Friday, October 31, 2014

Guest Post from Allyson Dwyer: Taylor Swift, 1989, 2014

Guest Album Review

So, I'm eventually going to own 1989. That's just a fact. The cooldaughters haven't asked for it yet, and I haven't volunteered. It's not that I don't like Taylor Swift. I actually find her kind of harmless, if a little bland. It's just that I know that I'm going to know every lyric to almost every song on 1989 within a few weeks, and I'd like to put that off for as long as possible. Let's just say that I don't want to spoil it by getting into it too early. Yeah, that's it.

As we rode the train back from the Slowdive concert the other night, Allyson Dwyer and I talked about her love of pop. We were discussing it again later, and I just blurted out, "Then review 1989 for me!" She took me up on it. In taking a break from the stuff she does for Speak Into My Good Eye, Allyson allowed me to put off listening to the record -- other than in snippets on the radio -- until the cooldaughters actually procure their own copy (or convince me to procure it for them). You can check out her thoughts below.

Thanks, Allyson.

Taylor Swift, 1989
by Allyson Dwyer

I read somewhere that the period known as “adolescence” doesn’t technically end until 25, which is the age where your body stops awkwardly growing. Does this make 25, not 18 or 21, the year we become adults?

Taylor Swift was born December 13, 1989, the same year as I was. I turned 25 this past July, and to say I had a mild freak out would be an understatement. I’m still a kid, I think. I don’t live with my parents anymore. I have a job, a college degree and, to my misfortune, some nice student loans. But I still think like a 17 year old. I am pretty sure I am still 17. I don’t have a lot in common with Taylor, but I can tell from her decision to take her new album, 1989, into full-pop mode, that she may feel the same as I do.

The album is full of tracks inspired by the recent trend (especially in indie bands) to sound like a hybrid of 80s synth pop/rock – tight sounding songs that are more interested in the aesthetic of the sound than the substance (but I’m always the first to admit these songs are addicting). Taylor had also apparently stated she was inspired by the music of her birth year, by artists such as Madonna and Annie Lennox. To me, I hear more inspiration from such contemporary artists as Lorde (“I Know Places”), HAIM (“I Wish You Would”) and Passion Pit (“New Romantics”) on this album, with hints of stylized call-backs to some of the unique production choices that made the 80s just so corny and fun.

The album opens with “Welcome To New York,” a track that has been met with a lot of mixed responses for a number of reasons. I really can feel that Taylor meant for this track to be that “new city, new beginning” big opener, but it really does come off like a poorly written, disingenuous track. Along with “Shake It Off,” its probably my least favorite because of how desperately out of touch the lyrics and sounds are.

Thankfully, the album moves onto a number of tracks that are absolute car-hopping-bops, such as “Style,” “All You Had To Do Was Stay,” and (Target-exclusive) “New Romantics.” “New Romantics” is an especially perfect pop song, one that would have made a perfect album opener instead of “Welcome To New York.” With lines like, “’cause baby I could build a castle/out of all the bricks they threw at me,” the song feels like an anthem for this new, aggressive Taylor, as well as a call-out to all of her fans, the “new romantics” who are always down and out in love.

Then there are tracks like “Wildest Dreams,” and “You Are In Love,” which show a side of Taylor that is more mysterious and risqué. These songs return me to my high school self, embracing those sweetly-sick teenage feelings of fantastical romances. “This Love,” despite my having no idea what she is singing throughout half of it, builds to a really nice harmonious ending that hits that “1980s movie theme ending” sound. These songs have a lot of emotional texture and don’t ring as false as so many pop-love-ballads do.

Of the handful of songs I know I will return to, there are just as many really generic songs that I don’t see myself listening to often, if at all.  A lot of the album owes its identity to the stylized production. Yet in some songs, I hear some really wonderfully biting, dark, sarcastic, self-conscious lyrics (“Blank Spaces” especially) from Taylor that make me wonder where she’ll go next. It would be great to get an album from her that has more than 1 song that doesn’t focus on relationships. I can see her evolving and doing interesting things with these small sparks of ideas, in other genres and styles. I don’t see 1989 as her best yet, but as a stepping stone to a future album that will be uniquely her own.

But maybe she’s like me, and she’s looking for any excuse to not be seen as or to feel like an adult, for the time being.   As a fellow 1989-er, I'd say that’s the case. But someday, we both will need to own up and realize we have a lot more going for us than we think.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's Going On: 10/30, 10/31, 11/1 & 11/2, 2014

I've been looking for something like this. I guess I could have assembled one.

The Weekend Is Scary Packed

With Halloween on a Friday this year, things are pretty busy. For us it's school Halloween "parade" on Friday afternoon. We go trick or treating with CoolDaughter #2 in the evening. CoolDaughter #1 is full-on tween now, so she'll be leaving us to hang with her friends. Then it's a swim meet on Saturday and Sunday with CD #1's warmup scheduled for 7:20 AM. But first, we've got to deal with Mischief / Goosey / Hell / Cabbage (yes, Cabbage) Night.

After TP'ing your neighbors' houses on Thursday, you've got several options. Pianos Become The Teeth are at Asbury Lanes with Frameworks, Vasudeva, and -- for the second straight Thursday -- gates. Blisstique make their way up to Dingbatz in Clifton. Pat DiNizio continues to dole out his rock star confessions at Langosta. It's singer / songwriter night at The Saint with Jerzy Jung, Jamie Coppa, Cat London, Cara Salimando, Deal Casino, and more. Dean Ween Group hit The Stone Pony, and Smalltalk play a true hometown show at The Sudsy Mug Saloon with Michael Jackson and The Beatles.

Halloween Night is full of tough choices. Teenage Halloween do a full-band show (their first as a headliner) in Sea Bright to help Shore Regional High School Student, Alex Munoz, as he battles cancer. APYC presents a night of surf music with Plato Zorba, Dentist, Black Flamingos, and The Outlips. Dead On Live are at The Paramount. The Saint is doing a Speakeasy themed evening with Moon Motel, Paper Streets, and more. Yellowcard are at Starland. Lights come to The Pony.

The Wonder Bar is hosting "Local Legends Live" featuring the music of Black Sabbath (Amy Malkoff and The Moonshines), The Misfits (The Battery Electric), Minor Threat (Hot Blood), The Beatles (The Creeptones), Radiohead (Only Living Boy), Prince (Des and The Swagmatics), The Rolling Stones (Pistol Charmer), The Doors (Empire Escorts). Bands will dress their parts and perform 30 minute sets.

Saturday brings Captured By Robots to The Lanes. The Von Mons play for free at APYC. Mastodon, Gojira, and Kvelertak are at Starland. The Damned are at The Pony.

Sunday is kind of quiet, but you'll probably need the rest. WBJB presents Hey Anna, Harper's Fellow, Inland Traveler, Caroline Reese and The Drifting Fifth up at The Bowery Electric in NYC. The scarily-named Genitotorturers are at The Brighton.

Have fun. Be safe. And if anyone knows where I can get a Rick / Carl Grimes King County Deputy Sheriff's hat by tomorrow, please let me know. Thanks.

Happy Halloween.

PDF Listings 

THURSDAY (10/30)

Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Pianos Become The Teeth / Frameworks / gates / Vasudeva, 6:30pm, $12 (ALL AGES)

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Jazz-bury Park w/ Joe P Three, FREE, 7pm

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): I Hope You Die / Ghost Country / Pat Veil / Eddie Lee / Devgru / Burlesque Girls, 9pm, $8

Dingbatz (Clifton):
Disposable / The Damn Long Hairs / Blisstique / Bule Skeleton / Weird Faces, 7pm, $4.99

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Pat DiNizio's Confessions of a Rock Star w/ Six To Midnight, 8pm, FREE

McIntyre's Pub (Toms River): The Hive Mind / Places You've Been / Dentist / Bork Lazer, 9pm, FREE

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Taping of Awesome: The Podcast w/ Honah Lee, 8:30pm, FREE

The Saint (Asbury): Jerzy Jung / Jamie Coppa / Cat London / Cara Salimando / Deal Casino / more, 7:30pm, $10

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Killswitch Engage, 7pm, $27.50 adv, $30 door (ALL AGES)

The Stone Pony (Asbury): The Dean Ween Group, 7pm, $18 adv, $20 door (ALL AGES)

FRIDAY (10/31)

1184 Ocean Ave. (Sea Bright): A Benefit for Alex Munoz w/ Teenage Halloween / Loser Year / Equity Loanz / Goodnight / Save Face / more, 5pm, $6 (ALL AGES)

Asbury Lanes (Asbury):  Paranormal's 7th Annual Nightmare Ball presents "Dante's Inferno Room!" / Art opening for Mike Bell, 8pm, $25 (18+)

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Plato Zorba / Dentist / Black Flamingos / The Outlips, 9pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): The Idjits / Daniel James & The Loveless / more, 6:30pm, $10 adv, $12 door

Clash Bar (Clifton): James Brown Gang / Maya's Ruin / Precious Bones, 9pm

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): Annual Halloween Cover Show! w/ members of Dollys / Modern Chemistry / KENYA / Deal Casino / more, 8pm, $5

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Karmic Juggernaut, FREE, 10pm

Lot 13 Longbar (Bayonne): Coffin Daggers / Wicked Little Dolls, 9pm, FREE

Paramount Theatre (Asbury): Dead On Live, 7pm, $24.50-$44.50 (ALL AGES)

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Metal Bands, Circus Sideshows, other stuff, 6:30pm, $10 adv, $13 door

The Saint (Asbury): Moon Motel / Nathan Dickinson / Sykes Harmann / Paper Streets / Nicole Greenwood / The Jazz Gypsies, 7:30pm, $8 adv, $10 door (Bring 3 canned goods.)

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Yellowcard / Memphis May Fire / Emarosa, 7pm, $25-$75 (ALL AGES)

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Lights, 7pm, $15 adv, $17 door (ALL AGES)

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Local Legends Halloween Bash w/ the music of Black Sabbath, The Doors, Radiohead, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Misfits, Minor Threat, Prince, 7pm, $12


Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Captured By Robots, 7:30pm, $10 adv, $12 door (ALL AGES)

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Von Mons, 10pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Jaded Past / Graffitti / 44 / The Catholic Girls, 8pm, $7 (ALL AGES)

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): Ashes Of Your Enemy / Ixion Lux / Proletariat / Cheese Puff Death Krunch / Burlesque, 7pm

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): DAY of the DEAD PARTY!, 9 pm, $15 living, $12 zombies

The Saint (Asbury): The Union / Pseudotwin / Pepperwine, 7:30pm, $10

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Mastodon / Gojira / Kvelertak, 6:30pm, $25 adv, $30 door (ALL AGES)

The Stone Pony (Asbury): The Damned, 7pm, $25 adv, $30 door (ALL AGES)

Tierney's Tavern (Montclair): The Porchistas (CD Release) / Defending Champions / Bone & Marrow, 8:30pm, $10

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Billy Hector, 9pm, $10

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Slowdive Played Terminal 5 with Low, 10/25/14. Check out Allyson Dwyer's Review at SIMGE.

My view of Slowdive for most of their show at Terminal 5

Oh, Terminal 5

It's kind of a thing to bash the suckitude that is seeing a show at Terminal 5. I've had some not horrible experiences there in the past: The New Pornographers, OFF! / Fucked Up / Dinosaur Jr. (playing Bug), and Real Estate / Girls.  I even watched the New Pornos from the floor. I saw both of the latter two from the railing along the balcony; and, while I got really claustrophobic and feared for my life on the way out, I didn't have that many complaints.

I've also had some horrendous experiences there: The Shins / St. Lucia and The Walkmen / Dum Dum Girls / Daughter. Both of those involved obstructed views (by both the pillars that dot the space and the pillar-sized humans that seemed to find me at every turn), loud talkers, and people just not really interested in what was happening onstage. My experience seeing Slowdive / Low on Saturday night definitely fell into the horrendous camp.

I really like Slowdive; but, like all of the shoegaze bands that are not My Bloody Valentine, they're kind of not My Bloody Valentine for me. One thing in Terminal 5's favor on Saturday, though, was that Slowdive sounded absolutely great (Well, that and the absolutely immaculate bathrooms). I tried a couple of times to do that close my eyes and let the music wash over me thing, but my level of discomfort just made it impossible. I'm not quite sure how I would have felt if I were as much of a fan of Slowdive as I am of My Bloody Valentine.

Well you can get a fantastic perspective on that from Speak Into My Good Eye's Allyson Dwyer, a true Slowdive fanatic who attended the show with me:

In Terminal 5, surrounded by 3,000 people, a concert never felt less communal, less real, than this one. My view of the band began more towards the front of the crowd, Rachel Goswell’s voice an actual presence calling out above me. I battled to even hear her as people talked to each other, a couple making out took over my space, and people fidgeted to spots as others left. I struggled to see anything above my head as attendees raised a wall of phones high in the air.

Take a look at the rest of her review to understand why going to Terminal 5 may just be the worst way to see your favorite band and why she (and I) will, most likely, never go back there. Asbury you've spoiled us.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nude Beach, 77, 2014

Album Review

When we were teenagers, New Jersey didn't have this weird "minors can't all drive around together in one car and can't drive past midnight" rule. I'm not sure when that came in; but, in about 1987, teen driving was pretty much a free-for-all. We'd all pile into my Tercel, Chris's Rabbit, or Justin's parents' Peugeot and drive around all night -- sometimes six or seven of us in the same car. Crazy times.

Cassettes were the thing then. You either had proper, store-bought cassette copies of albums or you dubbed them from LP's on the record player in your room. Chris and I were pretty into Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, and The Replacements at the time. Those cassettes soundtracked late Friday nights we'd spend driving around in those tiny cars after we'd finished eating the leftover pizza my mother had left out on the stovetop for us. I know Justin liked Elvis Costello and The Replacements. I feel like he kind of just tolerated Petty and Springsteen.

I've said this before, but I like to tell myself that my classic rock-y tastes back then fell more to the left-of-center side of things. Tom Petty and Elvis Costello both eventually toured with The Replacements, and I think you can hear some Petty influence on the later, kind of country-inflected Mats / Paul Westerberg material.

The other thing I'd like to point out here is that, while this was the mid- to late-80s, the best records from these artists -- and the ones we all loved the most -- had come out in the mid- to late-70s, early-80s: Greetings, E Street Shuffle, Born To Run, Darkness, The River, My Aim Is True, This Year's Model, Armed Forces, Imperial Bedroom, King of America, Damn The Torpedoes, Hard Promises, Let It Be, Tim. OK. You can throw Spike and Pleased To Meet Me in there, too.

That's all a run-up to some of the thoughts I had while listening to 77, the ambitious, double-LP from Long Island's Nude Beach. Those memories came flooding in just as album-opener "Used To It" kicked in. Frontman Chuck Betz has that reedy, Tom Petty drawl. Add in the twang of 12-string guitar, and the song transports me to the ripped pleather seats of my silver Tercel. Betz also produced, and he ended up with a clean sound that's missing all the tape hiss and LP pops and clicks of my personal cassettes.

There's the occasional "Where have I heard this before?" riff, like those that open "I'm Not Like You," "Yesterday," and "I Can't Keep the Tears from Falling." You search your brain and can't quite place them. Then the songs go off in their own direction, Ryan Naideau's rumbling drums anchoring all of those influences and roughing them up just a bit. It's just enough to take these sounds from the 20,000-seat arena where you'll usually hear them these days to a small bar or dark basement.

Single "See My Way" starts with an infectious riff and is just a great pop song, rhyming "It's ok" with "see my way," "on your knees and pray," etc. There are the ballads, like the starts-quiet-gets-epic "Time" and the acoustic "It's So Hard." This sound lends itself well to the extended guitar jam, and we get one of those on "I Found You."

It was a pretty daring choice to make a 68-minute, double-LP of songs anchored in the power pop rock sounds of my teenage years. Even back in 1987, acts like Petty and Springsteen were pretty much off the radar of anyone with an appreciation of alternative or underground music. They were on major labels, made the top 40, and got played on the same radio stations as plenty of major label schlock. What Nude Beach succeed at here, though, is reclaiming these sounds from their big budget, major label niche. Carefully crafted, lovingly self-produced, and released on an independent label, 77 has the potential to capture the ears of more than a few jaded listeners.

We would've had this one rattling the tiny speakers of the cheap tape deck I installed in my Tercel. I'm pretty sure everybody would've been into it, too. Even Justin.

77 is out now on Don Giovanni Records and kind of demands to be heard on LP or cassette.