Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Loved Superman Returns!

Superman Returns was nerd-irific!
I really liked Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel. The opening action sequence was amazing! Bryan Singer's idea to make the film in the line of Richard Donner's Superman was the right one. It was an optimistic superhero film true to the spirit of its predecessor. Poor James Marsden is doomed to play the "other" man in Bryan Singer films.
Man, when the credits zoomed outwards with the John Williams theme playing, I had flashes to my childhood watching the original film and it's sequel. I remember as a kid people cheering in the theater when Superman shows up to fight Zod and crew in Metropolis. Let's hear it for Big Blue!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Au Revoir Simone at the Black Cat

I ventured into what I think was a sold out We Are Scientists show at the Black Cat last night, despite continued torrential downpours, to see the lovely women of Au Revoir Simone opening (didn't stay for the other acts). Man, I felt like and old man at this show because most of the kids in the front had their usual double X's. It got crowded very quickly when the band started.
Au Revoir Simone are three ladies on keyboards who sing pop songs. I got their self-released album, verses of comfort, assurance and salvation, a couple months ago, and I love it. The harmonies of Wilson Phillips with an indie/electronic sensibility. Live, they sounded much fuller, and it was cool that people in the front started getting into them and dancing.
After their set, I went over to them in the back, bought a t-shirt, and spoke some with Heather and Erika from the band (pictured above). Dreamy indie women talking to the geeky fanboy blogger. It made my night.

Au Revoir Simone - "Hurricanes"
Au Revoir Simone - "Through the Backyards"

A Break in the Rain?

I've got to admit, since I was living in Vegas for the last 5 years, all this rain on the East Coast is awesome. Despite 2 interstates and one state road closed due to mudslides and flooding on my commute Monday, I was only 30 minutes late to work. Not too shabby and a little lucky.
Now, my car is really clean, too.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Brightblack Morning Light and The Espers at Talking Head

Last night, I went to a really nice show at the Talking Head. Called the Crystal Totem tour, I saw a few acts that are now being labelled "freak folk", but I don't really like the term.
Opening was a young, softspoken lady, Mariee Sioux. She played solo with acoustic guitar, and her voice was beautiful. I also enjoyed some of the poetic lyrics in her often lengthy songs. She seemed a little nervous, but once she started performing, it was really nice. I bought her cd.

Next up was local artist Daniel Higgs. When I first saw him, I was sleepy, so I don't recall much. I couldn't help think of Jethro Tull when he sang because he used some "olde english" phrasing. My favorite lyric: "Lucifer, the child bride Christ". He actually sang 2 songs about the devil and Christ. It was ok.

The Espers were on next. They were great. I really love the full sound with their larger lineup on their new record Espers II- a beautiful blending of the acoustic sound of guitars and cello with electric instruments including a keyboard. Very meditative.
I did find out that a lady I helped with a sprained ankle at a True Vine show a few months ago was Brooke, one of the guitarists for the band. She came up to me and thanked me for the help. That was nice.
Last up was Brightblack Morning Light, a group that took that meditative sound to even more mellow levels. I enjoyed their new album - it's got a slow groove with a lot of layers of vocals and instrumentation.
Unfortunately, it was about 1:30 am, and I was tired, so I decided to call it a night after they played three songs for fear of passing out.

The Espers- "Mansfield and Cyclops"
Brightback Morning Light- "Wildshiney Stars"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Low Moda, The Tall Grass, and Santa Dads at Wham City

Went to another loft-apartment performance space in Baltimore called Wham City last night. I really admire how this town has all these cool DIY performance spaces. One problem though is as the summer rolls on, no air conditioning makes them like sweatboxes.
Opening was a duo called Santa Dads. They dressed up like Calvin and Hobbes and played ukelele, trumpet and human beatbox. Their set included a lively cover of "YMCA" (of which I think I was the only one doing the arms thing) and a reading of "The Jabberwocky". Fun and lighthearted.
The Tall Grass followed. I saw them before at a Tranquil Music night. I'm still not big on the singer's voice, and I kinda wish their songs were a little better. They seem to have a pretty good sized following in town, but I am still missing the boat on them.
Last up was Low Moda. It turns out, I had seen them when I just moved back to Baltimore last year opening up for Smog at the Ottobar. Additionally, I now know guitarist Christian from just tooling around town.
Last night, I thought they were much tighter, playing with more sense of their sound. Lead singer Peter is a strong vocalist, and I love the staccato rhythms that the rest of the group provides to accompany him. I was pretty darn impressed, and I hope to see more of there gigs in the future. Hopefully, it will be a less humid environment, so people would actually move to the beat more.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Summer Movie Fun

I am taking a break from shows this week, so I thought I'd blog about a few movies I've seen in theaters recently. Of course, I saw the X3 and MI:3 - both of which were better than expected, but I felt that they didn't need discussion beyond that.
I saw The Proposition a few weeks ago. It's an outback western written by Nick Cave starring Guy Pearce as a man sent off on a task to murder his criminal brother. It also features Emily Watson and Ray Winstone (the Sexy Beast guy). I really liked it - it was violent, everyone had bad teeth, and the slightly overexposed look and crazy soundtrack (by Cave and a guy from Dirty Three) reminded me of a 70's film.
Cars is the most recent Pixar film directed by John Lasseter. For some reason, I'm never enthused to see their films, but when I do, I always love them. You must see this in Digital Light Projection if you can! My favorite bits: the Car Talk guys (most people missed this one), Jeremy Piven doing his Ari Gold schtick from Entoutage, the insects are all VW Bugs, Cheech as the Low Rider and Carlin as the VW van, the Cars versions of Pixar films, and Michael Schumacher's appesrance (I don't think many people know who he even is!- he ain't NASCAR or Larry the Cable Guy)
Nacho Libre was also worth seeing. I've had a place in my heart for Lucha Libre since I discovered it in the 90's, and this film captures the frenzy and drama of the sport. Jack Black's Mexican accent is hilarious, the skinny guy is so ugly, and the nun is beautiful. I admire Jack Black for taking on the moves of the Luchadores and selling it without making fun of it at all. There's everything- masks, midgets, and ladies' wrestling. I also loved the soundtrack.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Love My Shopsin's T-Shirt!

Thanks Melinda!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Asobi Seksu at the Khyber

Went up to Philadelphia last night to see Asobi Seksu, a band from Brooklyn. Their sound is a mix of shoegazer britpop and j-pop- they are fronted by Yuki, a tiny Japanese-American woman- it looks like she doesn't reach 5 ft.
The crowd at the Khyber was tiny- only about 20 people. I thought the band was awesome- they rocked and Yuki's voice was beautiful.
They ended with a great cover of "Then He Kissed Me."

Friday, June 16, 2006

White Trasherole Night

My cousin is a guest blogger here today:

So after months of smack-talking about who could make the best white trash casserole, the showdown was finally held.

Four entrants:

1) I made a casserole version of the classic Frito pie, opening two bagged ingredients and not one, not two, not even three, but four canned goods -- ground beef was mixed with cream of mushroom soup, refried beans, canned tomatoes, and canned chiles -- topped over Fritos, topped with shredded cheese.

2) Nick went with the classic tater tot casserole - layers of cream of mushroom soup, shredded cheese, ground beef, and taters on top crisped to deliciousness

3) Steph and Pete's started with hashbrowns from a bag, ground beef with a can of something mexican, cheese whiz mixed with the requisite cream of mushroom, tater tots on top, and the finishing touch of cheetos artfully arranged and expertly browned.

4) James was the late arrival with mac and cheese mixed in with whole strips of bacon, sausage that was deep-fried in a beer waffle batter, taters on top, and slices of Velveeta.

Dinesh was called in as the non-biased judge. I will note that I successfully convinced everyone to dress up. Steph and Pete brought 40s from Tren'on. Ho-hos were had for dessert.

D. was asked to judge on the following three criteria: flavor (not "taste" mind you), creativity, and trash value. He very diplomatically awarded 3 prizes: Nick's classic won for flavor, Steph and Pete's for creativity, and mine for trashiness. James took home the saltlick prize for having the most inedibly salty dish.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cat Power with the Memphis Rhythm Band at 9:30 Club

What the hell happened to Chan Marshall? Oh, sobriety!
The last time I saw Cat Power, she was playing the Ottobar last summer, and she was her usual awkward self: hair in her face, slobby, and constantly riding herself for doing a terrible show. However, her songs and voice were, as always, beautiful and brilliant. I do recall her mentioning how she wanted to take another drink to calm her nerves that evening.
At last nights' 9:30 gig- it was an all new Chan: her hair was pulled back, she was dressed nicer, she was wearing makeup, and she danced onstage! Backed by the Memphis Rhythm Band, her songs sounded like old blues, rock, and country standards! They were amazing together.
She did crumble down in the last half of the show when she started criticizing herself, but the band seemed to be her support at times. She played her last few songs alone onstage, and she seemed very disappointed, but the audience tried to cheer her up. She ended the show with a warning no to Tivo The View.
This was the most confident I've seen her. I hope she learns to love herself more in the future.

Camille at La Maison Francaise

Last night, I went to a venue called La Maison Francaise on the grounds of the French Embassy in DC. Interesting place that hosts a lot of events related to French culture. I guess technically I was on French soil last night!
The concert was with Camille, a Parisian, who I heard originally on the Nouvelle Vague record singing "Too Drunk To Fuck" She released an album "Le Fil" where she does a lot of vocal things similar to Bjork's last release.
Live, Camille was great. This is her first American tour. She was very energetic, and her voice was amazing and dynamic. She wore an asymmetrical dress on stage, and her backup band did interesting things like play percussion on themselves and sing in goofy falsettos.
When she sang her song "I'm a Girl", she came down off the stage and put the mic in my face so I could sing the chorus. I am the next American Idol!

Five Guys Burger & Fries

In my commuting to Alexandria, I discovered Five Guys, a burger joint to topple my love of the west coast's In-N-Out Burger
. The burgers were made to order and huge, and the fries were done boardwalk style - cooked in peanut oil. Looking at their website, they are planning to invade the east coast!

Another Tranquil Music Night at Lemon Hill

Tuesday evening was another Tranquil Music Night at the space, Lemon Hill, on Howard St. Again, nice an intimate. I was able to see 3 of the 4 acts scheduled as my early wakings in the last few weeks made me too tired to stay to the end.
The first act was Baltimore band, A Noble Lake. They reminded me of the Decemberists with a lot of sea shanties in their set.

Second was Two Percent Majesty, a duo from Portland, who went truly unplugged with singing, guitar and violin.
The lovely young lady on the violin and singing was tiny. They played nice folk music.

The last act I saw was Providence, RI's Alec Redfearn (without his group The Eyesores). He did some interesting songs with a Jew's harp as well as to a tape recording of other people singing (possibly him). He also played accordion. All in all a pleasant evening.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dios Malos, The Octopus Project, and Private Eleanor at Fletcher's

Last night, went to Fletcher's to see a few bands play on a mellow Sunday after spending the afternoon playing with my friend's baby daughter.
The openers were local band Private Eleanor, a nice little pop outfit. Unfortunately, their sound was a little off initially, but it improved through their set. I wish the lead guy sang a little harder, but the gal in the group was really cute. They were ok.

The second act was The Octopus Project, an Austin band that got a lot of internet hype last year. They were an instrumental group with a lot of energy. Their stage setup was unique with speaker monsters, and they started the set wearing electric sockets. Their music reminded me some of early Trans Am- mixing electronics with a punk aesthetic.
Yvonne, the woman in the band, had great hair, and she was fun to watch playing the theremin.

The last band I saw was Dios Malos, a group from Hawthorne, CA. They have a real solid pop-rock sound, and the band is really tight together. Their lead guy is a huge Mexican, and I loved how their new drummer made crazy faces while he played. It was my first time seeing them, and I was really impressed.
The headliner was Starlight Mints, but I had to wake up at 5 in the morning, and Dios Malos were so good, I called it a night.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Steamed Crabs at Obrycki's

Had dinner last night at Obrycki's in Baltimore- we split 10 large steamed crabs - instead of Old Bay, they used a pepper-mustard seasoning that was not as hard in the lips and hands as Old Bay can be sometimes.

Honfest 2006

Yesterday, my cousin and I went to beautiful Hampden in Baltimore for Honfest 2006, a celebration of all things "Hon". Highlights were the Lil' Miss Hon contest, the Hampden Charm School with Trixie Little and Evil Hate Monkey, the delicious potato stacks with old bay and spritzed vinegar, and raspberry jello cupcakes from Rose's.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

!!! (Chk Chk Chk), L-D Section II (Lansing-Dreiden) and Mountain High at Black Cat

It was a crowded Black Cat last night for a night of disco punk. First was band, The Mountain High, from Philly. They were loud with double drum kits going and a singer who looked like Michael Jeter
I'm a sucker for ridiculous amounts of percussion - I enjoyed them. No great songs to write home about, but solid rhythm.

Next up was L-D Section II a.k.a. Lansing-Dreiden. I had got their first record a couple years ago, but had no idea what they even looked like. During setup, your usual white indie looking dudes soundchecked their instruments. Then, when it came time to play, two buff African America guys with dreaded hair, tight pants, and white shoes came out to sing and dance. I think people in the club were initially taken aback by them as it took a while for them to warm up to the music.
I liked them a lot- their music is full on early 80's dance-pop- ranging from no wave to full tilt electro-pop. The lead singers had a load of energy dancing on stage, and I loved that the keyboardist was on a Roland.
After a long break for setup and soundcheck (the band was late) !!! (Chk Chk Chk) came on and played. Turns out also, lead singer Nic Offer broke his foot. He came out on crutches, but threw them down during the show and danced on his cast, cracking it - punk rock, but his poor foot's gonna heal crooked.
They opened with "Pardon My Freedom" which sounded awesome. They also introduced a new drummer who sported a porn-stache- this was because the older drummer came out front to sing as well. Some of the new songs from their upcoming record were great- others- I'm not so sure of. Now this set couldn't have compared to their Coachella 2004 set which I loved, but all in all, they were pretty good.