All posts by CajunTomato

I am a 29-year-old New Yorker from the bayou. I write about the city that never sleeps, live music, and other kinds of mischief.

Against Me! and Our Post-Sellout World

I am a Mountain Dew-sponsored hand model. Yes, I am.

I am a Mountain Dew-sponsored hand model. Yes, I am.

Two Saturdays ago, I found myself standing under a high, unrelenting afternoon sun in a glorified parking lot in Williamsburg, some lab-invented concoction called a Mountain Dew Kickstart Limeade in my hand, waiting for Florida punks Against Me! and Our Post-Sellout World to start. I mention Mountain Dew because its Green Label put on the free show at Northside Fest in Brooklyn, offering complimentary energy drinks, soft drinks and water to fans. Meanwhile, boozehounds had to pay for alcohol because this is America.

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Dear South Carolina: Remove the Confederate Flag ASAP

Photo credit: Charleston Post and Courier.

Photo credit: Charleston Post and Courier.

As pieces of cloth go the Confederate flag is a reprehensible piece of seditious shit, a treasonous, blood-soaked embodiment of fear, ignorance and hate and an example of man’s most brutish tendencies winning over his shared humanity. Those who argue for the flag’s tradition, heritage and rebel spirit 150 years after the South lost the Civil War are, in essence, vouching for the enslavement, murder and torture that occurred in the flag’s name. This includes the cowards who call themselves leaders in the state of South Carolina.

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Favorite Albums 2015 Halftime Edition

On Carrie and Lowell, Sufjan's search for meaning in the wake of his estranged mom's death is arguably his finest work in a superlative career.

On Carrie and Lowell, Sufjan’s search for meaning in the wake of his estranged mom’s death is arguably his finest work in a superlative career.

Today marks the third and final installment of Listicles Week – my Favorite Albums 2015 Halftime Edition. Be sure to check out my Favorite Concerts and Favorite Songs lists too.

2015 will be remembered in music critic circles as the Twenty-Teens best year, I predict. Yeah, only half the year is in the books but what a half-year. Sufjan Stevens and Kendrick Lamar dropped classics, Sleater-Kinney and Bjork returned with a vengeance and Alabama Shakes, Florence + The Machine and Drake cemented their commercial standing with critically adored records. Plus Courtney Barnett and Leon Bridges performed like seasoned vets not album rooks.

And the year’s second half looks filthy. The promise of scheduled releases from personal faves Disclosure, Frank Ocean, Jason Isbell, Miguel, Tame Impala and Titus Andronicus (to name a few) in the next few months are making my ears salivate – yes, that’s a thing.

That’s one way of saying I might have to rip up my Favorite Albums 2015 Halftime Edition list in short order. For the time being these are my favorite albums released thus far.

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Favorite Songs 2015 Halftime Edition

Where does Kendrick Lamar rank on the list? Photo Credit: Henning Heide

Where does Kendrick Lamar rank on the list? Photo Credit: Henning Heide

Today is Part Two of Listicles Week featuring my Favorite Songs 2015 Halftime Edition. Tomorrow I will name my favorite albums of 2015 (so far).

Below are my 40 favorite songs of 2015 (so far). At the bottom you’ll find a Spotify playlist featuring most of the songs. Also, be sure to check out my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition too. Enjoy!

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Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition

His skills with the mic, both singing into it and upheaving it, earned soul goodwill ambassador Charles Bradley a spot on my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition. Photo: CajunTomato

His skills with the mic, both singing into it and upheaving it, earned soul goodwill ambassador Charles Bradley a spot on my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition. Photo: CajunTomato

Listicles Week starts today with my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition – a list comprised solely of NYC shows I’ve attended for free (the only kind of shows I’ve seen this year). I will drop my Favorite Songs and Albums of 2015 later this week.

In the meantime here are my 10 favorite concert performances of the year listed in alphabetical order according to the artist’s first name. Click the performer’s name to read my original review. Enjoy!

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Photos: Charles Bradley at World’s Fair Anniversary Festival

Flap your wings, Screamin' Eagle of Soul.

Flap your wings, Screamin’ Eagle of Soul.

NYC-based soul dynamo and noted “Victim of Love” Charles Bradley performed Sunday during the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. The 66-year-old “Screamin’ Eagle of Soul” played from his two records, No Time for Dreaming and Victim of Love, surrounded by guitars, horns, keys and percussion players, shimmied, shook and crawled on the stage and shared insight into his transformation from being homeless and on death’s door less than a decade ago to a celebrated musician traveling the world with his band, The Extraordinaires. As in the other times I’ve witnessed Bradley, I came away from his Queens performance convinced the love and joy he manifests on-stage is a rare, beautiful and important force in music today. His spirit touched me.

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Middle America Hates My Household

The lower Manhattan skyline, as seen from the Staten Island ferry, is much more beautiful than my front door. Photo cred: Me.

The lower Manhattan skyline, as seen from the Staten Island ferry, is much more beautiful than my front door. Photo cred: Me.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 57 titled “Middle America Hates My Household” riffs on a thought I had the other day while watching my landlord show me to open our new door lock.

Middle America hates my household, is terrified of it, wants to bomb and shame its inhabitants. OK, I admit maybe not my literal address in Queens, but rather people who look like the men, women and children who reside in our narrow slice of a two-story brick rowhouse, worship the same old gods as them and obsessively watch and critique RuPaul’s Drag Race like them.

This epiphany struck me last week while watching my landlord’s step-by-step tutorial on how to open our new front door lock. Just press in on the door as you turn the key, Mohammad repeated, loudly, as if reciting winning lotto numbers. I stared at the crown of his bald brown head, gray and black hairs cloaking the sides, as he pressed on the door. The wooden door opened and I saw his door in front of me, a square piece of cloth with Arabic written on it hanging in the door’s center. Truth is, I kind of hated Mohammad at that instant too. Not because he was Muslim, but because he believed me incapable of opening his new lock – the one he purchased after the old lock stopped turning and locked me inside the house. I nodded when he asked me if I understood his teachings, walked through the open front door and inserted my keys into the inside door to the left of his – the one to the upstairs where my gay dance choreographer roommate and I reside.

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Concert Review: Radiation City @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Lizzy Ellison (right) and Randy Bemrose of Radiation City perform Friday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Photo: Me

Lizzy Ellison (right) and Randy Bemrose of Radiation City perform Friday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Photo: Me

Three years since I left Portland for NYC, the former city’s late-night food truck excursions, karaoke make-out sessions and forever gray, forever drizzly winters seem remote like a hazy memory of an ex-lover’s touch. On Friday night inside Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Portland-based timeless pop/rock act Radiation City unlocked past glories/misadventures on Hoyt, Burnside, Belmont and many other streets and intersections whose names I forget. Of course these memories existed a continent away, if not a lifetime, but for the band’s half-hour set all of these ghosts felt present in one room.

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My Monolingual Love of Christine and The Queens’ “Saint Claude”

The music of Christine and the Queens, nee Heloise Letissier, excites me despite the fact I have no idea what she is singing.

The music of Christine and the Queens, nee Heloise Letissier, excites me despite the fact I have no idea what she is singing.

Somewhere along my journey from the bayou to the Big Apple I failed Madames Naquin, Orillion and Benoit. The conversational French I learned under their tutelage over six years in middle school, high school and college gradually washed away like my native south Louisiana’s wetlands, leaving me a stereotypical monolingual American. In my limited encounters with French-speaking tourists in New York City I’ve tried to resurrect the faint heartbeat of my ancestral language, often to their puzzlement, amusement or both. Same goes for when girlfriends, noting my Cajun heritage, request I speak the language of amour, a request more seductive in theory than practice. After all, it’s hard to seduce someone when your language mastery sounds like Quasimodo looks. Il est pas beau, as the French say.

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Cloud Nothings’ NYU Show Presents Delicious Rock’N’Roll Irony

Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings performs Friday at NYU's Strawberry Festival.

Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings performs Friday at NYU’s Strawberry Festival.

On Friday afternoon under a tent erected across the street from a ginormous strawberry shortcake Cleveland dystopian rock trio Cloud Nothings inspired one of the most delicious ironies I’ve witnessed in New York City. The small band of NYU students gathered in front of the impromptu stage – god bless ‘em and their overpriced educations – shouted along with Dylan Baldi lines like “I thought I would be more than this” and “No future, no past” with the gusto of true believers during the band’s Strawberry Festival headlining gig. I mean, if they identify this strong with Baldi’s words at 20 or 21, good luck when they find themselves struggling to stay afloat in the job market, while tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

But for one afternoon everything was cakey, noisey and sublime.

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