Bishop Allen Interview

Originally published in Boyd Street Magazine on October 21st, 2008.

Indie rock band Bishop Allen may be from Brooklyn, but they still have a large Norman connection. They play at the Opolis quite often, they’ve recorded at Blackwatch Studios and have even toured with local favorites the Starlight Mints.

“I really like Norman, we know a lot of people there and we always have really great and fun shows there.” said singer/guitarist Justin Rice. “When we were recording down there, we were there for like three weeks, and it was freezing cold and there was this huge ice storm. We were pretty much just stranded in the studio. I always picture Norman coated in like a hockey rink of ice.”

The band is currently putting the finishing touches on their as-yet-untitled new album, which is due out on Dead Oceans Records early next year. Rice said the new album will be quite different from last year’s The Broken String and be more along the lines of their debut full-length, Charm School.

“We just felt like making songs that were upbeat, energetic, had a sense of humor, and that were fun. It’s got pep. It’s kind of like “Charm School,” but I think it’s much better,” said Rice. “I think we wanted to get away from anything that felt heavy-handed or melodramatic, and just get back to songs that had a sort of vivacity, but were also kind of understated.”

The band has spent most of 2008 recording and working on other projects and has barely toured at all. Rice said that they are quite excited to be getting back out on tour.

“We toured a lot last year, and there is certain point at the end of a tour when you feel you’ve just played your songs to death. So we were really excited to get off the road and write new songs, and now that we have them, we’re just excited to get out and play them. It’s really fun when something’s fresh,” said Rice. “I’m hoping we’ll be able to play somewhere between half and all these new songs.”

Fans can currently see Bishop Allen make an appearance in the recent Michael Cera film “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.” Rice said that they got involved in the project back when it was still in development.

“Apparently the film’s director, Peter Sollett, wanted a bunch of New York bands to be in the movie, so he was going to shows to check things out. He saw us, liked us, and got us involved very early on,” said Rice. “At that point we didn’t even know Michael Cera was involved, we just knew that Peter Sollett directed Raising Victor Vargus, which is an amazing film.”

Rice said that filming the movie was an incredibly fun and out of the ordinary experience for the band.

“We treated it just like a normal show. We just brought our equipment and played, except there were a ton of extras and this huge movie crew,” said Rice. “We wound up hanging out with the cast, and even played Tiger Woods golf with Michael Cera in his trailer.”

Rice has also been involved in quite a number of other film projects, including starring roles in Andrew Bujalski’s critically acclaimed films Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation. He completed three films earlier this year, including one with director Bob Byington, that are set to hit the film festival circuit early next year.

To many, Bishop Allen is considered a sort of “blog band,” as they receive a ton of coverage on the various indie rock blogs. Rice thinks that those blogs have had an overwhelmingly positive effect on the band.

“There is definitely a large contingent of people out there that read those blogs, and I think it’s pretty cool that those things still exist as like an alternative to the kind of codified, mainstream media. There is something very anarchic about them,” said Rice. “Any kid can start a blog. I met a lot of the people who run those blogs back when they were just like a kid with a computer, and now it’s grown into something else.”

Bishop Allen will be performing at the Opolis with An Horse and Electric Owls on November 5th.
Originally published in Boyd Street Magazine on October 21st, 2008.

It’s been nearly three years since we’ve last heard a proper album from Ben Folds, but his new album, Way to Normal, was certainly worth the wait.

Way to Normal finds the perfect balance between the more humorous material on Rockin’ the Suburbs and his somber side on Saving Silverman while still managing to come across as a completely honest and natural progression of his solo career. The album is heavy on relationship songs, from the purposefully misogynistic “Bitch Went Nuts” to the he said/she said dynamic of his duo with Regina Spektor, “You Don’t Know Me,” but they never delve into the cliché and are done in the sincere yet ironic way one would expect from Folds.

The opening track “Hiroshima” tells the story of when Folds hit his head and suffered a concussion while on stage in Japan and is chock full of the self-deprecating humor and wit that makes Folds so likable. It’s on this song that Folds sings “They’re watching me fall,” and while that may be true in the literal sense within the story, it couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to his career and the quality of his material.
Originally published in Boyd Street Magazine on October 21st, 2008.

Terrible band name pun aside, Dear and the Headlights released an under-heard folk rock gem last year in Small Steps, Heavy Hooves. Their followup, Drunk Like Bible Times, seems like a retread of their debut, albeit with cleaner production and a tighter sound.

On the first track, “I’m Not Crying, You’re Not Crying, Are You?” the band slowly builds through the verses only to explode during the chorus, which sets the template for how most of the songs on the album operate. Right away the folksy guitar tones and riffs from Heavy Hooves are very much present here too, as are the stomping keys and vocal melodies. It’s all just a bit too familiar. It’s not until the closing song, “I Know,” that the band really mixes it up. The tune starts off slow and somber but by it’s end it’s almost party-like with it’s hand-claps and gang vocals.

Drunk Like Bible Times
features strong songwriting and musicianship in catchy, memorable songs, it’s just a shame that the band didn’t try to deviate from their debut a bit more.

Originally published in Boyd Street Magazine on October 21st, 2008.

With the current political climate and upcoming election, it’s no surprise that many musicians are looking towards the news to gain inspiration. After witnessing the violence at the Republican National Convention last month, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists sprung to action by quickly recording and releasing the 4-song digital EP, “Rapid Response.” All the proceeds from the EP go directly to the charity groups Democracy Now! and Food Not Bombs.

“Rapid Response” really downplays Leo’s indie-pop side in favor of a more lo-fi, old-school protest punk sound. It starts with the incredibly catchy “Paranoia (Never Enough),” which features a “Born to be Wild”- like guitar riff that works perfectly within the context of the song. This track is certainly the highlight of the EP. The slow-burning “Mourning in America” comes next, which discusses race as a campaign issue. The EP is rounded out by two cover songs, Cock Sparrer’s “I Got Your Number” and Amebix’s “Nobody’s Driving.” Both covers fit perfectly with the theme of the release.

This release doesn’t quite live up to the past few Ted Leo releases, but given the circumstances of the release and cause, it’s still well worth picking up.

"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" Review

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on October 3rd, 2008.


Michael Cera was undoubtedly great in “Arrested Development.” He also was great in “Superbad” and “Juno,” but it’s safe to say he played essentially the same shy, aloof character in all three projects. In “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” Cera once again plays that same character, only this time it’s in a mediocre movie.

If the title didn’t make it completely apparent, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” focuses on two teenagers. Nick is an aspiring indie rocker who can’t quite get over his ex, and Norah is a lonely rich girl who is constantly being ridiculed and taken advantage of by her friends.

The entire film takes place in one New York City night, and tells the story of Nick and Norah’s crazy adventure in finding Norah’s best friend. Along they way they are all trying to find the location of their favorite band’s secret performance. During the course of the night, they run into Norah’s pseudo boyfriend, see Brooklyn band Bishop Allen and even check out a drag queen show.

The filmmakers seem to be aiming for a sort of “After Hours” for modern teens, but director Peter Sollett is no Martin Scorsese and the film falls way short. It is littered with terrible romantic-comedy clichés, bad gay jokes and tasteless gross-out humor.

Indie rock is a prominent part of the film, but it never really feels authentic. It’s doubtful the filmmakers really care about the music they are featuring. Instead, they seem to just be using it for the sake of marketing. The indie rock angle helps obscure the fact that this is really just another bland teen comedy.

If you, like most of the film’s targeted teen demographic, aren’t expecting any sort of originality and are OK with the obvious homogenization of indie rock, you’ll probably enjoy the film. But for everyone else, it’s a no-go.

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on October 3rd, 2008.


If their name didn’t make it completely apparent, color is an important factor to Stillwater band Colourmusic.

Lead singer Roy Biv claims to be a descendent of Isaac Newton and writes songs based on Newton’s Theory of Color. Biv also claims to have a rare disorder called sythenasia in which he sees music visually in the form of colors. Whether any of that is true is irrelevant, as it has clearly had a huge impact on the band’s identity.

A great deal of hype has been built up around the band as of late, thanks in no small part to the band’s involvement with the Flaming Lips’ management company, World’s Fair.

That involvement has not only gotten the band opening slots for the Flaming Lips, but also for other World’s Fair bands like British Sea Power. World’s Fair and Great Society Records have just released Colourmusic’s debut full-length recording, “f, monday, orange, february, lunatic, 1 or 13.”

The album is filled with chant-like choruses and a strong Brit-pop vibe. It’s all very light-hearted, catchy and fun. But it’s also quite repetitive. Many of the songs sound alike, and after a few listens, the album’s shallowness is apparent.

Those familiar with the band will already know a number of these songs. The majority of the songs featured on the album have been released on their previous “Red” and “Yellow” EPs. Though these songs have been re-recorded, they still sound much the same.

“F, monday, orange, february, lunatic, 1 or 13” is a fun ride while it lasts, but it doesn’t really give the listener much reason to revisit it.