Top 5 For The Weather: Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Bob Dylan, battle John Coltrane

On this date in 2009, around 5:00 EST in Manhattan, the weather was a mess.  I was returning from a Logic workshop at the Apple store, which was exactly a 5 on a scale of 1-10, when the sky did not really open, it just kind of went “Meh”  and shot out a bit of mist.   At this exact moment, my ipod on shuffle mode played the perfect song for the occasion.  This led me to the creation of a list.  Not in any particular order, so lets call it a grouping.  Here are the 5 greatest songs for when its not completley raining, and you’re on the verge or needing an umbrella, post 5pm on November 25th.

Tom Waits- The Earth Died Screaming- Bone Machine There is no better song for darkness of all kinds.  You can almost feel the dust settling all around you from some post apocolyptic battle.  The sky rained Macrel and Trout, the 3 Headed Lion sheds his skin, and you’re drinking water from a skull.   Somehow these lyrics don’t come out like some Iron Maiden record.  The chorus of what sounds like sticks banging against the ground behind the vocal march ahead into this freaky ass world of Waits creation, which i’d imagine looks nothing like the street I was walking on in Chelsea.  The entire Bone Machine album could be on this list, but lets leave it here for now.

Bob Dylan- Love Sick- Time Out Of Mind Again, nearly then entire Time Out of Mind album could go on this list.  Its dark as hell.  This may be some western preconception we have about musical tonality….but thats a discussion for people more intellectual than you and I.  That reverb in there, that Distortion on Dylan’s voice, you’re hanging out in a sketchy alleyway, and everything around you smells like mildew. Your shoes are wet, but you cant do a thing about it.

Medeski Martin Wood- Beeah- Last Chance to Dance Trance Yes, I went there.  We bring in the MMW.  This works particularly well on many levels.  There are no lyrics to distract, that bass sounds like a junkyard, and the organ over the top makes you feel like you’re in a 1930’s horror movie.  One time many years ago while driving home from Boston very late at night, this song came on, and I hallucinated several vampires.

John Coltrane- Part 2 Resolution- A love Supreme–  We go to a classic album, but skip the opening track.  Forget that mystical yet mysterious beautiful opening piece, lets move onto the second.  Things get a little more ugly here.  The wash of that ride cymbal is like this crappy mist reigning down upon you, its not a full on storm, but its moving that way, you may need to pull out the umbrella by the end of it.

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds- Red Right Hand- Let Love In–  Oh man, I nearly forgot this one, and that would just be a shame.  Its telling you something is coming, so you should probably be prepared dude, you don’t want to just be sitting there, kickin it, playing wii, not prepared for the incredible evil lurking in the shadows and whatnot, you get the idea.  Again, we have the appearance of a scary movie organ sound, with some brush work on the drums, all glued together by the eeriest of instruments, The Theremin, appearing on the 2nd verse.  Cave is some sketchy old man on the corner of Times Square Past, in front of a strip club or something, but he’s not yelling at you, merely informing.  In this case, you have forgotton your umbrella, and wish you hadn’t.

Any ideas for others?  I dont care, I’m not even going to listen to them.   Of course I’m kidding.  Comment it up.

The Dirty Projectors with Tuneyards, David Byrne, and The Roots @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC

OH HEY INTERNET!    So lovely to see you again, I’ve truly, madly, deeply, missed you oh so much.  Especially since that falling out we had in ’06.  For that, I accept complete fault, and I promise it will never happen again (unless Dee Snyder and Sammy Hagar try to mess with me again, those damn frizzy haired front men…but I digress.)

The title and mission statement of this blog are fairly self explanatory, I will blog what I hear.  And all things relating to music.  So sometimes it will be blogging what I see, or what I play, or what I find in the trash and then play.   But hey, you’re not here to hear me blabber.  Well, maybe you are, but lets get down to it.

Sunday night is not a usual night for a show.  The weekend is winding down, you have to get yourself together for Monday, you might want to just hang at home and catch up on Hulu.  But this particular sunday was different.  I did not have to work until noon Monday…so it was fair game for some live music.   I received an invite to see The Dirty Projectors at The Bowery Ballroom, my all time favorite New York Venue, possibly one of the best on the planet.  The Dirty Projectors have gained a lot of notoriety recently, being on the cover of New York Magazine and all…but beneath all the fame, glory, drugs, hedge funds, and child labor, there is a pretty good band.

They have this African thing going on, kind of like Paul Simon, if he wasnt a theiving little bastard who ripped off Los Lobos and many many african musicians.   I saw them previously at the Williamsburg Waterfront Jelly Pool Party…well, I heard them…the stage was not viewable, that place is just set up terribly.  They did sound great though, so I figured another viewing was in order.

This was the end of a 4 night NYC run for The Projectors, I had heard great things about the previous nights, particualarly the opening band.   Now, I LIVE to be blown away by an opening band.  As cynical and jewish as I am,  I want to be proven wrong in all aspects of life.  I want to say a band sucks for years, then have them create the greatest album ever.   I want to be pissed that I have to sit through 2 bands I dont know before a headliner, and be impressed beyond belief.  This is exactly what happened, and David Byrne agrees with me (i’ll get more into that later)

My Friend said to me “Steve, The Dirty Projectors are great, but this band Tuneyards will destroy everything in sight, and you will want to leave afterwards, and shatter all of your hard drives containing stolen music beause they are so good, and resort back to using gramaphone technology, because there is no hope for the future”  I am not paraphrasing, thats exactly what happened, only with more explatives (this is a family blog, we keep it clean).   Lo and Behold, he was so fucking right.   This band Tuneyards was comprised of one girl on Vocals, Ukulele, Floor Tom and Snare Drum, using a looping sampler to record and play over herself live,  as well as a bass player.   Now, whenever someone hypes a band that much, I’m skeptical, as we all should be.  But from the opening notes, there was no messing around.  The entire crowd agreed, we all ate it up right away.  From the opening notes, people were freaking out.  The vocals were these exotic chants, constantly looping, sounding like african melodies you’d hear in a national geographic documentary. Then all of a sudden, some big ass Floor Tom Beats come in, and you suddenly realize that you are cured of all your illnesses, you’ve grown a foot taller, and there is a cheesesteak on a plate in front of you.  Her ukulele playing was amplified in a strange way, distorting it just a bit, making it kind of sound like a thumb piano (another african origin instrument.)

In my many years of shows, I have never seen a crowd react in such a way to an opening band.  The room was filled with joy, people were screaming throughout the songs, dancing it up, standing in awe.  You know who else was dancing?  David Byrne.  We spotted him early on in the crowd, and even an unstoppable genius such as the Byrne himself could not helped but be moved by a performance such as this.  My friend spotted him at the merch booth between sets buying the Tuneyards CD.   Respect, Byrne.

I feel like seeing David Bryne around town is kind of like a NY right of passage.  That guy is  everywhere.  I’ve seriously walked past him randomly more times than anyone I actually know.

Other Recognizable faces in the cowd were The Roots.  Its hard to miss a Fro the size of Questlove’s, and surrounding him were Captain Kirk and the bass player who’s name I do not know.  So immediately, seeing an entire rhythm section of a band in attendance aroused suspicion.  What also aroused suspicion was the 2nd drum kit set up on stage, the same configuration as Questloves.  So, we assumed there would be some Roots Sit-Inage.  Which there was.   They collaborated on the new jam “No Intentions” which is a fairly serious song.  Interesting melody, nice straight ahead rhythm, weird guitar.  All things I enjoy.

For the encore, another mic was ser up, and it seemed fairly obvious that Byrne would pull a sit in, since he’s recorded a few tracks with The Projectors in the past, and he did.   But in all honesty, that was pretty uneventful.  The song was no more than 3 min, he flubbed a few vocals, and didnt sound that great.   Its cool Byrne, you get a pass on this one, I still love you.

Overall, a wonderful show, but not really because of the Dirty Projectors.  Tuneyards took the cake this evening, I advise you to take a listen, maybe go see them live.  You will thank me later, and possibly owe me a cheesesteak.