bradley's almanac - a boston-based music blog
navigate the 'nac
almanac mp3 archives almanac shared mp3 archive
live show photo archive boston-area live shots on flickr
'my life or some dream'
original mp3 compilation

free mp3 compilation on club fub
bands i've been in bands i've played drums in
the 'nac faq & contact info
contact info and more
the 'nac on the 'net
the almanac rss feed
subscribe to my rss feed
follow me on twitter the almanac twitter account
become a fan on facebook the 'nac on facebook
the almanac tumblr page bradley's tumblanac
hype machine 'nac page the almanac hype machine page
the almanac soundcloud page the almanac shuffler page
the 'nac songkick gig page the almanac songkick gig page
almanac events on sponty the almanac sponty events page
the almanac page the almanac page
listen to 'nac mp3s on shuffler the almanac shuffler page

the almanac archives

search the 'nac

recommended boston area events

tuesday, december 4th

kelly hogan

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 6th

conor oberst

@ converse hall, tremont st.

thursday, december 6th

jason isbell &

the 400 unit

@ the sinclair

friday, december 7th

the weisstronauts 14th

annual holiday jubilee

with guests tsunami of sound

preacher jack, & the derangers

@ the midway cafe, jp

friday, december 7th


moving mountains


@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

patrick watson

@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

the faint perform

"danse macabre"


icky blossoms

@ the paradise

sunday, december 9th

band of horses

@ house of blues

sunday, december 9th



@ the paradise

wednesday, december 12th

concrete blonde

jim bianco

@ the sinclair

thursday, december 13th

annual boston christmas cavalcade

benefit for the homeless

featuring tons of artists

(see fb event for details)

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 13th

nada surf

eternal summers

@ the paradise

thursday, december 13th

mates of state

in the valley below

@ brighton music hall

friday, december 14th

forgetters (blake from

jawbreaker's band)

& more tba

@ democracy center, harvard square

sunday, december 30th

sufjan stevens

sheila saputo

@ the royale

monday, december 31st

my morning jacket

@ agganis arena

monday, december 31st

deer tick

two gallants

@ the sinclair

monday, january 7th


@ the paradise

tuesday, january 8th


@ great scott

saturday, january 19th

mission of burma

@ the sinclair

sunday, january 20th

camper van beethoven


@ the middle east down

sunday, january 20th


@ the orpheum

sunday, january 20th

ra ra riot

@ the paradise

sunday, january 27th


@ great scott

tuesday, january 29th

kathleen edwards

sera cahoone

@ brighton music hall

wednesday, february 13th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

saturday, march 2nd

unknown mortal orchestra

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 12th

tame impala

@ house of blues

thursday, march 14th

jukebox the ghost

matt pond pa

lighthouse and the whaler

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 26th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

wednesday & thursday

april 3rd & 4th

they might be giants

@ the paradise

visit tourfilter for more shows

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mp3s: James Kochalka in Cambridge, MA

September's been a banner month for the two sides of James Kochalka, both the cartoonist and the musical Superstar: His band's long-delayed Rykodisc album, "Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly", was finally released on September 12th, just a few days after he was honored with his first-ever comics industry Harvey Award. During the September 9th ceremony at the Baltimore Comic-Con, James was granted the 2006 "Best Online Comics Work" title for his daily diary strip, American Elf.

But as good as AE and his printed comics work is, this here post is about his music, which I've been all-too familiar with since his days in the casio/saxophone/JK combo Jazzin' Hell back in his (and my former) hometown of Burlington, Vermont. (trivia: Jazzin' Hell included Philistines Jr./Zambonis member and ace Interpol/The National recording engineer Peter Katis, as well as Thicker Magazine main-man Eric Bradford). After a few years fronting Jazzin' Hell, James eventually started releasing songs under the prescient name of James Kochalka Superstar, an umbrella under which James has invited a long list of friends to record and perform. (more trivia/disclaimer: I was fortunate enough to have been one of these random members, in a short-lived live lineup that included Colin Clary, Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hutz, and Pistol Stamen of the Pants. We were not, some would say, 'the tightest' incarnation of JKS, but we sure put on a show).

JKS' songs actually have a fair amount in common with his comics work: deceptively simple and insidiously catchy, childlike wonder combined with the subtle (and not-at-all subtle) hints of naughtiness. It's kids music for grown-up kids: kinda goofy at times, insightful at others, and occasionally all at once. There's no middle ground with James' stuff... you either dig it or you don't, much like other bands that get name dropped in his reviews (TMBG, King Missle, Ween, etc.).

After several albums on a variety of small labels (including the 1995 Dot Dot Dash debut, "The True Story of James Kochalka Superstar", 2000's "Carrot Boy the Beautiful" on Sudden Shame, and the self-released "Don't Trust Whitey" in 2001), James inked a deal with Rykodisc that started with the release of a best-of compilation, last year's "Our Most Beloved". While Ryko initially seemed reluctant to nail down a release date for a follow-up of all new material, that changed quickly once his song "Hockey Monkey" (co-written with the Zambonis) was chosen as the theme song for the Fox sitcom "The Loop". The amped up exposure not only put "Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly" on their fall release schedule, but resulted in the four-song iTunes-only "Hockey Monkey" EP.

To mark the unveiling of "Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly", James played a few stripped-down shows with his bandmate (and frequent American Elf cameo canine, and Icebox Records co-guy) Jason 'x-12' Cooley on guitar. They ended in New York after stopping in Philly, but the first show was here in Cambridge, MA on Friday night, August 25th with comedians Neil Hamburger & Morgan Murphy, and the World's Greatest Sinners. Despite the fact that JKS was on first, the placed was packed from the get-go. Here's their entire set...

Some Kochalka-quality links...
  • Buy "Spread Your Evil Wings and Fly" at Amazon or on iTunes, and make sure you visit his American Elf at least once a day.

  • He's got a Wikipedia entry, and a MySpace page, although it's not run by James himself.

  • He also has some very fine fan sites, including ADD's Kochalkaholic and a Sweden-based Supersite.

  • A couple videos for songs on "SYEWAF": A clip for "Wash Your Ass" (quicktime / youtube), and the lo-fi vid for the title track (youtube), which was shot by James on his Nintendo Game Boy Camera. There's an older one for "Hockey Monkey" as well (quicktime / asf).

  • James appears in the second episode of the hilarious Monsterface TeeVee. Glad I discovered MFTV through JKS, 'cuz now I'm officially a Monsterface fanboy. Go have a look.

  • Stereogum recently gave the JKS song "Britney's Silver Can" some love, and Whitney gave it a spin on her Pop Candy blog's podcast.

  • Facebooker Aleks Prince saw James and Jason's last stop on the mini-tour, a show at the Cake Shop in Manhattan. There is spiffy photographic evidence.

  • Head over to Dangerfive to download an entire JKS online-only EP of demos called "Hot Chocolate Superstar".

  • Grab a full-band live version of "Britney's Silver Can" courtesy of Web Comics Nation.

  • Download a bunch of mp3s from James' old band, Jazzin' Hell. According to their site, an enhanced cd will eventually be released containing "all tracks from our studio sessions with Peter Katis, radio sessions at WRUV, insane live tracks, and those little videos you can play on your computer." Cool deal.

  • the fine print... If anyone has an issue with this live set being made available, just say the word (email link on left). Recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps mp3s. Mp3s are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.


    featured mp3 download
    neil halstead
    live in cambridge, ma
    on november 14th, 2008
    previously: joy formidable - boston 2011

    recent posts on the 'nac...

    on the nightstand

    boston-area music bloggers

    boston music media

    I Buy Music

    This page is powered by Blogger Pro.