Well, the day has finally come

Who knew it would take this long? Let's see, 1989 to 2004 is 15 years. 15 years between Cure albums I like. Someone born when Disintegration was released in May, 1989 is just about ready to get a driver's license and perhaps drive to the local record store and pick up the new Cure CD, creatively titled The Cure.

I've been listening to it now for about four days, which may not be enough time to offer a full review, but sufficient enough to say it's surprisingly good. My favorite tracks are "Lost" and "Before Three." I'm even enjoying the single, "The End of the World." The song certainly won't crack the top 40; it's no "Lovesong" for Gen Y. Still, it's rather catchy.

You know, I thought for sure Fat Bob had completely lost it; thought his slide into irrelevance would be complete. Somehow they've pulled together a stunning return to form. This one's a contender for my best of 2004 list. Check out the reviews on Metacritic too. They're very positive, so far.

Stylus just put up an interview with Michael Mayer, who co-runs the stellar Cologne electronic label Kompakt (and is a hell of a DJ on his own too). He talks about the Cologne scene, the Kompakt sound, American dance music, and more. Best quote:

We love to cook. We have a kitchen in our office and cook for all 15 people who work there every day. This way we have a very good lunch every day. We have cooking competitions between Wolfgang and me to see who can cook the best minimal pasta dish.

Stylus also reviews Kompakt 100, the double disc of past singles remixed by current artists to celebrate the label's 100th release. Mayer's own mix Immer and Triple R's excellent Friends are better introductions to what the jasminlive label is best known for, but Kompakt 100 is a great overview of their catalog - ambient tracks, melodic tech-house, club pop, and some serious bangers (which remind me that I need a subwoofer here at work). Pretty much everything they put out holds its own, so I'm not too surprised that Kompakt 100 has been a constant in my CD player for the past week or so.

P.S. 1 has published the schedule for their Warm Up series - one of the better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon in NYC. Quality music, Blanche de Brooklyn on tap, and an old school full of art to wander through when the dance floor packed with sweaty hipsters becomes too much. Things kick off this Saturday when Trevor Jackson (AKA Playgroup) headlines, and continue through September 4, when Derrick May and Francois K close things out.

One of my favorite 80's tunes

"Steppin' Out" by Joe Jackson is one of my favorite 80's tunes, no question, and it never seems to get the attention I think it deserves. But in a way, I'm glad. It still feels fresh every time I hear it, and I'd hate to see it get played to death like "Tainted Love" or "Bizarre Love Triangle". So this new series of car commercials featuring it - Lincoln? Nissan? - has me worried. First I liked hearing the song, but now I'm hoping the ad campaign (radio AND TV) bombs. It's only a matter of time before the song starts making me think of Maximas driving through the mountains. (And Air's "Surfing on a Rocket" seems to have surfaced in an ad too. Man.)

Sorry for another rant - I'm not as grumpy today as it seems.

So last night's Strokes show was a mixed bag

It sounds snobby to say this, but the crowd really got to me. The pushing was annoying but tolerable. Then a few people started to sing/scream along at the top of their lungs. (Seems like the kind of show you just bop your head to, no?) A little more annoying, but still - tolerable. Beer getting thrown in the air, though, that's where I draw the line. And I hadn't seen a mosh pit in ages. Maybe I'm getting old, but I prefer things a little less rowdy so I can focus on the show. [END RANT]

The band put on a good show - nothing special, but they play the songs well and clearly have a good time on stage. Julian Casablancas, in particular, always had a drink in hand, was hammered by the end, and was a source of amusing commentary all night. They started with "I Can't Win" and "The End Has No End", the last two songs on Room on Fire and two of my favorites. Other highlights included "Reptilia", "The Modern Age", the Guided by Voices cover "A Salty Salute" (!!), and a blistering "Take It or Leave It" to end the set. They seem really into being the Strokes, and the crowd was soaking it all up (literally). I'm glad I finally saw them, but I'm happy to stick with the albums going forward.

Today is a great day, as Summerstage opens its gates in Central Park

Shows at Summerstage are one of my favorite things about summer in New York. Great sound, great sightlines, and it's usually free. (It's almost enough to make you ignore the humidity.) I can't wait to see the full schedule when it comes out this afternoon, but I'm already excited to see the Strokes kick things off tonight. They're an easy band to hate with all the hype, but they write great songs and I can't wait to finally see them live. (At $50 a ticket, last fall's Paramount Theater shows were a little rich for my blood.)

For me, Room on Fire was an overlooked gem of an album last year - I enjoyed it but didn't give it a ton of attention. My only "gripe" is that it's too similar to Is This It, but when the songs are so well-crafted it's hard to complain. It sounds even better to me now than it did then. I hear their gigs can be hit-or-miss, but hopefully they'll come through tonight. And according to this NME quiz, the Stroke I identify most with is Albert Hammond Jr. Nice.

Morrissey album

The new Morrissey album, You Are the Quarry hits the streets today in the U.S. Opinions seem to be mixed, but leaning closer to positive. Is this, however, the great comeback album I've been waiting for? Wait, was I actually waiting for Morrsissey to return? Honestly, not really. I love The Smiths. I love Morrissey's first solo album, Viva Hate. He also put out some tremendous singles, "Interesting Drug," "November Spawned a Monster" among others. Then came Kill Uncle. I hated it. It was tuneless drivel, missing anything memorable. At this point, I pretty much tuned out.

The hype for this new album has been inescapable. His shows at the Apollo sold out instantly. He's headlining Lollapalooza. I admit that I've become caught up in the http://www.livejasmin.cc/ buzz. So, I've listened to the You Are the Quarry a couple times, expecting an album rich with melodic hooks, droll lyrics and Mozz's monotone, but endearing singing. Well, the lyrics are there for sure and Morrissey's singing is strong. The tunes, however, are flat and uninspiring. Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merrit, writing for The New York Times captures my opinion succintly. "Morrissey, still surrounds himself with dull musicians incapable of properly filling out his introspective kitchen-sink dramas," Merrit writes. There's some good tunes: "Irish Blood, English Heart" and "I'm Not Sorry" are worth repeated listens. The rest is nice, unremarkable pop. Morrissey should never settle for being dull.

Beautiful Portland

I beautiful Portland, Oregon for the first time this past weekend and while nothing musical happened per se - no concerts, record shopping or radio listening - I did have the chance to become more familiar with a new resident on the ol' iPod: Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine and his excellent second album, Our Endless Summer Days (Subpop).

The album accompanied us as we drove along a scenic highway in the Columbia River Gorge. The delicate, quiet music matched the melancholic sky and the stunning, but muted Columbia River. There is genuine intimacy in these songs; you can literally hear Sam Beam inhaling between each note on "Cinder and Smoke." As Tim Sendra accurately states on AMG, Beam's voice "sounds like it comes right from his lips into your ear as if he were an angel perched on your shoulder." Angelic is a very good word to describe this album.

Iron & Wine will play the Bowery Ballroom on June 25, 2004 and will take part in the Neil Young Tribute at the Prospect Park Bandshell the following evening.

NYC band

Speaking of Rothko, Asobi Seksu will be playing there next Tuesday (May 25). They're my favorite NYC band these days, with a killer live show and a new www.chaturbaterooms.com album that's just as good. Asobi Seksu was the #1 debut on CMJ last week - entering the top 200 at #31! - and their video for "Walk on the Moon" is getting airplay on MTVU (an MTV offshoot). Their music is really unique but accessible - like My Bloody Valentine doing Japanese pop - and I really think they could go somewhere. When you hear the album or see them live, it's hard to believe they're just starting to play shows outside of NYC. So catch them now while the gigs are still small.

Download four tracks from Asobi Seksu here. "Sooner" and first single "Walk on the Moon" are my favorites.

Just handled vocals and electronics

I checked out Colder's US debut on Friday, over at the new LES spot Rothko. French video artist Marc Nguyen Tan does it all on Colder's debut Again, but he had a band with him on stage and just handled vocals and electronics. (And a serious smoking habit.) Again's dark, dubby grooves and Ian Curtis-style vocals are great for late nights, but the songwriting itself is rather unremarkable compared to the production and electronics. So the first 3 songs of the set were pretty awful - Tan was trying new vocal melodies, the electronics were low, and the band was just plodding along. I almost left after they botched "One Night in Tokyo" at the start. But they got the mix right midway through and the show recovered nicely. "Crazy Love" and "Colder" were late highlights. All in all, though, Colder is best experienced through your stereo.

As for Rothko, it seems a nice addition to the NYC venues. It's like a smaller, longer Mercury Lounge, with some nice details (the tiled downstairs area especially) and a promising calendar of events. I'm looking forward to seeing more shows there.

Wilco's Irving Plaza show

Well, the presale tickets for Wilco's Irving Plaza show were snapped up instantly yesterday. I was ready and waiting, in a real F5 groove (the fastest way to refresh), and pounced the instant the tickets went on sale. Only to find that all available tickets were already in other shopping carts. (WTF?) As far as I can tell, about 100-150 tickets went yesterday. Which leaves 800-900 tickets for the rest of us on Saturday. Unless, of course, Jeff Tweedy decides to dole out VIP passes to all his new crack addict friends. Wish me luck.

Somehow, I've barely listened to the leaked A Ghost Is Born even though it's been on my iPod since March. At this point, I may just wait till it comes out for real in June. But Wilco is also streaming the record on their site, in case you're curious.

P.S. If you happened to see this post about 10 times, congrats - you just experienced my first real Blogger crisis.