Saturday, December 31, 2011

Album of the Year...According to Me: U.S. Royalty - Mirrors

Normally at the end of the year, I put together a series of posts “reviewing” records I didn’t get around to mentioning throughout the year. This year, I wanted to change things up a bit. I considered putting together one of those nifty little best of lists. But then, I started thinking... that happens from time to time! There are several records that came out this year that I like be it because they were well crafted, catchy or just because. But, how many of those albums do I really listen to? By really listen to, I mean in regular rotation and can sing-a-long to sort of thing.

I did some highly complicated scientific calculations based on my listening habits and I determined the Quirky NY Chick Album of the Year...According to Me honor goes to, U.S. Royalty for their much listened to Mirrors.

The DC area band released Mirrors, their full-length debut, in January of 2011. When the record landed in my inbox (note to me, order physical copy!), I put it on and it has stayed in regular rotation since then. I’ve listened to it a lot. It’s um, playing right now as I type. Yeah, let’s just say, they would likely even say I’ve listened to their record too much! Is it a perfect record? No, but what is? There are a couple of songs, “Vacation Vacation” and “Old Flames,” that I don’t feel as much as the rest of the album, sorry fellas. That being said, the highlights far outweigh the “I ain’t feeling it” moments. I was initially drawn to “Hollywood Hollows.” I tend to listen to music before I listen to lyrics; it’s just how I work. The stomp blues rock of “Hollywood Hollows” is frankly some of the sexiest sounding rock ‘n’ roll to hit my ears in a while. The first several times I listened to the song, I frankly didn’t care what the lyrics were. The music combined with vocalist John Thornley’s phrasing dripped of musical sexiness and, I happen to like when my rock ‘n’ roll is sexy and a little dirty sounding. However, it’s the catchy “Monte Carlo” that gets stuck in your head for hours at a time. It is quite simply one of those wonderful pop rock songs that is worthy of being #1 on the Billboard charts. The fact that it is reminiscent of some of those classic Buckingham/Nicks era Fleetwood Mac songs (check out Paul Thornley’s guitar work on the track, Buckingham would be proud) just adds to the charm. From there you’re led into “Equestrian” full of driving rhythms that sound incredibly grand. “The Desert Won’t Save You,” another song I listened to several times before even listening to the lyrics, is also rather grand in sound with it’s Zepplinesque vibe. It just sounds intensely heavy reeling you in with seductive guitar work that weaves throughout the song then it pounds you hard before easing you back down through a maze of rhythm to let you go gently. Put on some headphones, grab a glass of wine (or some mother nature if that’s your thing), light some incense and candles and just let it take you away; it’s that kind of song.

Mirrors is an incredibly strong body of work. When I first mentioned this record on my little corner of the internet world, I put it on my list of recommended listens. Almost a year later, I still feel the same way.

U.S. Royalty also get kudos for putting on one helluva live show. They’re full of Stones like bravado giving you a show full of sweat, swagger and good old fashioned, no holds barred, we came to entertain you rock music. My only complaint would be that due to some bizarre cosmic deprivation conspiracy happenings, I only got to see one of their many NYC shows this year!

For those who were curious, the remaining two on my top three ridiculous number of listens list were... Nicole Atkins’ seriously wonderful Mondo Amore and I’ve worn out Jump Into The Gospel’s four song Self-titled EP... more songs, please fellas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Upcoming: WAZU at Cameo Gallery, January 10 + MP3

New York based, Australian duo WAZU will be taking the stage over in Brooklyn at Cameo Gallery on Tuesday, January 10 at 8PM. Swing over and check them out. If you aren’t familiar with the duo, we have for you in our MP3 Grab at the bottom of the post, the first single, “Murder 1” from their upcoming debut EP. The Kevin McMahon produced EP is scheduled for release on January 10 via Anti-language Recordings.

WAZU is Matt and Rizz – an Australian-American glam/grunge/electronic/pop duo based in New York City by way of Sydney. Matt and Rizz met as freshmen at The University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia, and after writing and performing together in several influential Sydney bands, including Open the Gates and Captains, the two decided to officially become a duo and further explore the chemistry and ideas that so naturally occur between them.

In their first week as WAZU, the duo performed seven shows in six nights at the Top 10 “Best of the Fest” Festival at Toronto Indie Week 2010. “We showed up planning to play three shows, but [we] kept winning!” Shortly after, the band performed as part of the CMJ Festival at Lower East Side staple The Living Room, the Neon Reverb Music Festival in Las Vegas, and the Dropout Party at Don Hill’s in New York City.

MP3 Grab: “Murder 1

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Video of the Day: Lenny Kravitz - “Push”

Today we have for you the new video from Lenny Kravitz. Why? 1) We like Lenny. 2) It’s in b&w. 3) It’s a good song. 4) He roams about shirtless in it. What? It’s my corner of the internet world and I can be shallow if I want! At least I refrained from making that the number one reason for posting the video. The video is for “Push” which is from his latest album, Black And White America.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Video of the Day: Amy Gore & Her Valentines - "Drivin' Around"

Today we bring you the new video from Amy Gore & Her Valentines. The video is for the song "Drivin' Around" and was produced and directed by Brittin Richter. I'm a huge Gore fan and once again she has delighted me. Check out the video at the bottom of the post. Also, you can purchase the song using the handy dandy fantastical widget below.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Video Flashback: Hank & Cupcakes at Mercury Lounge

Back in October, we were at Mercury Lounge to watch Hank & Cupcakes heat things up. So, today we have for you a clip from that show. They're performing their cover of "She's Lost Control." Even though the camera audio is a bit dodgy, you can see why they're a must see band; they're infectiously fun and funky.

Monday, November 28, 2011

What I Did This Summer: Newport Folk Festival, Day 2

Today we have a look at day two of the 2011 Newport Folk Festival. The legendary festival was a great mix of classic an
d modern folk.

On the main stage where we spent most of our time, we got the soulfulness of Amos Lee, had one heck of a party with Miss Wanda Jackson and a musical journey with the Carolina Chocolate Drops who one minute played traditional folk from the 20's to beat boxing the next even tossing in a cover of R&B pop song "Hit 'em Up Style (Oops!)." Also on the main stage, Elvis Costello, headliner Emmylou Harris and the David Wax Museum who played one of the smaller stages as contest winners the previous year.

Meanwhile, over on the Quad stage, Middle Brother killed and The Secret Sisters charmed. At the Alex and Ani Harbor Stage, my guest blogger, Addison Braver Walsh, loved The Head and the Heart and I might have squealed a little bit and definitely sang along when Brown Bird, after an already impressive set, launched into the classic "Jackson" to close their set.

If you missed it or want to re-live it, this is what it looked like!

Fort Stage

Emmylou Harris
(more photos HERE)Above, folk legend Pete Seeger backstage with Harris.

Elvis Costello

Amos Lee
(more photos HERE)
Wanda Jackson
(more photos HERE)

Carolina Chocolate Drops
(more photos HERE)
David Wax Museum
(more photos HERE)

Quad Stage

The Secret Sisters
(more photos HERE)

Alex and Ani Harbor Stage

The Civil Wars
(more photos HERE)
Mountain Man
(more photos HERE)

In case you missed it, this is what we had to say about...

Wanda Jackson

Middle Brother

The Head and the Heart
by guest blogger Addison Braver Walsh

Brown Bird

Day 1 What I Did This Summer: Newport Folk Festival, Day 1

Friday, November 25, 2011

What I Did This Summer: Newport Folk Festival, Day 1

This summer we once again visited the legendary Newport Folk Festival in scenic Newport, RI. The weather was great, the people were great and the music, of course, was fantastic! For those of you that missed the sold-out festival or perhaps want to re-live it, this is what it looked like!

Fort Stage

The Decemberists
(more photos HER
Gillian Welch joined by David Rawlings
(more photos HERE)

Earl Scruggs
(more photos HERE)

Gogol Bordello
(more photos HERE)

The Wailin' Jennys
(more photos HERE)

Quad Stage

Mavis Staples
(more photos HERE)

Freelance Whales
(more photos HERE)

River City Extension
(more photos HERE)

Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
(more photos HERE)

During their set, the sound went wonky and cut out. Plucky and professional lady that she is, Sallie Ford and her band made a quick set-up change and continued while the folks that handle the technical stuff sorted things out.

Alex and Ani Harbor Stage

Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three
(more photos HERE)

The Audience

Day 2 What I Did This Summer: Newport Folk Festival, Day 2

Friday, November 11, 2011

What You May Have Missed: Blackbells at Mercury Lounge

Blackbells: October12 @ Mercury Lounge, New York, NY

Last month I went down to Mercury Lounge to catch Brooklyn based band the Blackbells. Their new EP, IxI had been released the previous day so it was time to celebrate it! The audience was lively; they came ready to party. The Blackbells were excellent hosts with their all up in your ears, face melting rock 'n' roll. It's always a pleasure to have your face melted ... thank you fellas.

If you haven't picked up the EP, you should! If you missed the show, this is what it looked like!

More Photos HERE

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Sheriffs of Nottingham Kickstarter Project Ending Soon

Memphis rock band The Sheriffs of Nottingham are working to finish their new record, Have Mercy. They launched a Kickstarter project and there are 3 days left for them to reach their goal. If you're not familiar with their music, check out a stream of "Sticks and Stones" from the upcoming record below. If you dig it and want to show 'em some love head over to their Kickstarter page located HERE, and make a pledge.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Q & A: Lisa Bianco

One of my favorite rockin’ women, Lisa Bianco, has a new record, Momentum, coming out. It will be available Tuesday, November 15 via iTunes and other digital retailers. And for those who like to actually hold their music, physical copies will be available at On Momentum, Bianco has blended pop, alternative and punk into seven songs of melodic ear pleasure. With an upcoming record release show, Friday, November 11 at Bowery Electric, 7:30PM, I thought we should do a little Q&A with Bianco.

Quirky NY Chick (QNYC): Momentum, I think, is a bit harder edged than your previous record. Was that an intentional move or just a natural progression?

Lisa Bianco (LB): I think a bit of both. After my last album Post Data, I wanted to write different. I learned so much from the last album that I think it's natural to build on that. Or bring out some elements you discovered on that last album. I was writing so much on my acoustic guitar (kind of necessary since I live in an apartment). So instead I just plugged into Garage Band and headphones so I could be cranked how I want it at all times, lol. You write different that way and there's a resonance with electrics you don't get on acoustics. That resonance is sometimes responsible for the song ideas that some out. I also didn't want "mid tempo" to be the death of me. Ha. So I was writing more up songs. In fact "Erase You" started real slow on an acoustic guitar as an exercise to get out of writers block. I just decided that it would be really cool a lot faster...and it became a song; same thing with "Low." Originally "Low" was this strummy acoustic number. I knew that it wasn't quite right...but I knew there was a good song in there. So when my producer, Bryan Rusell, and I got together for pre pro we tore the song apart and tossed back and forth ideas of presenting it different. It's a dark song so we went for this deep picking and blasting chorus. The general rule for this album was throw out the book and do everything opposite to what you'd maybe normally expect to do. That's kind of how Bryan works. No predicable clichés and less is more.

Friday, November 4, 2011

S.C.U.M. Releases New Video

S.C.U.M. have released a video for their upcoming single, "Faith Unfolds." It was directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. The single is scheduled to be released on January 13. Check out the video below.

This year has seen the band truly arrive in emphatic style. Live and on record S.C.U.M effortlessly bring together each band member’s individual listening habits in psychedelia, space-rock, avant-garde and ambient soundtracks to form a pop trip that neatly balances the innovative with the rapturously danceable to great effect. The band has toured with The Kills and played alongside Portishead in the UK.

S.C.U.M is Thomas Cohen (vocal), Bradley Baker (machines), Samuel Kilcoyne (moog), Melissa Rigby (drums) and Huw Webb (Bass).

PYYRAMIDS Release New Record & Video

PYYRAMIDS, the new collaboration by Tim Nordwind of OK Go and singer Drea Smith released their new record, Human Beings earlier this week. I've put this record on my recommend list. The alluring vocals and catchy rhythms will have these songs stuck in your head all day and on repeat play. Check out the video for "That Ain't Right" and download the song as well as stream the rest of the album using the handy widget at the bottom of the post.

From the mystical, unGoogleable beyond comes PYYRAMIDS, a new collaboration by OK Go's Tim Nordwind and singer Drea Smith. Living in the dark, atmospheric grotto midway between the dance floor and the mopey teenage bedroom of the mind, PYYRAMIDS' six-song debut will be available on October 31st from Paracadute, the full-service 21st century record label OK Go founded on their 2010 parting from Capitol. Befitting the band's cross of banging beats with underground pop, PYYRAMIDS arrives on that most idiosyncratic of formats, 10-inch vinyl.

PYYRAMIDS comes as a reinvention for both players and steps into new, wild territory. For Nordwind, the guy with the bass, beard, and glasses in OK Go, PYYRAMIDS' expansive textures find him far from the bright indie pop and all-inclusive videos that have made OK Go one of the most recognizable - not to mention most-watched - acts of the digital age. (Though that doesn't mean PYYRAMIDS won't try their hand at videos.) For Smith, formerly the saucy half of the electro-pop duo He Say She Say - and a stint with Lupe Fiasco - it brings her songwriting into a place of bold new maturity without sacrificing the force of her singular presence. For both, it is an unlikely partnership entirely befitting of the new age.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What You May Have Missed: Jump Into The Gospel at Pianos

Jump Into The Gospel: October 12 @ Pianos, New York, NY

When last I'd seen Jump Into The Gospel, they were finishing up a residency at Pianos about four months ago. Earlier this month, I was at the same LES venue to see the fellas once again. What do you get when you toss a bunch of adorable skinny guys on a stage with instruments and amplification? You get one happy me! The rest of the audience was equally happy.

In a compact set, they did what they do best, worked the crowd into a dance party that had folks wanting more. They've tightened up performance wise which gave them a bit of a harder sound, more edgy. They also look different. Body languages have changed. They look more rock star now. No, it's not the white outfits, those just make me crave ice cream. The rhythmic instrument guys, Chris Stein (drums), Erik Tonnesen (keys) and Lakis Pavlou (bass) had a laid back coolness about them and a subtle power that demanded you dance. Guitarist Ben Vescovi has stepped things up a notch. He sounded more streamlined, more precise. And visually, he has achieved that pretty, slightly vacant, 70's rock star look. Hm, he may take issue with that description! Front-man Louis Epstein is evolution. He is working the stage more and frankly, there were several moments that I got that larger than life feeling while watching him perform. At this rate, there will soon be too much Louis for the smaller stages; he'll need a grander setting. At one point, I was perched precariously on the steps beneath Epstein. I looked up, the lights were framing him and thought to myself, rising star. In all of the time I've been going to see their shows, Jump Into The Gospel have never sounded or looked so complete.

More photos HERE

(to the best of my memory)
  • Flagship
  • St. John
  • Start A Following
  • My Man
  • Humvee
  • 2012

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What You May Have Missed: Hank & Cupcakes at Mercury Lounge

Hank & Cupcakes: October 8 @ Mercury Lounge
, New York, NY

Earlier this month I was down at Mercury Lounge. On the bill that night, New York based duo Hank & Cupcakes. Until now, they were one of those bands that I kept missing. Something always came up when they were playing around town. I must say, it has been my loss and I'm happy to have finally rectified the situation. I already knew I liked their music. In fact, if I'd been spinning vinyl, I would have worn the grooves off their self-titled EP. Luckily for us, they've just finished recording a new record so we have that treat to look forward to.

Hank & Cupcakes put on a fun, funky, sexy, infectious, "ah hell, it's a party up in here!" show. The audience was in party mode, cheering them on, singing along and dancing up a sweat. If you don't have fun at one of their shows, seek therapy immediately! They're are a must see. Do yourself a favor and go see them up close and personal before they blow up to Gaga status and you're in the nose bleed section at Madison Square Garden watching the fun.

More photos HERE

Monday, October 24, 2011

Video of the Day: Some Velvet Morning - "Don't Think"

Today we have for you, "Don't Think" the latest video from UK band Some Velvet Morning. The single comes out in the UK on October 30. Check out the video below.