Parenthetical Girls and Glockabelle at Bowery Electric were Awesome!

parenthetical drummer wp

I liked but never quite got into Parenthetical Girls, but when my friend Glockabelle told me she was opening for them I thought I’d give it a shot.

Glockabelle is Annabelle Cazes and whatever awesome musicians she happens to be working with.  She plays everything from surf rock to classical on her Glockenspiel, and then plays twin little keyboards and sings in French.  Her stage banter is awesome, she’ll say, “This is a song about a gazelle” and then launch into madness.  Here’s two great samples:

We stayed for Parenthetical Girls and they blew us away.  Lead singer Zac Pennington is a charismatic demon and stood on amps, came out into the crowd, and performed all over the venue.  It’s a good thing he has a long mic cord.  In the most intense moment, he came over to the bench we were standing on, grabbed a rolldown movie screen, and pulled it down in front of us so only me and a couple of other people could see him performing for a few minutes.  It was so amazing and intimate that I couldn’t resist giving his scrawny arm a little kiss.

It’s been a long time since I saw a show with such panache and engagement.  Their recordings don’t quite capture the same spirit but have a listen anyway!  Check out the amazing song The Pornographer and its (NSFW if armpit hair is not cool at your work) video:

Anyway, thanks to Glockabelle and Parenthetical Girls for an amazing New York experience!

parenthetical zac wp

categories: Concerts, Reviews
link to this post: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Never Trust a Man With a Butter Knife, a Plastic Butter Knife


  1. I’m starting to warm up to this whole new Big Boi album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
  2. This song Gossip is straight up amazing.
  3. How high was this man when he made up the part about never trusting a man with a plastic butter knife.

I’m actually posting this song because none of the versions of it online have the “plastic butter knife” lead out.  Also everyone should listen to it.  And then the whole album.  Cause I said so.

[audio:|titles=Big Boi – Gossip]
categories: Reviews, Songs
link to this post: Saturday, January 5th, 2013

kissed her little sister

Way back in 2010 I called out the independently released kissed her little sister album, high&low as half of the 10th best album of 2010.

It reminds me of early Beck in a lot of ways.  high&low was a shambling, brilliant, lo-fi mess of a really talented kid making amazing music in his living room.  It was at once humble and ambitious.  Listen to cocaine for example.  He sings an amazing, grim version of Cocaine Blues, the song Johnny Cash made famous in his Folsom Prison recording.  However, sings it over a perfect sample of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall.

Then, in my dreams are television, he sets up a hilarious hip-hop cut up out of human voices and scratching, and then does a slow, creaking sing/rap over it.  I love it.

Then there’s just lovely, pretty singing and songwriting like he walked on the water, which brings me to the fact that kissed her little sister just released a brand new album: sailor, which is much more focused on the pretty singing and guitar than all the sonic experimentation of his last album.  I’ve only given it a few listens, but I think it’s worth a few listens.  And, since you can listen to both albums on his bandcamp page: sailor and high&low for free, streaming on the web.

Bandcamp is a really cool site, and it’s nice to see bands have a good alternative for self-releasing albums and band pages now that myspace is just too dorky to even use anymore.   Bandcamp lets you put up your music for streaming and lets customers purchase it in a variety of high quality digital formats.

Anyone have any other good Bandcamp finds?  Isn’t that album cover awesome?


categories: Albums, Reviews
link to this post: Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Anna Minard has “never heard of ’em” and NPR learns how to “get along”

When I was in Seattle on vacation I discovered the coolest new column in the weekly paper The Stranger.  Anna Minard just started writing Never Heard of ‘Em.  The premise is that Anna doesn’t know that much about the “essential” albums her friends and fellow writers pass her.  She listens for the first time, and then writes a review of what it’s like to be exposed to the album for the first time.

So far, she’s done Love, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, The Cramps, Royal Trux, and Suicide.  I must confess that I’d never heard Royal Trux or Suicide myself.

Another cool project is NPR’s All Songs Considered‘s new project called Why Can’t We All Get Along.  They’re trying to find the top 10 albums everyone can agree on.  They’re posting a bunch of universally liked albums every week and letting people vote all summer to populate the semifinals.  One thing I find funny is that for every album “everybody loves”, someone hates it just to be contrary.

Paul Simon’s Graceland, Bob Marley’s Exile, AC/DC… I think it’s kind of funny to come up with a list of music that’s least hated.  I know some people who REALLY can’t stand Exile though.

What’s your least hated album?



categories: Albums
link to this post: Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Worthwhile Jazz Deconstructions of Songs You Probably Know

(note: None of the songs are actually ON the Jazz and 80’s album, I just think it’s a cool cover.  Also sex sells.  Not that I’m selling anything.)

I was just listening to this brand new Jazz album by the Vijay Iyer Trio, and on it they have a great cover of Micheal Jackson’s Human Nature.  I love how they keep the song recognizable, but then evolve into their own exploration of the song’s musical themes.  I think that a good jazz cover respects the original song, but still tears it apart and puts it back together again somehow.

It made me think of several songs that do something similar that I’ve come to appreciate over the years.

The Bad Plus is probably the most famous for their Smells Like Teen Spirit cover, which is great, but I’m partial to their amazing cover of the Tears For Fears song, Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

Of course I had to have a Beatles song, and there’s no lack of Beatles covers of any genre in this world, but I particularly like the somewhat insane version of A Day In The Life by Grant Green.

Charlie Hunter’s Come As You Are cover starts with the Smells Like Teen Spirit riff, but is in fact a groovy cover of the (slightly) lesser known song.

The rest, just enjoy.  I think every one has a little something special.

Listen as a playlist:

[audio:,,,,,,|titles=Vijay Iyer Trio – Human Nature,The Bad Plus – Everybody Wants To Rule The World,Grant Green – A Day In The Life,Bill Frisell – Live to Tell,Charlie Hunter Trio – Come As You Are,Brad Mehldao Trio – Knives Out,Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – Isobel]

Or listen to the songs individually:

Human Nature (Micheal Jackson) as covered by the Vijay Iyer Trio

[audio:|titles=Vijay Iyer Trio – Human Nature]

Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Tears For Fears) as covered by The Bad Plus

[audio:|titles=The Bad Plus – Everybody Wants To Rule The World]

A Day in the Life (The Beatles) as covered by Grant Green

[audio:|titles=Grant Green – A Day In The Life]

Live To Tell (Madonna) as covered by the Bill Frisell

[audio:|titles=Bill Frisell – Live to Tell]

Come As You Are (Nirvana) as covered by the Charlie Hunter Trio

[audio:|titles=Charlie Hunter Trio – Come As You Are]

Day is Done (Radiohead) as covered by the Brad Mehldao Trio

[audio:|titles=Brad Mehldao Trio – Knives Out]

Isobel (Björk) as covered by Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

[audio:|titles=Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – Isobel]
categories: Reviews, Songs
link to this post: Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

California is one of my favorite albums ever (Mr. Bungle)

California is probably the most normal and approachable album Mike Patton (also of Faith No More) ever made, which is to say, it’s one of the oddest and most off-putting albums most people will experience.

Mr. Bungle was Mike Patton’s high school band, but me and my teenage friends didn’t find out about him until Faith No More’s epic song and video, Epic came out.  things explode, Mike Patton punches himself in the head, and a fish (evidently given to them by Björk?!) flops about in exquisite suffocation.  This song blew our minds, and it wasn’t long before someone had a copy of the self-titled first album by Mr. Bungle.

Mr. Bungle (the album) is an insane free-jazz heavy-metal carnival.  We loved it mostly as a novelty album, with its hilarious porn samples and rollercoaster ride music, but it wasn’t until years later that I heard California.

I think the two biggest influences on California are cheesy lounge music and surf-rock, but as always, Mr. Bungle sometimes (d)evolves into pure avant-garde noise.  While some of the songs are truly purely beautiful, most are some kind of wild ride.

Air-Conditioned Nightmare – This is a great song to start with because it inhabits all the madness, beauty and tormented Beach Boys ethos that the album creates.  The song begins with clattering percussion, and Mike Patton doing some singing that would have fit in on Pet Sounds.   Then, at about the :40 minute mark, it gets twisted, and there’s a rapid-fire change to some perverse doo-wop-ing / surf-metal guitar / mechanical pleas to “get me out of this air-conditioned nightmare”.   Then at about the 3:00 mark, acts sincere, as if he were just trying to sing a beautiful song the whole time, finally introducing the final theme of the song, asking sweetly “where’s my rainbow?  where’s my halo?”

Pink Cigarette – Possibly the most straightforwardly gorgeous song on the whole album, Mike croons over vocal choruses and gentle surf rock, a tale of a cuckolded man contemplating impending suicide after his wife leaves him with only a pink cigarette on the bed:  “How can I forget that your lips were there?Your kiss goes everywhere, touches everything but me.”  So perfectly pathetic and campy, but perhaps marred by the obvious heart monitor sounds at the end.

 Goodbye Sober Day – The album’s closer, it’s notable for it’s appropriation of an Indonesian chanting style near the end.  After a spooky song cycle, all the air is sucked out of the song at about the 2:10 mark, and Mike Patton does his approximation of Kecak, a Balinese chant used partially to depict a war between Rama and the evil king Ravana (only like a heavy-metal version).

None of Them Knew They Were Robots – I wish I knew enough about music to know what the hell is happening here.  I won’t suffer to narrate all the twists and turns of this song but there’s a lot to listen here, including a doomish chant of Deus absconditus  and Deus nullus deus nisi deus.  It’s about science, religeon, nanotechnology, gnostic wisdom, god knows what else.

Vanity Fair – I’ll go out on a sweet note, cause “you’re not human, you’re a miracle!”

If this appeals to you at all, please get and listen to this whole album in all of it’s gorgeous glory.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s one for the ages.

Some Widely Loved Artists I Don’t Love

I’m always so goddamned positive here on the Snob. I don’t usually like to bother to write about things unless I love them, but I think it’s worth mentioning that I don’t in fact love everything. Plus, it’s a critic’s job to be contrary so, I’m going to give it a shot.

Elvis Costello

So many music lovers revere this guy to the stars, but sadly I feel like I have to force myself to listen to a whole album. My respect for Elvis just went up a couple of notches when I heard him cover Fiona Apple’s amazing and amazingly underrated song I Know:

I could tell that he loved the song, and knew every word and inflection, and hit every single one of its incredible high points. It’s not the first time I’ve thought “I should give Elvil Costello a chance” though.

To me he just sounds hopelessly dated, and nothing really makes his songwriting or performing stand out for me in a way that makes me want to listen to it.

Song I do actually like: Alison


OK, now I know this is going to be a divisive one. There’s definitely some Radiohead I like. I know they’re the ultimate in modern rock brilliance. I’ve really loved a lot of what they’ve done.

Who would have every guessed that a band destined to become a one-hit-wonder from Creep, would switch it up and become one of the most universally acknowledged rock success geniuses ever.

When I put on OK, Computer, one of their undisputed masterworks, all I can think is “Goddamn, can this dude whine!” I feel like he generated this whole generation of first world problem whiners who think intelligently howling about the injustices and plastic-ness of the world is the highest of art.

Sometimes liking music has to do with wanting to inhabit the psychic landscape it creates. I rarely seem to want to live in Radioheadland.

Song I do actually like: Reckoner

[audio:|titles=Radiohead – Reckoner]


These guys blew my mind when I was first aware of them, which wasn’t until I was 15 and videos started popping up on MTV. I wasn’t sure whether to like or hate Losing My Religion when it came out (ended up liking it) or Stand / Shiny Happy People (ended up hating it).

I’ve tried to go back and listen to some of their classic College Rock era albums like Eponymous and Life’s Rich Pageant. Much like Elvis Costello I just felt like these guys were outdated by the time I got to them. I liked it, but people seemed to regard their old stuff with a certain level of worship that I just could never comprehend.

Song I actually like: Fall on Me


I didn’t actually realize how huge and ubiquitous Jay-Z was until well after his prime. Now, his sad, late career verses sound pretty pathetic next to Kanye West at the absolute top of his songwriting game. There’s Kanye talking absolutely insane shit, always something new, while Jay-Z is still playing up the fact that he used to sell crack in another lifetime and that he’s really huge.

Yeah, back in the day he wrote some good songs on Blueprint and The Black Album for sure. But even then, I just can’t quite fathom how he managed to become this unbelievable multi-platinum success. He does have that wide, expansive voice, and his lyrics are never too challenging.

Song I actually like: Takeover

[audio:|titles=Jay-Z – Takeover]


I want to love Queen, I really do. I love the idea of flamboyant gay rockers doing operatic imaginative way-before-its-time rock and blowing apart the world. I love plenty of their anthems. I, too, watched Wayne’s World and thought, “Holy crap, I’ve heard that song before I but I didn’t realize what a mega-world-destroying beast it was!”

I love all the talk about fat bottomed girls riding bicycles. I love that a band with a gay lead singing became the stadium stomper for America’s most red-blooded manly sport.

However, when I listen to an actual album, the pomp and bombast just overwhelm the actual songs for me. They’re vamping and camping with a million things going on at once like some grand poncy circus.

Song I actually like: Killer Queen

[audio:|titles=Queen – Killer Queen]

Neil Young

I tried to find this old comic from Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper where Neil Young says something like, “You business fellas worry about doing what you’re best at: making money, and I’ll go back to doing when I’m best at: warbling like an old goose.”

There is no doubt that Neil is a prolific and powerful songwriter. I hear his recent album about an electric car was really good.

He is clearly a passionate and insightful hippie who’s worked with some incredibly talented people and can obviously make magic with just himself and a guitar.

Only one problem, I could just never bring myself to put on one of his albums again. He is someone I have actively tried to like and “get”. I had Harvest Moon on vinyl, I tried to get into After The Gold Rush and Tonight’s The Night, but I couldn’t quite get over the goose warble.

Song I actually like: Heart of Gold

Win Me Over?

Do you want to change my mind on any of these artists? Pick me out a 3 song playlist and send it to me for any of these artists and I’ll give it a shot.

categories: Reviews
link to this post: Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Snob Shorties

I’ve been loving Grimes (gorgeous 80’s throwback beats with lovely choral-like singing),

[audio:|titles=Grimes – Genesis]

Future Islands (clangy rock band with a singer who has a unique, passionate growl),

[audio:|titles=Future Islands – On The Water]

Emika (totally sexy, dirty singing and non-boring electronic music),

[audio:|titles=Emika – 3 Hours]

Wye Oak (passionate female singer and music that alternates between mellow pop and total guitar squall.  so pretty and personal),

[audio:|titles=Wye Oak – Civilian]

White Denim (a really cool, creative rock and roll band.  this is one of their mellower songs) also has a cool website,

[audio:|titles=White Denim – Street Joy]

Metronomy (bratty little beach rock songs with a sweet singer.  if you like that Gotye song then you’ll like these guys),

[audio:|titles=Metronomy – The Look]

Eleanor Friedburger (a folk-singer who used to sing with her brother for The Fiery Furnaces.  now she just writes clever songs that put me in a good mood),

[audio:|titles=Eleanor Friedburger – Inn Of The Seventh Ray]

and Danny Brown (a nasty rapper, with a rap about his love for licking kitties).

[audio:|titles=Danny Brown – I Will]

I’ve been loving TV shows like Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Archer, and Downton Abbey.

I’ve been loving New York restaurants like Peaches, Saraghina, brgr, Kennedy Fried Chicken, crazy Caribbean places, M. Shanghai Bistro, Tipsy Parson, and Rachel’s.

I’ve been loving movies like Days of Heaven, Pina 3D, and Temple Grandin.

I’ve even seen a real broadway show: Venus in Fur.

Maybe some day I’ll even write about some of that stuff.

categories: Reviews, Songs
link to this post: Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Don’t Tell Me How To Hold My Nuclear Bomb (says Van Hunt)

Van Hunt‘s new album What Were You Hoping For? is in the very early stages of rocking my world.  It’s a little bit Funkadelic, a little bit Prince, a little bit Of Monreal.  Ok, and maybe a little bit Lenny Kravitz?  It’s funky, sweet, bratty, smart, and I listen to it every day, which is something I haven’t done in a while.

The line in the title comes from the song Plum, where he sings:

Don’t tell my how to hold my nuclear bomb

Until you’ve resisted urge to love one

[audio:|titles=Van Hunt – Plum]

Or the spectacularly rocking Watching You Go Crazy is Making Me Lose My Mind.

[audio:|titles=Van Hunt – Watching You Go Crazy Is Driving Me Insane]

Van Hunt has a lot to offer.  His guitar playing is inspiring, and he can sing a sweet-as-honey neo-soul growl while he sings about the joys and pitfalls of cross-dressing.

Ok, one slow one, just to show how pretty his little croak is.  This is Moving Targets:

[audio:|titles=Van Hunt – Moving Targets]


categories: Albums, Reviews
link to this post: Friday, November 11th, 2011

Chinatown Secrets

Walk down Bowery from the Lower East Side and watch as the signs turn to Chinese.

and things are marketed a little differently,

walk into what looks like a little alley with hipsters milling about and see if you can find 9 Doyers St.

so you can walk into the (not really) secret bar of Apothéke, an amazing, fancy cocktail bar.

Notice the chandelier made from flasks.

The drinks are $15 but they’re worth it.

categories: NYC, Restaurants, Reviews
link to this post: Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
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