Speaking to Rolling Stone

Following up on an earlier post on R.E.M.'s upcoming album, the band announced the first single will be "Leaving New York." If you're leaving New York, Mr. Stipe, where are you going? I guess I'll have to wait until September 27 to find out. That's when the single drops, followed by the album on October 4th. Title TBA.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Stipe described the sound of the album: "This isn't a downer of a record. Even the most depressing R.E.M. song is going to have a glimmer of hope in it. That's just me, I can't help myself. But there's some stuff on here that's pretty hardcore, and fairly political."

I stopped following R.E.M. long ago, but if they're able to put out an album that's anywhere as amazing as Automatic For The People, I'll certainly get back on their bus. From Murmur through New Adventures in Hi-Fi, they were as good as any other band in the world. I hope they get it back.

I'm in full prep mode for this Saturday's big show out at Randall's Island.

Today it's Interpol and The Rapture day so I'll be listening to Turn On The Bright Lights, Antics, and Echoes, respectively. Respek.

Whilst playing The Rapture I noticed something for the first time. Luke Jenner's voice is a little bit like Robert Smith's! Interesting. Then, upon playing both Interpol records I noticed a definite early Cure influence in their music. What a coincidence this is, both of these groups are touring with The Cure! Imagine how surprised Robert Smith will be when he finds out they're stealing his sound. How dare they!

OK, I'm only kidding. I actually like both of these bands quite a bit, with Interpol the favorite of the two. I've had a leaked mono copy of Interpol's Antics for about two weeks, but I'm not sure what to say about it. I will withhold judgment until hearing the final version, but so far, it's a let down. Perhaps, the dreaded sophomore jinx?

Colour Me In

Of Montreal's new album Satanic Panic in the Attic is one my favorite albums of the year so far, no question. Two months ago, I couldn't find a thing wrong with it. Now I have a little perspective and I think it may slip a bit near the end, but the rest is still strong enough that it's sitting comfortably in the #2 slot for the year so far.

But despite all this love, I clearly haven't spent enough time on the Of Montreal website - Stereogum alerted me to the cover of the Shins' "Know Your Onion!" lurking in the Audio Lounge. "Know Your Onion!" is one of my favorite songs on Oh, Inverted World, so inevitably I'm somewhat underwhelmed by Of Montreal's take on it. It's a pretty faithful cover and, with the two bands sounding pretty similar as is, the original is the clear standout. (And points off for Of Montreal dropping the essential "!" in the title.) Still, if you dig either band - or both, like me - it's worth checking out.

What I found more interesting was Of Montreal's cover of Broadcast's "Colour Me In" sitting in the same chaturbate section. The original was the first track on Haha Sound, Broadcast's overlooked LP from last year. On this cover, Kevin Barnes strips away all the noises and effects, leaving just the pretty melody. Good stuff.

Apparently these covers were all on a bonus EP that came with some pressings of Satanic Panic in the Attic, but not mine. Barnes plays pretty much everything on Panic, but he'll be backed by a full band on September 22 at Northsix. Of Montreal shows are supposed to be a blast, and I'm looking forward to seeing them.

P.S. While you're on the Of Montreal site, download MP3's of "Disconnect the Dots" and "Lysergic Bliss", the awesome first two tracks on Attic.

P.S. Just for fun, I'm going to sign up for The Cure's street team. You should too

Five days until Fat Bob and the ever-changing lineup of hacks, err members of The Cure bring their Curiosa menagerie to Randall's Island, NYC. This will be my first Cure show since the Wish tour back in the early '90s. While I'm excited to see them again, along with The Rapture and Interpol, I'm a little hesitant about the venue. I've never been to a show on Randall's before, but I expect getting there and back will be a pain. As I get older, my endurance for such things has waned. I'd much prefer a club or arena show with minimal fuss.

Enough old age griping. Courtesy of the new-fangled Cure Web site, here is the full lineup for the show, which starts promptly at 4:30 PM this Saturday.

Rain. All weekend it will be rain.

Well, Friday is finally here and what do we get?

Anyhow, the Fiery Furnaces continue to intrigue me. What does Blueberry Boat really mean? Is it a concept album? The lyrics flow by so quickly at times I can't always follow the narrative. Is there any way to make sense of this album? Fortunately, Eppy over at Clap Clap blog has taken on the challenge of creating an analysis of Blueberry, track by track, beginning with lead-off, "Quay Cur." Check it out as it explains what's going on in this tremendous song.

For more of the Furnaces, go to Fluxblog today. Matthew Perpetua has translated most of the lyrics from "Quay Cur" including the Inuit sections. Yeah, I didn't know it wasn't all in English either. While you're reading Matthew's post, download a solo acoustic performance of "Quay" and a bit of "Straight Street" from the Gay Beach program on East Village Radio. It's just the lovely Eleanor Friedberger on the guitar.

And don't forget, the Furnaces play the Bowery Ballroom on 9.25. Tickets are now on sale.

Gotta love it.

As I mentioned here once before, the best parties in NYC always seem to be on Thursday nights. Tonight is no exception:

- DJ Hype is spinning at Avalon. Hype has been spinning drum n' bass and jungle for longer than almost anyone else, and his sets mix new tunes and the classics very well. You also know instantly when he's on the decks - Hype loves to scratch over the mix, something I've never heard anyone else try (imitate) with drum n' bass. He's badass, and if I didn't have to wake up at 7 AM tomorrow I'd totally be there. I hear the scene at Avalon is usually pretty bad (bottle service etc.), but Direct Drive is throwing this party so it should be fine tonight.

- The On and On tour hits the Coral Room. This evening is being billed as a crash course in the history of house music. Jesse Saunders and Chip E are headlining - the "originator" and "godfather" of house music, respectively, according to the promo email. (I'm not a house expert, but I wonder where Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson fit in.) They're screening a house documentary at 9 and the http://www.jasminlive.mobi music starts at 10 - regardless of what you call the DJ's, this sounds like a fun time. Oh and Darshan Jesrani is opening up - he's one half of Metro Area. (Which normally would be enough on its own to sell me on it.)

- Rory Phillips, Roy Dank, J. Friedman, and Dirty Dietz spin at Eleven (152 Orchard St.). A $5 donation is requested, which will be contributed in full to the Kerry/Edwards campaign. Phillips spins at London's top-notch party Trash (run by One Louder fave Erol Alkan), Dank spins at APT's excellent Pop Your Funk monthly (and also spins soulful dn'b as part of Mathematics), and these days Friedman seems to be spinning at four parties a week (I dug his set opening for 2manyDJ's in March). And it's a good cause too.

Three quality events, all on a Thursday.

Speaking of shows

Things have been a little slow around here for the past day or so, which means work is not slow, which is the point of sitting here at this desk, isn't it? Well, today I'll attempt to drop a few more posts, hopefully something better than a meager mention of a new Beck CD. It's not like Pavement reformed or The Pixies finally announced an NYC show.

There's quite a number of new ones as the venues begin to announce September and October lineups. I'm most excited to see The Polyphonic Spree in August at Irving Plaza and The Fiery Furnaces in September at the Bowery Ballroom. Hard earned cash will be spent on these rock shows by myself. Also amped to see Ulrich Schnauss is the opening act for the upcoming M83 affair, also at the Bowery. It should be an evening of complete blissness.

The music almost becomes incidental in the madness of Coney Island

So Nathan's alone guaranteed that Saturday's Siren Festival would be a fun time, but the bands were pretty good too. My highlight was seeing the Fiery Furnaces for the first time, and they were very good - and very weird. They played a dizzying freeform set, doing a verse or two from one song, then bouncing to another song, then another, stopping only a couple times over 45 minutes. For example, "Quay Cur" (intro only) was played in 3 sections, with about 15 songs scattered in between, never with a break. Set opener "My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found" and "Chris Michaels", both from Blueberry Boat, were the only songs to be played in full. Otherwise, they gave equal attention to both albums. Synths replaced the pianos and all the beats were live, but the stripped-down arrangements were mostly faithful with a couple of exceptions - most notably "Spaniolated" at double speed - and lots of improv.

I have no idea how the Furnaces rehearse and pull off their sets, because I've never seen anything like it. Neither had the soundman, judging by the awful mix throughout and total flub of "Chris Michaels" when one vocal mic was off. If I didn't know the albums I probably wouldn't have been able to deal with the lack of structure. But, knowing the albums, it was a pretty cool reinterpretation of the songs. As with Blueberry Boat, it's a little jarring at first but grows on you. The Furnaces are off to Europe to open up for Franz Ferdinand, but I need to see them again when they get back.

TV on the Radio were much better than the first time I saw them - perhaps because they were much more sober this time. They kept on dropping into the same grooves last time; this time, the songs kept their unique edge. "Staring at the Sun" was especially good and got a great response from the crowd. I think TVOTR's best material works well on stage, but their lesser songs need the studio - the last couple songs didn't hold my attention.

As for Mission of Burma, the hype I'd heard was that they were the best live band on the planet. Which, not surprisingly, was a bit much. They were very good live, but nothing life-changing. I think I'd have appreciated it more if I knew the albums - especially since some of the crowd was going nuts. But they definitely did rock, and I've resolved to spend some quality time with their two records.

And that was it really for the bands. I made it a point to check out the bands I was most interested in, but half the fun was walking around. Playing "indie or local" on the boardwalk never gets old.

Around noon on Saturday

Rajeev and I boarded the F train at Broadway/Lafeyette for the one hour ride out to Coney Island for the 2004 Siren Festival. As far as I know "F" in F Train doesn't stand for "fiery" or "furnaces" or even "franz," but clearly it means "F'd up" today as about half-way there we all had to switch to the G train. We finally reached Coney Island around 1:30 PM, 30 minutes before the Fiery Furnaces were scheduled to the hit the Main stage. It was enough time to try a genuine Nathan's Coney Island hot dog for the first time. It was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.

After quickly consuming the dogs, we made our way to the Main stage and found a small crowd waiting for the Furnaces to begin its set. I'm still processing the perplexingly obtuse Blueberry Boat, the Furnaces' latest. While a few of the songs and individual melodies have stuck in my head, overall it's rather impenetrable. I plan to continue to listen to it as I know it will click with me at some point.

As described in Rajeev's post, they played a wildly divergent set of songs from their two albums, sometimes jumping verse to verse between the new and the old. Knowing Blueberry a bit, I recognized the fragments of "Quay Cur" that appeared throughout the set along with a few other new songs. They didn't play "Straight Street," my favorite Blueberry track, which was disappointing. Otherwise, I was entertained and intrigued enough to see them again sometime soon. In his NY Times review, Kelefa Sanneh called the performance "in the best sense of the word, irritating" and I understand his point of view.

From there it was back to Nathan's for round two of the hot dog consumption tour, 2004. This time it was two dogs and another medium lemonade. It was more than filling and frankly (no pun intended), I was ready to either "shoot the freak" or collapse on the sand like a beached whale. Instead, it was back to the Main stage for an impressive set from TV on the Radio. My expectations were fairly low, having not really enjoyed their debut album, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes much. They found a sinuous groove on some of the tunes and a fickle breeze from the ocean provided enough cool to keep me riveted until the end.

Now it was Mission of Burma's turn to rip it up, old Skool. I'm only vaguely familiar with their two albums of work, but like Rajeev said, I was impressed enough to give these guys a closer listen. We left about half-way through Burma's set and managed to find room for another Nathan's dog, along with fries and a large beer. As the sun began to set and the Deathcab kids began to file in, we left Coney Island with a sunburn (for me at least) and an appreciation for Kobayashi's tube steak eating abilities. Until next year, Coney Island, goodbye.