Catherine Ireton and “God Help the Girl”

Some time in 2006 a friend who was spending time in Cork Ireland sent me a partial copy of an album called “In the Moon” by a band called “Elephant.” I fell in love and ordered 3 original copies which had to be shipped to the U.S. from Cork. At the time it felt a little rash, but the album is really something and I knew the band had broken up, the album was already scarce.

Fast forward a few years. Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian released “God Help the Girl” a couple of days ago. I excitedly picked up the album on vinyl during lunch today and this evening I settled in to listen all the way through. Within seconds I recognized the new female singer’s voice – Catherine Ireton from Elephants! I always wanted to hear her do more but I didn’t think it’d ever happen. Her rendition of the classic Belle and Sebastian song “Act of the Apostle” is amazing and she’s stunning on the new title track, “God Help the Girl.” Figures that Stuart would have such excellent taste!

Sunday in NYC

New York is a fantastic city. I spend a fair amount of time there and today was just such a nice day I feel like writing about it.

I woke up this morning at a friend’s place in Spanish Harlem, the sun shining brightly through the windows – it was a beautiful day. We walked to a bakery and got coffee and croissants, then we walked to a nearby park and watched a largely Puerto Rican baseball game for an hour while we drank our coffee. The players were probably 14 years old and having a lot of fun. A guy rode by on a bicycle flying about ten Puerto Rican flags, honking a little horn constantly and smiling at everybody.

After the game I walked South, from E 112th & 2nd to around E 78th & Madison. It is a nice walk, interesting because you get to see the transition from Spanish Harlem to the wealthy Upper East Side. My friend is a teacher and she was recently talking to her kids about health. She suggested focusing on what food is readily available on each block of the walk. Nutrient value, pricing, cuisine diversity… speaks volumes.

Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side has a lot of fashionable clothing stores and some great people-watching. I ended up having lunch with Hal Hackady at a diner near there, where he introduced me to rice pudding with whipped cream and chocolate sauce and gave me some good advice about new strolls through Central Park. Hal also drew a picture of me on a napkin while I was staring off at something:

Drawing of Josh by Hal

I like that he didn’t use a clean napkin.

After Hal and I parted ways I headed into Central Park and watched people sail little boats in the pool near 75th on the East side of the park. It is a busy part of the park on weekends, but sitting there on weekdays can be really peaceful.

Josh and Kelsey on WPRB Princeton

Kelsey and I have a radio show called “Hey Paisley” on Thursday nights from 8-10 PM Eastern. That’s 5-7 PM Pacific. I forgot to write about this before, the fun has been going on all summer! We play music from a variety of genres like indie rock, folk, hard rock, punk, electronic, soul, and hip-hop. Essentially, whatever we like. The only thing the songs have in common is that they’re all really great.

You can listen at 103.3 FM from the outskirts of New York, NY, through Philadelphia, PA, and into Wilmington, DE. That’s 14,000 watts of stereo power, making WPRB one of the strongest community radio stations in the world!

You can also listen online at wprb.com, just click “listen now.”

Beats in NJ

Josh Aas, Raymond Weitekamp DJing

A couple Fridays ago I played in Princeton, NJ, with Raymond Weitekamp. He had some pretty awesome tracks, fantastic really, and for the second half of his set I played along with him adding some lyrics and scratching over his beats. Working together was all improv, but it worked out well! After Raymond was done I finished off the night mixing hip-hop.

Josh mixing

Excellent party, thanks for putting it together Kelsey and Joel!

A Go! Team Halloween

My roommate Sean and I went with a couple of friends to see Josh Wink at Fluid in Queens Village. We thought that was going to make for an awesome Halloween night, but we had no idea what was in store for us. On the way there we just happened to walk right in front of a theater where The Go! Team was about to go on stage and there were tickets left! We ran to the ticket window and were inside within in a minute, just in time for the first song. We had no trouble getting up near the front. They were so great! If ever there was a band to dance to with everything you’ve got… To make things even better, we happened to be dancing right next to the people who live across the hall from us in our apartment building. We had just gotten to know them last weekend when they threw an excellent Halloween party.

After The Go! Team, we went on to see Josh Wink around the corner. That was also really fun and there were a lot of great costumes. I dressed up like Tony Hawk and got punched in the head once because people can’t resist taking a shot at a guy wearing a helmet.

A Life Worth Celebrating For Sure

Luciano Pavarotti’s passing away recently caused me to dig up some of his music again, a reaction I’m sure many people had. If you really want to understand what made him so special, find a recording of him singing Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot1. It is probably one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard in my life. Find a quiet place with some good headphones or speakers and prepare to be blown away.

1 It isn’t hard to find, it is one of his most popular recordings, for good reason.

What a Weekend!

This weekend was really awesome, so awesome I feel the need to write about it.

On Friday night I went to see the Philadelphia Orchestra perform Brahms and Sibelius. A Norwegian pianist, Leif Ove Andsnes, played with the orchestra for the first half of the concert. When his last part was done, the ovation lasted for almost 5 minutes, with many a deep-throated “Bravo!” ringing through the air.

After the concert I made it to a bar called Johnny Brenda’s just in time to see my friends’ band Red Rocket. They just got back from being on tour and it was good to see everyone again.

Saturday morning at 8 AM I went to my first spinning class in downtown Philly. Spinning for an hour nonstop is way harder than I thought it would be, but I made it all the way through. My classmates and the instructor were awesome. The instructor’s bike had a pool of sweat under it after the class, he definitely set a good example for pushing yourself. The girl to my left kindly corrected me when I was doing something wrong, which is great because I would have been ever more sore at the end without her posture advice. I’m so glad I get to do this 3 times a week! It is a great way to start the day.

After spinning class I went to the Clark Park farmer’s market with my roommate Sean. Got some tasty veggies (including purple cauliflower!) and fresh bread.

An hour later we went back to Clark Park and met up with the Red Rocket boys to see the Spiral Q show at the park. Our friend Alex helped to put it together and the routines that the kids did were hilarious. Sitting in the grass laughing with little kids, college students, punks, parents, dogs and senior citizens was an amazing way to spend the afternoon. Way to be West Phillie!

The last highlight of the weekend was walking through the grounds at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) today. I drove up to Princeton with a friend this morning and then we walked over to IAS. The buildings at IAS are nothing compared to the stunningly architected buildings at Princeton, but the grounds are so much more peaceful and beautiful. No hordes of Starbucks-fueled freshmen running around with their cell phones. There aren’t a whole lot of buildings at IAS, but it is on a really nice plot of land with a lake and gorgeous trees turning color behind it. IAS has a fascinating history, I highly recommend checking it out (wikipedia, ias.edu).