Tuesday, March 30, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #7: Woods/Real Estate/Surf City @ Rock’n’Roll Hotel, 3/27/10

Sure, I’ve wanted to see every single one of these shows a whole lot. But this one was really something I absolutely could not wait for. It sat there, written into my planner, for weeks, taunting me with the amount of time I still had to wait to see it. And then, one fine day, it was March 27th, and I was headed over to the Rock’n’Roll Hotel for what I knew without a doubt would be a fabulous show. And naturally, I was right.

MINI RECAP: Surf City = Biff! Real Estate = Bang! Woods = Pow! Overall score: A.

I arrived just as Surf City was starting up. Walking into a room filled with the divine sounds of some of my absolute favorite New Zealanders was a welcome thing indeed. I’m so thrilled to have finally seen them live, let me tell you (especially as this was their last US show for a while and because I’ve wanted to see them for months on end now). Their cheeky, pleasantly fuzzy, jangly noise sounded great in person, and I was so captivated I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Their (far too) brief set was effervescent and fantastic, and judging by the content of the set their new record is gonna be killer, and entirely in keeping with the strong sound they’ve already honed. I officially love this band to bits.

Real Estate was up next, and though they were the band I knew the least about, they too proved rather enjoyable to behold. The crowd was absolutely heaving for their set, with most of the sell out crowd turning up just in time for band number 2. Once I got over the initial shock of the Real Estate singer looking and acting a whole lot like an ex-boyfriend, I was ready to enjoy their set. And there was a lot to enjoy, starting even before they strummed a note. Any band that asks for a lotta reverb from the soundboard is fabulous in my book, not to mention their in-set encouragement of rowdiness. I really dug their rich, dreamy, dappled golden sound, mixing in a little of everything to create a lovely and appealing blend of beachside-cityscape-highway folk rock. Perhaps it’s not the most likely music to incite rowdy riots (ok, for the sake of puns, perhaps a sorta quiet riot), but it was damned fine music all the same. The crowd loved them, and who am I to argue?

It must be said, Woods kinda threw me for a little bit of a loop. Right off the bat, they went all rock on me. There was more feedback, more reverb, more drone, and more sharp edges than I ever expected out of them. But I’ll let you in on a little secret, friends, it was sensational. At times I found myself wanting to cut some serious rug, and judging by the movement on the floor I wasn’t the only one with such urges. For example, “To Clean” live was such a kicky little number, still retaining that sorta rustic sound from the Songs of Shame record but with a bit more bite, just as with most of their set. That unique, slightly off-kilter, almost falsetto was offset wonderfully by the big rock sound they had up their sleeve, balancing fragility with a kind of “we will rock your face off” mentality. Their extended instrumentals were especially intense (and loud), driving and crashing and wreaking beautiful havoc on my eardrums. All of this means that Woods is even better live than I had anticipated. See them, hear them, love them. End of story.

What a night, friends. What a night. A great bill from top to bottom, and all three are bands you should give serious consideration to. I’m beginning to feel just a wee bit spoiled here, because this was yet another hell of a show.

mp3: Dickshaker’s Union (Surf City from the Surf City EP)

mp3: Beach Comber (Real Estate from Real Estate)

mp3: To Clean (Woods from Songs of Shame)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #6: Spoon @ The National, 3/24/10

Somehow, I’m not really quite sure how it’s happened, I hadn’t ever managed to see Spoon live. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m sure either other things came up, I was out of town, or I missed out on tickets (or all of the above). Naturally, then, I wanted to right this terrible, terrible wrong against concert-going humanity. Finally, I can now say I’ve seen Spoon live. And all feels right with the world.

MINI RECAP: Spoon = Solid. Overall score: B.

Sadly, I missed all of The Strange Boys set and a great deal of the Deerhunter set, thanks to a little thing I like to call the Ticket Window Incident. It was a serious bummer to miss so much good music, so both bands if you’d be so kind to come back around this way soon, I’d be much obliged.

I must say, I think my expectations were a wee bit too high for Spoon. As in sky-high. Which really isn’t fair. And it’s not that the band wasn’t really, really good. It’s more that I wish my first Spoon experience wasn’t in a heavingly-packed National with so many people. I wish I had seen them way back when, ideally when they were touring Kill The Moonlight, my favorite Spoon record. Britt Daniel was as devastatingly handsome as I had hoped, and possibly even taller. The band sounded splendid as they steamrolled songs like “Someone Something,” “My Mathematical Mind,” a particularly saucy version of “Don’t You Evah,” “Everything Hits At Once,” “Don’t Make Me a Target,” “I Summon You,” “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb,” “I Turn My Camera On,” “Small Shapes,” and “Jonathon Fisk,” among other gems. They sounded lovely, and the crowd was really into them. Deservedly so. Like I said, it’s not that they weren’t terribly good, I just somehow wasn’t totally swept off my feet. But hey, sometimes I’m pretty dang picky. I think this will require further investigation on my part, so another Spoon show will definitely be in order.

But at least I’ve righted a wrong in terms of my concert-going, and that’s a very good thing indeed.

mp3: Vittorio E. (Spoon from Kill The Moonlight)


Friday, March 26, 2010

The Untitled Interview #42: Starring Jeremy Mendicino (Pretty & Nice)

So it's pretty much a Pretty & Nice lovefest up in here these days. But really, this should come as no surprise. There's so much to love! They totally won me over last year, and I'm even more smitten a kitten these days having recently seen them for the second time (and spent some quality time shooting the breeze with Mr. J. Mendicino). Oh, and they make mixtapes for us. New levels of awesome, if you ask me. If you're lookin' for a good time, I highly recommend procuring some of the bodacious bounty that is Pretty & Nice music. So just sit back, relax, and let the sage words of Jeremy carry you away on a tide of knowledge, friends.

Les Enfants Terribles: How the hell are you?
Jeremy Mendicino: Well, thank you.

LET: What was the last song you listened to?
JM: Drummers – “Tiny” (as of yet, unreleased)

LET: Playing music is:
JM: Hard work. I'm still bleeding from that cowbell episode...

LET: What album most made you realize you wanted to make music?
JM: Well...any Beatles record probably...I started writing when I was 3...so…hard to remember...

LET: Beatles or Stones?
JM: Beatles. Hands down. No question. Absolutely. Never really liked The Stones... always seemed too simple...too meat-handed. I mean, the Beatles wrote fucking, "Happiness is a Warm Gun"...what the heck more do you NEED?

LET: Top 5 albums (of now, of this month, or of ever):
JM: I'll give you a top 5 of today:

Cryptacize - Mythomania
Pink Floyd - Relics
Frog Eyes - Golden River
Genesis - Genesis
Mingus - Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

LET: Favorite music-related movie?
JM: Eeeeek! Hmmm...I don't want to sound like a Beatle-holic, so I won't say Help! How about, Hello Down There - you know, the one where the band of young'ns live in a glass house under the sea with their scientist dad and swingin' mom...what? You don't know that one? Come on! I mean, Tony Randall's in it! Isn't that enough?

LET: Half-full or half-empty?
JM: Half full. Of tea!

LET: Which of your peers do you think is making the best music these days?
JM: Aww jeesh...I'm gonna make someone angry with this one. I apologize to all of my peers who aren't mentioned here. I'm gonna go with The Big Big Bucks. They're incredible. Plus 7. With a cherry on top.

LET: What’s the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?
JM: "I have to pee... and where's my breakfast, Jeeves?"

LET: The greatest record store in the world is:
JM: Amoeba. Any one of 'em.

LET: Shaken or stirred?
JM: I don't drink, but I used to get my martinis any way I could! Always dirty and always with cheap vodka.

LET: Little-known Pretty & Nice fact?
JM: We morph.

LET: You kindly share mixes on your site, in memory of the lost art of making a mixtape. What makes a mighty fine mix?
JM: A pinch of history, a sprig of Theme, a touch of dirt, and good leveling (how obnoxious is it when someone gives you a mix and all the edits and levels are off? I hate that). But, it is the thought that counts... I guess. ;)

LET: If you weren’t in a band you’d be:
JM: That's true.

LET: Your boots were made for:
JM: Walkin'.

LET: If you were so inclined, whom would you form a tribute band in honor of?
JM: Failure. And Kevin would be the drummer, and my friend Luke would be the 2nd guitarist, and we'd have to find another guitarist to play the bass... preferably one addicted to heroin.

LET: Favorite Bostonian-area colloquialism?
JM: “Pass the chips, matey.” (Translation: “Put that lime in that coconut, friend.”)

LET: Best song ever written?
JM: “Banjo Bunnie” by the Frogs. Or maybe the Happy Birthday song. One of the two.


mp3: Grab Your Nets (Pretty & Nice from Blue & Blue)

100 Shows of 2010 - #5: Seabear/Via Tania/Sóley @ Black Cat, 3/23/10

I'd have to say that I don't get enough Iceland in my life, friends. Sure, I've been on Icelandic soil a couple times, but technically I'm not sure it counts (it was only the airport), and sure, I've seen Sigur Ros live, but that's definitely not enough. So given my Icelandic deficiencies, I was super excited to see Seabear backstage at my bar away from home, the Black Cat. And oh, what a wonderful evening it was. I can now let you in on a little secret. Iceland, my friends, rules.

MINI RECAP: Sóley = Delightful! Via Tania = Not too shabby! Seabear = Absolutely splendid! Overall score: B+

It was a miserable evening outside, but it was a joyful time indoors. Sóley, otherwise known as Seabear member Sóley Stefánsdóttir, got things off to a very, very good start. She's absolutely adorable, for one, so one is naturally inclined to like her. The bonus is that her music is lovely. It's ethereal, whimsical, and absolutely bewitching. The songs are haunting and very pretty. To make her set even more special, she revealed in her somewhat timid way that this was her first US show. Who doesn't love being at someone's first show, eh? All in all, I was so very impressed with Miss Sóley, and hope she'll do very well for herself, both on her own and with Seabear.

Up next was Via Tania, the Chicago ensemble fronted by Tania Bowers, an Australian import. Bowers is in possession of one hell of a voice, rich and robust and capable of holding one's attention. Their set was a total departure from that of Sóley, whereas the latter was subtle and mesmerizing, Via Tania was a bit livelier, and a bigger, more accessible sound. While not a band I would necessarily have sought out on my own, Via Tania was definitely entertaining, and Tania's voice just doesn't quit. I dug their Santogold cover, as well, because the VT treatment was so much different to the Santogold style. Tania's sultry voice gave a new spin to the song "L.E.S. Artistes" for sure. But after a little while, I started getting impatient for Seabear.

I didn't have to wait too long, thankfully, to get my Seabear fix. And I'll go ahead and say it, for the benefit of all you bands, but if you want a glowing review, it helps to wear Fair Isle. No lie. It totally works. Seabear, though, won me over with more than just a cozy sweater, mind you. I was totally in love approximately six seconds into their long set. Their live sound is so warm, so jaunty, so pleasant. It's lovely and pastoral and wonderful to experience. They are absolutely charming. And again, I do believe they said it was their first DC show. And I do so love first times. There were tons of them (being vertically-challanged it can be tricky to get a count when there's so many bodies up on the stage, but I'm pretty sure there were 7 of them) crammed up on the small backstage stage, but they made good use of the limited space. Their set was so enveloping, like a warm bear hug from an old friend. Any band who's singer has a sore throat yet sounds so great you'd never know (until he solicited for cough drops) gets serious bonus points. What a trooper. "We play like a million songs," they joke, "did you notice?" Not only are they great musically, but are endearing from a stage presence perspective as well. I wanted their set to actually be a million songs long, because everything they played was simply magical. They even orchestrated one of the most successful bouts of audience participation I've ever seen with "Seashell," an impressive feat in its own right. The crowd wanted an encore, and an encore we got, including their darling take on Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." And like good footballers, the band applauded the crowd as we applauded them. How splendid they are! They're definitely in the ranks of favorite new live bands, that's for damn sure. Seabear is a band you must see live, without question. They'll put a smile on your face, guaranteed.

mp3: Seashell (Seabear from The Ghost That Carried Us Away)


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #4: The Black Lips/Box Elders/The Vermilions @ Black Cat, 3/19/10

Once more, dear friends, I was on pins and needles to see this next show. Sure, I saw The Black Lips last year down in Austin, but that’s different. I had always wanted to see them here, at the Black Cat, while sucking down pints of amaretto sours (thanks, Al). Seeing them was surely gonna be awesome enough. But throw in Nebraskans Box Elders and promising Frederickburgians The Vermilions, and you’ve got a recipe for a bitchin’ show. I was stoked to bring my friend Kat along for the ride, since she hadn’t ever seen The Lips before and was dying to. Needless to say, we were both verily entertained.

MINI RECAP: The Vermilions = Fantastical! Box Elders = Also fantastical! The Black Lips = Again, fantastical! Overall score: A.

There was a line halfway down the block by the time I got to 14th Street. Given who all was playing, this wasn’t entirely unexpected. In fact, I have to say I was surprised it wasn’t busier at the show. What’s wrong with you, People Who Were Not There? In any event, I assumed the position (cocktail in one hand, pen in another) and prepared to be wowed. And may I just say, I was pretty dang wowed.

If you’re not familiar with The Vermilions, might I suggest you make yourselves acquainted. They were a perfect fit for the bill, loud and jangly and very, very likeable. To give you a better idea, they cite bands like Detroit hellions The Stooges and the MC5 amongst their influences, not to mention the great Commonwealth of Virginia. Accordingly, they play their guitars something fierce. And I like it. They’re feisty and kinda cute, so naturally I dug them. I do believe you probably will, too.

From one great set to another, Box Elders took the stage next. As with The Vermilions, it was immediately obvious why The Black Lips chose to bring Box Elders out on their road trip with them. The Omaha-ians are also loud, and while their songs aren’t quite as offensive as the ground the Lips tend to tread, they sure are amusing. The three-piece really impressed me, and while I already knew I liked them before the show, by the time second song “Alice & Friends” started I was hooked. Perhaps it was their utilization of not one but two double-neck guitars. No, really. It was amazing. Perhaps it was their pop meets surf meets punk meets garage sound. Perhaps it was their song about Hippy Druids. Yes, you heard me. Or perhaps it was that their drummer was so very excitedly animated, bouncing around and waving his arms all over creation, like the human version of Animal. Minus all that orange hair. It was probably everything about them, really, that made them so bloody endearing. Their set was over far too soon, if you ask me. The dudes of Box Elders are cheeky little buggers (i.e. playing Jefferson Airplane’s song “White Rabbit” and calling it a cover of a song by a band they just played with), and it’s a fine thing indeed.

And then it was time. Time to get ill/rowdy/inappropriate. Yes indeed, it was time for The Black Lips, Atlanta’s, er, finest. “How y’all doin,” they began. “We’re The Black Lips from Atlanta, Georgia.” And the crowd went nuts. Really, what can you say about The Black Lips? They’re seriously snarky, bratty, dirty, and absolutely irresistible. They also happen to make some of the finest garage revival music around, and their low-brow lyrics can’t quite manage to detract from how good they are as a band. One of my favorite things about their set was the occasional projection of the blobby liquid globules, looking like a high school science experiment and a flashback to a time when nobody in the crowd was born yet. It was “magic time” anytime the projection was turned on, and with some amaretto in me that was one of the most amusing things I’d heard all night. As for the music, The Black Lips were even better than at SXSW 2009. It was wonderful to see them in an enclosed space, where the crowd was there to see them and not all the bands coming after them. The kids loved ‘em, and the band was on point. They played a lot of my personal faves, like “O Katrina,” “Dirty Hands,” “Lock and Key,” “Bad Kids,” an amazing version of “Juvenile,” and an encore of “Navajo.” It was insane.

I don’t think I could have enjoyed myself more. Ok, maybe if the Lips had played “Veni Vidi Vici.” And “MIA.” But that’s about it. Good company, good bands, and good booze. It doesn’t get much better, folks.

mp3: Alice & Friends (Box Elders from Alice & Friends)

mp3: Lock & Key (Black Lips live at Amoeba)

The Untitled Interview #41: Starring Ben Dickey (Blood Feathers)

I recently discovered that I kinda sorta love Blood Feathers, thanks to a mucho fantastico live performance at the Black Cat a few weeks back. They've got sass, my friends, serious sass. The Philly supergroupers impressed me not only with their saucy onstage demeanor but with their music, too. Hey, it's not all about stage presence, friends. It helps to make good tunes, at least in my humble opinion. And happily, Blood Feathers know how to concoct some damn fine songs. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it. Pick up a copy of their record, Goodness Gracious, or even better, get the record and then go see them live. You'll love 'em.

Ben Dickey (otherwise known as Feather Dickey) kindly sat down with some questions, and below are his answers. Ben wins major points for his diplomatic answer to my most pointed question (see Beatles vs Stones). Sure, we root for enemy baseball teams, but I still think Ben is the bee's knees. But look out, Ben, the Nats are gonna win it all in about 100 years. Just you wait.

Les Enfants Terribles: How the hell are you?
Ben Dickey: Pretty darned good I suppose.

LET: What was the last song you listened to?
BD: “DW. Washburn” by the Coasters.

LET: Playing music is: __________
BD: Playing music is not quite a disease, but there ain't no cure and it's terminal. But it feels just so mighty fine!

LET: What album most made you realize you wanted to make music?
BD: Bo Diddley (1957) & Go Bo Diddley.

LET: Beatles or Stones?
BD: Steatles.

LET: Top 5 albums (of now, of this month, or of ever):
BD: Jeez, for now, 5. Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet Vol. 1. 4. Howlin' Wolf, Moanin In The Moonlight. 3. Hank Williams, Moanin' The Blues. 2. Bob Dylan, Love & Theft. 1. Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland...but that's just today, and that's just me.

LET: Favorite music-related movie?
BD: Hard Days Night.

LET: Half-full or half-empty?
BD: Full dahlin', full.

LET: Which of your peers do you think is making the best music these days?
BD: We really dig what Jack White does as a musical force all round. I'm always interested in what Radiohead will do next. Some of the best song writers around are our friends, Dr. Dog, Mazarin (or Black Stoltzfus), Walkmen. Love what they do. The best music? Raphael Saadiq is makin' some damn good music. Don't know bout best, sorry.

LET: What’s the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?
BD: Does the ol' Tanker Dog (my dog) need to go outside yonder?

LET: The greatest record store in the world is:
BD: Princeton Record Exchange is pretty good.

LET: Shaken or stirred?
BD: Shaken baby.

LET: If you weren’t in a band you’d be:
BD: A fighter pilot.

LET: Your boots were made for:
BD: Lovin'.

LET: If you were so inclined, whom would you form a tribute band in honor of?
BD: Fats Domino.

LET: Little-known Blood Feathers fact?
BD: Not a one tattoo in the band.

LET: Springing forward-falling backwards: thumbs up or thumbs down?
BD: Give me mo' light and I will grin with delight.

LET: Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers: who do you root for?
BD: Phillies fo' sho'.

LET: Best song ever written?
BD: There’s that word best again. For the purposes of the question, how bout “O' Holy Night”, oh those majors into minors into majors.


mp3: Caterpillar (Blood Feathers from Goodness Gracious)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, William

William Shatner. He's an icon for his portrayal of the fearless leader of the Starship Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk. Who doesn't love hearing him say "Beam me up, Scotty," or watching him covered in Tribbles, or see him draped with a constantly revolving bevy of intergalactic ladies? I know I sure do, and I'm not even a Trekkie!

Shatner also gave voice to some, er, interesting music. I can still remember the first time I heard his take on "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds." It was a late English evening and there had been heavy drinking, but not quite enough to prepare me for the Shatnerian experience. I find his music to be an acquired taste.

Lately, I've fallen back in love with the divine Shatner courtesy of his fantastic turn as the Priceline Negotiator, that long-running Priceline ad campaign. His deadpan delivery and expressive features get me everytime. I tend to use Priceline quite a bit, so perhaps the subliminal affection for Shatner is making me choose them over those other travel sites after all. And so, friends, if you will, let's wish a very happy birthday to Mr. Shatner.

mp3: The Transformed Man (William Shatner from The Transformed Man)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Best Non-SXSW Gigs of 2009: NIN/JA & The Brian Jonestown Massacre

Just because it was so unfair to name SXSW the best show of last year and leave it at that, I've decided, in my infinite wisdom, to go ahead and let you know the other two best shows that last year had to offer that didn't take place in Austin. One of them happened in Columbia, Maryland, while the other took place both in Philly and right here in DC. Oh yeah, and the latter two just so happen to involve the band whose brilliant logo is pictured to the left.

We'll begin with the NIN/JA tour, billed as a kind of farewell tour for Nine Inch Nails, though not for Jane's Addiction. I went mainly because of my fondness for both the music of NIN and Trent Reznor himself, but hot damn if I didn't end up (finally) falling in love with Perry Farrell and the boys of Jane's by the end of the show. It was a magical night, from the storm rolling in during soundcheck to the utter perfection of the NIN set to the over-the-top exploits of Jane's Addiction. There's a lot to be said in favor of both of these bands, and many kudos to be given for just how good the front men are as showmen. The NIN/JA tour reinforced just how great these bands are live, and I feel pretty lucky to have been able to be there to witness it.

The other half of the non-SXSW live winners belongs to LET favorites The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Hopefully by now people have stopped going to BJM shows just to see what Anton gets up to, because if they're so fixated on that they might miss the sheer brilliance going on onstage. I got to see them twice last year, both at the Trocadero in Philly and the 9:30 Club here in DC. Both shows were amazing, and saw the divine triumvirate of Anton, Matt Hollywood, and Joel Gion all sharing the stage once more. Playing virtually anything and everything you could hope to hear at a BJM show, the band made me love them more with each note. I'm already looking forward to June 9th, when the band will be back in DC.

mp3: March of the Pigs (Nine Inch Nails from The Downward Spiral)

mp3: That Girl Suicide (The Brian Jonestown Massacre from Methodrone)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Best Gig of 2009: SXSW

Ok, perhaps this isn’t really all that fair. Festivals really do, by their very nature, out shadow just about any regular gig. Their sheer size and stature, for one, assures that they are forces to be reckoned with. And last year’s SXSW was no exception. It’s the biggest show and biggest festival I’ve ever been to, and hot damn was it a good time. It was head and shoulders above just about every other show I went to last year, and easily wins this here category.

From our first night’s dive bar special seeing bands like Cartright and Your 33 Black Angels at a wonderful dive to the bitchin’ New Zealand party in Brush Square Park to the awesomeness of Primal Scream at La Zona Rosa to the killer wall of drone put forth by The Black Angels and special guest Roky Erickson, the entire festival was an endless, frantic, frenzied party. I mean, you know it’s gonna be good when entire city blocks are literally shut down to traffic to allow for the smooth (-ish) foot traffic of bands and festival-goers. Bar after bar after bar plays host to hundreds and hundreds of bands and thousands and thousands of press and industry people. Sure, I got so into SXSW that I was physically sick, but it was so worth it.

The schedule of the festival was so jam-packed full of bands that trying to schedule what to see was a Herculean task. But really, it was a no-lose situation. No matter what you see at any given SXSW, you’re almost assured that it’s going to be something good. And after seeing The Black Lips, Primal Scream, Ringo Deathstarr, Graham Coxon, The Love Language, Glasvegas, and many others, I can safely say that SXSW 2009 was the top dog of 2009 live events. And man oh man, I sure do wish I was going back this year. The lineup sounds fantastic, and it's just such a grand old time. SXSW 2011, here I come. Dammit.

mp3: Sparxxx (The Love Language from The Love Language)

mp3: Veni Vidi Vici (The Black Lips from Good Bad Not Evil)

mp3: Medication (Primal Scream from Vanishing Point)


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Untitled Interview #40 – SXSW Edition: Starring Cassette Kids

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. As of today, Austin will be taken over. Inundated. Overrun. Engulfed. You get the idea. To celebrate the mad mad mad mad week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

Everybody loves a good, danceable pop song every now and again. Well, I know I sure do. Our next guests are up-and-coming purveyors of quality dancepop songs, Cassette Kids from The Land Down Under. It’s frothy, glittery chick-fronted goodness that’ll certainly quench your sugary pop cravings. I’d love to see them share a stage with countrymen Cut Copy one of these days, as I think that would be quite a treat. They also get major points for getting my subtle wit (see question 1), using one of my favorite terms (see “glutton for punishment,” question 2), and for sharing one of my addictions (see question 5). You’ve got at least six chances to see them live down at SXSW, so perhaps you should think about penciling them in.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Cassette Kids: Plane, but hopefully watching “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” on it. Love that movie.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
CK: Toothpaste, I always pack the brush, but will always forget the paste. I usually borrow Kat's, but she uses Sensodine & it tastes horrible. You'd think I'd have learnt my lesson the first 20 times. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment?

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
CK: I think at this point in time we're playing 6. I know we're doing shows in LA & Houston before heading to Austin.

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
CK: I've got a few: The Temper Trap, The XX, Rival Schools & Children Collide.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
CK: Hitting up an Urban Outfitters, I'm addicted to shopping & they stock some good stuff.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
CK: When I was 12, my sister took me to what was supposed to be the last Big Day Out in 1997. Soundgarden were headlining I think. I remember running from another stage into the main arena to 'Black Hole Sun'. It was incredible. Then, like 3 months later, they split up.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
CK: Deciding which of your favourite bands there you'll deny seeing as the timetable clashes. Then when you get there, you lose a friend, go off to find them, never see them again, but somehow manage to keep walking past the same stranger throughout the day. Weird.

mp3: Lying Around (Cassette Kids from Lying Around)

The Untitled Interview #39 – SXSW Edition: Starring Francisco Fernandez and Daniel Aguilar (The Ferocious Few)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. As of today, Austin will be taken over. Inundated. Overrun. Engulfed. You get the idea. To celebrate the mad mad mad mad week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

They are rather ferocious, and they are indeed few. They’re Francisco Fernandez and Daniel Aguilar, otherwise known as, well, The Ferocious Few. It’s hard to believe that two people can make the raucous kinda noise these guys can, but these two gents prove that sometimes two can be the magic number for achieving musical awesomeness. Further endearing themselves into the cockles of my heart, the band’s Myspace counts girls with boyfriends, Marvin Gaye, and ferociousness among their influences. They’re also badass and will play on stages and sidewalks alike. Talk about street cred. Oh, and ladies, they’re pretty dang foxy. The Ferocious Few is soulful and filthy and a little raunchy, and I sure do like it.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Francisco Fernandez: Flying in on Southwest Airlines.
Daniel Aguilar: Plane.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
FF: Anything useful.
DA: Enough pants

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
FF: 1 if anybody from the festival asks, but check our Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter for all shows.
DA: As many as possible

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
FF: Cheap Trick
DA: DJ Quik.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
FF: Play on the street for some money to eat.
DA: Setting up.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
FF: Warped tour 1995 Shoreline, I saw Sublime, No Doubt, Deftones, L7 all these bad ass bands in top form. I was in fifth grade.
DA: Reggae Sunsplash.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
FF: Being focused amid chaos
DA: The concentration of energy and heat.

mp3: Lord Save My Soul (The Ferocious Few – new album Juices out in April)

[photo by Jonathan Ratcliff]

Happy Birthday, Billy

Today happens to be the happy day wherein we all don one of a million shades of green, go to Irish pubs, and drink copious amounts of green beer, but did you know it’s also a rather important gentleman’s birthday? He’s the sometimes cranky, oft-brilliant leader of one of the most important bands from the 90s.

I can still remember how vital the Smashing Pumpkins were in my formative musical years, and when I close my eyes I can see that video for the song “1979” that so epitomizes my high school years (totally just dated myself). Regardless of how you might feel about them and him these days, I think most of us can agree that Smashing Pumpkins helped define the 90s, musically speaking. We celebrate his multitude of musical achievements (and his super-shiny scalp) today, and raise a glass of green as we wish Billy Corgan a very, very Happy Birthday.

Top’o’the morning to you, Billy.

mp3: Zero (Smashing Pumpkins from Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness)


The Untitled Interview #38 – SXSW Edition: Starring Adam Wills (Bear In Heaven)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. As of today, Austin will be taken over. Inundated. Overrun. Engulfed. You get the idea. To celebrate the mad mad mad mad week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

I recently discovered that Bear In Heaven is without question one of my new favorite live bands on the face of the planet, so I’d like to begin by strongly, vehemently, and emphatically urging one and all of you to take advantage of whatever chance you get to go and see them live. As Nike so wisely advises, “Just Do It.” The foursome cranks out some of the biggest and best electro/funk/rock hybrid songs you’re likely to ever experience, and they do it with tons of panache (and tons of well-groomed facial hair). I promise you absolutely will not be disappointed. Also, should you happen to be seeing them in Austin, bring some socks with you. Adam might have run out by that point.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Adam Wills: Automobile! We rented a cheap van from a buddy of ours. It's a nice ride, plenty of room for us and our heap of gear. Currently it's going to be arriving about 1hour before we have to leave for tour, so I'm a bit of an anxiety case right now over it.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
AW: Enough socks. Never enough socks. I'm pretty good with my checklists, but, yeah, definitely gonna forget something. Hope I remember my passport!

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
AW: 9!!! Holy Shit. Well, 8 + a radio performance, but that's a lot for us. Especially in the middle of a 5 week tour, we're gonna be crispy after SXSW. Stoked to get there and STOKED to leave.

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
AW: Tough call. Hope we'll be able to see anything, we're playing so much, there's not gonna be enough time and energy to dart around like we're used to. But I can't wait to see Oh No Ono again, an amazing band from Denmark who are good pals of ours, they're fantastic. Oh, and then I'm definitely gonna check out Stone Temple Pilots, I heard they'll be down.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
AW: Well, we're actually playing the moment we arrive, but if there's a moment to shove a taco in my face, I'll be doing that.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
AW: Oh, hmmm, had to be Lollapalooza I reckon. 93? I don't remember!

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
AW: People watching. We played Bonnaroo a couple of years ago, and I've never been to something like that in my entire life. I don't think I had even been to a show that was 500+ since high school. So to enter the grounds and see 100,000 kids, 80% of which were wasted, was AMAZING hahaha. Had a blast, but was very thankful to be out of there after 1 day.

mp3: Lovesick Teenagers (Bear In Heaven from Beast Rest Forth Mouth)


The Untitled Interview #37 – SXSW Edition: Starring Rupert Orton (The Jim Jones Revue)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. As of today, Austin will be taken over. Inundated. Overrun. Engulfed. You get the idea. To celebrate the mad mad mad mad week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

The more I listen to this next band, the more impressed with them I find myself. The Jim Jones Revue spews forth an irrepressible package of absolutely filthy, no-holds-barred bluesy rock’n’roll, complete with howling, whisky-coated vocals, fierce guitar screeching, and a smattering of Jerry Lee Lewis-esque key-tinkling. It’s one hell of a ride, my friends, and it’s a ride I think you’ll like being on. And of course, I’ve gotta give them all sorts of love for the song “Hey Hey Hey Hey,” since I do love me a song about the state of Alabama. Make damn sure to check ‘em out down there in Austin, or whenever you should be lucky enough to get the chance. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. They’re hitting the big-time, with Spin giving them a nod as one of the 50 bands you should pay attention to at SXSW this year.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Rupert Orton: Submarine.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
RO: Life jackets.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
RO: Six so far...

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
RO: Kid Congo Powers and The Bellrays who are playing our showcase at Prague on Thursday 18 March.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
RO: We're arriving in the middle of night so it'll be either go out & cane it or go to bed!
LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
RO: Can't remember, probably Glastonbury.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
RO: Camaraderie of musicians and fans.

mp3: Hey Hey Hey Hey (The Jim Jones Revue from The Jim Jones Revue)



[photo by Stephane Rossi]

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Untitled Interview #36 – SXSW Edition: Starring John Paul Caballero (Dios)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s almost time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. Starting tomorrow, Austin will be taken over and all hell will break loose (and dammit I wish I was gonna be there). To celebrate the impending week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

We love us some bravado here at LET, and our next guests have plenty of it to go around. Initially known as Dios, then Dios (Malos) and now once more Dios, please welcome bassist John Paul Caballero to the interview arena. I strongly recommend you make plans to check out the killer Dios sound: whacky whirls of sonic swirls with a hearty dose of late 60s sensibilities, with some extra sauciness thrown in for good measure (SXSW attendees pay special attention to their 3/20 show with The Black Angels and Darker My Love!). I suspect they could be rather good in the flesh. But fathers, you might wanna lock up your daughters. And of course, I have to mention that if ever you’ve wanted a song written about you, Dios can make it happen. Details can be found on their website. You could have them write a song about us, we sure would be tickled pink.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
John Paul Caballero: We have a diesel van that runs on discarded vegetable oil. We had it converted in 2006 for 2500 dollars and its probably saved us about 10k+ on gas costs. So we're probably gonna fly in through helicopter.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
JPC: Hmmmmmmmmmm....I’m gonna have to say my guitar.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
JPC: 5.

SXSW SHOWS

Thursday, March 18

3.00pm - Buddyhead/Buzzgrinder party
Venue: Annie’s, 706 W6th Street (bet Rio Grande & West)

4.50pm – 5.20pm – Little Radio Party
Venue: Red Eye Fly, Red River just North o6th St.

Friday March 19

4.00pm - Filter Magazine/Dickies party (with Those Darlins, Jason Collett)
Venue: Lustre Pearl, 97 Rainey St (one block east of Red River and one
block south of East Cesar Chavez)

Saturday March 20

1.00pm Vestal Party (w/ Icarus Line, Darker My Love)
Long Branch Inn, 1133 E11th (at Lydia)

11.00pm - Official SXSW showcase (w/ Black Angels, Darker My Love)
Galaxy Room, 508
E6th St (bet Red River and Neches)

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
JPC: Hmmm, I don’t really know who else is playing. I just wanna go to Roky Erikson’s house.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
JPC: I’m gonna find out what the age of consent is and THEN I’m gonna take
some pictures of the IRS building fo' sho. You dont get to see that often.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
JPC: That would be Coachella 94 I think. the one where Nirvana was supposed to play but didn’t due to circumstances beyond their control. It surprises me now though remembering the line-up, how stacked it was compared to festivals now a days: The Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars, The Breeders, A Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, L7, Green Day, The Flaming Lips, The Verve, Guided by Voices, Girls Against Boys, Stereolab, Fu-Schnickens, The Pharcyde, Cypress Hill, The Black Crowes. Crazy

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
JPC: Playing them. Otherwise you’re stuck paying for 5 dollar water, 5 dollar pizza slices, and 10 dollar beer.

mp3: Stare At The Wheel (Dios from We Are Dios)


[photo by Robin Laananen]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Album Review: White Fence – White Fence

I must admit, I was a little predisposed to like White Fence’s new record before I even heard it. After all, the man behind the White Fence is a familiar face around these parts: Tim Presley of LET favorites Darker My Love. Tim’s a busier guy than I had thought, what with his Darker My Love duties, other band obligations, and yet the man can still find the time to crank out a damn fine record of his own. Let’s hear it for multitasking.

On first listen, you might ask yourself which long-lost gem of a 1968 record you might have stumbled upon. But no sir. No ma’am. It’s just the good works of Tim Presley. Tim’s definitely been listening to his Syd Barrett records, and has managed to create a really great sound here, evocative not only of Syd’s solo work but with glimpses of Pavement, The Fall (particularly on “Baxter Corner”), and overtones of obscure 60s bands that very few people are fortunate enough to know about. The album is more than a little lo-fi, crackly and muddy and sounding a lot like a basement or bedroom recording. And I’ve got to say that in this case, that’s a wonderful thing. It’s very atmospheric, very exposed, and very, very good. You production snobs might not agree, so if you’re looking for super slick look elsewhere. In the meantime, the rest of us will enjoy the beauty that a little roughness around the edges can provide.

Knowing the proclivity of Darker My Love to the realms of nouveau psychedelia, the content of this record comes as absolutely no surprise. The only surprise is just how much I like it. It’s a sonic kaleidoscope, a musical merry-go-round. Tim tries anything and everything, seemingly, and his experimentation really pays off. There are bonus points to be had for including a song called “Sick Doctor Blues.” Brilliant. Listening to this record, and it’s not a short one, you feel like the whole thing is done before it’s barely begun. And at that point, you’ll just wanna keep listening. And listening. And listening.

mp3: I’ll Follow You (White Fence from the forthcoming White Fence)


The Untitled Interview #35 – SXSW Edition: Starring Simon Balthazar (Fanfarlo)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s almost time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. In a few short days, Austin will be taken over and all hell will break loose (and dammit I wish I was gonna be there). To celebrate the impending week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

Our next guest really doesn’t need an introduction. My love for his band is pretty well documented. After all, if you’ve been paying attention lately, you’ll quite possibly have noticed that Fanfarlo’s Reservoir was my runaway number 1 album of last year. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and if you don’t own it yet shame on you. The cornerstone of the Fanfarlo sound is lead singer Simon Balthazar’s haunting voice, warm and lovely and all-too entrancing. His honeyed tones can make anything sound bewitching. Simon was kind enough to break from his festival planning to answer my questions, answers to which are below. If you happen to be in Austin, you just might run into him ‘round the campfire. If not, just make sure you a) go see them live if you can, and b) buy Reservoir.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Simon Balthazar: Boat, hopefully.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
SB: Swim shorts, and end up swimming in my underpants.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
SB: About 5 or 6 I think... so looking like a relatively chilled out one... although I'm sure we'll end up fitting in as much as we can. We are going to shoot a short film while we're there as well.

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
SB: Haven't actually trawled through the schedule yet, but Local Natives who we've bumped into a couple of times and whose stuff we're into. Also a friend's new band Summer Camp.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
SB: Drink a soy latte and bask in the sunshine.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
SB: Roskilde 2000, which was the year 9 people died at the Pearl Jam show. As a whole it was also rainy and miserable. Put me off festivals for a little while.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
SB: Apart from the music? Campfires perhaps, or tea-and-cake tents.


mp3: Finish Line (Fanfarlo from Reservoir)

Friday, March 12, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #3: Bear In Heaven @ Rock’n’Roll Hotel, 3/6/10

I was oh so very excited about seeing Bear In Heaven live. On record, they are so very good. I was hoping they’d somehow manage to be even better up on the stage at the old Rock’n’Roll Hotel, and sure enough they were. While the band was magnificent, the crowd and sound left something to be desired. Can’t have everything, I guess.

MINI RECAP: Bear In Heaven = unbelievable. Overall score: A.

It was crowded at the Hotel for the show. Very, very, very crowded. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the place so packed from wall to wall, and I’ve been to several sold out shows there. I suppose it was to be expected, given the bill (not only Bear In Heaven but Freelance Whales and Cymbals Eat Guitars as well). But hot damn. It was so crowded that I didn’t have enough personal space to whip out the ole notebook for notation purposes. Thank the lord for the notepad function on cell phones, eh? From a journalistic standpoint, and personal space standpoint, I sure do wish the show had been at the Black Cat instead.

Complaining ends there. Because, you see, Bear In Heaven was so dang good that they could have played the itty bittiest little choked-up hole in the wall and I would have been in musical bliss. I’d cautiously entertain the notion that this is a band that’s even better live than they are recorded (they probably should get moving on a live album if you ask me). There’s something raw to them live, they’ve got a little more attitude. All four of them came out with their game faces on, and were pretty intense for the duration of their ten-song set. It was a wild, madcap swirl of a set, filling eardrums with funky, big beaty, psychy, electrogasmic insanity. And oh mercy, was it loud. It was like being punched in the face with a big bastard wall of noise. And it was beautiful. Bear In Heaven was completely hypnotic, and if I had had the room to dance around like a woman possessed I would have done it.

Despite a few issues with the sound (at times it was a little too muddled, and the bass was maybe just a little too loud on a few songs), the entire set was sensational. And I’ll remember the eternal line uttered by the band midway through their set: “Moustaches Forever.” A wonderful, hilarious sentiment. I’ve had them in my head pretty much non-stop since the show, “Wholehearted Mess” in particular with that mesmerizing beat and the cheeky drum break. I think it’s safe to declare Bear In Heaven one of my new favorite live bands. Take my advice, friends, if you have the chance, make sure you go and see them live. You’ll thank me.

mp3: Wholehearted Mess (Bear in Heaven from Beast Rest Forth Mouth)


The Untitled Interview #34 – SXSW Edition: Starring G. Lucas Crane (Woods)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s almost time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. In a few short days, Austin will be taken over. To celebrate the impending week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

I pity the fool that doesn’t like Woods, I really do. After all, to not like Woods means to not like the sound of endless stretches of dirt country roads, vast expanses of sun-bleached desert nothingness or sweeping landscapes full of mist-covered mountains and trees tinted by autumn. The music Woods make, well, it’s really rather fine. “Curious perfection,” you might call it, as they sing in “The Number,” off the fantastic record Songs of Shame. The more I think about it, the more I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not being a Woods fan. It’s never too late to start, thankfully. And what better way to show your love than by going to see them live? SXSW attendees can see Woods, as can a whole lot of us folks who aren’t going to Austin, seeing as they’re touring around the festival. See what G. Lucas Crane is stoked about at SXSW below. And if you do happen to see them while in Austin, maybe bring ‘em some bags of ice. Or pants.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
G. Lucas Crane: We’re driving in our Ford Econoline named “Vivian.”

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
GLC: Bags of Ice. Enough Pants.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
GLC: (no response – but they’re playing no less than 4 times)

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
GLC: Fresh and Onlys and Pocahaunted, both bands full of solid bros.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
GLC: Go swimming and eat smoked meats.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
GLC: The Warped Tour. Columbus, Ohio. 94. I have almost no memory of it though, I remember smoking weed with a trucker and there was a fight during Kool Keith when someone threw a shoe at him.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
GLC: Time Dilation. When you gather thousands of people together and commit them to party their asses off, time itself ceases to have any relation to what the watch says. Short sets last forever. Long distances are traveled in split seconds. An open bar cooked in the hot sun never ends. The bloody Mary becomes bottomless.

mp3: I Was Gone (Woods from At Echo Lake {due out in May 2010})


[photo by Erina Digby]

Best Non-Gig of 2009: Lebowski Fest DC

A man (the man for his time and place) returns home after a trip to Ralph’s convenience store to make an all-important purchase of milk (for his evening Caucasian, of course), only to find two uninvited and ill-mannered guests waiting for him. Mild unpleasantness ensues, and after a traumatic incident involving a close encounter with his toilet bowl, the man is left alone, perplexed, with a pee stain on his beloved living room rug, a rug that really tied the room together. And then, the opening strains of Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” fill the air, and the enthusiastic hootin’ and hollerin’ begins. Welcome friends, nay, Achievers, to Lebowski Fest DC. If you weren’t there, you should have been, because it was one of the best events of the whole damn year.

For me, attending Lebowski Fest DC was never negotiable. I might be a fairly recent convert, but I fell fast and I fell hard for the Coen Brother’s masterpiece (otherwise known as “The Big Lebowski,” to use the parlance of our times) about a middle-aged slacker residing in Los Angeles and his misadventures involving bowling, Bunny, and White Russians. Soon I found myself not only owning the movie, but quoting from it at any given moment as well. And I’m definitely not alone in my Lebowski adoration. As it would happen, we have a couple of serious Lebowski enthusiasts to thank for Lebowski Fest, Will Russell and Scott Shuffit. The pair of Louisville-ians were so enamored with the movie that they had a party for it, way back in 2002, and the whole thing ballooned from there, much to the surprise and delight of the founders. Soon, things had become so big that even Jeff Bridges was getting in on the fun. He even taped a faux-satellite feed intro for the movie that was shown before the film began.

And that’s cool, that’s cool.

These days, Lebowski Fest is a traveling show of insanity and mild obsession, with fun and enjoyment being the main objectives. The cities chosen for Lebowski Fest vary (and you can request a stop on the LF route), though you can always count on the annual party in Lexington. The circus has even been across the pond. Some cities are single-nighters, but in DC we lucked out. The festival was broken into two nights; night one being a movie screening/live performance at the 9:30 Club, night two a bowling extravaganza at the rather swanky Strike! Bethesda.

Sadly, thanks to the glorious clusterfuck known as I-95 traffic I missed the musical talents of the Black Diamond Heavies, though I hear they were verily entertaining. The club was full of Achievers, both costumed and non. The mainstage floor was covered with chairs, turning the 9:30 Club into a pretty great movie theatre. I don’t know about you, but I find the whole movie-going experience to be vastly improved with fully-stocked bars. The crowd was whooping it up the whole time, which, if you’ve ever seen the film shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. After it was all said and done, the friend I had roped into coming with me and I went to Ben’s Chili Bowl to get some grub, and he gave me the party favor he had collected. It was a crumpled up piece of paper, homework, if you will. In a clever play on one of the seminal props in the film, the Founding Achievers had handed out copies of Larry Sellers’ homework, but instead of a schoolkid bullshit paper, it was the lyrics to the Kenny Rogers’ song you’ll hear in the film, adapted to DC, of course. Naturally, it was in a plastic baggie, which should serve as a reminder to us all that you shouldn’t fuck a stranger in the ass. Or at least, that you shouldn’t try to destroy a stranger’s car until you know for sure that it belongs to the stranger to whom you are trying to prove a point to. Am I wrong?

Night two required another splendid drive up good old 95, this time with the added pleasure of the hike up 495 to Bethesda. But the agony of the road was well made up for by the ecstasy of the evening. Strike! Bethesda is quite the posh alley. Fancy scorekeeping devices, graphics either mocking you for gutterballs or emphasizing strikes and spares. I saw more of the former, I confess. The crowd at Strike! was much more modest than at the previous night’s festivities, but this portion of the Fest was definitely geared more towards the hardcore fans. Costumes abounded, as did copious bowling shirts. And White Russians, naturally. I bucked with tradition on that point, but did manage to consume much vodka, keeping in the spirit of the proceedings. I ended up bowling with two fellow Virginians, who were both exceedingly better bowlers than I and very nice dudes to boot. They were some of the bowling-shirt contingent, as it so happens they once had a team named in honor of the movie. All in all, it was a great evening of costume contests, bowling, and cocktails.

The new schedule has been announced for the 2010 series of Lebowski Fest. Start working on your costumes, friends.

mp3: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) (Kenny Rogers & The First Edition from The Big Lebowski OST)


The Untitled Interview #33 – SXSW Edition: Starring Matthew Byars (The Caribbean)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s almost time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. In a few short days, Austin will be taken over and all hell will break loose. To celebrate the impending week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

It has definitely warmed the cockles of my heart to see some solid local bands heading down to Austin to represent DC this year at SXSW. The Caribbean has been around for quite a few years now, and it’s nice to know they’re getting some big time festival cred. After all, they’re just so very appealing, mellow and melodic and just sorta pretty songs. In a way, their music reminds me of DC in the spring, right before it gets too bloody hot. They should do rather well down there in Texas, I do believe. If you’re heading that way, you’ve got two chances to see ‘em. Don’t sleep.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Matthew Byars: Plane. Then automobile.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
MB: Yes.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
MB: Two.

LET: Bands you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
MB: 1) Collections of Colonies of Bees 2) Tobacco. 3) Slaraffenland.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
MB: Finding Adam & Sara from our label.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
MB: We played SXSW in 1997 as part of a previous band; that was my first festival experience.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
MB: In my experience, festivals largely suck, but SXSW is special. Best city for it to be in, especially in March, and the closed-off streets make everything super accessible. It's also a rare opportunity for the entire Hometapes family to be together, and we're generally pretty close, so that's special.

mp3: Bees, Their Vision and Language (The Caribbean from Populations)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Untitled Interview #32 – SXSW Edition: Starring Nikki Darlin (Those Darlins)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s almost time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. To celebrate the impending week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

My dear partner Chris is totally and completely enamored with our next guests, the lovely, super spunky ladies of Those Darlins. I’ve gotta say, I’m beginning to find them rather irresistible myself. I love the idea of a band of wild women making fresh and frisky music clearly influenced by some of the greatest ladies (and gents) of country’s illustrious past. They’re cute, they’re more than a little badass, and I get the feeling they’ll have all of Austin cow-towing to their whims as soon as they set foot in Texas. Plus, as a Virginia girl myself, I’ve got a little extra love for Miss Nikki. Here’s hoping she doesn’t forget her comfortable shoes, as they’ve got quite a busy little schedule planned out.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Nikki Darlin: We will be traveling in our illegally tinted Chevy Astro van and hopefuly we will be arriving in it.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
ND: Sunscreen, extra sunglasses, sex toys, comfortable shoes.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
ND: 5 so far:

Wed the 17th:
3:50pm - Terrorbird Party @ RED 7 (outdoor stage - 611 East 7th Street)
with: Neon Indian, Real Estate, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Choir of Young Believers, Frankie Rose & the Outs, Beach Fossils, Inlets, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, Toro Y Moi, Matias Aguayo, Oh No Ono, The Fresh and Onlys, Stricken City, Ernest Gonzalez, The Splinters
1AM – BMI Showcase to benefit Girls Rock Camp @ Submerged (333 E 2nd St)

THURS the 18th:
3:50 - LITTLE RADIO PARTY @ RED EYED FLY
11PM: Billboard Official Showcase at Billboard.com Bungalo (Habana Backyard - 708 E 6th St)

FRIDAY the 19th:
5pm: DEER TICK PRESENTS PARTY @ Threadgills South 301 West Riverside Drive

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
ND: I haven't figured out all the bands schedules yet so I'm not sure who I will get to see. I am looking forward to meeting up with a lot of bands we have toured with in the last year. I guess I will just figure it out when I get there. I know Jessi is interested in seeing The Strange Boys and The Beets.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
ND: I can't wait to jump out of our van into warm weather (hopefully), go gorge on BBQ and booze, then try to find all my band buddies and have a reunion.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
ND: I used to play a music festival every year after I picked up the guitar in my hometown Rappahannock County, VA. I think I started when I was 11. I think there is video footage of me playing a bunch of Beatles songs to a lot of supportive locals. I'm sure I was awful.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
ND: It depends on the kind of festival. I guess running around eating, drinking, meeting new people, seeing your favorite bands all playing in walking distance from each other and getting into trouble with them later.


mp3: Wild One (Those Darlins from Those Darlins)

The Untitled Interview #31 – SXSW Edition: Starring H. Walker (Kerretta)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s almost time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. Just over a week from now, Austin will once again turn into the flame for thousands of musical moths. To celebrate the impending week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down and dirty in the wilds of Texas.

Yet again, our guest stars hail from the Other Land Down Under, New Zealand. Kerretta, however, are fairly unique among their countrymen. Come to think of it, they’re pretty special in general. They create a seriously far-out instrumental sound, full of sonic confusion, crunchy guitars and an all-encompassing feeling of (rather pleasant) darkness. There’s some definite fierceness in their music, and their slightly menacing, aggressive sound is darned appealing. I get the feeling that seeing Kerretta live might make my brain explode, since this sounds like the kind of music that can get to bone-rattling decibels. Among bands they’ve played with are Explosions In The Sky and Mono, two wonderfully noisy bands. If you’re lucky enough to be in the path of their first US tour, I’d suggest you go check ‘em out. And let me know how long it takes to regain your sense of sound. And if you happen to see the band in Austin, please make sure they’re looking the right way when they cross the street.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
H. Walker: By aeroplane.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
HW: Step-power transformer. It converts 220 Volts to 110 Volts. Without it we are resigned to either a lot of battery power or our first adventure into handclaps and acoustic weaponry.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
HW: At this stage we have no idea. All the best parties are largely unplanned though right?

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
HW: Maybe GZA or Liars.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
HW: Ensuring we look the correct way when crossing the street (we drive on the other side of the road in New Zealand, you see).

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
HW: Big Day Out, as a ticket buyer. It was kind of like the Lollapalooza of the South Pacific. Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and The Breeders played. The rest were local artists as the international ones had rinsed the promoters’ budget I think.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?

HW: Enjoying a band you never would have likely purchased tickets for. Eg. The Flaming Lips; live it was a weird and engaging mix of heavy swung drums and a kids TV programme. Truly amazing.


100 Shows of 2010 - #2: Seas/Blood Feathers/Tough Shits @ Black Cat, 3/4/10

This show had been on my radar for quite some time, and I had pretty high expectations for the bands. I was initially concerned that my expectation of a fantastic show might lead to disappointment, but happily, this wasn’t the case. The Philly contingent and the local lads definitely made good, and had me contentedly beaming all evening.

MINI RECAP: Tough Shits = a very pleasant surprise! Blood Feathers = oh my heavens! Seas = extremely expectation-exceeding! Overall score: A!

The first of my DC shows of this series definitely had to be at the Black Cat. As I always say, it’s my bar away from home. I’ve seen countless bands play here, and I enjoy seeing bands in the smaller backstage area, because it feels like you’re seeing bands on the verge. And I think I saw a few of those Thursday night.

I saw the members of Tough Shits wandering around the bar before the show, and I wasn’t totally sure about them. But once the Philly guys got going, my mind was put to rest. They were pretty darn good, and charming…in their own special way (I have the image of a red bandanna burned into my brain). Despite declaring exhaustion after just one song, the Tough Shits unleashed their jaunty rock’n’pop on the ever-larger crowd backstage. They’d quite possibly hate my saying so, but the entire band is so adorable that I just wanted to pinch their cheeks. I have no idea why I hadn’t already heard of them, but I totally dug their streetwise, sarcastic, and dare I say almost sweet (at times, these guys aren't into soft rock) tunes. And bless their little hearts, they looked stunned when the crowd wanted an encore. Really good stuff.

After the Tough Shits, the crowd really started pouring into the small room that is the backstage. It was time for Philadelphians #2, Blood Feathers, or the “local hipster supergroup” according to my spies in Philly. Fitting six people on the stage is asking a lot, but the band seemed to have no troubles and got right into their performance. I sure don’t think of Philly when I hear them, but hot damn I was instantly impressed. They’ve got great stage presence (yay banter!), and the songs are pretty good, too. How can you not love a band that introduces a song by saying, “We love dance music. We do our best to provide dance music. Sometimes it requires maracas.” If I didn’t love them already, I did from that moment forward. Blood Feathers sound like a honky tonk, Philly style. The sound is rich, very danceable, and as is a hallmark of good bands, even better live than on record. I’m officially hoppin on the Blood Feathers bandwagon.

After the rambunctious rollicking of Blood Feathers, there was still more good music to be had. Seas, signed to a Richmond friend’s label (Decoration Day), is the brainchild of DC-ite Ben Green. I’m way into the album Now My Home is a Beech Tree, and had the highest of high expectations for the live show. Armed with an acoustic guitar and with a little help from some friends, Ben held court masterfully. Seas’ set was superb. This is beautiful, effortless music. It’s so warm, so rich, and so very lovely. The couple sitting at the table in front of me rested their heads together at one point, an action I think sums up the feel of the set rather well. There’s a fantastic quiet confidence in Seas songs, delicate and powerful at the same time. For his part, Ben is affable and totally likeable, unassuming and pleasant, a genuine troubadour. Seas is definitely a DC act to keep your eyes on, and I know I sure will be.

mp3: The Buried Ranges (Seas from Now My Home is a Beech Tree)

mp3: King Cotton & The Little Star (For Bo Diddley) (Blood Feathers from Goodness Gracious)


Monday, March 8, 2010

The Untitled Interview #30 – SXSW Edition: Starring Logan Collins (Surf City)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s almost time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. To celebrate the impending week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst down there whoopin' and hollerin' it up in the wilds of Texas.

My old roommate down there in Richmond was an amazing resource for music. She was into totally obscure shit that nobody I know had ever heard of, and she was also big into bands from New Zealand (which, with a few exceptions was also a region that was pretty obscure to me). One CD she let me borrow had some songs on it by a band called Surf City. Given Chelsea's proclivity towards older bands, I figured they were some long disbanded band from the early 80s. But lo and behold, I was wrong. The fantastic, surf pop meets vintage Kiwi rock that made me so happy was in fact made by a band that's actually together at this very moment in time. And these bitchin boys will be winning over the folks down in Austin in no time flat, I predict. Thankfully, they're also spreading their love all around the US this Spring, and believe me when I say you most definitely absolutely positively without question should go and see them. Drummer Logan Collins gives us the details on his plans for SXSW.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Logan Collins: Well we are coming from LA so we will be flying.


LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
LC: Towels, flannel, soap, extra socks and undies.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
LC: We are playing 6 shows I think anyway.


LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
LC: Acid Mothers Temple should be good.


LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
LC: Finding somewhere to stay and eating some BBQ ribs.


LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
LC: Christian camp was cool but then I went to Big Day Out and that was rad.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
LC: Well the music is cool.

mp3: Autumn (new Surf City...buy other Surf City)