Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Mark Ronson and the Business INTL

This week, Jennifer reveals the quirky interests of her childhood and sees Q-Tip! (Oh, and this Mark Ronson kid.)

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Mark Ronson and the Business INTL

I have spent a certain amount of time in the last couple of weeks listening to Record Collection and pondering the question of how to descibe the sound of Mark Ronson and the Business INTL. A potpourri made of hip-hop and synth-rock electronica? The soundtrack to someone else’s glamorous life? The kind of thing that would be playing the background of a Wes Anderson movie? All of the above? I finally settled on: a delicate, complicated game of vocal pick-up sticks with hot dance beats, though The Business’ Twitter bio says they’re “Nature’s The Traveling Wilburys”, which might also be a wholly accurate description.

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Stuart Zender (Jamiroquai) and Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet)
Ronson has certainly managed to pull in an eclectic collection of musicians, representing multiple generations of multiple genres. I was at the Webster Hall show, where in addition to the Business – Rose Dougall, … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Fall Mix

Not the Fall as in Mark E. Smith, but fall as in the season. This week, Jennifer shares some thoughts on her current favorite tunes.

School foiled my concert-attending plans last week, so today you get a selection of things currently in heavy rotation on my iPod, along with some pictures from my recent travels.

1. Love Hurts, Grievous Angel, Gram Parsons feat. Emmylou Harris – Yes, it’s that “Love Hurts.” You may be more familiar with the Nazareth version — I was — but this one is 90% less cheesy and ridiculous. The song is infinitely better as a country love song than as a heavy metal power ballad. The lyrics have a lot more oomph now that I can listen to them without laughing.

2. Slink (A Hymn), Theme song for The Good Guys, Locksley – This band signs off all of their news emails with a cheery “Be in love” which makes me both grin and half-roll my eyes every time. Oh, babies. I’ll work on it, okay? I’m a cranky old lady, though, so you have to give me a running start. Meanwhile: this song is a delightful … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Free Energy

Free Energy gets their own spotlight this week. Jennifer digs her some punk pop.

And now, as promised: Free Energy, who were so awesome they needed their own post. I came into the show knowing nothing about them and about three songs in I was up on my toes, grinning at them and clapping along with the rest of the crowd. This band is fun, y’all, in all of the ways pop-punk should be.

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Musically, they have big hooks and catchy choruses; it’s the kind of thing that makes you want to dance, and also sing along. Also, it was the last night of a long tour, and lead singer Paul Sprangers was still bouncing around the stage and dancing with a tambourine. I tried to get a picture of it, which didn’t work so well. The one below conveys the general spirit, though:

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When I checked their MySpace to see if they’d be back to visit New York any time soon, I saw they are starting North American … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Titus Andronicus

This week, Jennifer gets excited about some punk fuckin’ rawk.

The best way I can explain The Monitor, the new(ish) record from Titus Andronicus , is to say that it is like two photographs, one from the 21st century and one from the 19th, carefully overlaid so that their elements blend and the eye is left with the challenge of determining what is now, what was then, and what is both, eternally suspended on the thin webbing of successful illusion. Internet, I have listened to this record a lot. I was really, really excited to finally be able to see them live.

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Patrick Stickles (l) and Ian Graetzer (r)

Following opening acts Screaming Females (solid punk band; their singer can also really shred) and Free Energy (pop punk so awesome they get their own post next week), Titus Andronicus kicked off the show last Saturday night at Webster Hall with A More Perfect Union, a song which references, among other things, the Newark Bears, the Garden State Parkway, Born to Run as well as both the Battle Cry of … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Blake Mills

As I was nearly employed in nefarious plans to acquire the object of desire in Jennifer’s post today, I am glad for the happy outcome. Jennifer suggests those seeking to obtain the below-mentioned artifact for themselves contact the Venice Beach location of Mollusk Surf Shop.

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Internet, last week I did something I haven’t done since (probably) 1998: I bought music on a cassette tape: Break Mirrors, by Blake Mills, formerly of Simon Dawes, who are now just Dawes. (Trivia: First cassette I bought, in 1986: Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA and The Hooters, Nervous Night; last cassette I can remember, before this one: Jerry Cantrell, Boggy Depot.) You may, rightfully, be wondering whatever possessed me to do such a thing, especially since I had already acquired the actual music on the cassette in digital format and have been happily listening to it for some time now.

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The answer to that question, is, essentially, that this was less about the tunes (though they are very good; more … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: A Few of My Favorite Things: Nerds and Novelty Songs

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This is Jonathan Coulton performing at the High Line this past April. He is the uncrowned king of the nerdy novelty song. My iTunes informs me that his genre is “Unclassifiable” which I think is an unusual misspelling of “Awesome.” My personal favorites are Code Monkey, a love song for J. Alfred Programmer; Skullcrusher Mountain, in which a lovelorn mad scientist asks isn’t it enough that I ruined a pony, making a gift for you?; and Shop Vac, a tale of suburban disaffection and despair with a catchy sing-along chorus. I’m also really very fond of his cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Baby Got Back. Those last two might not be all that nerdy but they are a whole lot of fun.

The next song on my list of favorites, MMO RPG by Alex Greenwald (Mark Ronson and the Business Intl., Phantom Planet) – truly a piece of digital ephemera, as it is, for now, only available on YouTube – explores some of the philosophical complexities of on-line gaming:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv8HJ_mB2Nw?fs=1]

I will confess I’m not actually all that … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Stone Temple Pilots/Cage the Elephant, Jones Beach, 9/4/2010

Jennifer bids adieu to summer by spending some time with former Ohio boy Scott Weiland and crew.

I have some thoughts about Stone Temple Pilots, but we’ll get to them in a minute. First I would like y’all to meet Cage the Elephant:

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Matt Schultz, Jared Champion (drums) and one of their guitarists

They were the second opening band – I missed the first one, TAB the band – and the best description I can give you is: high-energy blues-punk fusion. One of my favorites from their set was Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked, which sounded like it had just rolled in from the Delta. Meanwhile the lead singer was busy shimmy-shaking himself all over the stage and into the audience (three times!) like Iggy Pop. I was worn out just watching him. I also concluded I’d like to see them at their own show with their fans in the pit because I suspect it would be the best kind of epic rock and roll madness. (Translation: Please, please come back and play at Irving so I can stand in the … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Clarksdale

Jennifer’s ready to drop some thoughts on our visit to Clarksdale, Mississippi, the city widely felt to be the home of delta blues music.

To Jennifer’s eternal credit, she passed the visit without outward complaint.

April has already shared her memories from our trip to Clarksdale. Here are some of mine:

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Kitchen window, Ground Zero Blues Club

Readers, I must tell you: this place creeped me out. I’m from New York, and Ground Zero – problematic and inaccurate though the label may be – only means one place. The blues club opened in May 2001, and so technically came first, but still, despite the delicious fried cheesecake (!), it ranks high on my list of disquieting dining experiences.

I was excited to get out of there and go to the Delta Blues Museum. That lasted for about an hour and three cycles of the video playing in the Muddy Waters cabin. (Keith Richards, what did you do your head??) At that point I had seen everything I wanted to see and thoroughly investigated the gift shop (why does Mississippi not believe in keychain … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Postcards from Disparate Voyage

The theme for my concert-going this summer seemed to be “voyages” and in particular water voyages, both to the water, or at least a couple of different beaches, and also on the water, specifically, the East River. As the temperature cools and the fall rainy season drifts in, I bring you some postcards from my last couple of trips:

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Willie Nelson, Circus Maximus Theater, Ceaser’s Atlantic City: The show was a little bit more subdued than I was expecting, perhaps a concession to the venue, the age of the audience (there were people in the front row celebrating their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary), or a reflection of Willie Nelson also getting up there (77 and still touring!), or some combination of those things. But it was still a great show. It was, in many ways, something of a relief to be able to just sit down and listen to someone sing familiar songs, undistracted by festival crowds or complicated stage business. He did, among others, Good Hearted Woman, All the Girls I’ve Loved Before and City of New Orleans, and I left refreshed, as if I … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Graceland

On our Great Southern Roadtrip, we trekked over to Graceland, home to Elvis Presley and his family from 1957 until sometime after Elvis’ death in 1977, after we visited Sun Studio. Personally, I was underwhelmed and a little weirded out by the experience. To my mind, it was a sad comment on the deadening excess that too often accompanies the success of music that is born out of raw passion.

Jennifer has a different take on it, so in honor of Elvis week, we give you Graceland…

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The first time I went to Graceland I was 17. It was during a particularly packed (and fraught) college visiting trip with my mother, an hour or two taken out to do something that probably wouldn’t result in mutual seething. At the time it seemed enormous and glittery and truly awe-inspiring, and I loved it. I got a small metal pink cadillac key-chain as a souvenir, which I have referred to as the “pink cadillac of freedom” ever since. It represented everything I thought college would be: my chance to get out of the house, to be glamorous, to … Continue reading