Archive for July, 2008

Jeffrey Lewis and Herman Dune @ Union Pool, June 25th

Posted in Leah, music, shows on July 24, 2008 by criticalreviews

Last March, I spent about a week in Paris. A good friend suggested that we check out Stanley Brinks at Mains d’Oeuvre. This was my introduction to Andre Herman Dune. Stanley Brinks (aka andre herman dune) left the band Herman Dune in 2006. According to cosmozebra , it was because he was ridiculously shy of being in the public eye, and Herman Dune had some scheduled TV appearances. I’ve heard different stories, including that he was against having Herman Dune’s music appear in commercials. I’m not quite sure what to believe. Anyway, seeing Stanley Brinks was amazing, so when I heard that Herman Dune was playing Union Pool, I had to get over there. Once Jeffrey Lewis was added to the line-up, it was easy to enlist Tom and KLK to join. Luckily, we purchased our tickets in advance. I haven’t gone to Union Pool very many times, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a packed house. The spacious back patio was full of people trying to get into the sold out show. It was a little bit unorganized, but we got in the door unscathed.

I admittedly don’t know much about Jeffrey Lewis, except that he has done some collaborating with Kimya Dawson . But, I must say that I truly enjoyed the part of his performance that I witnessed. He was about 2/3 of the way into his set and the room was packed to the brim. Somehow we managed to push our way up to the front just in time to catch ‘The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song,’ which is all about Jeffrey meeting a girl at a bar because he recognized that she is talking about the Leonard Cohen song, Chelsea Hotel#2, in which Cohen gets, ‘blowjobs on unmade beds.’  Another song that I really enjoyed was about the history of communism in China. It spanned Chinese History from the dynastic periods to the cultural revolution and Chairman Mao. Jeffrey turned the pages of a comic book that he had illustrated to go along with his lyrics. It was fun and informative.

Herman Dune followed Jeffrey Lewis. Herman Dune has a tendency to play shows with a collection of friends and locals. Neman Herman Dune (drummer and back-up vocals) and David Herman Dune (singer and guitarist) were joined on stage by Angela Carlucci of the band the Baby Skins and also a trio of brass instrumentalists that I recognized as the backing band for Beirut. I recognized a gang of songs from the album, Not On Top.  Also, HD played quite a few songs of of their newer album, Giant.  Everything sounded great, and the band seemed to be having a lot of fun and getting a great response from the crowd.  It did make me sad that I didn’t hear my favorite Herman Dune song, My Friends Kill My Folks, but I’ll live.

-Leah

p.s. sorry for the delay!

Here’s the inspiration for the Chelsea Hotel song:

Times New Viking @ the Whitney Museum. Wordless Music Series, June 27th, 2008.

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2008 by criticalreviews

When I heard that Times New Viking (from Columbus, OH…possibly the best thing to come from Ohio since Guided By Voices) were playing the Wordless Music Series I was a little put off. I was thinking Times New Viking…without words…how is that one going to work, but after a little research I realized what the series was all about. ACME, the opening act, is a string Quartet, and they played a really wonderful discordant post-punk influenced piece composed by Jefferson Friedman. It was actually really great, and alot of thought was put into matching composers with bands. Times New Viking on the other hand was full of words, and I was really happy about that. This is a wonderful free music series, but get there early or it might fill up.

I purchased Rip it Off when it came out, and it has become one of my favorite albums released in 2008 (after I got past the fuzz-i-ness of the initial listens), and I have really fallen in love with this band. I picked up their other two records, Presnet the Paisley Reich and Dig Yourself (both on Siltbreeze), and I have grown to love them all.

The Whitney had everyone sit on the floor during ACME’s preformance, but when Times New Viking picked up their instruments people slowly stood up. There was a woman behind us, who had a video camera that looked somewhat professional, that asked: “Are you really going to stand?” Someone responded “This is a rock band,” so with a huff she moved her camera to the side of the stage. Times New Viking started playing and after a couple of songs they said to the crowd: “We don’t really use monitors…feel free to move closer.” So everyone did, and at this point I’m sure that the camera woman was probably really angry because she had to move and set up her camera again.

Overall this is a really great time to visit the Whitney. It was amazing being able to take in the Buckminster Fuller exhibit, and then just walk down stairs, and see Times New Viking. Times New Viking are even better live than they are on recording. While playing songs mostly off of Rip It Off they did hit several songs off of the previous albums too. They were loud, fun, and more or less got everyone moving. When you see a band smaller band play a museum, let alone the Whitney, it instantly brings to mind John Water’s movie Pecker, there is just something about an relatively new and smaller artist showcased in such wonderful setting.

Adam Elliott (drums/vocals) and Beth Murphy(keyboard/vocals) talked between songs quite a bit, and give off an overall friendly vibe, and made a setting that could feel awkward fun. You could tell that the band was really excited to play the Whitney by the fact that Elliott kept referencing it, and the inspiration that they were drawing from the painting hanging above them.

Times New Viking’s guitarist, Jared Phillips, broke just about everything imaginable…from shorting out the power supply on his amp (which probably shouldn’t happen at the Whitney)/ almost breaking it (or so it appeared), breaking strings on his first guitar, and the output jack on the second. During all of the technical difficulties one of the girls in the front was trying to get the band to pose for a photo shoot (the band seemed to be ignoring the requests, and were were thinking WTF?). It just seemed inappropriate for the setting. I later found out from the girl next to me that the person taking photos knew the band, but she agreed that it was still totally inappropriate

After the second guitar mishap happened, almost an hour into the show, Phillips picked up some drum sticks and finished out the song adding to the percussion. This was pretty much the end of Times New Vikings set…my only complaint was that “Faces on Fire” wasn’t played…but I learned my lesson. If I want a song played I at least need to try and request it (thanks Abe Vigoda)…next time. I got the impression that they would have played a little longer if it wasn’t for the guitar problems…but there will always be another tiem.

I had so much fun, and this show was definitely one of my favorites of 2008 so far, and I am kinda sad that I missed them this weekend at Pitchfork (my trip was sadly canceled), and at Siren Fest (I don’t think I can do another one of those no matter how good the line up is). Another sad thing is that I might not get to see this band play a venue as small as the Whitney again…I really feel that Times New Viking might come across the strongest when there is no stage between them and the crowd. We will see if I get to experience that again (I hope so).

Media:

“(My Head)” and “R.I.P. Allegory” free download from Matador

Live video and audio on WFMU!

More TNV at their myspace!

All photos from RustMonster (via Flickr)

(Tom)


Tullycraft @ Cake Shop. Saturday June 14, 2008. Free Afternoon Show!

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , , , on July 16, 2008 by criticalreviews

Because we bought Teenage Jesus & the Jerks tickets we unfortunately missed out on the twee legends at Pianos, but luckily Tullycraft played a second (free) show at Cake Shop the next afternoon. This was my first time seeing a show in the coffee shop/record store space of Cake Shop.

We got to the show about an hour before Tullycraft was set to preform. The record store was closed up, and packed away tightly so that there was room for the band, and the bar was closed. This was a little bit of a bummer, because I always want to record shop, and I really wanted an afternoon beer…but we grab some iced coffee and tea and grabbed a table right by the little stage. We were actually there before the band was, and got to watch a little twee reunion as Tullycrafts’ friends all showed up to the Cake Shop.

The show was set to start at 2pm, but the space didn’t get really crowded until about 1:55…We were really lucky that we got to the space so early because instead of being behind a huge crowd we just stood on our chairs and had a great view of the band.

Tullycraft played from their entire catalog, and was really fun and full of energy (as you would expect). A funny story was told of how one of the guys fell into one of those metal grates on the sidewalk that leads into a stores basement the night before, and although the stage was cramped they made room for him to take a seat…and a funny musical interlude while strings were being changed. This is just one of those bands that gives a super positive vibe. It was a blast, and I’m really glad these twee popsters made it to the east coast again after such a long time. The one thing that didn’t happen was “Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend is too Stupid to know about” was not played (but I understand…there are some songs that bands just need to move on from). One odd thing was that their bass only had two stings, but I guess this is just their style. The show was super fun, and Tullycraft played for almost an hour (pretty sweet for a free show).

Every time I go to Cake Shop for a show I wonder why I don’t hang out there more often.

All in all it is just what I needed after getting into that Los Campesinos album.

Listen to Tullycraft:

“Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend’s Too Stupid To Know About” off of Old Traditions, New Standards

“The Punks are writing Love Songs” off of Every Scene Needs a Center

all media from www.tullycraftnation.com

(Tom)

Dogfish Head “Red & White”

Posted in alcohol, beer, Tom with tags , , on July 11, 2008 by criticalreviews

After hearing quite a bit of craft beer bashing on Fourth of July, I decided it was time to drink some great beer, and on July 6th, after my bloody mary and a Avery Maharajah at Mark Bar,  KLK and I drank our bottle of Dogfish Head‘s “Red & White” (Bottled on 2/9/07).

This is one of those really obscure limited release 750ml bottles that DFH does…in their words it is:

A big, belgian-style Wit brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with Pinot Noir juice. After fermentation a fraction of the batch is aged in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels, and another fraction is aged on oak staves. The beer is blended together before packaging.

This ends up being quite possibly the strongest Wit beer I have ever tasted at 10% alcohol by volume. 11% of the beer is aged in Pinot Noir barrels, and the other 89% is aged in Oak barrels.

This beer looked pretty intimidating, especially because I am not really a fan of the Wit style. It was my first wine aged beer, and I was a little bit afraid of the term “pinot noir juice.” But I guess they were just using juice as a slang term for wine (not the first time I have heard this). But DFH proved to me again without a doubt that they can do no wrong.

It was wonderful and unique, and it makes me sad I only had one bottle.

My thoughts:

The beer poured a redish brown color with a 1″off white slightly redish colored head that resulted from a slightly harsh pour. As I drank the glass a bubbly lace remained around the sides. The smell was wheaty, hints of corriander, citrus/orange/lemon, strong grape or wine scent, with hints oak and vanilla. It was a really crazy bouquet. The taste was what you would expect from a belgian wit, but slightly heavier and with a ton of berry and wine flavors. The fruitiness and the alcohol really cut the light overly wheaty favor that wit beers normally have, and let some nice vanilla essence come out. Dogfish Head uses wine when the normal person would use a lemon. Strong, but not overly sweet with the alcohol hidden very well. This full bodied version of what people typically consider a light beer was easy to drink, flavorful, and unique.

I highly recommend tying this one out if you see a bottle of it at the store or in the bar. I was really satisfied, and I hope to find another bottle for a special occasion.

I would give this a 90 out of 100 (if I review beers from now on I am going to try to do this rating system).

See what other people think of it here.

Photos borrowed from Dogfish Head’s website.

(Tom)

Brunch at Brooklyn Label

Posted in food, klk, restaurant with tags , , , , , on July 10, 2008 by criticalreviews

180 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222

On Friday, July 4th, Tom and I visited Brooklyn Label for the first time. They don’t normally have brunch on Fridays; since it was a holiday, this was a special occasion for both them and us! Prior to visiting, we checked out the menu and reviews on Menupages and Yelp (as we usually do), and the reviews made us slightly hesitant. But then we said, “fuck it,” and went, because we were bound to go at some point anyway. What better time than a weekday off of work?

To say the least, we were pleasantly surprised. Actually, it was amazing. Since we were anticipating a wait, I went around the (long) block onto Manhattan Ave and picked up the Times, which made us more relaxed about the service. For drinks, Tom had an iced Americano, which he loved. Brooklyn Label is one of the only places in New York that serves Stumptown coffee out of Portland (please correct me if I’m wrong!). He has been really into that lately (over iced coffee), and this one was perfection for him. I ordered the Lavender Lemon Fizzy (basically a glorified lemonade with Monin syrup). When a random waitress brought our drinks, she said they were out of lavender syrup, so she substituted rose syrup. It was (I imagine) equally as delicious. Some people may have been annoyed by this substitution without customer verification, but I was cool with it. Like I said, we were trying to be super-relaxed about the service. That definitely worked to our advantage.

I had the Eggs Benedict, but with smoked salmon instead of bacon. Starting from the bottom, there were run-of-the-mill english muffins with deliciously fresh (read: non-fishy) smoked salmon above. The two poached eggs were so, so fluffy and perfect. On top of it all was a super salty (but that’s the way I like it) hollandaise sauce. OMG it was so good! I was worried the whole thing would be too heavy, but it wasn’t. I was able to eat 90% of it, which is surprising for my usually tiny stomach. There were some forgettable, yet decent, hashbrowns alongside. I ate about 1/3 of those, and Tom ate the rest. He had the vegetarian biscuits and gravy, with eggs on top. I had a couple of bites, and it was definitely delicious, but I didn’t focus too much on those since my entree was so fulfilling. The gravy was definitely vegetarian, with the primary flavor being flour, but it was super peppery and with mushrooms. I ain’t complaining, as it’s rare that a breakfast menu features a vegetarian version of this popular item. He said that he wants to order it again, so that’s definitely a good sign.

On the table, Brooklyn Label features their house-made hot sauces, which I definitely plan on making better use of in the future (perhaps on the huevos rancheros, which we didn’t order). One is a green, mild, salsa verde that had a slight spice and an overall delicious flavor. The other was a tongue-searing habanero sauce (and this is coming from a girl who LOVES spicy things. seriously. I love them). There was plentiful Heinz ketchup for the hashbrowns as well.

Overall, we were so, so pleased with the brunch at Brooklyn Label. We were also really glad that we didn’t let the negative reviews dissuade us from checking it out. I would give it five stars! But, that said, other reviewers might be more sensitive to the slow-ish service (I mean, it’s so busy!) and the hipster-ish waitstaff (some people have hipster-phobia, it seems). We loved every bit of it and we can’t wait to go back on a lazy weekend mid-morning with the paper or to bring friends visiting from outside of the neighborhood. Haters recognize!! Brooklyn Label’s brunch is where it’s at.

— klk, back in action!

(photo by American Barista and Coffee School on Flickr)

D.B.A. in the East Village (Williamsburg location to open maybe by 2009!)

Posted in alcohol, bars, News, Tom with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2008 by criticalreviews

First off some news: DBA is going to open in Brooklyn this Month! That is right, DBA will open a second New York City location on North 7th Street between Berry and Whythe in Williamsburg**. This was confirmed by the several signs for the new location that we saw in the already well established East Village location last night (and Brownstoner).

Now for a review of the Manhattan location:

41 First Avenue, New York City, NY
(between 2nd and 3rd Street)

DBA is one of those bars that I have been going to since I moved to New York two years ago. The bar is on the largish size, with a long bar on the left when you walk in, and tables down the right. There is one of those PacMan/Space Invaders tables towards the back, and a really large outdoor patio that always seems to have a seat for you no matter how large your group is.

DBA’s slogan “Drink Good Stuff,” and they pretty much keep with that slogan. They have a great selection of pretty much everything that will get you drunk, but I have taken particular notice to the excellent bourbon and tequila (they have a much more extensive selection than most bars), as well as, of course, the beer. Beerwise they have an extensive bottle list, 16 taps, and two casks.

DBA really isn’t the place for people who want to swill Bud, Miller, or PBR. I remember hearing this conversation on one visit:

Woman: I’ll have a Miller Lite.
Bartender: I’m sorry we don’t have Miller.
Woman: How about a Bud Lite?
Bartender: I’m sorry we don’t have that either, try this Pilsner…it’s made by Lagunitas.

They always have a really quality selection (but if required you can find your Corona and Stella in bottles). Last night we were drinking the Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Avery Brewing’s Maharaja Imperial IPA. All of the normal strength beers(7% abv and below) are typically $6 and served in pints (great deal on the Torpedo), and the stronger ones/obscure imports are between $6-$8 and served in goblets. Happy Hour is $1 off (not sure what the Happy Hours are though…we were there at 7:35 and it was not happy), and you can upgrade a pint to an imperial pint for an extra $1(even during happy hour).

I can say that the service at the bar is not consistently great. The bartenders are always at least decent, but on occasion you do get ignored (I have had a couple bad experiences, but not so bad that I don’t return). It is also really frustrating when your order is taken, and the bartender proceeds to take many other orders and serve them first. These problems don’t happen all the time (last night was great!), but they have happened more than once. Fortunately there is a way around the bar service problem! If you sit on the back patio there is table service, and the waitress last night was really good…even remembering drinks of people on the very crowded patio.

They occasional have food events like Cheese Night (Cheesy Mondays if I am not mistaken), and free bagels with cream cheese and lox are available during brunch hours on the weekend.

Overall I guess what I am getting at is that DBA is just a good bar. Decent selection of everything (liquor/beer/wine), reasonable prices (I hope the Brooklyn one is a little cheaper than the , but we will see), mostly pleasant staff, and a clientèle that isn’t obnoxious (which at least in the East Village on the weekend can be hard to find).

DBA is a welcomed addition to Williamsburg, and it is one more place that I see myself frequenting. In the NYC beer scene DBA seems to get less attention than it should, but I think they can give Mug’s Ale House some competition and that is a good thing.

I hope the new Williamsburg location is as dog friendly as the one in the East Village…Cooper likes to hang out at the bar.

Williamsburg photo courtesy of Brownstoner
East Village photos courtesy of NY Magazine

(Tom)

**Update as of 8/18/08. Please note I keep checking to see if the new location is open, and so far it has not. I’ll update this post as soon as I see DBA Brooklyn’s doors open.

***UDATE as of 11/13/08.  I heard from a friend looking for a bartending gig that they are supposedly going to start hiring staff soon.  This might be a good sign.  I was kinda convinced that it was never going to open.

Hospital Productions opens Larger Store (Update)

Posted in News, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , on July 6, 2008 by criticalreviews

As I reported back in April Jammyland records, the beloved East Village reggae shop has closed it’s physical location, and is now only accessible online.

I thought that this would be the end of Hospital Productions as well…but I was wrong. Hospital Productions once located in the basement of Jammyland will reopen in the much larger main space at 60 East Third St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues) where Jammyland used to preside.

I found this out when we walked by the shop yesterday, and there was a sign in the window saying that Hospital Productions will re-open in July. This was confirmed by the Hospital Productions website:

HOSPITAL STORE LIVES!

Hospital Productions is expanding to the full location at 60 East 3rd St. Renovations are currently underway. We send our salute to all the generous and dedicated supporters that assisted us in this time of transition. Thank you!

Dominick Fernow

We have the beloved noise outlet back, when will Jammyland emerge from the ashes?

You can read my Hospital Productions review here.

I don’t normally post news articles on here, but I thought this was important information that is relevant to several of my posts…I’m not going to make it a regular thing, but if necessary it will happen.

Cheers,

(Photo from Time Out New York)

(Tom)