Julian Casablancas @ Terminal 5, NYC- January 14, 2009

DSCF1823 by ModernMystery.I had mixed feelings going into the Julian Casablancas show on Thursday night. His solo album, Phrazes for the Young, which is pretty incredible, would probably come off well, but would it be the same Casablancas I fell in love with when Is This It came out? Would it be awkward not seeing the rest of The Strokes with him? Could these songs possibly come off like sort of a lounge act on stage? I was probably more nervous than him, who was performing in New York City for the first time in years.

Getting to Terminal 5 super early, the line was already down the street for the sold out show. The crowd is still the hippiest group you’ll ever see. Folks, Strokes fans invented hipsters. The line rushed in as soon as the doors opened. A majority of people hit the merch table immediatly, something you rarely see these days. Sneaking up to the front of the crowd, I knew something special was about to happen tonight.

First taking the stage was Tanlines, a eletronic duo that managed to keep my attention. Telepathe took the stage next, which honestly I could do without. Every song sounded the same, and I possibly dozed off during one part. If the opener was just Tanlines than I would have been happy. Maybe it was because I was dying to see Casablancas, someone I haven’t seen on stage since the last time The Strokes played in New York 3 or 4 years ago.

Hitting the stage immediatly after, Casablancas came out like he was never gone. Launching into “Ludlow Street,” an homage to being back in NYC, the fans embraced him right off the bat. Singing along to every word from the start. It felt good to have him back, and he loved the attention. An audience favorite of the night was certainly “11th Dimension,” as the crowd sang along and danced. Casablancas seemed ecstatic to be playing in his hometown again and his energy was just incredible. Though he still manages to hold on to his microphone stand for dear life, he was not exempt from getting right in the crowd’s face, literally, as he hopped off the stage several times that night. “What a good lookin’ crowd. You’re still the best,” commented Casablancas to the screaming fans.

DSCF1846 by ModernMystery.

The 6 piece band behind him were extremely tight, but somehow you just couldn’t take your eyes off of the man himself. The night was filled with tracks off his solo record, and ones like “Out of the Blue,” riled up the crowd like no other. Though you would assume that with only one album under his belt, that he would have lack of material to play on stage. This was not the case. Blazing through nearly every track, he also whipped out a few surprises when he wasn’t talking about how upset he was with Alicia Key’s songs. He shocked us by playing a slow cover of the old Kings of Leon tune, “Velvet Snow,” which was beautiful to say the least. Leaving the stage after “Left & Right In the Dark,” he ran off, literally. The band wasn’t gone for more than 10 seconds before the crowd started to chant for them to come back.

Casablancas came back on stage with the guitarist and said “This is a cover of an old Strokes b-side.” Of course, fans went crazy for this as he performed “I’ll Try Anything Once.” Everyone was singing along, and Julian had the biggest smile on his face. Performing “4 Chords of the Apocalypse” with such spunk, Casablancas got right into the crowd and the security guards had to keep a hold onto him. And with that, he was gone again. But the fans were still hungry. An impromptu second encore then took place as he closed with “Tourist,” Casablancas left the stage by slapping 5 with people in the crowd only to come back instructing his drummer to play a beat for him to sing over “Let’s hear it for New York, these streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you,” and he was out like a flash of light. Julian we missed you, and from the looks of it, you missed us too.



Modern Mystery’s Top 25 Albums of 2009


1. The Wooden Birds-Magnolia
From the ashes of the classic indie band, American Analog Set, rose a new project from former frontman, Andrew “AK” Kenny, called The Wooden Birds. Shifting completely everything he’s done musicially, AK has come out with one of the most surprising releases of the year. Creating a record that is more folk than rock, no songs on the album contain any drums what-so-ever. The bass and vocals really take off and captivate you, the listener. The live sets of the song also include Matt Pond on guitar along with songstress Leslie Sisson. I’m not sure I’ve heard such a heart felt and warm record in the past 10 years.

2. Julian Casablancas- Phrazes for the Young
It’s been a long time since we heard from The Strokes as a unified band. A lot of fans were hesitant on the thought of a solo album by the charasmatic leader, Julian Casablancas, putting out music that doesn’t resemble his band at all. What a surprise it was when we found he took his love for a bit of 1980’s dance and incoporated it with his unforgettable voice and lyrics. The end result? One of the coolest records of the year. We’d expect no less from him.

3. James Husband- Parallax 1
It took 10 years for multi-instrumentalist and drummer from Of Montreal, James Husband, to create his solo album masterpiece. Husband is in the spotlight for the first time in his career and wow, is he certainly taking advantage of it. Providing one of the best indie pop records of the past year, he lets out a 60’s retro sound that no one can mess with. The end result is something as charming as it seems. Raw, catchy, and glorious.

4. Alvin Band-Mantis Preying
Rick  Schaier is not only an amazing drummer and artist, but he is also an extremely talented singer and songwriter. Schaier who spends most of  his time playing drums in The Miniature Tigers has begun a new chapter in his book in the form of ‘Alvin Band,’ this year and completely blew our minds. Blending a retro sound with updated electronics, this is one album you should pick up if you haven’t yet. The catchy hooks and vocals will only leave you wanting more. That my friends, is a good thing!

5. Bishop Allen- Grrr
It’s been a long night since Bishop Allen gained attention by two teenagers named Nick and Norah, and fans were at the edge of their seat wondering what the Brookyln line up would come up with next. Taking a further step into their brilliant indie pop sound, the band did not disappoint at all with Grrr. See it as the next chapter in the Bishop Allen movie, one that is bound to have many sequels in store.

6. Grizzly Bear-Veckatimest
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you may have heard of a little band called Grizzly Bear. Somehow exploding this year, it was certainly one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2009. Every song is flawless. Catchy yet moody. Beautiful in every way. This album describes itself better than anyone ever could.

7. Bat for Lashes- Two Suns
Completely out of left field, the lovely miss Natasha from Bat for Lashes surprised us all this year with making a stunning, charming, and beautiful record. The combination of her voice and the spacey background music is enough to send chills down your spine. And it does just that. The haunting track “Daniel” captivated the attention of many, and the rest of the album is able to keep you around.

8. Flight of the Conchords-I Told You I Was Freaky
Yes, they are known for writing ‘funny’ songs, but on this record, FOTC became even witty and even more advanced it seems in their writing. Their songs, even though the lyrics are mostly ‘silly’, are composed perfectly from start to end. Jermaine and Bret are really on top of their game with this record. We can’t wait to hear more!

9. Phoenix-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
This band always makes a great record, and their 2009 hit was no different. Everyone wanted a piece of Phoenix and boy, did they get them. This classic indie dance pop record was a must have for everyone who ‘knew what’s cool.’ Apparently, this was the world.

10. Girls-Girls
An unlikely hit, this retro indie duo shocked us all with such a raw and appealing debut album. This lo-fi record filled with melodies, doesn’t need any frills or thrills to make it great. It hold’s its own firmly which is a hard thing to mess with.

11. Cass McCombs-Catacombs
12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Its Blitz
13. Pains of Being Pure at Heart-Pains of Being Pure at Heart
14. Casper and the Cookies-Modern Silence
15. Headlights-Wildlife
16. Japandroids- Post Nothing
17. Cymbals Eat Guitars-Why There are Mountains
18. Kevin Devine- Brother’s Blood
19. Joan of Arc- Flowers
20. Passion Pit-Manners
21. The Antlers- Hospice
22. Loney Dear-Dear John
23. Neko Case-Middle Cyclone
24. The Mountain Goats- The Life of the World to Come
25. Dirty Projectors-Bitte Orca

Julian Casablancas to Release Solo Album

Just when we thought, or were promised really, that a new album by The Strokes was on the way, it was recently released that frontman Julian Casablancas is releasing a solo album of his own. I guess the big question here is, ‘What took so long?’ since nearly all of the other members have been working on other projects. With all of that aside, I have a feeling that this  will possibly be the most popular of The Strokes’ side projects. The album will be titled ‘Phrazes For the Young’  and include songs such as ‘Brake Lights’  and ‘Ludlow’.  It was produced by Jason Lader with additional work by Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis (who oddly just produced the new Pete Yorn album. Guess he is settling in since Bright Eyes is only making one more record together before Conor goes solo for good). Casablancas will hit the road this year with a series of special show dates and then a mini solo tour to follow at the end of 2009. I’m going to take a longshot and say he will probably appear at CMJ. Will we finally get that new Strokes record this year? Guess we’ll have to wait and see. They said they were working on it. Sigh. Quite frankily, I just miss The Strokes.

Get a taste of Julian solo at www.juliancasablancas.com