Archive for the ‘Friends Romans Countrymen’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: STUYVESANT-Jihad Me at Hello (2010).

Stuyvesant (one of the hardest band names to spell) is an amalgam of the defunct New Jersey bands Footstone and Friends, Romans, Countrymen.  And so, as you might expect if you know these other bands, they play noisy rock with a healthy dose of pop.

The opener, “Bi-Polar Bears” is a great example of their punky pop (complete with an unexpected horn section).  The second track, “Tape Hiss” sounds like Footstone (Ralphie’s voice is very distinct here) although the “do-do-do” harmonies are something new to the sound.

There’s more surprise from a major break in “Ode to Bish” which features a “waka jawacka” guitar and a horn solo.  “Liars Poker” also features some cool bass vocal harmonies (something of a rare treat in rock music).

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the slow opening of “Broken Red Wing.”  I was pleasantly surprised that after the slow opening, it did not jump quickly into a song that sounded like the rest on the disc.  Guitars kick in but they are not the same crunchy style.  The track shows an unexpected diversity on the disc.

While I have enjoyed both the Footstone and FRC releases, I think this conflation of the two makes for the best overall package.  It’s a great EP, and I’m looking forward to the full length.  This EP is available for free.  That’s right, for free.  So even if you hate it, you can still download it for free.  In any format, and then you can burn it to a CD, in the format that music is meant to be enjoyed.

[READ: September 8, 2010] “The Landlord”

Wells Tower is another 20 Under 40.  I’ve enjoyed the few short stories(although I haven’t read his collection yet) and the non-fiction he’s written for Outside magazine.

This story feels like an excerpt from a longer piece because there are a lot of different characters who seem like there’s more to them.

The main character is the landlord, Mr Pruitt.  He owns a lot of properties, but in the current market he has had to sell a number of them.  And, of course, his tenants are paying him less and less frequently.  As the story opens we meet one of those tenants, Armando Colón, who is three months overdue.  Armando has a solution to his problem which he presents to Mr Pruitt.  When Armando leaves, Mr Pruitt’s worker, Todd Toole mocks him for letting people fuck him over. (more…)

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I’ve been aware of Friends, Romans, Countrymen for a number of years, but I’d never heard them.  The bio on the Dromedary site suggests that they broke up some time around 2003.  So, I’m not entirely sure if this CD was released back then or if this is the first time it’s seeing the light of day.

I’ve been streaming the disc all day (and yes, I will buy it as soon as can find my wallet, which, no is not in El Segundo–ooh, old school!)).  I don’t know if it’s my crappy work headphones but the recording sounds distorted in a way that makes me think it was recorded too loud.  Of course as I say it could be the headphones.

Getting beyond that, the band reminds me a lot of middle era Hüsker Dü.  They don’t sound like them necessarily, but the feel: noisy guitars, kind of sloppy (but cool) solos, smooth vocals (at times there is definitely a resemblance to Bob Mould) and harmonies, and fast, rocking beats.

The Dromedary site calls them “burly pop-core” and that’s a really apt description.  The opening song is a tribute to a fellow New Jersey band: “The Day Footstone Died.”  (Footstone’s releases have been covered here).  It’s got some great catchy guitars and a great bridge.  (And the live version that’s on the site sounds like the band never broke up).

There’s some really interesting guitar sounds on “Lee1Blu” (as well as some cool harmonies).  The rest of the disc is equally infectious, all the way down to the two closing instrumentals, “Warm” and, um, “Instrumental.”

So you get about 40 minutes of pretty fine, pretty loud alt-rock.  You can stream the disc (and buy it) here.

[READ: September 8, 2010] “The Science of Flight”

So this post really missed the point of the story.  If you read the comments below you’ll get more details.  Because of the comment, I have re-posted about the story.  You can read it here.


Yiyun Li’s is one of the 20 Under 40 from the New Yorker.  This story (which I assume is not an excerpt) is about Zichen.  Zichen (whose name is unpronounceable to Westerners) emigrated from China to live in America with her then new husband.

As the story opens, we see Zichen at work at an animal-care center.  She is talking with her coworkers about her upcoming visit to England (this will be her first-ever vacation that is not to China).  The men are teasing her about the trip (why would she want to go to the ocean in the winter, she doesn’t know anyone there, etc).  The teasing is friendly, because they are friendly, although Zichen is very reserved around them.  Of course, of all the people she has known, she has opened up to them the most–which still isn’t very much. (more…)

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