Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Beat Meet: The Embarassment of Riches Edition

Since the holidays screwed up my blog week last week, ye olde inbox received a horn o' plenty's worth of stellar beats. And because i'm such a helluva guy, i'm going to share them with you.

Ah, Project: Mooncircle, how i love thee and thy dopish ways. Continuing with their kick ass Finest Ego series, this time up, the label features some of today's hottest Russian beatmakers doing their thing. Now, i know what you're thinking about Russian DJs, but, c'mon, man, that's racist. Allow me to confirm the fact that P:M yet again knocks this one out of the park, particularly on tracks by Pavel Dovgal and Shawalski. Here's what i'm trippin' on, though--how come all these foreign compilations only use English language samples? i'm just asking. Regardless, here's a little mini-mix to prove my point about just how good this bad boy is.

i can't tell you much about the Cutler beyond what you can read on their website yourself, other than that their latest, The Best Things in Life Aren't Things, is a stone cold groove, baby. Jazzy/funky instruments, cymbal-ic percussion and Charlie Brown sounding vocal samples? Yes, please.

You didn't think i was going to allow LET to falter in its goal of maintaining its place as THE leading source for heavily and probably illegally sampled children's movie beats, did you? Hells no, i'm not. So let's check out Pogo's latest update to his already classic take on Alice in Wonderland.

i'm normally not a huge remix fan, but when one of my fave up and coming beatmakers is behind the board, what can i do? Here's oOoOO's take on Marina & the Diamond's "Obsessions." i've got to be honest, i'm not at all familiar with the original, but i sure as hell am digging the remix.

If the cats at the WEDIDIT Collective give a song props, i'm going to have to give it a listen. So far, they have yet to let me down. And they maintain that streak with this Juj-recommended track by Ackryte. i'm assuming the instrumental is NOT about Ackryte's problems with the Alabama Police Department, but what the hell do i know?

Is there anything better than "re-released" Dilla? Maybe "re-released" Dilla remixed by Madlib? OK, i'll buy that.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Live Review: Cyndi Lauper at the 9:30 Club, 11-27-10

As a number of musicians "of a certain age" are apt to do lately, Cyndi Lauper has decided to do a "classics" album. Her genre of choice, blues, and the album in question is Memphis Blues, which she's currently touring.

Now, i'm about as big a fan of the blues as they come. Hell, i worked at the world's premier blues club all throughout college, so trust me when i tell you i know of which i speak. While i'm giving Cyndi full props for trying to bring interest to a criminally undervalued music genre, for the vast bulk of her show, i just wasn't feeling it. Her band might be worthy of the Friday night early slot that goes on during the free buffet. Of course, this is downright criminal when you consider that she's touring with none other than Charlie Musselwhite. i've seen Chuck countless times over the years, and normally he's one of the baddest harmonica cats you'll ever hear the pleasure of hearing. Unfortunately, he sounded largely tired and/or bored for most of Saturday night's performance.

i've decided to give the huge benefit of the doubt that the countless technical difficulties of the evening kept the band from ever finding its groove. Hell, you can't have Charlie Musslewhite on stage and not have more blues talent right there than the rest of the city had in all its juke joints combined. Still, Lauper must have gone through three or four mics, at least two sets of ear plug monitors and quite possibly one sound guy during the course of the roughly hour and a half set (with encore). Occasionally, on songs like "Rollin' and Tumblin'," Lauper would get hold of the track and really belt it out to her obvious and capable levels, but those moments sadly were few and far between.

Of course, all this went out the door for the encore, when Cyndi finally did a few of her own classics ("Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," "True Colors") before closing with an acoustic, stripped down version of "She Bop" that had the crowd rocking. Once the older material started, the room went wild, and, more importantly, Lauper looked like she genuinely was enjoying herself. Hell, i'm not too proud to admit the nostalgia factor is what had me and The Missus attend in the first place (this was the first show i'd taken her to in months, as The Missus isn't quite the fan of live music that her terrible husband is). If this energy had run rampant all through the night (that's right, i wrote it), this would have been a much different evening.

Lauper has gone from the oddly coiffed freak of the 80s to a powerful voice for the LBGT community, but let's be honest, a meaningful portion of the crowd was there to hear her tell her genuinely funny stories between songs. Fortunately, she used that time to point out some of the greats in the blues industry, from B.B. to Albert King. Fuck what you heard, this is what you need to hear. As so-so as the majority of the show might have been, a history lesson like that was more than worth the price of admission.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Singles Club: Bear In Heaven

Ooooh look, new stuff from Bear In Heaven! I don't know about you, friends, but those words bring a few extra beats to my heart. To celebrate the release of a remix record full of goodies from their most excellent Beast Rest Forth Mouth, the band has just offered up a remix of the killer "You Do You", as seen through the eyes of Brits Tropics.

To quoth BIH's Jon Philpot, the Tropics remix is "slow and bumping" and "kinda like Phil Collins." There you have it, friends. Bear In Heaven just wrapped up their last US tour of the year, but Australian compadres, they're soon to be heading your way. Make sure you make the boys feel welcome, won't you?

mp3: You Do You (Tropics Remix) (Bear In Heaven from Beast Rest Forth Mouth)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #90: Liturgy @ Comet Ping Pong, 11/19/10

It is amazing sometimes what a change of scenery can do to the way one thinks about music. During my two and a half relatively awesome years living down in Richmond, capital city of the Commonwealth of Virginia, my musical parameters were expanded more than perhaps any other time in my music-loving life. While my time in Richmond was full of goodness, that one thing seems to take precedence over anything else: The Major Expansion of My Musical Sensibilities (yeah, it warrants all those caps, believe you me). Not only did I develop a deeper love and appreciation for important musical geniuses of the past, but so too did my cold black heart take a liking to a rather unexpected genre: Metal. After all, Richmond is a very metal city. Any given night of any given metal show, throngs of people will emerge to nod their heads and suck down can after can of PBR. The love that city has for that scene pulled me in, and while I'm still not ready to pledge full-on allegiance to the metal gods just yet, this proclivity towards warm fuzzy metal love meant I was way excited to see the much-buzzed about black metal glory of Liturgy as they ventured down from Gotham and played DC. My friends, it was hell on wheels. Which, as you might suspect, is a very, very good thing indeed.

MINI RECAP: Liturgy = Unholy Hellions! Overall Score: A

I knew, from the very first note, that this would be quite possibly one of the loudest sets I'd seen this year. I was equally excited by and horrified by this idea. The Richmond in me immediately loved them to pieces, full as they are of sonic abuses. They quite amusingly sent some kids fleeing from the room, whereas the litany of noise drew in others. "Fuck yeah," someone yelled after harrowingly heavy opening song "High Gold", and really, he got it in one.

I stood there, friends, totally enthralled, letting wave after vicious wave of fury and ferocity wash over me. During second song "Sun of Light" I decided this is a very, very good band. The way they can express acute agony and darkness through the furious slaughter of guitar riffs, or an anguished howl, is second to none. They were nothing short of overpowering. Unlike a lot of metal I've seen, though, there was a certain sense of control in their performance, and a definite sense of beauty somewhere there amongst the crushing blows of their musical assault. I'll liken it to, say, staring at a work of art you don't necessarily get. Jackson Pollock comes to mind. Some folks just don't see the beauty there in those splatters, but some of us do. And believe me when I say to you, friends, there is something very beautiful in the tortuous racket made by Liturgy.

The band seemed consumed by the task at hand at all times, stopping for only the briefest interaction with the crowd before resuming their mission. The songs were brutal, each and every one, but damned if I didn't love 'em all. In a way, I think they've raised the stakes. It's no longer just about how insanely, wake-the-dead loud you can be, or how you toss your long, flowing locks. These songs have purpose, drive and they made a delicate gal like me feel all a-twitter with fury. They killed their set seven ways to Sunday, and converted me in just six songs.

If you're even slightly intrigued by the dark arts of black metal, you owe it to yourself to check out a live Liturgy show. Hell, even if you hate metal, go see 'em. Just because.

mp3: Ecstatic Rite (WFMU Session) (Liturgy from Renihilation)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The 2010 Obligatory Thanksgiving Mix

Gobble, gobble, kids. The Missus is working on a pumpkin pie, and we're headed over to Chez Parentals to partake of bird and one sibling invariably making another cry. Hope yours is jolly, as well.

From all of us to all of you, stay off my fucking lawn. And Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Singles Club: Holcombe Waller

For some reason, today just feels like the perfect day to post about Holcombe Waller. The clouds are billowing over the sun and the blue of the sky in a tight, pillow-like mass, and the trees are losing crisp leaves by the minute as the wind snaps them off branch after branch. Why does that make me think of Holcombe Waller, you might ask?

Well, friends, I'll tell you why. There's something about Waller's voice, clear and spare and well-schooled in the fine art of road-weary troubadour-ing, that seems tailor-made for late Fall days such as this. "Risk Of Change" is a stark yet sweeping gem, eliciting wistfulness in no short supply. It's the perfect song for listening to on repeat and wallowing in those aching moments come and gone.

mp3: Risk Of Change (Holcombe Waller from the forthcoming Into The Dark Unknown)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #89: Twin Shadow @ Black Cat, 11/15/10

Of all the days of the week, Monday somehow requires good music most of all. Something with a little kick to it, of course. Something that feels a little like a party. No, make that a partay. And hey hey, my my, Twin Shadow was in town on a Monday. If anyone knows how to make a mundane Monday into a funtacular time, I'm pretty convinced it's them (well, George Lewis, Jr., & some amigos).

MINI RECAP: Twin Shadow = Cure For The Common Monday! Overall Score: B+

It was busy as can be down in the Black Cat backstage, patrons galore gathered to see what the buzz was all about. As soon as Twin Shadow began, the mystery was solved. This little conglomeration of good time kids knows how to show a gal a good time, that's for dang sure. Pleasingly all over the place sonically, the noisemakers pinged back and forth between crazy tropical-esque dance rock, Janet Jackson "Nasty Boys"-era spiciness, straight up infectiousness, and all sorts of synthy seduction. I mean, dancefloor dreamery? Shades of John Hughes flicks? Sass? You might could say I found it all rather enjoyable, to say the least.

The more I heard, the more I liked. And really, isn't that how it's supposed to go? I'd love to hear the Twin Shadow take on Nat King Cole's golden standard "Unforgettable", which I'm pretty sure was mentioned by the band during the set (unless I just made that up, in which case I might be a genius). I'm way smitten by the shimmer and feistiness of the overall affair, and would hazard a guess that the next time Twin Shadow comes back to town, it'll probably be somewhere with a much larger capacity.

I left the club with a smile on my face and sunshine on my mind. Go see Twin Shadow live whenever possible, y'all. Oh, and hey Europe. Twin Shadow is coming for you and your dancing shoes early next year! Be ready to drink and dance and have one humdinger of a time.

mp3: Slow (Twin Shadow from Forget)

Otherwise Engaged: Weekend

It is an unfortunate reality for the serious concertgoer that on occasion, there will be more than one show on any given night that you really, really, REALLY wanna go to. Since the vast majority of us don't own a time machine, nor have the ability to either clone ourselves or split ourselves in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on the night in question), this tends to present a problem. Difficult decisions are made based on a multitude of variables (perhaps some of you even make lists of pros and cons), and ultimately, a show is chosen. But those other shows are still gonna be killer, and I'd like to give a little face time to the shows that, while I can't go myself, are highly recommended all the same.

Tomorrow night, otherwise known as the night before turkey, is a seriously flummoxing evening. Too much to do, too much to see, too much to hear! If I wasn't already booked, chances are I'd probably be getting pretty dang psyched about this here Young Prisms and Weekend show over at the newly-minted Red Palace. I suspect much noice of a rather pleasing variety, which of course means a good time is sure to be had by all. If you're inclined to dig some abrasion with your music, well, this one's for you.

mp3: Coma Summer (Weekend from Sports)

Beat Meet: The Grown Folks, Younger Sister, Local, Remixed, Kills Less Porpoises Edition

Even (especially?) if it's a shortened week, gotta have a Beat Meet, right? This week's installment, for the most part, features a number of winner albums. Plus, we've got a couple of extra treats, too. Let's be honest, for our U.S. readers, you're going to need a soundtrack for the self-induced coma you're going to put yourself into come Turkey Day. Fortunately for you, this can be it.

i'm constantly bemoaning (bragging about?) the fact that we get a LOT of submissions here at LET. And as good a job as we try to do listening to everything, well, things are going to fall through the cracks, plain and simple. Sometimes, though, the Fates realize this will not stand. Such is the case with Durojaiye Versatile's The Fermented Sessions. When DV sent a follow-up email earlier asking what we thought of the album, i had to scramble, but i'm glad i took the time to listen the second time around. The wine label CD art pretty much sums up the experience--grown folks' grooves just right for a dinner party mentality. Don't be fooled into thinking this is NPR-approved, light stuff, though--while i'm sure they'd dig it, too, this is for beat heads.

If the Powers-That-Be had their way, we wouldn't be talking about Caroline here at the Beat Meet. The Mice Parade member and younger sister of J-Pop sensation Olivia Lufkin originally was signed as the next J-Popper sensation, but walked away from a huge contract to make the music she wanted to make. What we've got here is ethereal vocals over dreamy beats and occasional, crisp percussion. i calls 'em likes i sees 'em, and this is one to keep an ear open for when it drops on January 25, 2011.

Oddisee is blowing up the world over, but as a Prince George's County native, well, we DC-area bloggers take special pride in this hometown talent. Were you a fan of his work with Trek Life on Everything Changed Nothing? Were you more interested in the grooves than the raps? Well, are you in luck today then, kiddo, as we've got the instrumentals here for your listening pleasure.

Sure, that's all good and well, but where's your Glitch Mob fix? Well, i do happen to have the latest DJ Vadim remix of Fortune Days featuring Yarah Bravo & Pugs Atomz. So eat, eat, you jackals. When the album DownloadToDonate.org on January 12, 2011, all proceeds go towards Haiti relief programs, so enjoy this sample, and then do the right thing when the time comes.

And since it is a feast week for we fat assed Americans, what better way to close things out than with another Simple Recipe from our beloved Pro~Ef? Answer: there isn't one. Tell me i'm wrong when i tell you that all recipes are better when read over stellar beats. Can't do it, can you? Don't question your Uncle Terrible, kids. Just trust me on this one.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Video Vixens: Fujiya & Miyagi

I will forever owe my love of and exposure to Fujiya & Miyagi to my adorable former roommate, Max. If it wasn't for Max, and his fondness for the glorious song "Ankle Injuries", I might never have been exposed to the seductive slink and the expansive shapeshifting of those F&M beats, not to mention some of the most come-hither vocals I've ever heard. Perish the thought indeed.

The Brightonian foursome is getting ready for a January album release, and in the meantime are giving us all nightmares with their new video. Ok, maybe they're just giving me nightmares. But come on. That dude messing with the Fujiya & Miyagi-alike ventriloquist dummies is seven shades of scary. The song itself is fantastic, all velvet and sexy somehow, despite talking about beating someone eight shades of black and eight shades of blue.

mp3: Sixteen Shades of Black & Blue (Fujiya & Miyagi from the forthcoming Ventriloquizzing)

Singles Club: Mogwai

Once upon a time, I wasn't such a fan of Mogwai. Yeah, I don't know why either. It seems pretty obvious these days that I would be into them. I mean, considering that they're a) Scottish, b) loud, and c) slightly abrasive, they are rather up my proverbial alley. Being a fan of d) all of the above, I finally saw the light, and embraced a modicum of affection for these sonic hellions.

It almost doesn't seem possible, but the band is preparing to release their seventh, yes seventh, full-length record. My, where has the time gone? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and predict that Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is going to be loud, louder, and loudest all at the same time. To celebrate letting us all in on what their album cover is going to look like, the gents are kindly giving a song from said record away. Aren't they sweet? Have at "Rano Pano", won't you?

mp3: Rano Pano (Mogwai from the forthcoming Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will)

Free Music Friday--The Monday After the Fact Edition

What with it most likely being a short week here at LET this week (gobble, gobble, kids), i decided that if i let last week's Free Music Friday slip by, it probably would be at least another week before i got one done. Since nobody wanted that to happen, here we are with The Monday After the Fact Edition.

Validating our continuing love of all things Swedish, jj dropped a couple of freebie tracks last week, now with sample-y goodness from the xx and Akon!

With his ninth solo joint, The Apollo Kids, hitting shelves December 14, Ghostface Killah decides to show you what he's got on the first single, "Together Baby." With a soulful sample on the hook, GK continues to slaughter on this one.

Continuing their tradition of unearthing seldom heard gems, Light in the Attic knocks another one out of the park with Jim Sullivan's U.F.O. Utilizing the legendary Wrecking Crew as his backing band, the artist is shrouded in mystery. For our purposes, though, the sumbitch could write a mean pysch-folk-rock tune, and that's really all we care about here.

Katy Goodman must have decided two bands simply were not enough, with the Vivian Girls / All Saints Day member dropping a new one as La Sera. First single, "Never Come Around," shares the same dream-pop vision as her trio, but without the wall of fuzz. Quite frankly, a welcome change of pace to my ears.

And to send you on your merry way, the Golden Filter remix of the Morning Benders' "Excuses" (incidentally, my favorite track on their Big Echo). Now with more dance floor-y-ness!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Singles Club: Tyvek

Tyvek is from Detroit. Detroit Rock City. Motor City. A city formerly great and thriving, now buried and burning in the continued morass of decades of depressingly painful decline.

It's probably safe to guess that this state of affairs has probably played a hand somewhat in the sound of Tyvek, and in this song "4312", a loud loud loud little mess of a song indebted much (to my ears) to Detroit's own Stooges and MC5, as well as the all-important forefathers The Ramones. It's catchy in the way that certain punk songs have the tendency to be, getting all sorts of stuck in your brain after just a few listens.

In "4312" Tyvek keeps it simple, keeps it loud, and keeps it awesome. The wash of lo-fi is as omnipresent as the shouty vocals and thrashing guitars. Something tells me this band is probably killer live.

mp3: 4312 (Tyvek from Nothing Fits)

100 Shows of 2010 - #88: The Dandy Warhols/Hopewell @ Ram's Head Live, 11/9/10

Over the course of this whole 100 shows undertaking I've tried rather hard not to double up on bands. I wanted to experience and cover as many different bands as humanly possible. But sometimes, well, I just can't resist. And who am I to turn down an invitation to what I already knew would be an amazing show? I'll tell you what, darlings, as good as the show was up there in Philly, this here Baltimore show blew it out of the water. So pardon me while I lather on for days about the excellence of this Dandy Warhols and Hopewell show, because it was fantastic with a capital fantastic.

MINI RECAP: Hopewell = Keeping Hope Alive! Dandy Warhols = Dandy As Candy! Overall Score: A

At first, Ram's Head Live seemed a strange, strange place for this show to take place. It's in this kind of surreal part of Baltimore, down by the Inner Harbor, that feels more like a Disney-fied Vegas than a place for indie bands of all shapes and sizes. But after this show, I don't know if it could have happened at any other venue in any other city. It was nothing short of one of a kind.

Up first, Hopewell. With the added atmosphere of some burning incense, they were immediately epic, just as they were in Philly and just as I would expect. The setlist was a carbon copy of the Electric Factory show, and yet everything sounded just a shade better here, a sentiment I extend not only to the bands but the crowd as well. The primal screaming that is "Over The Mountain" was more intense, the ferocity of "Trumpet For A Lung" more biting. Vocalist Jason Russo's smile, too, that emerges at times during certain notes of certain songs, seemed just a touch wider. In "Trumpet For A Lung", the soft glimpses of delicacy amidst the chaotic storm und drang of the murderous mess sounded quite possibly more glorious than I've ever heard. "We're working for you," sayeth Russo before the band ripped "Calcutta" to beautiful shreds for their final number. Their set was powerful, captivating, and pretty dang breathtaking. This, friends, if you haven't yet picked up on it, is a band you need to experience for yourselves. They'll show you darkness and they'll show you rays of blinding sunlight, and you'll love it all.

And speaking of loving it all, here come those Dandy Warhols. As with Hopewell, they too were infinitely more stupendous in Baltimore. They all also seemed in better humor than a couple of nights previous. Or perhaps, to quoth main Dandys man Courtney Taylor, they were feeling "zesty." I couldn't stop grinning the entire set, every song was a gem. Who doesn't love the breathy, stalker-lite vocals of the creepy "I Love You"? Or the bittersweet "The Last High"? Or the way Taylor can exude an air of total and utter indifference, in my mind second only to the foxy apathy of Blur's Alex James in the Britpop era? "Here's a zesty one for you," Taylor announced, before the band took on their biggun, "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth". The back-to-back-to-back shimmy shake of "Shakin'" and "Horse Pills" and "Solid" got my motor running something fierce, and made me remember just how good a record Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia is. Buy it, y'all, unless of course you already know what's up.

During an impeccable rendition of "Boys Better" it hit me that Pete Holmstrom is an amazing, amazing guitarist. And it wasn't just because he can do the ole Pete Townshend windmill move to perfection. This man can straight up shred. He's got fancy guitars and works every one of them with immeasurable skill. "Good Morning" was flawless, the magic spell of fuzz winding and twisting me into a waking dream. Another treat was hearing the not at all oft-played "Cool As Kim Deal", another old school favorite of mine. While Zia McCabe and Brent "Fathead" DeBoer were gettin their bathroom on, Courtney strummed an acoustic version of "Every Day Should Be A Holiday", featuring a pretty fine singalong by we crowdspeople that put quite a smile on the face of Mr. Taylor-Taylor. Their 21-song salute of a set ended with "Country Leaver", which, if they had to stop playing, was a good way to go out. Sure, I would have loved to hear "Godless", or "Be-In", or "Hard-On For Jesus", but I can't fault what was played. Maybe next time they'll play for three hours instead of two...now there's an idea.

You would think that two brilliant sets by two incomparable bands would have been enough to call it a dandy of a night, but no, it somehow got better. Drinking next door at Mex well after the show ended, another treat was in store. Imagine, friends, an impromptu performance with sassy lass Zia on vocals (and shimmying), Courtney on drums, and Ralphie (host of the evening at Mex) on guitar. It was all rather silly, even before Brent took over guitar duties and a belligerently large man had to be dragged off the tiny stage by several Mex folks. But then, randomly, came Dick Valentine, of Electric Six fame. Don't ask me how, don't ask me why, but the cover of Def Leppard's "Hysteria" that this misfit band cooked up was fantastic. Driving home I asked myself if all that actually happened, and smiled when I could answer myself that yes, indeed it did. It was the only appropriate way to end the night, really.

The Dandy Warhols + Hopewell = guaranteed good goddam time. End of story.

mp3: Calcutta (Hopewell from Birds Of Appetite)

mp3: Genius (The Dandy Warhols from ...Rule OK)

Singles Club: MINKS

There are certain songs that you just know will become favorites. Heck, after one listen they ARE favorites. Well, kiddies, meet MINKS. Their "Cemetary Rain" has just become one of my favorite songs.

The band themselves hails from New York, though listening to this song you might not suspect that as their locale. "Cemetary Rain" is full of deliriously dreamy lo-fi, bedroom recording type sounds, with more than a slight nod to English bands of the 80s (the Cure tends to get tossed around a lot when discussing MINKS, and it's kinda easy to see why) through the gentle crackles and fuzz and super adorable boy-girl vocals. But somehow, instead of instilling a sense of gloom, this song makes me want to get out there and do nothing but frolic all day long, rain or shine. It's pretty daggum special, y'all.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to "Cemetary Rain" all day.

mp3: Cemetary Rain (MINKS from the forthcoming By The Hedge)

100 Shows of 2010 - #87: The Dandy Warhols/Hopewell @ Electric Factory, 11/7/10

And so, dear friends, we come to part the second of my latest Philadelphia story, in which yours truly gets to take in the sonic reverie put forth by two most excellent bands. I've been a fan of both of these bands for quite a long while, dating especially far back with the headliners (can we say high school, anyone?!). To see both The Dandy Warhols and Hopewell under one roof, well, that's not something that happens everyday (though perhaps it should!), so naturally the mileage to Philadelphia was of little consequence. As was the whole having to be at work the next morning. The two different styles of these two bands worked gloriously together, and anyone who says otherwise is a damned liar. Whoever had the brilliant idea for these two bands to tour together should probably get a medal, at the very least. (And it should be noted that this show somehow got even better on night 2, but that's another story)

MINI RECAP: Hopewell = Heavenly! The Dandy Warhols = Hallelujah! Overall Score: B+

LET darlings Hopewell took to the Electric Factory's big kid stage (no lie, it's about a million feet off the ground, and probably the eliciter of many a sore neck by the end of the show) first, and I prepared for a grand set. Celebrating the release of a new live album (which, obviously, you should buy), Hopewell once more proved how special they are live. They can, and do, veer off in a multitude of directions during the course of a set, from the noisy, wailing washes of sound akin to the heyday of the Spacemen 3 to quirks of Mercury Rev proportions. But the bombast, the intricacy, and of course that voice are all unmistakably Hopewellian. They masterfully blend subtle pop intricacies with huge waves of sonic violence, and very often the result is a thing of beauty. Everything is done with understated flourish, even at their most tempestuous and unhinged this is a complicated band. The inclusion of a pair of older favorites, "Trumpet For A Lung" and "Calcutta" in their (too brief) set made me quite happy, and they steamrolled through bouth with much vim and vigor. I never get tired of seeing this band up close and in person, because it's almost as though they're a different band everytime. These gentlemen make a racket I do so verily enjoy. I'll close with the concise remark of one of the punters during the Hopewell set, because he got it in one: "Shit yeah!".

And then, it was time. Time for...The Dandy Warhols. Perhaps it's just because I've been a fan for such a long time, but I always feel a wee bit giddy seeing them live. Having first seen them live in the height of their new success, those golden days of the late 90s ago, I can't help but feel close to them. After all, this band has played no small part in influencing my musical tastes. The Dandys, too, are touring on the back of a new record, theirs being a retrospective of the Capitol (Records) Years. I couldn't wait to hear what they had up their collective sleeve, and the set did not disappoint, my loves. Pulling from all over the place, they included such delightful nuggets as "The Last High", "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth", "Genius", "We Used To Be Friends", and "Horse Pills". And that's just the tip of the iceberg. And the inclusion of my all-time favorite Dandys song, "Good Morning", in all its' shimmery, fuzzy, slowburning glory was enough to make me smile for days. While it was a great set, it seemed to fall ever so slightly short of my expectations. But hey, nobody's perfect all the time. It was still a hell of a show, and any chance to see The Dandys is unmissable.

In closing, I must say that it is imperative, essential, and mucho importante that you see both of these bands live. If you get the chance to see them share a stage, well, I suggest you take it. Otherwise, just go see 'em. They'll both shake your damned peaches and your goddam tree, too.

mp3: Trumpet For A Lung (live) (Hopewell from Hopewell Live: Volume 1)

mp3: Minnesoter (The Dandy Warhols from The Dandy Warhols Come Down)

Live Review: Grinderman at the 9:30 Club, 11-16-10

My apologies about the lack of posts the past few days. God damn real job keeps getting in the way of my flourishing, unpaid life as a blogger. Damn you, all consuming need to make money and live high on the hog! Oh well. i do have a LOT of toys, so what can you do?

Anyway. Grinderman. This past week at the 9:30.

Grinderman is loud,raw and raucous. The music is glorious and fierce and angry and sexy all at once. For a bunch of guys in their 50s, to say they've got more energy than men half their age is to give far too much credit to the younger generation.

Up until recently, Nick Cave had a prominent place on my "get to know his music" list, but i couldn't seem to find an entry point album that did it for me. Well, the debut album took care of that, and the show cemented my new love. Looking like the late night act at Satan's seedier nightclub, the men rocked hard for a good hour and a half. Leaning slightly more heavily on Grinderman II, Grinderman was well represented nonetheless. Following a teasingly tense version of "No Pussy Blues," Cave explained "That song's not about not getting pussy. It's about not having pussy." If that wasn't the highlight line of the night, i don't know what was. The band, particularly Warren Ellis, seemed posessed for the duration of the evening, creating some sort of distorted, future blues that bespoke the follies of growing old and yearning for youth, not wanting to be forgotten and wanting to get laid. Following a nearly half hour encore, the band closed with their eponymous single, closing the night on the same crazed, serpentine note they'd enforced all the night long.

If given the opportunity, go see these old men show what Jack White aspires to and what the world would have been happy with had Bonham lived and Zep took the music to its natural next level. Just leave your young women at home.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Otherwise Engaged: Earl Greyhound

It is an unfortunate reality for the serious concertgoer that on occasion, there will be more than one show on any given night that you really, really, REALLY wanna go to. Since the vast majority of us don't own a time machine, nor have the ability to either clone ourselves or split ourselves in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on the night in question), this tends to present a problem. Difficult decisions are made based on a multitude of variables (perhaps some of you even make lists of pros and cons), and ultimately, a show is chosen. But those other shows are still gonna be killer, and I'd like to give a little face time to the shows that, while I can't go myself, are highly recommended all the same.

This band always makes me think of Britain, for some reason, though I suspect their name plays no small part in that. They're actually Brooklyn-based, and actually pretty rad beside the nods to Anglophilia. The band in question, Earl Greyhound, will be at the Black Cat tomorrow evening, for all you local kids in need of some excellent music to partake in. I'd hazard a guess that there will be much rocking.

mp3: Everything Else Is Illusion (Shooter Jennings & Earl Greyhound from Black Ribbons)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Mix Betwixt Friends: James M.

As music bloggers, Chris and I both have quite a few folks that come to us seeking musical guidance. Now, I can't speak for Chris, but whenever I get asked for recommendations, I tend to draw a blank. Naturally, I remember a whole host of bands I just know people would love hours after they've asked me. It's a gift to have such a horrible memory, I know. So then, it seemed somehow necessary to begin to offer up mixes for my friends, mixes for those who have both asked for my wisdom and those who need my help, whether they know it or not.

First up: my super awesome friend James, who actually inspired this whole concept. James is no stranger to good music, being in a band down there in Richmond himself (which you should probably check out). Over the years that we've known each other, James has often boosted my ego by coming to me for bands to listen to. Naturally, I'm always more than happy to oblige. However, now, instead of having to get back to him with erratic texts at random hours, I present him with a mix. So James, darlin', this one's for you.

mp3: Daydream (Beach Fossils from Beach Fossils)

mp3: Don't Know Why (You Stay) (The Essex Green from Cannibal Sea)

mp3: The Great River (These United States from What Lasts)

mp3: Knots (Pete & The Pirates from Little Death)

mp3: If You Don't Want Me To Destroy You (Super Furry Animals from Fuzzy Logic)

mp3: Night Might (The Strange Boys from Be Brave)

mp3: Tow The Line (Thieving Irons from This Midnight Hum)

mp3: Big Black Sky (Sunking! from Dreamy Of The Sunchildren)

Us Vs Them (Common Prayer from There Is A Mountain)

Young And Dumb (Neverever from Angelic Swells)

mp3: Doors (Ice Black Birds from As Birds We'd Be Fine)

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

100 Shows of 2010 - #86: The Black Angels @ Theatre of Living Arts, 11/6/10

Those of you that pay even the slightest bit of attention to my concert-going are well aware that I am in no way averse to putting some serious mileage on my car in the name of rock and roll. And when serious rock and roll beckons, such as, say, the undeniable psych rock revivalists The Black Angels, well, I feel totally and utterly powerless against their tractorbeam and subsequently get behind the wheel. So to Philly I went, for a wild and wonderful weekend that was pretty dang awesome, thanks in no small part to the live display of sheer magnificence that was The Black Angels. I was totally in love with this band before this show, and was even more enamored, if that's even possible, afterwards. I was also definitely more deaf than before the show, but that's not really here nor there.

MINI RECAP: The Black Angels = Gravity Defying! Overall Score: A

Beneath a brain-bending backdrop of aural hallucination-inducing red and blue (basically, a giant blowup of their Phosphene Dream cover), the Angels began to play. I had, of course, been tremendously excited to see them again, but I didn't realize until they strolled onto the stage just how very excited I in fact was. Their monumental set began with the sinister strains of "You On The Run", from the most excellent Directions To See A Ghost. It took me about 3 seconds to get goosebumps. Once again unable to find my earplugs, I stood at the very back of the room, against the soundboard. And I still felt the bass go through me, head to toe. It was just raw enough, while still maintaining that epic scale on the record. Hot damn, hot damn, hot damn.

A menacing rendition of another favorite, "The Sniper At The Gates Of Heaven", was another early inclusion in the set. The metallic, slightly unhinged vocals of Alex Maas were in full bloom, adding infinitely to the glorious disquiet. In perhaps a moment of silliness, they followed that with new song "The Sniper", much less growling but still very dark. I must confess, I heard these new songs live in my head a dozen times, but they never managed to sound this good. The fierceness of the guitar, the unbridled aggression of it all. Sensational. I'd have to say, I had one gripe with their set. During "Yellow Elevator #2", the band omitted my favorite part of the song, and launched immediately into "Black Grease". Now, this would be fine, but I do so love that unexpectedly, transcendentally ephemeral floating of the vocals in the midst of what kinda sorta sounds almost like a pop song (or as close, perhaps, as The Black Angels get to a pop song). Actually, I had two gripes. The other being that they stopped playing.

The band did a great job of mixing up the set and including greatness from each and every record. "Bad Vibrations" has rapidly turned into one of my most favorite Black Angels songs, so hearing the overpowering noise yet tightness of that song was a delight. The lull of the beginning gave way to an explosion of sonic savagery, and I hung on every note. The haunting swirl of "Phosphene Dream" filled every corner of the TLA. Maas once more proved himself a one of a kind singer, with that unholy howl of his creeping in among the controlled monotone. Another near-pop song, "Telephone", was next, its eerie dance vibe sending shivers up my spine. And while I hated to see their set end, they shut it down in the best, baddest, loudest way possible: A torturously noisy version of "Young Men Dead". With the sonic cadence akin to a forced march, it's no wonder that video game company picked this song to soundtrack their ad.

Now, it's no secret that my love for this band probably colors my opinion of them. But dangit, if you were at this show and didn't feel the earth move, even just a little, well I have no clue what the heckadoo is wrong with you. Maybe it's the sting of $7 PRB tallboys (really, Philly?!). Bottom line, my friends, is that this band is one of the best live bands around. Period. End of discussion.

mp3: Telephone (The Black Angels from Phosphene Dream)

Beat Meet: The Small Cookie, 24-hour, Baby Noises Edition

Another good week for all things free in the world of beats, as spelunked by yours truly.

i'm thinking it's about time for the cats at Project: Mooncircle to start their own hedge fund, as they're clearly incapable of making a bad choice when it comes to picking the next hot thing. If it pleases the jury, i'd like to point to evidence item #437, the upcoming EP from fLako, Mini Tollbooth. Whereas his label mates like Robot Koch tend to focus more on the percussive end of the beat spectrum, fLako makes greater use of bass lines, affected vocals and dissonant synths to create his soundscapes. The overall effect proves that P:M is no one trick pony, but continues to have one of the hottest stables in the world of beat music. Wow, i can't believe i took that metaphor to those lengths. My apologies to readers, but, trust me, the album is worth your time and your ducats. Here's a mini-mix to prove i'm right yet again (as if LET hadn't proven my supremacy as mixmaster and trend setter a million times over, but in the name of humility, i do what i must. It ain't EZ being TC.).

Mash-up Maestro Girl Talk is back at it yet again with his latest freebie pastiche, All Day. Yes, this came out yesterday, but if you had the same luck as i did, you couldn't get your hands on it any earlier, either. Hell, you may not have had as much luck as i did. Whatever the case, the "best" part of a Girl Talk CD is playing "name that sample." A list is said to be forthcoming at GT's website in the days to follow. In the interim, who do you hear here?

The folks over at Wah Wah 45s are throwing some shindig this Saturday, November 27th in London at Scala. To encourage people to give a shit, they've put together a rather stellar mini-mix comprised of some of the night's performers. For reasons we cannot begin to fathom here at LET, even though we claim to be a DC-centric blog, our readers really tend to be of a far more international bent. It probably has to do with us being the blogoverse's number one source of Nigerian speed rap AND questionably legal beats sampling arguably inappropriate children's music, but who can say for sure? Anyway, if you're one of our London readers, swing by the show, as it's only 12 quid (assuming a quid is a pound; you kids and your crazy across the pond lingo, i tell you what). If you're one of our Estonian readers, well, you're shit out of luck, chum, but it's still a damn fine mix. As you can hear for yourself, Hackney Colliery Band put together a funk-jazz romp worthy of The Cinematic Orchestra, and the Resonators put together a blissful romp with reggae overtones. Trust me, you'll likey.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Live Review: The Black Crowes at the 9:30 Club, 11-13-10

i really dig the Black Crowes. Back when i was in college, i had this elaborate plan to join their tour crew as a roadie and even got so far as meeting the boys in the band back in '95 when i worked at Buddy Guy's Legends, but that's a story for another campfire. As the years have gone by, i've grown somewhat out of touch with the band, but that certainly didn't stop me from taking one of my innumerable brothers to catch them at the 9:30 this past weekend.

Now, my first Crowes show was close to 20 years ago, i'm saddened to admit, and suffice to say, the band has morphed over the years. Even with a somewhat similar line-up (always good to see the Brothers Robinson share the stage), the band has gone from a straight up southern rock outfit to more of a jam band. Having seen Phish just a scant few weeks ago, i'm about jammied up for the next year or so, but fortunately, the Crowes only delved into heavy jamming sporadically. The set was an incredible mix of earlier stuff ("She Talks to Angels," "Remedy," "Wiser Time") and covers (the Joe Cocker version of "Feelin' Alright," Pink Floyd's "Fearless"), and only a handful of tracks with which i was wholly unfamiliar. All in all, a damn fine night musically. And with a three and a half hour show (two sets and an encore with two brief intermissions), that's really a must. The last time i caught the fine feathered friends, i didn't recognize a damn song that did that entire evening. This clearly is the preferred way to go. When they closed with Ry Cooder's "Boomer's Story," which i hadn't heard since i saw them in Italy back in 94, well, let's just say the evening was capped perfectly.

Now, as rocking as things were musically, a couple of negatives must be addressed. As regular readers are more than well aware, we tend to go to the 9:30 Club a LOT, and this was, hands down, the rudest crowd i've ever encountered there. Pushing, elbowing, shoving, no "excuse me's," quite frankly, it was the height of rudeness. And here's the fucking kicker--every rude asshole there was 40 or older. C'mon, folks, get your shit together. When i see 20-year-olds actually with more decorum at a hippie concert, well, something ain't right. As i'm getting awfully close to that 40 barrier myself, i can just tell you all to shoot me if i ever get that way. Secondly, well over half the merch, including both posters and at least one tee shirt, were from previous tours (all you had to do was check the dates and locations written). Now, i'm all for pimping your product as best as possible, but the Crowes already are the most expensive merch act that comes to the club ($30 for a tee shirt?!?!), so you'd think they'd at least keep their shit current. Well, think again, and keep your eyes open if you find yourself looking to schwag out the next time you catch them. The boys will rock your ass off, but you've got to watch out for damn near every other sucker there.

For today's mp3 offering, i've got a bootleg recording of the Black Crowes at a secret acoustic show at Ronnies Scott's Jazz Club in Soho, London back in June 20, 1991. The quality is phenomenal, and the boys are in rare form. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crossing The Pond #3: Sex Beet

As you know, we love Best Coast here at LET. And having asked them to open their UK tour for them, Best Coast obviously loves them some Sex Beet. Which means, as you might well imagine, that we too love Sex Beet.

They are, perhaps, London's answer to those Austinian scamps The Strange Boys and their ilk. You see, as with TSB Sex Beet has some obvious love for years gone by, mixing the breathless glee of some late fifties/early sixties simplicity and surf vibes with a hearty dose of ferocious, almost shoegazing fuzz, not to mention a wee bit of attitude as well. And yet, there seems to be something even better, even fresher about them. They are endearing, they are brash, and they are a perfect fit for a Best Coast tour. I'd remember their name if I were you, little lovvies, because they might just be on the precipice of something big. At least, they fucking well should be.

mp3: Sugar Water (Sex Beet - go here to buy some shit)