Sunday, November 28, 2010

Singles Club: Bear In Heaven

Ooooh look, new stuff from Bear In Heaven! I don't know about you, friends, but those words bring a few extra beats to my heart. To celebrate the release of a remix record full of goodies from their most excellent Beast Rest Forth Mouth, the band has just offered up a remix of the killer "You Do You", as seen through the eyes of Brits Tropics.

To quoth BIH's Jon Philpot, the Tropics remix is "slow and bumping" and "kinda like Phil Collins." There you have it, friends. Bear In Heaven just wrapped up their last US tour of the year, but Australian compadres, they're soon to be heading your way. Make sure you make the boys feel welcome, won't you?

mp3: You Do You (Tropics Remix) (Bear In Heaven from Beast Rest Forth Mouth)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #90: Liturgy @ Comet Ping Pong, 11/19/10

It is amazing sometimes what a change of scenery can do to the way one thinks about music. During my two and a half relatively awesome years living down in Richmond, capital city of the Commonwealth of Virginia, my musical parameters were expanded more than perhaps any other time in my music-loving life. While my time in Richmond was full of goodness, that one thing seems to take precedence over anything else: The Major Expansion of My Musical Sensibilities (yeah, it warrants all those caps, believe you me). Not only did I develop a deeper love and appreciation for important musical geniuses of the past, but so too did my cold black heart take a liking to a rather unexpected genre: Metal. After all, Richmond is a very metal city. Any given night of any given metal show, throngs of people will emerge to nod their heads and suck down can after can of PBR. The love that city has for that scene pulled me in, and while I'm still not ready to pledge full-on allegiance to the metal gods just yet, this proclivity towards warm fuzzy metal love meant I was way excited to see the much-buzzed about black metal glory of Liturgy as they ventured down from Gotham and played DC. My friends, it was hell on wheels. Which, as you might suspect, is a very, very good thing indeed.

MINI RECAP: Liturgy = Unholy Hellions! Overall Score: A

I knew, from the very first note, that this would be quite possibly one of the loudest sets I'd seen this year. I was equally excited by and horrified by this idea. The Richmond in me immediately loved them to pieces, full as they are of sonic abuses. They quite amusingly sent some kids fleeing from the room, whereas the litany of noise drew in others. "Fuck yeah," someone yelled after harrowingly heavy opening song "High Gold", and really, he got it in one.

I stood there, friends, totally enthralled, letting wave after vicious wave of fury and ferocity wash over me. During second song "Sun of Light" I decided this is a very, very good band. The way they can express acute agony and darkness through the furious slaughter of guitar riffs, or an anguished howl, is second to none. They were nothing short of overpowering. Unlike a lot of metal I've seen, though, there was a certain sense of control in their performance, and a definite sense of beauty somewhere there amongst the crushing blows of their musical assault. I'll liken it to, say, staring at a work of art you don't necessarily get. Jackson Pollock comes to mind. Some folks just don't see the beauty there in those splatters, but some of us do. And believe me when I say to you, friends, there is something very beautiful in the tortuous racket made by Liturgy.

The band seemed consumed by the task at hand at all times, stopping for only the briefest interaction with the crowd before resuming their mission. The songs were brutal, each and every one, but damned if I didn't love 'em all. In a way, I think they've raised the stakes. It's no longer just about how insanely, wake-the-dead loud you can be, or how you toss your long, flowing locks. These songs have purpose, drive and they made a delicate gal like me feel all a-twitter with fury. They killed their set seven ways to Sunday, and converted me in just six songs.

If you're even slightly intrigued by the dark arts of black metal, you owe it to yourself to check out a live Liturgy show. Hell, even if you hate metal, go see 'em. Just because.

mp3: Ecstatic Rite (WFMU Session) (Liturgy from Renihilation)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Singles Club: Holcombe Waller

For some reason, today just feels like the perfect day to post about Holcombe Waller. The clouds are billowing over the sun and the blue of the sky in a tight, pillow-like mass, and the trees are losing crisp leaves by the minute as the wind snaps them off branch after branch. Why does that make me think of Holcombe Waller, you might ask?

Well, friends, I'll tell you why. There's something about Waller's voice, clear and spare and well-schooled in the fine art of road-weary troubadour-ing, that seems tailor-made for late Fall days such as this. "Risk Of Change" is a stark yet sweeping gem, eliciting wistfulness in no short supply. It's the perfect song for listening to on repeat and wallowing in those aching moments come and gone.

mp3: Risk Of Change (Holcombe Waller from the forthcoming Into The Dark Unknown)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #89: Twin Shadow @ Black Cat, 11/15/10

Of all the days of the week, Monday somehow requires good music most of all. Something with a little kick to it, of course. Something that feels a little like a party. No, make that a partay. And hey hey, my my, Twin Shadow was in town on a Monday. If anyone knows how to make a mundane Monday into a funtacular time, I'm pretty convinced it's them (well, George Lewis, Jr., & some amigos).

MINI RECAP: Twin Shadow = Cure For The Common Monday! Overall Score: B+

It was busy as can be down in the Black Cat backstage, patrons galore gathered to see what the buzz was all about. As soon as Twin Shadow began, the mystery was solved. This little conglomeration of good time kids knows how to show a gal a good time, that's for dang sure. Pleasingly all over the place sonically, the noisemakers pinged back and forth between crazy tropical-esque dance rock, Janet Jackson "Nasty Boys"-era spiciness, straight up infectiousness, and all sorts of synthy seduction. I mean, dancefloor dreamery? Shades of John Hughes flicks? Sass? You might could say I found it all rather enjoyable, to say the least.

The more I heard, the more I liked. And really, isn't that how it's supposed to go? I'd love to hear the Twin Shadow take on Nat King Cole's golden standard "Unforgettable", which I'm pretty sure was mentioned by the band during the set (unless I just made that up, in which case I might be a genius). I'm way smitten by the shimmer and feistiness of the overall affair, and would hazard a guess that the next time Twin Shadow comes back to town, it'll probably be somewhere with a much larger capacity.

I left the club with a smile on my face and sunshine on my mind. Go see Twin Shadow live whenever possible, y'all. Oh, and hey Europe. Twin Shadow is coming for you and your dancing shoes early next year! Be ready to drink and dance and have one humdinger of a time.

mp3: Slow (Twin Shadow from Forget)

Otherwise Engaged: Weekend

It is an unfortunate reality for the serious concertgoer that on occasion, there will be more than one show on any given night that you really, really, REALLY wanna go to. Since the vast majority of us don't own a time machine, nor have the ability to either clone ourselves or split ourselves in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on the night in question), this tends to present a problem. Difficult decisions are made based on a multitude of variables (perhaps some of you even make lists of pros and cons), and ultimately, a show is chosen. But those other shows are still gonna be killer, and I'd like to give a little face time to the shows that, while I can't go myself, are highly recommended all the same.

Tomorrow night, otherwise known as the night before turkey, is a seriously flummoxing evening. Too much to do, too much to see, too much to hear! If I wasn't already booked, chances are I'd probably be getting pretty dang psyched about this here Young Prisms and Weekend show over at the newly-minted Red Palace. I suspect much noice of a rather pleasing variety, which of course means a good time is sure to be had by all. If you're inclined to dig some abrasion with your music, well, this one's for you.

mp3: Coma Summer (Weekend from Sports)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Video Vixens: Fujiya & Miyagi

I will forever owe my love of and exposure to Fujiya & Miyagi to my adorable former roommate, Max. If it wasn't for Max, and his fondness for the glorious song "Ankle Injuries", I might never have been exposed to the seductive slink and the expansive shapeshifting of those F&M beats, not to mention some of the most come-hither vocals I've ever heard. Perish the thought indeed.

The Brightonian foursome is getting ready for a January album release, and in the meantime are giving us all nightmares with their new video. Ok, maybe they're just giving me nightmares. But come on. That dude messing with the Fujiya & Miyagi-alike ventriloquist dummies is seven shades of scary. The song itself is fantastic, all velvet and sexy somehow, despite talking about beating someone eight shades of black and eight shades of blue.

mp3: Sixteen Shades of Black & Blue (Fujiya & Miyagi from the forthcoming Ventriloquizzing)

Singles Club: Mogwai

Once upon a time, I wasn't such a fan of Mogwai. Yeah, I don't know why either. It seems pretty obvious these days that I would be into them. I mean, considering that they're a) Scottish, b) loud, and c) slightly abrasive, they are rather up my proverbial alley. Being a fan of d) all of the above, I finally saw the light, and embraced a modicum of affection for these sonic hellions.

It almost doesn't seem possible, but the band is preparing to release their seventh, yes seventh, full-length record. My, where has the time gone? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and predict that Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is going to be loud, louder, and loudest all at the same time. To celebrate letting us all in on what their album cover is going to look like, the gents are kindly giving a song from said record away. Aren't they sweet? Have at "Rano Pano", won't you?

mp3: Rano Pano (Mogwai from the forthcoming Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Singles Club: Tyvek

Tyvek is from Detroit. Detroit Rock City. Motor City. A city formerly great and thriving, now buried and burning in the continued morass of decades of depressingly painful decline.

It's probably safe to guess that this state of affairs has probably played a hand somewhat in the sound of Tyvek, and in this song "4312", a loud loud loud little mess of a song indebted much (to my ears) to Detroit's own Stooges and MC5, as well as the all-important forefathers The Ramones. It's catchy in the way that certain punk songs have the tendency to be, getting all sorts of stuck in your brain after just a few listens.

In "4312" Tyvek keeps it simple, keeps it loud, and keeps it awesome. The wash of lo-fi is as omnipresent as the shouty vocals and thrashing guitars. Something tells me this band is probably killer live.

mp3: 4312 (Tyvek from Nothing Fits)

100 Shows of 2010 - #88: The Dandy Warhols/Hopewell @ Ram's Head Live, 11/9/10

Over the course of this whole 100 shows undertaking I've tried rather hard not to double up on bands. I wanted to experience and cover as many different bands as humanly possible. But sometimes, well, I just can't resist. And who am I to turn down an invitation to what I already knew would be an amazing show? I'll tell you what, darlings, as good as the show was up there in Philly, this here Baltimore show blew it out of the water. So pardon me while I lather on for days about the excellence of this Dandy Warhols and Hopewell show, because it was fantastic with a capital fantastic.

MINI RECAP: Hopewell = Keeping Hope Alive! Dandy Warhols = Dandy As Candy! Overall Score: A

At first, Ram's Head Live seemed a strange, strange place for this show to take place. It's in this kind of surreal part of Baltimore, down by the Inner Harbor, that feels more like a Disney-fied Vegas than a place for indie bands of all shapes and sizes. But after this show, I don't know if it could have happened at any other venue in any other city. It was nothing short of one of a kind.

Up first, Hopewell. With the added atmosphere of some burning incense, they were immediately epic, just as they were in Philly and just as I would expect. The setlist was a carbon copy of the Electric Factory show, and yet everything sounded just a shade better here, a sentiment I extend not only to the bands but the crowd as well. The primal screaming that is "Over The Mountain" was more intense, the ferocity of "Trumpet For A Lung" more biting. Vocalist Jason Russo's smile, too, that emerges at times during certain notes of certain songs, seemed just a touch wider. In "Trumpet For A Lung", the soft glimpses of delicacy amidst the chaotic storm und drang of the murderous mess sounded quite possibly more glorious than I've ever heard. "We're working for you," sayeth Russo before the band ripped "Calcutta" to beautiful shreds for their final number. Their set was powerful, captivating, and pretty dang breathtaking. This, friends, if you haven't yet picked up on it, is a band you need to experience for yourselves. They'll show you darkness and they'll show you rays of blinding sunlight, and you'll love it all.

And speaking of loving it all, here come those Dandy Warhols. As with Hopewell, they too were infinitely more stupendous in Baltimore. They all also seemed in better humor than a couple of nights previous. Or perhaps, to quoth main Dandys man Courtney Taylor, they were feeling "zesty." I couldn't stop grinning the entire set, every song was a gem. Who doesn't love the breathy, stalker-lite vocals of the creepy "I Love You"? Or the bittersweet "The Last High"? Or the way Taylor can exude an air of total and utter indifference, in my mind second only to the foxy apathy of Blur's Alex James in the Britpop era? "Here's a zesty one for you," Taylor announced, before the band took on their biggun, "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth". The back-to-back-to-back shimmy shake of "Shakin'" and "Horse Pills" and "Solid" got my motor running something fierce, and made me remember just how good a record Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia is. Buy it, y'all, unless of course you already know what's up.

During an impeccable rendition of "Boys Better" it hit me that Pete Holmstrom is an amazing, amazing guitarist. And it wasn't just because he can do the ole Pete Townshend windmill move to perfection. This man can straight up shred. He's got fancy guitars and works every one of them with immeasurable skill. "Good Morning" was flawless, the magic spell of fuzz winding and twisting me into a waking dream. Another treat was hearing the not at all oft-played "Cool As Kim Deal", another old school favorite of mine. While Zia McCabe and Brent "Fathead" DeBoer were gettin their bathroom on, Courtney strummed an acoustic version of "Every Day Should Be A Holiday", featuring a pretty fine singalong by we crowdspeople that put quite a smile on the face of Mr. Taylor-Taylor. Their 21-song salute of a set ended with "Country Leaver", which, if they had to stop playing, was a good way to go out. Sure, I would have loved to hear "Godless", or "Be-In", or "Hard-On For Jesus", but I can't fault what was played. Maybe next time they'll play for three hours instead of there's an idea.

You would think that two brilliant sets by two incomparable bands would have been enough to call it a dandy of a night, but no, it somehow got better. Drinking next door at Mex well after the show ended, another treat was in store. Imagine, friends, an impromptu performance with sassy lass Zia on vocals (and shimmying), Courtney on drums, and Ralphie (host of the evening at Mex) on guitar. It was all rather silly, even before Brent took over guitar duties and a belligerently large man had to be dragged off the tiny stage by several Mex folks. But then, randomly, came Dick Valentine, of Electric Six fame. Don't ask me how, don't ask me why, but the cover of Def Leppard's "Hysteria" that this misfit band cooked up was fantastic. Driving home I asked myself if all that actually happened, and smiled when I could answer myself that yes, indeed it did. It was the only appropriate way to end the night, really.

The Dandy Warhols + Hopewell = guaranteed good goddam time. End of story.

mp3: Calcutta (Hopewell from Birds Of Appetite)

mp3: Genius (The Dandy Warhols from ...Rule OK)

Singles Club: MINKS

There are certain songs that you just know will become favorites. Heck, after one listen they ARE favorites. Well, kiddies, meet MINKS. Their "Cemetary Rain" has just become one of my favorite songs.

The band themselves hails from New York, though listening to this song you might not suspect that as their locale. "Cemetary Rain" is full of deliriously dreamy lo-fi, bedroom recording type sounds, with more than a slight nod to English bands of the 80s (the Cure tends to get tossed around a lot when discussing MINKS, and it's kinda easy to see why) through the gentle crackles and fuzz and super adorable boy-girl vocals. But somehow, instead of instilling a sense of gloom, this song makes me want to get out there and do nothing but frolic all day long, rain or shine. It's pretty daggum special, y'all.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to "Cemetary Rain" all day.

mp3: Cemetary Rain (MINKS from the forthcoming By The Hedge)

100 Shows of 2010 - #87: The Dandy Warhols/Hopewell @ Electric Factory, 11/7/10

And so, dear friends, we come to part the second of my latest Philadelphia story, in which yours truly gets to take in the sonic reverie put forth by two most excellent bands. I've been a fan of both of these bands for quite a long while, dating especially far back with the headliners (can we say high school, anyone?!). To see both The Dandy Warhols and Hopewell under one roof, well, that's not something that happens everyday (though perhaps it should!), so naturally the mileage to Philadelphia was of little consequence. As was the whole having to be at work the next morning. The two different styles of these two bands worked gloriously together, and anyone who says otherwise is a damned liar. Whoever had the brilliant idea for these two bands to tour together should probably get a medal, at the very least. (And it should be noted that this show somehow got even better on night 2, but that's another story)

MINI RECAP: Hopewell = Heavenly! The Dandy Warhols = Hallelujah! Overall Score: B+

LET darlings Hopewell took to the Electric Factory's big kid stage (no lie, it's about a million feet off the ground, and probably the eliciter of many a sore neck by the end of the show) first, and I prepared for a grand set. Celebrating the release of a new live album (which, obviously, you should buy), Hopewell once more proved how special they are live. They can, and do, veer off in a multitude of directions during the course of a set, from the noisy, wailing washes of sound akin to the heyday of the Spacemen 3 to quirks of Mercury Rev proportions. But the bombast, the intricacy, and of course that voice are all unmistakably Hopewellian. They masterfully blend subtle pop intricacies with huge waves of sonic violence, and very often the result is a thing of beauty. Everything is done with understated flourish, even at their most tempestuous and unhinged this is a complicated band. The inclusion of a pair of older favorites, "Trumpet For A Lung" and "Calcutta" in their (too brief) set made me quite happy, and they steamrolled through bouth with much vim and vigor. I never get tired of seeing this band up close and in person, because it's almost as though they're a different band everytime. These gentlemen make a racket I do so verily enjoy. I'll close with the concise remark of one of the punters during the Hopewell set, because he got it in one: "Shit yeah!".

And then, it was time. Time for...The Dandy Warhols. Perhaps it's just because I've been a fan for such a long time, but I always feel a wee bit giddy seeing them live. Having first seen them live in the height of their new success, those golden days of the late 90s ago, I can't help but feel close to them. After all, this band has played no small part in influencing my musical tastes. The Dandys, too, are touring on the back of a new record, theirs being a retrospective of the Capitol (Records) Years. I couldn't wait to hear what they had up their collective sleeve, and the set did not disappoint, my loves. Pulling from all over the place, they included such delightful nuggets as "The Last High", "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth", "Genius", "We Used To Be Friends", and "Horse Pills". And that's just the tip of the iceberg. And the inclusion of my all-time favorite Dandys song, "Good Morning", in all its' shimmery, fuzzy, slowburning glory was enough to make me smile for days. While it was a great set, it seemed to fall ever so slightly short of my expectations. But hey, nobody's perfect all the time. It was still a hell of a show, and any chance to see The Dandys is unmissable.

In closing, I must say that it is imperative, essential, and mucho importante that you see both of these bands live. If you get the chance to see them share a stage, well, I suggest you take it. Otherwise, just go see 'em. They'll both shake your damned peaches and your goddam tree, too.

mp3: Trumpet For A Lung (live) (Hopewell from Hopewell Live: Volume 1)

mp3: Minnesoter (The Dandy Warhols from The Dandy Warhols Come Down)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Otherwise Engaged: Earl Greyhound

It is an unfortunate reality for the serious concertgoer that on occasion, there will be more than one show on any given night that you really, really, REALLY wanna go to. Since the vast majority of us don't own a time machine, nor have the ability to either clone ourselves or split ourselves in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on the night in question), this tends to present a problem. Difficult decisions are made based on a multitude of variables (perhaps some of you even make lists of pros and cons), and ultimately, a show is chosen. But those other shows are still gonna be killer, and I'd like to give a little face time to the shows that, while I can't go myself, are highly recommended all the same.

This band always makes me think of Britain, for some reason, though I suspect their name plays no small part in that. They're actually Brooklyn-based, and actually pretty rad beside the nods to Anglophilia. The band in question, Earl Greyhound, will be at the Black Cat tomorrow evening, for all you local kids in need of some excellent music to partake in. I'd hazard a guess that there will be much rocking.

mp3: Everything Else Is Illusion (Shooter Jennings & Earl Greyhound from Black Ribbons)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Mix Betwixt Friends: James M.

As music bloggers, Chris and I both have quite a few folks that come to us seeking musical guidance. Now, I can't speak for Chris, but whenever I get asked for recommendations, I tend to draw a blank. Naturally, I remember a whole host of bands I just know people would love hours after they've asked me. It's a gift to have such a horrible memory, I know. So then, it seemed somehow necessary to begin to offer up mixes for my friends, mixes for those who have both asked for my wisdom and those who need my help, whether they know it or not.

First up: my super awesome friend James, who actually inspired this whole concept. James is no stranger to good music, being in a band down there in Richmond himself (which you should probably check out). Over the years that we've known each other, James has often boosted my ego by coming to me for bands to listen to. Naturally, I'm always more than happy to oblige. However, now, instead of having to get back to him with erratic texts at random hours, I present him with a mix. So James, darlin', this one's for you.

mp3: Daydream (Beach Fossils from Beach Fossils)

mp3: Don't Know Why (You Stay) (The Essex Green from Cannibal Sea)

mp3: The Great River (These United States from What Lasts)

mp3: Knots (Pete & The Pirates from Little Death)

mp3: If You Don't Want Me To Destroy You (Super Furry Animals from Fuzzy Logic)

mp3: Night Might (The Strange Boys from Be Brave)

mp3: Tow The Line (Thieving Irons from This Midnight Hum)

mp3: Big Black Sky (Sunking! from Dreamy Of The Sunchildren)

Us Vs Them (Common Prayer from There Is A Mountain)

Young And Dumb (Neverever from Angelic Swells)

mp3: Doors (Ice Black Birds from As Birds We'd Be Fine)

mp3: All Y'all (Gringo Star from All Y'all)

100 Shows of 2010 - #86: The Black Angels @ Theatre of Living Arts, 11/6/10

Those of you that pay even the slightest bit of attention to my concert-going are well aware that I am in no way averse to putting some serious mileage on my car in the name of rock and roll. And when serious rock and roll beckons, such as, say, the undeniable psych rock revivalists The Black Angels, well, I feel totally and utterly powerless against their tractorbeam and subsequently get behind the wheel. So to Philly I went, for a wild and wonderful weekend that was pretty dang awesome, thanks in no small part to the live display of sheer magnificence that was The Black Angels. I was totally in love with this band before this show, and was even more enamored, if that's even possible, afterwards. I was also definitely more deaf than before the show, but that's not really here nor there.

MINI RECAP: The Black Angels = Gravity Defying! Overall Score: A

Beneath a brain-bending backdrop of aural hallucination-inducing red and blue (basically, a giant blowup of their Phosphene Dream cover), the Angels began to play. I had, of course, been tremendously excited to see them again, but I didn't realize until they strolled onto the stage just how very excited I in fact was. Their monumental set began with the sinister strains of "You On The Run", from the most excellent Directions To See A Ghost. It took me about 3 seconds to get goosebumps. Once again unable to find my earplugs, I stood at the very back of the room, against the soundboard. And I still felt the bass go through me, head to toe. It was just raw enough, while still maintaining that epic scale on the record. Hot damn, hot damn, hot damn.

A menacing rendition of another favorite, "The Sniper At The Gates Of Heaven", was another early inclusion in the set. The metallic, slightly unhinged vocals of Alex Maas were in full bloom, adding infinitely to the glorious disquiet. In perhaps a moment of silliness, they followed that with new song "The Sniper", much less growling but still very dark. I must confess, I heard these new songs live in my head a dozen times, but they never managed to sound this good. The fierceness of the guitar, the unbridled aggression of it all. Sensational. I'd have to say, I had one gripe with their set. During "Yellow Elevator #2", the band omitted my favorite part of the song, and launched immediately into "Black Grease". Now, this would be fine, but I do so love that unexpectedly, transcendentally ephemeral floating of the vocals in the midst of what kinda sorta sounds almost like a pop song (or as close, perhaps, as The Black Angels get to a pop song). Actually, I had two gripes. The other being that they stopped playing.

The band did a great job of mixing up the set and including greatness from each and every record. "Bad Vibrations" has rapidly turned into one of my most favorite Black Angels songs, so hearing the overpowering noise yet tightness of that song was a delight. The lull of the beginning gave way to an explosion of sonic savagery, and I hung on every note. The haunting swirl of "Phosphene Dream" filled every corner of the TLA. Maas once more proved himself a one of a kind singer, with that unholy howl of his creeping in among the controlled monotone. Another near-pop song, "Telephone", was next, its eerie dance vibe sending shivers up my spine. And while I hated to see their set end, they shut it down in the best, baddest, loudest way possible: A torturously noisy version of "Young Men Dead". With the sonic cadence akin to a forced march, it's no wonder that video game company picked this song to soundtrack their ad.

Now, it's no secret that my love for this band probably colors my opinion of them. But dangit, if you were at this show and didn't feel the earth move, even just a little, well I have no clue what the heckadoo is wrong with you. Maybe it's the sting of $7 PRB tallboys (really, Philly?!). Bottom line, my friends, is that this band is one of the best live bands around. Period. End of discussion.

mp3: Telephone (The Black Angels from Phosphene Dream)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crossing The Pond: Sex Beet

As you know, we love Best Coast here at LET. And having asked them to open their UK tour for them, Best Coast obviously loves them some Sex Beet. Which means, as you might well imagine, that we too love Sex Beet.

They are, perhaps, London's answer to those Austinian scamps The Strange Boys and their ilk. You see, as with TSB Sex Beet has some obvious love for years gone by, mixing the breathless glee of some late fifties/early sixties simplicity and surf vibes with a hearty dose of ferocious, almost shoegazing fuzz, not to mention a wee bit of attitude as well. And yet, there seems to be something even better, even fresher about them. They are endearing, they are brash, and they are a perfect fit for a Best Coast tour. I'd remember their name if I were you, little lovvies, because they might just be on the precipice of something big. At least, they fucking well should be.

mp3: Sugar Water (Sex Beet - go here to buy some shit)

100 Shows of 2010 - #85: Terribly Good #1 Starring The Loom, SEAS, Boy Without God & Sister Ex @ Velvet Lounge, 11/5/10

November. Oft looked upon as a cheerless, depressing, overwhelmingly blah kinda month, I'd say the poor thirty not-October, not-December days get a bad rap. As far as I'm concerned, there's been a whole lot of awesome happening in November thus far, and it's only gonna get better. One of these moments of superfabulousness happened when yours truly aided and abetted one rather fantastic little rock and roll show over at the Velvet Lounge. There was rock. There was twang. There was folking it up. I'd like to think all and sundry had as daggum a good time as I did, because I was quite pleased with the night. Look for us to get up to more gig mischief in the future. But for now, here's how things went down.

MINI RECAP: Sister Ex = Rocked It! Boy Without God = Smoked It! SEAS = Killed It! The Loom = Burned It! Overall Score: A

Sadly, I didn't get to see much of the Sister Ex set. But the little I did see was rather promising. Taking cues from all things loud and snarling, the band ripped through their songs, anchored by the slightly metallic sneer of vocalist Claudia Neuman. If your ears are a fan of serious rock, well, you might be interested in this here band.

Things started to get seriously wicked awesome next, as Bostonians Boy Without God did their thing. A very, very interesting mix of placid noise, raw nerve lyrics, and the occasional ambling and way expansive instrumental, BWG most certainly showed the crowd a darned good time. I found myself very intrigued indeed by their jangly mess of sound, and heartily recommend them.

Third on the bill were locals (and LET pet) SEAS. Yeah, today I'm using all caps. Every time I see Ben Green and his co-conspirators live, I love them just a teensy bit more. The strummery of SEAS, along with hints of twang and whiffs of somewhere desolate and beautiful, cannot be matched. The best way to test whether I'm right is to get out there and get you some SEAS. Trust.

The nightcap was provided courtesy another pet band, this time hailing from the land of the Brooklyners, The Loom. Their Appalachia-by-way-of-Metropolis sound gets me every time. The band makes a noise that is intimate and comfortable, despite being intricate, much the way a fireside gathering in the dead of a Northeastern winter can be. The first time I saw them was no fluke. This band is the real deal, y'all.

I had an absolute blast working on this show, and just want to quickly thank the bands and everyone who came out to spend their Friday night with us. We'll all have to do this again sometime. And in the meantime, give these bands some love, y'all.

mp3: Valley Of The Fevers (Alternate) (SEAS from Now My Home Is a Beech Tree)

mp3: Song For The Winter Sun (The Loom from the forthcoming Teeth)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #84: The Phantom Band @ 9:30 Club, 11/1/10

Of all the shows I've been totally excited about this year, there's one show that stands alone thus far as my most highly-anticipated show of the year. That, friends, would be those deliriously delightful Scots of The Phantom Band, otherwise known as the apples of mine eye. Ever since yours truly first heard the siren song of their record Checkmate Savage, I was in smit with their rugged, weird, glorious noise. So it was only natural for me to want to see the fantasticalness of those songs in the flesh. I probably would have been crushed beyond salvaging if the boys had been anything other than as wonderful as I had hoped. Thankfully, they were amazing.

MINI RECAP: The Phantom Band = Ya Dancer! Overall Score: A

They might have been the first band of the night, ladies and gentlemen, but as good as both Plants & Animals and Frightened Rabbit were, and they were very very good, this show was all about The Phantom Band, at least as far as I'm concerned. Their set was superb from the very beginning, putting forth as they did an astonishing rendition of "Throwing Bones" that sounded inescapably loud and haunting and just plain wonderful. Truth be told, I was there for the Checkmate Savage stuff, but it was rather interesting to get an earful of the offerings from sophomore record The Wants (don't worry, I'm sure I'll foam at the mouth about it soon). The new songs were rather a departure from the older, and took the band out of the glens and into the dancehalls. The darkness of their overall sound with some quite danceable beats made for one hell of a juxtaposition.

One of the stratospheric highs of the set came when the band launched into "Folk Song Oblivion", my second favorite of all Phantom Band songs. The sound, which ambles and rambles anyway, seemed even bigger yet even more stark than on record. Your guess is as good as mine, friends. However possible, it was magic. They have a way, much like British Sea Power to whom I think they are distantly related, sonically-speaking, of incorporating, intentionally or not, the natural landscapes of their motherland into their music. They can be terrifying, enthralling, and beautiful, and oftentimes all at once. My one complaint, albeit a minor one, was the omission of my absolute favorite song "Halfhound" from the set. Next time, please, lads.

I'm just gonna go ahead and state definitively that The Phantom Band is one of the best live bands around. They are louder, they are much more interesting, and they are inherently more charming than about 95% of bands out there. So do yourself a favor and embrace the brogue. You'll be ever so pleased you did.

mp3: Walls (The Phantom Band from The Wants)

mp3: Folk Song Oblivion (The Phantom Band from Checkmate Savage)

Otherwise Engaged: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti/Os Mutantes

It is an unfortunate reality for the serious concertgoer that on occasion, there will be more than one show on any given night that you really, really, REALLY wanna go to. Since the vast majority of us don't own a time machine, nor have the ability to either clone ourselves or split ourselves in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on the night in question), this tends to present a problem. Difficult decisions are made based on a multitude of variables (perhaps some of you even make lists of pros and cons), and ultimately, a show is chosen. But those other shows are still gonna be killer, and I'd like to give a little face time to the shows that, while I can't go myself, are highly recommended all the same.

One could say that all things weird and wonderful, all sounds great and small were made by the Animal Collective-approved Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti and the bewitchingly bizarre Os Mutantes. There’s gonna be all sorts of psychy-electro-trippy-dippy wackiness happening when LA meets Brasil and new school meets old school at the 9:30 Club this very evening. I suspect there might also be a whole lotta dancefloor action, as well. If you're in the DC area and in need of something to do this holiday evening, consider yourself booked. Just make sure to bring your dancing shoes.

mp3: Round and Round (Little Loud Remix) (Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti from Before Today)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Newsflash!: La Strada Calls It Quits/Goes Out With a Bang

I've known about this little news item for a little while now, but it's one of those things that bummed me out so much I tried to pretend it was all a vicious lie (and yes, please do read that in the style of Mrs. Peacock from Clue the movie). Alas, it's no lie, it's the stone cold truth. I regretfully pass along the news that my beloved Brooklynites La Strada are heading for splitsville, leaving my little heart in tatters. Sayeth the band:

"From the very bottom of our hearts and souls we want to thank every one of you that came to see us play and supported us these last few years. We all feel extremely blessed to have such wonderful fans; we'll never forget you!"

Fortunately, if you've never had the chance to see the band live, you've got one more chance before they are no more. Their final show of ever will be at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn (where else?!) on November 20th. Joining them will be LET faves Birdlips and Hospitality. Get yer tickets here. I'll forever be glad I saw them before the end became nigh.

100 Shows of 2010 - #83: Local Natives @ 9:30 Club, 10/28/10

I tell you what, y'all. The day of the Local Natives show was pretty craptastic, which made it all the more imperative that my soul be soothed by the most excellent sonic splendor of Local Natives. I realize it's a heavy burden to place such an emotional crutch on a traveling band, but I was fairly sure Local Natives could handle the pressure. After all, this is a band that's made the leap from DC's smaller venues to the legendary 9:30 Club in a matter of months. The sold out crowd was abuzz with anticipation, and we all waited to see just how much the seriously amazing (on record) band could bring it in person. The answer, of course, was a whole heck of a lot. Witness, my friends, live musical awesomeness.

MINI RECAP: Local Natives = Lusciously Noisy! Overall Score: A

Striding out to David Bowie's "Modern Love", the band worked the crowd into a frothy lather of love from the word go. The band was, inconceivably, better live than on record. From the ferocious feistiness, rollicking rollers, and big badness, Local Natives was nigh on brilliant. A cover of the Talking Heads track "Warning Sign" proved a good move, with the prettiness of the Natives adding new dimensions to the oft abrasive Heads. When it came to their own songs, the band at times gave me chills. "Wide Eyes" was particularly stunning, verging on haunting as the notes soared and filled every molecule of the room (well, every molecule that wasn't already crammed with people). It was at this moment that someone standing near me opined, "They're not bad," and I'd venture to say that's one of the biggest understatements of the year.

"Shapeshifter" was another goosebump-inducer, while slightly less china-delicate than on Gorilla Manor it was still glorious, a hazy swirl of loveliness. For some reason, at times I found myself thinking of that Kings of Convenience record, Quiet is the New Loud, and how Local Natives kinda turns that sentiment on its ear, seeing as they can somehow do both simultaneously and quite splendidly.

I'll say this, whatever voodoo those boys do got me feeling all better. My shitty day instantly became a thing of the past, lost in the ether, as those sunny sounds took hold of my brain. Local Natives is definitely proof that some fine live music can heal your soul.

mp3: Wide Eyes (Local Natives from Gorilla Manor)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Newsflash!: Win Tickets to Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti!

Dear DC friends! Do you have plans Thursday evening? No? Well, you could! We've got a pair of tickets to see the weird and wonderful tour pairing of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and Os Mutantes, as they take over the 9:30 Club for what will surely be a night of splendid sonic insanity. And you could be going! Simply drop us a line and tell us why YOU should go to the show. Winner will get a pair of tickets! Simple as that. Contest closes tonight at 10 EST, so get your skates on! Here's a fancy remix to get you in the mood.

Monday, November 8, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #82: Die Antwoord/Rye Rye @ 9:30 Club, 10/27/10

Some of you quite very possibly remember a little band called the KLF. They came from Britain, and they got the kids movin' and groovin' with their big bastard songs. They reached rather stratospheric heights of popularity, and even went as far as to burn one million pounds, just because, well, they could. Turns out, it was all a big joke. Fast forward to now and we have perhaps another example of the joke band phenomena. When it comes to South African duo Die Antwoord, one must ask "are they or aren't they" when it comes to being legit. Bona fide bandness aside, one thing probably can't be disputed. Seeing Die Antwoord live is a pretty amusing and entertaining way to spend an evening.

MINI RECAP: Rye Rye = For Real! Die Antwoord = Who Cares! Overall Score: B+

Ok, so you can totally question whether Die Antwoord is for real or not. However, this question most certainly cannot be asked of Miss Rye Rye. No sir. No way. No how. This lady is all sorts of for real. I mean, anyone who brings along three strapping, shirtless fly boy dancers cannot possibly be anything other than straight up For Real. From the giant mega beats and seriously funked up grooves to the early 90s nod of the dancers (including Lady Rye Rye herself, let it not be said that chickadee doesn't work hard up on that stage), her set was mostly killer, very little filler. You can see why MIA is a fan of hers, what with the sassy lyrics and intrepid dance moves. I was beyond impressed by this girl, y'all. Hot damn.

Die Antwoord, oh Die Antwoord. Are you faking it? I have to say, I probably am closer to believing in their KLF-ness than their legitness. But that begs a question of its own: Does that even matter? When it comes to being straight up entertained, Die Antwoord, faux or no, get the job done. Their DJ, especially, impressed me. Behind that silly ape mask is a man (or large lady) who knows how to lay down some bitchin beats. The dastardly duo out front, too, know how to work a crowd. The pauses between some songs were too long and gaping, but the banter and the overall stage presence were pretty fine overall. And they worked the rather large crowd into quite a lather. They seem to be obsessed with ninjas, though, but who doesn't like a good ninja every now and then? Perhaps Die Antwoord does have a case of the KLFs, but perhaps sometimes it's good to have a giggle at the sillier side of the music industry. And hey, if they're totally serious, well, that's also pretty funny.

I wasn't expecting too much out of this night, for some reason, but I have to say I had a really good time. On the one hand, Miss Rye Rye threw down some serious good times, and on the other hand, well, there was the tomfoolery of Die Antwoord. And I had a smile on my face all night.

mp3: Enter The Ninja (Die Antwoord from $O$)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reminder!: We're Throwing a Rock'n'Roll Party!

Not that y'all would have forgotten, but just to tickle your little gray cells, here comes a friendly reminder from us to you. Tomorrow night is when some serious awesome is gonna go down over at the Velvet Lounge, and we sure do hope you're gonna be there with us to enjoy it. To reiterate, here is what you need to know. See you tomorrow night.

We're pleased as punch to be sponsoring one heck of a doozy of a show, if I do say so myself. I guarandamntee the
Velvet Lounge is the place to be on Friday, November 5th. If you've got plans, break 'em. A date? Bring 'em along! Bring your mama, your best friend, and your side piece for what will without a doubt be one heck of a show. For starters, Baltimore's (and DC's) Sister Ex will bring some rock to the table. Then, Boston's own Boy Without God will bring a little beauty to your life. To cap it off, we've finagled not one but two of our pet bands into playing for the enjoyment of each and every one of you: Seas (DC) and The Loom (NYC). See how much we love y'all? There is so much goodness to be had I just don't know what to do with myself. And all for the bargain bonanza price of $8. Seriously. SERIOUSLY.

mp3: Narrows (Seas from Now My Home Is A Beech Tree)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Newsflash: John Olsson Dead at 78

I've got a really big case of the sads this evening, my friends. I just heard the no good news that John Olsson, otherwise known to legions of Washingtonians as founder and guiding force between much-loved and much-missed book/music hybrid chain Olssons, had died on October 28th of a heart attack at the age of 78. The Post has all the details.

This loss isn't just sad because of what Olsson did for Washington. It's got personal resonance, too. I spent a couple very happy years at the Olssons on 7th Street in Penn Quarter, doling out sage and frequently unsolicited music advice, and will always consider those days some of the happiest and most professionally (and personally) fulfilling of my entire life. The people I met there, the friends I worked with, the things I much goodness crammed into such a short span of time, and none of it would have been possible without Mr. Olsson. He touched so many lives, be it directly or indirectly as the case may be, and it truly saddens me to reflect on the death of a Washington institution. I will forever curse the Big Bad Corporate Bookstores for leading to the demise of local places, not just here, but all over the dang place. DC was already a slightly duller place without the Olssons chain, and now it is even duller without the man himself. Rest in peace, Mr. Olsson. You are already missed.

[Photo by James A. Parcell]

Otherwise Engaged: Interpol/White Rabbits

It is an unfortunate reality for the serious concertgoer that on occasion, there will be more than one show on any given night that you really, really, REALLY wanna go to. Since the vast majority of us don't own a time machine, nor have the ability to either clone ourselves or split ourselves in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on the night in question), this tends to present a problem. Difficult decisions are made based on a multitude of variables (perhaps some of you even make lists of pros and cons), and ultimately, a show is chosen. But those other shows are still gonna be killer, and I'd like to give a little face time to the shows that, while I can't go myself, are highly recommended all the same.

There are few things I love more than a good bit of moody, melancholy darkness as performed by black-clad, brooding gentlemen. Now that the weather is taking a dive (much like Argentian footballers! Zing!), the need for the cold angularity of certain music becomes even greater. If you’re like me, and get a serious case of the mopes around this time of year, you’re in luck (well, only if you’re in the greater DC metro area). Tonight, over at DAR Constitution Hall, you can get your brood on with a fantastic double bill starring Interpol and White Rabbits. I strongly suggest you consider attending. If I wasn’t an incubus of plague, I’d be there myself.

mp3: They Done Wrong, We Done Wrong (White Rabbits from It's Frightening)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #81: Turbo Fruits/Pujol @ Comet Ping Pong, 10/22/10

I don't know about y'all, but when Friday night rolls around, I either want to throw on pajamas right after work and be in bed by 10, or I wanna rock the fuck out and get my face melted off by seriously amazing music, preferably with a cocktail or five in hand. On this particular Friday I went for the latter, venturing out to Comet Ping Pong for the first time ever, and in doing so made the musical acquaintance of two bands from Tennessee who all sorts of rocked my world. Behold, my compadres, the live musical wonder that is Pujol and Turbo Fruits.

MINI RECAP: Pujol = Lewd & Rude! Turbo Fruits = Lewder & Ruder! Overall Score: A

Full discosure, it'd been a long time since I went anywhere on the Rock Creek Parkway. I kinda sorta got a little lost on the way, which meant I missed a few Pujol songs. Which I was, and still am, really bummed about. Because friends, this set, or what I saw of it, was killer. The music of Daniel Lucca Pujol, otherwise known as Pujol, is short, sweet, and simple. More than anything, it fucking rocks. Those little tunes, as knocked out by Pujol along with some help from his friends, were easy and freewheelin', not to mention nice and loud. The attitude was all right, feisty and seriously sassy. The crowd was way into it, which includes the opinion of yours truly. This band grooved and rocked and shimmy-shaked all over the damn place. Hot damn indeed. Unless you happen to be a St. Louis Cardinals fan, this is the best damn Pujol around (or Pujols, as the case may be).

The venue was perfect for these bands. Comet Ping Pong has no true "stage," meaning the bands are on the same level as the paying punters. The in-your-face thing is perfect for bands like Pujol and Turbo Fruits, who drawlingly snarl and sneer their way into your grill as it is. And so it was that, the flag of the state of Tennessee draped behind the drumkit and Enya's "Sail Away" blaring out of the speakers, Turbo Fruits picked up their instruments and unleashed the rock. From opening song "Trouble", I knew it was in for a treat. The song, the set, and the band was utterly infectious. I'd place them as in the vein of Kings of Leon (WAY before the MOR suckage, folks, keep your pants on, I'm talkin' about first EP stuff) with hearty doses of the bratty snarl of Atlanta boys The Black Lips, with an overall swagger and presence impressive for a new band. These boys alone were worth getting lost on that damn Parkway for. Sweet mercy, brothers and sisters. Sweet Mercy. Turbo Fruits is a little bit country and a WHOLE lotta rock&roll. The sound swelled into the small room, turning my brain into sludge with their rocking out. I got the sense that this is a band that could go from zero to Pete Townshend (i.e mass instrument destruction) in six seconds flat. Hair tossin', drum poundin', and brutal guitar riffin'. And melodiousness too? Bonus. Can't beat that with a stick. No sirree. "Thanks for havin' us," said they, "We love your women." And Turbo Fruits, we women of DC love you (well, this one sure does).

Both of these bands ruled the roost with their sweaty, raw rock&roll, and subsequently my love for them is off the charts. This, friends, is music to be heard in close quarters. So step on it, cuz I suspect you won't get a chance to see them in small environs for too much longer.

mp3: Butterflyknife (Pujol from the All At the Same Time EP)

mp3: Mama's Mad Cos I Fried My Brain (Turbo Fruits from Echo Kid)

100 Shows of 2010 - #80: The Last Monarchs/Small Mountain Bear @ Busboys and Poets, 10/21/10

Shirlington, o Shirlington. The place I remember as being a small, not-too-crowded weekend movie oasis just off I-395 on the way to DC in the middle of a whole lotta nothing as a kid has grown up into a burgeoning yuppie metropolis. Fancy restaurants, fancy condos, fancy shops...and not much parking to speak of (and parking decks full of resident parking). However, in one of those fancy (yet awesome) restaurants, there was a show. And while not fancy, this here show, it was plenty awesome. It was a night of good company and good music, and damned if that isn't the best kinda night to have.

MINI RECAP: Small Mountain Bear = Strummerific! The Last Monarchs = Strumtastic! Overall Score: B

My friend Heather swears up, down, and sideways by Small Mountain Bear, otherwise known as Will Read. Will is a recent transplant to NYC, gives music away for free on the internets, and has himself a pretty nice little voice. In it you will hear shades of Cat Stevens, along with tones reminiscent of one of my favorite voices, local and otherwise, Mister Justin Jones. The sound at Busboys & Poets was well-suited to Read's one-man setup, though not so much for The Last Monarchs' more expansive sound (see below). The cover of Michael Jackson's "Black or White" was an unexpected treat, Read's voice and acoustic lending a whole new direction to one of Jacko's biggest songs. Thanks to the great parking hunt I missed a fair chunk of the Small Mountain Bear set, but what I heard I liked. Quite a bit.

The Last Monarchs, hailing from Alexandria, made their way onto the small stage and proceeded to play one heck of a little set. As mentioned above, the sound nearly did them a disservice, as I couldn't quite make out what the band said between songs thanks to muddy mics, but apart from that (and the drums being just this shade of too loud on occasion) their full band lushness was treated fairly well. Reminiscent somewhat of an old Richmond favorite, Mermaid Skeletons, but livelier and with more attitude, The Last Monarchs made me wonder just how I'd managed to miss the boat on them thus far. After all, Alexandria is pretty much my backyard. At times a little twang crept in, which while not your typical DC sound, sure did sound good to me. And again, it must be noted that violins and having a shit ton of people in your band both seem to be the new black, but I'm definitely down with both. Especially in the same band. And they covered "Folsom Prison Blues", which sounded great and won me over for dang sure.

Overall, it was a darned fine evening's worth of entertainment. I give both bands the ole thumbs up. Locals, make sure to check out The Last Monarchs. New Yorkers, put Small Mountain Bear on your radar. Everyone else, well, you've been advised to give both a looksie. They're both worth your while.

mp3: The Story of My Life (Small Mountain Bear - go here to listen and support)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Otherwise Engaged: Cloud Cult

It is an unfortunate reality for the serious concertgoer that on occasion, there will be more than one show on any given night that you really, really, REALLY wanna go to. Since the vast majority of us don't own a time machine, nor have the ability to either clone ourselves or split ourselves in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on the night in question), this tends to present a problem. Difficult decisions are made based on a multitude of variables (perhaps some of you even make lists of pros and cons), and ultimately, a show is chosen. But those other shows are still gonna be killer, and I'd like to give a little face time to the shows that, while I can't go myself, are highly recommended all the same.

For example, let's look at tonight, shall we? The District of Columbia is blessed with a bounty of shows virtually any night of the week. But on nights such as tonight, this gift becomes almost a burden. Any other night of the week, I would totally be at the Black Cat to see Cloud Cult. Any. Other. Night. I've never seen 'em, have wanted to see 'em for a while, and would love to see them at my favoritest of favorite spots. But of course, the scheduling gods did not take my needs into consideration. Thanks a lot, scheduling gods. But just because I can't be there for their sonic goodness doesn't mean YOU can't be. And rest of the country, they're on tour for a wee while longer, so go forth and enjoy.

mp3: You'll Be Bright (Cloud Cult from Light Chasers)