***February Twenty EighthTwo
Thousand and Fourteen***
picture says it all - fuck this winter. Bring on the spring!
Bring on longer days where you can actually do shit out- side after work! Bring on the pizza! Actually, that last one is not season specific.
A couple of good (somewhat long) reads: 1. The Last Days of Ty Cobb. The article, written in 1961, is exactly as the title suggests. Apparently it's considered one of the all-time sports pieces. I wouldn't argue with that assertion. 2. Can't Knock the Hustle. This title is a little less self-explanatory - it's about pool, from multiple POVs - the pro- fessionals, the hustlers, the gamblers, etc. Very enjoyable read. After years of meaning to do it and months of actually working on it, here is a mix of all my favorite songs by the band Low. This band may not be for everyone, but they're one of my all-time favorites.
Very fun BBC doc on The Fall and especially it's eccentric leader Mark E. Smith. A joy to watch and listen to, but I'd hate to have to spend any time with the loon.
Three new photo
journal entries - band photos again (this time Built to Spill, Fuzz, Lovers, and more), and two parts from the trip to California over Christmas, including a big hunk of photos of Joshua Tree National Park.
In the Music reviews, still going through my old seven inches and posting poorly written reviews. Apparently I only got around to two new reviews (Best Coast and a Ska compilation), but I liked both. I did manage to talk about mid- eighties singles from both Musical Youth and Eddie Murphy though, so I'm pretty much delivering exactly what the people want.
This was more or less a repeat of the show these guys put on a couple of years back, and I'm very thankful for it. Kumail Nanjiani is married to a local gal and they were in town for the Christmas break; ditto for Jerrod Carmichael, a North Carolina dude trying to make it in the LA comedy world but back in town for the holidays.
I'm not sure if Jerrod was just flying by the seat of his pants or
if he had a well designed set to feel that way, but either way it felt
like he was just telling jokes off the top of his head and shooting the
shit with the crowd. His parents were there, standing right next to me
actually, and played into his material fairly often. The man has really
honed his craft in my opinion - two years ago I thought he was fairly
funny, but I laughed tons more this time out.
Kumail also felt pretty loose - last time it seemed like he
was performing a pretty well rehearsed act, whereas this time he mixed
what was clearly his standard material with a lot of ad libs and crowd
work. He also had a lengthy inter- rogation of a Pakistani gal who was at
the gig, basically reminiscing about his childhood with her. At the
end, in con- junction with his wife, there was a lengthy Q&A session.
I actually asked a question, surprising even myself, wondering if he
had made up with Marc Maron - to which he responded "next question" and
his wife explained she was good friends with Maron and that drives
It was a fun evening, and hopefully Kumail continues this trend of
playing a show every other year at christmas. A great tradition
a new First Friday show happening here in town called "Let Feedback
Ring," booked by one of the local punk label dudes (I think). First
Friday, for the record, is an art/music/random douchebag gathering that
happens every first Friday on the month in downtown Raleigh. A lot of
places do something similar, sometimes on Thursday (as was the case when
I lived in Oakland) or Saturday or whatever. Hey, any excuse to get
people downtown spending money with local business is a good idea.
The gig was held at Legends. I once went to Legends for
my 21st birthday back when I was a dumb college kid in the nineties and
the idea of going to a gay club was funny for some reason. I had no
idea how big this place was though - there an entire theater area in the
back with a stage that is great for live shows. I got there in time to
catch most of the set from Goner.
It feels like these guys have been around forever, even as far back (I
think) as my first stint in the Triangle until I left in 2000. I've
never followed them closely but they are a quality pop band, and I was
glad to finally check them out. They used the gig to play their newest
record "Faking the Wisdom" from start to finish. Musically it would be
hard not to compare their piano-driven rock to Ben Folds, though I'd
rather listen to Goner myself. Goner also has a smidge of prog rock
running through them, and had more than a couple of moments that
reminded me of Dismemberment Plan (particularly the vocals). The
healthy crowd seemed to enjoy it, as did I.
happened, as they do. This time it was in companion with a crazy light
show being projected on them, which was different and made for a few
cool photos. You just have to snap wildly in those occasions because
the light on the band is changing so rapidly. You get a lot of junk and
a few gems, which is no different than any photo- graphy really, but it's
much more dramatic with a light show. I still say the band is slowly
turning into a hybrid of the Fall and Liars, which is totally awesome in
my book, but my friends disagree. They played one of their long, epic,
heavily keyboard-driven songs as have populated their set lists
lately. I'm into it.
This was my third time seeing Pontiak
this year. To be more specific, it was my third time seeing them since
early September. All three sets have been pretty similar, and at the
same time all three sets have been stellar. When it's this good, I'll
gladly listen and watch them play the same set three more times...hell,
thirty more times. You can look at my older ramblings here and here
if you want more dumb words on the subject, just know that this band is
basically perfection live when it comes to this brand of southern
gothic heavy rock music.
The opener was Guardian Alien.
I think they played at the last Hopscotch or maybe the one before
that...shit, all I re- member was people were talking about them. And
they were probably talking because of drummer Greg Fox, known for his
work in Liturgy or maybe because he's an amazing badass behind the kit.
The music was a combination of Tune-Yards art-pop weirdness and the
heavy quirky vibes of Don Caballero. In fact, Fox's drumming style
reminds me quite a bit of Damon Che of Don Cab, though thankfully Fox
has the good manners to keep his clothes on while he performs. I wasn't
100% in love with all of their music, but watching him drum honestly
made it not really matter.
Fergus & Geronimo - Powerful Lovin'. This band vacillates between awesome and annoying like a goddamn metronome.
Paul Westerberg - Dyslexic Heart. I promise it wasn't even planned but these are a few outtake tracks by Paul Westerberg.
Guess I was just listening to a lot of rarity collections lately.
You'll probably know two of these songs from the "Singles" soundtrack. Bonus: Stain Yer Blood. Bonus: Waiting for Somebody.
***January Thirty FirstTwo
Thousand and Fourteen***
been cold as shit so far this winter. It's family-friendly,
bucolic scenes like this one that really help me through these trying times.
Best films of 2013! I'm never going to get around to seeing everything I want or need to see that came out last year, so this is what I've got for now. My top 5 of the year (in order): Inside Llewyn Davis The Way Way Back Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me Pacific Rim Mud Also damn good for various reasons (in alphabetical order): Elysium Killer Joe The Kings of Summer Miss You Can Do It Twenty Feet from Stardom The Wolf of Wall Street World War Z The World's End
Damn enjoyable movies from other years I saw this year for the first time (in alphabetical order): The Bad Seed (1956) Bullhead (2011) Dear Zachary (2008) Dredd (2012) The House I Live In (2012) Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) Miami Connection (1987) Room 237 (2012) Sinister (2012)
The Indy, our local weekly paper used one of my photos for their review of the Perfect Pussy show. My review will be next month hopefully, or just read the one in the link for less rambling, more coherent wordsmithery. Two new photo
journal entries - band photos (Pontiak, Schooner, Libraness, Heather from Mount Moriah, and more) and just a chunk of miscellaneous snaps from the last few months.
In the Music reviews, still going through my old seven inches and posting poorly written reviews. New music reviews of note include Fuzz (which I thought I already had written about), Bad Sports, Belle & Sebastian, Cheap Time, and more.
Counting both old and new reviews, I've posted about 53 different
releases this month! That's a lot of bullshitting.
I've been a huge fan of Midlake
for years and seen them live a number of times - their 2006 album "The
Trials of Van Occupanther" would easily make my top ten records of the
last decade. But then their singer Tim Smith left before they finished
their most recent record "Antiphon," and honestly I didn't know how the
hell their live show would turn out. You can lose a drummer or a
guitarist and generally replace them fairly seamlessly, but losing the
voice of the band is another thing entirely. Short of holding an
international search for a new singer and finding a diminutive
sound-alike from the Philippines, they did the next best thing and just
had guitarist Eric Pulido take over on the mic.
Last time the band was in town they played at the Cradle -
it wasn't full, but there was a healthy crowd there. This time,
they're playing to a half-full Local 506. Probably not a good sign, but
I hope that doesn't serve as a deterrent for them as a band or from
returning to our area. Even with the singer change, it still worked -
they are still a fantastic group both recorded and live. The new lead
vocals aren't spot on, but they're close enough. they showed up with
their own pro lighting gear and a personal sound man, which is a funny
sight for such a small club. IT was such a tech set-up they didn't have
monitors but rather ear pieces, arena rock style. The band did a good
job mixing their new songs with older tracks from "Van Occupanther" and
"The Courage of Others," as it should be. I really enjoyed myself
tonight, and I'm glad they are able to continue even with the change in
According to the band this was the first time Coliseum
had ever played in the the Triangle in their ten years of exis- tence. A
band bypassing our area for a long period of time isn't that strange,
but given these guys are only from Louisville it does seem odd they
never would have toured here. But hey, they're here now and that's what
counts. I have heard from multiple friends that they put on a
top-notch live show, and those reports turned out to be 100% true.
Their records are enjoyable but they just can't measure up to the power
and ferocity of the band on stage. I'm not sure if it's just me or a
truism for the genre, but I find this often to be the case with heavy
and/or metal bands. These cats are more than just metal though, I hear a
distinct tinge of punk throughout most of their music - specifically,
Black Flag. And then there wee a couple of other times when they
approached a Queens of the Stone Age radio-friendly hard rock vibe.
Regardless of sound, it was all great, and hopefully it's not ten more
years before they come back.
I might have been at the show slightly more for Coliseum, but I've been a fan of headliners Pelican
for years, having even seen them a good decade ago when I lived in San
Francisco. I don't remember much from that show other than being there
(at Bottom of the Hill I believe), so it was nice to get a refresher
from this instrumental metal act. I'm not sure what to really say about
them though - they sounded great, the songs rocked. I've listened to
their records but couldn't tell you the name of any of their songs,
which obviously isn't helped when the songs have no words. If it was me
I would have flipped the order of the bands because Coliseum seemed a
more fitting closer, but two good bands is two good bands regardless of
when you see them on a bill.
I never tire of seeing Built to Spill
live. I've seen them dozens of times and like a fine wine they get
better with age. At least this is what I'm told, I ain't one of them
fancy yuppies what partakes in spoilt grape drink. Brett Netson and the
other bald guitarist who isn't Doug Martsch were still with the band,
but they had a new rhythm section. Other than that it was business as
usual with a BtS live event - great songs. hot solos, and the always
awful crowd they seem to attract. I guess that also says something
about me but I'm old now and who gives a shit really. This outing they
played a lot more older songs than usual, especially from "There's
Nothing Wrong with Love" - "In the Morning," "Car," and "Big Dipper" off
the top of my head. Other highlights included "Kicked It in the Sun,"
"Joyride," "Carry the Zero," plus a couple of covers: Blue Oyster Cult's
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?". On the
cover songs in particular Doug and Brett really got to play up their
guitar god status, they nailed all the riffs and solos per- fectly. I
eagerly look forward to their return again next year.
They had an interesting opener called Slam Dunk,
and as is typical for Built to Spill they appeared to be friends of
theirs from the Pacific Northwest. I guess they had sort of a "cow punk
garage pop" thing going...imagine the Meat Puppets crossed with the
Craps crossed with some indie pop like Modest Mouse. I seem to recall
there being a lot of shouting on stage. As you might imagine with a
combination of sounds like I heard, some songs were interesting and
enjoyable, and others were a bit of a mess. I liked them more than I
didn't though, and I'd check out their record if I came across it.
The Mae Shi - Boys in the Attic. The recordings of these guys never came close to their live show.
The Secret Machines - Alone, Jealous and Stoned. In the world of over blown major label indie rock, this group was still pretty damn good. Honestly if they would have been British I think they would have been huge.
Thousand and Fourteen***
As a christmas present to ourselves the wife and I decided to have a portrait made. Dig that hip goat man!
Kind of a light update, what with the mid-month "best of" post in December, taking a trip to LA (photos next time), and, of course, a large helping of laziness.
Jon Rafman - finding art through google street view. It doesn't sound nearly as interesting as it actually is. Grant Taylorofficially made the move to Antihero, and even though the welcome video is likely just throwaway foot- age filmed in the last couple of months, it's still nuts. One new Photo
journal entry - band photos including Superchunk, Parting Gifts, Birds of Avalon, Speedy Ortiz and a few others.
In the Music reviews I continue working through my old seven inches as I organize my collection. New music reviews of note include Polvo, ASG, and a couple of other things I wasn't overly excited about.
This is the second time I've gone to see Lovers
at the Pinhook, and it's the second time I've rearranged my schedule to
do so. The first time, I didn't exactly postpone my vacation so I
wouldn't miss their show, but I definitely made the vacation plans a day
late because of it. This time around I already had a ticket to the
first night of Mountain Oasis for the purpose of seeing Neutral Milk
Hotel, and as soon as I saw Lovers were playing that same night I sold
the shit out of that ticket a soon as I could. It was worth it.
It is hard to say if the crowd was better this time
around than a couple of years ago, but what we lacked in numbers we made
up for in enthusiasm. Despite my constant prattling on about this band
and trying to get my friends to give them a chance, no one listens.
Never mind that I rarely listen when people suggest bands to me, that's
not the point here! I did bring the wife with me just in an effort to
make sure as many people were at the show as possible. Their set list
was mostly songs from their last two records, the perfect "Dark Light"
released in 2010 and their most recent release, "A Friend in the World,"
which will definitely be found on my "best of" list at the end of the
year. They sounded fantastic, especially the vocals, which drive their
music. I rarely talk to bands after the show but for the second time I
kinda com- pletely fanned out on them, lauding them with so much praise
they probably thought I was screwing with them, but I stand by
everything I've ever said by them. Brilliant, brilliant electro pop
music that should be light years more popular, but I'm partly glad I
still have them to myself.
5. Smith Westerns - Soft Will (Mom & Pop) Somewhere along the line these guys transformed from a garage pop act to creating this record that you'd think George Harrison had a hand in writing. Fool Proof White Oath
6. Big Boi - Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors (Def Jam) Similar to what I said about Superchunk, if Big Boi releases a record it's going to make my "best of" list. The dude just keeps getting better with age. Apple of My Eye In the A
7. Polvo - Siberia (Merge) Much of this record sounds as good as their classic work, with the extra added dynamic of keyboards on many songs. Light, Raking Total Immersion
8. Whatever Brains - Whatever Brains (Sorry State) Confoundingly awesome and nearly undescribable. My current working description is The Fall and Liars having sex in a sack. So glad I get to see them live all the time. Companymen NPTO
9. Low - The Invisible Way (Sub Pop) Great album from start to finish, and they might have written their best song ever with "Holy Ghost." So haunting. Holy Ghost So Blue
10. Jacco Gardner - Cabinet of Curiosities (Trouble in Mind) Glad someone is trying to bring baroque Zombies-style pop back Jacco is young but doing veteran work. Clear the Air Help Me Out
The Other 10... Camera Obscura - Desire Lines (4AD) Mikal Cronin - MCII (Merge) Danny Brown - Old (Fool's Gold) Fuzz - Fuzz (In The Red) Hayden - Us Alone (Arts & Crafts) The Kingsbury Manx - Bronze Age (Odessa) The Men - New Moon (Sacred Bones) The Night Marchers - Allez Allez (Swami) Oblivians - Desperation (Merge) Yo La Tengo - Fade (Matador)
...and there was just an insane number of things I never even got around to. It happens. For example...
Records that came out last year that would have likely made my "best of " list only I didn't listen to them until this year. Neil Halstead - Palindrome Hunches (Brushfire) Lace Curtains - The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness (Female Fantasy) Redd Kross - Researching the Blues (Merge)
I didn't bother making a best songs list this time. I did put all the above songs from the top 10 in a single zip you can download here, in the event you are too lazy to download them individually.
Built to Spill at the Cat's Cradle - 10/30/2013. If I see them in a given year, they go on the list. No links because I haven't finished their review yet.
Hopscotch, 9/5/2013 to 9/7/2013. Our local music festival did not disappoint. Low was not only the highlight of this but also my favorite show of the year. Other greats were Spiritualized, Pontiak, Sleep, Swearin, Oblivians, Mikal Cronin, and the Breeders. Reviews: Day 1, Day 2 day parties, Day 2, Day 3; Photos: Day 1, Day 2 day parties, Day 2, Day 3.
Lovers at the Pinhook - 10/25/2013. Skipped Neutral Milk Hotel to see them. It was worth it. No links because I haven't finished their review yet.
Metz at Schoolkids Records - 4/20/2013. An in-store during Record Store Day and it still made the list. Really bummed I had plans later this night and didn't get to see the full show, really hope they come back soon.
Pontiak. Saw them three times this year - in Asheville, at Hopscotch, and recently at Kings. I've loved their records for a while, but finally seeing them live was likely my favorite discovery of the year. Photos
Whatever Brains. I'm not even going to venture a guess as to how many times I saw them this past year, likely in the half dozen range. They are a local treasure and I look forward to seeing them every single time. Photos
I'm saving my top movies list for later - the studios release so many of the best movies of the year in the last couple of weeks of December I want to give myself a chance to see at least a couple of them.
Thousand and Thirteen***
Element Europe "Hold It Down" - Great video of the Element Euro riders; of particular note are Nassim Guammaz and Ross McGouran, both of whom absolutely destroy. Guammaz should be pro for the main team.
Malls Across America - photos of malls in the eighties by Michael Galinsky. I'm not sure that the photos are that great, but they are greatly interesting and a reminder of the real eighties rather than the sterilized version that gets rehashed these days.
Now We Are Five - David Sedaris recently had a sister die and wrote this great story about his family in remem- berence. It's not maudlin at all, and like many of his stories about his family, both touching and funny. No new Photo
journal entries this time, I'm really getting behind on my band photo editing. .
The Music reviews have really seen a big jump in numbers, due mostly to my reviewing old seven inches as I go through organizing & culling my collection. Of the new stuff I listened to, check out The Kingsbury Manx and the new Oblivians records especially.
Segall, not content with just releasing new records under his own name
multiple times a year, also needed a heavier outlet where he could play
drums - and Fuzz was born. He formed the band with Charlie Mootheart,
added another of Mootheart's bandmates on bass, and luckily for us (or
more importantly, me) hit the road. The buzz on Fuzz was very high as
evidenced by the number of young scenesters at the show. Lots of
interesting outfits (both good and bad) and no shortage of "cooler than you" vibes all
around, but kids are gonna be kids. I magically made my way to the very
front of the stage to take some snaps, which may not have been the best
idea...there was a little bit of moshing, but the big- ger problem is this
same little prick kept stage diving over and over and over. I'd guess he jumped
into the crowd twenty times, and there was pretty much no one else doing it. More problematic was his "jump" was severely lacking in athletic ability and every
time he entered the crowd near me I'd get a good kick from his flailing
legs. It was incredibly annoying and I was worried about him kicking my camera, but as I felt like an interloper in
this cool kid world I just sucked it up and covered up he came ambling into me. Oh yeah, and the band -
they sounded great. That's no sur- prise because everything Segall does turns out fantastic, especially live. Heavy and groovy at the same time - let's just
call them a stoner rock version of the James Gang and leave it at
that. The whole band was very talented, Segall is a plus drummer and
Mootheart laid down plenty of "hott lixx." Their self-titled record is
one of my favorites on the year, and this show definitely lived up to the
They had another Bay Area band called CCR
Headcleaner open for them. I'm honestly not sure if they were good or
bad, but they were somewhat interesting. Most of their music was just lots of
noise that would occasionally turn into songs, but not always. You
couldn't really hear the vocals, but I'm not sure it mattered. They seemed
to hit their stride at the end of their set - which from me means that
is when their noisy songs started sounding the most like actual songs.
I've got no idea who to really compare them to - Pop 1280 maybe, but
not as dark and industrial? Occasionally "Bleach" era Nirvana
just a wee little bit? I need to listen to their record, I'd be curious what
kind of jams they are laying down in a studio.
Chuck Johnson with Libraness and Heather McEntire The Pinhook 9/29/2013
can be tough to motivate and get out of the house for a rock show on a
Sunday night, but when that show involves Libraness all of the sudden I
get a burst of energy and a fire under my ass.
First though was Heather McEntire, best known as the front
woman of awesome local band Mount Moriah. It was just Heather, her
guitar and her amazing voice, performing a small set of songs she said
she wrote in the week before the show while holed up sick at home. The
fact that she can knock out a grip of quality tracks while hopped up on
cold crunchers is equal parts impressive and jealousy-inducing.
Hopefully some of these tunes make their way to future recordings
because I liked them a lot. Maybe Heather needs to get sick more
What made Ash Bowie (best known as one the guitarists and
vocalists of Polvo) decide to bring back his side-project solo moniker
Libraness escapes me, but I'm damn glad he decided to do it. First
time, back around 2000, it was just a release of a record that felt
mostly like a clearinghouse of unused Polvo ideas. But this rebirth
involves a full band and new songs - in fact, I don't think they played
anything from the record. Given Ash's signature voice and guitar style,
it would be impossible to not draw comparisons to Polvo. Surprisingly
though there were also some poppier numbers, almost in a jangle pop
Byrds-meets-Big Star vein - I wasn't expecting that sort of sound, but
it worked. They closed their set with an epic jam that sounded like
Polvo covering a Television song...I would punch my mama in the mouth to
get a clean, studio version of that track, it was pure gold.
The evening's closer was Chuck Johnson. I saw Chuck
a few times back in the nineties with his band Spatula - they seemed to
be a band's band, their shows would be full of local musicians but not a
lot of us regular untalented folk. Chuck has been recording solo
guitar records for a while now, but to be completely honest I've not
paid a ton of attention. It's high quality work, but just never found
it's way to my personal playlist. He kicked his set off with an
Elizabeth Cotten cover (she had just had a plaque dedicated to her in
Carrboro where she was born and raised), and rolled through a number of
tracks on both his regular guitar and twelve string. His finger picking
skill is excep- tional; and while I may not burn to throw his records on
at home, it's quite a treat live.
Schooner with D-Town Brass and See Gulls The Pinhook 9/24/2013
This was the record release party for Schooner's new record "Neighborhood Veins." A record that has been in the works for so long there have been multiple "Chinese Democracy" jokes made to the band by me - my latest favorite is to refer to the new album as "Durhamese Schoonocracy." And that, folks, is why I'm yet to be hired as a comedy writer.
The first band of the night was See Gulls, who I knew nothing about. They were a four piece of local ladies that includ- ed Maria Albani on drums (she can also be found in Organos, helping out with Schooner, and probably a dozen other projects). If what they said on stage is to be believed, this was their first show. Good or bad, there is something exciting about seeing a band's first show - luckily this was one of the good ones. They showed lots of promise of good things to come. My best description of their music would be jangly indie pop, very reminiscent of some of the Teen Beat bands of the mid-to-late nineties. The guitarist was pretty talented and I dug the singer's voice, they were pleasant
to look at and they had their shit together pretty well, especially if
it really was their first show. I'll definitely see them again.
The middle slot was held by D-Town Brass, a band I've heard about and been told I had to see for years, so it was nice to finally make this happen. The band is so damn big they didn't even fit on the stage - I counted fifteen members total, with an entire horn section set up on the floor in front of the stage. The organist was so far on the edge of the stage he actually fell backwards off of it half way through their set (he wasn't hurt). I think I was expecting more of a funk sound for some reason, but the band played the sort of space age jazz that was popular in the nineties - Cocktails, Combustible Edison, and a few other acts (likely signed to Thrill Jockey and/or from Chicago) would be the closest touchstones for my limited knowledge of this genre. They were crazy talented and sounded excellent - a group of this ability should be filling concert halls, so it was nice to see them in such an intimate setting.
As mentioned before, the main draw tonight was Schooner and their release of the long-awaited "Neighborhood Veins." They played the whole set with the already-mentioned Maria Albani helping with backing vocals and a wee bit of percussion whatnot and noise-making doohickeys. Obviously, they were going to play a lot of songs from that record and I hadn't heard the record yet, but this first listen was very satisfying. Schooner has always had a soulful take on the indie pop sound, and these new jams definitely fit their mold. Apparently D-Town Brass recorded on a number of the songs on the new record, so with them on the bill tonight a number of their horn players took the stage for the last third of the show and really gave the proceedings some extra oomph. At the end of the evening I bought a fancy clear blue copy of the new record, and look forward to hearing this long overdue collection of jams.
"Anyway, children, as I was saying, the Hare Krishna's are totally gay."
Fruit Bats - My Unusual Friend. I was bummed when it was announced the Fruit Bats were calling it quits, with almost no fanfare they released some of the best pop music of the past decade. I'm sure Eric Johnson will continue putting out high quality music though. Bonus: Singing Joy To The World. Bonus: The Ruminant Band.
Pontiak - Left With Lights. Not sure why it took me so long, but I finally saw these guys live. Which made me want to listen to their records even more. Bonus: The Expanding Sky.
Rob Crow - Scalped. Rob is in so many bands he accidentally released some songs under his own name. They sound pretty much exactly what you expect his songs to sound like. Bonus: Sophistructure.
Trocadéro Days- Pontus Alv and friends cruising the streets. Yeah it's a commercial for Converse, but this short clip captures the joy of skateboarding about as well as anything ever filmed outside of a Ray Barbee skate part.
Kowloon Walled City- It's quite possible I've posted either this link or somrthing very similar, but you can't read about this place too many times.
The Chelsea Hotel - A collection of photos of the famous hotel, home of Sid killing Nancy, Leonard Cohen inspiration, and more musicians, artists and weirdos than you can shake a stick at.
Three new Photo
journal entries - a chunk of band photos, a walk in Eno River State Park, and a weekend trip with friends and family to southwestern Virginia.
The Music reviews of note for the past couple of months - Whatever Brains, Smith Westerns, Big Boi, and other shit.
Boi was supposed to be one of the headliners at this past Hopscotch
Music Festival, but after hurting his leg he had to postpone his show.
It was a real bummer at the time, but in hindsight having another great
show to go to a couple of weeks later only increased the entertainment
value of Hopscotch. As an added bonus, they gave away a lot of the
tickets for free for this show, to make up for him missing the
festival. I would have gladly paid a king's ransom for the show,
assuming a king's ransom is somewhere no more than fifty bucks or so.
Opening the show was Killer Mike. He played
Hopscotch last year and wasn't even scheduled at this year's festival,
so a free show out of him was extra super awesome icing on the already
tasty cake. He was one of my highlights that year and this was a very
similar performance - just him and his man DJ Trackstar, lots of songs
from his album "R.A.P. Music," and a crowd eating it up. He performed
his hit song "Reagan" accapella, and climbed into the crowd contin- ually
to spread his gospel. I use the word gospel intentionally, because
seeing Killer Mike feels like attending the service of an excitable
preacher. But if church were more like his shows I might actually go.
seeing Big Boi at Moogfest a couple years back on accident because Devo
cancelled, I vowed to never miss him live again. It was the single
best hip hop performance I had ever witnessed, with a full band and
back-up singers and a dance troupe and he played every Outkast and Big
Boi song you'd ever possibly want to hear. This appearance wasn't quite
on that level, but it was really damn close. He still had a live band
but not as many members; he still had dancers, but only a couple; but he
still played every Outkast and Big Boi song you'd ever want to hear,
including plenty of songs from his most recent (fantastic) record
"Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumours." One addition this time was a
giant gold throne in the middle of the stage for him to sit in
occasionally because of his hurt leg, but he didn't use it nearly as
much as I was expecting. He also had his kids on stage the entire time,
standing on either side of the throne, just bobbing their heads and
shuffling their feet in time with the music. What a trip it must be to
be standing on stage with your father as he performs. Anyways, it was a
damn good time and hopefully I don't have to wait a few more years to see him again. And while we're hoping, let's get Outkast back together for god's sake.
Pontiak with Golden Void & Nate Hall with the Poison Snake Blackout Effectors 9/1/2013
It's rare but sometimes there is a good show happening when I'm up in the mountains visiting the family. Blackout Effectors is a guitar pedal manufacturer in Asheville, but sometimes they have shows in their back room. The ad- mission was cheap and they had free beer! I don't even drink but I can admire a good value.
Nate Hall opened the show. Or more specifically, Nate Hall with the Poison Snake, his new live band (drums and bass) for his solo endeavors from US Christmas. It appears his next generation of solo material will be more than him and an acoustic guitar, based on this show. Honestly it just seemed like a slightly stripped down US Christmas, and since Nate writes the songs for both acts I don't know how he now decides what songs belong to which group, maybe there's a spreadsheet or something. I do know the bassist of this group is Richard Kirby, former pro skateboarder for Santa Cruz, which is pretty cool. Does this qualify the band as skate rock? Either way, it sounded good and he's been promising a new solo record for a while so hopefully that gets released soon. Supposedly all the new songs played on this evening are to be on that record.
Golden Void were the middle band. I knew absolutely nothing about them other than they were from the Bay Area, my former stomping grounds. For lack of better terms, they played "boogie metal," a term I've coined for music that is equal parts stoner rock, seventies metal, and butt rock the likes of BTO or Deep Purple or Steppenwolf. I guess some of the members are or were in other acts like Earthless, Assembled Head in Sunburst Sound, and Roots of Orchis, or so
the internet tells me. They were pretty damn good, though they
played a little long in my opinion. The lead guitarist absolutely destroyed, solos for days. If I could play like that I don't think I would ever set the guitar down.
The final band of the night was Pontiak, and I would finally see them live (and the subsequently see them again at Hopscotch just a few days later). It somehow seems fitting that my first viewing of this band of brothers and their southern gothic kraut metal would be in a dark room in the back of a store on a rainy night instead of a proper rock club.
I often refer to bands being tight aka playing really well together,
very in-sync and at a high skill level, but I'm not sure another
band exists that sound as together as these guys. Is it because
they're brothers? I gotta think that plays a part in it. I was already a big fan of these guys, but seeing them live bumped my fanhood up ten fold. They went from "good music" to "never to be missed live again."
Superchunk with Parting Gifts The Cat's Cradle 8/24/2013
I saw that the Parting Gifts were opening for this Superchunk show, and decided I didn't need to get to the Cradle in time to see their set. But then I walked in and saw who was on stage, and my stupid brain all of the sudden remem- bered who the Parting Gifts are - one of Greg Cartwright's side projects! Man I felt stupid for forgetting this, and bummed I'd already missed at least half of their set. I've seen Greg solo, with the Reigning Sound and (as of Hop- scotch 2013) with the Oblivians, but this was my first time in this configuration, paired up with the Ette's Coco Hames. It still mostly sounds like a Greg Cartwright project, his voice and guitar work being so distinctive, but occasionally Hames
would take the lead on vocals. She's both nice to listen to and
nice to look at, so it was a nice addition. They played mostly songs off of their one full-length record, but also threw in a cover of the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby." If you're a fan of Cartwright's other projects you'd be a fool not to check the Parting gifts out, and hopefully if you go see them live you make it to the gig on time.
I've seen Superchunk dozens of times over the last twenty years (probably somewhere between the two dozen and three dozen mark if I were to wager a guess), but this was my first time not seeing them with Laura Ballance. I've had a crush on her for over half my life, and not seeing her on stage with the band pogoing up and down while playing bass leaves a hole in my heart. Filling in for her was Jason Narducy, who amongst other acts is currently working with Bob Mould (as is Chunk drummer Jon Wurster). He did a fine job, clearly a professional, but I was really missing Laura - I
was standing right in front of where she should be! The band
still sounded fantastic, despite this change. I'm not going to go into great detail on what they played as the set list is surely online somewhere, but they played for nearly two hours with two encores, and played a lot of their great new album "I Hate Music." Some other highlights included "Punch Me Harder," "Water Wings," "Detroit Has a Skyline,"Precision Auto," "On the Mouth"...basically, everything they play I love. Most importantly they played their cover of the Magnetic Fields' "100,000 Fireflies," a song they don't play live all that often but at this point I consider it more theirs than Magnetic Fields.
One odd thing that did stand out that I personally had never seen before - the band came back out and played their second encore after the house music had already come back on. Usually that music (plus the lights coming on) is the universal sign that it's time to leave, so I'm not sure if the sound man messed up turning it back on too early or if the band surprised him by coming back out. Either way, it was a truly surprising encore, and if my brain serves they played the classic "Throwing Things." And now when bands finish their sets and the house music comes on, I'll be second guessing whether or not it is time to leave...
Birds of Avalon with Tonk and The Lollipops Kings 8/23/2013
It was Kings 3rd anniversary this weekend - I was there for the opening weekend (Bandway!!!) and have probably been to this club more times in the last three years than everywhere else in the triangle added together. I'm a big fan of the venue, the owners, and most of the bands they have play on their stage, and that was no less true for this anniversary gig.
When I got in the club Tonk was already into their set. Not sure how much I missed, but everything I did get to hear was damn good. When I first saw this band most of their set was covers, but now they're playing mostly originals (I actually didn't recognize any covers, but that doesn't mean there wasn't any). Apparently they even have a record coming out soon that I look forward to hearing. No matter who is writing the songs though, they all fit that Tonk seventies-style country mold. We're talking "tear in your beer" country, and they're damn good at it.
To be perfectly honest I wasn't really feeling the Lollipops the first time I saw them, but this second viewing has me rethinking that opinion. They've definitely got some catchy pop songs, and I've always been a sucker for bands that set up their own dramatic lighting. They have a sorta ramshackle Guided by Voices sound crossed with more upbeat radio-friendly fare like MGMT. The bass was way too loud though, and this from someone who usually complains there
isn't enough bass. I'm not sure if this was intentional or just
the night's mix, but it was slightly annoying. I'd def- initely be up for seeing them again though, not something I said after the first show I saw by them. I should probably listen to their record on bandcamp too, the thing is free after all.
I don't even know what to say about Birds of Avalon at this point. They were always good but now they are SO GOD- DAMN
GOOD. I swear they're five times better every time I see
them. It's a psych-kraut wonderland, with stellar guitar shreddery and a pretty much perfect rhythm section. As an added bonus Missy Thangs, best known for her work with Love Language but who also seems to be a member of at least eighteen other bands, was adding some keyboard to the action. I'm not sure if her addition is just a temporary thing or in the band's long-term plans, but it worked pretty well. These kids make some swell records and I'm really looking forward to what they put out next, but seeing them live is where it's really at. More Bird of Avalon shows! I demand it!
"You kick in the door to my house all ants in your pants, sucking my left
nut to get a TiVo scrap for the 3rd runner-up 'sexiest man alive'
1998... And you're asking if I'm SERIOUS?"
Coachwhips - Extinguish Me. They played all the time when I lived in SF and their live shows were a hot mess. The recordings are much better IMO. Bonus: Thee Alarm.
Ed Schrader's Music Beat - Airshow. One of the best things to happen in my life these past couple of years was discovering the awesomeness of Ed Schrader live. Bonus: Rats. Bonus: Sermon. Bonus: Traveling.
Grape Street - A Date With You. I adored the band Harlem but their break-up appears to have been beneficial to music fans (and more importantly me) as it resulted in two new awesome bands - Grape Street and Lace Curtains (see below). Both released some of my favorite records of the last few years. Bonus: Kawnee. Bonus: Threw It All Away.