Posts Tagged ‘punk rock


Nixon’s Spirit – 3/4/10 @ Valentine’s (Albany, NY)

Well, I’m not one to normally review local gigs but I felt that tonight a band was worthy of one; or at least to a degree. Rarely do I venture out on a week night these days to head to a local dive to watch local talent, often the local talent is well, untalented to be quite honest. However, having played in a band for several years while living in Boston I do appreciate the dreamers on stage putting forth as much effort as they can to possibly be “the next big thing” ; and most will eventually realize that it’s near impossible.

Sadly, in Albany the capital city of New York State, there is only one remaining real place for indie bands and the occasional punk band to play and that would be Valentine’s. Valentine’s has been around since I was in high school in the 80’s; interestingly enough they have remained while others have come and gone. It’s a cozy dive, with very little room to have a real show (perhaps 60 patrons max if they are lucky) and the sound quality is so-so; basically if you don’t have ear plugs you are asking for ringing ears for hours afterwards. The door guy was friendly and the bar maid nice enough, although she seemed far more entranced to finishing her copy of “Twilight” rather than actually smoozing with those of us at the bar.

The band that I went to see is named Nixon’s Spirit, a self proclaimed punk rock band that was offering new music that night for us to hear. Upon entering the bar it was your typical Thursday night gig in the winter, dreadfully empty.  Man did it bring back painful memories of when I use to gig out in Boston and my band would get a third spot in the line up on a tuesday night during a snowstorm.  The result was often a painful turnout and a bar owner (TT The Bears Place specifically) giving me the evil eye and asking the question, “I thought you guys said you could draw people?”; ugh!  To add insult to injury we would never get paid and often find a $50 parking ticket on the U-Haul van we rented that night.

Suprisingly the clubs in Albany are far more understanding and polite; Nixon’s Spirit was supposed to go on at 9:00 but I was informed that the singer would not arrive until 9:30. I was in amazement that the bar was cool about it. In Boston if you are expected to go on at 9:00 it mean’s 9:00 and you have exactly a 45 minute set, no flexibility whatsoever.  So, if you’re singer doesn’t show up…tough shit, play since the clocks ticking! I was shocked that everyone was so layed back about this gig starting later. Granted, you have to keep in mind that at the time there were literally only 5 people in the bar at the time; clearly  noone was getting rowdy for the headliner to go on any time soon.

Nixon’s Spirit did eventually go on and the first few songs were mediocre at best; the singer seemed off and the band still in the mode of warming up. The band became much tighter by the third song (but I could not tell you what the name of the first three were)  yet the lead singer was far more focused on drinking his beer than interacting with those of us in attendance. This was a facet I found odd, for much of the time the singer seemed to want to have his back to the audience and sing his song’s to his band; much of the first part of the gig seemed like we were mererly spectators at a rehearsal space.  Perhaps that’s being punk rock, right?

It was my understanding after talking to the bass player (Chris Cappadozy) that this gig was merely a last minute thing that they were using simply to test new material and see what worked and what did not. I have to admit that as the evening wore on the band got tighter and the song’s became more appealing to listen to; especially songs like 58,000 and 8 and X-Rated Man.  These songs had a very catchy punk rock rhythm and clearly the crowd dug what they were hearing.  The band ended the night with a song called Substance Abuse and it was ok, but not great. 

Nixon’s Spirit has potential, I really do think that if the refined their sound and picked particular songs from their catalog to play at live shows they would gain fans rather quickly.  If you are in the Albany area and have a chance to catch these guys playing, take a chance and check them out.

You can learn more about Nixon’s Spirit by clicking here


The Libertines (2004)

LibertinesA few months ago I was listening to an NPR segment that focused on the music coming out of Britain.  The commentator felt it important to highlight a band called The Libertines. In NPR’s opinion The Libertines were one of the best bands in recent years to surface and perhaps, had made a significant contribution towards a second “British Invasion”.  “Poppy-cock!” I say, this band is truly dreadful to listen to and one has to ponder how they were able to get signed to a major label; tt truly is beyond me.  Sometimes I just shake my head in disbelief about the music that NPR reviews; and worse, what they feel important enough to bring to their listening audience’s attention. 

Most people who know me will agree that I am one of the most open-minded people when it comes to music.  I like metal, country, jazz, classical, rockabilly, punk, even easy listening (and the list goes on and on and on).

 However, I cannot bring myself (after multiple listenings both with and without scotch whiskey) to appreciate what these guys are offering musically.  From the first few songs I thought that NPR had been joking, wondering if this band was a spoof.  Perhaps The  Young Ones had decided to put out an album just for laughs sake.  Nope. This was a genuine album, by a band that actually thought they sounded good, and further more (adding insult to injury) so did a bunch of other people who had bought it.

The Libertines as a band are so poorly out of tune throughout the entire album.  Honestly it sounds as if the band got together at the last minute to play in their parents garage.  The first song  Can’t Stand Me Now is rememiscant of something The Clash would have put out (this album is produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones, so that explains much of the sound).  The Libertines clearly are trying too much to be The Clash, and perhaps that is there downfall.  The song is raw and  unrefined and I get this is the punk sound they are attempting to achieve.  Sadly, it’s not even done well to create something remotely entertaining.  In all honesty, and I have to laugh, the wood block or cowbell part of the song just reminds me of Will Farrell in the SNL band spoof.  To it’s credit Can’t Stand Me Now has a slight melodic rhythm for a portion of the song, but clearly it doesn’t save the listener from wanting to hit fast forward. 

The second song is Last Post on The Bugle, is also terrible.  The beginning is remiscent from some from either Morrissey, The Smiths, Big Audio Dynamite, or perhaps, The Clash, again (sigh).  The beginning of the song has the sound of either someone ripping paper or snorting coke, why?  It has no place in the song and is just random which again exemplifies the adolescent structure of their music.  Perhaps it the punk thing to do to just put in random distractions in a song to sound like you don’t care, right? The lyrics are not even in synch with any of the music and again, the listener is left wondering how these dudes ever got signed.

My ultimate favorite in this album is Don’t Be Shy.  It could quite possibly be the worst song ever written; and I’m not kidding, it’s truly awful.  Listeners who bought this album for this song (if there were any) clearly need to seek some medical attention and proves that there is “a sucker born every minute” if they bought this album for the “great music”. 

The first time I heard Don’t Be Shy I looked for the mallet to hit the gong, it would make every dog bark in your neighborhood.  Clearly this song was The Libertines attempt to really rock out and produce a song that jams, but it’s nothing but a humorous attempt at writing quality music and just falls so short of the mark.

Amazingly, this band was compared to the likes of The Hives, The Strokes, and other bands that had a raw garage like sound, yet made good music.  Perhaps it was simply that the album was produced by Mick Jones; if he put his seal of approval on the band they were good to go, I dunno.  What I do know is that the band has had terrible reputation for drug addiction.  One of the lead singers, Pete Doherty was both a crack and heroin addict which created more press for the band than their music.  But, any press is good press right?  I think that people may have found this facet of the band an intriguing part and thus purchasing the album. 

In sum, The Libertines were a bunch of kids that became successful in an impossible field, made millions, became reckless and addicted, and then broke up.  The only contribution I see this band making is proving that you can be absolutely terrible at music and someone, somewhere, will perhaps discover you and voila! 

The only good song on the album is Road to Ruin, but one song does not save an album.  If you want a punk bands to listen to you are better spending your money on bands like Rancid or The Used.

Please avoid this album at all costs.  I think this band was found to be cool and cutting edge because they actually were terrible and everyone knew it.  Sometimes liking bad music is a cool thing, I guess? Anyone with half a brain can tell that this band is not even remotely close to a conributing factor in the British sound at any level  They are simply just another garage band attempting to be a rebirth of The Clash sound. 

The offspring of the break up of The Libertines was called The Babyshambles, and a much more fitting name in my opinion.

The Libertines album gets a 0 out of 5.

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