RIP: Maxwell’s :(

RIP: Maxwell's :(

If only there was an emoticon that accurately conveyed “mourning.”

As you, dear reader, have probably heard if you follow music media closely (if you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you do), or if you live in the greater New York metro area, legendary Hoboken, NJ venue Maxwell’s has officially closed its doors.

Generally considered one of the best venues in the New York area, the (barely) 200-person room offered an intimate, if not unique place to see bands. “Maxwell’s staff has always treated bands and patrons like very welcome company; bands get treated uniquely well there, and so they love playing there,” says WFMU’s Scott Williams, “audiences come back for the vibe, the size, and the great sound (and the decent odds that they’ll get to hang with various members of Sonic Youth or Yo La Tengo).” If I may go on personal harangue, Maxwell’s was pretty damn cool. Bands would often book a date in Manhattan or Brooklyn and tack on a show at Maxwell’s the next day before heading down to Philly on the East Coast touring circuit, and because of that, rarely would you have to deal with apathetic audience members casually glancing up from their phones or talking through sets. All the cool people already saw the band at the Music Hall of Williamsburg or the Bowery Ballroom. Hoboken is close enough to New York that it isn’t hard to get to from Manhattan, but inconvenient enough to scare off vapid scenesters. Considering how shitty parking is in Hoboken, anyone driving in from New Jersey was more than dedicated as well. If someone was at Maxwell’s for a show, they were there for the experience.

Speaking of parking, the city’s authoritarian parking policy’s factored into co-owner and booking agent Todd Abramson’s decision to leave; “for all intents and purposes,” he said in an article for New Jersey’s Star Ledger, “[parking has] been outlawed. I’ve had bands whose vans have been booted because the signs are so unclear.” Aside from parking woes, the attitude and taste of those in Hoboken has changed; “a lot of the bars downtown are fighting with each other for who has the most giant TVs,” continues Abramson, “That’s what Hoboken nightlife has become.” So thanks to the proliferation of cheap, giant LCD TVs and this asshole’s inexplicable popularity, most of the clientele that populated Maxwell’s has moved out.

So what does this mean for music fans on the west side of the Hudson? “What it definitely means is that no one has to endure the mile-long walk of shame up Washington Street anymore,” joked Williams adding, “hopefully, what it means is that someone will pick up the gauntlet in Jersey City, which seems to be turning back from about 10 years of hostility towards live music.” Rumors of the owners moving to a new location in Jersey City sprang up on the internet quickly, but as of now they remain rumors and speculation. Nothing official has been announced.

While it had its own feel, at the end of the day, Maxwell’s was just brick and wood. It may seem to contradict some of what I said a couple paragraphs ago, but what really matters, what made the place special wasn’t where it was or what it was made out of, but the people who managed it, and even more importantly, the people who frequented it. Regardless of the zip code or address, if Abramson and company do indeed find a new location and open up shop elsewhere, what made Maxwell’s something of landmark will move with them.

• Maxwell’s:

Emiliana Torrini ventures out of her home in mystical elfland to release new album on Rough Trade

Enchanted-fairy-songbird-trapped-in-the-body-of-a-human and maker-upper-of-words Emiliana Torrini has a new album called Tookah due this fall. Rough Trade will release the album, fronted by the single “Speed of Dark” (hear below), on September 10. Tookah, the followup to 2008’s Me and Armini, is Torrini’s fourth studio LP and is named after the mystical elfland where she was born. Just kidding! It’s a word she made up.

Says Torrini, “It came when improvising and I connected with that word or name in a very deep blissful way. It is the core of you. The “you” when you were born before life decorated you like a Christmas tree with all your baggage. It is what connects us with everyone and everything. It is what the Sufis spin for. It is the sudden thankfulness you feel when doing nothing in particular, where everything is gently perfect for a moment. Some call it god. I call mine Tookah.” Tookah! So Tookah paired Emiliana Torrini with long-time collaborator/producer Dan Carey once again. The two have worked together on all of Torrini’s previous albums, and FUN FACT! They also co-wrote Kylie Minogue’s track “Slow,” a #1 track pretty much everywhere but the US.

Tookah tracklisting:

01. Tookah
02. Caterpillar
03. Autumn Sun
04. Home
05. Elisabet
06. Animal Games
07. Speed of Dark
08. Blood Red
09. When Fever Breaks

• Emiliana Torrini:
• Rough Trade:

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down announce tour with The Head and The Heart, force theaters to exhaust letters for marquee

Though it’s likely not a point of much contention, you should be able to name your band whatever you want. If you want your band name to be a full paragraph, go for it. If you want it to have four different curse words, that’s fine. If you want it to have a racial slur, well, that’s pretty dumb of you, but I guess I can’t stop you. While it’s great to have such a variety of band names in this world, nobody considers the one group this freedom hurts: the poor theater employees who must put up the marquee’s letters. This was a simpler job in simpler times. Bob Dylan. Eight letters. You could knock that out on your smoke break. Things get hairier these days, the days when bands like Thao and the Get Down Stay Down tour with bands like The Head and The Heart. Pity the poor soul who will spend their entire day on that ladder.

Beginning in late October, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down will crowd marquees with The Head and The Heart. Before that, though, Thao Nguyen and crew will do some significant touring on their lonesome, mainly throughout August and September. Unfortunately, for anyone in charge of those marquees or any other form of sign, all those dates will be opened by I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, and okay they’re not touring with any of those bands. For fun, try your damnedest to recall more long-winded bands in which Thao and The Get Down Stay Down could tour with. It’s a fun way to spend your afternoon! This is your life now!

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down dates:

08.10.13 - San Francisco, CA - Outside Lands
08.16.13 - Milwaukee, WI - Lebowski Fest
08.17.13 - Omaha, NE - Maha Music Festival
08.18.13 - St. Louis, MO - Off Broadway
08.19.13 - Columbia, MO - Mojo’s
08.20.13 - Indianapolis, IN - Deluxe at Old National Centre
08.21.13 - Detroit, MI - Majestic Café
08.22.13 - Cincinnati, OH - Taft Theatre
08.23.13 - Nashville, TN - Exit/In
08.24.13 - Columbus, OH - CD 102.5 Summerfest
08.31.13 - Seattle, WA - Bumbershoot Festival
09.06.13 - Eugene, OR - Sam Bond’s Garage
09.07.13 - Portland, OR - Pioneer Courthouse Sq. *
09.13.13 - St. Augustine, FL - Gentlemen of the Road Stopover &
09.21.13 - Canton, MA - Life is Good Music Festival
10.05.13 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits Festival
10.06.13 - Santa Monica, CA - Way Over Yonder
10.11.13 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits Festival
10.21.13 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel *
10.25.13 - Chicago, IL - Riviera Theatre *
10.26-27.13 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue *
10.28.13 - Madison, WI - Orpheum Theatre *
10.29.13 - Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre *
10.31.13 - Toronto, ON - Danforth Music Hall *
11.04.13 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club *
11.08-09.13 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer *
11.10.13 - Raleigh, NC - The Ritz Theatre *
11.12.13 - Atlanta, GA - Buckhead Theatre *
11.13.13 - New Orleans, LA - Tipitina’s *
11.14.13 - Houston, TX - Warehouse Live *

* The Head and The Heart
& Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, The Walkmen, Willy Mason

• Thao & the Get Down Stay Down:

Coachwhips’ Hands on the Controls will eat your drugs, fuck your girlfriend, and be reissued September 3

John Dwyer, the main man of everybody’s favorite fuzzed-out garage rock outfit Thee Oh Sees has a long resume to his credit. He was Brown in Pink and Brown, he played in The Drums (the San Francisco one, not the active Brooklyn group), Yikes, and Zeigenbock Kopf among many, many others. Prior to Thee Oh Sees project becoming his full-time focus, Dwyer led Coachwhips from 2001-2005.

Probably because the format hadn’t started to rebound back in 2002, Coachwhips’ 2002 studio debut Hands on the Controls was never released on vinyl. Before you get upset, you should know that Castle Face, the label Dwyer co-owns, is remedying that by reissuing Hands on the Controls on September 3. In addition to six new songs, the package will feature restored artwork, photos from Dwyer’s collection, and, knowing Castle Face, will probably be on some sort of colored wax.

The Coachwhips played a gloriously messy brand of primal, heavily distorted, lightning-fast punk rock; “lo-fi” doesn’t begin to describe it. The group’s 2002 debut studio album, Hands on the Controls, is a 30-minute, 19-song ode to sex, drugs, rock & roll, and gratuitous violence. To give you an idea of what you’re dealing with, some of the (best) songs on the record have titles like “That Bitch is Gonna End Up Dead,” “Look Into My Eyes When I Come,” and “Sex Like a See-Saw,” with nearly unintelligible vocals and blaring guitars all at a blistering pace.

• Castle Face:

Struggling startup label Universal forced to resort to crowdfunding

Universal needs your help! Adopting a model similar to Ninja Tune, Universal is developing a crowdfunding platform in order to release records that are out-of-print on vinyl, through something called Uvinyl (via CMU). Uvinyl apparently has all the rights to Universal Music’s extensive back catalog, but doesn’t have the help of any worldwide, mega-corporate parent companies to support the project.

So that’s where you come in. In order to get in-demand titles like Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Def Leppard’s Hysteria, you just need to go to their site and let them know you want, no, DEMAND, your 180g reissue of these records. And also No Name Face while they’re at it. Make your voice heard!

• Uvinyl:

DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn unveil European dates for August, may as well name their next album Welcome to the Kat (as in Katowice)

Oh, DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn. The reliable footwork/juke collaborators are both from Chicago, and given their relative influence and name recognition in the city, they totally stick to its geographical limits for the majority of the year — partly due to the city’s familiarity, and partly because spontaneous street shout-outs are a natural boon to one’s self confidence. That’s the case until… the shout-outs become excessive, and before you know it, someone’s yelling “‘SHAAAAAD” or “SPINNNNN” somewhere on the platform, just adjacent to the particular L train that was moments ago boarded. Head protruding out from inside the train, looking for the source of what’s now become a regular vocal annoyance, the closing door suddenly clasps. The bonus? You’ve just removed part of the hassle of incorporating chopped vocal samples.

Anyway, wrong. My eyes widened a bit at perusing the (probably not comprehensive) tour dates for DJ Rashad over the last few years; apart from a few one-off dates in Chicago and at various festivals stateside, a rather large percentage of his performances have taken place in Europe, and this was before his Hyperdub association might’ve offered a rationale. In any case, he and Spinn have another spurt of EU dates beginning in August. Rollin’ (TMT Review) preceded shows across the Atlantic earlier this year, and so we see a similar pattern with the recent release of I Don’t Give a Fuck (TMT Review).

I do give a fuck if they have shows here in the US, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.


08.07.13 - Sibenik, Croatia - Terraneo Festival
08.08.13 - Gothenburg, Sweden - Way Out West Festival
08.09.13 - Birmingham, UK - Hare & Hounds
08.10.13 - Amsterdam, Netherland - Appelsap Festival
08.15.13 - London, UK - Boiler Room
08.17.13 - Bristol, UK - Timbuk 2
08.30.13 - London, UK - Fabric
08.31.13 - Berlin, Germany - Stattbad

• DJ Rashad:
• DJ Spinn: