Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Album Review: Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications

To me, there is but one voice that marries the slink of super sexy seduction with droll, wry realism. That voice, my loves, belongs to Jarvis Cocker, the lanky and exceedingly droll frontman for the divine band Pulp, one of the best of the Britpop bunch, the band that made you drink and dance and screw while Blur and Oasis were waging war in the charts with their Wonderwalls and their Country Houses. Having steered Pulp for over two decades, Cocker took advantage of a lengthy lull in Pulp relations and released a rather excellent solo record, succinctly titled Jarvis. Full of the razor-sharp, sarcastic pragmatism that made Pulp so great, Jarvis was a wonderful listen (particularly the glorious songs “Black Magic” and “Tonite”). And so with the news of a second solo record, I was rather pleased and excited to see what Jarvis had to offer up the second time around.

Further Complications begins with the snappy little title track, a rollicking romp through the banalities and tribulations of modernity. As you might expect, Jarvis and his voice are the star attractions, the combination of his lyrics and that voice always proving to be a winning one. “Angela” is a dancefloor gem, not quite up to par with “Common People” or “Disco 2000” of the heydays of Pulp, but pretty fine nonetheless with its handclaps and fuzzy riffs. “I wanna love you/whilst we both still have flesh upon our bones,” Jarvis offers in his dry, no-frills delivery, “before we both become extinct,” touching upon a few of his favorite themes, sex and aging and death. But as ever, Cocker makes his dark, brooding frankness ever so appealing with the overflowing bounty of his wit and that knack for clever, engaging lyrics.

“If every relationship is a two-way street/I have been screwing in the back whilst you drive”, comes the sardonic line in “I Never Said I Was Deep”, one of the best of the best on Further Complications. It’s not exactly breaking news, but I’ll just go ahead and reiterate the fact that nobody does cynical self-deprecation better than Mister Cocker. “Hold Still” shows off Cocker’s penchant for the sexy sidle of 70s-influenced lounge, and it’s not hard to imagine Jarvis holding one of those thin microphones while swaying around a plush set on some retro pop music program, bright lights reflecting in those thick specs that have become his trademark over the years as he come hithers for the folks at home.

It was initially a bit hard for me to let go of the Jarvis from Pulp thing, given how smitten I was for that wonderful band. However, given this second solo recording, the ties are easily cut. Further Complications is a great record, and leaves no doubt as to who’s behind it. Be it in Pulp or on his own, Jarvis Cocker is a force to be reckoned with. And I think it’s a fairly safe thing to say that anything he touches will be pretty bloody fantastic.

mp3: Further Complications (Jarvis Cocker from Further Complications)

100 Shows of 2010 - #56: A Place To Bury Strangers @ Rittenhouse Square, 8/25/10

I went to Philly’s Rittenhouse Square expecting nothing more than my second fantastic A Place To Bury Strangers gig. I left town a little shorter of hearing and pretty convinced that I’d just experienced the best gig of the year thus far (and that’s even taking into account the small group of juvenile delinquents intent on moshing). But those three boys of APTBS seemed hell-bent for leather on making this one seriously killer show, and succeed they did.

MINI RECAP: A Place To Bury Strangers = Deafeningly Diabolical! Overall score: A+.

Sure, driving to Philly the night before one has to be at work around 7:30 in the morning might, on the surface, seem like not such a good idea. But missing A Place To Bury Strangers for the second time this year was too unacceptable a notion for me, so up to Philadelphialand went I, with my bestie Laura, my most favorite of show companions. We strolled to the park and nabbed spots right near the stage in the middle of the greenery just in time, as the band was already setting up and testing the sonic barriers of the Square. Initially I wasn’t sure how the chaotic, intense sound of APTBS would translate to the open air, but when it was all said and done I felt silly for ever questioning.

I’m pretty sure this band could sound amazing just about anywhere you asked them to play. Taking the stage right as the sun had said farewell for the night, the trio pounced on their instruments and proceeded to tear their set apart for nearly an hour. It was a riotous set, nearly sixty minutes of blistering, beautiful aural ferocity. Think this band is fierce on record? You ain’t heard nothin’, my friends, til you’ve seen ‘em live. It was raw and powerful and violent and absolutely breathtaking. They chose four of my favorite songs from their gorgeous, must-own record Exploding Head (“I Lived My Life to Stand in The Shadow of Your Heart”, “In Your Heart”, “Deadbeat”, and my uberfave “Ego Death”), along with a bevy of first album tracks to boot. Each and every song was given the same careful attention to destruction, the band seemingly overtaken with a maniacal force driving them every onwards in their demolition. Every stake was raised, and they all delivered time and time again.

Singer and guitarist (and Virginia boy) Oliver Ackermann was particularly possessed, at times prone to a slightly deranged glint in his eyes just before he launched into a thrashing near-ruination of his guitar. Jerking around the stage almost as if in fits, he and his compatriots blew me away minute after minute. To quote a friend of mine, it was as if they had bellies full of hell. The guitar was searing, the vocals sneered menacingly, the bass inspired with its brutality, and the drums pounded without mercy. This was a band on the edge, and it was magnificent.

It all ended with a nearly incomprehensible wall of noise, as the boys turned things up to 11 and made with the never-ending waves of distortion that barraged the crowd for quite a while. I made the mistake of de-ear plugging a little too soon, and a few days later my hearing is still not quite right. The one real fly in the ointment? The smoke, which had been so effective when I had seen the band many moons ago at DC9, didn’t quite work as well in the great urban outdoors. But when a lackluster smoke machine is the biggest issue, you know it’s been a goddam good set. I felt the earth literally move more than once, and that can’t all be chalked up to my spot right near one of the speakers.

I’ve never been so happy to be experiencing some hearing loss. Ok, so there’s a few more months left in 2010, and plenty more shows where this one came from. But as of right now, this is it, folks. Show of the year thus far. No doubt about it.

mp3: Ego Death (A Place To Bury Strangers from Exploding Head)

More Star Tunes

Seriously, i freaking love the Interwebs.

While trying to find the exact wording for this quote (which clearly is the world's greatest response when anyone asks you what you want), i googled "speak Bocce" and somehow stumbled upon this gem. Though it came out more than a decade ago, apparently no one had bothered to tell me that some geeks had gone all out, writing and performing Star Wars: The Musical. Well, as a fellow geek, i say, well done, ladies and gents! Whereas a lot of these types of projects merely use existing music and throw in some silly lyrics, these cats went all out. Except for where they use original source music, this entire thing is completely the work of the writers, music, lyrics and all.

Honest to Slave Leia, i love geek love.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's Covered: Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear

i've got a big review of yesterday's DC stop for the Rock the Bells tour coming soon, but what's the point of co-owning a blog if you can't take time out to wish The Missus a happy second wedding anniversary? A lot of people lost money on that bet, i tell you what.

In honor of two years of wedded bliss, a quick It's Covered on the Randy Newman classic, "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear." The Missus and i have a running joke about getting eaten by bears, which probably isn't that funny if you were friends with this guy, but it's a laugh riot to us regardless. You go hang out in Alaska meeting your in-laws, and tell me the thought doesn't cross your mind. Then have your father-to-be draw a pistol on what turns out to be a leafy stump swaying in the breeze. It's a knee slapper, i tell you what.

While Newman penned it, it was first performed by Harpers Bizarre and, with the change of an article, was made classic overseas by Alan Price (though if you're from the States and about my age, you might credit its true international success to Scooter, Rowlf and Fozzie).

i'll let you decide for yourself.

(Ed. Note: Today's Blog-on-Blog love gets you sticky from She'll Grow Back, who longtime readers will remember inspired this column in the first place, thereby giving you the correct answer to the upcoming LET version of Trivial Pursuit.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Album Review: Gringo Star – All Y’all

Ever wondered what might happen if you took four dudes with a serious love of the British Invasion and stuck ‘em smack dab in the capital of the Dirty South? Well, you can stop wondering and get yourself a copy of this here record if you wanna know, ladies and gents. Gringo Star has taken their cues from the cream of the British crop and given the skinny pantsuits and bowl cuts the Atlanta treatment, the end result of which is an album of tail feather-shakers and other fine musical treats.

It begins with the oh-so Kinks-ian jangle of title track “All Y’all,” full of vim, vigor, and cracklingly good guitars (think “All Day & All Of The Night” with a drawl). Gringo Star proves early on that next to nobody can shimmy and shake their way around a studio quite like they can. “Ask Me Why” is among the exhibits I submit to the jury for confirmation of said opinion. You can feel the sass from here, my friends. “You don’t even know what you done”, sing they, as the guitars wail sultrily away. “Come On Now” is just the cutest thing, sweet like those old ditties used to be, but with an ever-present undercurrent of naughtiness lurking just under the bounce. Much like those rapscallion Rod Stewart-led Faces, I wonder if perhaps the adage “good boys when they’re asleep” also applies to los Gringos.

“TransMission” offers a dreamy swirl of a breather from the madcap danceability of the songs before it. And yes, the Gringos also do near-ballads very well. But they’re undoubtedly at their best when gettin’ down, as in the dirty little “Holding On To Hate” and its scorching little guitar riffs. It’s a big bastard of a song, and it’s damn fine. “Don’t Go” calls to mind The Hollies (circa “Bus Stop”), with the jauntiness of the instrumentation and the synchronized vocal acrobatics. Hell’s bells, the whole dang record is sizzlin’.

The record has been out for a little while now, but it still sounds as fresh as a daisy if you ask me. Now, loving the Brit Invasion as much as I do, I might have been slightly inclined to love Gringo Star anyway. But I ask you, friends, does it really get better than a band that tends to sound like an early Kinks/Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs/Zombies/Herman’s Hermits hybrid? I’m gonna go ahead and say no, it most certainly does not. So in closing, friends, all y’all really need to give All Y’all a listen or several.

mp3: All Y’all (Gringo Star from All Y’all)

100 Shows of 2010 - #55: Thieving Irons @ DC9, 8/23/10

It’s rather amusing that of all the t-shirts in my closet, the Pela shirt is the one I ended up wearing today. You see, friends, this here #55 show involves ¼ of Pela, pets emeritus of LET. After the band’s demise, guitarist Nate Martinez (otherwise known as one of my most favorite people around) couldn’t shake the itch, and continued work on stuff he’d had floating around in his head. The result was an album’s worth of awesome, also known as This Midnight Hum (which you should definitely buy). And to properly welcome the record into the world, Nate and his conglomeration of rad cohorts got themselves down to DC for their first ever live show. And what a show it was. Thieving Irons has definitely adapted the Pela tradition of great music, great live performances, and just being plain ole great.

MINI RECAP: Thieving Irons = First-time Charmers! Overall score: A.

Lee Hazelwood was soundtracking the soundcheck, so I knew that obviously good things were to come. It didn’t take long to prove me right. Starting with “Ashes On The Riverbank”, which reminded me how much I’d missed Nate’s deft guitar playing and ever-so likeable stage presence. I didn’t expect the comparison that began to form in my mind during this first song, but Nate’s voice kinda sorta reminded me of The Boss, minus the Jersey and a lot of the gravel. But the earnestness, the emotion, that’s the crux. So Boss Junior he shall be. The songs, with their scope and composition, dove into E Street Band territory here and there. It all felt rather special, I must say.

“I Can Hear a Pin Drop” was next, another fine musical display that really showed off Nate’s songwriting chops (a particular favorite: “I am a coward in my own skin”). The goodness lasted for the entire set, the songs given added weight and depth by the multi-awesome Mike Brown, who took turns on banjo, guitar, lap steel, and the occasional note on the keys. The ethereal shimmer of the steel, for instance, added even more of a dream-like quality to the sensational “Wave’s Gonna Break”. Nate’s voice proved endearingly vulnerable during several songs, but this one in particular. “On The Horizon” featured one of my favorite lines by just about anyone in “It’s too cold to shiver,” and it was during this song that I noted that this could very well be on of those shows I gloat about having been present at years from now.

“Pale Blue Dots” for some reason conjured up Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, though less obviously hormonal. To me, it was the sound of sultry nights, fire escapes, and hazy rings surrounding a muggy moon. It was during “Babylon Is Burning” that I realized my foot hadn’t stopped tapping all night, and that was the set’s tenth song. And it should be noted that while a shout-out from the stage doesn’t automatically guarantee a good review, it sure doesn’t hurt. “These Shaking Walls” and “Tow The Line” finished up the show, and both were splendid.

It’s a good thing I didn’t envision doing anything other than totally loving the Thieving Irons live experience. I hereby decree that Thieving Irons should be recommended listening as a part of your musical diet, and that seeing this band live will do wonders for your soul. Come on in, y’all, the bandwagon’s fine. Pull up a seat right here next to me.

mp3: Ashes On The Riverbank (Thieving Irons from This Midnight Hum)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Good Ship Rediscovery: Mcluskyism

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?

Of all the bands I’ve ever loved like fury and lost, Mclusky is one of the ones I miss the most. Ok, so they’re not really all that “old”, but they’ve been defunct for a little while now so I’m throwing ‘em into the Rediscovery circus. Sure, Andy Falkous is busy these days with the phenomenal Future Of The Left, but it’s not quite the same. Mclusky was a really special band to me. It was a perfect storm of savagery, each of the three members bring their own special brand of spitfire to the band to create a truly severe, raging sound. Falkous was the driving force with his teeth-baring voice, the kind that could peel paint with its vitriol and the kind of voice that just screams spittle, not to mention that whole Frank Black comparison thing. Coupled with his sawtooth, razor-sharp guitar, Falkous in Mclusky was unstoppable. Bassist Jon Chapple brought an unbalanced, unstable fire, with backing vocals as bratty as the day is long to compliment the fearsome snarl of Falco. And then there were the drums. Mat Harding, original drummer for Mclusky, not only got his kicks beating the living daylights out of his poor drums, but was also responsible for my love of drummers. The first song I ever heard was called “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues”, and it just got better from there.

Mcluskyism, the 3-disc retrospective of the band’s repertoire, is a great little compendium of the Mclusky sound and perfect for a neophyte. You of course should already own the band’s full-length records, covered by the A-sides on the first disc. However, the B-sides disc has a wealth of gems, filthy and furious and fantastic. The C-sides disc is all live, all the time, and gives just a hint of the intense hellfire rage of the Mclusky live experience. I was lucky enough to see the band three times, and I can definitely tell you that this band was one of the best I’ve ever seen in the flesh. In person and on record, they had It.

Mclusky, may they rest in peace, had bite. Lots and lots of bite. Their songs were searingly clever, shatteringly loud, and incandescently killer. And I miss them like crazy.

mp3: whiteliberalonwhiteliberalaction (Mclusky from Mcluskyism)

mp3: No Covers (Mclusky from Mcluskyism)

mp3: The Salt Water Solution (Mclusky from Mcluskyism)

100 Shows of 2010 - #54: Admiral Radley/Hooray For Earth @ DC9, 8/21/10

It’s a blue moon rare kinda thing when you get both of us Terribles in one room at one time, my little darlings. Given our mad crazy constantly conflicting schedules it had been many a month since we got together, and as you probably already noticed, Chris and I joined forces for what I’d call easily one of the best shows of the year. Put together an emerging band from the Big Apple and a supergroup of sorts and you’ve got a recipe for one heck of a night. And that’s exactly what it was.

MINI RECAP: Admiral Radley = California Love! Hooray For Earth = NYC Love! Overall score: A.

Hooray For Earth was up first. I was so very happy to see them, because I had managed to miss the vast majority of their set a couple months back. They sounded totally different than what I remembered, and I could have sworn they lost a few band members in the interlude between the last show and this one. And if that’s the case, it was a change for the better. Or it could just be my horrible memory. Either way, I was totally impressed with HFE, their live set more torn and frayed than they are on record, a little bit Pavement and a little bit shoegaze and a little bit dreampop (or, as I wrote in my notes, think of it like that kinda spacey vibe of Steve Miller meets synth meets the Jesus & Mary Chain). Their songs proved rather punchy and rather enjoyable, and I just can’t resist a band that successfully juxtaposes totally chaotic guitar distortion and bouncy, bubbly basslines. Apart from the vocals being a little muddy, their set was totally great. And I can’t not give a shoutout to the drummer for drumming with one hand and banging the tambourine with the other. Now that, friends, is skill. Definitely watch this space, because I really dig me some Hooray For Earth.

Up next was the awesome of Admiral Radley. And let me just go ahead and get my bad pun out of the way, but you really can’t spell Radley without rad. Think of it, won’t you? You take two members of the fantastic Earlimart and fuse them to two members of the equally fantastic Grandaddy. It’s a surefire formula for success if ever there was one. I loved them immediately, their sound pulling from both bands but not as such that it seemed like a crutch. The guitar play reminded me of the Grandaddy record The Sophtware Slump a whole lot, and the sound was very bouncy and atmospheric. The projections flanking the band on either side of natural and cosmic elements totally fit their overall vibe. “How come you’re so far away back there and I’m up here like Bono,” a cheeky Aaron Espinoza asked Jason Lyttle, causing ripples of giggles throughout the crowd. Their banter was even great. At one point Espinoza adapted the lyrics to fit his frame of mind, singing, “I forgot the words/but it doesn’t matter now/cuz I’m all fucked up on beer/I’m fucked up on beer”. It was, hands down, the best drunk lyric forgettal recovery ever. They might heart California, but I heart me some Admiral Radley.

And that was all she wrote. It was a doozy of a dandy show, and not even the late start or late finish could put a damper on the displays of musical prowess. If you’re not already smitten with both of these bands, I suggest you give it some serious consideration.

mp3: Surrounded By Your Friends (Hooray For Earth from Momo)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mama Said Knock You Out!

Guess who just turned 20? No, not that young'un you keep trying to sneak into bars, but none other than the seminal rap album, Mama Said Knock You Out, by hip hop icon LL Cool J. Now, i plan on doing an old skool review of Ladies Love Cool James sooner than later, but today is just to wish many happy returns of the day to the album that spawned the line, "Don't call it a comeback," which you and everyone you know has abused ad nauseum ever since.

In an increasingly more common move, a bunch of up and comers have put together their own homage to the classic album. The tracks have been tweaked quite noticeably, but the sentiment still is there.

Of course, i'd be remiss without mentioning the landmark MTV Unplugged that followed the album, wherein the world found out that LL really needed to change deodorants. Yipes, that was some chunky pit action going on right there.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Mixtape Love: Tyler, the Creator and the OFWGKTA Crew

Did i tell you that the We Did It Collective brings the noise or did i tell you the We Did It Collective brings the noise? Damn right, i did.

Which brings me to Tyler, the Creator and his crew, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWKTA, for short). Melonious Drunk over at We Did It recently posted the clip for "French," and i was immediately captivated. Who the hell was this young'un with all that bass and gravel in his voice? Fortunately, the end of the clip points one towards the Odd Future website, and guess what i found? Multiple mixtapes, videos, singles, pictures and more swagger than you could shake a pimp at.

i've got to be honest, i'm still getting through a lot of this so-far-excellent material, but i can tell you this. These homeboys have skills, plain and simple. Sure, the lyrics are dark, often homophobic, sometimes childish, but the delivery is crisp, and i hear an underlying sense of humor that's three dope. It's largely what you'd expect from some L.A. native teens from possibly the not best section of town. i read an excellent review comparing Tyler to some other dimensional bastard offspring of DOOM, and i'd say that's a pretty fair cop. Young boy isn't wearing a mask just yet, but that doesn't mean he can't hold his own. Much respect.

Wish You Were Here #1: Hammer No More The Fingers

Hammer No More The Fingers has rapidly become one of my favoritest new bands. I love their raw, rambunctious energy and their sound that's been compared by many to the glory days of 90s college radio rock. Not to mention that these three dudes are three of my favorite North Carolinians of all time. They'll be playing the Churchkey Records showcase at BiMA Friday night, and I'll be there with bells on.

mp3: Shutterbug (Hammer No More The Fingers from Looking for Bruce)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beat Meet

i really need to come up a name for this recurring column. "Beat Meet" seems to be both truthful, as we're here to discuss the latest i've dug up from the beat music scene, plus the double entendre in the name is just childish enough to work for me. i'll gladly accept other suggestions should any of you care to post in the comments, but we may just have a winner here.

Anyway, as luck would have it, we have a particularly good haul this week.

From one of my all-time favorite labels out there today, the folks over at Project:Mooncircle have remained busy. Hell, Robot Koch apparently is working on the Madlib model and will drop his Songs for Trees and Cyborgs this October. The LP comes essentially on the heels of his phenomenal Listen to Them Fade EP, which came out just a few months back. This time around, the Mad German Maestro teams up with the likes of Boxcutter, 1000 Names, Doshy, RQM and Graciela Maria, amongst others. Koch happens to be one of my favorites in the game right now. His stuff demonstrates a bit more of the European sensibilities you don't always find in U.S. beat scene, more structured and textured than a lot of the other players out there. Just to get you pumped, we've got an early listening treat for your ear holes.

The other main reason this week is so good is that i finally got off my ass and downloaded a new browser, thereby allowing me the ability to download from the fantastic XLR8R site. Holy Christ, it's like a freakin' treasure trove of grooves over there! And guess what? They had even more Robot Koch, remixed by my hero, Alex B.

What's more, Alex B just released a brand new podcast mixtape for XLR8R, thereby bringing perfect symmetry to where we are. And thus, it all returns to foot wear.

Hell, while we're at, i dug up a boatload of remixes over there that need to be shared with you lucky bastards. Truth be told, i don't know too much about the first two actual artists, but you know of my love for Shigeto and Flying Lotus. Of course, the last one is just the opposite; i'm way down with Baths (thanks, Ernie and Bert!), but couldn't tell you too much about the One AM Radio or the Los Feliz Ladies Choir. All share one thing in common, however, and that's that they're all bad mama jammas.

Since i'm feeling so generous today, i've got to also throw love towards We Did It Collective yet again for these two new gems from jonwayne, both from his upcoming Doodles CD. Sounds like that's only going to be available at shows, so pick up these tracks and say you got there first.

The Pro~Ef camp just sent us over a sample of their upcoming adventure score series, Compression Chamber, due out September 21st 2010. Stuttering beats over hazy grooves. Me likey. If you've read this far, i'm guessing you will, too.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Untitled Interview #50 – Whispering Beard Edition: Starring Travis Talbert (Frontier Folk Nebraska)

Hot diggity dog, y’all. This weekend marks the happening of a very, very special festival, and while I’ll be in Baltimore I highly recommend that if you can you make your way down to the wilds of Kentucky (Thorn Hill farm in Morning View, to be exact, which is a paltry 23 miles from Cincinnati!), for the best-named festival around: Whispering Beard. There’s gonna be more awesomeness than you can shake a stick at out there this year, so get your skates on. And your beards, of course.

I owe my affection for Frontier Folk Nebraska to WOXY (man alive, I miss that station). Something about the so very pretty grounded, glorious, earthy twang the band makes soothed my soul as I sat at my desk in a very, very soulless office job. And I suspect this is a band that is even better, somehow, live than on record. Lead axeman Travis Talbert took time out from preparing for the Beard to answer some questions, scroll on down and take a peek. And if you’re headed to the Beard, bring the boys some hats, just in case they forget theirs.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to Whispering Beard: plane, train, or automobile?
Travis Talbert: Automobile for sure. We travel in a 1999 Ford F-150, the Whispering Beard Festival is located in Morning View, KY, which is only about a half hour from our hometown of Covington, KY.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
TT: I'd have to say we'll forget to pack a hat. This is a band that has taken good shots at being a band that wears hats, but we always forget them after a show or two.

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
TT: Without a doubt this one goes to the legendary Mr. Guy Clark. We just want to figure out a way to get him to sit and talk to us, tell stories, but that's a real long shot. It would be great though. Mike did some chatting with Peter Rowan last year, so hopefully that tradition carries on.

LET: You've played the Beard before. What do you dig most about it?
TT: We absolutely love the guys that put this festival on. They're real people, and by far some of the most genuine guys we've run into. Not just in music, but in general. They're great dudes and they've never hesitated to help us out. We can't say enough good things about them.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival at the festival site?
TT: Parking and unloading, and for myself, I may go find whoever has the gallon jug backstage for some refreshments.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
TT: The first one I ever attended was probably the Cincinnati Blues Festival on Sawyer Point on the Ohio River. Went with my dad, can't remember who played honestly, but a few years later some friends and I saw Bobby Rush. Lots of big butts on his stage. Awesome show.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
TT: I love festivals for the community feel. You get to play outside, see a bunch of other bands, and hopefully hang out and just talk about music all day. There's a feeling of ease that you don't have in a bar. And a bit of the unknown. The first WBFF threw a crazy storm on us just a few minutes before our set. We waited it out, and we still talk about how that night was one of our favorite moments playing ever.

mp3: Ballad of a Dead Man (Frontier Folk Nebraska live in the WOXY Lounge)

[photo by Roman Titus]

The Untitled Interview #49 – Whispering Beard Edition: Starring Paleface & Mo

Hot diggity dog, y’all. This weekend marks the happening of a very, very special festival, and while I’ll be in Baltimore I highly recommend that if you can you make your way down to the wilds of Kentucky (Thorn Hill farm in Morning View, to be exact, which is a paltry 23 miles from Cincinnati!), for the best-named festival around: Whispering Beard. There’s gonna be more awesomeness than you can shake a stick at out there this year, so get your skates on. And your beards, of course.

North Carolina transplants Paleface & Mo were ever so kind enough to answer some of my festivalian questions, which you can find below. Do so while listening to their salty, twangy fantasticness, These two will also be touring after the festival, so there’s a wide variety of opportunity in which to take in their divine noise. For example, October 7th at Iota, local friends. See you there.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to Whispering Beard: plane, train, or automobile?
Paleface & Mo: Wheels!

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
PF&M:Things we've left behind in the past include phone chargers, toothbrushes and toothpaste...but we're getting better...so hopefully not again...

LET: Who will you be sharing a stage with on the day?
PF&M:Those Darlins, Trampled by Turtles, Rumpke Mountain Boys.

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
PF&M:We're only going to be able to hang out at the festival on Friday, so we're looking fwd to checking out the bands that will be sharing stage with us that day.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in the countryside?
PF&M:Walk around and stretch them legs!

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
PF: I think it was Lollapalooza '96–a band that was covering one of my songs put me on the guest list.
M: The first festivals that we played together as a band were almost two years ago...Not sure which came first: Pickathon, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, Shakori Hills, Riverbend, and Floyd Fest.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
PF&M: Meeting lots of peeps and getting to check out new music, specially when the festival has several stages.

[photo by Matthew Lapiska]

Myspace or Yours #3: Bethesda

We Metro area folks are quite familiar with Bethesda. Well, at least as it pertains to that certain part of the Maryland burbs with the heaps of fancy houses and miles of winding roads and, perhaps best of all, a killer bowling alley. It just so happens that now there’s another Bethesda to make yourself acquainted with, and I promise this one’s even better.

Hailing from Ohio, and born out of “snow laden” frustration, Bethesda the band makes music that is full of gentle lulls and folksy familiarity. One could very easily call them homespun, salt of the earth, and down home, but there’s more to them that that. There’s the sound of sunshiney days captured in summer and remembered during long, cruel mid-winter nights, the glow that warms you as your breath comes fast and white against those stark, starry skies.

Something about Shanna Delaney’s voice is earthily ethereal, as warm and rich as the day is long. And really, I never thought anyone would ever be able to make lines from “Row Row Row Your Boat” sound good, but hot damn, Bethesda proved me wrong. “The Boat Waltz” is entrancing, and more than a little mystical. Of course, I kinda sorta feel that way about the band in general.

mp3: Burn These Ships (Bethesda from Love In a Time of Tra La La)

[photo by Nick Brewer]

Go, Cubs, Go!

Yes, i'm aware of the fact that i'm currently a D.C. local, but as i've mentioned time and again, i'm a true blue Chicagoan at heart. Assuming the heavens don't open up and the game isn't called on account of rain, i'm on my way to assuredly watch my Cubbies beat the snot out of the Nats this evening. And while i was mentioning to Meg just this past weekend how nice it was not to have to rely on posting random (albeit excellent) mixes so often, you know i ain't goin' out like that for Chicago's finest (well, most beloved, at least) baseball team (sorry, Southsiders).

Without further ado, the Greatest Cubbies Mix You Ever Will Hear (with a special blog-on-blog shout out to Can You See the Sunset from the Southside?, where i "borrowed" a large chunk of this thing).

mp3: Hey, Hey, Holy Mackeral (Chicago Cubs Singers from Cub Power)

mp3: Someday We'll Go All the Way (Eddie Vedder from Some Concert Somewhere)

mp3: WGN Radio Cubs Theme (The Brothers DeFino from WGN Radio)

mp3: Let's Go Cubs! This is Our Year! (Eamus Catuli from the Interwebs)

mp3: Don't Cry for Me, I'm a Cubs Fan (Bleeding Cubbie Blue also from the Interwebs)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Live Review: Admiral Radley and Horray for Earth, DC9, 8-21-10

The uncommon happened this past Saturday night, and Ms. Meg and i actually got together in person to partake of the wonders offered by Admiral Radley and opener Hooray for Earth at DC9. It's OK, though, the Missus knew ahead of time. Expect her (Meg's, not the Missus') take on things in the next day or so. In the meantime, here's how things went down from my perspective.

i knew nothing about the openers, Hooray for Earth, ahead of time, but i can say they put on an enjoyable, though brief, slot to get things started. The acoustics at DC9 leave a little something to be desired, so i honestly couldn't make out a word the lead singer said, but i can say the boys are talented enough to keep the crowd humming for at least half an hour. Two things stuck out to me that had little to do with anything--the lead singer looked freakishly like Dent May, and i'm not sure if i've ever seen a more exuberant drummer; the guy literally looked like he might bounce off of his stool at any given moment, so into the beat was he. All in all, not a bad way to start the show, even if they did start nearly half an hour later than they were supposed to.

Sadly for the rest of you, by the time Admiral Radley took the stage at about 11:15, there still were only maybe 50 of us there to enjoy things. The show played almost like a backyard BBQ, with an easy camaraderie onstage and a lot of cheap beer flowing amongst performers and audience alike. Starting almost immediately after stepping on the riser that served as a stage, co-leads Jason Lytle and Aaron Espinoza were gabbing back and forth like a couple of high school buddies from back in the day. And let's be honest, Admiral Radley is a continuation of the Grandaddy and Earlimart sounds, essentially lazy stoner skateboarder tunes. You might worry that as nobody in the band is a teenager anymore, perhaps the band has overstayed its welcome in the genre. Instead, their additional years seem to add a bit of wit and wisdom to the lyrics that almost transcend the material. Don't get me wrong, "Sunburn Kids" and "Drunk on Beer" are two of my favorites on I Heart California, but even Lytle admitted the former was "silly." Of course, one of the highlights of the evening came when Espinoza, possibly somewhat besotted himself, started muffing the lyrics to "Drunk on Beer," claiming, however, that it was no problem, as he was, in fact, drunk on beer himself. Another high point clearly was Ariana Murray's solo, "The Thread." Any earlier complaints of bad mic-ing were gone for this song. Having a crowd quiet down, even partially, for the slow songs always is a Herculean task, but Ms. Murray kept the crowd enraptured with her straightforward performance. Of final note for me, Espinoza informed the crowd that for the encore, they'd be doing "kind of a cover" before launching into "Every Time I'm With You," one of Lytle's contributions to Dark Night of the Soul, and personally one of my two favorite tracks from that CD (the other being his second submission, "Jaykub").

Overall, Admiral Radley benefits greatly from the vocals of both Lytle and Espinoza, each sounding pretty damn close to the consistency of slightly heated honey burbling out of the plastic bear and into your teacup. The fact that Lytle still projects old home movie footage, though on a far smaller screen than the last time he played the 9:30 Club with Grandaddy, adds a layer of depth and shading you wouldn't expect at such a small location as DC9, which is nice. It would have been nice to hear more from Murray and perhaps at least an acknowledgement that Aaron Burtch was even on stage, steady on the skins all night, but they all seemed to be enjoying the hell out of the experience, so who am i to talk?

I'd like to note that for a band that's apparently only been together a handful of months, they sounded like they'd been playing together for years and years. As concerts for "new" bands are supposed to accomplish, i've been listening to their debut album pretty much non-stop since Saturday night, a true testament to the talent on-stage that night. i think it's pretty fair to say i heart Admiral Radley.

mp3: intro/jeez louise (Jack from Just Like The Fambly Cassette) (i.e., Jason Lytle's Just Like the Fambly Cat demos)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Album Review: The Jim Jones Revue – The Jim Jones Revue

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire indeed. Riddle me this, friends, how does a band from Blighty manage to channel the spirits of rock’s crucial dawning era so convincingly that listening to this here record might challenge anybody as to when it was made? How can they capture the exact firecracker tinkling of the piano, the rough, jagged polish of the guitar, and most of all, the soulful, guttural, holy howl so needed to inspire legions of fans into riotous abandon? I might not have an answer to any of that, but what I can tell you is that The Jim Jones Revue should probably become one of your favorite new/new favorite bands immediately, if not sooner.

This self-titled release has been around for a little while, but just now are we Yanks lucky enough to be able to get our mitts on it. And trust me, you’ll want to get a hold of this one. It’s like having Jerry Lee Lewis wiggling around at the keys, Little Richard running rampant with the mic, and the best axemen and rhythm section you can possibly imagine carrying the rest of the load. The rock just does not stop on this record. Does. Not. Stop. The band goes gangbusters from start to finish, and I can only imagine the holy hell of a live show they must put on (hey y'all, come on down to the D of C).

The songs on The Jim Jones Revue are short-ish, sweet, and sinfully splendid. And maybe just sinful. The most obvious reference here is 50s revivalism, and I can’t think of a soul who does it better than these gents. “Princess & The Frog” and “Hey Hey Hey Hey” are two of the best, purest rock songs you might could hear all dang year, choc full of hard-working piano and reverend-ready vocals. They do deviate slightly on occasion, “Another Daze” for instance sounds a little like the Fogerty-led CCR dragged kicking and screaming through the grime of Iggy's Motor City. And oh my, what a glorious racket that turned out to be. “Make It Hot” has shades of Skynyrd, in the roadhouse meets the stage kinda way, which endears the band to my little heart even more. “Cement Mixer” also dips its toe into the 60s waters, with a swirling organ and fuzz creeping in around the gritty edges.

Basically, my brothers and sisters, this here is a record you need to own. Amen.

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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Album Review: Detox Retox – Movement EP

This is one of those times when I could go on and on about how I love this band for their name alone. Detox Retox. It’s oh so clever, no? Just imagine the concept of detoxing only to retox yourself into an overindulged state once again. I’m sure the concept is anything but foreign to many of us, come to think of it. Seeing or saying Detox Retox always makes me smile. Fortunately, it’s not just the band’s name that makes this gal happy. Oh no. It’s their music, too. And lucky us, the band has just recently released the ever so excellent Movement EP, their second to date. And in this case, it’s perfectly alright to overindulge.

Movement is definitely an apt name for such an EP. The sounds are constantly in flux, these are songs that couldn’t ever be accused of sitting still. Frenetic and pulsating with energy, these six songs are representative of quite a little band on the rise in this part of the world. The main ingredients to this little party are the feisty, pretty darn sassy vocals courtesy of Michael Parker, skillfully shredded guitars clawed with equal aplomb by Parker and Nate Frey, and the plucky as all get out Double K rhythm section (comprised of Kevin Glass on bass and Kabir Khanna on drums).

And a party it is, folks. Detox Retox has the breakneck ferocity of a DC punk band tempered by ridiculously cheeky (and even more ridiculously catchy) dancefloor grooves, making them equal parts grit and glam. For those of you who’ve ever felt compelled to cut some rug while having your eardrums assaulted by waves of blinding noise, well, this could just be the band of your dreams. With a song called “Sleep Around” I can’t help but love them, really. One of my highest of high DC band recommendations.

mp3: Caroline (Detox Retox from the Movement EP)

Happy Birthday, Kenny

When I think of Kenny Rogers, there are a few things that spring instantly to mind. The first, of course, being his luxurious, snowy white coif and equally awesome beard. Next, naturally, is the line, "you gotta know when to hold 'em/know when to fold 'em/know when to walk away/and know when to run," from "The Gambler". Butterfly collars are the final image in my mind when I call up mental images of Kenny. Oh, and those of us that are fans of The Big Lebowski, well, there's a dream sequence involving a Valkyrie, a mile high rack of bowling shoes, and a cracked-out Busby Berkeley-esque gaggle of bowling pin headdress clad ladies soundtracked by an unexpectedly trippy Kenny & The First Edition song. Oh yeah, and then there's Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers...

And why am I rambling about Kenny Rogers, you might be wondering? Well friends, it's the man, the myth, the legend's birthday, that's why. I'll be throwing some Kenny on the turntable later, you just wait. I hope you'll join me in wishing all the best to the one, the only, Mister Kenny Rogers.

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

Friday, August 20, 2010

Newsflash: BiMA Fest 2010!

So, it just so happens that we two sometimes (often) get so busy covering all the fun stuff in our neck of the woods that we sometimes (often) forget about our fabulous neighbors to the north. No, not Canada. I'm talkin' 'bout Charm City, baby, otherwise known as Baltimore.

There's a whole lot of righteous stuff going on up in Balto these days, which we DC folks can shamefully tend to forget, not least of which is the 2010, brand spankin' new edition of the Baltimore Independent Music & Arts Festival (aka BiMA). I'm super psyched because I've been in festival withdrawl this year, and the convenience of it all makes me feel very spoiled indeed. Not only will BiMA be celebrating some of the best that Baltimore has to offer in terms of music and other arty happenings, but they've pulled in some excellent out-of-towners to boot (for example, I'll be hitting the Churchkey Records showcase for damn sure). Check out the schedule here (and remember kids, as life is forever changing, so too could the schedule), and don't make any plans for next weekend (that'll be August 26th-28th, to be exact). Expect, of course, a detailed commentary by yours truly, since I'll be to-ing and fro-ing all weekend long.

Be there or be square, y'all!

mp3: Streets of Baltimore (Gram Parsons from GP)

Free Music Friday Returns: The Funky, Undecipherable, Tribal, Groovy, Latino, Godless, Denim Edition

Jebus, after seemingly forever, we've finally got enough stuff to make for a pretty damn fine Free Music Friday, if i do say so my damn self. Good things come to those who wait, i suppose. Of course, that saying always makes me think of paraplegics for some reason, which just goes to show that the better the meds, the better the story.

i'm not sure how the Budos Band have managed to fly under my radar for as long as they have, but shame on me. As an old skool Funkateer myself, not getting into these cats sooner was a criminal mistake on my part. Tight horns, mucho impressive rhythm section and an ability to groove with the best of them make this a group that we both should be listening to.

i wish i could tell you more about Shugo Tokumaru, but as the Japanese artist's webpage is not in English, i don't have a whole lot to go on here. What i can tell you is that the 20-year-old is making some incredible bedroom tunes, apparently just him, a Mac and a microphone. i'm having a hell of a time trying to classify the sound--it's certainly not J-pop, and i wouldn't call it standard beat music or electro, either, yet it seems to somehow combine elements of all that and more. Whatever, this one is sunny, catchy and perfect to get your weekend started right.

i mentioned that one of my younger sibs recently returned from Africa. Said sib also now works with me at the day job, so i typically play DJ whenever we go to lunch or where ever. When he asked me to hip him to some new cats he might not now about, i quickly went to Sun Araw. i explained that this mofo was making raw, primal sounds, real tribal shit that essentially begs the listener to ingest some hallucinogenics, strip nekkid and dance around a fire. "Which tribe?," my brother replied. Sibs can be a pain in the ass. Regardless, in preparation for the new 12" he's about to drop on Woodsist, Sun's camp sent us this spastic booty shaker from the Mothership.

Ever since his appearance on Zero 7's The Garden, i've been a bit of a José González fan. His languid style and hazily romantic axemanship do something for me, you dig? The fact that he's formed a three piece combo called Junip, all hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden (featuring Tobias Winterkorn on keys, Elias Araya on skins and the aforementioned José González on vox and guitar) is Voltron-like in its own sweet perfection. The sound bears González's trademark soft groove, which is nice.

For whatever reason, we get surprisingly few submissions from Mexican bands. In and of itself, that's probably not a big deal, but for a site that prides itself on bringing you the finest in Nigerian speed rap, we are saddened that more of our continental neighbors don't see fit to send things our way. Fortunately, however, Mexico City's indie phenoms, Chikita Violenta, recently signed with the Arts & Crafts label, meaning we were able to get our grubby, little mitts on a couple of singles from their latest, TRE3S. Produced by Broken Social Scene's own Dave Newfeld, if you ever wondered how Canada's finest sprawling sound would play as performed by English-speaking Latinos, well, wonder no more. The short answer is pretty damn good. Cross cultural exchange at its finest, if you will.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that i'm getting a bit too close for my own comfort to middle aged myself , but i have a major audio boner for Grinderman. Sure, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are incredible in their own right, but the fire, piss and vinegar that Grinderman puts out there simply is in another league. i, for one, cannot wait for them to finally make it to the 9:30 Club for their upcoming fall tour. Sure, we posted the extended maxi-single for Heathen Child already a while ago, but in case that one was too long, they've just dropped the radio edit for your listening pleasure.

i haven't bought a pair of Levi's in i don't know how long, but if they're going to continue to keep putting out their stellar Pioneer Sessions, i might just have to head out to the mall and show my gratitude by way of a pair of boot cut denim purchase. This time around, they've given us the Dirty Projectors and their take on Dylan's classic, "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine." So money.