Friday, January 30, 2009


Yes, both Drew and I are now members of the working class of America. Today, I visited HCD Media in Dumbo to meet a team working on a documentary on prisons in New Orleans. My first task is to transcribe the interviews, something I'm not looking forward to, but at least it's paying and I got my foot in the door. I could possibly get in as a Production Assistant and then (hopefully) as a field sound technician. The producer I talked to today said he had to run sound, for lack of an engineer, and hated it. Good signs all around.

So I biked over to Dumbo, just to see how long it would take. About half hour, turns out. Not bad at all. On my return trip, I was turning onto my street for the last 10 seconds of riding when POP! HISSSSSSSSSS there goes my back tire. I could SEE my apartment. I got in and what do I see sticking out of my tire?

What is that? A staple? A piece of a car? All I know is that I'm lucky I was so close to home, traveling without a spare tube. The roads are unkind to bikers. In fact, roads are probably worse for biking than traffic. Ask anyone who has biked on Broadway. In fact, the entire U.S. infrastructure is pretty terrible. We got a D on our roads, bridges, dams, etc by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Now, I'm not one to prioritize, but shouldn't this be important? I know, I know we have to worry about unemployment and Wall St. and mortgage rates, but shouldn't this be slightly higher on the list?

According to the stimulus bill which probably won't get through the senate, out of the $550 billion in spending, we're looking at:

$142 billion for education
$111 b. for health care
$90 b. for infrastructure
$72 b. for aid and benefits
$54 b. for energy
$16 b. for science and technology
$13 b. for housing

Now, the opponents of this bill are saying the projects for the infrastructure will "take too long" and they want more projects that are considered "shovel-ready" (provide jobs quickly).

I might have to side with the Repub's on this one. We need some fast cash. Considering the state of the construction on the L Train, it might be two years before it's faster to take the subway to Manhattan than walk.

Anyway, it's getting warmer and biking is the preferred method of transportation for sub-3 Catherine St. We just have to avoid these staples and things.

Check out for some entertaining bike stories in New York. He's much funnier than I am.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thoughts on Girls, Bikes, and Garbage

A few totally unrelated points that I want to touch on from this past week...

1. Girls in bars are predatory. They stare you down, they're up front, and they all want to hook up. This is a great thing, of course, but I've always had a sort of reservation about meeting girls in bars. Something about me being drunk, or them being drunk, or the awkwardness that ensues after the first night we hang's just not appealing. The most appealing girl I've met so far in the city is the one I talked to at a sound design company about getting jobs in the city and working on tours and all of that. Anyway, I guess I'm just a bit overwhelmed at first. Bars are NOT like this in Penn State or Wilkes-Barre. Every girl is beautiful as well. The city is magnificent. And somehow, there are free drinks any night of the week if you look hard enough.

2. Biking the city is exhilarating. Riding 5th Avenue with traffic, you're right beside taxis and buses. You have to cut around the left sides of cars at intersections, because people will just turn right without signaling. If you hit someone's side view mirror, you better not stop or look back. The Williamsburg bridge is the biggest incline in the city, and the hardest ride in the winter. However, it has the best view of Manhattan, so it kind of makes up for it. Drew got a job as a bike messenger today, so at least one of us has an income. If it comes down to it, I might have to do this too.

3. Dumpster Diving is a lucrative hobby in Brooklyn. We came home with a dozen bagels the other night. We're going again in about thirty minutes. We need bread and produce. Hopefully we can minimize our grocery costs by simply finding out the right time to grab things. is a great site for this, as well as free bike workshops in Brooklyn!

4. If Nate and I can't get a job by the end of the week, desperate measures may have to be taken. We're thinking about jobs on a loading dock or working on a boat, sailing to Europe. Maybe washing skyscraper windows. The audio business is not booming these days. I've applied to over 100 places this month. No responses.

In any case, life is still great. Reading lots of books. Watching lots of movies. Listening to a lot of new music (Dirty Projectors are amazing!), writing lots of cover letters. It's just a waiting game, and I'm not in a bad place to be waiting.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I'm going to do my best to keep EVERY good movie and album off of this blog, because you can always read reviews in newspapers and online critics, etc. However, if a movie really hits me. If it sticks with me for a few days, or inspires, I can't help but mention it here.

Now don't get me wrong, other movies this past year were great. No discredit to The Wrestler, Man On Wire, Slumdog Millionaire, or any of the other amazing films this year. However, Milk takes the cake.

For those of you who don't know, Harvey Milk was an openly gay politician in the 1970's that was successfully elected San Francisco City Supervisor. He pretty much led the gay movement into the public and inspired the marches and oppositions to national anti-homosexual legislation. He was assassinated by fellow supervisor Dan White, along with the mayor of San Francisco

This kind of leader for any type of movement is electrifying. He was able to build a community where homosexuals could feel comfortable, and then gain enough power and voice in that area to demand equal rights. Thousands of people marched the streets of San Francisco, multiple times. He stood up for the one issue he believed in, and triumphed (for a little while, anyway). This wasn't only a victory for the gay community, it was a victory for politics as a whole.

I feel very inspired by this film. I've been watching movies with very powerful central figures, like Che or Man On Wire. Movies where the protagonist has a passionate goal and will stop at nothing to achieve it.

I'm at a point in my life where I need to get that passion back. I had it once, and I now lack a direction or goal. I think I'm waiting around for something to hit me, so I know which way to go. Sometimes politics will creep into my head, but I don't think I have the energy or attitude to get to the top. It's a gruesome game. I'd rather just play music.

Anyway, this is NOT my Oscar post. I will do a top 10 list once I have viewed a majority of the films. Soon, soon!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Drew, Nate, and I sat down today and played music pretty much all day. It's 6:30 and we'll most likely be playing music later as well. It feels good. We're all on the same page, and I haven't felt that way about other musicians in a long time. We're doing a lot of things with acoustic guitars, lots of drums, bongos. Quiet but intense. We want to be able to play subway stations.

I just realized my Mac has this photobooth thing, so I'm going to take this opportunity to post some grainy pictures of our place, if anyone is interested. It's cramped but we love it.

I'll be posting some recordings hopefully when we get some shit together. Life is exciting, even if there's no income.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


January 20th, 2009. 12:32 pm. The inauguration address has just ended. We can now say "President Barack Hussein Obama." At the same time, I am unemployed and things are not looking good. My college degree is utterly worthless and I'm looking at restaurant jobs.

But who can kill the optimism in the air? You can't deny that no matter how bad things are, there's a feeling of electricity never felt before for our generation. No one cared about politics, and many people downright loathed the system. I got my "Worst President Ever" T-shirt in 2003, when I started to realize what was going on. I just couldn't believe people were supporting the actions and programs of George W. Bush.

The viewpoint has completely changed. Bush isn't even relevant anymore, and hasn't been for the last 3 months. Everyone is hopeful. Everyone is excited for the future. Everyone thinks it can only get better from here. Despite the economy. Despite the Middle East. Despite the environment. Despite the education system. Everything is going to improve.

I will never forget the night Obama was elected. We were soldering resistors to the circuit board that would later become the theremin. I had no expectations for victory. I remember a quote from a friend's blog that said:

"if you're in New York, and you vaguely recall some slight issues of voter fraud, and there's an abandoned car on fire down your block, the Repubocons gone done and stoled it again. However, if you see more beer bottles on the street than usual, Obama has won."

I think we all expected defeat. We've been used to it. Remember 2004? It was like someone had died. No one could believe Bush got re-elected. How? After all the screw-ups and the endless war in Iraq, how could he get re-elected? It seemed inevitable that it would happen again.

It must have been around my third rum and coke and 55th resistor that I realized we had won. Not only did Obama win, but our generation won. The country won. The world won. There were about fifteen of us watching the acceptance speech. We all hugged and celebrated. I cried a bit. I don't think anyone could possibly understand what the election meant to younger generations. This was OUR future. This was OUR election. So many people, promising to move to Canada, to Europe, to Asia if McCain had won. This time they were serious. Faith in the United States was depleted. It was embarrassing to be a U.S. citizen. We were bullies. We were arrogant. We were rednecks. We loved guns and beer and fightin' for justice.

We had to cling to satirists like Jon Stewart and Stephan Colbert. We got our gratification from the most scathing attacks on the president. With his level of corruption, it wasn't hard either. There was no hope that ANYTHING we believed in would be supported by the Bush administration. Environmental improvement was useless. Peace in the Middle East? Not a chance. I watched No Child Left Behind dominate my 11th grade English class as the Great Gatsby was eliminated to make room for more practice tests. Unemployment skyrocketed in the last year and a vast majority of my friends had no health insurance. We ALL needed this.

On November 4th, 2008 I cried with everyone. I ran down Atherton Street with Sean and ran into Dave Pfister, crying and waving an American flag. We were patriotic again. We were proud of our country. The president was one of us. He knew what needed to be done and was going to strive to do it. Common sense had won. Science had won. Intelligence had won. Peace had won. We knew it was going to be hard, but we were looking forward to the challenge. We were motivated.

We went to the Phyrst and danced all night. It was true, there would be more beer bottles on the street than usual. It was going to be a great Wednesday morning. Everyone who had been working on this campaign would realize their work had meant something. Everyone I knew who stood on the street for six hours a day, that would amount to a brighter future. Finally, everything we had endured would pay off.

Our generation is taking our place as the relevant force of the country. We will be making the decisions and working for causes we believe in. Our government will hear our voice and our president will work for us. The rest of the world will not look upon us with disdain and anger, but with benevolence and support. It is a uniting moment for everyone. We are now Americans. And damn proud of it.

I know there are many people who do not share this viewpoint. I know there are people, even close friends of mine, who are skeptical. I know there will be people who will attack this entry, saying I am naive, blindly following a man that has yet to prove his worth. He's all personality they'll say. He's inexperienced. This is all true, and he DOES have yet to prove himself. But I am confident that he will. Just wait a few years, and then comment on it. If there's nothing to look forward to, what's the point of hoping?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

There are few books I've read in my life that I consider important to other people. Ishmael is one of them. I thought Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test was one of them. It's not. I thought Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was one of them. It's not. These are simply vaguely describing an emotion and attitude that is nailed down and exposed in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

There is so much to this book that it is a great challenge to actually finish it. But damn, is it rewarding. In short, it is a philosophy lesson mixed into a narrative of a man and his son traveling cross-country on a motorcycle. The concepts touched upon are things I've thought about and killed myself over. The reasons why I couldn't let music go. The reasons I can't get a 9-5 job. The reasons why I struggle with existentialism and living in "the system." It's all laid out here, intelligently and relative to today's mindset. I simply want to touch on some of the concepts that REALLY struck me as I was reading this:

1. Classic vs Romantic Mindset: This can also be described as technical vs aesthetic, structure vs surface appeal, etc. It hammers home the argument that these are NOT separate concepts. The thing that separates the two are the "quality" of the work. If things are manufactured without care or quality, then they are perceived by the consumer as useless or disposable. However, if something is evidently made with "quality" in mind, it is appreciated. Take a homemade mug or chair or table. If something is hand crafted by someone you know personally, it's going to mean a lot more than something put together from a Target box. I think this goes for anything functional. A lot of the time, the surface aesthetic is slapped on with whatever current "style" or "fashion" is relevant, and this is often a cheap way to fake "quality." It's an interesting argument.

2. He does a lot of urban vs rural comparing. Fast people, fast cars, neon signs. I think this argument is presented best at the very end of the novel with this passage:

"The explanation, I suppose, is that the physical distance between people has nothing to do with loneliness. It's psychic distance, and in Montana and Idaho the physical distances are big but the psychic distances between people are small, and here it's reversed.
It's the primary America we're in[the west coast]. It hit the night before last in Prineville Junction and it's been with us ever since. There's this primary America of freeways and jet flights and TV and movie spectaculars. And people caught up in this primary America seem to go through huge portions of their lives without much consciousness of what's immediately around them. The media have convinced them that what's right around them is unimportant. And that's why they're lonely. You see it in their faces. First the little flicker of searching, and then when they look at you, you're just a kind of object. You don't count. You're not what they're looking for. You're not on TV.
But in the secondary America we've been through, of back roads, and Chinaman's ditches, and Appaloosa horses, and sweeping mountain ranges, and meditative thoughts, and kids with pinecones and bumblebees and open sky above us mile after mile after mile, all through that, what was real, what was around us dominated. And so there wasn't much feeling of loneliness. That's the way it must have been a hundred or two hundred years ago. Hardly any people and hardly any loneliness. I'm undoubtedly overgeneralizing, but if the proper qualifications were introduced it would be true."

3. Pirsig puts the quality back in technical work. He talks of the "peace of mind" of finishing a long a grueling technical project, such as the repair of a motorcycle. Or a theremin. Or a bicycle. Or a calculus problem. It's all the same. It's the zen feeling of inner peace, and it's related to an aesthetic that people today do not want to associate with technology. It's not the technology that is in the wrong, it's the mindset.

There is another great quote from this book in my facebook profile. I suggest reading that as well. This book has changed my life. I think it happened at a great point in my life. It fixed a haze of confusion and self-doubt and set me straight on a track of quality and motivation. It's a VERY hard read, but very rewarding. I'm extremely satisfied and kind of have a great peace of mind after reading it. Ha!

Anyway, I need some pulp for a while. That was intense.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why I Won't Set Foot Back in Manhattan Until I Have A Job

Going to Manhattan is an expensive endeavor. First of all, the process of getting there costs $4. Unless you decide to visit separate parts of Manhattan, then it's $8. We decided to check out Union Square, since it's right off of the L and we figured we could get a cup of coffee.

I have been saying that I've never felt out of place in Brooklyn. I never felt that I was in a dangerous part of the city, and I've never felt fear or anxiety. I have, however, felt out of place in Manhattan. Multiple times. Union Square is one of those times. Columbus Circle is another one of those times. People look at you with your beard and your backpack and greasy jeans and give you looks of disdain. What were we doing in Union Square? Obviously not where we belonged.

We went to Eva's in the West Village for some tea and to sort things out. Not a bad place, but still much classier than we wanted. We were looking for a diner run by one dude with tattoos where the coffee was good and people were hospitable. Nate called and we went for sushi.

Yummy Village Sushi was one of the best places we've been so far in the city. 95 Macdougal St in the West Village, the four of us gorged on sushi and sake like we all had an income (Not one of us do). The service was great, they put heat lamps right next to our table and gave us complimentary edamame.

Afterwards we went to 62nd st and Broadway to see Slumdog Millionaire. Unfortunately, after the Golden Globe victories, everyone else is also going to see it. We got tickets for Che:Part 1. Apparently the movie Che is in two parts, both clocking in around 2 hours and 17 minutes. Yikes.

Benicio Del Toro was great. I'm a huge fan of the Motorcycle Diaries, and this sort of picks up where that leaves off. Unfortunately, Part 1 was $11 and we could not afford Part 2.

In any case, we could not afford drinks after that. Subway+Tea+Sushi+Movie = roughly $50. Thanks Manhattan.

Today we are living the opposite life. Drinking out of flasks, staying in Brooklyn, and setting our spending goal at $10/day to make up for yesterday. If I got paid by the cover letter since the beginning of January, I'd have made up the difference by now.

Hire me?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Move Over Radiohead

I will stand by a band that I think has complete and total creative control over music, pushing innovation in both the music and the marketplace. Radiohead, after seven full length albums, the massive success of The Bends and OK Computer, the subsequent departure and masterpieces of Kid A and Amnesiac, and the fantastic pay-if-you-want In Rainbows are still masters of their craft. Even their efforts for independent music and environmentalism are fantastic. Of Radiohead on their recent tour, the Liars said this:

"In a world full of fear and ripe with insincerity its such a relief to have met Radiohead.
They are purveyors of truth, beauty and a moral responsibility to the planet.
We’ve been welcomed with literal open ams and thoroughly schooled
on how to function as a band -not just musically, but ethicly too.
The honor is in learning from the best and from the beginning we’ve been in class.
The important thing for us to make clear is just how awe inspiring this production is.
We’re not sure if there’s any information made public about the efforts
Radiohead go to to reduce their environmental impact.
But, there should be.
At the outset we were all given tour water flasks.
Plastic anything is like contraband.
Every bus and truck runs on bio-fuel.
There is no idling, rather some new-fangled way to deliver electricity cleanly.
They don’t do air-freight either.
The list goes on..
Everything is supremely managed to reduce the ‘footprint’
and it’s inspiring in that its ‘real’ and should set the standard for other big productions.
This all goes beyond the immediate impact of simply
being able to watch these 5 guys perform together each night.
Unlike any band we’ve seen they all contribute such an immense amount to the outcome.
Their extreme individual talents blending so naturally.
To witness this first-hand is an education in musicianship and vision
that’s certainly not been lost on us..
For now, we’d like to send our huge thanks to the Radiohead crew
for being so super crazy nice and supportive to us.
We’ll see them in Spain again for the Daydream Festival
and ofcourse during our West Coast tour with Radiohead in August -
so no tears yet..
We Liars head to Europe now…
following a luxurious 2 day break and will be re-tracing
some of the steps missed due to the euphoria of living in rainbows."

Holy fuck. Radiohead are gods, even from the standpoint of one of the most innovative and experimental bands out there. I've even said Radiohead are the new Beatles. They appeal to everyone, and still continue to push the boundaries of music today. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, and I want to stress that I'm not discrediting Radiohead in ANY way, there's a new contender in the musical arena.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

This album, although I'm still in the first stages of obsession, is one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. It towers over Strawberry Jam and Feels. It unites the quirky, spastic songwriting of Avery Tare with the atmospheric sample-heavy Panda Bear. Animal Collective is truly the next revolutionary wave of music, and this is their Kid A.

I was a slow starter on this group. The first album I heard was Feels, and while I loved it, and Strawberry Jam even more, it wasn't until I saw them at Pitchfork when I realized how truly amazing they are. The live performance complements their music immensely, as you can see by this performance of "Daily Routine."

The lights, the samples, the three members interacting live to push out a complete experience of a song rather than a show. The audience is able to interact rather than watch, and I think that is most important.

Something else I want to emphasize is the true honesty of this band. Take a look at this video of "Purple Bottle" performed by Avery Tare and Kria Brekkan.

Or this performance of "Winter's Love" off of Sung Tongs

I don't want to bore you with a track-by-track review of Merriweather Post Pavillion, but in a nutshell it's my favorite album by Animal Collective. It's a groundbreaking piece of art, our generation's anthem. If you haven't heard it yet, you're missing out. That's all I have to say about it for now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Back to Brooklyn

I've been reading a book lent to me by Brett upon our move into Brooklyn. It is titled “Broke-Ass Stuart's Guide to Living Cheaply in New York City.” Enlightening, eh? The book is useful. It has free food locations, drink specials, cheap deals on clothes and entertainment in various places around Manhattan and Brooklyn. I'm not going into detail about this book, but there are a few quotes at the beginning that have struck me, and I want to comment on them a bit.

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years...”
-Thomas Wolfe

This is true. New York sucks you in, the moment you declare yourself a resident. You're swept up in the tornado of bars, buildings, subways, lights, bodegas, and restaurants. You're suddenly gasping for air as you compete with a million others who are just as good as you or better at music, engineering, Djing, and writing. You come to the realization that you're going to have to take a part-time restaurant job or freelance crew job to just pay the rent. It's both fantastic and difficult. One is not wealthy in New York. However, I think it's the second metaphor from this book that really fascinates me:

“I maintain that, no matter how much you love New York, this city fucking hates you. Don't take it personally; this bitch is just badder than you are. Her game is tighter, her mind is quicker, her swagger is more believable. She's not the one who got away, she's the one you never had a chance of getting, and that's what makes just being near her so exhilarating. I think old Mr. Wolfe was onto something. New York will never be yours; you will always be hers. She's got you pussy-whipped and you fucking know it.”
-Broke-Ass Stuart

I do not think the author of this book is a philosophical genius, but I do think he's correct, and I've never heard it put so eloquently. Drew and I moved to New York without the slightest regard to the above statement, and we got ripped to shreds. I have a subway ticket for $100. I spent $50 on Friday night in one bar in Manhattan. My bank account was drained. Job prospects are SO competitive, that despite my degree and experience, I have not had one reply to the resumes I've sent out. Kelsey and Craig moved to Richmond, VA and we wondered why? New York has so much going on, why would you leave? Well, it's because New York is a cold-hearted bitch. She's expensive and it feels good to have her around, but she doesn't appreciate your company and you won't be missed if you leave.

I am riding back on a Martz bus alone back to the city. I will lug my belongings back to Brooklyn, shower, and try to figure out just HOW to survive the rest of the month in this city. Tomorrow, an Audio Engineering Society meeting with a presentation on the sound system at Camden Yards. I will dress in suit and tie and have a folder full of resumes. Thursday I will attend the MAKE:blog circuit bending meeting in Brooklyn. At the 3rd Ward, the very first place I applied when I got here.

I think my current plan is to work in the city for 2-3 years. My “West Coast by 25” plan is still in effect. After I set into a job, I am going to start looking for grad schools on the west coast. I'd like a masters in Audio Engineering. I think San Francisco is the eventual place for this. So while I'm young and motivated, I'll stick it out in New York, just to say I did it. Just to say I survived, I lived in the Big Apple, and she didn't suck me in permanently.

But until that time, there is still much to see and do. The first ten days were the test. Now it's time to do this for real.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kleeb's Top 10 Albums of 2008

Ahh the legendary end of the year albums list. In years past, this was a well-written lengthy article covering the nuances and details of twenty albums, justifying their place on this list. However, I've come to notice that many of the albums that land in the top five will often fizzle out of memory, while albums near the end of the list will sometimes make a lasting impression, solidifying their place in my music library forever.

Therefore, I'm basing this year's list on the albums I can see myself listening to in the future. I've cut this down to ten, and I hope these ten will be cream of the crop for years to come. Some I've been listening to all year, others I just received a few weeks ago. Due to the theft of my laptop, there are many albums I did not get a chance to listen to. Some of these are DJ/Rupture, Nick Cave, Bon Iver, Portishead, The Bug, Deerhunter, and many more. There are other albums that people got really into that I can't seem to like as much. Frightened Rabbit, M83, No Age, Vampire Weekend, and Crystal Castles were some of these. Regardless, I want to represent the ten best without filler. Here we go:

10.Black Mountain – In The Future

This spot had a lot of candidates. Wolf Parade and The Hold Steady were very close. The Islands new album was good, but not half as good as Return To The Sea. Boris is great, as always, but not impressive enough for the top ten. I was impressed with the new Death Cab, and The Black Keys matured a lot on Attack & Release, but both albums just didn't strike me as much as previous work. However, In The Future by Black Mountain is a great record. Reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, but modern enough to avoid the cheesy aspects of Wolfmother. “Tyrants” is enough to make this album worthwhile, clocking in just over eight minutes. Guitar solos and breakdowns aside, this album is pretty great. It has some class that a lot of modern Zeppelin rip-off bands do not have. However, it is still kind of a Zeppelin rip-off. What can you do.

9.Hercules & Love Affair - Hercules & Love Affair

We're going to take this one with a grain of salt. I try not to jump on this bandwagon of retro-dance bands that are causing people to shuffle their feet and shake their shoulders awkwardly. However, I am a DJ occasionally, and I can tell when something is good enough to get people to dance. This is one such album. There's something about the 80's that is present on this album. There's something about Antony Hegarty's voice (Antony & The Johnsons). There's something about the consistent beat and the horns and the synths that really get to me. It's like someone took the overgrown indie-dance genre and infused it with disco or house and came up with Hercules & Love Affair. However, this album is going to spawn a plethora of spin-offs that will drive this sound into the ground, and in a few years I'll probably delete this album because I just can't stand the style anymore. For the moment, though, I can respect this stuff and I'll consistently DJ it until I'm sick of it.

8.Lindstrøm – Where You Go I Go Too

Last year, The Field's From Here We Go Sublime placed at #19, but continued to be one of my favorite albums for most of 2008. The minimalistic trance was always great music to put on while working, hanging out with friends, cleaning, driving, etc. I would call it the dawn of my interest in background music. Lindstrøm works in this vein as well, except with a little bit more punch. Where You Go I Go Too is only three tracks, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes, but it grows and flows in ways the Field does not. Where From Here We Go Sublime broke into different patterns and tracks, Lindstrøm keeps his beat going, embracing a house-style fusion of disco and trance. Where The Field was not quite upbeat enough to play at any dance party I was DJing, Lindstrøm will hold his own among the modern disco hipsters, eager for a synthesizer and a pulsing beat. It is difficult to say one is better than the other, since I have yet to delve deeper into this album, but I am sure this will be a consistent play well into 2009.

7.Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Surprise! The Fleet Foxes land on every year-end list for good reason. I even came into this album with a bias against folky, reverb-heavy vocals (see: Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket, The Shins). After hearing “White Winter Hymnal” 800 times, I was sure I was going to get sick of this one. Not so. This one just keeps getting better, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the amazing harmonies. Maybe it's the songwriting. In any case, this stuff is addicting. I can't get enough of it, and even “White Winter Hymnal” is still good, 800 times later.

6.Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing

I heard this album a few times and wrote it off as a wall-of-mediocre-sound. I think it took a live performance in Chicago at Pitchfork Music Festival to truly appreciate what this duo was doing. This is a new breed of music. Laptops meet various types of synthesizers and MIDI controllers, mixed with gameboy samples and children's toy microphones. “Ribs Out” combines an eerie delayed vocal scream with an interesting percussive beat on a floor tom and random hardware. However, the majestic element of this band is the crushing atmospheric sound exhibited on the opener “Sweet Love For Planet Earth.” The swells and drawn-out pulses of feedback are what drives this album, and it must be listened to in full. The only complaint I have is the performance – exactly the same as the album. I guess you can't do much when you're working with all samples, but I'm interested to see what this duo is going to come up with next.

5.Sigur Rós – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

There are a few things I can count on in life. My Nissan Altima will never break down, Israel and Palestine will always be at war, and Sigur Rós will always put me to sleep. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. 2002's ( ) is one of the most majestic and beautiful albums I've ever heard. Well, at least the first four songs are. I'm usually out by the fifth. But hey, it always helps to have those bands around. Films like Vanilla Sky and The Life Aquatic wouldn't be nearly as breathtaking without Sigur Rós, so let's give their new album a shot. And in it rolls! Holy shit is this Animal Collective? Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust blasts off with “Gobbledigook,” a jangly percussive track, driven by acoustic guitars and hand claps. The tempo is about forty times what we're used to, and perhaps this time Sigur Rós has taken off in a new direction. They follow this with the glockenspiel-heavy “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur,” complete with horns. However, it seems after the sprawling “Festival” (which would have made a great ender, in my opinion), the band reverts back to their old method. I hardly ever make it through “Ára bátur,” complete with a single vocal and piano line for almost ten minutes. Again, not that this is a bad thing. This is the Sigur Rós we're used to. At least this album shows a lot of promise for the future.

4.TV on the Radio – Dear Science

When I first heard this album, it was the best thing I've ever heard. The second time, it was the best album of 2008. Then it was second best. I wasn't sure why. I think it's the lack of those powerful elements that made 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain so groundbreaking. The driving pace of “Wolf Like Me,” the percussion of “Let The Devil In,” and the aura of “I Was A Lover” are absent from this album. I think it's maybe the angst that is gone. Dear Science is based around “Golden Age,” a time where Obama is president, things are looking optimistic, and the songwriting seems a bit forced. The lyrics are a bit questionable on “Lover's Day” and “Red Dress.” Even my favorite track “Crying” is reminiscent of Prince. Regardless, it's still a great album, but it could have been better. “Family Tree” is a beautiful song. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on in “DLZ” and “Shout Me Out.” I guess I was looking for something on par with Cookie Mountain, and Dear Science seems to just fall short a bit.

3.Spiritualized – Songs in A&E

A front-runner for 2008 since its debut in January, this album is great from beginning to end. I guess it was the right place, right time. I had just rediscovered Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space and was eagerly awaiting a follow-up. The performance at Pitchfork was enough to convince me, with gospel singers on “Soul on Fire” and a very Kill The Lights-esque ending that involved J Spaceman kicking his half stack over and throwing his guitar. The whimsical “Baby, I'm Just A Fool” starts off with a tropical-island xylophone melody. The foreboding “Borrowed Your Gun” is a depressing insight into Spaceman's childhood. In fact, since this entire album was written on his death bed, it's easy to see how Songs in A&E is full of layered emotion and orchestration. A beautiful record indeed.

2.Amadou & Mariam – Welcome to Mali

I know, this is a risky pick at #2, but I'm going to stand by it. I just got this album a few weeks ago, but in a weak year for music, I think this album can hold its own at #2. I don't know much about Amadou & Mariam, but here is what I've learned: They are blind. They are traditional African music, very rhythmic. Much of the album is produced by Damon Albarn. Yeah, THAT Damon Albarn. Plus, this is an albums list, and this is an album I can enjoy thoroughly from beginning to end. It is as if someone took traditional African music, with lots of chanting choruses and driving percussion and added a Western guitar player with a hint of American pop music. I'll admit, there are a few cheesy parts of this album that seem like they were suggested by Justin Timberlake, but these are overshadowed by an overwhelmingly accessible African sound, with traditional instruments involved in a modern, Western project. This truly is the East meets West mashup. Finally, musicians who are rooted in a traditionally communal music culture competing with the producers and pop stars of the West. Maybe Amadou & Mariam will be household names by their next album.

1.The Dodos – Visiter

Of course. The only album that firmly cemented itself as a mainstay of 2008. The only album I can truly say is the best album of the year. The one that was left off of almost every critics' list. The album I introduced to friends who obsessed over it as much as I did. The album that salvaged 2008 from a year of mediocrity. The Dodos. Two guys from San Francisco. Drums and acoustic guitar. Simple. Rhythmically, it's outstanding. Logan Kroeber on drums, with a history of metal bands. Meric Long on guitar, with training in West African Ewe drumming (do we see a pattern here?) As a drummer, this album is groundbreaking. The time signatures change multiple times throughout songs. Tempos speed up and slow down and break into chaos before emerging again in a new pattern. All the while, vocals are split between angelic melodies and reverb-and-distortion heavy screams. And the best part? There are no breaks on this album. Each song flows into the next, so seamlessly and smooth. The opening track “Walking” showcases a mandolin and guitar duet before exploding into “Red and Purple,” a rhythmic orgasm. I could spend at least five more paragraphs dissecting the rest of this album, from the genius of “Fools” to the two-part “Joe's Waltz,” complete with a driving blues guitar. The melancholy “Winter” is followed by the anthemic “It's That Time Again.” This album is a masterpiece, and I'm sure anyone I've introduced to it will say the same. Give this one a shot, it's the sleeper of the year.

For such a great year in music in 2007, 2008 was pretty weak. If you want to suggest any music I may have overlooked, I'll gladly listen to it or tell you why it wasn't included. Otherwise, thank god for 2009. Merriweather Post Pavillion is already one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. Look for a separate post addressing this album once I hear it a few more times.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Brooklyn Day 10: I'm Broke

Time for a refueling in Wilkes-Barre and a minute to size up the NYC situation. Yes, I blew through roughly $600 (counting rent!) since I've been here. No, I still do not have a job. I went to the AES (Audio Engineering Society) headquarters yesterday to get some contact info, so hopefully next week will involve a job offer of a high-paying audio engineering job. Either that or I keep biking the city and blowing all my money on PBR.

That said, I'm going to do a little write-up on some bars we've been to in both Williamsburg and the Lower East Side. Pretty different scenes, financially and socially, but both great in their own way.


Union Pool (484 Union Ave):

The bar everyone loves to hate but can't stop going back to. We went here New Year's Eve and saw a brass band play on the bar. There's a taco truck in the back and a bonfire outside. I've been to this bar every time I visited NYC since I've been 21. Everyone is looking to get laid, and they're not afraid of rejection. Union Pool is an experience, and I think everyone that visits should go at least once.

The Lazy Catfish (593 Lorimer St):

Brooklyn is known for brunch. Pay $15-$20 for a humongous breakfast accompanied by free Bloody Marys or Mimosas. The Lazy Catfish will give you THREE free drinks with your brunch, ensuring your Sunday morning hangover is cancelled out with Sunday afternoon drunkenness. Oh did I mention FREE PBR's on Tuesdays? No cover? Yeah, Tuesday is the new Saturday. How many beers can you drink between 8:30-10? The answer: You never remember.

Matchless (557 Manhattan Ave):

Oh yeah, Matchless has a great two-for-one deal on Tuesday nights as well, and it's as many blocks from the Lazy Catfish as the number of beers you had. Everyone is pretty social in the patio too. I had a great time here. Although we tried to walk home after these two bars and failed, despite being roughly 5 blocks from home.

Harefield Road (769 Metropolitan Ave):

This is a relaxing atmosphere. Great brunch, but only one free drink. I suspect this place will be nicer in the summertime, when more people will utilize the enormous outdoor seating area. Not too busy, but very close to our place.

Legion (790 Metropolitan Ave):

Legion is your friendly neighborhood Brooklyn bar. It's right around the corner, affordable, and I've already danced the night away here. Did I mention that former Wilkes-Barre residents seem to just roll into this joint as if it's Donahue's?

The Levee (212 Berry St):

The Levee might be the best Williamsburg bar. Let's review. $5 for a beer and a shot. $1-$4 for veggie sloppy joes, veggie burgers, hot dogs, you-name-it amazing drunk food. Since all bars are open til 4 am, so is the food. There seem to also be endless cheese puffs and an amazing selection of board games including Sorry and Jenga. It's kind of a hike (or a hop on the L) but well worth it.

Rosemary's Greenpoint Tavern (188 Bedford Ave):

Oh. Man. Cheap. $3.50 for a 32 oz styrofoam cup full of beer. Smack dab in the middle of Bedford Ave, this place was the hip joint for the jobless. We pretty much drank at Rosemary's for 3 hours before our night at the Levee.

Bushwick Country Club (618 Grand St):

The bike bar. I don't remember much about this bar, but I had a great time here. There may have been some good drink special. I really don't know. Lots of intense bikers around.

There's a bunch of other places we've been meaning to hit in Brooklyn. The Alligator Lounge gives you a free personal pizza with EVERY DRINK! We also want to explore Bedford Ave a bit more, when we get some cash. There's a hoppin scene down there. Anyway, on to Manhattan! The main reason for my lack of cash.

The Lower East Side

The Lit Lounge (93 2nd Ave):

One of the best bars I've ever been to in my life. Two separate bars, upstairs and downstairs. The dance floor was hoppin all night, and although the Buds were $4 (which is standard LES rate), people somehow managed to smoke inside. Maybe it's all the incense stuck to the walls. Maybe it's that people just don't give a fuck and are dancing to Grizzly Bear remixes followed by Nirvana. Just, whatever you do, remember there's a $20 minimum for opening a tab. So don't open one at 3 am.

Fat Baby (112 Rivington St):

Drew, Nick Casaldi, and I were sitting at a table here when some girls just threw a napkin at us with their phone number on it. This place, although we went here on a Wednesday, is set up to be an amazing dancing bar. Want to get loaded and dance? This is the place. Bouncer was a riot as well. All I remember is that beers were $1 after Nick kissed the bartender (who was a dude).

Pianos (158 Ludlow St):

Pianos is a classy establishment. That said, we probably won't be going back here much. I've heard it's a great place to see bands. We heard some good music while we were there (new Animal Collective album is fantastic, if you haven't heard it by now), but it was expensive. If there's a band I want to see, I'll check it out. Otherwise, probably not.

Mars Bar (25 E 1st St):

YES! Imagine the oldest bar you've ever been in, covered completely in graffiti and stickers, with a mixture of young and old sitting around the bar. This is the dirtiest, cheapest dive bar in Manhattan (so far). I can see myself frequenting this place a lot.

Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St):

Not really counting this as a bar, but seeing as there IS a bar inside, I guess I'll have to count it. Upstairs: record store, vegan cafe, coffee shop, wi-fi. Downstairs: bands playing, full bar, etc. Coffee shop is open til 2 am, which means if you need a break from your night out to grab a coffee, the Cake Shop is right in the middle of everything. I'll be hitting this place often, but probably mostly during the day.

So that does it. We didn't eat out much. Went to Kate's Joint (58 Avenue B) in LES for some vegan sandwiches. They have an all vegan menu with things like Turkey Clubs, Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches, and Meatloaf. Got some falafel from a vendor on Broadway. Biked Manhattan a lot. Went to brunch twice. Trembler came up last night and her parents took us out to dinner at Patsy's (236 W 5th St - amazing Italian food) and to see Jersey Boys, the play about the Four Seasons.

I am currently back in the 'barre, dropping my heap of a car off and getting some more food and money to make it at least another 2 weeks in New York. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 5, 2009

No Sleep Til Brooklyn

Brooklyn Day 5:

I've spent upwards of $150 in the first 5 days of living in New York. Drinks are all about $3-$5. Brunch is spectacular, but runs a hefty $15 (including the free Bloody Mary!). Hardware Stores, Laundromats, Fresh Produce, and Bike Stores are all around the corner. We've been out almost every night to a different bar in Brooklyn, and they're all pretty rad.

That said, let me tell you a bit about my neighborhood:

We all know Williamsburg, the hipster capital of the world. We are on the very very eastern edge of Williamsburg. You may have also heard of Bushwick, an up and coming neighborhood, which Nick Casaldi describes as having only $1 stores and bodegas. Apparently, there is a great bar called Goodbye Blue Monday in Bushwick that I am looking to check out soon. We are on the very northern edge of Bushwick. We aren't really a part of either neighborhood. We have a building near us that looks eerily similar to the Murray Complex in Wilkes-Barre. Everyone that has been living here or around here is in some way related to Wilkes-Barre, so we've been referring to our slice of New York as Wilkesburg. Who knows if that will catch on.

The Legion and Harefield Road are two bars near us. Harefield Road has the killer brunch. Legion is a great hole in the wall. Launchpads, if you will, for a night out. I enjoy both of them immensely.

Last night, Nick Casaldi took Drew, Brett, and I out to Bedford Ave. We hit the Levee, a sweet bar with board games and veggie sloppy joes. Every place is freakin expensive. Bedford Ave seems great though.

The job hunt is not going so well. Electrical Engineering jobs are few and far between in the city. I'm looking into private tutoring or sound jobs for bars. Eking out an existence to pay rent and earn enough for some black beans and rice.

Our basement is great. It's very cozy. I enjoy living here, despite the mouse and rumors of cockroaches, and the 3 foot hole (no joke!) under our bathroom sink. In case we need to store a dead body or something. If one of us goes missing, you know where to find us.

Anyway, it's time to bike Manhattan. Brooklyn is a joke. If you can bike State College, you can bike Brooklyn. This is serious though. I should probably think about health insurance.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kleeb's Top 25 Songs of 2008

Up until this year, this list used to be the top 100. However, my Macbook was recently stolen and I have fallen behind on current music. 100 songs also seems illogical, as a simple playlist can be made out of 25, and it is the cream of the crop.

1. Sigur Ros - Gobbledigook
2. The Mountain Goats - Sax Rohmer #1
3. The Dodos - Walking/Red and Purple
4. Spiritualized - Soul on Fire
5. El Guincho - Palmitos Park
6. Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
7. Animal Collective - Water Curses
8. Wolf Parade - Kissing the Beehive
9. Amadou & Mariam - Ce N'est Pas Bon
10. The Dodos - Fools
11. Sigur Ros - Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur
12. MGMT - Electric Feel
13. Amadou & Mariam - Sabali
14. Fleet Foxes - Your Protector
15. Black Mountain - Tyrants
16. M83 - Kim & Jessie
17. TV on the Radio - Crying
18. The Hold Steady - Sequestered in Memphis
19. Animal Collective - Street Flash
20. MGMT - Time To Pretend
21. Magnetic Fields - California Girls
22. Fuck Buttons - Sweet Love for Planet Earth
23. Hercules & Love Affair - Hercules' Theme
24. Beach House - Gila
25. Islands - The Arm

Top 10 Albums on the way!

Kleeb Graduates College

Welcome to Kleeb Verses the World. This blog will be a mostly urban, socially progressive, musically-influenced viewpoint that will follow my activities following my graduation from Penn State University. I used to post to Live Journal in high school, with a tendency to make lists or long editorials about any relevant subject to that point in my life. My old posts can be found at

Since it seems that Blogspot is more mature (and convenient), I decided to retire LiveJournal and continue blogging here. I recently moved to Brooklyn on New Year's Eve, 2008. I am living in the basement of an apartment in Bushwick with Drew. We have no jobs. We have drums, guitars, and bikes. We've been living on little food and scouring Craigslist religiously for free furniture and job opportunities.

The coming years of my life are going to be wild. I do not plan on getting a "career" any time soon, so long as I can pay my college loans and eke out an existence. So if you care to keep tabs on me, this is the place. If you care to check out my cooking blog, it is It hasn't been updated in a while. If you care to check out an interesting music blog, check out I post to that occasionally as well. Other than that, everything will happen here. New life. New city. 2009.