Zachary Cale – Message in a bubble

While CMJ shows fired away at heart attack inducing frequency, Zachary Cale brought it down a notch at the Hunter’s Moon Rooftop Hang. Set inside a giant plastic bubble, built by Bentley Anderson on his Williamsburg rooftop, Cale treated his audience to about a half an hour of his signature line of compositions. A video edit of the performance can be found below. Songs include “Star Crossed And High”, “I Left The Old Cell” and “Low Light Serenade”.

OFF! played Club Europa

American Hardcore retro outfit OFF!, fronted by Keith Morris of Black Flag and Circle Jerks fame, brought their high voltage infused ’60 seconds explosions’ to Club Europa on Thursday. Below is a 3 song video edit featuring the tracks Darkness, Panic Attack and Upside Down.

OFF! is made up of Keith Morris (Black Flag/Circle Jerks), Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), Mario Rubalcaba (Earthless/Hot Snakes/Rocket From the Crypt) and Steven McDonald (Redd Kross).

Zach Gets The Between Two Ferns Treatment

There are 16,268 Restaurants in NYC. This Deli is #1.

As subjective tasks go, determining the best place to eat in the city is a toughie. There are so many factors to consider: atmosphere (who’s sitting at the table over?), location (do we really have to go all the way to the Upper East Side?), and of course cost (sorry… $13 for six artfully arranged spears of asparagus? That one’s for you, Pulino’s).

You could try parsing all these factors and factoring them into a complicated algorithm, or… you could check out Yelp’s top-rated grub joints, and let the chips fall where they may.

As fans of the latter option, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that one of Williamsburg’s own, a butcher/deli humbly (yet descriptively) called Graham Avenue Meats and Deli, currently holds the number one spot as best-rated restaurant in Manhattan and the five boroughs. Located on 445 Graham Avenue, between Frost and Richardson Streets, this unassuming deli made a name for itself by serving up sandwiches that Yelpers describe as follows:

“Eating the Godfather sandwich from this place is like staring into the face of God and having him say back to you, ‘you are my most wondrous creation,’” [Mike D.]… “So transcendent that I’m not sure you can call it a sandwich; the only word that can do it justice is  ‘masterpiece,’” [Peter D.]… “The Bruce Willis of sandwiches. It will ninja kick your stomach, it will fight terrorists, it will reunite your family and cure your lingering toe fungus… This sandwich will cuddle you on Saturday evenings… for $8 this sandwich will have sex with your stomach.” [Mike G.]

The Willie Special. (Image courtesy Yelp's Jonathan D.)

With so many New Yorkers eating this local deli’s special sauce, we felt obliged to do some investigating. What makes Graham Avenue Meats and Deli’s sandwiches so spectacular?

“A lot of love,” says owner Michael Virtuoso, who moved a few blocks away – to Jackson Street – when he emigrated to the US from Italy at the age of 11. Virtuoso, who says he’ll “eat whatever’s got a flag on it,” isn’t shy about sharing his passion for Italian meat. The ingredients for the deli’s best-known sandwich – the Willie Special – roll off Virtuoso’s lips like the names of beloved children. “It’s got sopressata, prosciutto, pancetta, imported provolone, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes…” the list continues.

“But the thing is, it’s never exactly the same. We’re always changing it – we like to keep it interesting. But what is consistent is the quality. That will never change.”

So there you have it, folks. The secret to the best sandwich in Williamsburg – and, according to Yelp at least – the best meal in the whole goddamn city.

Holy shit! Daft Punk appearance at the Phoenix show

What if this is how the future is going to be? We’re all going to be distracted and looking one way, and then BAM! there’s fucking robots! If this video is any indication, that is exactly how the future is going to be.

While everyone who was everyone was swilling free vodka and partying at the Free Williamsburg CMJ showcase at Glasslands (go here for documentation), Daft Punk was joining Phoenix on stage at Madison Square Garden. The band tore through “If I Ever Feel Better” and were then joined by the masked duo for “Harder Better Faster Stronger” and “Around the World.” Three words: HO. LY. SHIT.

This video is a little bit shaky, but I kind of feel like that might be part of what the future is like too. Right?

Surfer Blood Killed it at Webster Studio Last Night

CMJ rightly calls itself a “music marathon”: the festival attempts, with uneven success, to squeeze 1,200 performances by up-and-coming indie artists into a 7-day timespan. It’s exhilarating at best, exhausting at worst – but on the first day of CMJ, it was hard to think of a better way to kick off the week’s festivities than by checking in on one of the breakout bands from last year’s CMJ, fresh-faced Floridian rockers Surfer Blood.

Surfer Blood’s come a long way since last year’s CMJ. Back then, the band played about a dozen brief sets throughout the city, determined, as the NYTimes noted, “to be heard by every potential dealmaker, tastemaker, blogger and musical fan.” The band’s pavement-pounding determination paid off. One year, a critically-acclaimed album, and a hit single later, Surfer Blood is (pardon the pun) riding a wave of popularity on the indie music scene.

Last night’s MTV-sponsored show at Webster Studio showcased the band’s maturation. Frontman John Paul Pitts’ deep, Morrissey-tinged vocals struck a sharp but brilliant contrast with his youthful appearance; his stage persona is by turns moody and exuberant, mirroring the tone of the band’s overall sound.

Bubbles blown somewhere stage left floated across the stage and into the crowd as the band finished their set, but fans who left early to escape the post-show crush missed what might have been the best part of the night. “We forgot to play a song… it was an honest mistake,” Pitts told the audience. “I’m sorry, I feel like an asshole,” he said as the band launched into the single that put them on the map – “Swim (To Reach The End).”

The entire show will be available on MTV’s Live in NYC site; but if you’re lucky you’ve already got tickets to the band’s only other CMJ performance – a sold-out set at Webster Hall tonight – before they head off for a multi-national tour of Europe. What a difference a year makes.

CMJ Giveaway: Small Black, Sun Airway, Suuns, and More!

The nice folks over at Jagjaguwar, Dead Oceans, and Secretly Canadian wanted us to help them celebrate their CMJ showcase tomorrow night at Pianos, which happens to be celebrating a slew of awesome new releases from some of our favorite bands, with a little giveaway.

One lucky reader will win a CD Prize Pack including the following:

S. Carey’s All We Grow
Suuns Zeroes QC
Sun Airway Nocturne of Exploded Chandelier
Small Black New Chain

Pretty sweet deal, huh!? Just comment below with your real email address to enter for your chance to win! And while you’re at it RSVP for the FREEwilliamsburg // Stadiums and Shrines CMJ Showcase TONIGHT at Glasslands… this little mixtape is getting us really excited for it!!

And don’t be a dummy, be sure to check out the show tomorrow night!

Big Ugly Yellow Couch Sessions Return With Oh Land

I was fortunate enough to sit in on this session, and feel really lucky to have seen the process Oh land uses to layer her sound. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Kudos to the Big Ugly Yellow kids to surviving the fire that burned down their old space, almost ruined the famed couch, and managed to come back with a bang. See the rest of the videos of Oh Land here.

White Nights by Oh Land from Big Ugly Yellow Couch on Vimeo.