustic guitar for a stunning rendition of "Push And Pull," that had the audience helping her sing the chorus.

In a testament to both Nikka and her fans ... Nikka's ability to engage her fans and her fans devotion to her ... it was no surprise when she played four songs in a row from her new album (that only came out a week prior) and there wasn't one lull moment. Everyone knew the new songs and were happily singing and dancing along.

By the time the set reached "Happy In The Morning" which turned into an exquisite jam, the party was in full swing. It was followed by high-charged renditions of "Everybody Got Their Something" and "Can't Please Everybody." The latter song was a particularly fun foot stompin', hand clappin' romp that left me a happy, sweaty mess. After a short break, Nikka returned for her encore, "Love To Love You Less." It was the perfect ending for the show. This blues tinged number is reminiscent of old school, end of party, last dance songs ... how very fitting.

Nikka put on a fun-filled show. You really couldn't have asked for a better show, though I would have loved to have heard, "Damn I Said It First" live. She was backed by a tight stellar band that included horns. They were a bad ass bunch. The show certainly didn't lack in audience participation. Between the funky rhythms and the crowd dancing, I could feel the floor moving and that folks, is a good show. Little Miss Dynamite threw her funk out and tore up New York City. She sang. She danced. She played guitar. She played drums. She put her all into it and the crowd, we loved her for it.

Set List:
  • Keep Wanting More
  • Like A Feather
  • Can'tneverdidnothin'
  • Denial Twist
  • Push And Pull
  • Cry Baby
  • Keep Pushin'
  • Stuck To You
  • Loving You
  • Happy In The Morning
  • Everybody Got Their Something
  • Can't Please Everybody
  • Love To Love You Less
Stalk Her Online

(all photos ©L.R. Adams)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Video: Hot Seconds - Went To India (live)

Hot Seconds: October 18, 2008 @ Mercury Lounge, New York, NY
(The sound quality issues are mine, not theirs)
Hot Seconds - Went To India (live)

Video: Nikka Costa - Like A Feather (live)

Nikka Costa: October 20, 2008 @ Webster Hall, New York, NY

Nikka Costa - Like A Feather (live)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Concert Review: Hot Seconds

Hot Seconds: October 18, 2008 @ Mercury Lounge, New York, NY

I took a trip over to the lower East side to see local band Hot Seconds at the Mercury Lounge. For those unfamiliar with the venue, the outer bar area is narrow and packed. The drinks are cheap and strong. The performance room is an intimate space, with good sound, that holds two hundred and fifty people though I question that! It's the perfect place to see a band.

This was a band I was
looking forward to seeing. Their album has become one of my favorite releases of the year. So, I wanted to see what they were about live. Well, I wasn't disappointed! These guys were spot on blazing through an eleven song set like men on a mission.

The show kicked off with a fiery "Pieces Of You" which for me personally, was appropriate. It after all was the song that drew me to them in the first place. Live, the song had the same effect on me as the album version did the first time I heard it ... sucked me in and wouldn't let go. It wa
s the perfect set up for the rest of the show.

Hot Seconds are a tight unit. The songs from their self-titled debut album were effortlessly brought to life in splendid fashion. They played with an air of unpretentious co
olness that displayed their confidence and talent.

The band seemed content allowing their front man, James Love, to be the animated one
mixing awe shucks charm with a little bad boy attitude. Love was vocally solid though during a couple of the more guitar heavy parts he was a little hard to hear. Guitarist Eran Westwood was marvelously tasteful displaying a quiet charm and seemed to be enjoying himself if the smile he flashed from time to time throughout the show was anything to go by. There were no gratuitous self-indulgent guitar moments, just perfectly placed leads and fills. This was particularly evident in "Pieces of You" and the back to back one two punch of "We Met Before" and "Rooftop."

Bassist, Bob Troia and drummer, Ian Hudgins held things together with their steady flawless thumping rhythm. Keyboardist Marcel Simoneau was on the far side of the stage where I really couldn't see him behind his setup. His bits and fills blended in so perfectly with the guitars at times I had to remind myself it was him.

They broke out a new song, "Gone To Ground," which was quite good. I would enjoy hearing a recorded version of the song. They ended the show with "Went To India" a perfect ending for me. With three other bands on the bill, I hadn't expected them to play as many songs as they did so I was pleasantly surprised at the length of the show.

Overall, the show was upbeat and they kept your head bobbing along non-stop from beginning to end. Hot Seconds are a terrific live band. If you like well-written, well-played songs, this is the band to see. Catch them while they're still playing intimate venues ... you may have regrets later if you don't.

Set List:
  • Pieces Of You
  • Excuse Me
  • Individual
  • Clam Man
  • We Met Before
  • Rooftop
  • Tear Drop
  • Can't Stop
  • Holy Moly
  • Gone To Ground
  • Went To India
Stalk Them Online

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Year In Music, Pt. 2 -- Concert Review: Killola

Killola and The Action Design: September 20, 2008 @ The Knitting Factory, New York, NY
I popped over to The Knitting Factory to see Killola, in a small room downstairs, who were sharing the bill with The Action Design. I hadn't heard The Action Design before so I wasn't familiar with any of their songs. This didn't matter though. They put on a good tight and energetic set. Anytime a band can get a person unfamiliar with their work moving, they've done a good job in my book. I even picked up their new CD Never Say after the show where I met their lovely singer Emily Whitehurst.

Killola took the stage like a
ball of pure energy. They kicked things off with "Barrel Of Donkeys" which had some sound problems. Vocalist Lisa Rieffel was a bit low in the mix but that was soon sorted out. The backing vocals could have been bumped up a bit more throughout the show though.

The room was incredibly intimate and the stage so low you often felt like you were on-stage with the band. This wasn't a bad thing but it wasn't the place to be if you don't like your rock 'n' roll up-close and
in your face. After the opening song, everything became a hot sweaty blur of dancing and singing along. Needless to say, I don't remember the order of the songs!

What I do remember is the high energy and fun of the show. The group gave their all. I was impressed with how tight bassist
Johnny Dunn, drummer Dan Gordy and guitarist Mike Ball were. They didn't miss a beat, not that I went in expecting them to. They managed to project a raw edgy garage band sound while at the same time showing they're a well honed unit poised to conquer the world, one stage at a time. Meanwhile, Lisa was a little bundle of dynamite who rocked, rolled and writhe around the small stage engaging the audience and making everyone a part of the Killola experience and not just a spectator. The audience was just as enthusiastic as the band and the two happily fed off each other.

While my set list memory is faulty, I do remember they played my favorite song from I Am The Messer, the brilliant "You Can't See Me Because I'm A Stalker." It's every bit as good live as it is on the record. Also played was my favorite track from Louder, Louder!, the sing along "Get Around." You'd have to be near death not to have had fun during this song. They ended the show with their cover of the Ween song, "Dr. Rock," also known to Killola fans as the "Bonus Rock Track" from Louder, Louder!

In the end, Killola were perfect party hosts even taking the time to socialize with their fans showing their unpretentious and down to Earth natures. They left you hot, sweaty and wanting more while making you feel like you were all a part of one big happy family. It wasn't just a concert, it was an experience.

To the best of my memory, the set included:
  • Barrel Of Donkeys
  • Get Around
  • Is This A Love Song?
  • You Can't See Me Because I'm A Stalker
  • Strung Out On Sunshine
  • All Of My Idols Are Dead
  • Heartrate 160
  • I Don't Know Who
  • Dr. Rock
Stalk Them Online
The Action Design

Getting Funky With Nikka Costa

This week, Nikka Costa released her latest album, Pebble To A Pearl so I headed over to the store and picked up my copy on release day. I got hooked on Nikka's music when I fell asleep with the television on one night. I woke up in the wee hours to the video for "Like A Feather" from her then current release Everybody Got Their Something. There on my screen with a shock of fiery hair, decked out in vibrant blue and on very good terms with double-sided tape was one funky lady with "NIKKA" flashing behind her in lights and swirling colors. I scribbled her name on the box of tissue by my bed and went back to sleep. Later that morning, I went to the store and bought the album. A Nikka fan was born.

Other than being a fan, I was looking forward to Pebble To A Pearl because she signed with Stax. Stax, for those who don't know, released some of the finest classic Southern soul back in the day. I grew up seeing their finger snapping logo spinning around on my record player. This is the label that released records from Sam and Dave, Booker T. & The MGs and Otis Redding among others. Now with that kind of label history, a girl has got to be a bad ass funky soul mama to call Stax home. And that, is exactly what Nikka Costa is. Why she's not huge here in the States is a mystery to me.

The record sets fire to you from the start with the single "Stuck To You." I hear the term throw back being used in reference to this song and the album in general. Yes, it's a throw back to old sch
ool soul. But, Nikka makes the old school sound fresh. This song demands you sing along while soul clapping. I should mention, this is one of those albums that calls for a pile of pillows on the floor, fairy lighting and a bottle of wine.

The jaunty "Can't Please Everybody" will have you getting up and dancing around the room. This is obviously an autobiographical song. It seems every artist that
has dealt with the bullshit that often accompanies record labels, the music business in general and the politics that goes with it, ends up expressing their feelings about it. This is Nikka expressing hers with a killer beat. You go girl!

"Cry Baby," which wins my prize for personal favorite, is the real highlight of the album. This song is for anyone who has cried, let go and moved on. The cause of your tears is now reaping what they sowed and that's just fine by you. "Keep Wanting More" is a funky rev-up that refuses to let you sit still. If this song doesn't have you clapping and longing to dance down the
Soul Train Line showing off your moves I don't know what will. It's followed by "Keep Pushin'" which just as easily could have been at home on a classic Chaka Khan record as it is here.

"Love To Love You Less" leans on the blues side of the R&B plate reminiscent of Etta James. Nikka shows off her wit in this song. Everyone has someone they wish they loved less ... someone with every flaw you can imagine and you know you shouldn't love them so much and don't want to but, you do. This song is the song every woman lovin' and supportin' some lost cause of a man will call into a request line and dedicate to her "boo" who probably just won't get it.

Another highlight is, "Damn I Said It First." I call this a shoulder dancing song. We all know somebody who gets out on the dance floor and only moves their shoulder area. Those people will love the rhythm of this song. Everyone else will too. This is a song about the three words that have sent people running like they were being chased by bulls. I love you. "And now you're freaky and needy 'cause I said I love ya." We've probably all been tagged with that description at some point in our lives and if you haven't you will be. Those three little words scare more people than the words "tax audit" and Nikka does a bang up job of lamenting on the subject.

Pebble To A Pearl is a stellar piece of work. This is an album full of what should be hit singles but you would do it and yourself a disservice breaking it down like that. It deserves to be listened to as a whole.

Track Listing
  • Stuck To You
  • Can't Please Everybody
  • Pebble To A Pearl
  • Someone For Everyone
  • Cry Baby
  • Keep Wanting More
  • Keep Pushin'
  • Love To Love You Less
  • Without Love
  • Damn I Said It First
  • Loving You
  • Bullets In The Sky

Stalk Her Online

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Year In Music, So Far ... Pt. 1 -- Reviews: Killola & Hot Seconds

I usually do these things at the end of the year. Well, it’s close enough to years end, isn’t it? This is the first part of my re-cap. I'm starting with the two records that have captured my interest the most this year, Killola and Hot Seconds latest releases.

Back in January (or somewhere there about), I pre-ordered I Am The Messer by DIY California rock band Killola. A relative introduced me to their previous effort, Louder, Louder! and I’ve been hooked sense.

Come late April, early May, I Am The Messer arrived in my box. For the uninitiated, Killola is a band full of attitude, fun and energy. Vocalist Lisa Rieffel goes from Barbie doll cuteness to in your face punk and everything in-between on the drop of a dime. She’s rather like Barbie’s cooler attitude filled rock ‘n’ roll sister who screams in your face with a wink and smile. Her partners in crime, Dan Grody (drums), Mike Ball (guitar) and Johnny Dunn (bass) provide a tight foundation with just the right combination of ear pleasing edgy garage rock, pop and punky new-waviness.

Where Louder, Louder! has more of a raw punk’ish vibe, I Am The Messer is more polished. Polished doesn’t mean it’s less edgy or less fun by any means. The record kicks off solid with “This Is How The World Ends” and doesn’t let up. The second track “All Of My Idols Are Dead” contains what could easily be the next biggest catch phrase to storm the country, ‘If I TXT U this song … would you sing along?’ To answer the question, yes, I would.

“Wa Da We Da” is one of those songs that you can’t help but sing-a-long to at the top of your lungs. I’m still not exactly sure what the term Wa Da We Da actually means, but it sounds good! My personal favorite is “You Can’t See Me Because I’m A Stalker.” It’s possibly the best stalker song since The Police logged in with “Every Breath You Take.” To add to the perfection of this song, it's delivered in the fashion of girl singers of yesteryear ... think Lesley Gore or Brenda Lee, petty coats and lacquered hair. You get the picture? It sounds so sweet and innocent yet it's so brilliantly creepy.

“10,000 Pound Ego” is another one of those songs that you sing-a-long to at the top of your lungs. You can’t help but do so, it demands it! They say, “We gave our soul to Rock n' Roll, and boy it's tough to give a fuck when it's the only thing that loves you back.” No Killola, you have a massively loyal fan base who loves you back too.

To sum it up, I Am The Messer is the really hot person at a dimly lit basement party that everybody wants to hang with. It captivates you from beginning to end sounding like your long lost friend. At the same time it sounds like nothing you’ve heard before but you’re happy to hear it and want to be its latest conquest. And conquer you it does. At the end of the night, I Am The Messer grabs you, throws you against the wall and makes out with you without asking your name before writing its number on your hand and walking away. And guess what? You won’t complain!

Track Listing

  • This Is How The World Ends
  • All Of My Idols Are Dead
  • Strung Out On Sunshine
  • Is This A Love Song?
  • The Man From Kilimanjaro (Interlude)
  • Personal Graveyard
  • Heartrate 160
  • Wa Da We Da
  • You Can’t See Me Because I’m A Stalker
  • 10,000 Pound Ego

Stalk Them Online

Earlier this year, I became acquainted with a delightful website called Amie Street. It has turned into one of my “must browse” sites. I’ve discovered a lot of good music over there. Perhaps my favorite find over there has been Hot Seconds. They’re a New York based band. I need to get out more. They’re right in my backyard and it took trolling around Amie Street to find them!

They released their debut effort, the self-titled Hot Seconds, several months ago. My ear was immediately caught by the second track on the record, “Pieces Of You.” I sense a tad bit of bitterness here, but I could be wrong. It's an infectious little number regardless. My personal favorite and in my opinion the album highlight, “Went To India.” It's a biting lyrical jab fest that’s worth the price of the record alone.

I wasn’t originally too taken with “Clam Man” when I first heard it but that changed after a few listens. It’s a beautiful, somewhat melancholy song. One has to wonder if it’s perhaps a self-descriptive reflection of the lyricist. Musically, it makes you feel like you’re at the ocean yet you wonder why you can’t hear the waves.

“Holy Moly,” another highlight, is filled with fun danceable beats. It deals with issues of trust from a rather paranoid stand point. Who said paranoia couldn’t be fun? If there’s one song that should be a “hit” it’s “Rooftop.” This song just screams hit single. It’s a highly accessible infectious track that's so musically tight you can't help but like it. Radio stations should have it in regular rotation. The record ends with the low key “Start Over” which vaguely feels like an early sixties pop song. There’s a sense of sadness laced with a tinge of apathy in the lyric.

Overall, both lyrically and delivery wise, vocalist/lyricist James Love walks a fine line between vulnerability, insecurity and razor tongued keenness. This is all held together by a thumping rhythm section and perfectly placed guitars.

Hot Seconds is a solid debut of well crafted, attention grabbing tunes. It has the perfect blend of cheek, cleverness, catchy lyrics, jaded cynicism and danceable dirty jangle rhythms to keep you entertained from beginning to end.

Track Listing

  • Can’t Stop
  • Pieces Of You
  • Excuse Me
  • Went To India
  • Clam Man
  • We Met Before
  • Individual
  • Holy Moly
  • Rooftop
  • Start Over

Stalk Them Online

Pleased To Meet You …

Let me introduce myself. I’m the Quirky NY Chick. Never heard of me? Yeah well, you’re not alone. You’re part of a large crowd! In my mind, I’m brilliant, witty and charming. I wear big dark sunglasses year ‘round and never go outside without my lipstick on. I’m prone to random bouts of silliness and sometimes boredom. Should you saddle up next to me at a bar, I drink raspberry margaritas and Jack Daniels with Coke. Twizzlers and Pepsi are two of the basic food groups. I like to draw stick figure self-portraits that look nothing like me. I listen to too much music and probably spend more than I should to acquire it.

Music and beyond ... that's what this blog is about. That means, I will likely spend a lot time here talking about music and occasionally other random bits of stuff that pop into my head.

So, now you’ve met me!