Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks Perform on Fallon, Release “Wig Out at Jagbags”

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The music of Stephen Malkmus always holds a fond place in my heart.  From the first moment I heard the quirky sounds of Pavement around 1994 when I was about 11 years old on MTV’s 120 Minutes, I was instantly intrigued. Through all the muffled Grunge sound and a sea of alternative and industrial bands, Pavement, was like nothing I had ever heard before. For all the youngsters out there, this was way before finding music on the internet or being able to download it on your phone and ipods. We usually had to work to find the music we loved. Countless hours of listening to college radio, recording on cassettes, zines, staying up late to watch 120 Minutes, you name it.

Stephen Malkmus and Pavement were my first true glimpse at ‘Indie Rock.’ None of my friends understood what that even meant at the time. Indie Rock in the suburbs of New York was pretty a non-existent term. I begged my parents to go to see Pavement every time the radio announced they were in town, to no avail. By the time I was old enough, they were no longer a band. Luckily I had the chance to see them twice at their Central Park reunion shows back in 2010, which were phenomenal. Malkmus’ voice I have always found to be one of the most unique in rock n’ roll. Somehow it always sounds a bit sarcastic, which I’m not even sure is intentional. But that’s part  of it’s beauty. Throughout the years with Pavement and his solo-esque project, The Jicks, Malkmus always delivers. He never completely strays away from his classic sound, but it is indeed a sound that has evolved throughout time. It has become more polished, perhaps even a bit slicker. His vocals are always unforgettable, and he never tries to be anything he isn’t.

This week Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks released their 6th studio record. Wig Out at Jagbags, an incredible 14-track piece that somehow is better with every listen. Just unleashing the video for “Cinnamon and Lesbians,” and honoring it with their own ice cream flavor/meet-and-greet fest at Momofuku in NYC this week, the group also appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performing “Lariat,” with a special online bonus of “Stick Figures in Love.” What a great way to ring in the new year, no? Wig Out at Jagbags isn’t a great departure from any other Jicks record that has been released, but seriously, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Link to the videos below of the group performing on Jimmy Fallon. Wig Out at Jagbags is out NOW, via the lovely folks at Matador Records.

“Lariat”
http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/video/stephen-malkmus-and-the-jicks-lariat/n44778

“Stick Figures in Love”
http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/video/stephen-malkmus-and-the-jicks-stick-figures-in-love/n44766

TOUR DATES:

Wed Feb 12 – Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre (with Tyvek)
Fri Feb 14 – Columbia, MO – Mojo’s (with Tyvek)
Sat Feb 15 – St. Louis, MO – Old Rock House (with Tyvek)
Sun Feb 16 – Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room(with Tyvek)
Tue Feb 18 – Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center (with Tyvek)
Wed Feb 19 – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon (with Tyvek)
Thu Feb 20 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall (with Disappears)
Fri Feb 21 – Ferndale, MI – The Loving Touch (with Disappears)
Sat Feb 22 – Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace(with Disappears)
Sun Feb 23 – Montreal, QC – Cafe Campus (with Disappears)
Tue Feb 25 – Boston, MA – Paradise (with Disappears)
Wed Feb 26 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom (with Disappears)
Thu Feb 27 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg (with Endless Boogie)
Fri Feb 28 – Washington, DC – Black Cat (with Endless Boogie)
Sat March 01 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts (with Endless Boogie)
Mon March 03 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle (with Purling Hiss)
Tue March 04 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West (with Purling Hiss)
Wed March 05 – Birmingham, AL – The Bottletree (with Purling Hiss)
Thu March 06 – New Orleans, LA – The Parish @ House of Blues (with Purling Hiss)
Fri March 07 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s Upstairs (with Purling Hiss)
Sun March 09 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theater (with Purling Hiss)
Sat March 15 – Portland, OR – Star Theater
Thu March 27 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s (with Speedy Ortiz)
Fri March 28 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre (with Speedy Ortiz)
Sat March 29 – San Diego, CA – Casbah (with Speedy Ortiz)
Sun March 30 – Pioneertown, CA – Pappy & Harriets Pioneertown (with Speedy Ortiz)
Tue April 01 – Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom (with Speedy Ortiz)
Wed April 02 – Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar (with Speedy Ortiz)
Thu April 03 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge (with Speedy Ortiz)
Sat April 05 – Missoula, MT – Top Hat (with Speedy Ortiz)
Mon April 7 – Calgary, AB – Republik (with Speedy Ortiz)
Tue April 8 – Edmonton, AB – Starlite Room (with Speedy Ortiz)
Thu April 10 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre (with Speedy Ortiz)
Fri April 11 – Victoria, BC – Lucky Bar (with Speedy Ortiz)
Sat April 12 – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theatre (with Speedy Ortiz)

THE BRUTE CHORUS Plays Piano’s in NYC; WIN A FREE TEE SHIRT HERE!

Before heading to SXSW, U.K. imports, The Brute Chorus, is heading to Piano’s in New York City to play a one night only event (And first ever North American show!) with Sharen. The critically acclaimed Brutes have been gaining attention from the likes of CMJ, MP3.com, NME, and the BBC, just to name a few. We have an exclusive BRUTE CHORUS Tee Shirt for you to win to show your love for the band. Please E-mail “ModernMysteryBlog@yahoo.com” with “Brute Chorus Contest” in the subject line. Please give your NAME, ADDRESS and TEE SHIRT size. All entries close Tuesday, March 9th at 11:59pm.

In the meantime, take a peak at this exclusive live video below the group has posted on their IndieGoGo page. Also take time out to donate to these fine lads who are about to head to SXSW. For more info plus a live video of “My Testament,” head HERE.

CHECK OUT THE BRUTE CHORUS AT PIANO’S IN NEW YORK CITY, TUESDAY, MARCH 6TH AT 8PM. With Sharen.

Tom Vek @ Union Pool, July 13th 2011

It was Tom Vek’s second night playing in New York City and even though I was not at his Mercury Lounge concert, I can assure you the vibe at Union Pool had to be drastically different. It had rained that day, the temperature had cooled down a little… A nice evening outside sipping drinks in the bar’s outdoor courtyard right by the BQE must have given the audience a better disposition to rock out. I like to think so.
But before we could see Mr. Vek, we heard Cookies, “a band from New York City specializing in popular music” as they say on their website. A trio of multi-tasking musicians, they played a short set of danceable electro-pop songs, under the watchful eye of the headliner himself. Audience was a bit shy during the set, leaving a wide safety distance between the small stage and the first row. Still, the way the band mixed electronics with their instruments seemed like a fitting match and an appropriate lead-in for Vek. The set only got better as it went along; by the end, ears were warmed up, necks were a bit looser and the room was packed.

When Tom Vek steps out onto the stage, it’s hard to imagine he is actually as animated a performer as he is. With his new perfectly combed and sculpted hair, thick-rimmed black glasses, white t-shirt, jeans and tan lace-up boots, he seems very unassuming and calm. But once the music starts, the shift is immediate; he’s in it.

The set opened with “Hold Your Hand” off his new record, Leisure Seizure. The bass could have burst your chest open and the music immediately filled up the entirety of the cozy venue. As he plays, Vek sways and swings with the music, marking every drum break, every moment a new electronic sample is introduced with some part of his body, even moving his hand next to the microphone according to the tune he is singing.

Performing a nice balance of songs from his new album and songs from his first LP We Have Sound, Vek switched between playing bass and guitar. Hearing the song “C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)” showed just how powerful the marriage of two bass guitars and sharp drumming can be. “World of Doubt,” off his new release, took on even more grit and toughness live than on the recorded version.

The band was having fun on stage and so was the crowd. The audience’s appreciative head-bobbing quickly escalated to full-on dancing, with some concert goers up by the stage almost looking like they were in a trance. Vek isn’t too much into funny banter between songs but he did stop to thank everyone present for coming out several times and even complimented the venue (which was indeed very cute).

The set was tight and never felt like it was dying down, even during the slower songs. The last two songs were the first single off the new album, “A Chore” and the harsh “A.P.O.L.O.G.Y,” before which he thanked the opening band Cookies and his band mates. Sadly, there was no encore, but after such an electrifying set, our ears were bound to be ringing with the sound of his beat rock tunes for a while.

Setlist:

1. Hold Your Hand

2. We Do Nothing

3. C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)

4. World of Doubt

5. If You Want

6. Someone Loves You

7. Nothing But Green Lights

8. Aroused

9. I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes

10. Seizemic

11. A Chore

12. A.P.O.L.O.G.Y.

Interview: Chilling with Sam Roberts


If your read Sam Roberts’s Wikipedia page, you’ll see the man has quite a career behind him already, and many connections. It’s obvious then that there was no way we would miss him when he came to New York City this week, to play a gig at the beautiful Bowery Ballroom. Sam was really nice to sit down with us and talk about the genesis of the Sam Roberts Band new album Collider, which came out on May 10th via Zoë/Rounder Records, being on tour again and Justin Bieber. That’s right.

Modern Mystery: It’s been a while since you’ve been on tour in the US. How does it feel to be back on the road again?

Sam Roberts: Really good! Especially being here at the Bowery Ballroom. It’s the perfect setting and scenario for starting off a tour, just to be back in New York City and feel the energy of the place again and hopefully play a good  show tonight and set the tone for the rest of the tour.

MM: Which are you favourite cities to play in the US?

SR: It’s hard to say because there are the obvious choices: New York, San Francisco and Chicago… But there are a few other smaller cities. I love playing in Buffalo, NY. I really like playing in Pittsburgh. It didn’t start out that way but after years of thickheadedness and a refusal to take no for an answer, we sort of broke through and found a great, small, loyal following in Pittsburgh. And I love playing in Detroit. I’ve just got a great connection with that city. That’s just to name a few.

MM: What made you decide to record the new album in Chicago rather than at home in Canada?

SR: Aside from choosing Chicago, just the idea of not making the record at home was important to us this time around because I think it allowed us to break free from our day to day routines and not have that be a part of the mindset while making the record. Not having to answer the phone, not having the menial daily chores that suck some of the romance out of it. I feel like making a record should be adventurous, that there should be some sort of romance and strangeness to the process. So going to a place like Chicago and just sort of taking ourselves outside of the familiar and the comfortable, and throwing a bunch of Canadians in a big American city, kind of wide-eyed and having to find their way… We kind of hoped that it would bring some spontaneity and a different perspective to make the record. We’d been practicing these songs for so long too and you have a tendency to sort of get a bit too cemented in terms of your relationship to the music that you are playing and I think that if you go in the recording studio with that in mind, you have the tendency to play to not make mistakes rather than play to perform and to try out some sort of emotion in your playing. So being in Chicago, we tried to feed off of the city and tried to being that into the studio every day.

MM: You worked with Brian Deck on this album, who’s worked with Modest Mouse or Iron and Wine in the past. How did he get involved and how did the recording process for Collider differ from the other people you’ve worked with?

SR: We sent him demos that I’d been working on in my basement at home and he just came back with this extremely enthusiastic, encouraging response to the whole thing, so I was like, “Okay, he’s really excited about this.” And then a day later he sends me this email, 5-page long email, telling me everything that he would change in the songs, if and when he got his hands on them. That scared us off for a few minutes and we kind of went back and retreated to the band, you know, the sanctuary and were thinking, “this isn’t going to work, this guy is crazy! He wants to do what?” And we actually tried to do a few of the things and it made a lot of sense. A producer’s role isn’t to pat you on the back, it’s to bring their own perspective in or bring your vision to a new level or a level you can’t see yourself because you are so close to the music and you’ve been so involved in every step of its life. I think what he helped with most is to help us find simplicity in the songs, to not just try to throw layer after layer after layer in the record. If you listen to the record, it has a more spare, sparse sound to it so that when you do introduce woodwinds and percussion, they have room to make much bigger impact and that was definitely a new approach for us.

MM: You also added two musicians to the line-up for this album, Ben Massarella and Stuart Bogie, who have worked with TV on the Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. How did they work into the band? What did they bring to the tracks they performed on?

SR: Well, great musicianship for one. Their lack of history with the music itself allowed them to think completely out of the box. So they would come in and Stuart specifically, he’d come in and listen to this music for the first time and was already coming up with parts. After his first listen, he’d have something to play for the chorus he’d just heard. So it was an incredibly spontaneous and immediate process. And to watch people who are able to adapt that quickly and to think on their feet like that was inspiring to us and I think it made us want to play differently as well and not be afraid of making a mistake but rather play to get the right feeling on the recording. Also, Ben and Brian had a past relationship of working together. They’re at that point where they don’t even have to really talk to know what the other one means.

MM: How do you translate what you created in the studio to the current live show?

SR: We’re in the thick of figuring it out right now. One of the first dramatic steps was to get a saxophone player to reproduce those parts on a daily basis. Stuart couldn’t be with us on the tour because he’s with Iron and Wine but he recommended a friend of his and we played one gig together in D.C. and it felt really good so hopefully there’s more of that to come. It’s mostly about getting the saxophone so we wouldn’t have to re-invent the songs.

MM: What is the inspiration behind the songs on Collider?

SR: Everything and anything. Life. You know, I have a family, I have three kids… The inspiration is what you live and how you deal with the things you live and what is around you.

MM: What’s your songwriting process? How do you decide how to tell a story?

SR: It’s funny because this is my job and I do need to organize time to write a song. I have to put a lock on the door so the kids don’t come in. I like writing under that kind of pressure, I like deadlines, I like creating with a sort of pressure on my shoulders. It tends to focus my thinking in some way as well. You’re not able to have these meandering ideas that never get checked. I like having structure like that. But then again, so much time goes by between writing that I’ve kind of forgotten whatever method I had for the previous record, but that’s how music evolves for me. If I implemented the same structure for every single song that I ever wrote, I think they’d end up sounding a lot more alike. So in this sense, every time I sit down to write a new record, I’m not chained to the last one necessarily and that’s how I like to make music. One record, I might start with drums and bass and move on from there to add the vocals right at the end; another time I’ll make a more concerted effort to write lyrics right at the beginning and shape the songs around the lyrics. This record was really about shaping the rhythmic patterns of the songs and letting everything feed off of that. So in terms of the lyrics and which words you end up using and how they roll off your tongue to fit into that pattern was important for this record in particular.

MM: How did you get involved with the Young Artists for Haiti benefit? It was quite surprising to see you alongside Justin Bieber and Drake. Did that make you hesitant or apprehensive at all?

SR: Not at all. I didn’t realize the scope of the event before going in there. I really had no idea who I was going to be keeping company with. I know K’naan, who was the mastermind behind the whole thing and who wrote the song. He sent me an e-mail because we were all, a lot of us were heading over to Vancouver to play concerts surrounding the Olympics. So I didn’t know what was going on. I got off the plane, went to the studio, I knew my part that I was supposed to sing. When I first arrived, there was myself and maybe three other people. So I recorded my bit, came out and what had a fairly empty room was now of, like you said, just about everybody: a lot of people I know, Canadian bands that I’m friends with or that I’ve toured with over the years and then a few surprising faces, you know? I think that was the beauty of the whole effort really, how it wasn’t necessarily about one type of musician. It was a very inclusive process and I think it came out really really well and did a lot of good in the end too. It made a big impact in terms of getting Canadians to stay connected to the issue and reminding of the event long after it ceased to be front page news.

MM: How do you feel fans have reacted to Collider so far?

SR: It’s funny because this time around I started looking at our Facebook page whereas during our last record I didn’t even know how to log on [laughs]. And with Twitter as well, there’s so much more immediate response to it and it’s been really great! A lot of people say things that I love to hear like, “I had to listen to this one three or four times before I got it,” and I think this is that kind of record. I don’t think it hits right over the head right away. And I think every record we make is like that in a way, where you just have to sit with it for a bit for it to reveal its true nature. And also then your relationship to the song is allowed to evolve overtime and isn’t just  a flash in the pan experience.

MM: Is that kind of response part of the incentive to keep writing complex, powerful songs?

SR: You shouldn’t let your self get too far ahead of yourself that way either and I don’t want to say that it would make me stick to one way of doing things because I think that when you sit down and write, you have to feel that freedom to do whatever comes naturally to you at the time. My favorite songs to write are the simplest songs, it’s just that they’re harder to come by. Strangely enough.

MM: After this tour, what’s next for the Sam Roberts Band?

SR: This tour is just starting so right now that seems SO far away that I can’t even fathom. I want to be on the road for quite while with this record because it feels really good to play and I hope that it brings a new element to our live show that will keep people coming back. At the same time, I’d prefer not to put out records every three years, which is what happens when you’re on tour for a year and a half then all of a sudden, you find yourself with a great deal of time. I want to make more music than I’ve been making in the last few years. I feel the urge to do that. So it’s a bit of a balance and I haven’t quite figured out how to strike that balance yet.

MM: Do you have some recording equipment in the tour bus?

SR: No, nothing. I don’t even bother because I know that’s not going to happen. And that’s what I mean when I say there’s so much time between writing. It’s not just making a record but actually writing. I finished writing this record last summer and I haven’t written a song since. It’s already been almost a year since I wrote a song. I collect ideas, I’ve got a lot of ideas but I still have to do all that work to turn those fragments into a song. So, I just don’t write when we’re on the road. You’ve got to be up for the show and it’s hard enough to stay focused on that one thing. Some people are amazing; you walk in their bus or their van or their hotel room and they’ve set up a studio and they’ve got two hours and they’re working! I have the utmost respect and admiration and envy for those people because they make a lot of music, but I’m just not one of them. I need peace and space  and if I don’t have it the ideas just don’t come, you know.

The Sam Roberts Band is touring the US and Canada for the next three months so check out their website HERE for tour information.

Buffalo Tom on Tour, Hits Up NYC Next Week!


Indie legends Buffalo Tom are making the rounds on a short tour in the next few weeks, and if you missed their Record Store Day performance last weekend, you still have the chance to catch them in New York City amongst other places. The group will be hitting NYC by storm a week from today, Thursday, April 18th at the infamous Bowery Ballroom. The
trio is still supporting their newest release, Skins that hit stores early last month. You do not want to miss out on the chance to catch your new and old favorites on the road.

There are still some tickets left for the Bowery show so snatch them up while you can. You can get them HERE.

Check out the other tour dates below!

APRIL

Thu 28 New York, NY, USA – Bowery Ballroom

Fri 29 Philadelphia, PA, USA – M Room

Sat 30 Washington, D.C., USA – The Black Cat

MAY 2011
Tue 17 San Francisco, CA, USA – Slim’s

Wed 18 Los Angeles, CA, USA – Troubadour

Thu 19 Portland, OR, USA – Doug Fir

Fri 20 Seattle, WA, USA – Chop Suey

LCD Soundsystem Get Everyone To Dance On Their Grave At Madison Square Garden


I remember the first time I spotted LCD Soundsystem’s lead singer and creator James Murphy on the L train. It was a Sunday afternoon and we were the only two people in the car, besides a street performer playing a saxophone for change. I sat there only a few feet away from both of them, studying James as he leaned against the door with his headphones on. The performance was one I will never forget. He played that thing with blood sweat and tears, jumping around flailing his legs, while at the same time hitting some of the worst possible notes he could or could not think of. James just stood there nonplussed, as if the man wasn’t even there before exiting the train on 1st Avenue. Though we never made eye contact, I am pretty sure we both shared a moment of random perplexity that made us think to ourselves “Only in New York City” which is perhaps one of the many reasons we love this place so much.

Nearly 5 years later, I found myself standing in a line outside of Mercury Lounge amongst 500+ people for hours anxious to get general admission tickets to what would be the last LCD Soundsystem show ever. The company of friends was the only thing keeping me from thinking about standing there in 14 degree weather risking hypothermia, and the fact that I woke up at 7am to go stand on a line in the first place. A month later, as we walked into Madison Square Garden, my friends and I sighed the words of relief “totally worth it”… When we made it to the floor, we just stood there for a minute and spun our heads around in amazement. We watched hundreds upon hundreds of people dance there asses off, all in unison bearing ear to ear grins. Everyone was clad in black and white, as this was a “funeral” for the band of sorts, but no way did it feel like one. We all knew we were part of something huge. I don’t mean to gush, but you just had to be there.

The show started on a somber note, playing the first bars of 10cc’s “Not In Love”, a track I always include on CD mixes for friends, though I am sure it went unnoticed to most of the audience. The first set included “Dance Yrself Clean”, “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, “All My Friends”, and “Tired” with a snippet of 70’s progressive rock band Yes’ “Heart of the Sunrise”, a song I have known since my toddler years. It was a joyful ending as my friends and I danced arm in arm, and great predecessor to the following 2 and a half hours the show still had.

The second set started with a track they made for a Nike ad called “45:33”, which most perceived was performed as a joke, but mostly so Murphy could take a break. The tune previews clips of songs that later became the track list to their sophomore studio release “Sound Of Silver”. Some of the special guest who joined them onstage include Reggie Watts, and DFA affiliates The Juan Maclean and Shit Robot who performed in a rocket ship and a pyramid, putting to rest the rumors that Daft Punk would be making an appearance. Coming into the third set saw Arcade Fire approach the stage to back vocals for “North American Scum”, a ground-shaking performance of “Movement”, the very first song I ever heard by them, and “Home” which I am sure left a cry ball in everyones throat.

But the real tear jerker, of course, was “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”, and it was so for so many reasons. As James announced that he was about to sing his last song ever, the audience booed, prompting him to ask not for boos but for cheers, and cheers he got, for about 5 minutes in fact. He thanked his family, fans, friends, and band mates with tears in his eyes, and started the song, adding profoundly long pauses in between lines. During the songs ending, white balloons fell from the ceiling, and James bowed, sealing the deal on one of the best live performances I have ever seen in my entire life, and the end of LCD Soundsystem.

I still haven’t made eye contact with James, and I probably never will for that matter, but I feel like we relived that moment from 5 years ago. There was no train, no crazy saxophone player, just a lot of love, a lot of energy and an amazing perfromance. Thank you LCD Soundsystem for the music, for the memories, and for sharing a fondness for New York City that will never die…