Wednesday, December 19, 2007


All Hour Cymbals
(We Are Free)

It’s been years since anything coming out of New York sounded both refreshingly accessible and boldly odd at the same time (is that an oxymoron? It doesn't have to be). However, Brooklyn’s Yeasayer crafts a sublime debut that reminds us as to why this city is allegedly synonymous with “eclectic.” Incorporating wiry sitar, canned-sounding electric drum pads, and intricate four-part harmonies, All Hour Cymbals isn’t exactly prog-rock nor is it hippie-folk or stoner jams, either. But then again, this innovative album could only be described by what it is not because, well, it defies categorization.

I stumbled in on Yeasayer's performance at this year's SXSW festival purely by accident and witnessed a transcendent live band. It's a true rarity when a random show truly impresses and this then-unknown experimental foursome did just that and then some. At times, they projected a wholly distinct vibe like a manic Peter Gabriel-era Genesis channeled through Animal Collective but lest those references feel too inaccessible, the band always prioritizes the melody. Yeasayer is only one album in and they're already experts at producing an unrepentant harmonious cacophony. Yea, indeed.

Official Yeasayer website

Download one of the year's best songs "2080" here

The quality of this video isn't the best but it will give you an idea of how thrilling the live show can be. It simply does not do justice to "2080"s euphoric feel:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Image:Ba brokenstring.jpg

Bishop Allen
The Broken String
(Dead Oceans)

The Kinks, the Rolling Stones, some obscure singer-songwriter from the late 60's. Maybe a track sung in a foreign language. Preferably, a romance language. As much as we enjoy the adorable quirkiness, Wes Anderson's soundtracks are getting rather predictable. But had Wes somehow considered a vinyl collection update--and Lord Ray Davies knows he needs one--Bishop Allen's second full-length would serve as a sensible starting point.

The Brooklyn, NY band writes brittle and precious pop music. Their songs are soft and heartfelt without ever resorting to an intentional irony or oddness. In other words, there's no musical equivalent of a Marc Jacobs-Louis Vuitton suitcase.

Despite its accessible breeziness, this sophomore release has been unjustly overlooked but when given the chance, listeners will note that The Broken String would sit quite nicely on the shelves alongside If You're Feeling Sinister. Singer Justin Rice has an imperfect voice, like Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, and sings his Harvard education-informed lyrics with a delivery so likable that the literate songs take on a unpretentious nature. Somehow, Rice still sounds nervous no matter how rehearsed he may be.

The backing band, including Rice's college friend Christian Rudder, count the fiddle, the banjo and the violin as their instrumental arsenal therein injecting a somewhat Americana flavor to the distinctly British chamber pop. You could even call Bishop Allen a modern day Kinks successor. And doesn't that sound like the perfect accompaniment to Jason Schwartzman's shenanigans?

Download "Rain" here

"Click, Click, Click" video

Monday, December 17, 2007


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Never Hear The End Of It
(Yep Roc)

The album is dead. And in response to the short attention spans of listeners, musicians have become focused on singles. After all, it would make more sense for a songwriter to compose a few $0.99-worthy songs for the kids and their itchy iTunes fingers than to exhaust creative energy in making a cohesive unit.

However, the obstinate musician such as the four gents in the Canadian band Sloan aren't interested in hits, singles, and chart-toppers. That much is apparent. Chris Murphy, Jay Ferguson, Patrick Pentland, and Andrew Scott have been around the rock block so many times since their 1991 formation that they must feel numb to the enticement of mainstream acceptance. And so the contrarily and aging indie rockers pulled a what's-that-aboot? by releasing their eighth album Never Hear The End Of It complete with 30-songs clocking in at a hefty 76 minutes. What's rumored to have been potential material for four separate solo records (every band member is a songwriter) could have resulted in a disjointed mess; instead Sloan's latest flows seamlessly, every track connects to one another without once resorting to a fade-out, 30 songs like interlocked hands.

Granted not every one here is a memorable winner--at an hour and a quarter's length, how could it be flawless?--but the overall album is a whiplash pop ride mixing one-minute punk anthems (""HFXNSHC") and soft-rock nostalgia ("Listen to the Radio" ) with carefree clap-alongs ("I Understand," "Who Taught You To Live Like That?") and autobiographical rock sophistication ("Fading Into Obscurity" ). Frankly, it's the very existence of Never Hear The End Of It that makes it such a worthy entry in this year's top ten. Here's a band that's perfected a certain style of power pop and rather than churn out another satisfactory and accessible pleasure, they've challenged their small-yet-obsessive fan base by crafting a joyful abundance. And fourteen-years in, that's commendable.

It's possible that you've never heard of Sloan. This is because Sloan is way more successful in Canada than they will ever be in the States. Although the mediocrity of the quartet's two albums past even tested the seemingly eternal patience of our northern neighbors. And while the welcome return of Never Hear The End Of It won't make them American contenders--that opportunity is long gone-- it will re-annoint these unassuming dudes as rock royalty, albeit across the border.

"Flying High Again"

Never Hear The End Of It Documentary

"I've Gotta Try"

Thursday, December 13, 2007


From: Nancy *******
To: Arye Dworken
Date: Oct 12,, 2007 3:35
Subject: Ehrenkranz dispute

Mr. Dworken:

You need to pay your bill in full. Financial responsibility is a good foundation for a happy marriage.

Nancy *******

Associate General Counsel

Office of Legal Counsel

New York University

110 Fifth Avenue, Room 414

New York, New York 10011


From: Arye Dworken

To: Nancy *******

Date: Dec 12, 2007 10:35 PM

Subject: Ehrenkranz dispute

Dear Ms. *******,

It’s been nearly two months since you wrote me and in truth, it took a great deal of self-control to not respond to your email right away. At the behest of my lawyer’s advice, up until now, I avoided further contact with New York University despite the condescending tone in your email and the aggravation if left me with. Now, I understand your arbitrary and definitive decision that I have to pay my bill in full—unfortunately I have come to accept your ruling even though it is definitively and legally unjust—nevertheless, I am without a proper leg to stand on. You, on the other hand, have many legs. You could open a leg store. But ultimately, what truly bothers me most about your terse email is the lack of understanding on your behalf and a true detachment from the situation. You are an institution's robot with your denial switch on high. Domo arigato.

We don't know one another. I imagine that if we had, you would have not written me in such a manner. Who do you think you are giving me marriage advice?

However, let's step back for a second. Both you and I know that my $***** will not make or break the university. Both you and I know that I am currently in an awkward position; that continuing to seek legal council will be costly but paying NYU the complete amount it claims that I owe may cost me more. And while I do appreciate your advice that “financial responsibility is a good foundation for a happy marriage (and here all along I thought it was love)"...on second thought, I don't appreciate it. I know Dr. Phil and you're no Dr. Phil.

It certainly isn't easy to afford life in New York City especially when considering that one spouse is a teacher for the New York Public School System, never mind when a greedy and nauseatingly wealthy institution seeks out the funds it does not deserve. However, I am not asking for your sympathy.

You apparently have none.

Arye Dworken

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Among the many wonderful things that's happened in the past couple of months since I've updated regularly, I've neglected to tell you about my inclusion in the De Capo Best Music Writing 2007. The book, edited by Robert Christgau, is a compilation of the year's better pieces of music journalism now available in fine bookstores everywhere. The story for which I was recognized is called "Straight Outta Jerusalem" and was featured originally in Flaunt magazine (sadly, the article is not online).

The book as a whole is worth reading and available on the cheap at If you have a passing interest in music, it's a meaty read as are previous installments (I would recommend that you skip over this edition as the editor doesn't really exist).

Being recognized in this series was the serious validation I needed especially considering that I've since given u p the foolish dream of full-time freelance and now anchor my income with a 9-to-5'er.

Incidentally, I'm very much enjoying this song by Neil Finn's offspring Liam.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


As some of your New York Times readers may already know, Shana and I got married a week back. And while a Times announcement is nice, a Gawker reference makes this whole getting married thing worthwhile (and being labeled as "impressive" by the ever-biting website is certainly nothing to scoff at).

The wedding itself was surreal and wonderful, a most incredible night, but really, what's a party without a goodie bag? We sent everyone home with a faux concert T-shirt:



In Hebrew, Shana's full name "Shoshana" means "rose" and Arye means "lion." Hence the front design of the shirt. The "sold-out" stamp on the back was a mini-stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. In fact, I just did.

We also gave out mix CD's with the album artwork designed by our dear friend Ridge Carpenter. I told her to use orange (which she did) and replicate the feel of the old Blue Note record covers (which she did impressively). Everyone asked both Shana and I why we look so depressed on the cover. That's not depressed. That's dramatic. Big difference.



Some of you may be thinking, Alice Cooper's "School's Out?" Or R.E.M.'s "Orange Crush?" Odd choices for your wedding mix, man. And you would be justified in your confusion. It's difficult to read the text in the corner but it explains that "the songs on our wedding mix are not all lyrically relevant. Some songs are simply a part of our musical history, or rather, the background noise we enjoyed whilst falling for one another. Please enjoy."

Aside from the whole marriage thing, Shana and I have been spending the last month or so planning the wedding, moving into our new apartment, searching for non-Ikea furniture, and doing all the wonderful things newly married couples do (like being "expressive"). Now that things have settled down somewhat, I'd like to return to regular updates here on BBS. I hope you're still out there.