Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Album Review: Seas – Now My Home Is A Beech Tree

Seas, or SEAS depending on your affinity for caps, is the embodiment of a gorgeous sonic wonderland put forth into the realms of reality by Ben Green. Green, a resident of the greater DC megalopolis, has made a record that sounds absolutely nothing like the hustle and bustle of the powerful environs in which he lives. Instead, Now My Home Is A Beech Tree, the debut Seas record, sounds more like a stunning collection of escapist treasures, songs full of mountain mists and shimmering sunsets and perennial falls and springs. It’s not all about the power of escaping reality, however, as Seas finds loveliness in the sentiments of everyday mortals.

The first time I heard the record all the way through, I loved it. The second time through, well, as you might have guessed, I loved it even more. It begins with the transcendent “Narrows”, swirling around as it does, placid and tranquil and effortlessly beautiful. The haunting creep of “The Integral Accident” is terribly appealing, with more of Green’s gentle strumming and calm, steady vocals. “I know/you know/our fate is sealed,” Green sings, wondering, “What will happen when we’re gone” as a wash of melancholia grows behind him.

It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite song from
Now My Home Is A Beech Tree, though with some pressurizing I’ll admit that I’m somewhat partial to the breathless, heady sound of “Cusseta”. Something about that slow-motion, dream-sequence intro makes me think of Doves, which is always a grand thing. The beat of the drum is hypnotic, and Green’s voice lulls one into all sorts of fantastical imaginings. But then again, there’s all sorts of allure all over “The Buried Ranges”, Seas taking a more uptempo route while bemoaning being a “victim of history”.

It’s a cold, black heart indeed that doesn’t warm to
Now My Home Is A Beech Tree, ladies and gentlemen. What Green has created let no killjoy or crankypants tear asunder. In other words, might I suggest you get your paws on a copy of this here record, pronto-like? And there’s never been a better time, as Decoration Day is having a sale. And you can't beat that with a stick.

mp3: Valley Of The Fevers (Alternate) (Seas from Now My Home Is A Beech Tree)

Video Vixens: The Childishly Adult Version

i'm getting ready to call 2010 the Year of Porny Indie Music. Between covers like this to an ever increasing crop of nekkid music videos, seems like today's musician is all about the boobies. And i ain't mad atcha for that.

I could probably do an entire post just on what the Flaming Lips have been doing for their last few videos, but today, we'll just focus on their latest. Sure, the tingly bits are blurred, but i think we all get the idea. As if the giant vagina ball in the beginning wasn't going to tip you off in the first place.

mp3: See the Leaves (The Flaming Lips from Embryonic)

Proving that our Spanish brethren are every bit as weird as their US counterparts, i bring to you the latest from
El Guincho's Pop Negro. Entitled "Bombay," this one more than gives the Lips a run for their money. More weirdness AND more boobies!

mp3: Bombay (El Guincho from Pop Negro)

While this next one has bathing suit clad girls in swimming pools, i'm afraid you're going to have to dial back your nudie expectations for the latest from (The) Tony Castles. Of course, this arguably is the strongest groover of the bunch, so i suppose you'll survive.

mp3: Black Girls in Dresses ((The) Tony Castles from No Service)

Not to harsh your buzz, but here's another non-nekkid video, yet it still speaks to the Gen Xer in me. It's an homage to some of the greatest video games of the '80s, so you know we've got a winner here. When you start off with a nod to "Elevator Action," well, i'm hooked.

mp3: Who's That? Brooown! (Das Racist from Shut Up, Dude)

Admittedly, this last one has nothing to do with music videos, nor is it particularly adult-ish beyond the very odd boob infatuation, but, damnation, i lurvs me some Japanese TV, and the Ancient Dogoo Girl might just be my new fave character on the tube, now that i think about it. i can only hope that when i eventually have kids, they'll be treated to such fare as this.

mp3: Booby Trap (RZA from Digi Snacks)

mp3: Turning Japanese (Liz Phair from Juvenilia)

100 Shows of 2010 - #68: Blue Giant @ Iota, 9/23/10

It is perhaps one of the music fan's greatest fears. Band members of a band that you really, terribly love going off and getting all sideprojecty, with horrible results. However, not all sideprojects end in sonic catastrophe. Witnesseth one and all the glory of Blue Giant, the brainchild of Kevin & Anita Robinson, the purveyors of seriously splendid Left Coast tuneage in their vessel Viva Voce. But as we Geminis can attest, sometimes you just need a change. And the Robinsons branched out, opting for a bigger sound and a bigger band (hi, three extra members!). They landed at Iota one Thursday evening, sunshinery in tow as they opened for and then played backing band to Bobby Bare, Jr., and the whole thing was a delight from the word go.

MINI RECAP: Blue Giant = Blithely Great! Overall Score: B++

"Hi everybody," began Kevin Robinson, cheerful smile plastered under his beard, "we're Blue Giant from Portland, Oregon," proceeding thither to launch into the band's excellent set with the driving "Go On". Despite a slight imbalance in the sound (hello, slightly too much guitar), the song was mighty fine, in the vein of Viva Voce but with more emphasis on the song structure and the country meets pop of it all. The road-weary, boisterous stomp of "Wesley" was next, melodic and slightly torn and frayed.

"Target Heart" was a standout, lovely and dreamy with Kevin's voice emoting even more lovelorn plaintiveness than on record, and the lap steel adding immeasurable amounts of glorious wistfulness. For "Lonely Girl", Mrs. Robinson took her turn with lead vocals, singing with aplomb some modern day country gal blues. This is one impressive vocal couple, y'all. Quite possibly my favorite moment song-wise came when the band covered the classic Byrds song "I Wasn't Born To Follow". I thought instantly of Easy Rider, and motorcycle rides through a harsh, dusty desert. It got a little crazy up there with the rocking out, let me just say. O, the madcap instrumentalizationality of it!

And when I thought it couldn't get any better, they broke out with the irrepressible pair of "Run Rabbit Run" and "Blue Sunshine", the former jauntily hopping its way along the twangy path and the latter utterly impossible to ignore, what with all that mandolin madness going on. The set came to a close with the unexpectedly Beatles-esque "Clean The Clock", and I couldn't help but feel a little sad about the end of such a great set. Bobby Bare, Jr., was fantastic of course, but hells bells y'all. Blue Giant was nigh on stunning.

Sure, I was expecting nothing less than near-perfection, given how much I like Viva Voce and how good Viva Voce is live AND how good the Blue Giant record is (which, by the way, ought to be in your collection by now). But the band exceeded those lofty expectations of mine, bringing the mellowness of the West and some seriously sensational songs. It would behoove you, lovely loves of mine, to spend a little time warming your soul in front of the glowing embers of Blue Giant.

mp3: Blue Sunshine (Blue Giant from Blue Giant)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Zut Alors!: Deer Tick To Auction Bus For Flood Relief

It is an unfortunate thing about life that we live on a planet that is extremely dramatic and changeable when it comes to climate and weather. Sometimes, weather wreaks havoc on small clusters of the world's population, and other times, well, things reach truly horrific levels. Such is the case in Pakistan, where flooding has impacted potentially tens of millions of people. Just think about that for a minute. Pretty ghastly, right?

If you've been wondering what you can do to make a difference and help out, well, here's an option. The kind souls in Deer Tick are auctioning off The Flagship, their 2009 touring vehicle, to raise money for flood relief. Visit this here link for further information about the auction, which will be ongoing for three weeks. You can also donate to Oxfam at the merch booth at all dates on the upcoming Deer Tick tour. It's a long tour, so plenty of chances to open up the wallets. So go on. Do a little something good for those who need help in ways most of us couldn't even imagine.

mp3: Piece By Piece, Frame By Frame (Deer Tick from The Black Dirt Sessions)

100 Shows of 2010 - #67: Those Darlins/The Strange Boys/Gentleman Jesse & His Men @ Black Cat, 9/15/10

I'm nearing the last leg of this 100 gig odyssey, and as you know I've been lucky enough to witness quite a few totally radical shows. A few have even been downright stellar. Number sixty seven was rather special, even compared with the other special ones, my little lambs. Not only was I once more in the presence of my esteemed partner in blogging, but also in the presence of not one, not even two, but three killer bands. Oh yes. I said three. Atlanta types Gentleman Jesse & His Men, Texans The Strange Boys, and the totally girlcrush-worthy Nashvillians Those Darlins (and their token dudes, of course, who are also crush-worthy). This show was so splendiforous, so dang rockin', that not even the totally weird, awkward vibe in the crowd (and it was decidedly weird) could ruin the amount of severely fierce rock that those ladies and gents put out. It took me days to recover, frankly. I was rocked out.

MINI RECAP: Gentleman Jesse & His Men = Yabba! The Strange Boys = Dabba! Those Darlins = Do! Overall Score: A

I missed, sadly, virtually all of the set belonging to Gentleman Jesse & His Men. However, the scant few songs I saw served as a hint of the sheer balls-out, sexy rock that these young men can put forth. I'd liken them to Rick Springfield (think "Jesse's Girl" but actually cool), with a big, catchy sound and plenty of cheekiness. Further investigation is definitely needed, but I was well impressed with what I witnessed.

The Strange Boys
followed, and it was during their set that the weirdness in the club began in earnest. There was a little bit of a disconnect between the crowd and the bands, though with The Strange Boys it extended to the staff, too, as they were ignored after requesting more lights so they could see the crowd's purty faces. Lighting aside, my (impatient) wait to see the band was rewarded with a delicious dose of retro-fitted rock and roll purity. The shambolic edge was present in spades, but so too was the polish that sets The Strange Boys apart from plenty of other soundalikes. I'm still counting my lucky stars to have heard my beloved "Night Might" and "Poem Party", along with "Nights In Paris", "Be Brave", and a heaping helping of other goodies. Their remarkable nonchalance about playing wowed me, as I've said before it's like they don't even try, and yet they are so very, very good at what they do. It's effortless, but with a little sneer. They shimmied and shook and rocked and rolled and by the time they were done, I loved them more than ever.

And then, to top it all off, came Those Darlins. These little ladies have beguiled the both of us here at LET, and having never seen them live before I was beyond excited. And these hot mamas most certainly did not disappoint. Oh no. I mean, any band that literally has the lights turned on to get them off the stage is impossible not to love, right? These gals were intent on causing a ruckus, and they did their due diligence. The set was soaked in sex and booze and rabble-rousing, and lordy me it was sensational. Their rocky twang was in fine form, pitting their trio of come-hither vocals with down and dirty rock, filthy hints of the blues, and a bit of Nashville for good measure. "Wild One" was the highlight of a thoroughly bitchin' set for me, being as it is one of my favorite songs these days. And hell, just cuz they're sweet don't mean they're always nice, you know. Even if they did bring Nikki's mom up onstage for a little tambourine playing. These girls are definitely whisky rock-a-rollers, to quoth my dear Skynyrd, and they rock harder than most bands around. Can't say enough good things about 'em.

I'll keep it brief. Go see these bands. End of story. Oh, and you're welcome.

mp3: Who's That Knockin At My Window (Daytrotter) (Those Darlins from Those Darlins)

Album Review: last day of summer by White Denim

i'm about a week late on this one, but i was working, so what can you do?

While in the studio working hard on their third LP, White Denim decided to put together a full, FREE* album for your listening pleasure. i've waxed rhapsodic about these boys in the past, and imagine i will do so again in the future. Often.

Entitled last day of summer, this time around, the vibe is a bit mellower than most of what Fits had to offer. Think a lot less "I Start to Run" and a lot more "Regina Holding Hands" on this one. Befitting the title, it's got those last sunny rays of summertime, an excellent send off before we get into the hard work of the coming winter months. The group continues to improve musically, showing off their instrumental chops on tracks like "incaviglia" and "light light light," but it's the slow risers like "champ" and the top tappers like "shy billy" that really get the juices flowing.

If their "hold-you-over-while-you-wait-for-the-next-full-length" is this good, thunderation, that LP is going to be incredible.

Monday, September 27, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #66: The Drums @ 9:30 Club, 9/12/10

We all know how much Sunday nights can totally suck. The weekend is inevitably coming to a close, the work week is about to Sunday evenings are oft spent on the couch, mourning the loss of two days of freedom while watching The Glades (hey, it works for me). But this particular Sunday, I decided it was time for some serious rock and roll. As luck would have it, The Drums was playing the 9:30 Club, and seemed well up to and equipped for the task of rocking me, baby. When I got home from their set it was a lot closer to Monday morning, but I was a whole lot less concerned. I went to sleep feeling totally and utterly rocked and rolled.

MINI RECAP: The Drums = Sasstacularly Spunky! Overall Score: B+++

I felt an instant affinity for these hyped-up New Yorkers, even before they played a note. Their look, and really, it is a pretty serious look, reeled me in. Think 1980s Smithsian, but whereas Morrissey and Marr wore their shades of gray on their sleeves, literally, The Drums opt for a bold and bright take on their retro love, which matches the overall vibe of their music. I was immediately aware of the serious stage presence of their frontman, the prancing and preening Jonathan Pierce, who sashayed splendidly around the stage for the duration of their set. Puritanical purists, avert thine eyes, but Pierce seems to me like some kinda Freddie Mercury/Ian Curtis hybrid, blending the peacock strut of Mercury with the empassioned twitching of Curtis. While the music of The Drums doesn't quite align with either band (especially the full-throttle bombastic operatics of Queen), the resemblance was, to me, uncanny. Throw in an ocassional vocal reference to Ian McCulloch, and you're getting warmer. And I found it all rather delightful, and impressive, when Pierce managed to wriggle out of his red satin bomber jacket without putting down the mic or even batting an eyelash.

Any band that cites Orange Juice as an influence wins favor from me, and the sound of the great Scots certainly permeates here (I'd also throw in a nod or two to that other band of amazing Scots, Josef K). The melodies and the arch poppiness of the rocking was drenched in Scottish (and English, too) shades, though Pierce's voice took things way over the top. In a good way, of course. The songs were hypnotic, and pretty much irresistible. Between Pierce's vocal antics and the lipstick gloss of the guitar to that machine gun drummery, it was a glorious little set. I'm not sure where this band has been all my life, but I'm glad they're here now.

I'd have to say my only real complaint about the set was that, well, it ended, and that at times the vocals seemed a wee bit muddy. But other than that, it just doesn't get much more entertaining, my little lovelies. Lucky for you, the band is still in the midst of a major US tour, and will be popping over to Europe in a few weeks to spread their love amongst the peoples of the EU. I seriously, forcefully, and earnestly encourage you to spend a night with The Drums. You won't be disappointed.

mp3: We Used To Wait (Arcade Fire Cover) (The Drums from BBC3 Session)

Beat Meet: The Back Up Edition

Can we get a round of applause for Ms. Megan's brilliant effort last week? While i was enjoying the 111 degree beauty of Phoenix and flying through thunderstorms with enough turbulence to have me grabbing the leg of a stranger sitting next to me (OK, she was a cute, blonde, Canadian nurse, but still), she was getting it done for you here at LET. At the very least, you should offer her a kiss on the cheek at the next show you see her attending. She likes that. Of course, who doesn't like getting kissed on the cheek? Nobody. Not even your grandfather.

The one good thing that came of my overly busy work week last week was the amount of time i spent on a plane. More specifically and importantly, the amount of time that afforded me to catch up on some excellent beat tapes making the rounds.

The kids over at the WEDIDIT Collective have been busy. Long timer Earnest Blount posted his work with yet another collective, this one called NOVA (i guess your collective needs to be in all caps to be taken seriously these days). The result is Illumination!, with contributions by Chris Adams and (waves:delicious), to name a few. The great thing about these groups/guys-who-get-together-to-assumedly-smoke-a-shitload-of-weed-and-play-beats is that each one has a distinct sound. These cats make music for long distance UFO runs between intergalactic convenience stores, particularly apropos if your alien captain has the munchies. Separately, WEDIDIT posted the latest from Juj, who may or may not actually be the guys in the collective itself. Regardless, the beats are fresh and crisp, not unlike good lettuce. And i'm talking romaine, motherfuckers. None of that cheap Iceberg shit here.

mp3: Manners (Juj from Slack)

In a world of beat production, crate diggers increasingly are getting left behind in the discussion of what's popping on the scene these days. Proving that Madlib isn't the only one out there making strides on the wheels of steel, Left Channel are back with a new one, Food and Entertainment. Sampling everything from old cartoons to "Waiting for Guffman," the boys continue to perfect their craft, building loopy beats for a madhouse world. Well done again, lads.

Who needs to have friends in a collective when you know the cats at the label? Svetlana Industries has dropped a new mixtape featuring such roster stars as Prohor and Teebs, all for the low, low price of whatever you feel like spending. You can't beat that with a stick, and these beats are bumping, so whether you go cheap bastard or Medici with your patronage, you're still not spending enough for what this beast is worth.

mp3: Eye 2 (Prohor from Come On Let's Go)

And finally, i've inadvertently been sitting on this one for a few weeks now, not entirely sure where to place it. Probably more trip-hop than anything else (think instrumental Zero 7), it's a haunting piece with underlying beat sensibilities. Perfect way to end the day, perfect way to end this post.

mp3: Cats in the Flat (Franklin from Wool Recordings)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wish You Were Here #4: Blood Feathers

Those Blood Feathers boys sure do get around, don't they? I guess it's what happens when you're out on tour. In any event, looks like they've been getting up to no good. I for one am looking forward to their Daytrotter session, not to mention the debauchery next time they swing back around DC.

mp3: Sugar In Bed (Blood Feathers from Goodness Gracious)

Ramble On #1: Walker Howle (Dead Confederate)

When I first met Walker Howle, Dead Confederate's imposingly tall and bountifully bearded axeman, I was told as a preface to have him tell me a story, since few people around can spin a yarn quite like Walker can. So ask for a story I did, of course, and so well-told and fantastic it was that I decided there was none better for this here new feature than Mr. Howle.

And now, without further ado, I hand it over to Walker.


The moon cast a glow that was pure hell....Man nor beast could come to terms with such a horrendous episode of visual interlude. Denny ripped not only his own arms off, but also the arms of the beautiful Miss Chaucey. They sat motionless in the horrible moonlight while the wild-eyed prairie hyenas drank from their shoulder holes....Meanwhile, on the other side of earth, Moyikami was getting married for the first time. It was an arranged marriage, and Moyikami felt quite lucky, seeing as how his wife to be was not only beautiful - but also a calm, thoughtful lady as well....Frank Stallone was the Monk that was to do the hitching....and Hitching He Did!.....Boy Howdy!

As an aside, if you're not already aware, the boys of Dead Confederate are currently touring their (amazing) new record, Sugar. They're here in DC Wednesday, so see y'all over at the Hotel for what promises to be a killer evening.

mp3: Run From The Gun (Dead Confederate from Sugar)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #65: The Charlatans @ Black Cat, 9/9/10

Hello, my name is Megan, and I've been a Charlatans fan since 1996. For almost 15 long, happy years I have fiercely loved and been a staunch advocate for the five lovable Mancunians (ok, well, one of them is Irish, but that's splitting hairs, really), and their songs have meant more to me than most bands ever will. They are, realistically, as important to the annals of Britpop as any other band you can think of, if not moreso, because their songs still hold up well to this very day. If you're not already into them, I strongly suggest you stop reading this right now and go find an album to listen to. It's ok, I'll wait.

All set? Good. Now we can proceed. Despite my lengthy run of fangirlness, I'd only managed to see The Charlatans (or as they're sometimes called, The Charlies) twice, and neither time was here in DC. Go figure. My first Charlies show was in Atlanta, when I was 18. I borrowed a car and a friend and I drove from Tuscaloosa to Atlanta to see them (with The Dandy Warhols opening) at one hell of an amazing show. A couple of years later I had the chance to see the band in Newcastle (the one across the pond) with some friends, which was equally as amazing. But that was 2000, and it's now 2010. So you can imagine, friends, how very eager my eardrums were to once more hear the wonder that is The Charlatans. And the point of this rambling intro is that FINALLY they came back around for a show. And it was, you guessed it, amazing.

MINI RECAP: The Charlatans = Ageless Wonders! Overall Score: A

Ok, so perhaps I was gonna give my beloved Charlatans a top score regardless, but they really, really earned it, babies. They began with an incredible rendition of "Then", an oldie but most definitely a goodie. The jangle interspersed with a wee bit of darkness got the old blood pumping. And following it up with one of their biggest songs ever, "Weirdo", set the tone for an overall spectacular little set. I do have to make a confession, I haven't yet checked out the band's newest couple of records. I've been so enamored with their older stuff I just hadn't ventured over to their new stuff (I was fearing the Oasis problem, being older songs far trump newer songs). But based on what the boys stormed through at the show, I was just a little silly to have ignored their latest works. All the sound of The Charlatans is there, organ-infused with killer guitar and, of course, those Burgess-ian vocals. Oh, that voice.

The man behind the voice, Tim Burgess, was looking perhaps more like Mick Jagger than he ever has, lean and lanky and with a dark fringe that hid his intense eyes unless he brushed away the bangs. He shimmied and shuffled his way across the stage in his black wife-beater, eliciting coos from the ladies and shouts of encouragement from the lads. He looked, quite frankly, ageless. His interplay with the crowd and those impish grins did nothing to dispel the notion that he could be as young as you like. The band brought out some seriously big guns midway through the set, including a jaw-dropping version of "One To Another" (which, incidentally, includes another of my most favorite lyrics ever: "Be my Spiderwoman/I'll be your Spiderman"), "The Only One I Know", and "My Beautiful Friend", introduced charmingly by Tim as being "for our beautiful friends in DC."

More new songs filled the bulk of the set, it seemed, but we weren't deprived of the glory of older Charlatans for very long. Really old, really cheekily adorable "White Shirt" made an appearance, sounding as fresh as a daisy. "North Country Boy" really got the crowd's motor running, as it should, being such an anthem as it is. One of my favorite Charlies songs, the lazy daze of "Can't Get Out Of Bed", popped up in the encore, and the whole thing wound to a frenzy of a close with the classic "Sproston Green".

In closing, you might could say the third time was the charm. It was the smallest venue I'd ever seen The Charlatans in, and perhaps because it was ten years in the making, I found it the most enjoyable. The band looked beamingly happy to be playing for us, and we the crowd were as beamingly happy to have them play. It was a lovefest. I might be doing some major gushing here, but y'all, this is one of a handful of bands that has meant more to me than I can ever hope to express. If you don't ever listen to another word I say, well, I hope you'll make friends with The Charlatans. They're truly in a class by themselves.

mp3: Then (The Charlatans from Some Friendly)

mp3: Can't Get Out Of Bed (The Charlatans from Up To Our Hips)

(We also wish drummer Jon Brookes a speedy recovery from what ails him! Get well soon, JB)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wish You Were Here #3: Blood Feathers

Seriously, y'all, have you added a little Blood Feathers to your life yet???? Because, in addition to being seriously killer on record, and quite possibly even better in the flesh, they're super, super nice dudes. And who doesn't love nice dudes? Well, actually, some of us tend to run away from nice boys and go for the baddest of the bad boys, but that's neither here nor there. The point here is that Blood Feathers is a fantastic band. And you should obviously love them. That is all.

mp3: The Same Mad Part (Blood Feathers from Goodness Gracious)

100 Shows of 2010 - #64: Dreamend @ DC9, 9/9/10

Man alive, we Terribles sure have been hitting a lot of shows together lately. I assure you, friends, this doesn't usually happen, and I have rather enjoyed this spate of quality time with my dear better blogging half. On yet another of our evenings together, we found ourselves being Terrible at DC9 (well, before I had to split to head to another show!). I did, however, manage to enjoy quite a delightful set by Dreamend, otherwise known as the brainchild of Ryan from Graveface (and Black Moth Super Rainbow). I'd heard scant little of Dreamend before this show (and managed to miss Ryan when he blew threw town months back with The Appleseed Cast), but hot damn if I wasn't totally swept off my feet! The songs might not sound as they do on record, but being a Gemini I appreciate a little of the musical schizophrenia. And when it sounds this good, well, who cares if the vibe is totally different. I sure don't.

MINI RECAP: Dreamend = Sassily Schizo! Overall Score: B+

My enjoyment began pretty much right after the dynamic duo (much like myself and Chris, obviously) stepped onto the stage. I immediately fell in smit with the live incarnation of Dreamend, all gorgeously ethereal ramblings with guitar and drums. I got a kind of Mogwai vibe, when the noisy Scots tread more delicately and not so destructively (think "New Paths to Helicon 1" etc.). And just as with Mogwai, the boys of Dreamend can get pretty dang aggro in a snap. But how cute was that little cartoon of those be-toga'd Romans (or Greeks, it's all in the interpretation)? Ryan was almost hiding behind his oversized hoodie and some equipment, letting the fuzz (and sometimes his lovely voice) let his presence be known. Pavement also sprang to my mind on certain songs, and when you remind a gal of Pavement and Mogwai in one set, well, you're doing mighty fine. Even more amazing were the shades of my beloved, dearly departed Brits Six By Seven (if you don't know of them, well, check out the brilliant song "European Me", because I heard a lot of it sprinkled hither and thither in this set). It only took about two songs to make me verily distressed to have missed the set back in April. But better late than never, so the saying goes.

A lot of two-person bands tend to throw their hats into the garage ring, but Dreamend waves the flag for fuzzodistortonoisiness, and I find that incredibly fantastic. The band also racked up major points for penning one of my favorite lyrics of the year, with the assertion, "I know just who you think you are". Classic. Dreamend was solid from start to finish, creating a glorious, enchanting dreamscape only to have it grounded by Ryan's perfectly imperfect voice and a swell of gigantic waves of sound. Totally, utterly bitchin.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the set, but lo and behold, Dreamend sunk my battleship. If you get the chance, go check 'em out for damn sure. Don't sleep on this band, or you might just be sorry.

mp3: Magnesium Light (Dreamend from So I Ate Myself, Bite By Bite)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Leonard

There are few people in life who have true Voices. When they sing, they don't merely sing. Something happens when they open their mouths, not just song but experience. There will be those who say that Ole Blue Eyes had one great Voice (personally, I prefer Dino). Some might say Janis was one such Voice. For me, it's Mick Jagger. Well, and this man. Where Mick is the sound of hot, unadulterated sex, Leonard Cohen is the other end of the spectrum, the sound of pure, blissful, agony. His songs can pull you apart, so painfully honest and bare as they are. His are songs of Blake-ian innocence and experience, wry and world-weary, and yet effortlessly and unendingly beautiful. Many of them can and frequently do make me cry.

It just so happens to be the birthday of Mister Cohen. So sit yourself in a dimly-lit corner, pop open a bottle of your finest red, and take comfort in his woebegone splendor.

mp3: Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen from Songs Of Love And Hate)

100 Shows of 2010 - #63: Best Coast/Cults @ Rock'n'Roll Hotel, 9/8/10

In which your two favorite Terribles set out once more on a playdate, and end up witnessing an abundance of the following: LOTS of hair, lots of rock, and lots of sweltering heat. Undoubtedly, Cults and Best Coast brought most of the first two, and while they definitely brought a whole lotta hotness, I think the cramped quarters can be blamed on the latter. To quote my beloved partner, by the time the show was over, things were smelling a "little ripe" up in the Hotel. Chris has brought up the issues with this particular show already (bad lighting, bad smells, bad sound), so I'll nod in agreement and skip on over to the gushing. And...go!

MINI RECAP: Cults = Cultishly Captivating! Best Coast = Bestest Coastest! Overall Score: B+

I've decided that Cults, awesome band #1 of the evening, has more hair on their collective head than any band I've ever seen, outside of the Richmond metal scene, that is. I dug them lots and lots, finding their boy-girl vocals delightful, with the grounded boy balancing the spritely, somewhat ethereal lady. Very jaunty, very shimmering, with a hearty dose of lollipops and candy drops. Yes, I said it. "The Curse" was a favorite of mine, a spooky little song sung by a spooky little girl. 'Twas very nice indeed, as was their entire set. I found their sound to be very appealing, and when I heard a xylophone, well, be it programmed into the keys or no, it earned my eternal love and devotion for Cults. In the end, they left me wanting more, and I guess that's precisely what you're supposed to do, eh? Leave us starry-eyed and clamoring for more?

So then, after some pungent downtime, it was Best Coast's time to shine. Which I'm sure they did, we just couldn't see it thanks to the pretty bad lighting going on at the Hotel. But thankfully, Best Coast could be heard. And that was very, very good because I loved them. Loved, loved, loved. Basically, I'm already predisposed to like bands that do some serious California dreaming, and if you throw in that retro surf thing I'm yours for life. Bethany and Bobb totally rocked my world, with their combustion of lo-fi fuzziness swapping spit with upbeat jauntitude. Those are definitely some great tastes that taste great together! Bethany has quite a strong, sassy voice on her, though she keeps it sweet and girlie, too. The venue's sonic shortcomings somehow worked for the band, in my opinion, adding to their fuzztastic noisiness. Kinda like, at times, throwing girl group songs into a blender with My Bloody Valentine and a Beach Boy or two. Which, as I'm sure you'll agree, sounds pretty darned fantastic. I like to think of bands like Best Coast (and Cults) as a sort of popgaze, where you can close your eyes and see home movies of summertime picnics and afternoons in aging houses, soundtracked by this most splendid post-shoegaze poptasticness. Well, I thought it was poppy. My partner might disagree, but maybe he just couldn't hear it (wink wink nudge nudge).

In short, venue issues aside, this was another one of those well-planned bills. Cults and Best Coast were purrfect together. It was all sorts of ramalamadingdong, y'all. I look forward to seeing both of these bands again soon. Just perhaps not in summertime.

mp3: Boyfriend (Best Coast from Crazy For You)

Happy Birthday, Liam

So, back in the mid-90s, I wanted nothing more in life than to become Mrs. Liam Gallagher (don't judge). To me, there was no boy cuter than Our Kid, that brashest of swaggers blowing all other teenage crushes to smithereens. Not to mention those cheekbones! Those chops! No wonder I didn't like many dudes at my high school, I was too busy swooning over the musicians at such a tender age. But really, in 1996, was there any hotter frontman? Any saucier tambourine shaker? I think not.

And so it is that today, with all those old tender feelings in mind, I'd like to extend a warm birthday snog to Mister Liam Gallagher. Word on the street is that he's working on getting a new band together, in the wake of the latest (and perhaps final?) demise of Oasis. If so, well, best of luck. But for memories' sake, here's a little Oasis for all of my fellow Liam-ites.

mp3: Wonderwall (Oasis from (What's The Story) Morning Glory?)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Music By Which to Prepare for Fantasy Hockey Drafting

OK, so it's time for another one of my embarrassingly entertaining work conferences, which means i get to run around for about 13 hours/day for the rest of the week, starting tomorrow. Unfortunately, that probably means i'm not going to be able to post much in the interim. i'm sure Meg will keep you more than entertained in my absence, so keep your pants on, for chrissakes.

Before i go, i would be remiss not to point out that i have not one, but TWO, fantasy hockey drafts this week (Tuesday night and Saturday afternoon, to be exact). Clearly, this is the most wonderful time of the year, as is evidenced by such brilliant shows as "The League." For those others out there going over last minute notes, team updates, IR reports and the like, this one is for you.

(Yes, i realize that last one might be about pedophilia, but that's the same commitment you need in fantasy sports, too, so, yeah,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #62: Voxhaul Broadcast @ Black Cat, 9/7/10

Another night, another show by a damned fine California band. I don't know what it is, my lovelies, but every dang time I see a band from the great state of California these days, I end up loving them to itty bitty bits and pieces. It's quite possible that there are more amazing bands out there per capita than in just about any location short of the United Kingdom. The latest example of this California love of mine? Voxhaul Broadcast, the band that always makes me think of Morrissey when I see their name (think Vauxhall & I). They didn't get much more Smiths than that, though certainly they didn't need to get their Moz on to make me fall in love with them. No, no, their sassy little Southern California sound was quite enough when it came to winning me over.

MINI RECAP: Voxhaul Broadcast = Verily Bitchin! Overall Score: B+

Voxhaul Broadcast is another one of those bands that, as much as I hate to say it, really DOES sound like California, what with their summery beats and totally tubular guitar playing. They struck me initially as sounding like a bouncier Broken West, another California band I get goosebumps for. The instrumentation has a lot in common with TBW, though vocally Voxhaul Broadcast's David Dennis gets a bit more raw than his TBW counterpart.

The lovely boys of Voxhaul Broadcast impressed me the whole evening long, with their noisy, poppy-meets-psychy-meets-rocky racket. They kept things fresh and interesting for their whole set, at times veering off into 70s rock homages, or plowing through solid harmonies and taut instrumentation. I also certainly enjoyed their penchant for good old fashioned wailing on the guitar, too. That sure does get a gal's heart beating a little faster. I wasn't sure what to expect from their set, but this band impressed the hell outta me from start to finish.

Suffice it to say, my little darlings, I really, really, really do wish they all could be California boys. Voxhaul Broadcast has a few more dates left on their current tour, and if you're in their path make sure you go check 'em out (I'm talkin' to y'all: Lincoln, NE 9/19, Denver, CO 9/20, Boise, ID 9/23, Fresno, CA 9/25, Venice, CA 9/26). As for me, well, I'm just gonna sit here and hope they get back East on the soonish tip.

mp3: Leaving On The 5th (Voxhaul Broadcast from the forthcoming Timing is Everything)

100 Shows of 2010 - #61: Hot Hot Heat/22-20s @ Rock'n'Roll Hotel, 9/3/10

Nothing says Friday night quite like a good rock and roll show. Well, unless perhaps you live in the state of Texas and are obsessed with high school football, that is. For the rest of us, there's good old fashioned rock. And that's exactly what I got when I witnessed the combined forces of the 22-20s and Hot Hot Heat. And while history will remember that we Yanks invented rock and roll, those Brits and Canadians can still give us quite a run for the ole money. Thanks to two seriously swaggering, thoroughly raging sets, this was one heck of a way to start off a long holiday weekend.

MINI RECAP: Hot Hot Heat = Hotly Hot! 22-20s = Humidly Hot! Overall Score: B+

The absolutely adorable 22-20s were up first. Cute as can be and accented to boot (yes, yes, my Anglophilia is a well-established point), I immediately loved the band. They got me so very excited within a minute of their first song that I went and dropped my pen. A little old school in their sound, the 22-20s layed it on thick with the rough, filthy riffs and the blues overtones. I dug virtually everything about them, from their smoky, backroom vocals to the come-home-with-me slyness in the guitar. There was definite naughtiness in that scuzzy noise they were making. While not quite as blatant as the "Spit or Swallow" tee I caught a glimpse of in the crowd, the 22-20s are nearly as obviously rock. The band is currently promoting new record shake/shiver/moan, which I suspect I will soon get my hands on, and which perhaps might elicit all three of those titular sensations. Thumbs up for damn sure.

After a brief intermission, it was time for some Hot Hot Heat. It's been quite a few years since I last saw these neighbors from the north on a stage, and I was oh so happy to see them once again. "Hello, we are Hot Hot Heat," they began, before immediately launching into a set full of awesomeness. There are few bands I've seen with the energy level of HHH. Steve Bays, with that wonderfully big hair and his equally big, slightly nasal voice, proves quite the pied piper given an audience. I was pretty pleased with Hot Hot Heat's set, the newer stuff sounded just as vibrant and alive as did older material, just perhaps a bit more grown up. And it was one heck of a treat to hear "No, Not Now" live again, that's for sure. "I can already tell," Bays cooed, "this is a good fucking crowd!", a sentiment that caused a minor eruption amongst the happy persons down the front. The kids were going nuts for Hot Hot Heat and their feisty, kicky songs, and I have to say that I was, too. "Get In or Get Out" was another treat, reminding me of just how much I used to listen to the excellent record Make Up The Breakdown. When it comes to Hot Hot Heat, I'll quote those excellent Animals, and say that the boys can't help it, they were born to please.

What a night, what a night. Friends, make sure to add these two bands to your list of must-see bands. They took a regular ole Friday night and went and rock and rolled all over it. Hallelujah.

mp3: Bandages (Hot Hot Heat from Make Up The Breakdown)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wish You Were Here #2: Blood Feathers

I love me some Blood Feathers. I'm pretty sure they're my favorite group of Philadelphians, and they make some seriously funky/twangy/rockin/rollin/get down music. Luckily for you, they're fond of touring, so get ready for a few dates with The Walkmen next month. Fun will be had.

mp3: Don't Know You At All (Blood Feathers from Goodness Gracious)

100 Shows of 2010 - #60: Autolux @ Black Cat, 9/1/10

I'll let you in on a little something, friends. It's always a good time when you get the two of us Terribles in a room together, and when you throw in a fantastic band like Autolux, well, you get a damn fine evening. Thus was the case at the Black Cat, where I had the pleasure of not only Mr. Terrible's presence, but Autolux's presence for the third time, and it was, in fact, the charm. And for the record, Chris doesn't have the monopoly on gushing over Miss Carla Azar, otherwise known as Autolux's seriously fierce drummer. She was ridiculously awesome, but then, I'd say that sentiment pretty much applies to the entire set (excess reverb and all).

MINI RECAP: Autolux = Deliciously Dark! Overall Score: B+

Even before they played a note, I was impressed. Walking out to Brian Eno's "Here Come The Warm Jets" will win me over every single time. As for the band themselves, well, the three of them impressed the hell out of me, too, moreso than ever. Right from the start, Autolux showed off their big, dark, layered sound, so finely textured and so atmospheric and so full of reverb (to Chris's slight chagrin but my delight). This is a band that takes advantage of every note, cramming as much noise into each song as humanly possible. The power and aggression in the songs was accented by a slight hint of something wicked, something sinister, giving it a delicious feeling of almost devilish decadence.

The assualt on the eardrums was simply glorious. Chilling, brutal, but somehow lovely at the same time, especially when Miss Azar lent her voice as well as her sticks to the cause. Her sultry softness tempered the darkness, with beautiful effect. The songs tended to be severe and scathing, but not in a way that was at all off-putting. At times, it felt that the line between vitriolic and seductive had been muddied, with splendid results. Somehow, Autolux songs have always seemed almost catchy to me, and this night was no exception. Catchy though the songs were, all that wonderful reverb and distortion and fuzz is what tends to float my boat, and Autolux delivered and then some.

Another night, another great set by Autolux. I second my partner's notion that you should go see Autolux whenever the opportunity presents itself. You'll be so glad you did.

mp3: Supertoys (Autolux from Transit Transit)

Live Review: Jenny & Johnny; Black Cat; 9-16-10

Last night's Jenny & Johnny show at the Black Cat marked my third show this week (second in two nights, fifth in the last nine days), and quite frankly, i'm getting too old for this shit. Hell, i'm getting ready to retire next week, for the love of Benjy! i don't see how Megan pulls this shit off, but i hope you kids realize how lucky you are to have us out there in the trenches for you.

i've got to be honest, i'm not overtly familiar with either of the artist's work beyond some of Jenny's solo stuff. After last night, i see i'm going to have to rectify that situation.

i was assured by my friend and rabid fan of both artists that they played a bunch of tracks from the new J&J album, as well as a few from each's solo work. For me, the highlight occurred as the set was ending, with the encore adding a brilliant touch. After 45 minutes of nice rock showcasing Lewis' vocals and Rice's brooding skills, things took off from there. The Next Messiah kicked things into high gear. Just as the audience started grooving hardcore, the band left the stage, naturally returning moments later before launching into an acoustic set to send folks on their merry way. The duo pulled a handful of young ladies from the crowd to sing back-up vocals on "Acid Tongue," arguably the high point of the evening. i thought it was a bit unnecessary for Rice to insult them on their way offstage ("Let's hear it for the 'Keep Your Day Job" Choir"), but who am i? The two closed with a cover of the classic "Love Hurts." Kind of a low vibe track to end the evening, what i was later told by the aforementioned fanatic is standard practice for them these days.

Other than fully realizing what an absolutely incredible set of pipes Jenny has, the best thing about last night's show was the contagious happiness coming from the stage. While Johnny didn't open up too much, Jenny's beaming smile was only outdone by her obvious joy at being there. And that, children, is what a good show is all about.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Live Review: Those Darlins, Strange Boys, Gentleman Jesse; Black Cat; 9-15-10

If you don't want your ass rocked off on a Wednesday night, don't go see Those Darlins on their latest tour with the Strange Boys and Gentleman Jesse & His Men. While the overall small crowd might have fooled you at first sight, you know it's been a full night of entertainment when the sound guy turns on the lights and tells the band that it's time to call it a night.

Unfortunately, i missed the first bit of openers Gentleman Jesse & His Men, but let me tell you, what i heard was good stuff. While all three bands of the evening had an early rock vibe going on, GS&HM attach a nice, sped up, punk edge to their live sound, which kept the crowd rocking for their short set. Think early Elvis Costello. All in all, a great band to start the night, full of piss, vinegar and a winning stage presence. i'll be interested to catch these cats the next time they hit the scene.

Second bill Strange Boys, while equally talented, didn't seem to make quite the audience connection of the other two acts of the evening. This resulted in overly long pauses between songs filled with silence, requests from the band to turn on the house lights (to better see the crowd), and, quite frankly, an overall uneasiness. Sure, the music was great, adding their own touch of fuzz and Americana to that aforementioned '50s rock vibe, but it certainly didn't seem like the band was enjoying itself much on stage, which was a shame.

The crowd, obviously, was there to see Those Darlins, as the frenzied rush to the front of the stage at the start of their set attested. i'm not sure if i've ever seen that few people in the club that close to the stage, but there you have it. The ladies ran through predominantly new songs from their upcoming ("in the next few months") LP and just released 7". As i mentioned reviewing that 7", the new sound is more ominous, spooky, sultry and dirty all at the same time. Sounds like the ladies have gone a bit swamp for this one. The band interacted effortlessly with the crowd, each member jumping into the crowd and playing frantically for extended periods, and the audience ate it up. Well, except for one ass hat that kept shouting, "You suck!," but i got the feeling that was some inside joke with the band. If it wasn't, well, that guy was a maroon. Apparently, it was family night, as Nikki Darlin brought her mom on-stage for a few numbers at the end, playing tambourine and seemingly having a blast. Those Darlins came back for two liquor fueled encores, and undoubtedly would have stayed longer had the bar staff not wanted to go home.

Those Darlins, they're some wild ones, indeed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mixtape Love Across the Board

The term "mixtape" is misleading these days. For all practical purposes, the term has become interchangeable with "non-studio release album," more often than not put out by hip hop artists . Of course, the original was far more meaningful. Gather round, children, while your Uncle Terrible relates how it was back in the day, before mp3s and iPods, when if you wanted to listen to a bunch of your favorite tracks in a row, you had to fucking make an LP yourself, for all practical purposes.

Fuck that, you don't care, and i don't feel like explaining to those of you who weren't there anyway. It's already been proven that i'm the master at the old skool version of said mixtapes, and that's enough. Fortunately, though, today we have examples of both, so listen up and take notes. There will be a blue book quiz later.

Straight out of the OFWGKTA camp, Domo Genesis just dropped Rolling Papers. Featuring more incredible production by Tyler, the Creator (who, along with his co-conspirators from OFWGKTA, shares some guest rap duties), these kids are the next wave, i tell you what. This one is a slight departure from their usual, "don't call us horrorcore," violent fare by focusing far more on the most glorious of weeds, as the title suggests. Good call, that.

Remember when i posted that Andreya Triana mix the other day? Well, turns out the DJ in charge also records under the Bobby Quine Experiment moniker, and turns out some nice, chilled instrumentals in the process. His Lucid Dreams EP is "inspired by" the movie "Inception." Pretty decent flick, but this is a far less confusing way to spend your time.

The Morning Benders must be a lot older than i thought they were when i saw them open for the Black Keys a while back. Either that, or there must be some older siblings related to that band, as they've just dropped their second mixtape. No, not like their past covers album, but an honest-to-Dolemite, old skool, half-hour mix of what i'm guessing are some of lead singer Chris Chu's favorites these days, ranging from Nino Rota to Harry Nilsson, with a Paul McCartney cover by the MB themselves to keep things going. In Chu's words, "I think it's more of an Autumn mix this time." Regardless, it's a groover.

mp3: Echomix2 (The Morning Benders from ECHOMIXES Series)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Live Review: Broken Social Scene, Warner Theater, 9-13-10

As Kevin Drew pointed out at the start of Broken Social Scene's two-hour plus musical extravaganza last night, Monday nights are a weird night to get one's groove on. Of course, that did absolutely nothing to stop the band from tearing through an equal mix of classic audience favorites and new material to the obvious joy of those attending. If anything, the usual somberness that accompanies the start of a week (hangover; cough; say nothing; act casual) created an almost reverential air, as was evidenced during one of the night's highlights, a church-like version of "Lover's Spit."

i often compare BSS to a Canadian Wu-Tang, but every time i see them live i remember the better comparison is Parliament Funkadelic. While Drew is the apparent leader of the group (on vocals, if nothing else), each member plays a variety of instruments throughout the set, and everyone gets a crack at the mic, too. Shoring up the female side of things this time was the captivating if seemingly disinterested Lisa Lobsinger. Back up duties and a decent "All to All" were nice, but when she took the lead for the final encore number, "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl," well, i think i might have developed my latest crush. The only time the band stopped rocking was when they actually stopped long enough for each member of the band actually jumped into the audience to dole out hugs. Swear to Black Dynamite, they did. And that was the vibe all night, one of shared camraderie, a bunch of our clearly more talented friends on stage to entertain while the night wore on, an excellent way to spend an otherwise mundane Monday, vibe be damned.

A quick note on the Warner--when did that place start falling apart like that? The arm rest on my seat fell off, the stuffing was coming out of the chair in front of me, and i was worried one of those angels in artwork was going to do a Greg Louganis into the good seats at any moment. The real pisser for me personally, though, was my being told no cameras allowed. Best damn seats i've ever had there (thanks, BSS Fan Club!), and all i brought in was my cell phone. Knives Chau sitting next to me had multiple cameras and some dude was packing a telephoto lens the size of a wildebeest cock (What? Exactly.), so i'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere for the spectacular shots that i'm sure others took. i can tell you that i was close enough to finally realize Kevin Drew is NOT a dead ringer for my buddy Eddie W., but what good does that do you?

This marks the third or fourth time i've seen the band, and they have yet to disappoint. If anything, last night may well have been the best i've ever seen them. They've got their groove on tight. Go see them while the gettin's good, that's all i'm saying.

mp3: Anthems for a Seventeen-Year Old Girl (Broken Social Scene, Live in Stockholm, Sweden, 7-8-04)