Friday, June 29, 2012

Newsflash!: Killer Show Tonight!

It's hot out! It's icky! But there's a reason to brave the sweltering heat/excessive heat warnings if you're in the greater DC metro this evening...there's a seriously bitchin' show happening at the Velvet Lounge. This show is sizzlin' from top to bottom, and this bill will give Mama Nature a run for her money for sure.

Local loudypants and makers of epic, awesome noise More Humans and Mittenfields will both play host to the glorious 90s college radio rock of Durham's own Hammer No More The Fingers. It's gonna be a big ole sweaty sonic lovefest, and you should be there to partake. Just don't forget the earplugs. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Free For All: The Lean Few

Times are tough out there, and for many of us buying music has become quite an indulgence (albeit a necessary one). Happily, there are some lovely musician folk out there that have offered up some fruits of their labors to the masses, free of charge. Free For All celebrates these wonderful people, and you, dear reader types.

Listening to The Lean Few, I am reminded of just why fathers used to lock up their daughters. These four Carolina boys ("South Carolina's Best," y'all) make a filthy, sweaty brand of rock steeped in the sexy simplicity of that old time rock'n'roll, the kind that drove, and still does, drive the girls crazy. Perfectly lo-fi, these rakish fellows get down and dirty with alacrity, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Jerky guitars and an overall feeling of near-catastrophe make these songs beyond appealing. I strongly encourage you to get your paws on their Creepy Simple Cool EP while the gettin's good.

Meet Readable Graffiti

A wise man once advised that one should "party 'til you puke." Listening to Canberra/Melbourne outfit Readable Graffiti, one cannot help thinking they probably take that man's words and hold them close to their collective heart. 

After all, these cheeky rapscallions twiddle knobs, mess with video game bleeps, and lay down their vocals with a gleeful sense of being up to no good whatsoever. And if there's one thing I'm a fan of, in music and in life, it's being up to no good. Prepare yourself, this is not music to do anything other than have copious amounts of good times to, quite possibly involving dancing yourself dizzy, sucking down PBR tallboys by the case, and generally having a daggum mighty fine time. For some silly, ridiculous tunes, look no further than Readable Graffiti


Friday, June 22, 2012

Good Cover Version: The Devil And The Details Does Joy Division

Pulp gave the world the song "Bad Cover Version." But seeing as I'm a sonic optimist, I'm of the belief that there's more likely than not more good cover versions floating around than bad ones. Good Cover Version celebrates the good, and leaves all that bad and ugly stuff alone.

What better song is there to listen to, on a late Friday afternoon hung heavy with the threat of severe weather, than the immortal beloved forlorn gorgeousness of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart?" That was rhetorical, of course, but I think you'll agree the song certainly does sound even better on gloomy days. I've happened to stumble across a cover of said lovelorn sadster anthem by West Virginians The Devil and The Details, and seeing as I quite liked it I reckoned y'all might as well. Rough around the edges vocals, cello and a guitar are all those dudes need to give the song a gritty, gruffly gloomy redo.   

Singles Club: Summer Cannibals

Earlier this week I received an email from Portland duo Summer Cannibals, and I must say I sure am glad they found me. The two songs they sent my way are so very deliriously fine that they might induce all sorts of cannibalistic face-eating (too soon?). 

In all seriousness, I can't encourage you enough to stop what you're doing and take a few moments to listen to these songs. Summer Cannibals' rough, scuzzy grit blends bluesy guitar rock, shades of haunted surf rock, and early 90s grunge, and the vocals are a bewitching hybrid of droll, super cool riot grrl and torch singer. The best part is that these are just demos, y'all. Sounding as good as they do now, I can't wait for more. These songs are sexy, no doubt about it, and more than sultry enough for the dog days ahead. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Good Ship Rediscovery: Black Grape - It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah

We all forget about the older stuff from time to time, in our quest to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest. But one should always respect their elders. So don’t forget about them, y’hear?

If you're at all familiar with Mancunian musical lore, you'll probably know at least part of the story of Shaun Ryder. You'll know the maybe true, maybe fictitious story of all those poisoned pigeons (refer to the excellent 24 Hour Party People to see this cinematic-style). Quite possibly, you'll know about the Caribbean recording sessions wherein the band spent pretty much all of their recording budget on the sticky icky. But what you might not know is that after Ryder's band the Happy Mondays (the iconic baggy/dance hybrid miscreants and one of those bands notorious for putting the "drugs" in "sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll") split (circa 1992), he was motivated enough to keep making music and formed another band. This new band was, well, quite a bit like the Mondays. That band, friends, was Black Grape.

Black Grape was, somehow, even cruder, lewder, and ruder than was the Happy Mondays. Which, as you may well know, is saying something. Ryder is, after all, a man whose vocabulary could make 1,000 sailors blush. Black Grape's debut, It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah is a collection of raucous, raunchy, all sorts of politically incorrect, and damn good songs. With Black Grape, Ryder was able to keep the people dancing while indulging in some cartoonishly exaggerated shock and awe (who else could come up with the line, "Jesus was Batman?"). Witness opening track "Reverend Black Grape," the album's opening track that pillories organized religion and even namechecks Hitler (fear not, gentle friends, it's done in a purely satirical, tongue-in-cheek way - Ryder's definitely not flying the flag for any truly unsavory notions).

If you're easily offended, you won't make it to the second song, the horribly grooved-up and equally offensive "In The Name of The Father." Those two songs alone would make for a hell of an album, but there's plenty more where they came from. "Yeah Yeah Brother" is a long-time favorite, all sleazy creep and salacious slink and Ryder's voice sounding almost tame as he threateningly coos an ode to a "backstabber." Another of my long-time favorite Black Grape jams is "Shake Well Before Opening," which opens with donkey impressions and Ryder offering "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough," before breaking out into some seriously funky little grooves. Quality, as my friends across the pond would say.

Happy Mondays might well be the band that Shaun Ryder is remembered for, but it would be a shame if Black Grape ended up falling by the historical wayside. This record came out in 1995, and still sounds as tough and as fun and as gritty as it did way back then. If you're looking for a good time, you might just want to pop this on the old stereo and just see what happens.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Meet Little Owl

I do so enjoy a good band with something owlish about their name, and the latest to ingratiate themselves into my good graces are the Santa Barbarans of Little Owl. And it's not just that they cite Rod Stewart as their one and only influence, either, mind you.

They call themselves "orchestral dance pop," and in truth that's pretty bang on the mark. In "Tucked Away, Our Home Our Mountain," Little Owl brings together the rapid-fire, frenetic skyscraper urban jangle of that first Bloc Party record with some of the Arcade Fire's baroque quirkiness while throwing in some California sunshine just for kicks. The song is like a moment of breathless, racing heart emotional adrenaline. It is, as you can well imagine, a rather infectious sound. I'm looking forward to hearing a whole lot more from this delightful Left Coast outfit. 


Super Furryism #1

For those that don't know, this blog borrows its' name from the title of the debut long player record by wily Welsh cosmic psych poppers Super Furry Animals. As far as I'm concerned, that's certainly reason enough to start talking about them at random times, and for no real reason other than just because I darned well feel like it.

In addition to releasing copious quality records, the Super Furries have put out several ridiculously, rampantly good b-sides. One of my favorites has always been the rather ribald "The Man Don't Give a Fuck," which at one point (perhaps it still does) held the record for the usage of the word "fuck" in a song. Yes, it's a smidge vulgar. Yes, it's on the not so safe for work (unless you work somewhere incredibly awesome). And yes, it's all sorts of great. The jarring space jangle and the smoky purr (and howl) of Gruff Rhys leave no doubt who's behind the song. And now, hows about several video renditions for your viewing and listening pleasure? You're so very welcome.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Live Review: The Dandy Warhols @ 9:30 Club, 5/29/12

This was far from my first time at this particular rodeo, friends. A year and a half after my last Dandy Warhols show, I found myself at the 9:30 Club, the site of my very first Dandy Warhols show (15 years ago, if anyone other than me is counting). And the show was a prime example of that old adage about just how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Which, mind you, in the case of the Dandys, is a damn fine thing indeed.

Though celebrating the release of latest release This Machine, the set the Dandys shared with us DC folks was full of oldies and goodies. I'm not ashamed to admit that I squealed with glee as soon as those swirling, opening notes of "Be-In" started pouring out of the Portlandian four, all epic hedonistic psych drone and unmerciful sonic splendor. The delirium of the instrumentation was as impeccably mussed as always, and thought Courtney Taylor-Taylor's voice initially sounded a little like he'd had a pretty late night the night before, by the end of the song all was as it should be.

It was non-stop for two hours, friends. From "We Used to Be Friends" to "Shakin'" (YES) to "Not If You Were The Last Junkie on Earth" the Dandys held nothing back.  The high points were too numerous to mention, though I swooned a bit when my absolute favorite of all favorite Dandys songs made its way into the set, that being the honeyed, slow-motion droning drawl of "Good Morning." It was the sixth song in the set, and had they stopped right there and then I would have been sated. But no, the good times kept right on rolling. "The Last High?" Check. "Sad Vacation?" Check. "Solid?" Checkmate.

The crowd swelled to ridiculous size, impressive for a Monday night DC show, and tended to explode with raucous joy when songs like "Bohemian Like You" and "Get Off" made an appearance. I was thrilled to hear "Godless," another of those full-tilt sexy slow burners the Dandys do so well. "Boys Better" showed up towards the end of the set, accompanied by a preponderance of strobes and those chunky, jangly riffs that are Dandy trademarks. As, too, is giving the crowd what they want. So when someone shouted for "Minnesoter," the band obliged. "Alright," Taylor-Taylor acquiesced when he was briefly left to his own devices onstage, "Let's do 'Minnesoter.'" And there was much rejoicing.

The set closed with "Country Leaver," a song that's seemed to be the closer of choice over the past couple years. "I hope when I see you that you're still likin' who I am," goes the song. And I'll tell y'all what. Looking at them on that there stage was like looking at them on that there stage 15 years ago, believe it or not. Sure, Courtney's hair was a lot shorter back then, and there was no Fathead behind the drum kit, but it was still as though the Dandys had stopped the clock. And yes, yes indeed. I sure do like who they are, always have and always will.

mp3: Sad Vacation (The Dandy Warhols from This Machine)

[photo by Megan Petty]   


Meet Sun Sister

Take a little bit of that dreamy, daggum catchy surf rock, add in some leisure suit lounge and some sweet, early 60s girl group pop, and you'll start to smell what Sun Sister is cookin'. The four Fitchburgians (MA, if you were wondering) put together some devilishly infectious, flat out delightful dive bar pop ditties that I do believe you'll enjoy quite a bit. 

On the Rich American White Kidz EP, the band turns modern day banalities (the first song, "Growing Ur Hair Out," takes on the pressing, hot-button issue of growing one' out. Yet Stacy Baird's rough around the edges cooing and the delectable lo-finess of all that pretty jangling makes the subject matter almost an afterthought. "Puta, Mirame" is rather interesting, subtly shaded with lounge and that 60s pop vibe, and aching with a hearty dose of infidelity under all that tunefulness. 

When you get right down to it, friends, I do believe I like this Sun Sister, and I do believe you should lend them your ear for a minute or two.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bands On Film #21: Thieving Irons @ DC9, 6/7/12

[photos copyright Megan Petty]

Bands On Film #20: Fire And The Wheel @ DC9, 6/7/12

[photos copyright Megan Petty]