putting a lid on this baby...
Well, it's time to breathe an enormous sigh of relief, kids. Two-thousand-eight is finally almost over. And inauguration day is only three weeks off...
I haven't been blogging much here since election day, but I figured that since it's Christmas night, I'm near my parents' liquor cabinet and don't have much else to do in these small hours, I'd scratch a few words of non-political reflection on this bathroom wall before year's end.
First of all, I gotta say that I'm damn lucky to still be making a living as a musician, particularly in these lean times. I've been super-busy the last few months, getting my new band Black Sugar Transmission off the ground (we're two shows in and getting warmed up!), playing guitar for Acey Slade (East Coast tour in February!), producing tracks for Jen Urban and the Box, Alex Calibur, Patti Rothberg, Teenage Millionaire and Nuclear Blouse. And pretty much all the musicians I've worked with are really f*cking good, which makes life really f*cking good. This is NOT punching the clock. Thank god.
And it seems like, just when my coffers are about to run dry, I get a call to go do a gig somewhere -- my favorite was backing up the adorable (and capable!) drag queen Peppermint and a slew of other performers at a Chelsea bar one Friday night a few weeks ago. I'm no stranger to the drag scene and it's always great to go back to it -- there's always a tremendous amount of support, enthusiasm and FUN with a capital F in those rowdy circles.
Also super fun was DJ-ing at the Com[mutiny] XXXmas party. For those not in the know, Com[mutiny], formerly called Byte, is a loud, kinky, gorgeous and uber-popular monthly party at The Delancey, in NYC's (otherwise bland) Lower East Side University Campus. I hadn't DJ-ed in awhile but it's like riding a bike, as they say, and the Com[mutiny] folks told me to indulge myself however I saw fit (which, of course, is a relief -- if you've ever DJ-ed before, you know what a drag it is when club owners try to micro-manage your musical choices and breathe down your neck all night).
I haven't seen a ton of shows lately, but the ones I've attended have been stellar. Austin's electro-rock duo Ghostland Observatory turned Terminal 5 into a sweaty bump-n-grind-fest, thanks to their wickedly brilliant frontman Aaron Behrens, who proves that an outrageous voice, great dance moves and 100% commitment will make anyone forgive the fact that most of the backing music is canned. I mean, damn. What a great show.
Also one of my favorite nights of the last couple of months was a cold Sunday at Teneleven bar in Alphabet City, where a bunch of my super-talented friends played loose, inspired sets to an enthusiastic roomful of friends. Vero was sultry and captivating, backed by trombone and electric hollowbody guitar; the glittery Jen Urban and the Box stretched their normally taut dance tracks into semi-acoustic confessional/jam sessions and pint-sized super-cutie Fiona Silver shocked everyone when she opened her mouth and delivered a set of disarmingly personal tunes in a gorgeous breathy soprano at the end of the night. Meanwhile, bartender Leslie Van Stelten conducted body shots on the bar! What a great night.
I saw King's X for the umpteenth time last week and while watching their typically crushing performance, I was reminded again just how much this band has affected me over the years. It's impossible to imagine what kind of songs I'd be writing now if it weren't for the intervention of the mighty King's X.
Furthermore, I marveled again at how each of these three guys is so goddamn good at what he does, and that these three uncommonly brilliant musicians found eachother and established such a special chemistry, and made truly original and meaningful music together, and that, finally, they are still together, playing each show like their lives are on the line. I tried to articulate this to the band after the show, but it all came out silly. But they know. They are beyond loved and respected.
Been listening to a handful of new-ish records this month. The Damned put out a surprisingly bouncy collection of new songs on So Who's Paranoid, an album that easily stands alongside Strawberries-era Damned. Pretty amazing that after all these years, these snot-noses are the only first-wave punks still standing. They were the ones always voted "least likely" in the early days of English punk. Great to see them having the last laugh.
The Faint put out a new record called Faciinatiion, which maybe doesn't offer any stunning revelations but further establishes the ultra-stylish niche they've carved for themselves over the last decade. At times the record sounds too familiar, but other at other times, songs will jump out of the speakers and head-butt you, like the razor-sharp "Machine in the Ghost."
As for Tv on the Radio's latest album Dear Science, I have to say, I don't see what all the fuss is about. I know it's topping all the critics' lists (big deal) but to me its streamlined, more accessible approach just doesn't suit the band. What I loved so much about Cookie Mountain was its stunning ambition, the caustic noise, the dark menace of it. Dear Science, with its digestible arrangements and catchy choruses, sounds perfectly nice but incongruously lightweight for such a heavy band. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy listening to it, and there are some real strong spots, and their sonic identity is still remarkably recognizeable, but it's not rolling me over like their old stuff. I wonder what kind of marks this album will be getting in hindsight, ten years from now...
What else? I've been loving my Flip camera, making videos, watching Worst-President-Ever crash and burn in excruciating interviews, recording instrumental music in November (best time to do so), dusting off my Cocteau Twins discs for the first snowfall of the year. Above all, my friends are the best anywhere. I spent Thanksgiving/my birthday with five other holiday castaways at Club Chavez (aka Dario and Michael's place), eating yummy food (When Stoners Cook!), getting drunk, hula-hooping and watching The Man With Two Brains. I can't think of a better way to go.
Despite everything, it hasn't been a bad year for me. But I'm lucky. Lucky to be alive, to have my friends, my family, to be doing what I love. In 2K8 I've made a ton of music, worked with really talented people, made new friends (there are phenomenal humans around every corner in New York), collaborated with some of my all-time heroes and slept late most days.
And if that's all there is, it ain't so bad.