Saturday, January 31, 2009

Buddy Holly Lives

On January 31 st , 2009, Vintage Vinyl Records hosted "Buddy Holly Lives," a live in-store concert event. The free concert raised money for the Light of Day Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's Disease. Each of the performers played their favorite Buddy Holly tunes to celebrate the life of the rock legend and commemorate the 50th Anniversary of his tragic plane crash. The event took place on the Vintage Vinyl in-store stage.

As I am a big fan of hers, I made it a point to be there for Nicole Atkins set.

Nicole performed as a duet with singer/acoustic guitarist Liam Moroney.

Listen in here, as they perform the Buddy Holly classic "Oh, Boy"

Nicole was (as always) her loose, funny and casual self.

Here the twosome perform an original composition of Liam's, inspired by Buddy Holly, called "There She Goes".

You can see and hear how it sounds, here:

Have I ever mentioned that Nicole Atkins has a voice so pleasing to me, I get actual physical sensations when I hear it? I mean those kind of tingly vibes that run up and down your arms type feelings. There are not too many other singers or bands (or sounds) I can say that about, and this is just one reason why I will frequently attend her performances.

After she was done performing, Nicole took the time to greet fans and sign their posters, as well as chat a bit.

Here Nicole poses for a davecromwellwrites blog exclusive photograph. Nicole told me the glasses she wears here were done so in tribute to Buddy. In an act of solidarity, I too was wearing spectacles.

This photo, by the way, is copyright held, patent pending and licenced exclusively to davecromwellwrites. It is one of a kind and no one else may lay claim to it. True, it only took a split second to create, but all parties involved were consulted and agreed to therefore and therewith. So, take that musicsnobbery!

After Nicole's set, it was Willie Nile's turn to make Buddy music.

Willie Nile has been a rock and roll staple in New York for decades, known for his clever songwriting and punk rock energy. He's recorded 9 albums, from his Columbia Records self-titled debut to his acclaimed indie release The Streets of New York. Willie has toured with The Who and performed or recorded with the likes of Elvis Costello, Ringo Starr, Ian Hunter, Richard Thompson and Lucinda Williams.

He ripped through a spirited set of tunes and the enthusiastic record store listeners showered their approval through the time-honored practise of paddling their hands together in a rapid motion.

It was a full house, in a nice, great big room.

Vintage Vinyl is a very cool record store, and kudos must go to owner (and the show's soundman) Rob Roth.

Bargin hunters thumbed through bins of classic albums and CD's.

Having recently acquired a turntable, after more than a few years of not having one, I found myself gravitating towards the LP bins. Lots of awesome records to be found.

Then it was time for the final act of the afternoon.

Pat DiNizio is best known as the lead singer and songwriter for the popular New Jersey power-pop band The Smithereens. Pat is also an accomplished solo performer and has just released a Buddy Holly tribute album, which is out now.

He was accompanied by 3 other guitar players with him - 2 acoustic and 1 electric. One of the acoustic guitarists (pictured here) - Kurt Reil - has his own band called The Grip Weeds. They played earlier in the show, and Kurt sang exellent harmonies with Pat.

Here they perform Buddy's classic "It Doesn't Matter Anymore":

At this point Pat performed his original composition, based on the relationship between Buddy and his one true love, titled "Maria Elena"

For his final song of the afternoon Pat Dinizio played his signature Smithereens song "Blood & Roses"

After the show, they set up a "meet and greet" table on the stage, where you could chat a bit with Pat, get him to sign one of the 100 individual "Buddy Holly Lives" posters, and take a picture. All of the proceeds from the sale of each poster went to Light of Day Foundation.

While waiting on line, I spotted a photo on the wall of Nicole, from a previous in-store appearance.

There's nothing I like better than taking a photo of a photo. Especially if it marks an event or occurrence I wasn't even at. This activity has worked for me before (when I took a picture of Bo Diddley in Manny Music, just so I could "visually gift it" to a certain English musician who is something of a "Diddley head").

Pat took a lot of time with everyone. There was no "bums rush" here.

The man enjoying a refreshing diet coke while silver-pen signing on my poster.

And of course, the obligatory "me and the famous person" photo. I sometimes think the event didn't actually happen if I don't do this. Or, more accurately, that the event happened, but there is no evidence that I was there.

The poster I bought to support the cause.

Remember Buddy Holly forever - and always Rave On!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Super Potent Death Baby live at The Production Lounge

On Saturday the 24th of January, I rambled on down to The Production Lounge in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NYC to catch up with my fave heavy power trio - Super Potent Death Baby.

I've been following this band since discovering them for myself in June of last year. I was aware there had been some personnel changes since I last saw them, so I was very curious to hear what they sounded like now.

The band still features bassist and vocalist Suzy The Fox out front, as well as guitarist Pete The Meeet on all things six-string, but now the drums were being handled by new addition Paul Wallbanger.

SPDB is fronted quite capably by lean rocker Suzy - who manages to capture the essence of both Joan Jett and Nikki Sixx, all the while establishing a voice and style that is still unique and her own.

The venue itself was something of a pleasant surprise, providing a cozy and intimate atmosphere, with an overlook balcony that provided an interesting overall perspective.

New drummer Paul had a nervous, anticapatory edge to him pre-show, as this was his first time playing out with this band (though he and Pete have played out together before in other groups).

I was quite pleased to hear that Paul locked in perfectly with Pete and Suzy - and displayed some serious chops and power. Pete was, of course, a force to be reckoned with on guitar.

Suzy is an alluring combination of slithery femininity and tomboyish bravado. She writes and sings songs with lyrics like "I'm no Wonderwoman, And you're no Superman, But I'm not wasting my time now, honey,You do the best that you can" (“Heart On”).

Shadowed eyelids add glamourous menace.

In the Ramones-esque “Get Burned”, she sings:
'Stay away, me oh my, I can wait to fight
contemplating my life, I can't play tonight'

Paul and Suzy show why drums and bass belong together.

Cream and Jack Bruce - The Crue and Nikki Sixx - SPDB and Suzy.

Pete is an amazing guitarist. Combining fluid musicianship with an aggressive punch. He cites bands like black sabbath, 24-7 spyz, kyuss, mars volta, dinosaur jr, yes, the zombies, and king crimson, just to name a few, as those he admires.

They are a 3-piece with a very big sound.

Also performing on this evening was a band named Josephine

A 3-piece as well (all female) they had a distinctly different sound.

More pop than heavy, it was rock with more of an alternative feel to it. The band lists Joy Division, JAMC, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Slowdive, MBV, Oasis, Ride, Charlatans, and Pat Benatar as some of their Influences. I also heard instrumental sounds and progressions that at times reminded me of U2 .

Singer Xtina has a very stylish presence, to compliment her self-described "trained but abused... really loud and cracks sometimes with emotion" voice.

Later on that night we headed over to the bar Suzy works at, Van Gogh's Radio Lounge for a post-show afterparty.

Both Pete and I celebrated out birthday's together (we're both born on the same day).

Trusty wingman Steve was with me for the whole show and also joined us at the Lounge.

Many sprited games of darts were played.

Good music - good people - good times.

Rock & Roll Brooklyn, New York style.

Links to everything mentioned:

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Manhattan Love Suicides - Singles

The Manhattan Love Suicides are a band who's movements I follow very closely these days.

Having become aware of them over a year ago, I've quickly become a fan of everything they've done, past, present (and most likely) future.

Earlier in the year, they released a brilliant compiliation of their best work to date, the much hearalded "Burnt Out Landscapes".

You can read a detailed review of that album here:

In the latter half of 2008, they also released 4 new songs, on two separate 7" Double A Side singles.

Here then, my review of those songs:

VERONICA b/w THE 10th VICTIM is a Double A Side 7" Single
released on Squirrel Records in early Autumn of 2008.

The first time I heard "Veronica" was after watching a recorded performance of the band playing at a Rough Trade live instore performance from this past August. Sharp DJ Rocker Rosehips (who does a radio show for Dandelion Radio at had the good sense to not only capture the show, but to post it up on the internet for those of us who couln't be there, to see. I instantly was hooked on the driving, poppy rhythm. I wasn't sure what Caroline was singing in the chorus, however. At first I thought it was "Oh, oh, America". Then I heard Rockers video capture of the same song from their Indie Tracks show recorded a month earlier and thought maybe she was singing "Uh, oh Erotica". I liked it either way - because like most great music (for me) - its more about how it sounds, than the actual words.

Last month my special edition vinyl copy of the song showed up in the mail. Having already been informed of the songs correct title (and the word Caroline was singing) I eagerly flipped it on my newly acquired turntable.

Naturally, the studio recorded version is brighter, crisper and with all the detailed instrument separation you'd expect to hear. Overall it's a much cheerier song than many of this bands more darker and dissonant pieces.

From the opening note, guitars fill the sonic space with buzzing chords, while a poppy melody line is driven over top. Add to that a counterpoint bassline that is positioned prominently in the mix, and I'm reminded of the sonic textures that The Cure have been sometimes known for. There is a real, solid drumming bottom to this track as well, with emphasis on the driving floor tom, and tambourine-on-snare shot.

Darren adds guitar-hook melody lines over top - in a sonic texture not unlike the aforementioned Cure, or perhaps that sound Depeche Mode got on their song "Personal Jesus".

Caroline's voice is bright and clear on the verses. Presenting the story in classic pop song sensibility.

The stick-in-your-head-to-sing-over-and-over hook is, or course, the Chorus which simply goes "Oh, Oh, Veronica" Combine this catchy word combination with the twangy lick Darren is playing and you'll be sure to be humming this one long after the song is over. The bass is quite prominent in the mix, and that's a good thing as it provides that driving Simon Gallup counter-rhythm that is such an integral part of *that* band's sound. Of note as well is the emergence of true cymbals on the chorus too. A noteworthy sound addition as frequently, the overall MLS sound can be quite minimal, percussion-wise.

Since I was fortunate to get the songs lyrics directly from it's writer (Darren) I include them here for maximum effect:

She don't need no friends and that's ok
Says she's gonna take a plane and live out in the USA
And nothing's keeping her inside this place
'Cos she exists outside of time and space
Try to shut her in and that won't happen
Try to hold her back she's on the run

Oh oh Veronica

Living in a world of feedback and white heat
She gets what she wants out on the street
The world keeps turning round but that's alright
Looking for kicks in the heart of a Saturday night
Hit the brakes before you've even started
Everything you do is a waste of time

Oh oh Veronica

"The 10th Victim" is the antithesis of "Veronica". A dark, driving, ominous, dirge-like song. The bass guitar marks out the progression in bold, simple strokes. Darren matches this rhythm with single-notes on the guitar, in addition to his familiar chord work.

Caroline's vocals are right out of the Nico-with-Velvet Underground school. Her voice is eerily doubled for a slightly off-kilter, impending-doom style. Yet, at the same time, there is a seductive smoothness to her delivery.

The Drums are Mo Tucker simplicity, with that big tambourine strike on every fourth beat.
Darren's guitar soloing hearkens back to that same mid-1960's VU sound. I'm also reminded of another band with a similar soling style at the time -The Byrds and their song "8 Miles High". That band (which featured guitarists Roger McGuinn and David Crosby), no doubt, heard what the Velvet's were doing and incorporated this soloing style into their own. It's a tension filled, near-psychedelic style. Other guitar bands of that same era that employed this guitar style was The Buffalo Springfield. That band just happened to have a very youthful Neil Young and Stephen Stills on guitar.

The Title comes from a typically Manhattan Love Suicides style movie - a 1965 Sci-Fi Action Thriller about a 21st century society where people have a licence to kill. Marcello Mastorianni plays the most successful killer and then his number comes up as a victim. Marcello must always be on guard. The hunter after him is the beautiful Ursula Andress, always dressed in knock-out fashions. Marcello's as cool as ever, always dressed in black, wearing sunglasses.

Shortly thereafter, the band released another Double A Side 7" Single
also on Squirrel Records (Released NOV 2008).

"Kessler Syndrome" comes right out of the box in full-on pop-hook-riff mode. Quick and anthemic, the riff is bouyant (dare I say, sounding "happy"?) - yet the guitars tone and timbre are (once again) harsh and metallic, and the bass is dominant in its rubbery lines (with those long sliding notes that Douglas Hart and Kim Gordon like to play), contributing to the overall rhythm.
Caroline's vocals start, and its that familiar cominbation of part-punky/part-sugary style delivery (I love the way she says words like "away" and "stay") for the opening 8 bar verse. This then leads into an equally hooky bridge - one that conjures up spirits (and the bridges) contained in songs like The Bobby Fuller Four's classic "I Fought The Law (and the law won), and others similiar of that era.

But what is the song actually about? Well, in the world of science and space exploration, "The Kessler Syndrome" is a scenario, proposed by NASA consultant Donald J. Kessler, in which the volume of space debris in Low Earth Orbit is so high that objects in orbit are frequently struck by debris, creating even more debris and a greater risk of further impacts. The implication of this scenario is that the escalating amount of debris in orbit could eventually render space exploration, and even the use of satellites, too prone to loss to be feasible for many generations.
What might this actully have to do with *this song*? Only the author knows that. I've been informed that these lyrics came from the mind of bassist Adam. That he tends to write stuff that's a little deeper than the trashy lyrics about guys driving too fast and girls having affairs with their teachers that Darren and Caroline come up with.

"You say we should try and stay and fight for what we're worth , but that would only add to all the debris that is orbiting the earth" are some actual lyrics.

I'm inclined to believe that perhaps these lyrics are in fact a metaphor for, perhaps a personal relationship that is too cluttered with "debris" (of the human, emotional kind) as to render any further growth to remain "feasible".

Actually the real question should be, why the heck am I intellectualizing a [ ] minute pop song?
Back to the opening riff for another 4 bars. Then verse two. Carolines sings about being "pushed away" and that there is "nothing more to say". "I know I can't stay here anymore"
Then another - different change here - leading up to a half-step up in the key for the final verse.
In the end it doesn't really matter what its about. I can (and want) to dance to it.

"Don't Leave Me Dying" rises from distant feedback, suddenly to a driving, Spector-sonic wall-of-guitars and bass (throttled down in an aggressive manner) as a hooky riff twangs out over top, adding a distinct melody to it all. Vocalist Caroline begins the lyrics in that familar soft-as-snow voice - almost like Bowie does in his classic track "Heroes". However, the pulse and aggression in the music behind it is "Heroes" ampted up on amphetamines - whipping around on a rollercoaster that's just this-close to teetering out of control. Caroline alternates "Crying" with "Dying" at times ("don't leave me crying"). This song is bits of 60's girl-group vocals, bright, chiming 60's-style guitar, driving throttling bass, very poppy and hooky - but way too bathed in overdriven guitars to be ever confused with anything "sweet". In fact, its unapologetically abrasive in its straight-ahead driving nature.

At this point, it should be pretty obvious how highly I regard this band.

If you like fuzzy guitars, sweet/sultry female vocals, dominant basslines and songs that encompass a 1960's sensibility coupled with a cinematic menace, then you owe it to yourself to check out The Manhattan Love Suicides.

Find them at these links:

To order the records directly:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Raveonettes live @ Webster Hall - 16th of January 2009

I never miss The Raveonettes when they play New York.


Since discovering them in 2004, I go to all their NY shows. No exceptions.

So, Friday night the 16th of January at Webster Hall was a big night for me, as Sune Rose Wagner reunited with his partner Sharin Foo (wonderfully backed by the amazing Heisenflei of The Pity Party on drums, and Jennifer Frasier, formerly of The Warlocks on bass) for the first time in half-a-year to play some live shows.

From the opening strains of classic Pretty In Black tune "You Say You Lie" (the set opener) the band looked and sounded fantastic.

Webster Hall is one of the best places to see a show (in a stand-up situation) and The Raveonettes took full advantage of its high-quality sound and lighting systems.

Having not played together live for a 6 month period (recording the four digital EP's they released via modern e-technology, while Sharin took time to have a baby) their voices sounded as harmonious as ever.

Arranging various show meetups prior to the event, I was most pleased to make contact with my good e-friend and fellow blogger Quicklime Tom. It was my pleasure, bro.

Speaking of bro's - Tom's own actual brother Crickety Chris was there, and is also a righteous, upstanding dude.

Wagner was (as always) his amazingly cool and collected self. His voice was spot-on and his guitarwork never fails to chill me. Note the dazzling Heisenflei (of amazing band The Pity Party) on drums.
Check out their version of "Lust" (from their last full-length album - the fantastic "Lust, Lust, Lust")

Sharin, still glowing from recent Motherhood, was also a force on the six strings. Her playing becomes more fluid and dominant with each new tour. Additionally, her voice was as sweet as ever, and together with Sune they become something greater than what either could do individually.

This past year, Sune & Sharin released 4 separate digital EP's. Two new songs from the "Beauty Dies" EP were included in the set for this show.

Check out the amazing performance of "Black/White" here:

When beams of light hit Sune or Sharin respectively, they transformed into something near angelic.
Another new song from the same recently released EP - the gorgeous "Young and Beautiful"

I had the pleasure of rolling post-show with my total BFF CA (California) Ann Oakley. She totally rocks and is amazing - truth!

Sune was so cool to host a dance party downstairs at Webster Hall (which has some really cool and fun different rooms with a variety of music being played).

Sune jumped behind the decks to wow us all with a killer DJ Set

The music he played was diverse and had Ann and I dancing like a couple of Rave-On-Raving Rockers!

We caught up with the always friendly Sune himself for a brief how-you-do and photo op.
The man and Ann - totally cool.

After that we headed out to Club Mondo over at Don Hill's on the West Side of Man-Apple.

It was dance, dance fever till wee hours of morn.

Sweaty, satisfied and stoked - it was, what you would call - one of those truly awesome, fun and fantastic nights.

Here's some links for anyone who needs 'em:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Steve Shiffman & the Land of No - live at Cake Shop, January 9, 2009

Steve Shiffman & the Land of No brought their raucous brand of "rawk 'n' roll" back to The Cake Shop (one of my fave venues) on the Lower East Side of New York City, Friday the 9th of January, now the year 2009.

Now becoming something of a veteran of the "Shiff madness" (this being my 4th show), I knew I was in for a good time.

Super soloist dAve Hollinghurst brought along all his essential stringed instruments, including this sweet lap steel.

Of course the driving vision belongs to Canadian-American songwriter Steve Shiffman.

No band can exist without a decent rhythm section, and both drummer Pete Hayes and bassist Kent Heine are more than merely decent. In fact, they are the engine that makes this Ford Fairlane go.

And then there's Alec. That's Alec Ferrell. He is the everyman's dude. He's sooo dude. You can just bump fists with him and go "yo dude". Interesting side-note about Alec - much like Eddie Argos of Art Brut - he is something of a comic book/graphic novel afficianado. Yes - that cool.

Alec and the Shiff get down to bin'ness.

International guitar superstar dAve Hollinghurst screams encouragement to his maraca.

Alec and Steve join in with voices sincere.

While Kent thrumbles on, dAve searches for the perfect pitch.

Heads bowed - strings slashed - its all about the feel, baby.

Two men - one purpose - the perfect storm.

Hollinghurst displays why he is the go-to guy, when you need it done right.

Dominance and submission (radio's appear)

Passion on display

All the songs they played.
Here's an awesome live video:
You haven't gotten into the Shiff yet?
What you waitin' for!
Check 'em out here: