Just in case you thought I had lost that ability

Cat Power (Southpaw), Hot Hot Heat (Bowery Ballroom), and Rainer Maria (Mercury Lounge) are all options for tonight, but here are a couple cheaper (read: free) alternatives:

Hi-Fi is hosting a New York Noise party from 9 to 11. No cover, $2 Brooklyn beers, the best jukebox in NYC, and free copies of New City Sounds from the Underground - the New York Noise compilation with songs by 23 different NYC bands. Sounds tempting, no? I had forgotten how good music television could be (or frankly what it even was) until I caught my first episode of New York Noise a couple weeks ago. It's an excellent show. Seeing Animal Collective, LCD Soundsystem, and Le Tigre videos on more than just my laptop is a little weird, but something I can definitely get used to.

A microhouse party at Lit (of all places) and on Wednesday (of all nights) is a bit odd, but hey it's free! And though things won't get going till 11, this is far from minor league talent - Sammy Dee (who co-manages the Perlon label) and Plexus will be manning the decks. I saw Dee at the Tonic the week before last and he was good, nice and clicky though a bit light on the basslines. The same could be said of Perlon releases in general, but the intricate rhythms tend to keep things pretty interesting.

If advance planning is more your game, a few interesting things were recently announced:

Hot Chip will be DJ'ing at APT this Sunday afternoon - note the 4 PM start time. They recently told Dusted they were digging everything from the Magnetic Fields and Devo to Sam Cooke and Isolee, which sounds like the recipe for a fun set. Their own "Take Care" is an awesome song - I love that production on the guitar - but I haven't heard Coming On Strong enough yet to know what I think. James Murphy was digging it when we interviewed him back in January though. This event is also free, with free waffles promised as well.

The Glimmers will be at APT on March 21 - and again, for free. They used to be the Glimmer Twins, but apparently Jagger and Richards used to go by the same name. Early word is very good on their upcoming DJ Kicks mix. I've yet to hear it, but their bio called an earlier mix of theirs "all over the place to the point of schizophrenia, and yet startlingly cohesive." This seems like one of those APT parties you'll regret missing if they blow up in a couple months but don't make it back to NYC for another year.

Grooverider will be at Rothko on March 31. Drum n' bass parties are definitely a shrinking breed, because this night would've been in a way bigger room a couple years ago. I used to be a real Roni Size nut, and I'll still stand up for his Newforms, but Grooverider's Mysteries of Funk might be the most timeless of the big www.ChaturbateRooms.com albums from dn'b's late 90's heyday IMO.

And of course there are the two Nine Inch Nails shows at the Hammerstein in May. I used to be a massive NIN fan in high school - I'd always write their name in lowercase letters, I was a completist up through Halo Ten, etc. But then the cliffdive that was The Fragile happened. I'm curious to hear the new song, which Paul digs, and either way I'm always one for nostalgia. Hopefully they'll play lots of old stuff, and maybe I'll finally get to see "Last" live. I was caught up in Sonic Youth mania while these sold out instantly on Friday, but MMM hooked me up.

I'd like to point out that I made it through this entire post without mentioning Optimo once. (Just in case you thought I had lost that ability...)

A bit of Abra Moore trivia

I'm about 34 songs into the first half of the SXSW 2005 Showcase and so far one of my favorite tracks is "Family Affair" from Abra Moore. What a simple, beautiful song. Just a piano, some strings, slide guitar and an emotional vocal. Abra sings without any affectations, her voice cracking and almost breaking into laughter or tears at one moment. It's a stunning performance. Download an MP3 of the track here.

Abra Moore was once a member of Poi Dog Pondering, a name I don't hear very often anymore. I saw PDP way back in 1990 or 1991 in a tiny club in Tucson, Arizona. I didn't follow them for long, but I do remember they were a lot of fun on stage and I liked the one CD I bought.

Moore has released four CDs, including 2004's Everything Changed. "Family Affair" is taken from this album. In his excellent review on All Music, Tom Jurek writes: "These songs communicate directly to anyone who has ever experienced wholesale, soul-threatening brokenness and wears the exquisite scar that informs everyday life in its aftermath."

Stream every track from Everything Changed here.

A bit of Abra Moore trivia: She appeared in the Richard Linklater film Slacker as a singer. IMDB lists her character name as "Has Change". I've seen this movie a few times, but I can't remember this part. She also appeared in The Newton Boys, another Linklater live sex film.

If you're going to SXSW, you can see Abra Moore on Wednesday, March 16 at Bigsby's. She goes on stage at 11 p.m.

Let's be honest

there really was no way I was going to miss last night's Optimo party. Their trips to NYC are pretty rare, and Saturday's party was so great that it would've taken much more than Bravo's West Wing marathon to keep me away. Nothing much ever happens on Tuesday mornings anyway. And, not surpisingly, it was totally worth it.

The vibe at the Glass House could not have been more different from the Tribeca Grand. Bathrooms? The Tribeca gives you an attendant, the Glass House has a shower. Drinks? One martini at the Tribeca gets you four beers at the Glass House. (Though to be fair, they had some choice drink specials - martinis aside - on Saturday.) The Tribeca had better sound and more space, but both worked well - and Twitch and Wilkes adjusted accordingly.

Saturday was all about the hits - one after another, constantly egging on the crowd. It was the kind of set that sets a big room on fire, as it should be on a Saturday night. Last night Twitch and Wilkes went way deeper, opting for more obscure picks that still matched up. The genre-hopping was still there, but I'll have trouble naming the songs this time. I was psyched to hear Grauzone's "Eisbaer" though, which is on How To Kill The DJ [Part Two], and Frankie Knuckles made another appearance - this time with "Baby Wants To Ride." I also think they dropped The Stranglers' "Nice n' Sleazy" (also on HTKTDJ) but I might be confusing things with Saturday.

Tim Sweeney and Dan Selzer both turned in solid opening sets, Sweeney with the eclectic style that makes RVNG PRSNTS MX3 so good (and he played Bauhaus's "Kick in the Eye" last night too) and Selzer with a very fun batch of Italo and new wave. Say what you will about Yaz, but "Situation" never gets old to me. Twitch and Wilkes took over around midnight. With a free ride back to Manhattan there to tempt me, I took off around 1:00. Word is I missed both a remix of Villalobos's "Easy Lee" and "Beat It" getting mixed into TV on the Radio's "Staring at the Sun." Damn. Next time then. They don't like missing their Sunday weekly in Glasgow except for once or twice a year, but maybe we can get at least one of them back soon. Please?

EDIT: Check out the comments for a great, detailed review from Dan, who was there till the end. He also pointed out that Doug Mosurock, who helped organize the party and was the first opening DJ, was actually the one to play "Kick in the Eye" - not Tim Sweeney. My bad. (That's what happens when you stand by the bar instead of the decks...)

Six MP3's for your downloading pleasure

Electrelane - "Bells" [Fluxblog]. The Power Out was a steady fixture in my CD player early last year, and this song is from the follow-up Axes (out on May 10). The krautrock pulse of their older material is still there but the production is a bit more lush this time. Listening to the guitar and piano battle away at the end, I think I'm going to really enjoy the rest of the album.

Damon and Naomi - "Beautiful Close Double" [Kitsch Me, Gorgeous]. I wrote off Damon and Naomi when they nearly put me to sleep during a show a few years ago. I knew only Galaxie 500 at the time, and D+N seemed aimless without Dean Wareham in the mix. However this song, from The Earth Is Blue, is not the yawner I would have expected. Michio Kurihara of Ghost adds some nice guitar work, but the trumpet and sax parts are what really sell me. I'm curious to hear the rest of the record.

Stars - "This Charming Man" [She's Bitter]. This doesn't even approach the original, but that's an issue with Smiths covers in general. I give Stars points for creativity though - are they actually sampling Johnny Marr's guitar line in the middle? (The MP3 link is at the bottom of the post.)

Radiohead - "Arpeggi" (live) [via PSNYC]. My Radiohead fandom works in spurts. When they put out a new album, I get really obsessed with them. Then I burn out and stop listening until the next album, when the cycle repeats. I listened to this once and realized I still need some time away before I'm ready. It reminds me of the stuff they did with Merce Cunningham, though - closer to Kid A than anything else in their catalog.

Philip Sherburne - 25 Minutes. Sherburne has a bunch of great house/techno mixes available for download, and this newest one is nice and dubby, perfect for AM listening IMO. Luciano, Studio 1, Hemmann + Kaden, and James Holden are among the artists included.

Spoon - "I Turn My Camera On". I've been real busy lately and haven't had the chance to listen to Gimme Fiction yet. This song is a good first taste, but it doesn't seem to go anywhere. Perhaps it works better in the context of others. I'll know soon enough.

So as Jason mentioned, I'm back in the saddle after 5 days in Florida. No offense to any Floridians out there, but I think I can tolerate about 80 hours of your state before it gets to me - and that's with all the sun and an insane amount of baseball filling the days. (Though I'm admittedly envious of your copious Chick-Fil-A's and the staggeringly fresh sushi.) I'll spare you from the geeky baseball details and just say this - watching a spring training game if you're a big fan is a bit like seeing a show in Maxwell's when you're used to MSG. My first trip down there was like watching from the bar, my second visit had me in the middle of the floor, and this time I was front and center.

S/FJ was in Florida last week too, but down in Miami for Winter Music Conference - check out his great list of highlights. WMC is the spring training equivalent for electronic music nuts, and I really need to make it down there one year. All-star line-ups are the norm, with the Revolver party being an insane example - 2manyDJ's, James Murphy, Twitch (of Optimo), Ellen Allien, Tiefschwarz, Headman, Tim Sweeney, Mylo, DJ Hell, Tiga, and more. Outrageous! Tricia Romano had a blast at that party, especially when Felix Da Housecat and P.Diddy made an appearance. Puffy sang his new one "Jack U" as Felix spun the instrumental. That single is getting talked up a lot - I need to seek it out, perhaps via the new Mixmag. (The latest issue includes a new Felix mix CD filled with big tunes, starting with "Jack U.")

BTW, the Shins added a third show at Webster Hall. It's on April 25 and tickets are going on sale at noon (i.e. in 20 minutes) at Ticketweb. Tickets for the first two lasted about 10 minutes, so act fast if you're interested.

ltd edition vinyl

While Rajeev is back in New York after trying out for the Yankees, he's currently buried under a pile of emails and overdue library notices. So much to everyone's loss, I'm still running THE SHORTS for at least one more day. Here we go...

Let's get things started with some links to the Village Voice. First, Michaelangelo Matos writes a nice compare and contrast between Daft Punk's disappointing Human After All and LCD Soundsystem's much more enjoyable self titled debut. Matos also reminds me that LCD is playing the Bowery on Saturday night. Thankfully I picked up tickets awhile back because the show is sold out now.

Next, the Voice has put together a very handy Reggaeton primer for novices, like myself. I've heard the term many times, but I'm totally unfamiliar with the sound. This page should help. It includes MP3 clips of artists such as Ivy Queen, Tego Calderon, and Daddy Yankee as well as some videos. I'm sure I'm the last kid on the block to catch on to this trend.

Drowned in Sound lists their top 10 albums of March, 2005.

The Center For Nursing Advocacy gives Sonic Youth's Sonic Nurse a positive review:

"Sonic Youth's new album uses nursing imagery to explore troubling aspects of women's lives, perhaps seeing the profession as a busy intersection on the boulevard of broken female dreams."

The nursing site also has reviews for Pink and Blink-182's Enema of the State. Wait, don't all nurses look like porn stars?

Gustav Ejstes, aka Dungen, grew up in the forests of Sweden. Mushrooms also grow in forests. Watch this video and see what happens when Ejstes eats mushrooms and writes music with lots of flutes.

In other related news, Subliminal Sounds will release Dungen's debut album, Dungen, on CD for the first time, April 5th in the US. Here are more details, lifted from the Dungen website:

"Subliminal Sounds now re-release parts of the much requested debut album from Dungen, which originally was released back in 2001 as a 500 copies ltd edition vinyl LP only and has since then been sold-out. So this is the first time these tracks are available on CD. This special CD also features lots of previously unreleased material from the same time period, all woven together in to a wonderful psychedelic mosaic, with a playing time of over 50 minutes, that will be sure to please everyone with ears open for Dungen. The release date for Scandinavia and Europe is the 16th of March and for North America the 5th of April."

Bjork Prepares Her Armies of Me

As you may recall from a few months ago, Bjork, spurred into action by the tsunami disaster in Southeastern Asia, put out a call for people to send her reinterpretations of her song "Army of Me", which she would collect and release on an charity album.

After receiving and sifting through over 600 submissions, Bjork and 808 State's Graham Massey have chosen the 20 versions which will appear on the album. The selected artists range from Canada's Interzone to London's Patrick Wolf. A full track and artist list, including bios, can be found here.

The album will be available for pre-order on April 2. A release date has not be set as of this posting. More details can be found here.

Here is the artist and nationality listing:

01. Interzone - Canada

02. Grisbi - French

03. 50hertz - Sweden

04. The Messengers Of God - English / American

05. Dr Syntax'n'CB Turbo v Rivethead - British

06. Dr. Gunni - Icelandic

07. Martin White Accordion Mix - British

08. Hemp - French

09. Lunamoth - British / Irish / German

10. Beats Beyond - German

11. Peter Baker - English

12. Random - English

13. Atoi coverversion - Danish

14. R.Luvbeats - New York City

15. Alfredo Lietor - Spanish

16. Patrick Wolf - British

17. Neeto - French

18. Liliom - French

19. Mikhail Karikis - Greek

20. Tor Bruce - Sweden