nzmattis's Blog

Forget the Grammys: Haiti Benefit Show in 'Cuse Sunday

The Wescott hosts a Haiti benefit show on the day of the Grammys.

If you missed the Haiti benefit show at Funk N' Waffles last night (a likely scenario because the place was absolutely packed), there's still time to support the relief effort and support some local acts.

The Wescott is hosting a Haiti Benefit show beginning at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday, 2/1).  Acts for the afternoon include Joe Driscoll, former SU Lacrosse star Mike Powell, Just Joe, Feeding Affliction, Fazeshift, Ryan Coughlin, Roman Revival, The Score, Juice Break and Animal Pants. The lineup spans everything from Hip Hop to Folk, Funk to Metal so more reason than simply charity to attend. 

If you're worried about missing tomorrow night's big Grammys broadcast, don't be. Fellow Otto-Tune blogger Jett Wells and I have picked the major category winners for you below to eliminate all the suspense (winner will certainly have major bragging rights on the next Otto-Tune podcast).



Record: "Halo" by Beyonce | "I Got A Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas | "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon | "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga | "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift

Jett: "Poker Face" |  Nate: "I Got A Feeling"

Album: Lady Gaga | Beyonce | Black Eyed Peas | Dave Matthews Band | Taylor Swift

Jett: Gaga | Nate: Beyonce

Song: "Pretty Wings" by Maxwell | "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon | "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga | "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift | "Single Ladies" by Beyonce

Jett: "Poker Face" | Nate: "You Belong With Me"


New Artist: MGMT | Keri Hilson | Zac Brown Band | Silverspun Pickups | The Ting Tings

Both: MGMT

Alternative Album: Phoenix | Death Cab For Cutie | YYY | Byrne & Eno | Depeche Mode

Jett: Phoenix | Nate: Byrne & Eno

Rap Solo Performance
: "D.O.A" by  Jay-Z | "Best I Ever Had" by Drake | "Day N Nite" by Kid Cudi | "Casa Bey" by Mos Def | "Beautiful" by Eminem

Jett: "D.O.A" | Nate: "Day N Nite"

Rap Group Performance: "Make Her Say" by Kid Cudi | "Amazing" by Kanye West | "Money Goes, Honey Stay" by Jay-Z | "Crack A Bottle" by Eminem | "Too Many Rappers" by Beastie Boys

Both: "Make Her Say"

Female Pop Performance
: "Halo" by Beyonce | "Sober" by Pink | "Hot N Cold" by Katy Perry | "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift | "Hometown Glory" by Adele

Jett: "Halo" | Nate: "Sober"

Male Pop Performance: "This Time" by John Legend | "Love You" by Maxwell | "Make It Mine" by Jason Mraz | "All About The Love Again" by Stevie Wonder | "If You Don't Know Me By Now" by Seal

Jett: "This Time" | Nate: "Love You"


Group Pop Performance: "I Got A Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas | "Kids" by MGMT | "Sarah Smile" by Hall & Oates | "Never Say Never" by The Fray | "We Weren't Born To Follow" by Bon Jovi

Jett: "Kids" | Nate:  "I Got A Feeling"

Around The Blogs: Phantogram, Peter Gabriel, DJs and a February CNY Music Calendar

The start of 2010 brings about more news on Phantogram (plus a chance to see them) and a few other local best-of lists from '09.

Thought the passing of '09 would mark the end for our Phantogram love here? The Saratoga Springs duo just keeps making stride after stride and recently they had their EP named one of the top albums of '09 from a Minnesota radio station, found "Mouthful of Diamonds" as the download single of the week at Starbucks and then made their first appearance on  See below for their upcoming CNY date and make sure to catch them before they're too big for the area (it may be soon... they're trying to contact the NYT and NPR is lining up to stream their album early).  via @Phantogram

+ Another album to look for (hmm, a great Otto-Tune podcast topic?) is the upcoming release from veteran Peter Gabriel.  He won't play with Genesis at the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame, but he is releasing covers of his favorite modern bands (including Arcade Fire and Radiohead). Stereogum has a first listen. via NME, Rolling Stone and Stereogum

+ Check out the feature on local DJs: The Syracuse Scene Remixed. One of the DJ's record label, O, Morning Records, recently raised $5,000 to help get them off the ground. (Congrats!)

+ Finally, there are still two weeks left in January and that's enough time to sneak in a few more best-of lists from 2009.  We've had a few here already - I offerred a Syracuse music list and Jett Wells provided Top Songs (even if I disagree) - but here's two more of the same from CNY outlets. The Post-Standard's Listen Up blog had a CNY Year in Music list and Ra Ra Riot (technically a Syracuse outlet*) had their Top Songs. Yes, it did include Discovery.

CNY Upcoming Shows for February


Suzanne Vega - 2/3 (Wed)

Lewis Black - 2/4 (Thur)

George Clinton - 2/24 (Wed) 




Cold Cave - 2/21 (Sun) 



Dan Deacon - 2/14 (Sun) 



Dr. Dog  - 1/30 (Sat)

Ani DiFranco - 2/5 (Sat)

Black Violin - 2/18 (Thur)

Kid Cudi -  2/20 (Sat)



Editors - 2/16 (Tues)

A Syracuse Year-End Music List

There seems to be a year-end list for everything nowadays. Why not the top nine items in Syracuse music for '09?

Music probably isn't the first thing you think of when you hear Syracuse (it's probably not even one of the top five things you think of) That said, there's more going on than you'd imagine if you haven't been paying attention in 2009.  Presenting perhaps the first ever year-end music list specific to the 315...


"The Top Nine Syracuse Music Happenings of 2009"


9. Dust Off Your Page Readers

20 Watts. Hold My Coat. Skipster. Otto-Tune (had to). The music blogs covering CNY and Syracuse are slowly springing up and, suprisingly, much of it is worth a look.

8. "Christmastime in Syracuse (Vol. 15)"

I'm not sure what is more impressive: the reaction you have the first time you hear the title track of this compilation or the fact that this is the 15th version of it. I searched long and hard to find an audio track from this holiday mix of songs performed by (and sometimes written by) staples in the local music scene. However, the online presence of this album is still growing. Check out this podcast about the album and stay tuned to Sunny 102 for the rest of the month to maxmize your chances of experiencing Volume 15.

7. Acapleasure?

Acapella After Hours is one of the top 'Cuse music events year-in, year-out. I like to think it was heightened this year by a resurgence of acapella as an art form (thanks "Sing-Off"...even if After Hours happened well before) and an appearance on campus by one of the premier judges of acapella talent (Ben Folds, Block Party 2009 ). Best of all, at the Spring '09 event, Orange Appeal debuted this on us:

6. What Could Have Been

Did you know Passion Pit, Hockey and The Handsome Furs were all scheduled to play the Wescott Theater this year? All mysteriously bailed within days of (or on the day of) the scheduled shows.

5. The Growth of Campus DJs

Oh, you thought the self-promotion was done? There is a rising crop of young DJs at SU and I think it started well before we had the premier DJ of today headline Juice Jam as well.

4. Ra Ra Riot Redux

Our local heroes had a big 2009. One year after releasing their debut LP, Ra Ra Riot toured with Death Cab for Cutie, announced they have an album in the works and made time for a Syracuse stop as well.  Lead singer Wes Miles even quietly released one of the best electronica-pop albums of the year when he teamed up with Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend for Discovery's debut LP.

3. Phan-aticism

I don't care if they are technically from two hours east on I-90, Phantogram had an awesome for any band (not just a CNY act). I caught them opening for Ra Ra Riot and have been smitten ever since. In the course of a year, this duo went from playing Funk n' Waffles (and granting interviews to my personal blog) to getting signed by indie giant Barsuk and having the upcoming debut LP hyped by everyone from the BBC to NPR. Let's hope 'Cuse can get even a small glimpse of Phantogram in 2010.

2. Another Year, Another Load of Local EPs...

... but if you didn't download or buy any of the 2009 local(ish) EPs, you actually missed out this time.  Current campus acts like singer-songwriter Sarah Aument and DJ duo Mouth's Cradle both released small but enjoyable demos (listen to "Honey from a Stone" and try to stop the rest of the day). Former campus groups like DJ kings The LadyBoys (known to SU students as what The Smash Brothers currently do) or graduate of  the 'Cuse electronica scene, ERIKINO (formerly of Camp Camp), posted releases too.  I'll say this much - when ERIKINO releases his full-length, I'll buy it if it contains anything as simply smooth and catchy as "Electric Touch."

1. The Rise of the Wescott

Sophistafunk and other local acts still grace the stage most nights, but the theater's calendar filled out with quality national acts for the first time this year: Ra Ra Riot, Minus the Bear, Portugal The Man, Ghostface Killah, Little Dragons and The Presidents of the United States of America. Expect this to become the trend and not the exception with acts like Ani DiFranco, Brandi Carlisle and Henry Rollins already booked for 2010.


This is what it's like to interview Ira Glass

Here's a brief look at the day leading to the Ira Glass interview.

November 17 has been marked on my calendar since Spring '09. I even devoted an entire blog to the date nearly two months prior.

See, Ira Glass is a hero of mine. He's one of my no-brainers when asked who the five folks I want to invite to my all-time dinner are (Anthony Bourdain is another). I want to write one day but I'm not sure if that passion will lead me into journalism or creative writing. Glass is living proof that you can combine the two genres into something unique and impactful. This American Life seems to gain admirers as often as new listeners are exposed.

It's still surreal to me that I sat down to interview him during his recent trip to SU. I'd been reading interview after interview and watching all of the "Ira Glass on Storytelling" series on YouTube well before I was asked to prep for this. In my mind it was the interview of a lifetime and thankfully I had two multimedia veterans (AJ Chavar and Andrew Burton) around to keep my confidence high and hide any visible nerves though filming and editing.

Overall I had three opportunities to interact with Ira Glass - my interview, the evening's presentation and a special hour-long Q&A with students that afternoon.  I needed to document it for my own memories but also for the loads of folks who've been asking me, "What was it like to interview Ira Glass?"

(And if this video wasn't insightful, remember what Ira said. It takes time to be able to tell stories that live up to your own tastes.)

Around The Blogs: Julian Casablancas, Peter Gabriel and Syracuse shows.

This week spans everything from actual news about The Strokes to a plethora of options in Syracuse on Nov. 17.

This month's SPIN Magazine is must have just for the Julian Casablancas interview they managed to nail down. Sure, the former Strokes' lead singer probably just granted it to promote his new solo album (because, everyone knows, it'll be forever until the band agrees to be out an album together), but he says some provocative things.

When asked about his original vision for The Strokes, "I realize now, my idea was always to take undergroundish, cool music and make it mainstream. That was my goal, and we haven't achieved it. We got to the top of the underground, but we never got as big as Green Day or Creed or any of the bands we were supposed to be replacing in 2001. So, in my mind, here's still a step to take." Via SPIN Online


+ There's some great news for indie rock lovers otherwise. Google just announced they are going to begin implementing a music-specific search (partnering with a few other companies including Lala and MySpace Music). On their official Google blog they explain, "Now, when you enter a music-related query -- like the name of a song, artist or album -- your search results will include links to an audio preview of those songs provided by our music search partners MySpace (which just acquired iLike) or Lala" Via BrooklynVegan

+ This is too cool to ignore. Peter Gabriel is releasing an album entirely of covers ("Scratch My Back") in 2010. He'll do the typical, paying homage to groups like The Kinks or David Bowie. However, Gabriel also plans on sampling from more recent acts like Arcade Fire, Radiohead and Bon Iver. Can't you totally picture this man singing "Idioteque?" Via

+ Finally, there are some show booking challenges going on in Syracuse right now. The first, TMobile has launched a contest for universities to show the most Weezer love in exchange for a free show from the band (similar to Death Cab for Cutie doing this last year). I don't know how much Weezer love exists in the land of Orange (after all, we're one of the few Crayola original 8's to not be featured on a Weezer album cover), but a Facebook group has already popped up to rally support.

Second, Syracuse is really overbooking this Nov. 17 date. University Union just announced their next Bandersnatch show will happen on that date featuring The Academy Is... The Wescott Theater has Minus The Bear booked that night for awhile now too.  The Black Communications Society even started promoting Harry Belefonte (you know, "Day-O" and "Jump In The Line") coming to talk about his TV, music and theater career that evening. Decisions, decisions....

(Though to be fair, there's only one decision in my mind that evening. His likeness is now on the homepage and his last name rhymes with pass.)


Otto-Tune Podcast: The Top Females in Indie Rock

Fresh off a trip from seeing St. Vincent in action, two Otto-Tune bloggers debate the best leading ladies in indie rock.

Bloggers Jett Wells and Nathan Mattise were working on coverage of the recent St. Vincent show in Ithaca, N.Y. when they decided it was time for the second Otto-Tune Podcast. In the spirit of the trip, the debate at hand (carried on during the roadtrip even!) became who is the current queen of indie rock.

The only rule to abide by:

1) No Karen O (simply, way too obvious).

Download the podcast to hear the Otto-Tune selections and feel free to share your own below.

Would her performance impact this conversation? Only one way to find out....

Otto-Tune Podcast: Most underrated acts of 2009

Two Otto-Tune writers debate what acts you should be paying more attention to in 2009.

After blogger Jett Wells offerred his most overrated acts for 2009, it was time to switch focus to bands everyone should be paying more attention to. Wells and fellow blogger Nathan Mattise debated the most underrated acts of 2009 on the first Otto-Tune Podcast.

The only rules to abide by:

1) Each blogger gets only three choices

2) The act/artist must have released an album in 2009

3) Only two indie selections per blogger

Download the podcast to hear the Otto-Tune selections and feel free to share your own below.

Recognize this guy? Probably not, but get familiar. He's one of the most underrated acts of the year.

How did I miss this?

Kanye told her Beyonce had the best video, but clearly he didn't see this.

I was flipping through some of my HD music channels this afternoon and thought I missed the most unique mainstream collaboration in quite some time. Turns out T-Pain and "T-Swizzle" recorded this track ("Thug Story") back in the early summer for the CMT Music Awards. It still merits a viewing even today however...

...and if you're thinking to yourself, "Self, doesn't she sound like another rapper?" Then, yes, you would be correct.

Around The Blogs: Yacht Rock, new singles and an entire cover album.

Only in the world of music blogs can you find Christopher Cross side-by-side with Animal Collective.

Does it get any better than beginning a week of blog material with Christopher Cross performing "Ride Like The Wind" while backed by the Roots? Jimmy Fallon developed his Monday Yacht Party just for me and my Time Life Soft Rock Classics obsession (over/under on how many times I've viewed the entire infomercial? Eight? It's more than just a collection of songs, it's a collection of emotions). Via Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

+Vampire Weekend is taking a page out of the Phoenix playbook by releasing the single "Horchata" early off their upcoming album "Contra." Sounds like you can expect more of the same - pseudo world music with electronic keys, the best part is always Ezra Koenig's vocal work. Via SPIN Online.

+If you agree with Pitchfork, they're one of the best bands out there. If you agree with us, perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration. Either way, people will listen if the rumored Animal Collective December release proves to be true. Via Pitchfork

Twitter / Tokyo Police Club: Hey friends, its your old ... via kwout

+If you want an impromptu release from a band that's horribly underrated, check out this quick solo piece from Graham Wright (keyboardist, Tokyo Police Club). Via @TokyoPoliceClub

+Finally, before they broke up this year, Kendrick Strauch (keyboardist, The Harlem Shakes) spent his last days before a summer tour recording an entire cover album of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Fever To Tell." Via BrooklynVegan

Can't miss CNY concerts for October

If you want to create a music "scene" for yourself in Syracuse, you need to expand your horizons (specifically south to Ithaca and west to Buffalo). Luckily, October is a pretty robust month.

Fellow blogger Jett Wells did a good job of highlighting the premier show to catch this month (indie darling St. Vincent, one of the best albums of the year thus far in my opinion).  There are few other shows worth noting in October though, so pull out your calendars accordingl


Dave Brubeck - 10/10 (Sat) in Buffalo

Go ahead, call me a square. Brubeck would be proud. The modern father of mathematical jazz brings his rhythmic experiments to Buffalo for a rare opportunity to catch a jazz legend in Central New York. I managed to see Brubeck four years ago in Stroudsburg, Pa. and I still claim it as a top three concert of my lifetime in terms of pure talent on stage. Brubeck turns 89 this year and somehow still has the dexterity to solo in 5/4 or play "Blue Rondo" a bit above the recording's tempo.

Hanson/Hellogoodbye - 10/16 (Fri) in Clifton Park

Wait, uh... this is a great one to take your younger sister who's conveniently in town that weekend to see. I don't know anyone who owns the Hellogoodbye album or thinks "Where's The Love" is one of the more underrated 90s jams. You should totally skip this.

Portugal The Man - 10/17 (Sat) in Syracuse

I remember the first time I heard these guys on I thought the New Radicals had reunited (love those guys). With eerily similar vocals and a tendency to promote sing-a-longs, Portugal The Man is one up-and-coming act worth catching when they pass through. Do it for the simple fact that they've come all the way from Alaska to make it happen. (All right, so they reside in Portland now. Check them out and you'll go for the music anyway).

Saul Williams - 10/23  (Fri) in Toronto

It takes a pretty legitimate act to sway me to Canada (that's not entirely true, nothing beats a Canadian roadtrip. Their ticket prices just seem to be higher). Saul Williams fits the bill though. If you want some edgy, emotion rap infused with electronica infused with simply heavy music, he's your guy. The track you recognize is "List of Demands" (made famous in a Nike commercial) but there's a reason all of his most recent album garnered rave reviews.


That, along with St. Vincent, makes up this month's Top 5. If you don't believe me, I suppose you can check out the rest of the calendar below.


CNY Upcoming Shows for October


David Sedaris - 10/1 (Thur)

Matt & Kim - 10/2 (Fri)

Dave Brubeck - 10/10 (Sat)

AC DC - 10/18 (Sun)

St. Vincent/Andrew Bird - 10/21 (Wed)



Jim Gaffigan - 10/9 (Fri)

Branford Marseillas - 10/18 (Sun)

Silverspun Pickups - 10/23 (Fri) [and also 10/18 (Sun) Clifton Park]


Albany (and Clifton Park)

Ghostface Killah - 10/2 (Fri)

Jerry Seinfeld - 10/2 (Fri)

Dinosaur Jr. - 10/4 (Sun)

R. Kelly - 10/10 (Sat)

Hanson/Hellogoodbye - 10/16 (Fri)

New Found Glory - 10/22 (Thur)



New Pornographers - 10/3 (Sat)

The Bravery - 10/6 (Tues)

Vampire Weekend - 10/8 (Thur)

Saul Williams - 10/23  (Fri)


Scatted across NY State (but within driving distance)

They Might Be Giants - 10/1 (Thur) Ithaca

The Misfits - 10/9 (Fri) Cheektowaga

Kate Voegle - 10/13 (Tues) Troy

Earl Greyhound - 10/20 (Tues) Troy

St. Vincent - 10/22 (Thur)  Ithaca



Michael Bolton - 10/5 (Mon)

John Edward - 10/10-10/11 (Sat/Sun)

"Pictures at an Exhibition" w/ The Syracuse Symphonic Orchestra - 10/16

Portugal The Man - 10/17 (Sat)

Dashboard Confessional - 10/23 (Fri)

Vertical Horizon 10/26 (Mon)

The Whigs - 10/29 (Thur)