Interview: Justin Currie

Justin Currie City Winery

Justin Currie‘s current US tour just took in his first ever Brooklyn show, at Rough Trade in Williamsburg (20th of September), and also included a stop at City Winery (23rd of September). As singer/songwriter in Del Amitri and now into his third album as a solo artist, Currie has ran the gauntlet in a 30-year career.

A slight mix-up means we end up talking before the show at City Winery on Varick Street instead of Rough Trade, it’s my first time to the venue and while I tend to prefer beer stained walls and sticky floors to refined wooden decor and expensive wine, it’s readily apparent that the venue treats the artists well.

Del Amitri’s self-titled debut album, released in 1985, is begging to be rediscovered by a new generation hungry for arty indie-pop (think Orange Juice meets The Smiths meets Television. I know, I hate lazy reference points too, but it’s as good as all those band’s best moments). If that pricks your interest, at the bottom of this post you can listen to the band’s John Peel session from 1985.

After the debut, Del Amitri’s sound moved in a more traditional direction and they scored a string of top-40 hits in the UK over the course of 5 albums (1989-2002) including Nothing Ever Happens, Always the Last to Know and Tell Her This. In the US, Justin is mostly known for Del Amitri’s top-ten radio hit, Roll To Me; it’s one of those time-old examples of “this song is not really representative of the band’s output”. Regardless, let’s not downplay the beauty of a good pop song, however throwaway it may be. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Justin Currie’s ability to write moving lyrics for the lonely, heartbroken, misanthropic and disenfranchised; sprinkled with just enough hope for us all to carry on.

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Our cartoonishly crankly billionaire ex-mayor finally doing something we can get behind

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When he wasn’t bending over to Wall Street fat cats or real estate moguls, Bloomberg was always an admirably outspoken crusader for gun control. For his first big project since leaving office, he’s decided to up the ante and take on the NRA and the Koch brothers directly with his own gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety. (We know, terrible name.) He’s tossing in $50 million of his own money and says “we’ve got to make [politicians] afraid of us.” If anyone can out-bully the NRA, its Bloomberg. He’s undoubtedly an expert on the matter — just ask Fran. [Read more...]

Mayor’s office gets additional affordable housing for Domino despite Two Trees’ “skillfully framed” PR campaign

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Jed Walentas of Two Trees and Mayor de Blasio [via]

From a press release sent by the mayor’s office:

[Two Trees] will provide an additional 110,000 square feet of affordable housing as part of the project, for a total of 537,000 square feet of affordable housing. The proposal will create 700 affordable apartments covering a range of incomes, including a significant number of units sized for families. Affordable apartments will be integrated throughout the complex, ensuring a dynamic mixed-income community. Unlike prior proposals, all of those units will be permanently affordable. Work on the first building will begin in December 2014.

This is, of course, great news. Especially since The Times and the Daily News have shaped the debate in a way that frames de Blasio’s actions as grandstanding or too aggressive. The latter said de Blasio would likely “doom” the Domino project with his “hellbent” scheme to boost affordable housing. [Read more...]

‘Modern Brooklyn’ candidate Stephen Pierson says he’ll fight to have Greenpoint Landing rezoned

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There are two Stephens running for City Council in our district, Steve Levin and Stephen Pierson. Though we’re still torn about which one to support, we fully endorse the latter Steve’s position on the Greenpoint Landing. From DNA:

Stephen Pierson — who is trying to oust incumbent Stephen Levin for the 33rd District council seat — told DNAinfo New York he will demand that a court review the city’s zoning decision in an attempt to prevent the developments of Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial St. from rising more than 15 to 20 stories. [Read more...]

The Times printed a 1000 word smear piece on de Blasio accusing him of being a thoughtful leader who listens to people

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Given the Times‘ disappointing endorsement of Christine “no specific plan to require the richest New Yorkers to pay more in taxes” Quinn for mayor, this odd piece on de Blasio is hardly surprising. It’s central premise suggests that the mayor of New York can only govern adequately by being a narcissistic prick, like Bloomberg or Giuliani.

The Times sums up its position at the top of the piece: “an examination of Mr. de Blasio’s management of Mrs. Clinton’s first run for office, however, reveals that his inclinations — inclusive and easygoing but frequently indecisive — could be agonizingly inefficient in a high-pressure, ever-shifting situation.”

Agonizingly inefficient? Ouch.

Then, they spend the rest of the piece admonishing him for being, brace yourself, a thoughtful team player. Here are some of the more damning and scandalous accusations from the article, “In 2000, a War Room Didn’t Fit de Blasio’s Style.”

Bill de Blasio is:

• “very friendly”

• “a good listener.” [Read more...]

Since New York needs a true progressive…

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UPDATE: Bill de Blasio Leaps To First Place In Democratic NY Mayor Primary: Quinnipiac Poll (of course we take full credit for this sudden leap)

We don’t often discuss politics here, but after 130 years of Bloomberg we’re ready for a true liberal to hold office. Now that the press has finally shut up about Weiner, why not pay attention to the only real progressive in the race, Bill DeBlasio. We like Quinn too, but New York deserves better:

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has also presented some useful ideas and impressed us with her willingness to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the Bloomberg administration on certain issues, such as the city’s harmful homelessness policies. But as speaker, she has all too often used her power to protect corporate and real estate interests and to block measures intended as a progressive counterweight to the Bloomberg agenda. Most egregiously, she refused for more than two years to allow a vote on paid-sick-leave legislation. And, of course, she played a central role in overturning term limits in 2008, thus helping Bloomberg and herself to four more years in office. New Yorkers had already voted twice in favor of term limits, and they deserved better. They deserved politicians who would honor their explicitly stated will.

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Coolio Says Vote

We know the lines are long and everyone knows Obama will take New York, but there are other important races as well. Get out and vote.

Songify the Debate