Volume 75, Number 49 | April 26 - May 2 2006

Scene and Heard

By Jen Carlson

These past few weeks have been a sonic whirlwind of good shows that have restored my faith in bands today. On April 10th, Austin band Voxtrot (www.voxtrot.net) was in town, headlining Mercury Lounge for a second consecutive night. Their bouncy 50’s inspired rock had me hopping around the floor and an afterparty at the White Rabbit, held by the Finger on the Pulse deejay collective (www.myspace.com/fingeronthepulsenyc), along with Voxtrot, comedian Aziz Ansari and downtown scenester Mike Nouveau , spun tunes well past my bedtime.

That weekend, local boys Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (www.clapyourhandssayyeah.com) were back home and headlining Bowery Ballroom, charming us all with their off-kilter rock. Amongst those who have fallen under their spell are Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson. Both were at the Bowery show, awaiting a chance to talk to the band. Hartnett sported some long mullet-esque looking hair and Johansson had her bull ring in. According to good sources, though they were both quite nice, neither had anything very interesting to say. That is far too often how I feel about some of the bands I see.

From this point on I was in an absolute Cloud Cult (www.cloudcult) mindset — converted and ready to drink the Kool-Aid. On April 18 they played at the Cross Pollination (www.liberatedmatter.com/crosspollination) weekly music series at Pianos. The stripped down acoustic set (what singer Craig Minowa described as “organica”) was nothing short of amazing; upon its end I began counting the hours down to Friday, when they would play Arlene’s Grocery – a venue that I’m predicting has its comeback this year.

After my third Cloud Cult show of the week, I headed to Don Hill’s for a late set by Lansing-Dreiden (www.lansing-dreiden.com), a band that dabbles in not only music but also in video, sculpture, drawing and writing. I can now tell you that they should leave music alone. Luckily my memories of that show were wiped out by The Dresden Dolls’ (www.dresdendolls.com) two hour performance at Webster Hall. This is theatrical punk cabaret at its very best. The poetic, hopeful and sharp-tongued lyrics of singer Amanda Palmer have the ability to make problems go away for a bit, and for this their fans are noticeably thankful.

The next evening at Don Hill’s, Axl Rose was singing on the dance floor to whatever songs the deejays were spinning — no doubt a publicity stunt for his upcoming new album with the reformed Guns n’ Roses. Welcome back to the concrete jungle, baby.

Hopefully the good music streak will last in the coming weeks… On April 26th I’ll be at Arlene’s Grocery for newly signed Jade Tree band Snowden, an Atlanta outfit I first saw two years ago; I haven’t missed a NY show of theirs since. (Snowden also plays Southpaw on the 27th.) Jump on this bandwagon before it’s too full — their full length comes out in August. Playing at Pianos Friday the 28th will be Bishop Allen, a fun loving group of Brooklynites who will make you smile with their lighthearted pop.

On May 2nd the Yeah Yeah Yeahs come back to town, this time at Roseland Ballroom — an unfortunate choice in venues since the sound quality here is worse than listening to a tape player in a basement. On May 5th, The Books play Northsix; it’s worth the trip over the bridge to check out the smarty pants electronic-pop these guys produce. On May 10th, heads up to anyone in the vicinity of Webster Hall, where Anton Newcombe and his band The Brian Jonestown Massacre will be playing. Will he get through any songs without suffering from rage blackouts and punching a band member? Probably not, but as I said, the music scene does look hopeful as of late, so you just never know.

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