Monday, October 16, 2017

An Interview With Paul Draper (Part the First)

It was a somewhat sunny afternoon in late September when I sat down with Paul Draper at an undisclosed location (i.e. a pub) somewhere deep in the well-heeled, flyover London suburbs. Draper, fresh off a successful short run of live dates in support of his solo record and a birthday just a couple days earlier, was in fine form. He's come a long way since his days at the helm of captivating anti-Britpop band Mansun, a too-brief ride that hit critical highs (and lows) and ended with a rather acrimonious split. Draper's return to performing his own material has made many people (yours truly included) pretty happy. Incredibly entertaining company, Paul had plenty to say about his spooky good solo debut Spooky Action, touring, mistaken identity, and even more, in his endearingly snarky way.

What follows is the first part of our chat. Stay tuned for the next installment, coming soon. And while you're at it, put on Spooky Action

Fuzzy Logic: How does it feel to have finally shared Spooky Action with the world?
Paul Draper: Well you know, obviously the main thing is trying to avoid all the bad reviews. Some bloke thought it was the new Hanson album, he still gave it a 3 out of 10. He thought we’d gone all a bit prog rock.

I once did an interview with a bloke in Italy who interviewed me and thought I was the singer from Embrace. I didn’t even know he didn’t know who I was, and he kept saying to me “how’s your brother?’ and it was just like what are you talking about? And in the end it was like hang on mate, who’s my brother, and he’s like “oh, I’m sorry,” and he just put the phone down and went off and that was it. I think he still printed the interview…as an Embrace interview, you know.

FL: Oh shit. You’re not in Embrace?
PD: No, no. I would like to be one day. It’s my ambition.

FL: Are they still…?
PD: Oh yeah, massive. Got their own Embrace Fest every year. They hire a yacht or something and travel around the Isle of Skye. That’s what you do. It’s got to make money now. Everyone’s after it. Gary Numan, Marillion, Whitesnake…

So yeah, that was the main thing, just to avoid bad reviews, which we pretty much did, and then see if anyone would buy it, so a few people did. I don’t know what to make of it really, I’m not consumed by it all like I was before. But maybe that makes the music not as good. You have to be a bit of an obsessive nutter to make good music really. It depends how many chords you know, doesn’t it really? I don’t know that many.

But yeah, it feels ok. I didn’t think we’d get this far, to be honest. I ran a studio in Acton for ten years, and record companies kept turning up and saying “do a solo album” and I didn’t think I ever had it in me anymore, but eventually you run out of money and think fuck, “gotta pay the bills,” and so we’re here.

FL: I did read that originally there was a longer title for Spooky Action. Why did you shorten it?
PD: Well I just wrote down the phrase “spooky action at a distance” when I read it somewhere, from Einstein, and then someone said to me, “there’s another album called Spooky Action at A Distance,” so I said well just call it Spooky Action then. When I left Mansun, I was gonna make a solo album, and I’d said to people, “oh it’s gonna be called Spooky Action,” so I couldn’t change it, so I changed it to Spooky Action and someone messaged me and said, “there’s someone else got an album called Spooky Action.” The only place I had left to go was either to call it Spooky or Spooky Action At A. In the end we were trying to say should we call it Spooky Action (At A Distance), and in the end it was just just call it Spooky Action. Some guy out of Rammstein or something, I don’t know. It was like, I had my Spooky Action first, and I couldn’t get out of it.

But that’s where it came from, really. I don’t know anything about nuclear physics. I just read it in a book. To make myself sound, you know, like intellectual.

FL: Totally works.
PD: Really works, yeah.

FL: You throw Einstein into anything…
PD: Exactly, yeah. I’m just searching Stephen Hawking catchphrases at the minute for the next album.

FL: You should go older. Ancient Greece.
PD: I’ll find something that makes me look more important than I really am.

FL: The more obscure the better.
PD: Exactly, yeah, that’s why there’s about fifty million albums called Spooky Action, cuz they’re all trying to make themselves look really important. But then it becomes weird because all these Spooky Action albums are all connected over distance by subatomic level…

FL: I see what you did there.
PD: I’m not as thick as I look.

But yeah, I literally read it yonks and yonks ago, and I had a shortlist of album titles, and I just suggested it to a few people…but it was years ago. I couldn’t get out of it. If it was now I would have called it something like London Aquilo or you know, something modern. I don’t know. But yeah, so it sort of stuck really. But then, people ask me that question and I say like, “oh, well it’s to do with the music being connected over space and time in a never-ending gravitational wave bending towards the past with the connection of Mansun and now.” But that’s just a crock of shit, isn’t it? You’re laughing but it is. Musicians are just full of shit. The whole fucking lot of them.

FL: From what I understand, most of this record was put together so long ago, what did you end up tinkering with/tweaking, is there anything in there that maybe wasn’t in the original group of songs?
PD: Oh yeah, a lot of it. Most of it. The best way I can probably describe it is…there’s a three-CD box set that they’ve got on, and they’ve got an outtakes CD on it. In the outtakes is like a couple of demos of the tracks. They were just literally just little ideas that I throw down in an hour, terrible recording quality, just little home demos with me on a drum machine, and that’s where they started. So like “Don’t You Wait,” I didn’t even change the lyrics or anything, that was intact and we just played it as a band. “Grey House,” that was all there and intact as a demo but without lyrics on the verses. “Can’t Get Fairer Than That” was all done but sounded like George Michael. Nothing wrong with sounding like George Michael, I just don’t want to sound like George Michael. But you know, I can’t help it sometimes. But yeah, that was dormant again, that was demoed very close to the original thing. In the end we ended up taking two sections out of that song, but on the outtakes CD you can hear the two sections that are in it and it’s like proper George Michael. They’ve sold out of all the box sets, bit of a disaster really. Cuz we were like number 5 in the mid-week charts, but we’d sold out all on our website, so we dropped down to number 19. Martine McCutcheon beat us by 17 copies. You know her off EastEnders?

FL: She’s singing now?
PD: Oh yeah. Martine McCutcheon lives here. I’m telling you, if I see her on that High Street, I’m gonna have a word with her.

FL: I didn’t know she was singing.
PD: I don’t think anyone knows that she’s singing. I think everyone’s just like…there’s Martine McCutcheon on a DVD just wailing. I mean, I’m furious, absolutely furious, that this town put out two records one week, one of the quality of my record, and then Martine McCutcheon the barmaid off EastEnders and she whooped our ass. It’s disgusting.

FL: It’s all because of Love, Actually.
PD: She beat us! If I see her in Tesco’s, I’m telling you…

But yeah. 17 copies. If I’d have known that morning, I would have gone out and bought 17 copies meself just to piss her off. But she beat us. She got on the breakfast news, as well. Everything she had. Loose Women, breakfast news, the One show. What was I on? Nothing. No one was interested in me. Got a feature in Prog Magazine, though. Good job Martine McCutcheon didn’t do a concept album, or we would have been fucked.

FL: What did you find was different about the recording and release of Spooky Action versus all those Mansun records?
PD: Well, I wasn’t neurotic about this one. Like, when we used to do the Mansun ones, I was like [sharp intake of breath] you know, fear. Would anyone like it, would it go in the charts. And by the third Mansun album, even I thought it was shit, so I didn’t give a shit about that one. But it wasn’t my album. I was just the singer, I was just forced into doing it by the big evil record company, and the other members of the band, and the management…so yeah I wasn’t as bothered about this one, I don’t think. I was just trying to make it a success in whatever way you can measure success in the now of music. Just make your owns fan like it, and buy enough copies so you can do another one. You know, the record company…they won’t just sign you up if they think you’re artistically valid. They just want to make money out of you. So, I think they’ll make a bit of money out of me, but I’ve no idea if they think I’m artistically valid. So hopefully, you know, we’ll be doing another one. So yeah, I’m not as bothered these days. Although I did put a different type of effort in. A more measured…it’s like the tortoise and the hare. I used to be a hare, now I’m a tortoise, the way I work and the way you want to put it together. I still care about it.

FL: Were you surprised about that fan petition to get Spooky Action released?
PD: No, no…I mean, we’d spoke to the fans online and just said, you know…it was just testing the water, really. I said to them, if you want me to do a record, do a fan petition and see if there’s any interest. And there was a little bit of interest. It wasn’t massive, it wasn’t like millions of people, it’s not like trying to stop Donald Trump coming to London or anything. I’m not that popular. But yeah, a few thousand people signed it…what happened was that the Anchoress album came out, which I produced, and as we talked about before there’s a sea of music out there, and how do you get it heard these days…I’d be offered to do interviews loads of times over the years, and the best one at that point I was offered was do a radio interview with Steve Lamacq, on the radio and do the premiere of the Anchoress single, and I knew a girl who worked for the Huffington Post and I did an interview with her, and they put it in the Arts section, saying I’d been away a while and wanted to raise awareness of this new project, and that’s where it all started really. From that point, record companies starting coming onboard…

So the petition thing, that started when I rose my head above the parapet. But I didn’t do it…I never thought we would end up here. I thought we would produce another record. So we just ended up here because this is where it led us. It wasn’t by accident, we were trying to do musical projects. There was a whole sequence of events that unfolded, that it became obvious that after doing the Anchoress record, producing that, that I should do a solo album. One of the big reasons was our studio, where we worked in London, got turned into flats. That’s London, isn’t it, everything gets turned into flats. We were renting it out commercially, as well. We had loads of big stars in there. Frank Ocean was in there for ten days writing on the piano in there, and Pixie Lott, you’ve never heard of her…all sorts of record company bookings in there. When I wasn’t in there, people would use the studio. So when we were turfed out of the studio so they could make way for flats in Acton it was like, do we look to rent a new premises in London and carry on as like writing and producing and running a studio? If I didn’t do that, my options were limited to working on my own, so I did a deal with my engineer who engineered the second Mansun album, a guy called PDub, he lives literally a few miles away from here and he’s got his own private studio. So we started it at Stanley House in Acton, and moved over to Dub’s, so it was just a big sequence of events that unfolded. The fan petition was just one element of it. They could have done a petition and we could have done nothing, but it just happened. We worked pretty hard.

FL: What’s it been like out on the road playing all the new stuff?
PD: It’s genuinely been amazing. Beforehand, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off, then I got a chest virus, so that looked like a good excuse to pull out. But my management wouldn’t let me. They bribed me into doing it. So the first night I went on with a big cup of Lemsip…do you get Lemsip in America? What’s the closest thing – Xanax? Heroin? Yeah, a massive cup of heroin on stage, and it just sorted me right out. I just didn’t give a shit. Yeah that Lemsip man, you just get off your tits. It’s amazing. So yeah, big pot of Lemsip, some honey and lemon, vocal zones, do you know what they are? Like little fruit pastels, sweets…bit like M & Ms but for the throat. Throat M & Ms. A lozenge. Throat lozenges. I had all that and I just about got through it, got the gig over. And all the reviews were good for the gigs. My throat virus went after the second night, and we had a break in the middle of the dates, and the promoters have eased us back in so we only had six gigs and we had a few days gap. And then by the end, I don’t think any of us wanted to come off. The crowds were amazing, gigs were sold out…I think I came back and thought oh wow, I’ll do some more of this. So that’s it. Back out, doing it again.

FL: How many, next time?
PD: It’s tripled in size in terms of how many people we’re playing to, but I think we’re doing 14 gigs, and we’re going to Ireland as well, doing Dublin and Belfast. We’re going back to Manchester and London, we did like 800 people at the Scala but this new venue we’re doing, the Brixton Electric, is like 1600 people so the capacities have gone right up. So, there must be more demand for it. So we’re gonna do it, make the set a little bit longer, learn a few more songs…I was honest with them, I said we’re gonna start with three b-sides, but not because we’re really creative but because we haven’t got any other fucking songs. Which is sort of true and not true really. Paul McCartney did that with Wings. They only had seven songs when they started. They used to turn up at universities and play seven songs, and go “we haven’t got any more so we’ll just play ‘em again.” So you get a 14-song set. I just thought we’d do “Wide Open Space” 9 times and have a big gap between the encores. Everyone loves that one after a few beers.

FL: Related question, of interest to people in the Americas, when might Spooky Action (album/tour) come our way?
PD: Well, you know…I just don’t think anyone gives a shit about me in America. I honestly don’t. Like if we put a gig on in New York, how many people would turn up? By the end of this album, if we can’t get over to America as a band, realistically by the end of this band cycle or in the next few years, we probably could go over and do like New York, Boston, San Francisco, LA, probably…maybe Washington at a push. Maybe Philadelphia. You know, just the Anglophile towns. You could do a few. But that might not be financially feasible. So it might be just a case of just going and doing just a couple of acoustic shows, like a New York and an LA one. And I’m up for that. In my mind, when we finish touring, of course we’re doing this February-March tour and then we’ve got to do the festival season in the UK…we’re really looking in to see if we can do Hong Kong, Tokyo, maybe an Australian gig as well. There was loads of Japanese fans at the gigs, loads of Chinese people as well, which blew me away. Cuz when Mansun was going 20 years ago, it was unheard of for Chinese fans to travel over. But we went to Hong Kong a few times, so there’s people at the gigs from Beijing, Shanghai, you know, it was amazing. So I’m up for doing mainland China, but it’s whether it’s financially viable. We’ve got to see. We’ve got to see. We’ve just put a new single out, “Grey House” now, and it’s like will Radio 6 play it in the UK, will it get radio play, or will they just ignore us like usual? So if they just ignore us, then it’ll just be a case of I’ve just got to carry on playing to you know, my own audience, the audience we built up through Mansun, or people like yourself who discovered Mansun and would have an interest in it. So we’re gonna have to really work it and build it. But who knows? At the end, I might just head over and sit in a corner in Brooklyn and sing “Wide Open Space” 9 times.

FL: That’s a solid plan.
PD: That’s my plan at the moment for conquering America. And I’m just gonna keep singing it at them. I’m gonna get on the Greyhound and go into every town until they just give up and rerelease it.

[posted 10.16.17]

Video of The Day #346: Phoenix

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

The delightful Phoenix is in DC tonight, so let's celebrate this French connection by watching their new clip for the suggestive hip-shaker "Ti Amo." Obviously I'm a sucker for vintage film footage, especially when you add smooching and impressive scenery. If you're heading to the show tonight at the Anthem, you're a lucky duck indeed and in for a hell of a show.   

[posted 10.16.17]

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Newsflash!: Win Tickets to Beach Fossils @ 9:30 Club, 10/24/17

You love going to shows. I love giving you tickets to shows. It's a match made in heaven. Read on for how you can win some tickets.

I've been going to shows at the legendary 9:30 Club since I was a teenager, and have seen some of the best of the best grace that venerable stage. It is a pleasure to be offering a pair of tickets to the following upcoming 9:30/IMP show.

It's been four years since Beach Fossils last put out a long player, but Somersault is out now and the fellows are touring the new songs (and, presumably, some older favorites as well) around the US of A. Somersault is no more replication of their earlier fuzzed up surf vibes, and the songs here beg to be experienced live. 

Speaking of that, one of the stops on the Beach Fossils tour is right here in DC. And you could win a pair of tickets to the show on October 24th. All you need to do is pop me an email and tell me why o why you'd like to see Beach Fossils up close and personal. 

FINE PRINT: Contest is for two (2) tickets to this show. Contest closes at noon Eastern on Sunday, 10/22/17. 

Good luck my little beach bums!  

[posted 10.15.17]

Video of The Day #345: Amen Dunes

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

Sometimes I forget just how much I love the Amen Dunes record Love. It's a masterwork of lo-fi magnetism and penetrating intensity, and "Splits Are Parted" is one of several favorite songs from that gorgeous album (see also: "Lonely Richard," "Everybody is Crazy," "I Can't Dig It," and "Love"). The video for "Splits Are Parted" is electric in its simplicity, visually startling without much clutter, an effect that somehow works with the slow burn of the song. If this isn't part of your record collection yet, do yourself a favor. Video and audio for "Lonely Richard" below.   

[posted 10.15.17]

Live Review: Alvvays @ Rock & Roll Hotel, 10/8/17

I've been smitten with Canadian cuties Alvvays since I first heard their self-titled debut long player all the way back in 2014. Yet somehow, the stars hadn't ever aligned as far as getting to see the dynamic dream popsters live. Until last weekend, that is.

The band was booked in for a two-night stint at the Rock & Roll Hotel, and yours truly went to the second night of that twosome. So sold out was this particular show that I walked into the main room and almost smack dab into a wall of bodies. It was at that moment that I noticed the Hotel's much-appreciated addition of flat screen televisions in the back (obviously put in to take pity on those of us who got stuck in the back for sold out shows and aren't all that tall). 

As the pre-set music played, I couldn't help but notice the inclusion of The Clean's delightful dream fuzz dalliance "Tally Ho." If one was giving out high school yearbook type superlatives, I'd vote Alvvays as the band I'd most want to go drinking and dancing with (dancing to "Tally Ho" being an absolute must). 

Things got underway around 9:30, and the band started with "Hey," from new record Antisocialites. They sounded sweet as can be, though not so sweet that they couldn't make the walls shake - quite a lot. "I'll lay mayhem at your doorstep," blonde bombshell Molly Rankin sings in "Hey," and given how loud the show was she's not whistling Dixie. A roar went up for the sparkling fizz of "Adult Diversion" and the divinity of "In Undertow," definitely crowd favorites.

From what I could see, there was quite a little dancefloor cooking up in front of the stage, and that's exactly how it should have been. With delightfully fuzzy nuggets like "Plimsoll Punks" and "Saved by a Waif" on offer, it's no wonder there was a whole lot of shimmying going on. 

As Molly mentioned early on in the set, the band's setlist pulled heavily from Antisocialites - so much so that only "Already Gone" was kept on the shelf. Song after song flew by, the band hitting it out of the park each time. I give them major kudos for not closing the show with big hit "Archie, Marry Me," and instead closing with my very favorite (at the moment) song, the incredibly swoonable "Dreams Tonite."

All told, seeing Alvvays was as wonderful as I could possibly have hoped. Their infectious combination of effervescent sweetness and grounded, wistful realism is as appealing live as it is on record. If you haven't yet seen Alvvays live, I strongly encourage you do so as soon as possible.

Below, check out a few videos from the two DC shows to get an idea of what you missed.


[posted 10.15.17]

[photo from Youtube]

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Singles Club: Foreign Air + Jaye Bartell + Lo Moon

Consider Singles Club your musical matchmaker. I do hope you'll give all these ready to mingle bachelors and bachelorettes your ear as you listen to some new favorite tunes. Read on in the hopes of finding your musical love connection.

Trolling the trolls can be a noble endeavor these days. That's the issue at the heart of the matter in Foreign Air's "Lying." "I just want to be mean to someone else," they state with no small amount of a snarky smirk. The down and dirty, almost bawdy beats and predatory purr make this a mighty fine listen.   

We live in troubled times, a notion of which Jaye Bartell is well aware. Bartell's "In a Time of Trouble" is "an ode to spite and perseverance," a raw and subtle proclamation that "maybe your song is pathetic, but you song it anyway or the love inside you will die." This rough-hewn racket is more appealing with each listen.    

Despite their relative new kid status, LA's Lo Moon continues to impress. "Thorns" is an evocative, sinuous 80s-kissed gem, a heady dream of velvet vocals and supple waves of sound. The song beautifully expresses a seductive sense of longing, a palpable ache for a certain someone. Another stunner from this band to watch.     

[posted 10.14.17]

Live Review: All Them Witches @ King Tut's (Glasgow), 10/3/17

My magical mystery tour in the UK started off with live music, so it seemed only right that my last night across the pond should be spent in the company of still more music. Even better, it was a night spent in the cozy confines of legendary Glasgow venue King Tut's, for a sold out show starring my fellow compatriots All Them Witches.

I'd wanted to see these Nashville noisemakers for quite a while, and judging by the heaving hordes on this Tuesday night at King Tut's, I'm not the only one. Just before the band emerged, the wail of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" was played, leading to a huge singalong from the packed-in crowd. As soon as All Them Witches got going, the assembled were totally enraptured by their coils of sludgy, expansive heavy psych muddle. The unholy tempest of "When God Comes Back" whipped the packed house into a frenzy. 

"Play some heavy metal!" was urged more than once from somewhere deep within the sea of bodies, though what was coming from the stage wasn't all that far removed, from a noise perspective. In song after song, the band was heavy, hefty, and hellishly loud (in a good way, naturally). The heaving crowd seemed to eat it up, going absolutely mental during the frenzied, deafening instrumental onslaughts. There was banter between songs, but the buzz in the building kept me from being able to tell what the heck was being said. "Elk.Blood.Heart" caused full-on insanity on the floor as it reached its bruising crescendo.  

It may have taken a while, but All Them Witches was well worth the wait. These gents know how to grab hold of their audience and not let go until they're good and ready. I'm thrilled to have been able to experience them in Glasgow with such a devoted gathering, where I'm sure they left everyone wanting more. I know I do.          

[posted 10.14.17]

[photo copyright Megan Petty]

Good Cover Version: Gang of Youths Does David Bowie

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.

With flourishes of strings and impassioned, warbling vocals, Gang of Youths's cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" is certainly dramatic. The Antipodean cover antics build and build to a clamor of a climax, though throughout the song there's a reverential respect and care given to this always and forever classic. There's a yearning and a tension in this interpretation that's really special. And just like that it's over, like the wink of a blue (or brown) eye.    

[posted 10.14.17]

Video of The Day #344: Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

Y'all know Halloween is my favorite of all holidays by a pretty wide margin, so I figure it's about time to start getting kooky and spooky. No better way to kick off the All Hallows season than with this here video from Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds. "Spider Baby" namedrops everyone's favorite monsters, with a background of gleeful, campy surf ghoulishness. The video is just what it needs to be, with a bevy of vintage movie monster footage serving up a visual fright fest. A trick and a treat, to be sure.    

[posted 10.14.17]

The Week In Shows: 10/16/17-10/22/17

A gray and gloomy Saturday morning in mid-October seems as good a time as any to plot ones weekly live music schedule, I think. Let's take a look at what's happening in the greater DC metro this week, shall we? Hot diggity!

The jet lag has just about left the building, and I'm back to feeling like an almost-human again. Which is a good thing, because it's prime show-going season. Keep an eye out for yours truly at any show with an asterisk. And now, without further ado, here's a look at some of the shows I happen to recommend for the coming week in the greater DC metro area. This has to be one of the most stacked weeks all year long, so good luck picking and choosing y'all...

And as an aside, if you've got a show coming up you'd like me to consider including in my weekly calendar, just shoot me an email with "Calendar" somewhere in the subject line. Thanks y'all!

MONDAY, 10/16/17

-Mimicking Birds + Foster Carrots (Songbyrd Music House)
-Time + Literals + Bacchae + Reyna Valencia (Comet Ping Pong)
-Phoenix + The Lemon Twigs (Anthem)
-PVRIS + Lights + Flint Eastwood (9:30 Club - SOLD OUT)
-Dead Rider + Mock Identity (DC9)
-Atlas Genius + Magic Giant + Half The Animal (6th & I)
-Truckfighters + Telekenetic Yeti (Black Cat)

TUESDAY, 10/17/17

-Julien Baker + Half Waif + Petal (9:30 Club - WIN TIX!)
-LCD Soundsystem (Anthem)
-Vita and The Woolf + Queen of Jeans + Marian McLaughlin (DC9)
-Toadies + Local H (Black Cat)
-Propagahndi + Iron Chic + Heartsounds (Rock & Roll Hotel - SOLD OUT)
-Twin Ponies + Slip Disco + Sarah Wilcox (Velvet Lounge)
-Wayne Hancock + The Rock-A-Sonics (Jammin Java)

WEDNESDAY, 10/18/17

-Hamilton Leithauser + Courtney Marie Andrews (9:30 Club - WIN TIX!)
-LCD Soundsystem (Anthem)
-Melkbelly + Park Snakes (Comet Ping Pong)
-Racquet Club + Jared Hart + Teen Mortgage (DC9)
-The National Parks + RIVVRS + Ryan Harris Brown (Jammin Java)
-Sinkane + The Kominas (Black Cat)

THURSDAY, 10/19/17

-Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions + Holy Wave (9:30 Club - WIN TIX!)
-Pet Symmetry + Broken Hills (DC9)
-Suncruiser + Redline Graffiti + Echelon The Seeker (Velvet Lounge)
-Eli "Paperboy" Reed + High & Mighty Brass Band (Pearl Street Warehouse)

FRIDAY, 10/20/17

-Natalie Prass + Wildhoney + Den-Mate (Black Cat)
-Queens of The Stone Age + Royal Blood (Anthem)*
-The Fleshtones (U Street Music Hall)
-The Social Animals + Crooks and Crows (DC9)
-Oh He Head + Soldiers of Suburbia + Malpractice (Rock & Roll Hotel)
-Grant-Lee Phillips + Laura Tsaggaris (Pearl Street Warehouse)
-Black Masala + The Southern Belles + Thunder Body (Gypsy Sally's)
-Erin & The Wildfire + FeelFree + Lauren Calve (Velvet Lounge)

SATURDAY, 10/21/17

-King Krule (Black Cat - SOLD OUT)
-Moon Taxi + Too Many Zooz (9:30 Club - SOLD OUT)
-Black Pistol Fire + Black Foot Gypsies (U Street Music Hall)
-Pickwick + The Elwins (DC9)

SUNDAY, 10/22/17

-Wolf Parade + Charly Bliss (Black Cat - SOLD OUT)
-Black Kids + Surf Rock Is Dead (DC9)
-Colter Wall + Ian Noe (Songbyrd Music House - SOLD OUT)

[posted 10.14.17]

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Newsflash!: Win Tickets to Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions + Holy Wave @ 9:30 Club, 10/19/17

You love going to shows. I love giving you tickets to shows. It's a match made in heaven. Read on for how you can win some tickets.

I've been going to shows at the legendary 9:30 Club since I was a teenager, and have seen some of the best of the best grace that venerable stage. It is a pleasure to be offering a pair of tickets to the following upcoming 9:30/IMP show.

Hope Sandoval's voice might be as close to heaven as we're going to get, my friends. If nothing else, Sandoval is a national treasure. It's a happy thing indeed that she and her Warm Inventions are hitting the road and stopping in DC, and it's an even happier thing that they're joined by the glorious Texan psych dynamos Holy Wave

The happiest part of all, though, is the fact that I have a pair of tickets that could be yours. To win the tickets to what will undoubtedly be one of the best shows of the year, send me an email and give me your best pitch as to why you should win. Have you been a fan of Hope's since the early days of Mazzy Star? Were you listening to her voice when something monumental happened in your life? Is Holy Wave your favorite band of ever? Do tell. Best entry gets their cake and gets to eat it, too. 

FINE PRINT: Contest is for two (2) tickets to this show. Contest closes at noon Eastern on Tuesday, 10/17/17. 

Good luck to one and all!    

[posted 10.10.17]

Whither Festivus: Liverpool Psych Fest 2017 Recap

Of all the festivals in all the world, the one I've most wanted to go to since I was first made aware of its existence several years ago is Liverpool Psych Fest (official proper name: the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia). After many years of drooling over the lineup and dreaming of being there, this year's festival finally became my reality. And friends, I'm still glowing in the aftermath of this late September treasure. 

It seems only fitting that in a city so often pointed to for its lasting contribution to modern music, a festival of such monumental cool is thriving. The Baltic quarter, a lively section of the city full of revitalized warehouses, houses the proceedings, and these self-contained friendly confines offer a convenient home base for this psychedelic festivus. With food and other vendors lining the space outside venues, basic needs could easily be met, though the main sustenance for two days was obviously the music. 

Greetings from Liverpool

A serious case of jet lag kept me from doing much on the festival's first day, and my only live music Friday was L.A. Witch. I'd wanted to see those spooky ladies for such a very long time and they didn't disappoint. A strong start with the serpentine sinews of "Kill My Baby Tonight" continued with songs like the hot and bothered fever dream of "Drive Your Car," the black and blue beat of "You Love Nothing," and the diabolically scuzzed filth of "Get Lost." The trio's first time in Liverpool was a triumph, their witchy ways in full captivating force. And so much noise. The walls were pulsating from all that wonderful racket. Seeing L.A. Witch was a heck of a start to the weekend. In case you were wondering, had I not been a bit of a zombie, I would also have tried to see Magic Shoppe, The Telescopes, Novella, Omni, The KVB, Gnod, and some of Songhoy Blues.


Saturday was a truly blissful day, and started off with a dynamite set from Leeds noiseniks AUTOBAHN. It took less than a minute for me to fall in love, the backbeat pummeling and an overall tempestuous tumult in their songs that I just couldn't get enough of. There was a sinister tilt to their sound, a kind of magnificent menace. I was incredibly impressed by these gents and by the almost primal energy they projected from the stage. This won't be the last time you hear me talk about AUTOBAHN. Right after them, filling the void left by Guto from Super Furry Animal's GULP, locals The Floormen put on an engaging set. At their best when wrapped up in furious fits of psych-meets-jazz-meets-jam uncontrolled chaos, the band also demonstrated that Liverpool lads know how to flamboyantly toss their hair while putting on a show. Montreal's Elephant Stone, a band I've seen and loved before, was just impeccable. They sounded heavenly, their sublime psych filling the space with expansive, exploding gems. I was floored by how good they were. 

A Place to Bury Strangers

I was happy to catch a snippet of Jane Weaver's set, and was instantly intrigued by her rich, dazzling sounds. While I sadly didn't see all that much, what I heard made me feel the need to investigate her further, so watch this space. The band that most bowled me over, perhaps unsurprisingly, was longtime favorites A Place to Bury Strangers. I actually think I may have blacked out while they were playing, their gloriously gory noise having melted my mind (yet again). "We've Come So Far" and "Drill It Up" screamed welcome howls into my brain, among others. Once more Oliver Ackermann sought to willfully destroy his axe in one of his famous toss-the-guitar episodes. At one point, bassist Dion Lunadon climbed from stage to railing and stood before a transfixed crowd as an idol might before devoted supplicants. False idol this band is not, however. They are simply one of the best live bands on this planet.

The Black Angels

After catching my breath, it was time for my first taste of Zamrock, courtesy W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend to Cause Havoc). Formed in Zambia in the 1970s, W.I.T.C.H. is fronted by founder Emmanuel "Jagari" Chanda, a man who can cast no shortage of spells with his presence. The band's cool as fuck astral shamanic wizardry was something I hadn't even realized I was missing in my life. But I was. Songs in this set had serious muscle, demon beats, and an undeniable life force. Heavy psych. Party psych. Tribal psych. It all made me so very thankful to be there now and to experience all of that vibrant, vital energy. And then it was time for headliners The Black Angels. Once again, these stalwarts took over the stage and claimed it as their own. With a fury they played to a packed house, vitriol and venom and love poured into every note. It felt quite special indeed to see a band that has done so much for this particular scene at this festival. I went to bed an incredibly happy lass after all I had been able to take in. Had I been able to clone myself, I might also have tried to see Wolf People, The Holydrug Couple, and Guantanamo Baywatch. 

All told, my first Liverpool Psych Fest experience was amazing. This is a festival that promises to destroy you, and they're not far wrong. It's an exhausting and exhilarating weekend full of some of the best live music one is likely to see. The atmosphere is great, the festival is well-run, and the bands are so good that it's hard to decide who to see because there's just too much on offer. I'm hoping to go again, and if you're able, I strongly suggest you try to make it to one of these Liverpool dos. My only complaint is that they don't have a way of cloning oneself in order to see every band on the lineup. 

[posted 10.10.17]

[all photos copyright Megan Petty]     

Video of The Day #343: The Fresh & Onlys

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

A wise man once said that no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. In other words, you should expect the unexpected (and watch Monty Python). That's a sentiment that certainly applies to the video for The Fresh & Onlys' "Impossible Man." What you get isn't what you'd expect after the initial few seconds. The song itself, too, is darker than you might suspect upon hearing the bursts of fizzy, psych-candy pop. After all, how cheerful can a song that took inspiration from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man be? Both song and video are worth plenty of eye and ear time, so don't delay.   

[posted 10.10.17]

Monday, October 9, 2017

Newsflash!: Win Tickets to Hamilton Leithauser @ 9:30 Club, 10/18/17

You love going to shows. I love giving you tickets to shows. It's a match made in heaven. Read on for how you can win some tickets.

I've been going to shows at the legendary 9:30 Club since I was a teenager, and have seen some of the best of the best grace that venerable stage. It is a pleasure to be offering a pair of tickets to the following upcoming 9:30/IMP show.

Hamilton Leithauser has had one of my favorite voices since I first heard The Walkmen back in the early aughts. Most recently, Leithauser joined forces with Vampire Weekend's Rostam for a moving collection of songs I Had a Dream That You Were Mine.

Leithauser is taking his wonderfully gravelled warble on the road, and this trek includes an October 18 stop here in DC.

If you want to check out the show (as you should), I can give you a hand. I'm giving away a pair of tickets to this very show, and they can be yours. To win, email me and tell me why you'd like to see the one and only Hamilton play the one and only 9:30 Club stage. Best answer gets the grand prize. 

FINE PRINT: Contest is for two (2) tickets to this show. Contest closes at noon Eastern on Monday, 10/16/17. 

Good luck guys and dolls!   

[posted 10.9.17]

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Newsflash!: Win Tickets to Julien Baker @ 9:30 Club, 10/17/17

You love going to shows. I love giving you tickets to shows. It's a match made in heaven. Read on for how you can win some tickets.

I've been going to shows at the legendary 9:30 Club since I was a teenager, and have seen some of the best of the best grace that venerable stage. It is a pleasure to be offering a pair of tickets to the following upcoming 9:30/IMP show.

With possibly one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful voices around, it's a truly touching and feel good thing to see Julien Baker return to DC as a 9:30 Club headliner. Now backed by Matador Records, Baker is back on the road to continue to win over the masses. 

And you, yes you, could go see Julien and get goosebumps over her voice up close and in person. 

To win the pair of tickets your hostess has up for grabs, simply send me an email and tell me why you'd like to see the divine Miss Baker's show.

FINE PRINT: Contest is for two (2) tickets to this show. Contest closes at noon Eastern on Sunday, 10/15/17. 

Good luck to one and all.   

[posted 10.8.17]

Good Cover Version: Elephant Stone does Tom Petty

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.

It's weird thinking that we are now living in a post-Tom Petty world. Petty's music was engrained into the musical consciousness of a great number of us, from a very early age, and the idea of him being gone feels wrong. What the man did for songwriting, though, will live on, and for that I know I'm not alone in being thankful for. 

The appeal of Petty is obvious - everyday stories told in an uncannily easy and relatable style. His songs are also quite popular with the musically-talented, and a few years after its release I find myself circling back to Elephant Stone's beautiful cover of "Into the Great Wide Open." Tying in the band's penchant for musical mysticism, the Petty classic takes on a new level of both earthiness and the otherworldly. A truly fitting tribute to a great artist.  

[posted 10.8.17]

Video of The Day #342: Alvvays

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

In honor of their sold out show tonight at the Rock & Roll Hotel, it felt like the right time to revisit one of my very favorite Alvvays songs - "Archie, Marry Me." As with many of the Canadian outfit's songs, the sweetness factor is high, but don't underestimate the bite that follows. Consider this the very dreamiest of reality-bitten dreampop. The video falls in line with the band's other vintage-vibing clips, and is worthy of repeated watches. Hopefully see quite a few of you at tonight's show, for which I am giddy as can be about.   

[posted 10.8.17]

Bands on Film #61: The Black Angels @ Liverpool Psych Fest, 9/23/17

Every now and then I like to take copious amounts of photos when I go to shows. This set of shots is of a band I think you should be listening to right about now.

By this point, the juggernaut that is The Black Angels has reached legend status. Seeing these terrific Texans at this year's Liverpool Psych Fest (September 22-23, 2017) was a privilege and pleasure, as it always is.

[posted 10.8.17]

[all photos copyright Megan Petty]