All posts by Kristy Eldredge

The Shake – Kick It

The Shake - Kick ItThe ShakeKick It

A reincarnation of straight-ahead, unself-conscious, pre-Spinal Tap rock bands, Brooklyn’s The Shake makes a polished debut with their 8-song collection, Kick It. Everything feels like a throwback, from the modest number of tracks (unlike most CDs which average 13-14) to the stylistic influences: AC/DC-style propulsion, fuzzed-up late-Beatles guitar, a Herman’s Hermits-y melodic bounce, and more.

The Shake ably incorporates all these styles into their songs, which end up sounding too derivative at times, but have the saving grace of solid hooks and melodies. “8 O’Clock” and “Let Me Take You Far Away” are both bright, catchy tunes, recalling the British Invasion but charming in their own right. “Stop Fighting,” the bonus track, has the same snappy tunefulness. And the opener, “Princes and Kings,” has a great classic-rock opening riff, before it drowns in trite lyrics and predictable rhymes.

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GLONO Interview: Bryk by Bryk

Dan BrykWhat would you do if your singer/songwriter career had taken off nicely, including an offer from notable indie label Scratchie Records and a tour of Japan with as an opening act for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, but fate and American immigration policies intervened to sideline you for a full four years? If you’re Dan Bryk, you hunker down and do what your visa will allow you to do—Canadians get very restrictive visas permitting employment in one area only—which was graphic design, while keeping a low profile as a musician in Raleigh, NC. Bryk’s enthusiastic press was silenced from his absence from the touring circuit, and his audience inevitably subsided during his enforced hiatus.

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The Be Good Taynas – Hello Love

The Be Good Taynas - Hello LoveThe Be Good TanyasHello Love (Nettwerk)

I know it’s not his fault, but I have issues with David Dye, the host of NPR’s Triple-A” music format that seemingly appeals to those that had a few Joni Mitchell albums in college, who can’t bare to listen to standard commercial radio and who still feel an urge to appear musically hip.

So that’s my unwarranted beef with David Dye, and it’s admittedly unfounded, but it doesn’t help that the music selection of his show typically bores the piss out of me. Seriously, it’s the kind of show my father likes.

The Be Good Tanyas’ third album, Hello Love, probably gets a lot of plays on “The World Café;” this Canadian trio doesn’t stray far from the rootsy music you would hear at Starbucks.

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I Wish, I Wish, I Wish in Vain

I Wish...I’ve stopped going to rock shows. It’s not because I had children and have settled into a nurturing later life. I’m as footloose as ever, and I work 11 to 7 so I could be at a rock show every night of the week. And it’s not because I’m over the hill. (Well, maybe a little.) But I was over the hill when I got into rock. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy rock shows anymore. The last one I went to – King of France, Dawn Landes and Robbers on High Street at the Mercury – was terrific and I had fun. But I don’t feel the old eagerness when a new Village Voice comes out – I don’t pant to see who’s playing where. To quote an old Cowboy Junkies line, “My heart doesn’t race like it did once before.”

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Stephen Malkmus – Face the Truth

Stephen MalkmusFace the Truth (Matador)

What’s it like to face the truth with Stephen Malkmus? Unsurprisingly, it’s not a straightforward experience. There’s little heart-baring on his new cd, but there is a grab-bag of cryptic, prankish lyrics set to catchy melodies that, as usual, have more to offer than they seem to at first.

There’s a certain disappointment, though, in listening to a collection of songs called Face the Truth and finding them as nonchalantly disengaged as ever. As soon the elegant ellipse seems to momentarily reveal vulnerability, singing “Now I need some help to find out what I feel” (“It Kills”), he then immediately adds: “It kills the time.” Whew! How much commitment can one man take?

You might miss the emotional risk-taking, but you also can’t resist the beats and melodies on Face the Truth. I had it on my headphones on my way in to work this morning and was nodding, harmonizing and air-drumming along for most of the way. Malkmus seems endlessly inventive (though “Post Paint Boy” sounds like “Bring on the Major Leagues,” I did notice) in creating heart-stoppingly lovely melodies, like the hymn-like choral beauty of “Loud Cloud Crowd” and the gorgeous “Freeze the Saints.” The album is tender, pretty, catchy, even joyful – it just isn’t primal.

I want him to be more primal. When Malkmus bid good night to the rock and roll era on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, he did so in a song that escalated into absolutely killer passion. Where is that passion now?

That’s some of the problem of the aging rocker: what do you say about growing stability, contentment, a good relationship? Paul Westerberg stumbled with this subject matter, writing some honest but boring odes to domestic life. Malkmus hasn’t succumbed to that entirely (in fact he writes a snappy number celebrating home cooking called “Mama” that proves domesticity can yield a good pop song), but there’s some of it on Face the Truth. “Help me languish here” feels like a rephrasing of “all that we want is a shady lane.” He puts this stuff forward with more rock urgency than some of his peers have, but the subject matter seems to be resting, embracing contentment – languishing.

Some would say he’s been languishing his whole career – never quite putting it all on the line. But there have been times when he screamed (like that awesome wail of “torture!” on Slanted and Enchanted) and sounded like he was pleading to the gods for meaning, substance, belief. Maybe he was more fully engaged by the specter of rootless, drug-addled youth in the landscape he inhabited in his early days with Pavement. He’s still writing great songs, but he no longer sounds haunted, possessed, as he did when he yelled in escalating volume: “They don’t need you anymore, little girl, little boy, little girl, little boy, aaggghhhhhhh!” – a wild scream that merged with one of the greatest, most impassioned guitar solos in rock.

It was also one of the greatest screams in rock. God knows what he was screaming about – maybe he was just celebrating the crest of the song, but the emotion was there. And that willingness to be in the moment and go fucking nuts is part of what makes Malkmus great. Getting older doesn’t have to mean you stop screaming. His work has always had an air of tossed-off brilliance, but now it feels like polite brilliance. That just can’t go on forever. Happy he may be, but the laconic smartass-indie-rocker surely can’t just offer us politeness for the rest of his career.

Download “Baby C’mon” courtesy of Matador.

Who Owns Culture?

Jeff TweedyRock Star and Law Professor Weigh In

It was one of those great New York nights. Flowers bloomed in the cold spring air. We were gathering at the New York Public Library for a discussion called “Who Owns Culture?” Any occasion to go to the massive NYPL and be reminded of an era when books and learning were things considered worth creating a temple for, is fun.

Plus we were going to see Jeff Tweedy. Jeff Tweedy, the hero. He was going to talk about the issue of file sharing, the whole economic Pandora’s Box he and Wilco had blown open by putting Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on the Internet for free. He would be discussing the subject with law professor Lawrence Lessig. It was one of those high-concept match-ups that promised much: A geeky intellectual head-to-head with a 2-pack-a-day Romantic Creator! Sparks will fly!

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Tommy Stinson: Pleased to Meet Him

His face is an ever-changing map of the rock attitudes...Tommy Stinson at Southpaw

Brooklyn, February 3, 2005

For diehard Replacements fans, voyeurism can be the motive for seeing Tommy Stinson on tour for his first solo release, Village Gorilla Head. How has the elfin bass player fared? What’s up with becoming the bassist for Guns ‘n Roses? Has Tommy gone metal? Is he a lost soul, a rock and roll ghost?

Far from it—striding through Brooklyn’s Southpaw he’s wiry and alert, a puckish survivor of 2 1/2 decades in rock, sporting tight black jeans and a cheekily anachronistic punk hairdo. Almost as boyish looking as when he started at age 13, 38-year-old Stinson took the stage and threw himself into an impassioned, no-nonsense performance that converted a subdued crowd into a throng of noisy believers. If there were any doubts about his abilities (and really, doubts were why it was so interesting to be there), Tommy banished them with his authoritative guitar playing, mature songwriting and striking, husky voice. From the beautiful ballad “Light of Day” to the clever wordplay in the Dylanesque “Hey You,” it was clear that Tommy has moved out of the sidekick role forever.

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Rogue Wave: Turn It Down, Love

EarThe Oakland band Rogue Wave played an in-store performance at Brooklyn’s Sound Fix a few weeks ago. It was scheduled for 12:30 pm on a Saturday, which is insanely early for a music event or anything involving travel from one part of Brooklyn to any other. We gathered at the record store clutching giant cups of coffee and stared blearily at the band, who stared blearily back. They all (5 of them that day) complained of the early hour, except singer/songwriter Zach Rogue (a morning person).

It turned out Rogue Wave’s music was a lovely way to enter the day. They were all-acoustic, gentle and melodic. Zach sang in a high, soft, lulling voice. He’d managed to come up with inventive rhythmic patterns in his songs that added new life to the same old chords in an unbelievably impressive way. The drummer was keyed in perfectly, however sleepy he might have been. The band was deliciously tight and together, humming along in these beautiful, bouncy compositions that spread in lovely nuances over the assembled thrift store chic and messy Lord Fauntleroy haircuts. They played and played, seeming to love the mix (which was perfect) and the unexpected fun of playing at the crack of hepcat dawn.

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A Simple Twist of Fate: The Saga of Roger Salloom

Roger SalloomIn the 1960s, singer-songwriter Roger Salloom hung out in San Francisco with the likes of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. His band opened for rising stars like Santana, Procol Harum and Van Morrison. He was on the same label as Creedence Clearwater Revival, and label honchos told him they thought he was going to be the household name.

It didn’t happen. Creedence took off instead. Santana grew huge. Salloom’s band released a critically acclaimed record, Salloom, Sinclair and The Mother Bear, that was named by the Chicago Tribune the Top Album of 1968. But through a quirk of fate, timing, the market, his character, or a combination of all four, Salloom’s career never took off.

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Kimya Dawson: Baby Baby Oh Baby

Kimya DawsonKimya Dawson at Northsix

December 3, 2004, Brooklyn

Oh, Kimya. You could make the most emotionally arrested among us run screaming for signposts of adult life. Because you’ve taken the idea of naïve self-presentation to new heights. Shoe-gazers, toy-piano players, unpolished warblers, step aside: Kimya is there in a woolen bunny hat fastened under her chin, the tip of her nose darkened and her body obscured inside a giant black suit. She’s singing songs of pain and sorrow, but they’re hard to follow because she rushes through her lyrics like a shy 10-year-old. Occasionally a line jumps out that hits just right: “And the smell of wet dirt reminds me of home.” But then she tumbles into another torrent of words. Kimya! What in aitch is the hurry? Slow down so we can follow what in tarnation you’re talking about.

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