Friday, October 29, 2010

Concert Alert: Prince's Welcome to America Tour

Guess who already has tickets to two shows and plans on getting some VIP seats to at least one more?

i don't write about his Royal Badness here that often, quite frankly because since he went batshit crazy and found Jehovah, his music has suffered tremendously. More importantly, he's got to be the most litigious little bugger out there in the industry today. Since we post a lot of mp3s here, i've stayed away from his material like the plague, even though there's nothing i'd like more than to expose you cats to some of his lesser known masterpieces. Screw "1999," until you've heard "Rock Hard in a Funky Place," just sit the fuck down, son.

All that being said, that purple freak got me through high school and college. My parents bought me tickets to the Purple Rain tour for my 9th birthday, having no idea whatsoever who he was or what they were about to introduce me to. Hell, the Lovesexy Tour remains the single greatest concert i've ever attended. With the exception of the Sign O' The Times Tour, i believe i've seen every U.S. tour he's done. And now, i'll be adding this one to the list.

Jealous? If you're not, you most certainly should be.

Oh, for those of you that want to check out the Welcome to America Tour yourself, here are the deets:

Izod Center: December 14, 15, 17

Madison Square Garden: December 18, 29

Go to Ticket Bastard to get charged outrageously, but, fuck it, it's Prince, so it's more than worth the price of admission.

As of this moment, i'll be at the shows on the 17th and 18th.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Video Vixens: Violent Sensation Descends by Violens

Hey, kids, all ready for Halloween? Have you burned and memorized The Greatest Zombie Mixtape You Ever Will Hear yet? Ready for some more scary stuff?

The guys in Violens just sent us the video for their song "Violent Sensation Descend." Directed by Alejandro Cardenas, it is the first video from Violens' debut full-length Amoral, out November 9 on Friendly Fire Recordings.

Violent Sensation Descends from Violens on Vimeo.

As if the dead chick weren't enough, this one has the boys dressed as PRIESTS, too, obviously the scariest of all monsters. Spooky, eh, kids?

mp3: Violent Sensation Descend (Violens from Amoral)

100 Shows of 2010 - #79: Gary Numan @ Black Cat, 10/20/10

Oh. Sweet. Mercy. For my 79th show, my friends, I got to see an absolute, certified, bona fide, hot damn Legend. In what was very probably the musical event of the 100 thus far, yours truly was witness to the one, the only, Gary fucking Numan. At the Black fucking Cat, to boot. Which means, for those who have never had the pleasure of a show upstairs at said venue, it was choc full of Numan fans young and old in a cozy space that made one feel oh so special for being there. In a way it was surreal, seeing such a performer in such a space. The good kind of surreal, of course. There was a strange, cosmic sort of serendipity about this show, but I'll get into that later. Give me a minute, friends, I think I'm still in recovery...

MINI RECAP: Gary Numan = He Is Legend! Overall Score: A

And now, for the serendipity. Numan's tour, in which he played the vast majority of the record, was The Pleasure Principle tour. This album was released on 1979. Also of note in 1979? Yours truly was born. And in the third piece of this little serendipitous triad, this show is #79. So already, even before things got underway, this show was destined to be quite memorable. As we know, this kind of tour has become quite the rage, especially amongst bands that perhaps haven't been in the public eye in a while. And so, to my delight, around comes Gary Numan, touring the heck out of one of 1979's most seminal albums (seriously, if you don't own it...).

This show could have been a little dodgy. By his own admission, Numan was dealing with some sort of vocal issues, and considered canceling the show. But to the delight of those present, he decided to soldier on, and I'm so very glad he did. Sure, the crowd picked up the slack on several numbers (which added a sort of loose, intimate vibe to the proceedings), but when Numan sang he very frequently sounded just right. Perhaps I was listening with ears prone to hearing just the good bits, or perhaps I was just so excited to see one of the most important new wave/synth artists of ever. Be that as it may, Gary Numan damn near killed it.

His supporting bandmates filled the room with song after song of Gary's trademark dark, sexy synth-laden sound. Hearing my trio of favorites from The Pleasure Principle was nothing short of breathtaking: "Metal", "Films", and "M.E." Each song was fantastic. When the notes of "Cars" inevitably began to waft into the room, along with a battery of strobes, there was an overall feeling of ecstasy within the walls of the Black Cat. Everything was working, the darkness, the nuances of the songs, the absolute synthy perfection...even when he abandoned The Pleasure Principle and pulled from later, more rocking records, Numan to me didn't miss a beat.

And yes. If you're wondering whether or not the man is still a fox, the answer is a resounding and very emphatic yes.

The man who helped launch a movement proved he can still play with the best of them. Had he not had a night of being a little vocally-challenged, this show would have been even more glorious, somehow. But as it stands, it was one hell of a night. Viva Gary Numan!

mp3: Metal (Gary Numan from The Pleasure Principle)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blog on Blog Love: I Learned It by Listening to You!

Much like i learned to smoke pot from watching your dad, today we're going to delve into some new "party favor" music by listening to some of LET's favorite blogs. Technically, the last tracks to check out today are from a direct submission as opposed to a blog, but, Jebus, people, it's a drug music post. Chill the fuck out, already.

i've got to be honest, i've got mixed feelings about Cali. i love San Fran and wine country (spent my honeymoon there), but L.A. is a cesspool second only to NYC (that's right, the Chicago kid said it). Sure, i'm dying to go to Low End Theory, but that's about as far as that infatuation goes. Oh, and i dig the Sharks (but not these ones). Of course, with Prop 19 hopefully passing shortly, i'm clearly going to have to rethink my entire fear of earthquakes and consider relocating. As the always spectacularly written Passion of the Weiss hipped us to, the kids in The Knux recently weighed in on the issue, throwing their support in exactly the direction you'd think a song posted on this list would. Gotta love The Knux, mixing in real instruments into their hip hop. They're like the Reese's Pieces of Rap. Actually, that's a horrible simile. Please forget i ever mentioned it.

The more and more i get back into hip hop, the better and better Potholes in My Blog becomes to my eye holes. As luck would have it, they surfaced the impeccably named Smoke Weed About It EP by WALSH, the new side project Brandon Biondo of COOLRUNNINGS, who clearly likes to cap his endeavors. Bedroom beats and production, 80s synths and Casio percussion abound on this seven tracker. If all the money i bribed that dude on the corner who said he ran the Internet pays off, and you're re-directed here from Gorilla vs. Bear, this is the EP for you.

And finally, our good friend, Ricky Eat Acid, just dropped his latest aural experiment. To my ear, it's a bit darker than his usual fare, and the fuzz is amped a tad, but that in no way makes this any less groove-able. Plus, the opening track samples what i believe is an 80s anti-drug PSA, which always garners brownie points in my book. Remember, though, kids, that's supposed to be a warning, not encouragement.

100 Shows of 2010 - #78: The Henry Clay People/The Dig @ Black Cat, 10/14/10

So looking back, at this point in the year this week (10/11-10/14) of shows currently stands as the best of the best. Four straight nights, four killer shows. And I do mean killer. The last of these shows featured two bands straight outta Cali that I'd been wanting to see for quite a while, especially that group of rapscallions of The Henry Clay People. I've said it (many, many times) before, and apologies if you're sick of hearing it but I'll keep saying it til I'm dang near blue in the face: Bands from California just do it better, sometimes. And one of those times, wait for it, was this particular evening. It was pretty, it was rockin', and it was the finest of fine ways to wrap up the week of concert-going.

MINI RECAP: The Dig = Royal Flush! The Henry Clay People = Full House! Overall Score: B++++

Band numero uno was The Dig. Despite the fact that their Myspace page proclaims their Brooklyn residency, the band introduced themself with a hearty "Hello, we're from California." Go figure. Is it that non-California bands want to be considered California bands? Whatever the case may be, I dug The Dig. This little foursome took you from being bathed in a really, really pretty wash of dreamlike reverie to being rocked like an earthquake. Y'all know how I like that juxtaposition of slow-motion magic and suggestive rock groovin', so me and The Dig, well, we got along just fine. I found a particular kinship in the lyric, "Only lookin' for a good time," because, well, I just did. As much as I enjoyed thier sweet moments of lulling bliss, I tended to appreciate their turning things up a few notches even more (think that sunshiney gloss of Southern California that's been dragged through a few all-night benders, perhaps). There was an ease to their set, an air of being uncomplicated but really quite good at what they're doing. At one point, I likened them to The Kinks, dragged through the Motor City and left wandering, dazed and confused, in the middle of Hollywood. Which means pretty dang fine.

The Henry Clay People is definitely a California band, both residentially and musically speaking. They claim they want "everybody to be a Henry Clay Person," and while I'm not sure what the rest of the general populace of the planet thinks, I'm definitely ready to call myself an honorary Henry Clay Person. I'd wanted to see them for what kinda almost felt like forever, and I must say, the wait was worth it. They laid it all out for us, friends, from those lively, bold vocals to the gnarly strumming of the guitar to the bulky heft of the rhythm section and of course, the ever-so slight possible nerdiness. It was all there, in the set, and it was all awesome. As was their cheeky sense of humor. When "everything broke" at the start of the second song, it was suggested that Jordan (i.e. pianist/vocalist) sing us some showtunes. It was an affable, fun moment, and Jordan took the cue and took on Bowie's "Space Odyssey," which, I tell you what y'all, was a damn fine improvisational cover. Well played indeed. Resuming their normal transmissions, The Henry Clay People hopped along a wide variety of touchstones from Weezer to the playful cheek of The Faces and a half dozen other stops in between. The radness was just non-stop from this band. Daggum, y'all, they were delightful.

It was one hell of a week, and these two bands capped it off something fierce. Do yourself a favor and dig The Dig, and let yourself become a Henry Clay Person. And GO SEE THEM BOTH LIVE. IMMEDIATELY. GO.

mp3: Switch Kids (The Henry Clay People from Somewhere On The Golden Coast)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Couple of Quickies

As sometimes happens, the day got away from me, so no glowing prose today. Fortunately, i do have a couple of tracks i think we'll all agree are pretty damn tasty.

i'm still not 100 percent down for Aloe Blacc, but i will say this--when he gets a hold of a track, he really does knock it out of the park. i already dug "I Need a Dollar," and this live version, apparently recorded at some dinner table whilst AB was shooting a short film in France, makes me dig it that much more.

Let the record show, i tried using the embed link sent to me by the PR flaks for Mount Kimbie, which, of course, didn't work. Since it's up at RCRD LBL now, i'm considering it open to the world and am using their link instead. This track, recorded live at Berghain, Berlin, is being given away in anticipation of their upcoming EP, Blind Night Errand, due Nov. 29. If that's half as good as Crooks & Lovers, well, i expect it to be one of the better CDs of the year. Some of the best chilled dubstep out there today, if you ask me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Singles Club: Get Some from Lykke Li

Somewhat to the chagrin of the Missus, i have a bit of a thing for Lykke Li. (OK, to be honest, in all likelihood, my wife is far more disturbed by the fact that i've turned our guest room into a Star Wars shrine, but work with me here.)

As fortune would have it, Ms. Li has dropped a "tiny shiny" new single and accompanying B-side, and i'm here to tell you, it's something else.

Teaming up once again with Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, the title track is percussion heavy, much more in-line with the live performances she's given over the past couple of years than Youth Novels might have led one to believe. If this is what the new CD, due early next year, is going to sound like, i am one happy camper, i tell you what. B-side, Paris Blue, would be the pre-requisite ballad.

With lines like, "Don't pull your pants until I go down," and, "I'm your prostitute. You gon get some," i do believe we have another winner.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Newsflash!: We're Throwing a Rock'n'Roll Party!

That's right, little darlings! Your favorite sassypants music scribes are helping to bring together some seriously spectacular bands for a night of live music fantabulousness! Those of you with the keen eye have probably already spotted this little event on our calendar over yonder, but to announce it all official-like, here goes. We're tingly all over just thinking about it, let me tell you.

We're pleased as punch to be sponsoring one heck of a doozy of a show, if I do say so myself. I guarandamntee the Velvet Lounge is the place to be on Friday, November 5th. If you've got plans, break 'em. A date? Bring 'em along! Bring your mama, your best friend, and your side piece for what will without a doubt be one heck of a show. For starters, Baltimore's (and DC's) Sister Ex will bring some rock to the table. Then, Boston's own Boy Without God will bring a little beauty to your life. To cap it off, we've finagled not one but two of our pet bands into playing for the enjoyment of each and every one of you: Seas (DC) and The Loom (NYC). See how much we love y'all? There is so much goodness to be had I just don't know what to do with myself. And all for the bargain bonanza price of $8. Seriously.

We hope to see all of your beautiful, shining faces on November 5th. We're looking forward to it immensely, and hope you will to, as you ink it down on your calendars/enter it into whatever iPhone app you've got for such occasions.

mp3: Narrows (Seas from Now My Home Is A Beech Tree)

100 Shows of 2010 - #77: Jeff The Brotherhood/The Woggles @ Black Cat, 10/13/10

It's funny, isn't it, how sometimes our friends can know what's best for us even better than we do. I owe this particularly blissful Wednesday evening to my friend Max, who was taken aback (i.e. horrified, scandalized, and on the verge of going into shock) by the fact that I hadn't been planning on attending the Jeff The Brotherhood/The Woggles show. So emphatic was his proclamation that I would have a killer time to end all killer times that I relented, and chose rock and roll over an early bedtime. And I'll tell you what, my sweet little rock and rollers, when it comes to the choice between rock and sleep, never, ever let sleep win.

MINI RECAP: The Woggles = Wickedly Wicked! Jeff The Brotherhood = Radically Rad! Overall Score: A

James Brown might have been the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, but the dudes of The Woggles are the hardest working I've seen grace a stage in a long, long time. Working on their third decade of rampant rock and roll, these four have more love for the music, more gusto, and more showmanship in their little fingers than the vast majority of bands out there. Guarandamnteed. Beyond my serious sartorial appreciation of their matching double-breasted uniforms, I was virtually rendered speechless by the sheer spectacle of their unbridled power. How I've never gotten into them before, well, is an oversight of the highest order. I can only apologize and promise to do better, for both myself and for you. There's a definite 60s-ness to The Woggles, a mix of the scuzz of the Motor City with the taut pop sensibilities of the British Invasion. In other words, this shit will get you moving like nobody's business. The bouncing! The howling! The hamming! It was non-stop, ridiculous awesomeness. Singer Mighty Manfred works the stage (um, and the entire room, particularly the counter of the bar and the floor) like a man possessed by the unholiest of unholy ghosts, writhing and wriggling and gettin' down with his bad self. He also tossed out banterous gems, the most sage being this: "No shy boy ever got laid." Discuss. This set took my breath away, plain and simple.

Before they began, I thought there was absolutely no way whatsoever that Jeff The Brotherhood, or any band for that matter, could hope to succeed at attempting to follow such a glorious set. After all, how does one top such a successful pairing of over-the-top posturing and fantastic rock? Turns out, it wasn't so hard after all. Two guys, drums and a guitar quickly and resoundingly proved me wrong. They laid down their driving, dirty rock and it didn't take long before I was diggin' their vibrations. There was bit of retro swamp rock going on, hints of CCR spending too many nights in Nashville perhaps, pounding bourbon shots and jamming with Black Sabbath. They were thunderingly loud, building layer upon layer of filthy splendor. If The Woggles had me feeling like I was livin' in the 60s, Jeff The Brotherhood fast-forwarded a decade later to the hazy, heady heydays of stoner, droner 70s rock. I was beyond pleasantly surprised by how much I liked them.

These two bands made a perfect pair, and the whole damn thing was just about a perfect show. What a night, my friends. What a fanfuckingtastic night. Please, go forth and welcome The Woggles and Jeff The Brotherhood into your lives. I promise it'll be worth your while. And definitely, unquestionably go see them live whenever you can.

mp3: Ragged But Right (The Woggles from Ragged But Right)

mp3: Bone Jam (Jeff The Brotherhood from Heavy Days)

Mid-Afternoon of the Dead: The Latest, Greatest Zombie Mix You Ever Will Hear Update

Well, i spent so much time working on those Terrible Album Reviews (tm) that i didn't get around to compiling enough singles for another Free Music Friday. Combined with the fact that i've got two concerts next weekend, looks like you lucky bastards are going to get the final installment of this year's Greatest Zombie Mix You Ever Will Hear today! Fucking A, right? The Great Pumpkin comes early this year, kids.

The original made an earlier installment, but Jay Brannan does a haunting, plaintive take on the Cranberries classic. Only problem is his accent isn't nearly as thick, so when he sings, "...bombs...," it actually sounds like, "...bombs..." i like how the original sounds like, "...bongs..." i'm exceptionally childish like that.

Sadly, this next track has nothing whatsoever to do with leftover weed from a town of the undead. Here's a completely not interesting factoid for you--this is one of two brigades in this update. So there's that.

Feeling deprived of weird, electronic instrumental music with a touch of 8-bit magic to keep your Halloween party pumping? Hey, kid, i've got your back.

And now for something completely different. Zombie chick alt-rock.

Conceptually, this is one of the meaner songs on the list. Seriously, who puts zombies in a zoo? That hardly seems polite.

Well, maybe if i lived here, i'd put zombies in the zoo, too.

Do you think Dethklok sounds like a bunch of pussies? You might dig Zombie Hate Brigade, then. What i can't figure out is are they a brigade of people who hate zombies or is there brigade comprised of zombie hatred? This is the problem with being an English major.

Best. Zombie. Song. Name. EVER. No idea what they're screaming about, but does it really matter? If i were having sex with a restrained undead goat, i'd probably make similar noises myself.

Given the choice between being locked in a room with a member of the living undead and Wendy O. Williams, your chances for survival are probably better to make it out if you choose the brain eater.

Now, i'm only an uncredited zombie expert myself, but if one were to eat a zombie, wouldn't one become a zombie oneself? Really don't think you guys thought this one through to the end. i'm just saying.

And a heartfelt and sincere pyschobilly zombie warning from the absolutely best Halloween-themed-name-riffing-on-the-80s band ever as we bring this latest update to a conclusion. Happy Haunting, kiddies.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One More Terrible Review: Funstyle by Liz Phair

i'll be the first to admit, i was less than impressed with Liz Phair's two previous outings, Somebody's Miracle and Liz Phair. Sure, they each had a track or two worth listening to, but truth be told, they weren't stellar. During the most recent phase of her career, Phair seemed to go out of her way to court an audience that wasn't interested. Worse yet, it looked like she was spiting the fan base she did have to assumedly capture a bigger slice of the marketing pie. Then, when it seemed she couldn't piss off her core any further, she does a complete and total about face and drops what has been kindly described as a career killer. i'm here to say, fuck all y'all haters. Funstyle not only isn't that bad, it's actually got a couple of "return to form" moments, too.

"Smoke" kicks things off, a tongue-in-cheek knock against her former label, essentially an imagined dialogue with her various detractors. The chorus, however, with its bluesy piano, actually is pretty damn good, reminiscent of "Baby Got Going" to my ears. "Bollywood" is the track you may have heard already, a goofy rap that further decries the industry. At this point, the album seems a bit too self-aware (if this is the album that cost Phair her career, why do all the songs talk about her fall?); i have to imagine the opening tracks were written after the fact, but still. Fortunately, silly or not, they ain't bad. The album then takes a turn towards the sincere with "You Should Know Me" and "Miss September," a nice touch. "My My" comes as close to R&B style funk as i believe Liz has ever come, and quite frankly, she holds her own admirably. Maybe it's the horns and the backing singers, but i dig the sound. "Oh Bangladesh" skews closer to the sound i've come to expect from the Illinois native, and "Bang Bang" might be the best damn song she's performed in years--it's earnest, it's simple and it's good, 'nuff said. "Beat Is Up" is another one of the silly numbers, making liberal use of a guru extolling the virtues of letting go of one's past mistakes sprinkled between Phair pushing a pumping chorus and one of the best Chicago accents since
Bill Swerkski's Super Fans and Da Bears. "And He Slayed Her" is a good mid-tempo number, in the same category as the album's middle tracks. "Satisfied," interestingly enough, is the only track here i didn't particularly find satisfying. "U Hate It"closes the kimono by further shitting on the industry, imagining that the album was a success and that the heads in charge of the industry are just idiots.

While i'm not arguing with the latter, it's doubtful the former will come true. This is unfortunate, because there's a lot to like here. We'll see whether or not Ms. Liz ever returns to her former glory days, but i can say this certainly is closer than she's been in quite some time. Now, i have a theory that no Liz Phair album can succeed without one totally raunchy track ("Flowers," "Chopsticks," etc.), so hopefully we can get back to that on the next one. For the time being, though, i'm pretty content.

mp3: Oh Bangladesh (Liz Phair from

100 Shows of 2010 - #76: The Love Language/Lost In The Trees/Pomegranates @ Black Cat, 10/12/10

There are bands I’ve seen once and been quite happy to leave at that. There are bands, however, that happen to require frequent live observation. Bands that you can’t get enough of. Bands that you could see night in and night out and still crave more. I just so happen to have seen not one, not two, but three of this variety of band on one bill. Lucky, no? The bands in question? The Love Language, Lost In The Trees, and Pomegranates. Or, as you might wish to refer to them, Amazing, Amazing, and Amazing.

MINI RECAP: Pomegranates = Adorably Perfect! Lost In The Trees = Lovely Terrificness! The Love Language = Loves Of My Life! Overall score: A

When last I saw Pomegranates, they were playing a late late late show at a small boutique in the middle of Richmond. It’s been a while, and the band is definitely moving up in the world (and deservedly so). Their sound is even better than I had remembered, luscious and rich, playful and exuberant. The music this band makes is totally adorable, like the band themselves, yet with a subtle air of sophistication creeping in. It’s poptastic, yet they can put the pedal to the metal at a moment’s notice, squashing the fluff in favor of feverish noise. I adore the sort of dreaminess in their music, giving it a lighter-then-air feeling at times. And oh yeah. That smoke machine? Cutest thing ever. I picked up on some hints of the early years of The Verve in some of their songs, and y’all know that equates to winner winner chicken dinner in my book. However, for all their swirling lull, they can get the ole hips a-swayin’ no problem. They’re a lively bunch, those Pomegranates, and they are utterly, totally, ever-so completely delightful. Closing with a kickily rollicking rendition of “Everybody Come Outside”, the band shut it down on a high note. I had all but forgotten how splendid a live band they were, but believe you me I won’t be forgetting that again.

It was then time for the mysterious sandwich band with whom I was totally unfamiliar. Friends, that was a major oversight on my part. North Carolinians Lost In The Trees were intriguing, beguiling, and plenty of other –ings too. This massively nebulous conglomeration won me over immediately. I mean, who doesn’t love a band that starts their set in the middle of the crowd? And things only got better from there. The band is in possession of a slightly mysterious and spooky kinda sound, somewhat in the vein of the glorious Devotchka, but with more of that down home Southern thang goin’ on. They’ve got brass and they’ve got strings, but they are neither brassy nor stringy. Instead, they hover somewhere in the realms of haunting and enchanting, with a plaintive quality to their beautiful earthiness. To quoth my friend Bill, himself a North Carolina resident, there’s definitely something very cinematic to their music, being as expansive and grand as it can be. This music would have made a perfect accompaniment to my drive home from North Carolina a few weekends back, what with the glow of the sun hitting the turning leaves just so against a gentle blue sky. So very pretty. And so very highly recommended.

And on came The Love Language. When last I saw them, I was hithering and thithering with abandon down at SXSW 2009, and didn’t get to appreciate a full Love Language set. But tonight, on lead LL man Stuart McLamb’s birthday, that was put to right. And it was a superb little set, I assure you. After a slight delay for some birthday shots, McLamb & co. began to play, and I began to swoon. They somehow managed to sound even better than I had hoped, casting a spell with their sugar-coated heartbreak and all around loveliness. As the band played on, I couldn’t help my mind from wandering to the thought that North Carolina is a hotbed of good music possibly on par with the big boys of New York, LA, and Austin. I really am still processing just how very good they were. My one complaint about the set was that I wanted to hear more old stuff, but then, I’m just silly sometimes. But of course, hearing the jingle jangle swamp rock of “Lalita” quickly put everything right. As did this entire evening.

All I can say, ladies and gentlemen, is that these three bands are worth your time, and your eternal love and affection. I know they’ve all got mine.

mp3: 50's (Pomegranates from the forthcoming One Of Us)

mp3: Heart To Tell (The Love Language from Libraries)

100 Shows of 2010 - #75: Women/ DD/MM/YYYY @ DC9, 10/11/10

Upon seeing this here show, I’ve come to a conclusion, my sweetest of sweet loves. We could each and every one of us benefit from more Women in our lives. No, not women women. I mean Women, the Canadian ensemble full of much supreme awesomeness and an excess of sonic splendifery. Though, come to think of it some of you could probably use more women, too, but that’s neither here nor there. So let’s consider #75 here as the one in which two bands of northerly neighbors come to DC and lay down some seriously bitchin, spectacular noise. Mama like.

MINI RECAP: DD/MM/YYYY = Dashingly Thunderous! Women = More Than Women To Me! Overall score: A

I’d been curious about DD/MM/YYYY (aka Day Month Year, just so you know) for a little while now, and was exceedingly pleased with the live stylings of their befuddling, bulky sound. Wishing us all a Happy Columbus Day, they thrashed through a set full of goodies. I’d call it a mish mash of the bratty spittle snarl of Black Eyes (RIP), the dark synthy rhythms of Underworld, and the general jarring, angular dissonance of what the kids might call art punk. Whatever the ingredients, the finished product was a fine little nasty wallop, and I kinda sorta really liked it. In fact, this (and really, this applies to Women, too) was probably what Heather Chandler had in mind when she uttered the immortal words, “fuck me gently with a chainsaw.” Between the deafening waves of blistering attitude and the drummer with a major case of the spazz, I was totally enamored.

The glorious insanity didn’t stop there, my friends. Oh no. For up next was the band I had been wanting to see since, well, the last time I saw them. Which, quite frankly, was far too long ago. Women, o Women. How much I love thee. “We’re gonna play songs now,” they stated, and play songs they damn well did. It was just what I had hoped it would be, the giant wall of noise tempered with the hint of melody here and there. The stark leanness of the older songs was balanced by the more structured, dare I say almost psych-influenced songs to be found on their new record. With the stridence came the loveliness, and it came as quite a pleasant surprise to hear this evolution. At times I felt as if my head might explode with the dazzling wonder of it all. Hearing my favorite of favorite Women songs, “Black Rice,” was the sweetest of cherries. The slightly sped-up, but no less killer, song is so rad to hear live that that one song pretty much made my night. These guys are straight up artists of the aural assault, turning the onslaught of noise into something almost beautiful. Having seen them a second time, I can confirm that
Women is getting better. And that is almost scary.

So guess what I’m gonna tell you kids? Go see these two bands live. Seriously. It’s for your own good.

mp3: Narrow With The Hall (Women from Public Strain)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yet Another Terrible Album Review: Sickle Sell Saturday Night by The Black Knights

Ever wonder would happen if the Black Keys jumped in a time machine, starting hanging out with a young Ozzy Osbourne, started having weird, occult-y sex that resulted in a couple of kids that then ended up forming a band and putting out their own music? Of course not. That's just fucking weird. Now, however, you're thinking about what that band would sound like, aren't you? Well, it might well sound like The Black Knights. Hailed as a voodoo trash blues duo (perhaps my new favorite genre description), The Dark Reverend Gary L. Hope (vox/axe) and Thomas Richard Pickford III (skins/vox) combine scuzz bucket blues with a touch of 70s rock to create an audial kick to the gut on their debut, Sickle Sell Saturday Night.

And with topics ranging from vampires ("I Drove a Stake Right Through Your Heart," "Vampire Rave") to demons ("Saturday Night Succubi"), Halloween seems the most appropriate time for this bad boy to work its way into your "Now Playing" list.

Snorting things off with "L.A. Hayfever," the boys waste no time getting grimy in this paean to cocaine. The beat is driving and menacing, and doesn't really let up for the duration of things. "Saturday Night Succubi" drops the tempo, but raises the fuzz, damn near doing the same for your blood pressure as the groove locks in and gets nasty. "Cult" opens with a tirade that calls the devil a "fucking nincom-fucking-poop;" honestly, that right there should be enough to buy the album, end of story, but the barn burner that follows is downright sick. The T-Rex homage, "Mailbomb Tom" keeps things rolling right along before "I Drove A Stake Right Through Your Heart" throttles things up a notch. "Bad Blood" slows things back down, all swampy and dark. "Schiz-" then jumps back into the thick of things, with a freakish demonic voice in the background to make sure the album maintains its unsettling air. The next few tracks continuously build upon one another to create an ever looming fright night before closing with the hauntingly appropriate "Receiver."

i'm telling you, about the only thing missing here is an ode to zombies, but what can you do? Regardless of the time of year, this is witchy music, pure and simple.

mp3: Saturday Night Succubi (The Black Knights from Sickle Sell Saturday Night)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Terrible Album Review: Kosmos by Micah Smith and mirF

Look at that, i was able to maintain a theme two days in a row. Will wonders never cease? Am i not taking the appropriately high dosage these days? How many licks DOES it take to get to the center of Lil' Kim? How long would you need to sterilize your tongue after the fact? So many questions, so little time. What the hell was i talking about again? Oh yes, another terrible album review...

We get so many submissions at LET, i'm embarrassed to say it's almost impossible for us to listen to each and every one. That is not to say we don't give it ye olde college try, but there are only so many hours in a day. As i've opined in the past, it's often the pitch letter that separates what goes onto the iPod and what lingers in the inbox. While i obviously prefer personal notes, every now and then, an artist/PR flak/whoever puts together a compelling enough mass email that i'll bite. When the announcement for Micah Smith and mirF's Kosmos came through, claiming to combine "the musical stylings of sampled soul, jazz, and chinese hip-hop beats steeped in the words of Walt Whitman," well, i was hooked. Hells yes, i dig chinese hip-hop beats; i grew up on bad kung-fu and anime. And who doesn't like Walt Whitman? Only dumb asses, and i've got no time for their lot anyway.

When i heard the opening, sped-up strings and diva vocals on Kosmos opener "Touch," i prepared myself for the worst, though. Sure, it may be an academic argument to some, but i like my instrumental hip-hop beat heavy, not necessarily dance floor ready. i'm about the headphone nodding, which is not automatically the same thing as what gets your booty bopping, as it were. Fortunately, i was quickly rewarded for my patience, as the drums soon slowed the affair down, and the chopped vocal sample showed a whole new side to the track. "Bliss (Together)" nails the Nujabes vibe so perfectly, it damn well should be on Tribute to Jun. The closing vocal sample, a dialogue between a man and a woman, wherein the man suggests a celebration, and the woman prefers they stay home, together, and listen to records, pretty much sums up the entire vibe of the album. "Eagle Claw" ups the Asian considerably, incorporating old school chop sockey strings and woodwinds. Made me want to get my Bruce Leroy on (this one, not this one), but that might have just been me. "All Goes Onward and Outward" is a spoken word piece played over Atari beats; i'm not saying it's better to listen to stoned, but i'm not NOT saying that, either. "Rain Fall" adds a bit of bedroom vibe to the affair. (Ed. note: What is it about precipitation that automatically makes composers think about getting it on?) "Exits" is a perfect outro, which is good, because it would have been an odd name choice for any other track, don't you think?

Best of all, this one, too, is a freebie, so shake your tail feathers and pick it up yourself. Whether you need a soundtrack for to align your chi with your gravity bong or are looking to seduce that cute kunoichi that keeps throwing stars at your head during practice, this album is right for you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #74: Hammer No More The Fingers/Birds of Avalon @ Motorco, 10/9/10

I would hope my fellow DC kids would agree on this statement, that we’ve got a pretty daggum decent little stable of venues at which to take in some rock and some roll. On any given night of any given week, we can venture forth and see a good show at one of any number of places. And that’s a damn fine feeling. However, for those of us with the travel itch, it’s nice to hit the road every now and again and see what’s goin’ on in other parts of this fine world. Especially when a brand spanking new venue is involved. Enter Motorco: newest venue in the fabulous (and fabulously talent-rich) Research Triangle (Durham, to be precise). So new the paint had barely dried, but still a terribly good spot for a terribly good show. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly how it went down.

MINI RECAP: Birds of Avalon = Blazingly Amazing! Hammer No More The Fingers = Handsomely Noisy! Motorco = Motorific! Overall Score: B+++

I loved everything about Motorco immediately (well, save for the parking situation). It reminded me a whole lot of my first Richmond apartment, the loftiness of it and the exposed ductwork and the dark, friendly confines (yes, lofts can be dark and friendly. Trust.). However, my place had neither that fabulous wall of windows nor the great stage and sound. The place was packed with shiny, happy North Carolinians, reveling in this super new space, not to mention the cheap beer. But that wasn’t all, oh no. There were some pretty fine bands, too, to help ring in the official grand opening soiree for this here venue.

Birds of Avalon was the first musical treat I had the pleasure of sampling. I’d wanted to see them for a little while now, so I was way excited they were on the bill for the Motorco party. They immediately tested the sound barriers of the new club, spewing out pulsating wave of noise after pulsating wave of noise in an unflinching, unapologetic set. I’m not sure, but I might have left my body there for a little while during this set, so good was this band. The sound was a mess of things, swirls of shoegaze, the crunch of straight up bastard rock, and definitely delicious dashes of psych rock. This is a band that turns what could have been a disparate jumble of noise into a cohesive, unified wall of beauty. I could hardly believe it when they set down their instruments and left the stage. It was the biggest bummer of the night bar none.

But then, my spirits were lifted, because soon taking up where Birds of Avalon had left off were local heroes (and LET faves) Hammer No More The Fingers. Somehow this was my third Hammer show in as many cities this year. I was totally mystified by Duncan’s sartorial choice (a boiler suit), but less confounding was the band’s totally rad rock and roll. Feeding off the partisanship of the crowd, the trio (and friend on keys) stormed through a triumphant little set full of that ridiculously catchy 90s college radio rock they’re becoming known for. Between riffs there were much banter, and the tossing of many glow-in-the-dark bracelets into the happily inebriated masses. On their home turf, the band was that much louder, that much cheekier, and that much more into it. And friends, that’s a wonderful thing.

When you get right to it, my friends, I wanted to uproot Motorco and move it up north about 4 hours to this neck of the woods. Despite our venues here, I am insanely jealous about this space, and I might just have to make an effort to hit more shows down there in the near future. Especially if they keep up that whole Beatlestones dancenight thingie. Yours truly might be unable to resist that kind of tractor beam. But kudos to all involved with Motorco, and may it have many good years ahead of it.

mp3: Your Down Time Is Up (Birds of Avalon from Uncanny Valley)

mp3: Nobody Knows (Hammer No More The Fingers from Looking For Bruce)

A Terrible Week of Album Reviews: Mr. Saint Louis EP

As luck would have it, i've received and/or ferreted out a handful of full CDs worthy of review lately, so i think we may just have a Terrible Week of Album Reviews. Until i change my mind tomorrow, at least, at which point you can expect your continued coverage of largely obscure beat tunes, zombie songs and mixes about female masturbation.

i've been singing the praises of Oddisee for a minute now, and i'm guessing his latest project might just propel him a bit further into the spotlight, which clearly is a good thing. Teaming up with Olivier Daysoul (how pimp a name is that, by the by?), Oddisee set out to make a soul record and did a damn fine job doing so. The album boasts four tracks, with instrumental and acappella versions thrown in for good measure. Oh, and there's a remix featuring Von Pea. Rumors of his sweetness have yet to be confirmed as of this moment.

The record kicks off with the space groover, "In the Now." Daysoul's falsetto plays slinkily against Oddisee's funk shuffle here before the oohs and aahs jump start follow-up, "Labor." "Foolish" keeps the melody flowing, amping up the guitar and drums just enough to keep the vibe frisky without ever jerking the listener out of the established mood. "Just a Song" adds a touch more romance to the mix, playing out like a sould record should. The acappellas and instrumentals just go to show how talented each is individually, but the team-up is so nice, that probably went without saying. i also imagine it's going to make life that much easier for the inevitable slew of remixes.

i'm guessing that by the time i finish writing and posting this review it already will be far too late, but the first 1,000 downloads of the album are FREE before going to "Pay What You Want, You Cheap Motherfuckers," and since i've already got one myself, 999 of you best move your asses in a quickly manner and get you some.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Another Free Music Friterday

My somewhat insincere apologies for another late one of these, friends. i had tickets to see Cinematic Titanic last night, and i just couldn't get this one done prior to that hilarious event. Then i got home, an epic battle with a pizza was waged, and things that were supposed to happen did not. What can you do? It's an imperfect world, i tell you what. Anyways...

i find Kid Cudi to be particularly hit-or-miss for my tastes, with his best stuff often being the odd single here and there. However, the latest leak from his upcoming Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager samples St. Vincent's "The Stranger," so that pretty much guaranteed inclusion here.

i'll be honest, aTelecine probably wouldn't have hit my radar (or anyone else's) if not for the inclusion of one Ms. Sasha Grey, but she's in the, what, avant-garde noise troupe?, so here we are talking about the band. i like to imagine that most music has its corresponding drug of choice to take while listening--cheap liquor for the blues, E for raves, weed for everything--you get the point. For this, i'm thinking acid/E candy flipping, but maybe that's just me. It's like what Shlohmo might make if he were touched repeatedly in bad places by his mom's boyfriend to my ears. Incidentally, i would like full and total props for demonstrating restraint and not using the phrase "Double Vaginal/Double Anal Penetration" once in this entire review. Oh wait. Damn it.

Can't say as i know much about Themselves, but if Baths saw fit to do a remix, i'm going to post it.

Liz Janes, of Sufjan Stevens fame, is back with her first full-length in five years. For Say Goodbye, she's taking a stab at a soul sound. From the first single, it sounds like she's going to do a fine job. Pick it up 12/7/10.

Now i feel bad about that Shlohmo comment earlier. To rid ourselves of that image, here's his latest remix. Sorry, guy.

And as we ride off into the sunset, this jangly, dare i say twee (dare, dare!), number by Pepper Rabbit. Me likey.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #73: Gayngs @ Black Cat, 10/5/10

As I'm sure y'all informed little loves have already heard, Gayngs has been having a wee bit of trouble with their touring vehicle. And, well, their instruments. Hey, it happens. But before all that kerfuffle of confusion and all that silly, third-person statement-issuing, the conglomeration of super cute, super sassy Gayng-members rolled into DC, where yours truly and yes, best friend Laura, witnessed a night of hott rocks and cool jams. You know how we do. Needless to say, it was definitely one of the bestest, most ridiculous shows of the entire annum 2010. Fo sho, y'all.

MINI RECAP: Gayngs = Good Goddam! Overall Score: A

Gayngs, Gayngs, Gayngs. Where to start, really? There's about a million of them, as you know, but don't call them a supergroup. I like to think of them as a mob. A gang, if you will. Hey, they've even got their own gayng sign (involving middle fingers, naturally). Each one of the herd was delightful, with garb ranging from ghetto fabulous to indie chic. Which means there was a whole lotta sunglasses worn at night and super fly cowboy shirts. You know the drill. Special shoutout to Brad Cook (of LET faves Megafaun) for his fuzzy bear head accessory. Well done, Brad. The sound of Gayngs was slow jamz meets a wealth of indie quirkiness. In short, this was some hot diggity dog seriously ridiculous shit.

At times it was hard to tell where the line between joke and serious band began, but the music stands as a testament to what can happen when a whole lot of terribly talented music folk get together and start messing around. "We love you," someone from the audience lustily proclaimed, and got a "We love you guys, too" for their trouble. And I tell you what, y'all, damned if I don't love me some Gayngs. Any band that can make booties shake and touch your soul, well, they don't come along all that much. Oh, and a Sade cover? Priceless. Seriously. I can't explain it, but there is something unspeakably foxy about dudes who cover Sade. Bands, take note. Their sunglasses and dance moves cracked me up, but their music was the real deal.

Should you be lucky enough to ever have the chance to see this band, I can tell you only this: Do it. Do it. Oh, and, do it.

mp3: By Your Side (Sade Cover) (Gayngs from Daytrotter Session)

100 Shows of 2010 - #72: Foals @ Black Cat, 10/3/10

It seems that sometimes one has to be cajoled, coaxed, and very nearly dragged kicking and screaming to a show in order to be shown a good time. Such is the case of my best friend Laura and the Foals show at the Black Cat. Meeting with my dithering and waffling, she persisted admirably, and finally got me to leave the house. I know, meow meow meow rock and roll meow. Let me tell you, my darlings, that is a good friend. I can't even tell you how glad I am to have been coerced into this show, because it was one hell of a good time. To see Foals live is, well, unfathomably, splendidly, amazingly glorious.

MINI RECAP: Foals = Fucking Yes! Overall Score: A

I was pleased as punch to be at this show right from the beginning of their set. Foals has, somehow, won themselves quite a rabid little fanbase in DC, and I was pretty surprised by both the size and enthusiasm of the raucous revelers. Not surprised that Foals has so many fans, mind you, but surprised at how many dragged themselves out on a Sunday and were so very vocal. It's not often I'm part of such an excitable crowd these days, and it was rather refreshing. I'm guessing the kids dig that whole frenetic, whirling dervish synthy rock thing, quite possibly. I know I sure did.

With the crowd hanging on every note and cheering heartily for every song, Foals ripped through a doozy of an intense, glowering glow of a set. "Are you guys having a nice time?" the band inquired, to which the kids shouted their affirmations loud and clear. The sound was great, and the boys of Foals turned it loose and unleashed quite a mighty musical beast whenever they damn well pleased, which, happily, was a frequent happening. There's more to their sound than just luridly loud, filthy noise, mind you. Serious melodies and structure can be found all over the place. Foals knows how to write a song, that's for damn sure. Their interaction with the crowd was brief, but the musical communique certainly made up for the lack of smalltalk. I was totally and utterly astounded by their brutal, beautiful sound.

Foals, o Foals. What a wonderful, adorable band you are. If you, friends, find yourselves in the path of their tour, be it now or sometime in the future, don't wait for your friends to twist your arms into going to see them. Do it for yourselves. And maybe bring along a few friends. I guarantee they'll love you for it.

mp3: Balloons (Foals from Antidotes)

More Label Love for Project: Mooncircle

Is it just me, or is damn near everybody out there going on and on about Ninja Tune's 20th anniversary? Don't get me wrong, they deserve all the love and attention, and probably even some more, but let's not forget the other labels out there, doing what they do for off-center, instrumental, beat music or whatever you want to call it (and yes, i realize Ninja Tune does more than that, but bear with me, i'm writing a fucking post here).

Project: Mooncircle is back at it yet again with more goodies for our earholes. Remember that new Robot Koch joint i told y'all about a while back? Well, not only has Songs for Trees and Cyborgs hit the streets, good ol' RK has his first video out for the project, too. "Threats" features a robot, weeds, grass, and occasional light-ups. Now, i'm not one to read symbolism into everything, but, well, you do the math.

And if that weren't enough, they've put together another "everybody on the label" compilation, now with theme-y goodness inside! Inspired by their new A&R, Jinna, it's dedicated to her dream of going to the moon. Now, i don't want to say this is their best group project yet, as that would diminish all the other outstanding work they put out regularly, but i'm not NOT saying it, either. You've got label standard bearers like Robot and Pavel Dovgal here, as well as up and comers like Juj. The tracks all have a spacey, dream-like quality, a bit softer around the edges than you might expect from the label, but the end result is fantastic. Not that i have favorites or anything, but MyOwn's "Tit Tit Tudi Tit Ti" definitely has made my short list of best beat tracks of the year. Here's a snippet of glitchy goodness to prove my point. Make sure to snag this beast when it drops November 5, 2010.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Smack Rabbit Edition

i suppose today's post could be labelled a lot of different things, but, quite frankly, let's just agree that i've stumbled upon some choice and tasty tunes to share of a somewhat hip-hoppish nature, with some juicy beat production swirled in for good measure. You know, like smack rabbit, a phrase i just totally made up when trying to think of something that combined "hippity hoppity" and "swirled in." i expect a far more vulgar definition to be up on Urban Dictionary shortly, so have at it, kids.

Tyler the Creator and Hodgy Beats are back with their latest foray into Don't-You-Fucking-Dare-Call-It-Horrorcore-Or-I'll-Fucking-Cut-Your-Baby's-Mama's-Throat-Wave you with "Sandwitches." The lyrics remain disturbing, yet well penned, and the beats displaying an ever increasing level of ass seizure inducement. Continuing with 2010's indie push for more nekkidness on singles covers, i give this the LET seal of approval (but don't tell Megan).

When last you heard from Ricky Eat Acid, he dropped some lovely, synth-driven HUGS on your collective ass. Since then, REA released and then asked us to hold onto another EP as it looks like old boy is getting some well deserved recognition in the form of an actual recording contract. While you were none the wiser, to make it up to, well, me, i guess, he teamed up with Teams and put together this spooky number for our collective ear holes.

mp3: Halls (Ricky Eat Acid ft. Teams from Halls)

Emay, Blackbird Blackbird and Star Slinger have joined forces to create Seeing Suge, which takes today's intro paragraph sound description to its logical conclusion. The group single, Breaking," comes with three solo tracks by the individuals. Star Slinger's "1987" is particularly good.