Robbie Williams Gets Rehab for His 33rd Birthday

According to his spokesman, Robbie Williams has been checke into an unnamed American rehab clinic to treat his addiction to prescription drugs, today–the date of his 33rd year on Earth.

I don’t blame him, dating America’s Next Top Model contestant Lisa “Crazy Old Face” d’Amato would drive anyone to numb the pain in any way possible.

This recent turn of events really has me concerned as to what Robbie is going to give himself for his 34th birthday.

The Modern Age’s Top 10 Albums of 2006

Ok, so here it goes. I’ve put on my armor. I’m ready for your biggest and best pot shots…

The point of this list is to single out the albums *I* enjoyed the most this year–this is not a list of what is cool in any way possible. It’s not an indication of what was the most popular or critically acclaimed. It may not even be my own definitive list of 2006–I don’t get to listen to every album out there, so who knows, there might be an album or two I’m missing. That’s what Top album and single lists are for right? Remember and discovering things… But just consider yourself lucky Fall Out Boy or Panic! at the Disco didn’t come out with an album this year…but just you wait for 2007…

10: First Impressions of Earth, The Strokes
It’s kind of obligatory for me to include a Strokes album on my Top 10 list every time they have a new record, isn’t it? The hometown boys thankfully redeemed themselves from their sophomoric stumble, Room on Fire, with this album full of “songs that sounds like Strokes songs…but not the annoying ones.”

Mainly produced by Grammy-winning producer David Kahne (after Strokes’ long-time collaborator Gordon Raphael removed himself from the project) this record tones down the band’s trademark low-fi, grungy sound in favor of a more refined, clean presentation–meaning the band no longer sounds like they have recorded with cheesecloth over all the microphones. The upside of the new production value is it causes the listener to pay more attention to the lyrics of singer Julian Casablancas, producing a more intimate and direct connection with the front man, but on the down side it makes the rest of the band feel like they are a removed, sterile session band dispassionately plinking and plopping down their notes. (Maybe guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. was just bummed Julian kept shooting down his songs.)

Wins on the album include the blistering “Heart in a Cage” which features guitar licks so slick they sound like they’re oozing out of your speakers and melting into your ears, and the upbeat pop number, “You Only Live Once”, is about…uh…well, does anyone ever really know what Strokes songs are about?

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: The Strokes at Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC. March 3, 2006

9: Show Your Bones, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Where Fever to Tell was a hot sticky mess, Show Your Bones is a nice cool summer breeze–slightly warm, but refreshingly crisp. Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase prove that they definitely have lasting power in the rock world with their beautiful album full of tragically twisted love songs (think “Maps” x10). Best tracks included the effervescent-sounding song about giving up on a damaged love affair, “Cheated Hearts”, and down and dirty interplanetary rock tune, “Phenomena”, an ode to a mind-blowing somebody.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Maxwell’s, NJ. Feb 23, 2006

8: Through the Windowpane, Guillemots
I’m not sure what prompted me to go down to see Guillemots at the Bowery Ballroom on May 9th despite some impending death cold. I’d never heard one of their songs, and I’m not entirely sure how I heard about them in the first place. But all I know is that once I got a listen to the eccentric, ecelctic music of the multi-national quartet (members hail from England, Scotland, Canada, and Brazil), I instantly fell in love.

The song “Trains to Brazil”, sounds as though it was written and recorded by a roving band of incredibly enthusiastic tramps and scalawags as they travel by rail down the coast of some unknown land. “Quirky” doesn’t even begin to describe their sound, as they typically fill their songs with weird tweets and squeaks–all the while writing some of the most lovely melodies this side of the Beach Boys. A daring, richly layered album, Through the Windowpane gives you a glimpse into the up side of absolute musical madness.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: Guillemots at Bowery Ballroom, NYC. May 9, 2006

7: Spring Awakening, Original Broadway Cast Recording
The music to this album, written by pop star Duncan Sheik, with lyrics by Steven Satar, is beautifully touching, ungimmicky, and a joy to listen to–in or out of the context of its Broadway musical origin. I’ve found myself listening to this album non-stop since I’ve gotten it. Although appreciation for the music is heightened after seeing a live staged performance of the production, songs like the seductive “Touch Me” and explosive “Don’t Do Sadness” sound more like indie rock songs than they do “show tunes”. The songs’ main function is to conveyed emotion, not to show off the 8-octave range of the singer, therefore they ring truer and “straighter” than your typical Broadway fare.

RELATED SHOW REVIEW: “Spring Awakening” at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, NYC. November 27, 2006

DOWNLOAD: Interview and “Don’t Do Sadness” by Duncan Sheik (Live at Upstairs at the Square)

6: Rabbit Fur Coat, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
Jenny Lewis has the voice of an angel, and when bolstered by the smooth harmonies of the Watson Twins, her folk-country debut solo album simply soars. The melodies are simple and elegant, songs like “Rise Up with Fists” envelope listeners like your favorite comfy blanket–when you crawl up in them you instantly feel comforted and at home. Although Lewis does not have the most powerful or impressive singing voice and range in pop music, her delivery sounds honest and sincere–refreshingly removed of the hackneyed modern day crutch of self-mockery and irony. It’s a truly down-home record, and exactly the opposite you would expect from a girl who grew up as a child actress in LA, but Jenny Lewis dares to defy convention…and most importantly, dares to give us a little peek into her soul.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins (with Johnathan Rice, Connor Oberst, Jimmy James) at Angel Orensanz Foundation, NYC. February 5, 2006

5: Broken Boy Soldiers, The Raconteurs aka The Saboteurs (AUS)
Homeboy Jack White of the White Stripes, and superbuddy Brendan Benson team up with pals (and Greenhornes members) Patrick Keeler and Little Jack Lawrence to produce an album of psychedelic 70s rock sounds and folky jams. In my personal opinion, the best songs are comprised of the “Jack White Show” songs–the slighly bluesy “Blue Veins” and the song that makes me want to blow my brains out because it’s so brilliant “Broken Boy Soldier”. With it’s use of hypnotic wailing guitar, jittery drum clangs, and Jack’s “crazy-man voice” it’s the perfect storm of ridiculously good music–a song that will haunt you in your dreams and provide the soundtrack to your most terrifying nightmares.

“Call It a Day”, a song about the painful end of a relationship, is probably one of the most heartbreaking songs of 2006–the “Dry Your Eyes” of this year. Sad, happy, angry, and lovelorn–this record has it all and shows that these four refuse to be refined to one genre of music or attitude.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW:
The Raconteurs’ first US performance, Irving Plaza, NYC. April 7, 2006

DOWNLOAD: Interview and “Store Bought Bones” by The Raconteurs on Zane Lowe, BBC Radio 1

4: The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance
Who would have every guessed that My Chemical Romance was going to come out with an album that played like one big homage to Queen, resulting in one of the most surprising and satisfying albums of the year. My Chem manages to gracefully do a very tricky thing–stay loyal to their emo-loving fan base (the highly entertaining tongue-in-cheek anthem for teenage angst, “Teenagers”) while expanding their sound to entice an even bigger audience.

The songs are punky, but at the same time have a grandiosity that many of their peers would quiver at the thought of attempting. Gerard Way and co. went out on a limb with wacky guest singers (Liza Minnelli on “Mama” anyone???) and some crush-worthy ballads (“I Don’t Love You”) and win big time. The Black Parade is an incredible snapshot of a talented and versatile band with the completely attainable goal of becoming one of the biggest bands in the world… just wait and see.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: My Chemical Romance at Knitting Factory, NYC. August 31, 2006

3: FutureSex/ LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake
Just when you thought you’d gotten through all the crap, I whip out a double whammy, slapping you with the uberpop album of the year. Justin Timberlake DID bring “sexyback”, even though he admits that sexy didn’t really go anywhere, with his juiced up second album, where every track is a hit. It’s a non-stop booty bumper, with your favorite track changing every day. From the reverberating bass beats of “Summer Love/ The Mood Prelude” to the soul-flavored “Damn Girl”, to Mario-esque slow jams like “Until the End of Time”, to the instant panty dropper, “My Love” (featuring rising r&b star T.I.), there’s something for everyone on this record. It’s a crowd pleaser with innovated beats supplied by video cameo star of 2006, Timbaland. Cameron must be so proud.

2: Inside In/ Inside Out, The Kooks
From the moment I heard “Eddie’s Gun”, I was enthralled with The Kooks. Their catchy hooks and almost palpable nervous energy emanating from almost every measure. It’s simply just an infectious record of rock pop that doesn’t quite sound like anything else out there.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: The Kooks @ North Six, Brooklyn, NY. October 28, 2006

1: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Arctic Monkeys
Way back in early 2006, Arctic Monkeys was all the rage. Although they were unfortunately overexposed, and therefore a victim of backlash, a listen at their much awaited debut proved that you couldn’t deny the fact that the Monkeys had the musical chops worth the praise. Musically, the Monkeys might sound similar to many of their British peers, with vigorous guitar strumming (sometimes painfully tinny and out of tune) and spirited drumming, but who else but Alex Turner could come up brilliantly poetic lines like, “remember cuddles in the kitchen” (“Mardy Bum”) or the overtly working-class observations such as “Well oh they might wear classic Reeboks/ Or knackered Converse/ Or tracky bottoms tucked in socks/ But all of that’s what the point is not/ The point’s that there ain’t no romance around there” as described in the opening lines of “A Certain Romance”.

I think you’d be hard pressed to find an album with more unique and specific point of view of the world than the Monkeys’ first album–and to top it all off, they’re not even old enough to drink. It is for these reasons that I have to crown Whatever People Say I Am… as being the number one album of 2006.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: The Arctic Monkeys, Webster Hall, NYC. March 25, 2006

And honorable mentions to…

Yours to Keep, Albert Hammond Jr.
Duper Sessions, Sondre Lerche
Dying to Say This to You, The Sounds
B’Day, Beyonce
Loose, Nelly Furtado
s/t, Ben Kweller

Don’t agree with my choices? Too bad, it’s my web site. Maybe some of these other top albums lists will fit your fancy:

Brooklyn Vegan’s Top 40 (In no particular order)

2006 Gummy Awards
New York Times’ Kelefa Sanneh
SPIN’s Top 40
Pitchfork Top 50
Rolling Stone
Best of NY Music: Gothamist
The 2006 Music Bloggregate on Heart on a Stick
Product Shops Top 58
Whatevs.org’s Top Singles
Music Snobbery’s Top 10
Kelly’s Top 10
The Guardian Arts Blog Top 50

Duncan Sheik: Delivers His First Broadway Baby with “Spring Awakening”

Right before the holidays hit last week, I saw a new Broadway musical called Spring Awakening. I was excited to see the show for a number of reasons, namely because I haven’t seen a Broadway musical in YEARS and also because the music was written by my very first pop star crush, Duncan Sheik.

Freshly transplanted from its Off-Broadway location at the Atlantic Theater, Spring Awakening comes to the Great White Way with a good deal of positive buzz behind it.

I knew nothing of the production other than Duncan wrote the music and that there were many positive reviews from places like the New York Times. According to Broadway.com, the musical adaptation is based on a “controversial” 19th-century play by Frank Wedekind, which was “banned for 71 years” and “boldly depicts how young people navigate the thrilling, confusing and mysterious time of their sexual awakening.” So knowing NONE of that, you can imagine how surprised I was to be in this fancy theater watching someone sing while mock masturbating–and that was just in the first half-hour!

It is set in 1891 in Germany and it’s a story about two groups of teenagers, the boys that attend a private school and the girls that live in the town, and how they fumble into adulthood with little guidance from the adults around them, sometimes with tragic results.

I’m one of those people who needs some time to process plays and musicals after I’ve seen them, so now that it’s almost been a week since I’ve seen the musical, I’ve come to the conclusion that Spring Awakening is…


GREAT.

Initially I was taken aback by the dark, and quite serious subject matter of the play, but I immediately was drawn to the music. I haven’t been keeping up with musicals on Broadway since 2001, but this is the first big time stage production I’ve seen that has truly achieved the feat of being an original, smart, pop rock musical. Even though the songs work with the narrative of the play and move the plots along, they sound like regular pop songs–They feel much less “theater-y” than songs from other “edgy”, contemporary musicals like RENT.

And unlike “pop musicals” like Mama Mia, Movin’ Out, or the tragic trainwreck Times Are A Changin’, these songs were specifically written to be performed as part of a musical theater piece. I think it’s quite an achievement that Duncan and lyricist Steven Sater are able to make the tunes sound like straight up pop songs while still sounding a bit like theater songs. Bravo to you two!

The cast
is strong, with Jonathan Groff turning in a fine performance as the school’s number one dreamy bad boy, Melchior, and Lea Michele doing a good job as young and innocent Wendla, but John Gallagher Jr. is the real scene stealer, turning in the most powerful and memorable performance in the cast with his portrayal of Melchior’s troubled best friend, Moritzthe. He totally floored me while singing “Don’t Do Sadness” at the beginning of Act Two. You can listen to a clip of the song on the SA MySpace page.

If you have any vague interest in musical theater, I would recommend you shell out the cash and head above 14th Street (I know, I know) to see this little musical that could. You can get “rush” tickets for around $32 at the box office in advance, but here’s the catch, your seats will be ON the stage. It should be noted, you might not want to bring mom and dad to it without some serious disclosure of the subject matter…er and as a matter of fact, it’s not a date play at all. It’s The Last Kiss of musical theater, if you will.

Check out this preview video of the show to hear some of the music:Or here are some vids of Duncan doing acoustic versions of some of the songs:

“The Song of Purple Summer”

“Blue Wind”

And he sang some of the songs during his “Upstairs at the Square” Barnes & Nobel session.

If you are absolutely dead set on seeing some of it live before you go, or if you just have a great interest in learning about how the musical came to be, head over to the Soho Apple store next week:

Composer, Duncan Sheik will give a rare look inside the creation of the new Broadway musical, Spring Awakening as part of the Apple Store’s “Made on a Mac” series. Producer Tom Hulce will moderate an interactive discussion on the musical’s development and some members of the cast will be on hand to perform.

When: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13 6:00PM TO 7:30PM

Where: APPLE STORE, SOHO. 103 Prince Street

The original cast recording comes out December 12th. I can’t wait to get it!

The musical opens December 10th.

YouTube Debate: If You Point to Your Right, Is It Still to “the Left”?

According to a recent New York Times article, Beyonce’s hit song called “Irreplaceable” is her “comeback” song of sorts–the under the radar track that has become the sleeper hit song off her second album, B’day.

I’m not surprised. When I first heard the song on the album, it was one of my favorites. I’d walk around the apartment singing the catchy phrase, “You must not know ’bout me/ You must not know ’bout me” over and over. (As you may remember, I love me some Beyonce.)

Those who love the tune, but also love debating will get a kick out of this video of Beyonce performing the song on the American Music Awards last week.

You will notice when B sings “to the left/ to the left” she points to HER right, but in doing so, she points to STAGE LEFT. Is that right, or is that wrong? Hmmm… this song is WAY more complex than I first thought.

JT’s New Video for “Let Me Talk to You/My Love”

Check it: Justin Timberlake‘s new vid for “Let Me Talk To You/My Love” featuring T.I. You can catch Timbaland in the first half as well. Shot in black and white, it is 6 minutes and 10 seconds of HOTNESS with all out dance sequences.

On Tuesday night went to Pizza Bar near theMaritime before the Lily Allen show and left while they were playing a remix of “Sexy/back”…we walked to another bar–some random Irish pub–and amazinginly enough they too were playing JT–but instead of “Sexy/back” it was “My Love”. Alcoholics love Justin Timberlake, so you guys should like it.

Lily Allen: Loves German Fantasy Porn and Has a Little Paris Hilton In Her

Ahh, interview gold dug out by the SF Cron during their interview with UK chavstress, Lily Allen:

A: I’m really excited about coming to America just because it will be a country where I can actually understand the TV.

Q: And the hotel pornography is much better.

A: Oh my God. I’m so into German fantasy porn.

Q: Do you think it’s better because you can’t understand the dialogue?

A: No, actually you can understand the words because “Oh, that is good” is “Oh, das ist gut.”

Q: Not too much translation required there.

A: Not at all. You wonder why they even dub it because it’s American porn with German overdubs. There’s just no point in it at all. “Oh, das ist gut!”

Q: You did that pretty well. If the whole music thing doesn’t work out you might have something to fall back on.

A: Well, maybe I have a little Paris Hilton in me.

Read the whole interview.

Volunteers, Fistfights, Nelly, and Nas: Just Another Night with the Boost Mobile Rock Corps

This weekend I got to attend the Boost Mobile Rock Corps event at NYC’s famed Radio City Music Hall. The concert was the big payoff for thousands of NYC kids who volunteered at least 4 hours of community service at various sponsored events throughout the city.

The lineup was totally A-list, with performances by Nelly, Taking Back Sunday, Fabolous, Kelis and Nas, Young Jeezy, Panic! at the Disco, and T.I. I already did a write-up on So More Scene, but here are some extra tidbits about the show:

Nelly was the first performer of the night, and he and his crew made their entrance in grand style–with a classic convertible rising up to the stage on a hydraulic lift with Nelly and crew inside, all the meanwhile flames shot up from the stage–a total Great White moment. One dude in Nelly’s crew had more mobile communication units than a freaking T-Mobile store–and all of them bling-ed out with diamonds and strapped on his belt like the world’s most expensive tool belt.

During his bit, Nelly pulled a girl out of the audience to sing a song with him. He asked her if she knew all the songs and if she was ready to perform in front of all these people. She said she was. Then the DJ started to play the opening chords of “Dilemma“, Nelly’s duet song with Kelly Rowland. He asked her again if she was ready, because it was her, not him, who would have to go back and face all her classmates the next day. Ok, so it was Saturday, but we got what Nelly was saying. The girl said she was ready.

Over the course of the song, the girl started to groove real close to Nelly, I think at one point with her arm slung around his shoulder. You could tell that Nelly was all, “Uh, don’t get too close to me,” it was pretty funny.

Well Kelis came on, she started off with the song “Millionaire” (the duet with Andre 3000), which was possibly the worst song she could have chosen to sing for this crowd. “Millionaire” is an ok song, but it’s kinda slow, and this was a hip hop crowd. It totally didn’t fly.

“Milkshake” fared a little bit better, but something funny happens when Kelis performs live–since she performs with a live band, her music sounds really pop rock, which is confusing because she’s more hip hop than rock. Her new song, “Bossy” was also received pretty well. But the crowd really went crazy when her main man, Nas, came out at the end of her set and they did “If I Ruled the World” together. You could really tell how in love they are, when Nas walked pass Kelis, he outstretched his arm and touched her cheek.

During one of the many between-band-breaks a commotion errupted out of nowhere. Everyone in the balcony was screaming and howling–apparently a fight had broken out in the center aisle. Some dude picked up his microphone and called for security, then gave some stern words about how those dudes must not have “done their 4 hours” and that any man who came to this event and faught with girls “must be gay”. WHaaaaAAA? That was a really confusing moment. Yes, I’m against fighting, but no, I’m not for linking negative behavior with being gay.

T.I. closed the night and totally tore the house down peforming hits like “Why U Wanna”. Oh and I’m still not entirely sure why T.I. came onstage with a huge designer backpack slung over his shoulder. I thought for sure he was going to reach into it at any moment during his performance and start throwing money into the crowd–but alas, no such thing was done. In fact some dude just stood there holding the backpack the whole time and then when the show was over, he took the backpack pack and slung it back over his shoulder. Who does he think he is with his mystery bags, Antony of Antony and the Johnsons?