By Jen Carlson

Volume 75, Number 41 | March 1 -7 2006

Scene and Heard

This week, we’re introducing a new music column by Lower East Sider Jen Carlson, music blogger (dailyrefill.com, gothamist.com) and manager of bands like Bravo Silva, through her management company, 5thfloor.org. This is the first of her bi-weekly updates on Downtown shows she’s seen, and bands to watch.

The winter months are making this music lover stay inside more than I’d like to admit. However, I did manage to make it out to some shows in February.

The much talked about Group Sounds (www.groupsounds.tv) played at Rock & Rare, a band–venue combination I hope never to experience again. Rock & Rare (also referred to as Rare and R&R) is situated in the meatpacking district, far, far away from any other venue or bar anyone inside may want to go to. A genius business plan perhaps (get ‘em in and keep ‘em in), however this Disney-fied version of a downtown rock club gave me the chills. I stuck it out for Group Sounds though, since they’ve been opening up for some great bands and have a lot of buzz circling about them in the blogs.

However, as soon as they started, many seemed confused as to why these guys were singing Kaiser Chiefs lyrics to a Gang of Four song. Then it hit me…this band is not very original and they’re not very good about hiding it. A few jocks crammed into some black skinny jeans and short vests, ripping off every band they’ve heard on the OC…yeah, they’ll probably be huge. In conclusion, Group Sounds sounds like a lot of other groups, and I soon shelled out $12 to get back to my safe corner of the island. I’m not sure if I’ll make it back there again, except maybe to see up and comers The Boy Least Likely To (www.theboyleastlikelyto.co.uk). Their innocence lost version of sweet, lo-fi pop songs is infecting earbuds around town and I have a feeling they won’t be playing at such a small venue in a few more months.

Other bands I didn’t like this month: Rock Kills Kid (sound: indie band meets wedding band. www.rockkillskid.com), Celebration (sound: Karen O worship. www.myspace.com/celebrationcelebration)

I did have a chance to catch some great music in February, however. The highlights were Brooklyn-ites Slowlands (www.slowlands.com), who I had been meaning to check out for months and finally did when they took the stage at Knitting Factory. Their album is amazing, but their live show will rock you (gently, but rock you none the less).

I also checked out The Dresden Doll’s Amanda Palmer at Joe’s Pub. I could probably see Group Sounds at Joe’s Pub and still enjoy it — that venue is like my “happy place.” However Amanda Palmer brought me to a new level of enlightenment there. She touched the keys on the piano and the room let out a collective sigh; it was pure bliss. Well, pure bliss in that teen angst “slam the door in your parents face” kind of way. For those who remember MTV’s doom and gloom emo-goth-grunge heroine Daria, this would have been one of her favorite shows.

Other bands I liked this month: Metal Hearts (sound: heartache. www.metalheartsband.com), She Wants Revenge (sound: Interpol. www.shewantsrevenge .com)

Shows I hope to enjoy in the coming weeks: Say Hi To Your Mom, The Head Set, Her Majesty, and A Brief Smile at Rothko (116 Suffolk Street) on Wednesday, March 8. I’ve been hearing good things about the opening band, A Brief Smile. Though I’m not the biggest fan of textured noise rock, their brand of it has me listening. I caught The Head Set this past year and enjoyed their guitar rock, which also sounds pretty good on my iPod. And on Friday, March 10, Battle and Five O’Clock Heroes play Mercury Lounge (Houston St @ Essex). I missed Battle when they opened for Mission of Burma last month, but I hear I would have enjoyed Battle’s set more. I’ll have to decide that for myself when I check them out.

I plan on heading back to Mercury the following night to see The Cloud Room, Film School, and The Big Sleep. The Cloud Room (www.thecloudroom.com) always gets us moving on the dance floor, but I’m also excited to see Film School (www.filmschoolmusic.com) and The Big Sleep (www.thebigsleep.net) for the first time. The former has that anxious post rock sound that we love. A triple bill and I want to catch them all? Now that’s rare.