Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hoboken Rock City - Show #9 

High School Sweethearts, French Kicks, The Mr. T Experience, The Grip Weeds, The Aluminum Group, K. McCarty, Freedy Johnston, Peelander-Z, Hamell On Trial, Dave's True Story, Reno's Men, and Dungen rock this town...

Get the free download here.

For the first time, the show starts with the...

Heels N' Wheels, Get Hip, 2005
In celebration of their record release party last Friday at Maxwell's.

Substar - RENO'S MEN
Dig Me Do You, no label, 1999
An "oldie" from the boys; buy the new one.

We're Not Getting Through - THE GRIP WEEDS
The Sound Is In You, Rainbow Quartz, 2003 (reissue)
Super '60s-esque pop explosion.

Live At 33 1/3, Singing Magnet, 2000
Lovely live recording of a track from his Never Home album, as featured in his live show last week at The Goldhawk.


Panda - DUNGEN
Ta Det Lungt, Subliminal, 2004
The Swedish dude/band is on tour with The Go! Team next week in the U.K.

Dancing Friendly, Eat Rice, 2005
Yellow, Red, and Blue round out the panda twofer. Woo hoo!

I Hate Your Kid (live) - HAMELL ON TRIAL
Ed's Not Dead—Hamell Comes Alive, Such-A-Punch, 2000
As always, heartfelt emotion from Ed Hamell, the all-world live performer who opens for Ani DiFranco at The State Theatre in New Brunswick tonight.


Walking The Cow - K. MCCARTY
Dead Dog's Eyeball, Bar/None, 1994 (reissued 2005)
From K./Kathy's recently reissued album of Daniel Johnston covers.

Wonder Boy Plus, Minty Fresh, 1999
Another Aluminum Group song so light you could almost float away on the thing.

The World In Which We Live - DAVE'S TRUE STORY
Nature, Bepop, 2005
Catch them playing tunes like this from their new album tonight at The Living Room in NYC; The Lansdowne Folk Club in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania on Thursday, April 28; and this Saturday April 30 at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia.


One More Time - FRENCH KICKS
The Trial Of The Century, StarTime, 2004
Cool track from the New York band's 2004 album.

I Wrote A Book About Rock & Roll - THE MR. T EXPERIENCE
Alcatraz, Lookout!, 1999
A fair-enough criticism of, well, rock criticism.


Hoboken Rock City is produced with the cooperation of the artists and record labels whose recordings appear on the show. Thanks to all.

Please send me your comments and contribute your votes. Thank you.

See you next week for Show #10...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

With Muzak Like This... 

I think Ruth Reichl's going a little overboard to call the lobster a "bargain" when two lobster dinners, no appetizers, and a mere half carafe of sangria tallies up to $90 (with 20 percent tip); but aside from the decadent and wonderful Lobster Quijote dish, what made Sunday night dinner at the venerable 1930 Chelsea restaurant El Quijote (23rd Street between 7th & 8th in Manhattan, no website) more of a hoot was their "deep cuts" Muzak, featuring versions of The Beatles' "Sun King," "Be Thankful For What You Got" by William DeVaughan, and Steely Dan's "Night By Night." Insane.

Recent Rock Roundup 

So many shows, so little time to write about them...

Smithereens lead singer played a good, if very loose set two Fridays ago to a packed back room at The Goldhawk. His voice has hardly changed since the '80s, and he sounded great belting out "A Girl Like You," "Behind The Wall Of Sleep," and other Smithereens chestnuts while accompanying himself on electric guitar. He closed out with a singalong cover of "Behind Blue Eyes."

The following Wednesday, Freedy Johnston gave the same room a real treat with a two-hour show that touched on songs from his whole career, including faves like "The Lucky One," "The Mortician's Daughter," and his almost-hit "Bad Reputation." The former Hoboken resident charmed the audience with self-deprecating comments about his guitar playing, almost apologizing at one point. "I feel like I should take you all out for ice cream," he said, "or to The Malibu Diner."

Complete, unmitigated insanity followed two days later at Maxwell's, where The High School Sweethearts brought out a great rock & roll crowd for the record release party in celebration of their new Get Hip CD Heels N' Wheels. The Woggles, The Priscillas, and The Ribeye Brothers all delivered ass-kickingly good sets as well. Garage rock maven Little Steven was there enjoying the bands, as were WFMU DJs supreme Joe Belock and Terre T. I saw many old friends and met a ton of cool people, including a Wren and a couple whose wedding I'm DJing in July. It was quite a time to be alive and in Hoboken.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

All Politics Are Local 

My interest in local politics came about when my father served two terms as a councilman in the municipal government of my New Jersey hometown. He also ran for mayor—twice, in fact. He lost both times, to a man who resigned yesterday in ignominious disgrace.

Though rock & roll is my main concern here on the Hoboken Rock City Blog, I do aim to provide the occasional crumb of local political insight. In Hoboken, our city election is less than three weeks away, and there are big issues at stake. Four slates of candidates are running—possibly five, depending on how an appeal goes—and I'm 97 percent sure I know who I'm supporting. I've been busy beyond belief lately, but in the remaining days before the May 10 election, I hope to write at least a little about the issues and the candidates, and why I'm supporting a certain ticket. Wish I had time to sit down and interview the candidates Tris McCall style, but I just don't have the time.

If you live in this great town, you owe it to yourself to participate in the democratic process. It's fun, it's free, and it gives you license to complain if anything like this happens.

Happy birthday, Dad.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Hoboken Rock City - Show #8 

Spoon, The Decemberists, Future Bible Heroes, Edwyn Collins, Stereo Total, Motel Creeps, Shake Appeal, Huma, Misty Roses, The Pillcrushers, The Bent Backed Tulips, and Permer rock & roll all nite...

Get the free download here.

I Turn My Camera On - SPOON
Gimme Fiction, Merge, 2005
From the new album out May 10. In the meantime, download this track for free from the Merge site. Catch 'em live at the TLA in Philly on June 4 and Webster Hall in NYC June 8 and 9.

The Sporting Life - THE DECEMBERISTS
Picaresque, Kill Rock Stars, 2005
Thanks to Jay at Late Night Sounds for clueing me in to the fact that Petra Haden (featured on last week's show) recently joined this band. I'd missed that news. The Decemberists play Irving Plaza on May 4 and the TLA May 5.

You're Too Rich, Go-Kart, 1996
Awesome rock & roll from a band that helped spawn Hoboken's own True Love.



I Can't Sleep In Silence - HUMA
unreleased, no label, 2005
Stream this brand-new Huma tune on their Myspace page. See 'em live at The Loop Lounge in Passaic Park on Friday, April 29; The George Street Co-Op in New Brunswick on Saturday, April 30; and Brighton Bar in Long Branch on Sunday, May 8. If you haven't already, read my interview with them.

Leave Without A Sound - MOTEL CREEPS
unreleased, no label, 2005
Stream this brand-new Motel Creeps track on their site. They're playing live Friday, April 29 at the still-open Luna Lounge and Friday, May 20 at The Pussycat Lounge.

Looking Through..., eggBERT, 1996
Dramarama in everything but name...


Babystrich - STEREO TOTAL
Do The Bambi, Kill Rock Stars, 2005
More yummy pop fun from the German duo that's playing the Bowery on Wednesday, May 11.

I'm Lonely (And I Love It) - FUTURE BIBLE HEROES
I'm Lonely, Merge, 2000
A fine track from my favorite of Stephin Merritt's myriad bands.

Into The Sky (San Serac Mix) - MISTY ROSES
Komodo Dragons, Frog Man Jake, 2004
Remixed fun from the transcontinental hipsters who are touring the U.K. and Ireland in June. Check their site for dates.

Popgirl - PERMER
Summerdays Attract The Pain, Hidden Agenda, 2002
The male half of Swedish pop demigods Waltz For Debbie, from his criminally overlooked solo record.


Welcome To The World, Not Lame, 2004
New York power poppers play the aforementioned Pussycat Lounge on Friday, April 29. Yeah!

Make Me Feel Again (Highland Mix) - EDWYN COLLINS
Make Me Feel Again single, Setanta, 1995
Cool mix, different and probably superior to the already stellar version on the album Gorgeous George. Check edwyncollins.com for updates on Edwyn's health.


Hoboken Rock City is produced with the cooperation of the artists and record labels whose recordings appear on the show. Thanks to all.

Send your comments here and your votes here. Thank you.

See you next Wednesday for Show #9, #9, #9...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Mister Softee, Scourge Of Hoboken 

He didn't exist in the Bergen County town I grew up in; an old guy named Mattie had the ice cream truck market cornered. If he had a presence in New Brunswick when I was kicking around down there for the first half of the nineties, our paths never crossed. But ever since my first summer in Hoboken, 1997, I have had but one constant local nemesis, one brazen arch-enemy, the mere mention of whom has been known to drive me into Pavlovian fits of rage. Nobody seems to know his first name, so everyone just calls him Mister Softee.

I have nothing against his soft ice cream; it's just that the truck's damn theme music is so repetitive, and insidious, and downright evil. If you hear it too many times, you start wondering what you can do to rid yourself of the mere idea of it forever. We all know plenty of annoying songs, and we may occasionally go batty trying to banish them from our brains, but there's something just so much more sinister about those repetitive chimes emanating from that truck that passes your house a few times a day for half the year. You can always turn off Z100 if you don't like hearing the same songs over and over; try turning off Señor Softee.

In a perhaps failed attempt to keep my sanity about it all, a long time ago I came up with my own words to Mister Softee's tune; you can imagine my shock when, just minutes ago, as I searched Google for images while writing this, I discovered that the song already has words. Those attempting to sing along to a truck near you would do well to note that, according to the transcription offered on the official site, the first verse/phrase/whatever repeats three times instead of the standard two. I guess the version we've been hearing blaring way too loud from the trucks all these years turns out to be the Radio Edit.

Though in some ways they're not far off from the "official" lyrics, I think I still prefer the Zen-like simplicity of my version, which my friend Keith pointed out must surely have been influenced by the theme from It's Garry Shandling's Show.

This is the theme to that Mister Softee
Mister Softee's theme song
This is the theme to that Mister Softee
Mister Softee's theme song

Well Mister Softee has a theme
Yeah Mister Softee's got that theme
Yeah Mister Softee has a theme
Mister Softee's theme (you know)

Yeah this is the theme to that Mister Softee
Mister Softee's theme song
This is the theme to that Mister Softee
Mister Softee's theme song
Mister Softee has a theme
And this is it

Lyrics © 1997 Mike C.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Smithereen Pat DiNizio & Freedy Johnston About To Hit The Rock City 

As I wrote some years back, "If you grew up in New Jersey in the '80s, you listened to The Smithereens."

Though they only barely cracked the national Top 40 in the early '90s with "A Girl Like You" and "Too Much Passion," WNEW played the unholy hell out of Smithereens albums like Especially For You, Green Thoughts, and Smithereens 11 (that last title a nod to the original Oceans Eleven far before it had any nostalgia value among the mainstream) to the point where those of us from Jersey and York could be forgiven for thinking the 'reens were as big as R.E.M.

So even if it amounts to mostly a nostalgia show, there's every reason to be excited that the band's frontman Pat DiNizio is performing an intimate set in the living-room-like environs of the Goldhawk's back room Friday night. It's $10 at the door, and the bill begins at 8 p.m. with Matt Azzarto (ex-Gefkens and Fundamentals) and Jim Higgins (ex-Whatnots), the music of both of whom has been on my show recently.

And following right behind Mr. DiNizio is Mr. Freedy Johnston, who plays the aforementioned Goldhawk next Wednesday, April 20, also for $10 at the door, that show I believe at 9 p.m. Nice.

And I'll be there Saturday night from 10 p.m. onward to spin the tunes for all y'all.

Podcrawl Likes Us 

Hot on the heels of Mr. Snitch's glowing review, Podcrawl weighs in with this rave. And let's just say Hilary at Podcrawl has heard a few podcasts in her day...

Republican Tax Plan Totally Sucks Ass 

Not a shock, no, but it's worth raising hell about it when they're trying to pull crap like this. Here's a fine distillation of the situation from The Talent Show, a Jersey blog of mostly political nature which is well on its way to becoming a daily read for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Hoboken Rock City - Show #7 

Freedy Johnston, Trashcan Sinatras, Dave's True Story, The Flashcubes, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Petra Haden, Group Sounds, Huma, Kevin Tihista's Red Terror, X-Wife, The Trouble With Sweeney, East River Pipe, and All Girl Summer Fun Band prove that rock and roll ain't noise pollution...

Get the free download here.

On A B Road, Bobame, 2004
From their excellent collection of b-sides and cover songs, available from their website. Also check out their most recent studio album, Weightlifting. They're great live, too: see them Monday, April 18 at The Saint in Asbury Park; two shows Wednesday, April 20 at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia; Friday, April 22 at Southpaw in Brooklyn; Saturday, April 23 at the Mercury Lounge in Manhattan; and Sunday, April 24 at the mighty, mighty Maxwell's.

And I swear on a stack of Dylan records that it didn't even occur to me until after I'd recorded this that I'd begun Show #007 with a James Bond theme.

Nature, Bepop, 2005
From their new album, which hits stores next Tuesday, April 19. You can buy it now at the iTunes store. They're playing live every Wednesday this month at The Living Room, 8 p.m. no cover. Many more shows in the coming months, including The Rotunda at the William Brennan Courthouse in Jersey City on Friday, June 17. I interviewed them around the time they released their album Sex Without Bodies.



The Way I Were: 4-Track Demos 1986-1992, Bar/None, 2004
The former Hoboken resident plays next Wednesday, April 20 at The Goldhawk, 9 p.m., $10 at the door. An oldie but a goodie: my 1997 interview with Freedy.

Six Months In A Leaky Boat - TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS
Sharkbite Sessions, Lookout!/iTunes, 2005
His Split Enz cover is an iTunes store exclusive. See him live at the Terrace Club in Princeton, Thursday, April 21, 10 p.m.

Start To Realize - HUMA
Huma, no label, 2004
While the New Brunswick trio works on some new music, go to their site and download some of their tunes. Read my chat with them.

Kill The Action - EAST RIVER PIPE
Mel, Merge, 1996
A fine tune by F.M. Cornog, who grew up in Summit, N.J. and at one point, when he was homeless, lived in the Hoboken train station. He came a long way back.


1,000 Phone Calls - GROUP SOUNDS
EP, no label, 2005
Buy their EP and download some tunes at the band's site while you can; after opening for The Kills, Hot Hot Heat, and Louis XIV, I doubt they're going to remain unsigned for long.

Eno - X-WIFE
Feeding The Machine, Nortesul, 2004
When this Portuguese band was in town in late 2004, they did a live set you can stream on WFMU's rockin' Cherry Blossom Clinic, hosted by Terre T.

Fishtown Briefcase, Burnt Toast Vinyl, 2004
Download this song for free from their site; better yet, buy the CD from the Not Lame store.

It's You Tonight - THE FLASHCUBES
Bright Lights, Northside, 1997
The Syracuse power-pop heroes of the late '70s, and an incendiary live band, in one of their finest moments.


All Girl Summer Fun Band, K, 2001
Twee fun! Can't wait for their third album.

I Can't Reach You - PETRA HADEN
Petra Haden Sings The Who Sell Out, Bar/None, 2005
A highlight of Petra's a capella full-album cover of what I would (and, in fact, sometimes do) argue is The Who's best album.

Don't Breathe A Word, Parasol, 2001
A brilliant Chicago songwriter. Peep pics of Kevin drinking beer, and buy CDs while you're at it.


Hoboken Rock City is produced with the cooperation of the artists and record labels whose recordings appear on the show.

Thank you: Pat Pierson, Tris McCall, John and Frank Navin, Keith Cullen, MaiMai, Fran Azzarto, Robin Morton, Jeff Eyrich, Kelly Flint, David Cantor, Michael Hill, Glen Morrow, Rob Cukierman, Brian, Laura & Jess from Huma, Erin Smith, Christina Rentz, Jared & Group Sounds, Rajeev Muttreja, Scott at Burnt Toast Vinyl, Tommy Allen & The Flashcubes, Amber Bua, Michael Roux, all the listeners, commenters, and voters.

See you next Wednesday for Show #8. Yeah!

Monday, April 11, 2005

What, No Springsteen? 

The contents of the presidential iPod. Link via Pandagon.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Hoboken Rock City - Show #6 

Stereo Total, The Wrens, The Wannadies, The High School Sweethearts, Dan Bern, The Monsoons, The Lashes, Jim Testa, Pernice Brothers, The Nines, Smart Brown Handbag, and Vichan Maneechot rock and roll over on Hoboken Rock City - Show #6.

Get the free download here.

Before & After, Hidden Agenda, 2004
Sexy Swedish rock; is there any other kind?

Do The Bambi, Kill Rock Stars, 2005
And some sexy German rock, too. Download four Stereo Total tracks for free at the Kill Rock Stars site.

Dance Dance Dance - VICHAN MANEECHOT
Thai Beat A Go-Go [Various Artists], Subliminal, 2004
One of many highlights from Subliminal's compilation of ultra-rare '60s Thai rock & roll.



Pretty O.K. - THE WRENS
Abbott 1135, Absolutely Kosher, 1997
Lead track from the Secaucus boys' EP that will be reissued later this year.

Heels ‘n’ Wheels, Get Hip, 2005
Don't forget their record release party at Maxwell’s on Friday, April 22.

Billy Beantown - THE MONSOONS
Orographic Effect, no label, 2002
An originally Boston-based band active out of the Hoboken area the last couple years, though now broken up. Bandleader, songwriter, singer, keyboardist, and improv artist extraordinaire Mike Solomons occasionally plays solo gigs at The Goldhawk that are not to be missed.


Death By Mixtape - THE LASHES
The Stupid Stupid, Lookout!, 2004
Download this tune from the Seattle based sextet from Lookout! Records' download page and put it on your own deadly mixtape.

The World Won't End, Ashmont, 2001
This is pop perfection.

Melanie - THE NINES
Properties Of Sound, no label, 2000
Pop perfection part 2, from Canada. Buy it at CD Baby.


Gamblin' With My Love (Pete Rose) - DAN BERN
Smartie Mine, DBHQ, 1998
Easily the best song ever written about Pete Rose's conflict with Paul Giamatti's dad.

The Big Sigh, Stonegarden, 2004
The song's about the end of baseball season, but we'll just be glad that this week is the opposite of that. Another CD Baby pick.

There Used To Be A Ballpark - JIM TESTA
Songs My Father Never Sang, Jersey Beat, 2002
A Leonard Cohen-esque cover of the Joe Raposo-penned gem popularized by Hoboken's favorite son to round out Hoboken Rock City's first-ever baseball-themed set. Appropriately enough, it's by Weehawken's Jim Testa, commemorating Hoboken's status as the birthplace of baseball.


The Hoboken Rock City rock show / podcast is produced with the cooperation of the artists and record labels whose recordings appear on the show.

Thank you: Pat Pierson, Tris McCall, John and Frank Navin, MaiMai, Michael Roux, Maggie Vail, Stefan Kery, Cory at Absolutely Kosher, The Wrens, Cynthia Santiglia, Lysa and all the High School Sweethearts, Mike Solomons, Erin Smith, Joyce Linehan, Steve Eggers, Lola Emmanuelli, Miki in Dan Bern's office, David Steinhardt, Jim Testa, all the listeners, commenters, and voters. Thanks.

Catch all y'all next Wednesday for Show #7...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Mike C.'s First Annual Yankee Preview 

Well, at least Tino's back. We'll see what happens.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Well, Life's A Train That Goes From February On Day By Day,
But It's Making A Stop On April First 

This site is not going to become an endless gig listing page. It's great that many blogs have taken up the honorable mantle of passing along word when hot shows get announced or go on sale, and I'll certainly pass on salacious concert rumors when appropriate; if I'm not mistaken, I scooped the blog world on the Sonic Youth at Maxwell's announcement. But when the mood hits, one part of my multi-pronged raison d'etre is to pass along news of selected gigs.

For comprehensive gig listings, everyone should who cares about such things should keep regular tabs on Raspe Radio for area listings with a Jersey slant and Oh My Rockness for a more city-centric (though Maxwell's-inclusive) listing. For those last-minute planners in and around the Rock City, there are a lot of cool shows this weekend, tonight in particular. Here's a sampling.

Tonight, April 1

Huma, Spiraling, and a whole gang of other bands
appearing at WRSU's Learning Secrets Festival
at Trayes Hall, Douglass Campus of Rutgers University, New Brunswick
noon to midnight

Two stages: one is the main stage, the other is at Brew Ha Ha's; it's at the latter where Spiraling plays at 3:45 p.m. and Huma goes at 6 p.m. Other bands I've heard of (but not actually heard) are Swearing At Motorists (purported to be playing at the exact time of 10:20 p.m. on the main stage) and Sparks Fly From A Kiss (9:30 p.m. at Brew Ha Ha's).

Both Huma and Spiraling can be heard in Hoboken Rock City Show #1; Spiraling also appears in Show #3. I also interviewed Huma a few months back.

The Misfits
at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville

Brooklyn Vegan recently raved about The Misfits reunion. Sounds like it's the real deal. Also on the bill: Ash Monday

Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff
at The Loop Lounge, Passaic Park
12 midnight. Tickets $10 at the door. Also on the bill: The Harvey Moon Project, The Mayan Factor, and Jesus Crisis. Bands start at 10:30 p.m.

A genuine turn-of-the-'90s Britpopper in our midst. I've seen him light up a room.

The Milwaukees and Hero Pattern
at Maxwell's, in the Rock City
10 p.m.

I saw The Milwaukees a jillion years ago, and they were solid.

Al Franken
at The State Theatre, New Brunswick
8 p.m.

The Great Left Hope of talk radio gives a lecture and a Q&A at an oft-overlooked but great venue I haven't been to since I caught Bruce's acoustic tour there 10 years ago.

Graham Coxon (ex-Blur)
at Bowery Ballroom, NYC
Doors open 8 p.m.

The show is apparently not sold out, and I'm hearing good things about his new album.

DJ Timmah
at The Goldhawk, in the Rock City
10 p.m. till close

Rock accordingly.

Saturday, April 2

The Lonesome Prairie Dogs
appearing at the 30th Annual Meet Ball (or Meetball) Dinner,
sponsored by the Van Vorst Park Association.
at St. Peter's Prep Hall, 144 Grand St., Jersey City
7:30 p.m. till 11 p.m.

Two sets by Jersey's own Hank/Elvis/Orbison-lovin' old-school y'allternative rawkers. Singer Heidi Lieb is also the leader of the N.J. female punksters Sit N' Spin, as heard on Hoboken Rock City Show #2. I shared a gig with the Dogs once, and they are a hoot and a half.

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, but in addition to those Lonesome ones, there's gonna be beer, wine, food by Jersey City restaurants, DJ Tony "The Susco Kid" Susco and even a rumored appearance by Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy. Plus, proceeds from this event go to scholarships to attend Camp Liberty at Liberty State Park and to the St. Lucy's Homeless Shelter in Jersey City.

DJ Mike C.
at The Goldhawk, in the Rock City
10 p.m. till close

I bring the rock; you bring your bad selves.

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