Friday, April 29, 2011

Our Daily Vinyl #2: Wooden Shjips

It is a sad but true fact of life that I once derisively mocked anyone who opined how amazing vinyl was and how music just sounded better when played on a turntable. Now, in a somewhat ironic twist of fate, I’ve come to realize, well, it’s true.

I'm not the only one with a vinyl sweet tooth, of course. Brandi Price and Kyle Harris, ringleaders of my current Favorite Band from Richmond, The Diamond Center, have a pretty rad collection of lps in their delightful abode. The pair took some time out of being purveyors of amazing music long enough to welcome me into their home and pose for some snaps with a few of their favorite vinyl things. Here, Kyle muses about some fellow psychsters and their take on traditional Christmas tunes.

"Wooden Shjips- Auld Lang Syne/O' Tannenbaum- I confess. Slightly obsessed with this band. I got this limited holiday release at the end of last year. I bought 2, gave one to a friend. After seeing them at ATP last year, I am considering following them like the Dead. (the new Moon Duo is freaking solid as well!)"

mp3: Caraway (The Diamond Center from the Caraway/20 Twin 7")

[Logo by the fantastic Bill Taylor; Photo of Kyle Harris by Megan Petty]

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Live Review: Grum (DJ set) @ Avalon, Los Angeles, 4/15/2011

Ah, Avalon. The mega-huge LA club right across the street from that oh-so iconic Capitol Records building is definitely not what you'd call my natural habitat. Prowled by intoxicated ladies in itty bitty, teenie weenie "dresses" and the dudes who love to ogle them, Avalon is a place to see and to be seen. Yours truly only wanted to see one person amongst the throngs, that being Graeme Shepherd, or as he's known to the electro dance lovers the world over, Grum. I was intrigued to see what the talented (and yes, adorable) Scot would have up his sleeve for his DJ set. And the man didn't disappoint.

In Grum's world, making dance tunes is an art form, a rare essence if you will. His deftness with a slick beat isn't just present in his own songs, as I discovered quickly on. The sounds Shepherd wrapped together created a robust, insanely danceable rhythm that was totally hard to ignore. The beats, o the beats. They did. Not. Stop. Grum's set was an impressive thing to behold, on its' own of course, but especially when you throw in Avalon's crazy, intricate lighting effects and the horde of gleeful revelers getting their collective groove on down on the club's main floor. Scratch that. Impressive doesn't begin to describe it. The soundsystem was killer, enhancing every pulsating note with a rich hugeness.

The kids on the floor were digging everything that Grum was giving them. And truth be told, I was too. Here's a dude who's pretty gifted at doing his own thing, but he also proved that it takes no small amount of skill to have a successful DJ set. I was particularly impressed when, in the midst of a totally breathless onslaught of dancey gems, the man had the guts to switch it up and slow the tempo way, way, way down. It was like going from 150 mph to about 30 mph. But you know what? It totally worked. And the folks at Avalon lapped it up, as they had Grum's entire body of work. Kids, a few words of advice. If you don't know how to twiddle the right knobs and kick out the right jams at the right time, please please please leave it to the professionals. Like Grum. I'd most definitely go see the man again, and if you're in the mood for a damn good time on the dancefloor, you couldn't do much better.

mp3: Through The Night (Grum from Heartbeats)
(via the fine gentlemen at Noise Narcs)

LP Lust: Los Angeles Edition

We had some seriously crazy weather here yesterday, though it pales in comparison to what they're dealing with in my adopted home state of Alabama. Tuscaloosa, especially, my home for 3.5 years, is a mess, as is quite a bit of the state. Obviously, my heart isn't in much other than gluing myself to the news, but somehow vinyl can always manage to make me smile, even for just a minute or two.

Here's the belated recap of my lp shopping exploits during my recent trip to LA, the spoils of which include a great haul from the legendary Amoeba, and some great finds from the weekly flea market at Fairfax High School.

*The Black Angels - Phosgene Nightmare
*Primal Scream/Suicide/Conrad Standish 10" Blastfirstpetite Split
*Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo
*Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood - Nancy & Lee

*Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - Love's a Prima Donna
*Leon Russell - Recorded Live from an Earlier Broadcast Session
*The Black Angels - Another Nice Pair
*Donovan - Sunshine Superman
*Kenny Rogers & The First Edition - Tell It All Brother
*Faces - A Nod is as Good as a Wink...
*The Cure - Quadpus
*Taj Mahal - The Natch'l Blues
*Happy Mondays - Wrote for Luck
*Chubby Checker - For 'Teen Twisters Only
*Greg Ashley - Medicine Fuck Dream
*Various - The Roots of Rock'n Roll
*Pete Shelley - Homosapien
*Donovan - Donovan P. Leitch

Shark Ridden Waters (Gruff Rhys from Hotel Shampoo)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Live Review: Yuck @ The Satellite, Los Angeles, 4/14/2011

When it comes to a good time on vacation, I'm sure plenty of people would opt for a week wrapped in a plush robe being pampered with all sorts of spa treatments and relaxing their cares away. Yeah, not really my thing. Mind you, I did spend a whole lot of quality time bonding with the pool at my hotel, but damned if going to see a show the same day as my cross-country flight to LA didn't seem like the perfect way to kick off a week of vacation awesomeness. And what better band to see than the muy caliente buzzery of Yuck?

The Satellite, formerly known as Spaceland, is a pretty sweet little place to watch a show, my little rays of sunshine. Low ceilings, dim lights, and a photo booth all add to the atmosphere in the most appealing way. My friend Laura and I were wrapping up a game of pool with two dashing gentlemen when Yuck picked up their instruments, and an air of expectancy crackled throughout the venue. It was almost as if everyone present was holding their breath at the same time, the exhale coming as soon as the Londoners started to play.

Wrapped in an abundance of acid-washed denim, the band proceeded to envelop me in the warm glow of nostalgia. It was as though I was taken back to the early 90s, even sartorially-speaking. "Holing Out" opened the set, the grit and filth of the fuzz immediately calling to mind bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth and Nirvana. I got a kick out of the attitude the band adopted onstage, disaffected indifference you might expect either out of early Blur or any number of flannel-clad Seattleites. The sound in The Satellite was mighty fine, and the grimey guitar came through loudly and sludgily. For some reason it's funny to imagine how it's possible for a band of young London residents to do this sound so well that they might very well be a missing piece of the Seattle scene from the 90s.

Travel tiredness got the best of me before the end of their set, but what I did see was rather enjoyable. While certainly not reinventing the wheel, Yuck proves a rather enjoyable diversion, especially if you missed the boat the first go round.

mp3: Georgia (Yuck from Yuck)

Singles Club: Polarsets/Channel Swimmer

It's a really, really not so nice day here in the greater DC metro. Perhaps it's enhanced by my vacation done ended blues, but this weather kinda really sucks and it's bumming me out. They tell me it's Spring, but damned if it feels like it. Really, y'all, I'm in a bad, bad mood right about now.

In such weather-related sads, it's imperative to have crucial tunes to snap you out of the rainy day funkiness. Luckily, I happened to open an email that contained within a song that has managed to make me smile. Polarsets created a fine little song on their own, heavy on the humid tropicalia, but this Channel Swimmer mix of "Sunshine Eyes" calls to mind the blissful week I just spent basking in the sun of Los Angeles. The languid tempo and icy beats are perfect for lounging by the pool, tall frosty cocktail in hand, beads of water drying on sunning skin while besunglassed eyes gaze upwards to miles of cloudless blue. It's super slick, super high-gloss, and super fun. Throw this on your stereo and let those summer fantasies begin.

mp3: Sunshine Eyes (Channel Swimmer mix) (Polarsets - more here)

Live Review: Cloud Nothings/Eternal Summers/The Invisible Hand @ DC9, 4/11/2011

There are some people who, before heading out of town for a week of vacationing in the sweet sweet sunshine, devote their free time before they hop on a plane to the fine art of organizing, packing, and prepping for said holiday. They leave no stone unturned, no loose end untied. Yours truly, friends, is not one of those people. No, no, I choose on a regular basis to save the packing for a frantic, all-night packing fest the night before I go out of town. True story. It's especially fun whilst trying to pack for an entire week. On the opposite coast of the country. But when shows like this come along, what's a gal to do? Packing seriously loses some luster when compared to the tantalizing triple threat of a show like Cloud Nothings and Eternal Summers and The Invisible Hand, oh my. And big love to DC9, it was really great to be at a show again there. Here's wishing them nothing but success from here on out.

Charlottesvillains (ha) The Invisible Hand kicked things off with their politely brash, yet endearingly scuzzy little rock and roll ditties. Their Garcia-Marquez title puns added to their already instantly likeable collective stage persona. Love in The Time of Holler? Classic. The mix on the vocals seemed a bit muddy at times, but the onslaught of raging guitars and bevy of cheeky, over the top poses helped show the appeal of the band. In their lighthearted, party-band way I heard shades of some of those UK greats like The Undertones and The Stranglers. I dug their sweet, sassy rock, and was glad they had ventured up from Cville for the show.

So despite the fact that it's only April, I've already managed to see Eternal Summers three times this year. You might say I kinda sorta like them. They were, as expected, a delight. As with the MACRoCk set, the band started kicking out the jams with the buoyant bubble of "Prisoner," a new song sure to become a favorite. The new fit seamlessly with the old, the pervasive surfs up, 60s fuzz bringing it all back home time and time again. Nicole's guitar had a nice shiver to it, and Daniel's drumming was nothing short of fierce. He bangs the drums, indeed. New Summer Sam added infinitely to the sound with his bass, really filling out the songs and giving the band an extra dimension of radness. Nicole's voice was really on, aggressive and challenging at times and sweet and plaintive at others. I have no doubt this here band will just continue to get better and better. And better.

And just when I thought it couldn't possibly get better, lo and behold it did. I was super excited to finally see Cloud Nothings, the brainchild of rather youthful Ohioan Dylan Baldi. I instantly dug their live shimmy shimmy and feisty kick drum action. The frenzied pace of the instrumentation was tempered with an overall sweetness that to me was simply irresistible. It's so fine, there's no other way to go. They bounced around from sweetness and light to in your face aggression, and each incarnation of their sound was equally great. Despite Dylan's sore threat necessitating plenty of honey and a shorter set, the band sounded nothing but wonderful. In my humble opinion, this is a band that's at their best doing songs with adorable "ooh oohs," so cute are they and so gleefully do they tear through songs. They're heavy on the cute and heavy on the rock, y'all. Frantic and furious, I ended up liking Cloud Nothings even more than I had imagined I might. The crowd was way into them, and I sure was too. Hell, this was the most fun one could hope to have on a Monday night. Packing just didn't stand a chance.

mp3: Understand At All (Cloud Nothings from Cloud Nothings)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Live Review: Weekend @ Black Cat, 4/7/2011

When you're in a band, there are all sorts of ways to gauge how awesome you are. One such indicator is if/when a monster of legendary musical status wants to take you on tour with them. So then, Weekend, I think it's safe to say you're pretty dang awesome, seeing as how you just spent some time with a little band called Wire. Now, y'all already know how in love I am with recorded Weekend, and thankfully I was able to (despite the best efforts of the parking gods who wished to thwart me) catch the vast majority of Weekend's opening set for Wire at the Black Cat. And while I know it'll be hard to believe, I'm also head over heels for live Weekend, too. Here's why.

I could already hear the intense, agonizing strains of "Coma Summer" as I inched my way closer up the line to the doors of the Black Cat. The crackling distortion got gloriously louder with each step as I ascended the stairs and got close to the action. By the end of the song I already knew I was in for a good time, so much were my insides pulsating and vibrating along with the soundwaves coming from the stage. Interestingly, live the band's sound was less polished and more unhinged than on record. It was a set teetering precariously on the edge, and it worked wonders on songs both familiar and new to my ears.

"Veil" was particularly noteworthy, a knockout with the scratchingly fuzzed bassline in the intro even more blissful than on Sports. Most of said record found a way into the set, but the new songs were right at home amongst the intoxicating noise. Also in the set and sounding amazing were my current favorite "End Times," "Age Class," and "Monday Morning." Banter was scarce, but fit the creeping, gloomy mood of the set.

The set came to its' end with an unbelievable, spooky little rendition of "Untitled," one of the most haunting of all Weekend songs. The moaning vocals and deep, dark bassline gave me chills, my friends. They were the perfect choice to precede Wire, and I'm so glad to have been able to see both bands on the same bill. To experience Weekend live is to be drawn softly and tenderly into that dark velvet opiate curtain of the blackest of black nights, surrounded by darkness and ghosts but loving every single minute and ending up clamoring for more.

mp3: End Times (Weekend from Sports)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hot Live Action: Suns of Guns

Please note: Any live recordings offered on Fuzzy Logic are the legal property of the band who plays them (barring covers, of course). Do not attempt to claim these songs as your own, attempt to make money off these songs, or attempt to claim these songs as your own while attempting to make money off of them. They are for you, yes you, and your personal enjoyment. So please, enjoy responsibly.

I've always believed that live performances are just as important as what a band does on record. If you don't move me live, well, I'm disappointed to say the least. Bearing that in mind, I thought it would be pretty nifty to share some special live recordings with you lovelies. Please pay attention to that fine print up above, and please turn up the volume.

First up in Hot Live Action: One of my most favorite of DC bands, Suns of Guns. I've already gushed about them here and there, and I'm pretty sure you'll dig their killer 60s Detroit meets 70s UK noise. Here's a few selections from their ridiculously rad instore at DC's Crooked Beat Records last month. Y'all are in for a one hell of a treat. I know what you're gonna say. And believe me, you're so very welcome.

mp3: 5000 Watts (Suns of Guns)

mp3: Black Mark on a Bible (Suns of Guns)

mp3: Ralph E. Static (Suns of Guns)

mp3: J.G.'s LL (Suns of Guns)

mp3: Room For the Holy Ghost (Suns of Guns)

(a multitude of thanks to the awesome Dave Mann for recording the instore!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Untitled Interview #121: Starring Marsh Nabors (The Overnight Lows)

It never fails, y'all. I go out of town, and there's at least one show in DC that I really, really am bummed to be missing. So here I am, out in LA, basking in the sunny perfection and lounging by my hotel's pool, but there's a couple shows back East I'm making a sad face over missing. One such show is The Overnight Lows at Comet Ping Pong. The Lows are from Jackson, MS, and I don't know about you but if Lee & Nancy and Johnny & June sang about it, Jackson must be legit. If you, my beloved DC brethren and sistren, need some good old noisy, messy rock and roll, get thee to Comet this evening so that The Overnight Lows can proceed to melt your faces. But first, check out what Low Marsh Nabors had to say about all things rock.

Fuzzy Logic: How the hell are you?
Marsh Nabors: Must not think bad thoughts. Still somewhat functional.

FL: What was the last song you listened to?

MN: “Fly Like a Rat” by Quintron and Miss Pussycat.

FL: Playing music is:

MN: Fucking up my life.

FL: What album most made you realize you wanted to make music?

MN: Not an album but a 45. "Centerfold" by the J. Geils Band. Started what some would consider the downward spiral

FL: Beatles or Stones?
MN: Neither, maybe the Kinks though.

FL: Top 5 albums (of now, of this month, or of ever):

MN: For right now it's something like Double Nickels on the Dime by The Minutemen, Most Things Haven't Worked Out by Junior Kimbrough, That's How We Burn" by Jaill, Sorry MA... by The Replacements, and Party Tracks by Stoned at Heart.

FL: Favorite music-related movie?

MN: What is this a trick question? Rock N' Roll High School!

FL: Half-full or half-empty?

MN: My brain is currently half-empty, and my stomach is half-full.

FL: Which of your peers do you think is making the best music these days?

MN: Everything that's come out on Goner has been ruling these days. Really. Not just saying that cause we're on Goner. As a whole there's to many of our peers making great music to single out just one.

FL: What’s the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?

MN: What did I lose last night...material or dignity-wise?

FL: Little-known Overnight Lows fact?

MN: That Daphne rules this band with an iron fist! I'm too scared to quit and too broke to go home.

FL: The greatest record store in the world is:

MN: The Camelot Music in the mall that sold J Geils Band 45s. That or Goner.

FL: Shaken or stirred?

MN: My mind is shaken and my guts is stirred.

FL: Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

MN: Don't come back with something you can't get rid of.

FL: How do you know when you've played a really great show?

MN: When I can remember it.

FL: If you weren’t in a band you’d be:

MN: Successful and well adjusted.

FL: What do you find most comforting/most disconcerting about going out on tour?

MN: Comforting=Daphne...disconcerting=death.

FL: If you were so inclined, whom would you form a tribute band in honor of?

MN: The Neckbones, so I could learn how to drink whiskey.

FL: Best song ever written?

MN: “Egg” by Alice Donut!

mp3: Low Road (The Overnight Lows from City of Rotten Eyes) (love to Big Rock Candy Mountain)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fuzzy Logic on Vacation!

Yes, dearest loves, yours truly is taking a much-needed, week-long respite in the lovely land of the movie industry, Los Angeles. I'll try to do some posting, because I know how sad you'll be if I don't. In the meantime, your intrepid blogstress is keeping herself busy and will have lots to share once I arrive back Easterly.

Hope you're all doing well, and normal business hours will resume when I am back in the DC environs next Wednesday evening.

[photo by Megan Petty - room with a view!]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

MACRoCk: A Photo Recap

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Live Review: The Black Angels @ 9:30 Club, 4/3/2011

As I've certainly mentioned before, it’s a perk of being a music blogger that one gets to see a whole lotta good live music on a pretty regular basis. But amongst all that music, there's a handful of bands that really, truly, seriously get my blood going. Bands that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and send goosebumps prickling on my arms and give me sweet, sweet fever and a mild case of the shakes. The Black Angels is one such band. I try to see this band whenever and whereever humanly possible, because live they are pretty much peerless. And fearless. Oh, and they're probably the loudest band I've ever seen live. Yes, even louder than Mogwai, Mono, AND My Bloody Valentine. Maybe even louder than all three combined. And y’all know how I love noise. So when these Austinian masters (and mistress) of psych perfection rolled through DC, you can bet yours truly was there. And as expected, what a show it was.

It had been a long time since my last Black Angels show up in the November cold of Philly, and lordy me had I missed them. The deleriously delicious drone was in full effect from the first moments of their set, as the five fallen angels undertook "Entrance Song" bathed in spooky red lights. Back-to-back sniper songs followed, the elder of the two "The Sniper at The Gates" backed up by "The Sniper," and each was superb. The sexy sliding, smoking intro of the latter a perfect counter to the militaristic cadence and overt political themes of the former (true, it's an oft-repeated them in many TBA songs).

I was pleased at how much the set veered toward material from the band’s jaw-droppingly stellar first record Passover. At one point, three songs in a row from said record were played; the brooding “Better Off Alone,” the chilling and mesmerizing “Young Men Dead,” and the monumental “The Prodigal Sun.” “Young Men Dead” in particular was like flying right by the sun, the ferocity of the fuzz crashing all around and the band taking the assembled audience to all sorts of frighteningly beautiful places. When be-hatted mouthpiece Alex Maas flatly sang “We can’t live/if we’re too afraid to die,” right before the wall of sound roared back to life, I thought I might fall over the dang balcony railing.

“You On The Run,” one of only a couple songs from the Directions To See a Ghost record, was as spectral as ever, all political grumblings and noise of an otherworldly beauty. My one complaint about the set was that, as in Philly, the band skipped my favorite part of “Yellow Elevator #2,” the transcendent vocal section towards the end, and launched immediately into “Black Grease.” The groove of the meat of the song is enhanced so much by the unexpected and heavenly vocal harmonizing section that I’m absolutely dying to hear it live. Of course, The Black Angels is one of the only bands that makes me happy 99.8% of the time, so I’ll let it slide. The vintage retro pop of “Telephone” was a welcome inclusion in the set, causing many a head bob and tipsy shimmy amongst the crowd. The sound was heavier on guitar than the organ-leaning recorded version, and the extended instrumental muddiness on the end of the song was very welcome.

“Bad Vibrations” was a great, great, great way to close the set, and was so loud I could feel the song from the heels of my cowboy boots all the way to the roots of my hair. Yes, really. I thought quite frequently through the set how very, very good this band is, and how far they’ve come since that show at the Black Cat so many years before at which I first fell in love. After a brief respite and an acoustic Alex-ian number, the full band returned for the dynamite “Bloodhounds on My Trail,” during which I might have swooned for just a second courtesy of all that ridiculous guitar play. The dark, dark undercurrent in the song was even more evident on this night, and how very wonderful a thing that is. “Fucking rock and rolllllllllllllllllllllll!” someone hollered from deep within the crowd right before the final song of the night, and the request was granted when the Angels began “You in Color.” Rock and roll infuckingdeed.

Bottom line, here, friends, is that if you haven’t yet fallen in love with The Black Angels, you have no idea how much you’re missing out. This is one of the best live bands around BAR FUCKING NONE. End of story.

mp3: Bad Vibrations (The Black Angels from Phosphene Dream)

[photo by Megan Petty - and yes, that's exactly what it's like seeing TBA live]

Friday, April 8, 2011

Live Review: MACRoCk 2011 (Day 2)

My second day in Harrisonburg began with an early morning jaunt to downtown, to do a little photo snapping. Being a slight history nerd, I enjoy taking pics of old buildings for their architectural and historic merit. Being as Hburg is on the petite side, I was only out and about for an hour or so. Still a good start to my day.

After a brief respite, I headed over to Blue Nile for the Label Expo, a gathering of various creative minds meeting other creative minds. After a nice chat with some Oldermost fellows, I headed to my home base for some work-related stuff (and maybe a nap) before gearing up for the long day/night ahead. And goodness gracious, y'all, what a long second day of MACRoCk it was.

I had planned on decamping at Clementine all the live long day, as the lineup there was full of bands I officially Really Wanted to See. First up was Black Girls, who filled the place pretty dang full for being the first band of the day. They tore it up with their sassy, bluesy rock noise. They were over and done before I wanted them to be, apologizing when it was their last song and leaving the kids and yours truly wanting much more of their party party racket. It was a Richmond redux as Lubec took the stage, sadly for what for all intents and purposes was their last set together. Little-known fact, Lubec's Brandon Martin and I used to work together at an Unidentified Retail Giant, but somehow I'd never seen his band play. Go figure I would see them for the first time at their last show. I had an instant affinity for their unexpectedly snarling guitars, driving rock, and lovely melodicness. Not only was their music pretty dang good, but they also raised the sticky issue of whether or not dead baby jokes are acceptable. For my part, I'm undecided. It was definitely bittersweet, to see and enjoy Lubec knowing it was the alleged cruel, cruel end.

Sticking with the pairs thing, it was next time for two Philly bands to kill me not-so-softly. Arches started off by requesting more reverb, which, friends, is a surefire way to my heart. Their sound was a delightful swirl of dreampop, 90s college radio rock, and some 60s psych. Very interesting indeed. They managed to somehow create songs that were both rambling and intricate but structured at the same time. And throwing in something as simple as a harmonica in the expanse of their sound was just splendid. Next came Creepoid, and they instantly became one of, if not my absolute favorite band of the weekend. They were heavy on the psych, with a darkness to them. Your humble blogstress fell incredibly in smit with their monstrous, muddily fuzzed songs. I had a hard time taking notes because my brain ceased to function properly thanks to the melting that was occurring therein. They reminded me at times a little of the Crocodiles record Stoned To Death I've been so in love with over the past few months, and someone probably should make a Creepoid/Crocodiles tour happen one of these days. The only bad thing I can think to say about them is that they eventually stopped playing. Their syrupy dreamscapes are not to be missed.

After that Philadelphian interlude it was back to a pair of Richmonders; The Diamond Center and Antlers. Having already once seen The Diamond Center, I knew I was in for a treat. But friends, I don't think I appreciated just how stellar The Diamond Center is when first I saw them. Their big, intricate, droney assault was sheer bliss. I'm pretty convinced they were just about perfect. At times, they were as haunting as driving down a lonely stretch of highway at dawn and getting lost in a misty bank of creeping gray fog, which, trust me, was quite a sensation. I was ever so blue when they had to put down their instruments. Antlers followed, and while I just wasn't nearly as in love as with a few of the previous bands, I did appreciate their ambling quirkiness. And their loudness was certainly appreciated by those of us who dig the whole noise thing.

An NYC pair took to the stage next, The House Floor and Air Waves. Admittedly, I wasn't particularly enthralled by either band, especially Air Waves who took what seemed like an exorbitantly long time to start their set. Though I must say, the big bad rock of Air Waves' instrumentation was pretty nifty, and The House Floor eventually proved rather enjoyable. And of course, I could just have been still thinking about some of those prior sets and impatiently awaiting the final two bands of the night.

Finally, the final pairing of the night: The two bands that actually didn't hail from the same city, Eternal Summers of Roanoke and Gringo Star of Atlanta. Both of them y'all know I already dig, so seeing them both again was a treat. Even if one of the sets ended rather abruptly. More on that in a minute. Eternal Summers once again showed up as a trio, but this time a different member of The Young Sinclairs, Sam, was the third Summer. They launched into new song "Prisoner," and I noticed immediately that Nicole's voice was in perfect shape (she had a sore throat back in January when I saw them in DC). They cutely jingled and jangled and surfed and sassed their way through a set filled with goodies old and new. And I'll tell you, dear friends, the new stuff sounds positively killer. They got some bodies moving for sure with their irresistable shimmy. "Pogo" and "Silver" were flawless, and new song "Girls In The City" featured some adorable, Brit-affected vocals courtesy of Daniel. Their set was perfection.

What happened next, well, I'm pretty sure will go down in MACRoCk history, though right now still seems a little vexing. Gringo Star, my favorite Atlantans, took to the stage and immediately started sounding like a long-lost 60s band in the vein of The Zombies and Sam The Sham and The Pharoahs. I was loving it, and the rest of the crowd was seemingly loving it. I had been informed of a fog machine that had made its way from Atlanta along with the band, and said machine started to slowly spread a light layer of fog throughout Clementine. Somewhere in their second song, the fire alarm started to go off. The Gringos kept right on playing, though, and stormed through a seriously amazing version of "All Y'all" while the alarm was finally subdued. I was being driven nuts in the best way possible with that song and the next one, "Transmission," when the dang alarm went off again. This time, though, it wasn't as easy as just shutting off the alarm. The Harrisonburg FD showed up, and essentially shut the shindig down. Now, conflicting reports are out there about what really went down, so I can't judge based on that, but what I can tell you is that it was a total bummer not to get to see a full set from Gringo Star, and I'm pretty sure they felt the same way, having driven all the way from Atlanta to play. But as I said, I'm pretty sure this set will become the stuff of legend, and just adds to the lore of Gringo Star. If y'all get the chance, go see 'em live because I guarantee you'll have a mighty fine time.

Walking out of Clementine after midnight was eerie, given how quiet Harrisonburg had become after my day spent indoors rocking out. A quick drive and I was back in my room, reflecting on Day 2 all the while. All told, it was a great day, and a great weekend.

Final MACRoCkian thoughts and pictorial spread coming soon.

mp3: Caraway (The Diamond Center from the forthcoming Caraway/20 Twin 7")

Our Daily Vinyl #1: Spacemen 3

It is a sad but true fact of life that I once derisively mocked anyone who opined how amazing vinyl was and how music just sounded better when played on a turntable. Now, in a somewhat ironic twist of fate, I’ve come to realize, well, it’s true.

These days I love love love vinyl, and decided it was time to get all up close and personal with my record collection. And, because I’m a curious/nosy lady, the record collections of friends. And so I present to you, my little darlings, the first in a new series, Our Daily Vinyl. After all, you can tell a lot about a person by what they've got in their record collection.

There are few better places to begin than with the wonderful, drugged-up, strung-out drone wonderland of Spacemen 3. This band was so far ahead of its time it’s ridiculous. Listen closely and you can hear their influence all over the place. Jason Pierce and co. cast one heck of a long shadow, especially over bands that are fond of the whole droning thing. When I saw this record sitting around in the bins at Sound Garden up in Baltimore, I felt I had no choice but to buy it.

mp3: Take Me To The Other Side (Spacemen 3 from The Perfect Prescription) (thanks to you, Radio Free Chicago, a blog obviously possessed of very good taste)

[Logo by the fantastic Bill Taylor; Photo detail of album cover by Megan Petty]

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Newsflash!: Pete and The Pirates Want You!

Well, ok, so not you exactly. They actually want your cat. Yes way. My beloved, wonderfully-naughty English scamps are in the process of making a video, and they want your cat/kitten/tiger to be in said video. Just because, here's the text of the email I received not long ago from team P&TP:

"Do you want your cat/kitten to feature in the next Pete and the Pirates Video?

Everyone love cats right? So we're doing a cat video. If you, or any of your friends have got footage of cats and kittens doing funny stuff, looking cute, eating from the bin or chasing bits of string, send them in and we'll see if we can slip 'em in to the video somewhere.

It doesn't matter what format. From HD flipcam footage to dodgy old mobile phone clips from the nineties. We'll look at it all and use the best/worst bits we find.

Send links to your footage to Get on it today, we will need all footage through by Tuesday 12th of April if we are going to use it.

Go on, get involved, yeah? Make Fluffy a star!

(Please make sure no animals are harmed or made to wear jumpers during the filming of your material.)"

And there you have it, my friends. You've got until next Wednesday to get your cat involved. I'm actually not entering, because my cat is so dang cute they'd feel compelled to just have three minutes of Bear Bryant.

mp3: Blood Gets Thin (Pete & The Pirates from Jennifer/Blood Gets Thin) (Big sloppy kisses to The Music Slut)

Live Review: MACRoCk 2011 (Day 1)

Harrisonburg, VA. Home of James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University, not to mention some spectacular mountain vistas. But it's a pretty small place, and in truth, I was pretty surprised when I learned a few years back that there was a happenin’ little festival (well, conference) that took place in Hburg every year, but now, having had the pleasure of finally attending said conference myself, it all makes perfect sense.

To begin with, there’s the setting itself. Harrisonburg might only be 131 miles from DC proper in terms of mileage, but driving down I-66 and I-81 one feels light years away from the hustle and the bustle and the kerfuffle of the big city. In the span of my two-hour drive I saw picturesque dilapidated antiquities streaked by sunshine and glorious mountain views given an extra mystical feel by quickly-moving clouds, making this weekend jaunt feel more like a real vacation with every mile that clicked on my odometer. Once in Harrisonburg, I managed to tear my eyes away from the mountains long enough to find my hotel (The Jameson Inn, which has delightful staff and a good location should you ever find yourself in Hburg needing a place to rest your head) and grab some food. And then, friends, it was time to get down to business.

Another great thing about a festival (excuse me, conference) in a smallish city is that it’s pretty hard to get lost. Well, except for the trouble I ran into looking for the Elk’s Lodge, where we press folks had to collect our badges (you mean that giant elk statue was a clue? D’oh). After the badge-hunting and the parking spot hunting (con for a smaller city: less parking to acomodate revelers), I made my way to the Artful Dodger to check out Oldermost and The Cinnamon Band, two of the bands I most wanted to see over the weekend. Sadly, I was thwarted in this endeavor, because evidently lots of other MACRoCk attendees had the same idea, and the scarcely-moving line meant I was shut out of those sets. Alas.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom that first night, though. After that slightly inauspicious start I ended up having quite an evening. First, I headed to the cozy confines of the Blue Nile’s basement to take in some soothing (not really) metal. But since some Richmond folks were on the bill, I obviously couldn’t not make an appearance. Immediately upon entering the basement I noticed the bucket full of free earplugs, which was both nice and necessary, given the volume of the bands. As soon as Windhand started, I could feel my inner eardrums vibrating. And that was with the pretty pink plugs. To my surprise, I noticed a familiar face behind Windhand’s drumkit: TJ Childers, drummer extraordinaire for Inter Arma, had filled in during Windhand’s set. As a yardstick of talent, friends, you know you’re pretty awesome when you can convincingly fill in for a band having practiced with them but once and make imperceptible mistakes. Windhand was catastrophically loud, but in a good way. Unrelenting leaden riffs and chords and drums came crashing down from the stage at every moment. And it was delightful. It had been a long time since my last metal show (Liturgy, perhaps?!), so it was wonderful to take in the sounds and beards that a good metal show provides. And while it’s probably true that I wouldn’t be able to recognize a bad metal set if I heard one, Windhand was pretty much awesome. My metal favorites Inter Arma ripped it to shreds, friends, and once they got going I realized how much I’d missed seeing them live. Their unapologetic, hellacious snarl of sludge and insanity makes for one hell of a live experience. Richmond is no joke when it comes to metal, friends. And Inter Arma is, without a doubt, the best of the best. After a couple songs I left Blue Nile and headed over to Clementine, where another Richmond compadre was doing his thing with newish band White Laces.

I first met Landis Wine through another band he was in, the much-missed Cinemasophia, and was happy to hear he’d gone and formed another good band. White Laces definitely holds shoegaze and post rock dear to their collective heart, but managed to give their songs an almost poppy undercurrent. Of course, this means their sound was rather appealing. The crowd at Clementine was a lot bigger, and it was soon sticky hot and not just because of the tunes. “Play it loud!” yelled someone from somewhere in the room, and Landis cheekily replied, “You’ve heard it loud and you know it hurts” before proceeding to, you guessed it, play it loud. I verily enjoyed the darkly impish nature of White Laces, and hope to see them live again soon.

Around the end of the White Laces set, I started getting a little tired. Hey, it was a long day. So I ventured out to find the Court Square Theatre to take in some quieter, yet no less awesome, music. I wasn’t expecting it, but some of my favorite sets of the weekend happened in that very theatre. I first had the pleasure of seeing Roanoke’s The Missionaries, an expansive ensemble with ties to, you guessed it, the Magic Twig Community. With such associations they couldn’t not be wonderful, and they were oh so wonderful indeed. Their drumkit read “Thank God 4 The Missionaries,” and that’s not just whistlin’ Dixie y’all. I’ll put it to you this way. The band has a song called “Chester Behind The Foliage,” which is about a dog that rides a flying horse. Sounds twee, possibly, but couldn’t be farther from it. The Missionaries were enchanting, combining that Magic Twig level of quality with a quirky, mountain country folksiness. Also, their closing song, “John Hughes,” was fantastic for reasons other than the name and the line “John Hughes, John Hughes/tell me what to do.” The band threw in a little of the Hughes ouevre by their inclusion of the line “Don’t you forget about me,” but in a totally non-80s synthy kinda way. All of the Magic Twig-related bands are so different, sonically, but are on par with each other because of their skill and their creativity. Love ‘em all, my friends. The Missionaries are officially my newest Roanoke-ian loves.

The love-fest continued with Small Sur, one of that group of anti-Baltimore Baltimoreans. I say that merely because their music was so stunning and so more suited to the country, I almost couldn’t believe it was Baltimore. Their sound was delicate yet powerful, with moments of total pastoral beauty washing over a crowd that was hushed in attentive appreciation. “We started early so I could take a really long time to tune,” quipped be-bearded singer/guitarist Bob Keal, and the band continued with their gentle humor and glorious swells of sound all set long. Small Sur was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it: A heavenly sensation of being lulled into a state of blissful sonic hypnosis. Obviously, I need more Small Sur in my life, and will be henceforth working on making that happen.

My first night at MACRoCk finished up with some of my favorite Richmond songsmiths, Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird. Perched three in a row on stools across the stage, the trio played a set full of their glorious sepia-toned tunes. As people continuously filtered into the theatre, the band continued to play lovely song after lovely song. “Nothing casts a shadow in the darkness” from the song “Nothing Casts a Shadow” has to be one of my favorite lines of recent memory, especially given the warm yet somewhat melancholy glow in which it’s sung. Their timeless quality really sets them apart from so many, and their delicate strength is truly something that must be experienced in person. I found them just as good as when I last saw them in December, if not a bit better, somehow.
But after that, it was back to the hotel for me, exhausted but as pleased as the cat that got the cream and the daggum canary to boot.

Stay tuned, my recap of Day 2 is coming soon, lovely loves.

mp3: The Wind (Small Sur - go here for more info)
(many thanks to Draw Us Lines!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Otherwise Engaged: Bare Wires

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.

Who here likes free shows? Yeah? Me too. Free shows are great, especially when there's a killer band involved. Tonight, DC denizens, you can take in some seriously awesome free music over at Comet Ping Pong, when Oakland's Bare Wires come to town and tear shit up. Bare Wires reminds me a whole lot of some vintage T. Rex, though not quite as glittery and with more fantastic fuzz and rough and ready swagger. If you're in need of something fun to do tonight, my little District-ian friends, look no further.

mp3: Don't Ever Change (Bare Wires from Seeking Love)

The Untitled Interview #120: Starring Hammer No More The Fingers

If you really think about it, friends, the 90s was a pretty fine time for music. The dudes of Hammer No More The Fingers appreciate that fact, and today the nifty North Carolinians release their second record, Black Shark, full of college rock staples and much rambunctious rockery. The guys are always a good time live and in person, so DC kids get thee down to the Red Palace tomorrow evening for what will be one heck of a good time. Below, the three gentlemen Hammer describe themselves for your reading pleasure.


AS A MOVIE: The Room. Awfully Awesome.

AS A DRINK: Dark & Stormy. Spicy n' Drunky.

AS A WEATHER EVENT: Carolina Hurricane.

AS AN OBSCURE VINTAGE LP: The Kelly Family - Ain't Gonna Pee Pee My Bed Tonight. Please look up.

AS A MOMENT IN HISTORY: The invention of Betamax.


AS A SPOT IN NORTH CAROLINA: The Life Crystals which lie beneath the city of Asheville.

AS A VIDEO GAME/CHARACTER THEREIN: Altered Beast. Definitely Altered Beast!

AS A WORK OF LITERATURE: Savage Trust by Cassie Edwards. Please look up.

AS A HISTORICAL FIGURE: Icke: The Overlord of Reptilian Humanoids.

AS A CAMPAIGN PROMISE: We will bring the Thunder to your Dome. All ya gotta do is ask a' Hammer.

mp3: Leroy (Hammer No More The Fingers from Black Shark)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Singles Club: Thieving Irons

I'm down here in the mystical mountains of Harrisonburg covering MACRoCk, and it's such a daggum beautiful day here that I figured I'd give y'all a little treat, a nice little ditty that feels totally at home and at peace here amongst the spectacular natural scenery of the Shenandoah.

The generosity of Thieving Irons has led them to decide to start offering free songs hither and thither, and the first such freebie is a gorgeous, stripped-down version of the fantastic "Tow The Line." It's amazing how different a song can sound given a rejigging, and this here version sounds like a completely new song. It's a languid daydream of a song, and I think you're agree it's rather lovely. Make sure you sign up to get more info on the forthcoming free tracks. And don't forget to pick up a copy of the record while you're at it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Day

You might have grown up knowing the 1st of April as being April Fool’s Day. But my lovelies, I’d like to suggest an alternative...I submit to you that April 1st is hereby known as The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Day, in honor of one of my oh so very favoritest purveyors of tunes full of fuzzy, frothy goodness.

With a new record and a tour going on as we speak, TPOBPAH is in the process of making 2011 one heck of a year. If you’ve never seen them live, now’s your chance. And if you’re not yet in love with them, well, there’s never a better time that right about now.

mp3: Heart In Your Heartbreak (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart from Belong) (cheers, Music Under Fire!)