Why Are My Favorite Songs Never Popular? Jack White/”Rome” Edition

I’m sure some of you must’ve been wondering if I’d fallen off the face of the planet and totally forgotten about Jack White now that the White Stripes are dunzo.

No, of course not! But I have to say, with all his little side projects and record label business, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of today’s man in black.

So yes, I have heard the new Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi collaboration, Rome, which features the vocals of one Miss Norah Jones and one Mister Jack White. Yes, some of it does really sound very Broken Bells-ish, but it actually also reminds me a lot of the 1960’s retro sound of Air’s Moon Safari or their work on the Virgin Suicides soundtrack.

Jones singing contributions (as demonstrated on songs like “Black” and “Problem Queen”) are much more grounded than the ethereal vocals of Air’s work and even James Mercer’s work with Broken Bells. Her sounds definitely sound friendlier and more poppy when compared with the tunes where Jack lends his always compelling creepy, shaky, and slightly psychotic sounding voice. Songs sung by Jack, like “The Rose with the Broken Neck” are deliciously dark and sinister sounding.

I recently was reading an article written by my brilliant, beautiful friend Lizzy Goodman for NY Magazine in which three folks (including one Brian Battjer, of I Keep a Diary fame) gave their opinion about Rome, and I was nearly horrified that not one of them picked MY most favorite song off the album as their pick for top tune on the LP!!

Seriously people, Two Against One” (sung by Jack White) is CLEARLY the best song on the record. If you don’t instantly fall in love with this song upon hearing it, then I don’t think we can be friends:

The rushed tempo at the end of the chorus just kills me every time. And of course it’s so perfect that it’s two against one (2 +1 = 3 … Jack’s most favorite number, obvs). The jazzy drum tempo and the ghostly female background vocals just make this tune a freaking slam dunk IMHO.

Anna Calvi @ Bowery Ballroom – 5/25/11

With the death of LCD Soundsystem and the re-emergence of The Strokes, of late I’ve been reconnecting/running into a lot of folks from what I like to call “the good ol’ days” — people who I met through going to shows, and being in that whole scene, during the early 2000s. For those of you who are younger, you’re not going to understand this, so let me say this very plainly — when you get old, you don’t go out to parties/concerts as much, so you don’t see people randomly all that often.

In any case, I’ve noticed that a lot of these old time friends have all been mentioning to me that they love that I still have my blog, which strikes me as extremely funny. Because telling me that it’s soooo amazing that I still do my blog is basically the internet equivalent of congratulating me on walking down a flight of stairs or being able to chew solid foods (I can still do both of those things — kinda). So yeah, you definitely realize you’ve been in the game for a long time when several folks start giving you props for doing something you don’t even really consciously think about. Don’t get me wrong, I love every person who tells me that, but it’s definitely a bellweather of my continued descent into the abyss of Old.

So as some feeble attempt to somehow rid myself of that mothball-y, musky “old people smell” I’m sure I reek of at this point, I gathered up all my strength to hobble over to the Bowery Ballroom alongside fellow old timer, Melody Nelson, to check out the hot new UK rock goddess import, Anna Calvi.


Maybe The Rapture was a couple days late?

Sitting downstairs until Anna Calvi’s 11PM set time, we reminisced about how during CMJ 2002 I fell asleep on the very black leather couch upon which we were perched, waiting for the late late show by The Walkmen. As I looked around at the crowd, it was a weird mix of lithe Lissy Trullie-type hipsters, bridge and tunnel-y people, and slightly older people of obviously discerning taste. (All the trendy kids must’ve been at the Friendly Fires show at Webster Hall.) The highest ranking celeb of the night was Mr. David Byrne, who was there with daughter Malu Abeni and some of her friends.

When the time came to head upstairs, for some reason it was impossibly hot and sweaty, despite the fact that the venue was not fully packed. But as soon as the lights went down, and the fog machine kicked in, all was forgotten and I was transported into the glamorous, dramatic, and enchanting world of Anna Calvi.
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Gossip Girl’s (Real) Musical Talent: Leighton Meester

So now that Little J is officially not coming back to the next season of Gossip Girl, resident wild child Taylor Momsen will have plenty of time to make horribly cliched music videos with her band, Pretty Reckless.

However, it seems as though another GG teen queen is also maintaining her musical edge — but with much better results. Leighton Meester, who plays queen bee of mean Blair Waldorf, has been slowly working on her musical career over the years — teaming up with Cobra Starship in 2009 for “Good Girls Go Bad” and showing off her singing chops in last year’s Country Strong.

Meester recently performed in LA at the Hotel Cafe with Mike Frieman of Check in the Dark, and I have to say, up until now I was pretty down on the whole Leighton Meester wants to do music thing, but I am totally impressed with her singing skills in these videos. Beautiful vocals. Love that she’s doing less of that dance queen/pop star thing she’d been focusing on thus far and going for a more folky singer/songwriter feel.

Flawless face, hair, and singing voice? Sometimes life is just not fair. Well played, Meester.:

What Is the Oilers Hat Julian Casablancas Wore During Coachella?

I believe it’s a vintage 1990’s era Houston Oilers snap back hat. The team was briefly known in the mid-90s as the Tennessee Oilers, but are now known as the Tennessee Titans.

Julian Casablancas
just wore the hat again on Conan tonight:

Where can you get mad swag like JC? Well the bad news is I’m pretty sure that baby blue is vintage, so you’re gonna have to go digging … or you could be the lucky one to nab what looks to be the identical style hat up for bid on eBay right now. Current price is $29.99.

I have no affiliation with the person selling the hat so I can’t confirm it’s the exact same one, but it sure looks like it.
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Let’s Juicebox Their Faces Off – The Strokes @ Coachella


Video of The Strokes performing “Juicebox” live at Coachella 2011

I kind of want to live by these words.

I wonder what that would look like…

Thnx Julian Casablancas and your wonderful stage banter! What a perfect Casablancasism.

BTW, “Under Control” is pretty much one of my favorite Strokes songs ever:

Win Tickets to Hank & Cupcakes @ The Studio at Webster Hall – 4/9/11

I’m just barely recovering from the Strokes/LCD marathon, but I wanted to surface for air long enough to offer up a chance to win a pair of tickets to this Saturday’s Hank & Cupcakes show at The Studio at Webster Hall.

I caught Hank & Cupcakes in 2009 during CMJ at a show at the Delancey and was totally blown away by this dynamic duo. They’re like the White Stripes meets Elastica.

Want to win this pair of tickets to not only see Hank & Cupcakes but Turkuaz, Navegante, and Dolchnakov Brigade? Email contest @ themodernage.org by 4/7/11, 11pm with your name and email. I’ll notify the winner that same day.

Good luck and keep rockin on!

Greatest Week in NYC: The Strokes Return and LCD Soundsystem Say Goodbye @ MSG – 4/1/11 and 4/2/11

This week has been completely insane — I witnessed over 9 hours of LCD Soundsystem (yup, I was at the LCD MSG show as well), and one glorious night of The Strokes all in one week. I think I sweated off my body weight about three times over, dancing myself clean, moshing in multiple pits, and just freaking out in anticipation.

I’ll admit, it’s hard for me to try to figure out what to say that hasn’t already been said. Probably by now you hard core fans have already read all the reviews, you know the set list, you’ve heard what happened at the show.


I love how happy Julian looks in this photo. He’s stoked he’s singing with Elvis Costello!

Yes, Elvis Costello opened up for The Strokes with a surprise 15-minute set playing “Pump It Up,” “Radio Radio,” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love And Understanding.” And yes, before playing “Taken for a Fool,” Julian mentioned the song’s chorus had an Elvis Costello-quality to it, and that he should probably just come out and sing it — then immediately defusing any expectation of him making a second April Fools’ appearance by laughing and saying “April Fools’! I’m kidding, he’s not doing it, but he should have. Next time.”

Then of course the joke was on all of us when Elvis DID actually come out and perform the song with the band! So crazy!

Rolling Stone video

Seriously, how FUN was that?
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The Strokes Return to NYC @ Madison Square Garden (MSG) – 4/1/11

So there’s the band called The Strokes. They are originally from right here in New York City, and you may have figured it out by now, but I really like them.

They played their first public hometown gig in over five years and this was definitely a heroes welcome. The guys were in fine form and everyone (the crowd and the band) was pretty freaking pumped up after the show. Smiles all around.

I had an amazing time/night, and it truly felt like old times. Never have I thought I could recreate those feelings and memories of 2001-2003, but tonight certainly came close. I saw so many old friends, sang along to so many classic tunes, fantastic all the way around.

I want to thank YOU GUYS for making it such a fun show — so many of the faces I saw were of young folks — kids who weren’t old enough to even ride a two-wheeler when Is This It came out, but there you all were up in the front, smiling, so happy, and enthusiastic about seeing The Strokes. You kids are so awesome. You totally rock!

The birds are tweeting outside and the sun is coming up, so I’ll try to jot down some stuff before my eyes fall out of my head:

I’ll start with the end — The very last song, in typical Strokes fashion, was “Take It Or Leave It” — but this time singer Julian Casablancas took it upon himself to bring the music to the people — well, specifically to the people in the seated section stage left. Climbing up on the stage left speakers, and then grabbing onto the side railing, Julian positioned himself in the midst of the raised seated floor section, where upon everyone started grabbing on to him from behind.

At one point, Julian jumped down to the floor, and the barricade felt as if it were going to tip over — terrifying me because that’s where the handicapped folks were sitting. Luckily, Julian moved back up and further over into the crowd, bringing the rest of the song to the front section of the room, and a bit to stage right at the end, finally finishing on the stage.

You can check out the entire song below — excuse the sort of crazy Cloverfield-style look of the middle — I could never be a war correspondent with that kind of sloppy camera work, but the beginning is pretty awesome if I do say so myself:

VIDEO: “Take It Or Leave It” – The Strokes @ MSG – 4/1/11

The tone of the night was set when “mystery” guest Elvis Costello performed a 15-minute set as an April Fools’ joke on all of us. Julian had been tweeting about “accidentally” running into Elvis three times that week, so it was a semi-surprise to see the man himself get on stage and actually start singing. What a great way to start the show!
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