Monday, April 30, 2012

The Untitled Interview #179: Starring Alfra Martini (The Kitten Covers)

To me, it is a match made in heaven. And to bring together two such perfect entities into one EVEN MORE PERFECT (purrfect?!) concept was nigh on brilliant. What the dickens am I talking about, you're quite possibly wondering? If the image to the right hadn't clued you in, friends, I'm talking about one of the best ideas since the creation of the dang internet: The Kitten Covers. Brainchild of Alfra Martini, herself a designer, musician, label honcho, and vintage poster enthusiast/official handler thereof (not to mention admirer of cute), The Kitten Covers brings together the unfathomable cuteness of kittens with the unquestionable cool of (mostly) vintage record covers. Martini's works include the AC/DC work here, along with David Bowie, Cat Power, Black Sabbath, and Dr. Dre (to name but a scant few). At times, it's uncanny how much cats resemble the humans they're fashioned after. I believe you'll find the results more than speak for themselves. And if you couldn't tell, I'm a huge fan. 

Ms. Martini was kind enough to take some time to address some of my most burning of questions. Read on to see how she feels about  "Blue Bayou," thought-swearing, and playing favorites. Oh, and kittens. There is some talk about kittens. Of course.

Fuzzy Logic: How the hell are you? 
Alfra Martini: I'm great. It's my day off and I just scrambled an egg. 

FL: What was the last song you listened to? 
AM: "I Feel Love" - Donna Summer produced by Giorgio Moroder. It's brilliant. 

FL: Beatles or Stones? 
AM: Impossible question. But if you had a gun to my head... I'd reluctantly say Beatles (with fingers crossed... probably). 

FL: Top 5 albums (of now, of this month, or of ever): 
AM: Again, this is hard to answer. Like the kitten covers, I'm compelled to exclude contemporary albums. And those who know me well would probably expect me to just list the first 5 Bowie albums (er…starting with Hunky Dory) and be done with it. But in the spirit of diversity. I'll give you this: Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie, Hounds of Love - Kate Bush, Another Green World - Brian Eno, Purple Rain - Prince, The White Album - Beatles. Alternate: Ocean Rain - Echo and the Bunnymen. This changes all the time however. 

FL: Favorite music-related movie? 
AM: Despite all the fantastic documentaries out there, I'm gonna go with Cabaret. Bob Fosse tends to be overlooked as a movie director, but this movie is fantastic. Also Liza Minnelli gives some of the most mesmerizing onscreen numbers in all history. So freakin' camp, so freakin' glam. 

FL: Half-full or half-empty? 
AM: Neither… it's always too full. 

FL: What bands are most conducive to making great works of art whilst listening to? And do you listen to the band you are currently kittenizing while you do so? 
AM: If I ever make any great art, I'll let you know. However when working on non-music art, anything electronic, particularly with emotive vocals. My go to albums: The Best of OMD - OMD and Pleasure Victim - Berlin. But I don't tend to listen to music while doing the covers. It actually takes twice as long, because I get distracted. 

FL: What’s the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning? 
AM: What eff happened to the alarm? Why didn't I hear the effing alarm? Bleh. Except I really think "Fuck" and not "eff"… 'cuz I swear a lot in my thoughts. 

FL: The greatest record store in the world is: 
AM: Academy Records (Annex) in Brooklyn. Not only for the records, but also for the cool cats behind the counter, one who is actually quite literally a cat. And also that little hole in the wall, Fifth Avenue Records & Tapes in Park Slope, it's dusty and cramped, but so close to home, it's an easy place to pop in on a weekend stroll to the park. 

FL: It’s probably something akin to having a favorite child, but I’ll ask anyway. Are there are covers you’ve kittenized that you’re particularly rather fond of? 
AM: Oh ya? I guess I'd be a bad parent, because I do have favorites. cAtC/DC... makes me laugh every time. Those kittens look so bedraggled. And Purrliament - Meowership Connection, cuz just look at that little sucker... so happy in his little spaceship... And Bob Kitten... 'cuz the hair... oh Bob. 

FL: Last record you bought? 
AM: Mmmm… good question, you know, Zach, my boyfriend, tends to max out our vinyl budget and he's better at scouring than I am. But I guess the last one I actually bought was Jazz by Queen, because it still had the racy poster in it (no pun intended). I can't resist when the poster is still in a used LP, it's like finding a treasure within a treasure! 

FL: What’s a cover you’ve tried to kittenize but just weren’t able to make work (if any)? 
AM: If I start a cover and realize it's gonna be difficult, I put it on the back burner. It's finding the kittens that's the hardest part. You've got to stare at a billion Google thumbnails and try a billion search phrases… and you don't always get happy results… but let's see... I've got Minor Threat's Complete Discography, and Rick James' Street Songs on hold for now. Those exaggerated human poses are the most tricky. I had to use 4 different kittens to make the Purrliament kitten flying in that little craft. 

FL: Shaken or stirred? 
AM: Shaken. Definitely shaken. 

FL: Little-known Kitten Covers fact? 
AM: Despite my ensuing blindness and carpal tunnel, I haven't made a red cent from it. Also "kittenize" isn't actually a word (ed. note: it sure ought to be). 

FL: Your boots were made for: 
AM: Mud. 

FL: Have you kittenized any of your own band’s covers yet? AM: Nope. It's a touchy subject. 

FL: If you were so inclined, whom would you form a tribute band in honor of? 
AM: I did call my latest project Virginia Plain, that's no accident, so I suppose Roxy Music, because Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno... that's something special. Wait, can I add a Roxy Album to the above list? 

FL: You deal in vintage posters. What’s your all-time favorite poster, and how come? 
AM: Currently, Erik Nitsche's Hydrodynamics (USS Nautilus). If you don't know it, it's from the Atoms for Peace series he designed in the 1950's for General Dynamics. I'm more of a sustainable energy kinda girl, but Nitsche's designs are absolutely remarkable. Such a stunning balance of organic form and geometric composition. And if you can see an original, the lithography is impeccable. He also designed some classical covers for Decca back in the day which I'm always keeping an eye out for. 

FL: Best song ever written? 
AM: Orbison's penchant for the grand climax kills me every time, so right now, "Blue Bayou" (Roy Orbison/Joe Melson). I'm rather obsessed with it, especially the Linda Ronstadt version.    

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Untitled Interview #178: Starring Dave W. (White Hills)

When it comes to bands that create seemingly infinite, beautiful swells of parallel sonic universes inhabited by drone, fuzz, and seismic waves, you can't much better than NYC's White Hills. To quoth J. Spaceman, theirs is music to take you to the other side. White Hills has been brilliantly paired with Sleepy Sun on their most current tour, and the band comes to DC Sunday night. I'll be there, and hope that you too will see the light and come to DC9 for what promises to be an out of body listening experience. I probably can't adequately express how beyond excited I am for this show. 

Read on to see what marvelous White Hills mastermind Dave W. has to say about crazy people, squirrels, and the best song ever written.

Fuzzy Logic: How the hell are you? 
Dave W.: Heavenly. 

FL: What was the last song you listened to? 
DW: "The Big Fix" by Thee Hypnotics.

FL: Playing music is: 
DW: Purification for the soul. 

FL: What album most made you realize you wanted to make music? 
DW: Public Image Limited - Metal Box.

FL: Beatles or Stones? 
DW: The Who.

FL: Top 5 albums (of now, of this month, or of ever): 
DW: In no particular order... 
Disappears - Pre Language
Wovenhand - Ten Stones
Nico - Drama of Exile
Killing Joke - Absolute Dissent
Anika - s/t

FL: Favorite music-related movie? 
DW: Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

FL: Half-full or half-empty? 
DW: Half-full.

FL: Which of your peers do you think is making the best music these days? 
DW: There are so many good bands out there it's hard to choose. To name a few I'd say The Psychic Paramount, Disappears, Sleepy Sun, and 3Leafs. 

FL: What’s the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning? 
DW: Why am I awake? 

FL: Little-known White Hills fact? 
DW: We like squirrels. 

FL: The greatest record store in the world is: 
DW: Aquarius Records in San Francisco. 

FL: Shaken or stirred? 
DW: Shaken. 

FL: Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 
DW: Stay out of the crazy people's way. 

FL: How do you know when you've played a really great show? 
DW: By the smile that resides on my face afterwards. 

FL: If you weren’t in a band you’d be: 
DW: Smelling plastic flowers at the flower plant plant. 

FL: What do you find most comforting/most disconcerting about going out on tour? 
DW: The comforting part is playing shows. The most disconcerting is where I'll end up in bed. 

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

FL: Best song ever written? 
DW: I haven't written it yet!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sounds Of Austin Psych Fest #8: Tennis System

If I could dream up my absolute ideal festival in my head, it would probably end up looking a little bit like Austin Psych Fest. The Black Angels beat me to it, and that’s alright with me. They know what they're doing. For the fifth time, TBA and the Reverberation Appreciation Society are putting on one heck of a party down in Austin featuring the best and brightest of the psych rock scene. I’m not going (heartbreak), but if I was, this is who I’d be checking out for damn sure. 

Like all serious parties, the Austin Psych Fest is having themselves a pre-party this evening. Playing said pre-party extravaganza is former DC denizens turned LA dreamboats Tennis System. A wise move was made by the psych powers that be to have Tennis System play this kickoff shindig, as the pretty yet terribly potent psychgaze the band makes is sure to give the people going to the fest exactly what they want. And, of course, makes those of us not down in Austin wish we were there even more.  

 
 

Meet Truman Peyote

If Truman Capote had ever wandered into the desert naked and totally off his rocker, having overindulged on some seriously hardcore peyote while babbling about breakfast at Tiffany's, the results might have ended up sounding a bit like the music made by, wait for it, Truman Peyote. Yes, I'm a sucker for a band with a witty play on nomenclature, but there's more to this Wisconsin-based wackiness than just a cute name.

True, the great Capote probably didn't twiddle a keyboard knob a day in his life (minds out of the gutter, children), but Truman Peyote makes up for this with their trippy, trashy dark electropsych that's heavy on the bleeps. Something almost wicked this way comes, threatening, in its way, to show you a good time, whether you like it or not. Fair warning: these jams do not drive 55. They also get their remix on from time to time, efforts which are also worth checking out.

   

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sounds Of Austin Psych Fest #7: Cosmonauts

If I could dream up my absolute ideal festival in my head, it would probably end up looking a little bit like Austin Psych Fest. The Black Angels beat me to it, and that’s alright with me. They know what they're doing. For the fifth time, TBA and the Reverberation Appreciation Society are putting on one heck of a party down in Austin featuring the best and brightest of the psych rock scene. I’m not going (heartbreak), but if I was, this is who I’d be checking out for damn sure.

When listening to Cosmonauts, I find it a little challenging to catch my dang breath. They are lightning bolt loud, they are breakneck fast, and they are, above all else, terrifyingly wonderful. This is a band that elicits tingling, friends, not to mention goosebumps, tingling of the spine, and even a heart palpitation or two. It's hard to listen to this and not be overwhelmed by all the spiked dandelion wine drone and ferocious riffage. Resistance is futile, and surrender comes quickly and warmly. And speakers, beware. You probably won't stand a chance against these Cosmonauts.

  

Crossing The Pond: The Cult of Dom Keller

"We make sound," proclaims The Cult of Dom Keller's Facebook page. Mind you, friends, that's like saying William Blake messed about with woodcarving and poetry. I've never been much inclined to join a cult, but I'd consider it for this lot.

Experimental psychedelic noise is the cheat sheet for what's going on here, loves. The long version involves song after song of incredibly textured, intricately magic epics. I think they've actually melted my mind, because I'm having a hard time stringing together cohesive thoughts. This is officially heavy, wonderful stuff, not for the faint at heart but perfect for those with serious soul. If they told me to follow, brothers and sisters I would follow. Consider me the newest disciple of The Cult of Dom Keller. Come join the cult, won't you? 

    

Sounds Of Austin Psych Fest #6: The Ripe

If I could dream up my absolute ideal festival in my head, it would probably end up looking a little bit like Austin Psych Fest. The Black Angels beat me to it, and that’s alright with me. They know what they're doing. For the fifth time, TBA and the Reverberation Appreciation Society are putting on one heck of a party down in Austin featuring the best and brightest of the psych rock scene. I’m not going (heartbreak), but if I was, this is who I’d be checking out for damn sure.

The first thing that popped into my head when listening to The Ripe for the first time was "ooooooooooh." These Austin psychsmiths have a patently old school sound, spinning a delightfully lo-fi, throwback web of psych-a-go-go with some garage riffs and some spiked Kool-Aid hallucinations. This is the kind of band that has got to be smokin' live, because on record they're straight up singeing my ears. In the very best way. They cite The Kinks and Love and The Beatles and even Big Star, and all are present. But newcomers The Ripe have done their own thing, and done it so very well. Yours truly is in smit somethin' fierce. 

  

Meet The Turpentine Ray

Many years (and seemingly several lifetimes ago) I went to Prague. I found it a city of infinite, nearly unfathomable beauty. Despite its unquestionable majesty, Prague definitely isn't a city in which I'd expect to find a "chaotic little folk band." And yet, lo and behold, here comes The Turpentine Ray.

I find The Turpentine Ray rather pleasing, my friends. Their globe-trotting members (all but one are from outside the Czech Republic) bring together a variety of styles, resulting in a bouncy, rustic folk peppered with hints of Eastern European folklore and pure Americana (and maybe a hint of pub rock just below the surface). Perfect for soundtracking a post-work pint. Not bad indeed.
   

Whither Festivus: MACRoCk 2012 Recap - Saturday

As y'all recall, I went out to Harrisonburg last year for my very first MACRoCk. I left super smitten and totally stoked on the idea of going back. So when the 2012 installment rolled around, I made dang sure to go. And wouldn't you know it, this year was even better than last year. Below are all the reasons why.

Another beautiful blue day dawned and the Ttotals boys and I headed down to grab some grub at the Artful Dodger before I got my panel on. On the way over we ran into half of The Snowy Owls and my fellow panelist Shannon Cleary, so our mini gaggle sat down together for some quality breakfast (pancakes and $2 mimosas! I love you, Artful Dodger). Also, you know you're in the right spot when Lower Dens is eating in the same restaurant. And yes, still have a thing for red-headed guitarists.

The panel, held in the basement at Clementine, was a good time indeed. My three fellow panelists and I discussed such hot button issues as our roles in the industry, how we get our news/music/info, and what we thought about the scenes in our respective cities. Thanks to everyone who came out to listen and participate, it was great to have you there. After the panel, it was farewell time with the Ttotals boys, who had a long drive back to Nashville. It was great to get so much hang time with those two, and watch this space for some Ttotals news coming soon. 

I was faced with the difficult decision of deciding what to do with some time. It was between a catnap and a shopping trip to the Rolling Hills Antique Mall. I went with the latter. I got so wrapped up in the myriad rooms and wares for sale that I managed to miss some of the Peace Beast set back at the Dodger. I'd wanted to see Peace Beast for a long while, and the songs I saw didn't disappoint. Their beefy, 90s-perfumed lady-fronted rock was thick and juicy, and I all sorts of loved it. Those four have struck gold together, proving once more that anything with Roanoke ties/featuring Kyle and Brandi of The Diamond Center can do no wrong.

Left & Right was up after Peace Beast, and those Charlottesville dudes threw down. They played an appealing sort of poppy, punk-edged grit that the kids seemed to enjoy. Their banter was entertaining (example: "This is our third song," was proclaimed before they played, wait for it, the third song of their set). As I listened to them I began to imagine them on a bill with Hammer No More The Fingers, some of my Carolina favorites. College rock radio crept into their sound for sure. Very high energy, and pretty dang fun.

Spoiled as I am, I got to see The Snowy Owls for the second time in a week (the band having played my First Annual Anniversary Throwdown the weekend before MACRoCk). As expected, their set was amazing. The back-to-back playing of "Could" and "Papertooth" had me on Cloud 9. The Dodger filled up quick for them, as it should have. I frequently heard people talk of their set for the rest of the day, and have to say they were near the top of the weekend for me. So much beautiful, melodic scuzzery. If there is justice in the world, these Richmond dudes will soon be Big Time. Love. 

After that, a few hours elapsed in which I spent some serious quality time with my bed. I awoke with a revised plan for the evening, and I veered off course and over to the Court Square Theatre to see a little goodness. When I got there, Bison was finishing up their set. The place was packed out, and people were really into what was happening up on stage. The seven members of Bison (mostly gents in waistcoats and crisp white shirts) played a rollicking style of folksamericana, and I joined the crowd at large in enjoying the music quite a bit. The place erupted when they were done, the mob begging for an encore the band couldn't give due to time constraints. I was very, very impressed.

Next to take the stage was my beloved The Loom, playing the last show of a lengthy Spring tour. As they set up I was reminded for some reason of the wedding I had seen earlier, on the Court House grounds. The bride was beaming, as was the groom, as they said their "I Do's" in that small gazebo surrounded by family and MACRoCk onlookers. It was a lovely moment in a lovely day. And more lovely moments were to come, thanks to The Loom. 

It was my first time seeing the band as a trio, the ladies couldn't be there so it was a boys club. It took a little getting used to, so accustomed am I to the sounds of the band with lady voices and various string and horn instruments that were missing from the set. But by the end I was a fan, as the stripped-down (yet somehow bulkier) sound really suited the songs well. There is still something mystical about them, to me, something impish and otherwordly in their urban folk songs. I admired singer/guitarist/uke-ist John Fanning's red skull-decorated guitar strap and was soon blushing about a song dedication. By the end of their set, the band was playing to a fairly-packed house, and the faces on just about everyone there (band included) were pleased.

I stuck it out for one more band, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard, another NYC outfit. They were the first band I recall having mentioned a distortion pedal at this particular MACRoCk venue, and the first also to have projections. The drummer caused quite a titter to go through the crowd before they began with his adorable little, hammed-up calisthenics routine. Nice form, sir. As for the band, they were quirky as heck, which was appealing and refreshing. Some folk, some rock, and some appreciation for history. The projections got interesting when Lewis showed some cartoons he had done, one featuring an alien, sleep, a star on the Walk of Fame, and more sleep, the other a cute little piece about the French Revolution. Way to appeal to my history nerd side, y'all. 

Overall, my second MACRoCk experience was even more enjoyable than my first. Kudos to all involved in the creation of the fest, to all the bands that played so well, and for the attendees for being pretty alright. Thanks also to the committee for inviting me to be a panelist. Super fun! Bottom line, friends, MACRoCk is a pretty special thing. If you can play it, do. If you can go check it out, do. See y'all next year.

[photo by Megan Petty]      
     

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sounds Of Austin Psych Fest #5: Holy Wave

If I could dream up my absolute ideal festival in my head, it would probably end up looking a little bit like Austin Psych Fest. The Black Angels beat me to it, and that’s alright with me. They know what they're doing. For the fifth time, TBA and the Reverberation Appreciation Society are putting on one heck of a party down in Austin featuring the best and brightest of the psych rock scene. I’m not going (heartbreak), but if I was, this is who I’d be checking out for damn sure.

Holy Wave. O, Holy Wave. I don't know why it took until now for me to get myself familiar with this Texas foursome. I guess that whole better late than never thing applies here. Fans of Darker My love might enjoy Holy Wave, as they're full of the sprawling, yet so very harmonic and melodic early 60s noise that the boys of Darker My Love have been so fine at over the past few years. The jangle is fierce, the end result is addiction. You've been warned.
 

Singles Club: Roommates

Hot damn, y'all. Here's what happened. All I was doing was innocently checking my Twitter feed when I clicked on a link from Slumberland's feed...and the rest was history. I found myself listening to/falling in love with some seriously cute and even more addictive saccharine scuzz from the duo known as Roommates. And now I cannot stop listening to this. Help.

"Back to the Sun/Girlfriend Swap" hearkens back a smidge to the beatific glory of the lo-fi rocking of the 80s, especially as can be found in heaping helpings in the tunes that came out of Scotland and New Zealand at the time. Adorable and jangly but probably darker than one might think, given the overall catchy as all get out nature of the songs. If only the weather wasn't so shitty, I'd almost think it was the middle of summer. Almost.
 

Sounds Of Austin Psych Fest #4: Ancient River

If I could dream up my absolute ideal festival in my head, it would probably end up looking a little bit like Austin Psych Fest. The Black Angels beat me to it, and that’s alright with me. They know what they're doing. For the fifth time, TBA and the Reverberation Appreciation Society are putting on one heck of a party down in Austin featuring the best and brightest of the psych rock scene. I’m not going (heartbreak), but if I was, this is who I’d be checking out for damn sure.

Being an Alabama fan, I don't usually pay attention to much in Gainesville apart from those Gators. However, I am about to perform an aboutface about my Gainesville views and say a big warm hello hi how are you to Ancient River. The band started life as a live project and has evolved into a seriously great psych-meets-swamp rock band. Sure, they definitely can get their psych on just as well as the rest of the Austin Psych Fest lineup, but there's a just plain old badassness to their sound that makes them feel pretty special. Definitely recommended listening.
 

Album Review: Ringo Deathstarr - Shadow EP

My oh so very favorite Austinian psychgazers Ringo Deathstarr are fixing to work on their second full-length, y'all, and this notion gets me all sorts of elated. In the meantime, they've recently released the tasty little four-song EP Shadow to fill the void for slightly less than patient types in need of their fix (like yours truly, for example).

Opening title track "Shadow" reads so very MBV along with, dare I even say it, some beats that make me think of that ubercatchy Soup Dragons song "Divine Thing." Yes, really. Work with me on this one. Between Alex's breathy purr and Elliott's throaty shouts, the song takes on a very appealing duality behind all that wonderful droning fuzz. "New Way" is brief but intense, clocking in at just over a minute but packing a wallop all the same, especially as the song winds down and Elliott goes berserk for a moment with his guitar.

There seems to be a natural break in the songs, the first half being the really noisy side and the second half taking it down a notch. "Prisms" is a dreamy, almost languid piece of lushness. Call it daydreamgaze, if you will. "Just You" closes things down with some hazy, spacey retro-tinged ethereal noise. It's a 60s pop song reinvented, in a way, and I like it.

Also, the band is currently accepting donations for assistance with the recording process. They've got various levels of fundraising rewards left so that no matter what your wallet has it in, there's a way to get involved and help ensure that this seriously talented trio can make more beautiful music for all of us to enjoy.

mp3: Shadow (Ringo Deathstarr from the Shadow EP)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bands On Film #10: These United States @ 9:30 Club, 4/20/12




















































































































































































































































































































































































































































These United States


[photos by Megan Petty]

LP Lust: Record Store Day 2012 Edition

Last year I spent Record Store Day in sunny Southern California, but seeing as I didn't make it out to Coachella this year, I decided to partake in some local RSD activities. So I met up with a couple folks at Crooked Beat in Adams Morgan, where we sweated up a storm (oh hi, upper 70s!) as we waited in the agonizingly slow line for our chance to descend into the bowels of record-buying heaven. Finally, that joyous moment arrived and into the den of beautiful vinyl we went.

In addition to the awesome Crooked Beat goodie bag, here's the score I walked away with when all was said and done. I'm pretty stoked on my haul. Especially all that purty colored vinyl...!

* The Black Angels -Watch Out Boy/I'd Rather Be Lonely 7"

* Dinosaur Jr. - The Electronic Anthology Project of Dinosaur Jr.

* Lee Hazelwood - The LHI Years

* John Williams - Jaws OST

* Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl Sessions

* Mclusky - Mclusky Do Dallas

* Leon Russell - Hank Wilson's Back

* Horse Feathers - Cynic's New Year

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crossing The Pond: The Graceful Slicks

It's good to see the lads of the Beatles aren't the only old school rockers resulting in cleverly cute band names these days. Lads and ladettes, may I present to you The Graceful Slicks, four Oxfordian gentlemen hellbent on taking you down the rabbithole with them. No need to ask Alice, then.

To quote themselves, the band is a "psychedelic/shoegaze/surf" band. If only it was that simple. It wouldn't be difficult to imagine the four Graceful Slicks in brightly-colored flared cords and floral ladies' blouses, swaggering about the late 60s with the coolest of the cool kids. There's a definite flourish to their sound, pomp and circumstance to all those hazy undulations and scruffy preening, not to mention a serious dose of underlying seductiveness. Their songs were tailor made to be played at very loud volumes while doing very scandalous things.

Obviously, I'm already smitten. Now it's your turn.

Sounds Of Austin Psych Fest #3: MMOSS

If I could dream up my absolute ideal festival in my head, it would probably end up looking a little bit like Austin Psych Fest. The Black Angels beat me to it, and that’s alright with me. They know what they're doing. For the fifth time, TBA and the Reverberation Appreciation Society are putting on one heck of a party down in Austin featuring the best and brightest of the psych rock scene. I’m not going (heartbreak), but if I was, this is who I’d be checking out for damn sure.

MMOSS. O, MMOSS. I had the serious pleasure of seeing these four pied pipers in Richmond a few months back, and they literally took my breath away at the same time they stole a little piece of my soul. What they do on a stage is nothing short of sonic alchemy, creating cacophonies of beautiful, technicolor drone and heady layers of fuzz and all sorts of wonderful insanity. One of the first thoughts I had (when I was finally able to form cohesive thoughts) during their set was "hot damn, they'd be perfect for Psych Fest." And wouldn't you know it. Someone was reading my mind. If you're going to Austin, DO NOT miss MMOSS. Seriously. Don't even think about missing them.

Otherwise Engaged: Kindlewood

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 variety 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 still highly recommended.

Perhaps it's the spirit of the herb, but there is a serious over-saturation of incredible shows in the DC metro area this evening. On any other night of the week, yours truly would be heading out to Vienna to see those three darlings of Kindlewood make their beautiful, ethereally homespun urban folk at Jammin Java. But alas, I cannot. However, if you're still trying to decide upon which of the many local shows you should go to tonight, I recommend giving Kindlewood a go.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Whither Festivus: MACRoCk 2012 Recap - Friday

As y'all recall, I went out to Harrisonburg last year for my very first MACRoCk. I left super smitten and totally stoked on the idea of going back. So when the 2012 installment rolled around, I made dang sure to go. And wouldn't you know it, this year was even better than last year. Below are all the reasons why.

Having made my way to Hburg on Thursday evening, when the official Day 1 dawned I was good and ready to have some fun. The first day of MACRoCk was beautiful blue and a smidge windy (apologies, Harrisonburg, if you caught me having a Marilyn Monroe moment). The day was a win before the music even started, as I linked up with Brian and Marty from Ttotals for some quality hangtime. Brian and I went record shopping at the FANTASTIC Wonder Records while Marty got him a haircut. We also had some fun times over at the band banquet at the Elk's Lodge, trying to decode Elk memorabilia and just generally goofing off. Eventually, we made our way over to the Artful Dodger (which is maybe my favorite venue of the entire weekend, what with its' quirky design and cheap booze), wherein the first portion of the day's rock proceedings were to play out.

Kicking off the official bandness was Malatese, and they kicked off MACRoCk something proper. They were just as feisty and shouty as I had imagined they would be, and so high energy. I was particularly fond of when the sonic party got a little dark, and shit started to get just a tiny bit creepy and weird. But in a good way. The folks at the Dodger seemed to dig Malatese, and I can certainly add my approval to that consensus. I found the singer especially engaging, with his mild histrionics and pogoing hither and thither across the stage. The last song of their short set was dedicated to a dad, which was too cute. Thumbs up on the Malatese live experience for sure.

Richmond favorites White Laces came next, and played one heck of a set. The dark, almost sinister throb of their sound pulsated in waves over the heads of the many folks that crowded around for their set. The songs were a little bit far out at times, but were reigned in with structure and loveliness. "Fuck yeahs" were popping up all over the dang place after "Heavy Nights," and the beautiful ominous tones and off-kilter rhythms were certainly warranting of such concise, emphatic praise. Their set was shoegaze/post-punk infused with an almost poppy slickness, and they sounded totally on-point, with even the muddiness of the vocals working in their favor. The sunlight streaming in and bathing them in its golden glow made for a pretty special little set indeed. And then, somehow, it was all over.

My favorite Nashville gents were third to play, and ladies and gentlemen, may I just say this. Ttotals owned the Dodger. Officially and completely owned it. It's probably the best I've seen them (and, it must be noted, is the third time in a row I've seen them without any vomiting happening). They were in peak form with their outer blues, the psycho shoegaze pummeling psych party making friends and winning people over throughout the place. I think I might have checked out for a little bit as they played. To my mind, they're definitely in contention for best (and loudest) set of the weekend. Hot damn, hot damn, hot damn.

As if that wasn't enough, there was still one more set to be had at the Dodger. And it belonged to my River City loves The Diamond Center. Something must have been in the air (perhaps a little mountain magic), because TDC also played possibly my favorite ever set by them. They simply manhandled their songs. Brandi's vocals were purring somethin' extra sultry. So good were they, that I saw some bros totally clinging to each other in an embrace most likely brought on by disbelief at just how good a set they were witnessing. They were on another plane on the first day of MACRoCk. Their elemental psych spiritualism was a wonder to behold, friends. When the last note was played I felt so lucky to have been there for all four bands that had left their mark at the Dodger. But then I realized there was even more to come.

After a dinner break, the Ttotals gents and I meandered over to Clementine for the super solid bill that was lined up. Banned Books led the charge, and came out swinging with their aggressively loud aggrotude. The way their drummer seemed to almost attack his kit definitely appealed to me. There was a wacky, almost jazz sort of experimentation to their sound, very free form. And very loud. My ears were complaining even with the hot pink plugs. I dug their whole set, but the instrumentals, with their decidedly more hostile vibe, were my favorites. There was a dude standing right in front of the stage, hands over his ears, an expression somewhere between awe and pain on his face as he stared at the Philly band. And that pretty much sums it up right there, y'all.

More Fuzzy favorites had their turn, as the Charlottesville-based Invisible Hand got down and dirty. The place was getting super packed by this point, and folks were all atwitter. Their set sounded killer, very heavy on the rocking out. Also, singer/guitarist Adam Smith gets mad points for not only his extra lustrous curls, but the classic Izod cardigan as well. Well-played, Adam. And well-played, Invisible Hand. These dudes are live favorites of mine, and they were favorites of the crowd, too, even inspiring a gentleman standing near me to balance a beer bottle on his head. Can't beat that.

Total Slacker threw me for a total loop and a half, because for whatever reason I was not expecting to love them as much as I did. But o, sweet mercy. Their drummer was cherubim adorable and I loved the way they shredded through their songs. They were spikey and all sorts of sassy, and the spin moves the singer threw down were impressive as all get out. It was their first time in Virginia, and we all know how I love a good first time. In an interesting sartorial dynamic, the two dudes in the band were in all white, while the lone lady was in black. I couldn't get enough of their scuzzy, lo-fi as fuck maelstrom. All the killer touchstones you could ask for were in their set, from the Stooges to the Velvets to Spacemen 3, all thrown in a blender with some razorblades and some youthful abandon. Speaker-climbing and over-the-back guitar playing cemented them in my favorite sets of the weekend. Impressed doesn't even do my feelings justice.

The last official set of the night was Lower Dens, the set I had probably looked most forward to of the entire weekend. We all know how much I love them. I'd wanted to see them for so long, and finally being able to indulge in my Lower Dens fangirlness was a wonderful feeling. After (a really, really, really) long setup period, they began. And I blissed out. Since it took so long to get going, the crowd at Clementine dwindled quite a bit. But it didn't matter to me. While I didn't stay for the whole set, what I heard was magical and delicious and magically delicious. Also, I now have a thing for red-headed guitarists. Officially. Their dreamy droning was even dreamier than I had hoped for, and I left Clementine with a heck of a smile on my face.

To really get the total MACRoCk experience, the Ttotals boys and I drove over to one of the house shows to get a glimpse of some friends doing their thing in a confined space. The basement of this spot was packed to high heaven, so hanging out on the deck was what down. Navi (Richmond) and Surfing (Harrisonburg) were the bands we got an earful of, and both sounded mighty fine in the chill of the night. We ended up splitting after not too long, but not before we got to see a window get broken (rock'n'roll, my friends).

And then, finally, it was time for bed. But there was no rest for the weary! For lo, Day 2 would soon beckon. Stay tuned...

[photo by Megan Petty]

Singles Club: Teen Mom

Tomorrow is shaping up to be a pretty awesome day, y'all. Your homegirl has some serious plans, but that's only a part of the grand scheme of tomorrow. Local favorites Teen Mom also figure majorly into the radness of Thursday, April 19th.

If you're wondering why, wonder no longer. The dynamic trio is releasing their debut EP Mean Tom tomorrow, and if lead track "You and Me" is any indication, it's sure to be a happy/cute/sweet little stick of dynamite for your ears. The band's idyllic urban sweetness is for sure not to be missed.