Several years ago, at the end of a long conversation about Elvis Presley, and specifically the world’s response to his death, a friend of mine asked me: “Who’s our Elvis? Whose death will stop the world like his?” We mulled and debated and left the question open. At 1:30 this morning I rolled over and checked the Internet and got the answer. I texted the friend this afternoon, to say: This is it. Our Elvis has died. David Bowie has left us, and I have to tell y’all, I don’t even know where to start. At the beginning, I guess, or what was the beginning for me: Dance Magic Dance from Labyrinth: I don’t remember when I first heard Let’s Dance, title track of the 1983 record, but it has always been one of my favorites. Here he is singing it, as well as one other song that comes first, with Tina Turner: Jumping backwards a little bit, this is Beauty and the Beast, from Heroes (1977), which I stumbled over probably ten years ago, and half a story fell fully formed into my head. I still haven’t written it down, but it’s there. Space Oddity, from David Bowie (1969) … Continue reading
Hello, darlings. I hope you are having excellent holidays, or at least excellent days. Normally this feature is just a year’s worth of shows – or a year and a bit – but I’m doing something a little different this time around. 2015 has been amazing, at times, and brutal, at others, and as I uploaded my images, it occurred to me that some of the silences had as much of an impact as the instances of joyful noise. So, here it is: a year of pictures of rockstars, and some other things, too. Book of Love, Terminal 5, New York, NY, Dec. 31, 2014 Andy Bell, Erasure, Terminal 5, New York, NY, Dec. 31, 2014 Kennedy (tuxedo) and Nikita (fluffball), dozing, New York, NY, Jan. 17, 2015 Nikita, 2001-Feb. 16, 2015 Kennedy, Feb. 28, 2015 Alina in the snow, March 1, 2015 Snow, birds, intrepid traveler, Brighton Beach, March 20, 2015 Fort Tryon Park/George Washington Bridge, Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015 Nick Morrison, Mumblr, Emerson House, Brooklyn, NY, April 24, 2015 Mumblr, Emerson House, Brooklyn, NY, April 24, 2015 Bonfire at the Mumblr show, Emerson House, Brooklyn, NY April 24, 2015 Flowering tree, Brooklyn, April 24, 2015 Kennedy, 1998-May … Continue reading
August Burns Red are well known for their punishingly heavy jams. They bring a similar spirit to Sleddin’ Hill, their Christmas record, released in 2012. I probably write about it every year, because I just love it that much. My primary favorite song from the record is their rendition of Carol of the Bells, which keeps the shape of the original intact but ramps up the intensity and pours on the drums: And as I was poking around the video possibilities I discovered that 1) one of their labels had put the whole thing up and 2) their version of Oh Holy Night is just majestic. Oh Holy Night is the kind of thing that’s supposed to ebb and flow on its way to a massive crescendo; when the choir hits fall on your knees you should feel the voices pulling you down. There’s no singing, here, but the drums will certainly knock you over:
It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss. In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire. Good morning, NTSIB. We’re doing something a little different with A Good Read today. The two people joining us today – Twilight Fauna, aka Paul Ravenswood, and Jennifer Christensen (solo, Disemballerina) – are not in the same band. Instead they are equal halves of a two-song split. Both are established black metal artists: Twilight Fauna … Continue reading
Bob Dylan released Christmas in the Heart in 2009, and the world’s reaction was somewhere between ” . . .” and “WHAT?” I have a confession, y’all: I usually can take or leave Bob Dylan, but I unironically love this record. There really is nothing more subtly glorious than him and his froggy croak of a voice powering through Adeste Fidelis: Though his rendition of Little Drummer Boy is also pretty great:
And now, on a more serious note, our old favorites the Felice Brothers have put out a Christmas album called Felice Navidad, the proceeds from which will go to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley (NY). Below are videos for two of the songs, Country Ham and Carriage. Country Ham is the whole band having some fun in a supermarket on their way to dropping off some holiday cheer; Carriage is Ian Felice by himself, delivering some sobering home truths with his guitar. The rest of the record is available at their website.
Everyone has their Christmas traditions. Some people can’t get in the spirit without hot cider and gingerbread. Others genuinely enjoy ugly Christmas sweater season. As for me, well, it isn’t really Christmas until someone starts singing Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer. (Admittedly this year that would mean Advent started in August on Fire Island, when someone in a hen party next to launched into the tune, but – DETAILS, people, DETAILS.) This version of the Elmo and Patsy classic is by Justin Kennedy of Army Navy. It’s at about 3/4 speed and therefore feels like experiencing the holiday in a haze of . . . whatever makes you feel hazy. Really brings the pathos out, too, actually. Never occurred to me before how much of the childish glee of this song depends on being able to slalom through it. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer – Justin Kennedy from Justin Kennedy on Vimeo.
It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss. In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire. The Slomatics first formed in Belfast in late 2004, and since then have released several records. Recently they re-issued their first two albums, Kalceanna (2007) and Flooding the Weir (2005). I’ve listened to both of them; my reaction was this is like being run over by a cement mixer and I mean that in the … Continue reading