Happy New Year! Get well soon Dick Clark! - Oh My Rockness

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Happy New Year! Get well soon Dick Clark!

December 30, 2004
There's a plethora of mighty fine New Year's Eve shows this year. Sure, you could go to the Wilco, Flaming Lips and Sleater-Kinney show at MSG and you will be no worse for the wear. But it's not too much of a risk now, is it? And who wants to start off 2005 by making "safe" choices? Or you could spend $100 and see Peaches at the MisShapes party at the Tribeca Grand. Wait, what?!? For that price it better be an open bar of liquid gold and unlimited San Loco GuacoLoco tacos.

The Rockness route is to go for the bill at Mercury Lounge, which showcases three very good low-profile NYC bands that, in the end, will be much more rewarding than sitting in a stadium seat with 23,000 other people as you seriously consider buying cotton candy.

Somewhere in heaven, Kevin Shields is smiling (and he's not even dead yet, that's how cool that guy is). Asobi Seksu keeps packing them in. Every time I see these three guys and a girl play there's more people in the crowd than the last time; further proof that shoegazing is just as irresistible today as it was in 1989. After all, how can you resist those dreamy, swirling, bending guitars? But to pull off the genre well, you just have to be tight. Because when shoegazing goes bad, it goes REALLY bad.

Fortunately, Asobi Seksu play as one unit that's perfectly *NSYNC and successfully pull it off. The band is much louder on stage than anything they've ever recorded, which is good and bad. Good because loud music tends to pretty much rule. Bad because the band's melodic wall of noise often dwarfs the fragile vocals of singer, Yuki. Asobi Seksu works best when guitarist and sometimes vocalist James Hanna lends a helping hand to the singing duties. His vocals seem to more accurately correspond with the depth of the music.

Other Passengers are a new band that have been playing all over town and have gotten our favorite NYC blogs talking. Their music has been compared to Jesus and Mary Chain and Joy Division, but that's just because it's hip to give a shout-out to those two bands when any music is tabbed as "gloomy." It's true that Other Passengers have a darker sound than say, The Thermals, but since when does a bass line have to get you down? The band members are fans of Can, Sonic Youth and Pink Floyd, and these influences can certainly be heard in their hypnotic brand of post-punk psychedelia. Any fan of The Occasion and Inouk will probably also be into these guys. Other Passengers are a chaotic and complex band that you probably won't "get" the first time around. But then again, what worth getting has ever been gotten right away?

The Winter Pageant aim for the melodic and the dramatic and often hit their target. They've opened for Explosions in the Sky and sound like a cross between EITS' shimmering, exuberant guitars and the breathy vocals of American Analog Set. Their recent self-released album, Waning/Waxing, is a climactic, at times transcendent, affair and is well worth checking out if you can find it. I would definitely get there early enough to see this band.

And if the line-up isn't enough to draw you out, there's even a free champagne toast at midnight. Be safe, kids.

Asobi Seksu, Other Passengers, and The Winter Pageant play Mercury Lounge, Friday, December 31st.


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