This is rad: Steven Soderbergh performed an experiment on "Raiders of the Lost Ark" - removed the sound, removed the color, and added the score from "The Social Network," and created essentially a black-and-white silent film that is a work of art. It's trippy and amazing at the same time. Watch it here. Not much else this month really, spent a ton of time on Hopscotch nonsense. All of the show reviews are here. And there are five slabs of photos from Hopscotch in the photo
journal this month...some good ones, some whatever ones.
Deal with it.
See the above excuse for the scant few music reviews this time, but I did get to both of the Merge subscription seven inches and the very interesting Fujiya & Miyagi record.
For the second year in a row we traveled to a foreign country to see our beloved Belle & Sebastian
- Montreal last year, and Miami Beach this year. Sure, Miami Beach
isn't technically a foreign country but it might as well be - there were
certainly more women walking around in thongs than you typically see
anywhere else in this country.
Our tickets were general
admission so we got there early and got a good spot up front - I've seen
B&S many times but always from far away; this time, only one row of
people separated us from Stuart Murdoch and company. They were
performing as a thirteen piece with the regulars joined by a quartet of
violin mercenaries from New York (as both the band and the crowd found
out when Stuart talked to them during the set). The band kicked off
with the in- strumental "Judy Is a Dick Slap," complete with Stuart
playing a keytar, and it only got more awesome from there. Lots of
classics throughout the set including "I'm a Cuckoo," "Like Dylan in the
Movies," "Dog on Wheels," "The Boy With the Arab Strap," "Legal Man,"
"Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying," "Judy & the Dream of Horses," and
the always perfect " "If You're Feeling Sinister." According to the
band this was their first show ever in Florida, something Stewart joked
about on a couple of occasions. Also, unbeknownst to me and probably a
lot of the crowd, he is married to a gal from Florida, and told a funny
story about his first trip to the state on vacation when some people
pulled up next to him on the highway and offered him some Ritz
crackers. It was more or less a perfect show, and well worth the cost
of airfare and hotel and tickets and whatever else we spent. I mean,
the beach was nice too, so that was also a plus.
A brief note about opener Luke Temple
- I dug it, but not sure much of the crowd did. He has a really heavy
Jonathan Richman vibe - classical guitar, sparse drummer, hell he was
even wearing a very Jonathan Richman-like shirt. The vocals sounded
more like James Mercer of the Shins though, and the songs had a
jazzy-folk-pop thing going on. the crowd was very loud during his set,
and as his music was pretty quiet it was pretty awful. He tried saying
something to the crowd a couple of times, which has never, ever worked
in the history of live performances, they just get indignant at being
told what to do. I would check him out again though, hopefully in
don't often go to large "arena rock" shows - I think the last one I saw
actually held in a basketball stadium like this one was REM (with
Lucious Jackson opening!) at the Dean Dome back in 1995 or 1996. For
some reason I felt it incum- bent to see Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
while it was still possible though, high priced tickets and nosebleed
seats be damned...it's not often you get a chance to see someone who has
written as many hit songs as he has.
twenty dollars for parking, more than I almost ever pay to actually see a
show, we got inside and found that our section had been closed off and
they upgraded our seats to better ones downstairs - score! You can more
or less guess the set list, basically a lot of his hits (both from his
solo and Heartbreakers records) along a number of with tracks from his
new album "Hypnotic Eye." The crowd sing-along for "Freefallin'" was
pretty impressive, almost as impressive as the drunken dancing by the
fratboys a couple rows in front of us...they were FEELING IT. I knew it
would be a sound good and be a professional performance, you don't stay
on top like Petty has for this long if you're putting out a sub-par
product - but I was impressed with just how good it actually was. Even
from the other end of the stadium where we were seated, it was engaging
and exciting to watch the band perform; I was also surprised at how
funny Petty was, his between song banter was pretty strong. They played
for about two hours, closing with probably their best song "American
Girl." It was money well spent.
It's definitely worth mentioning the opener, since it was the rock legend Steve Winwood.
Yeah he played his eighties hit "Higher Love" and it sounded fine, but
the highlight was the retrospective of songs from some of the different
groups he has been a part of over his career - Blind Faith's "Can't
Find My Way Home," an number of Traffic jams, and a couple of Spencer
Davis Group songs including the ender of "Gimme Some Lovin'," one of the
best parts of the entire night.
Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Get Up Morning. I've been loving the boss sounds of Eddy for a while now, but I only recently got around to spending some time with the self-titled debut album. Bonus: Precious Rose
Modey Lemon - Dr. Body Snatcher. I like this band while I'm listening and forget about them pretty much all the rest of the time.
Unnatural Helpers - Medication. Seattle garage rock, pretty straight-forward but decent.
Whatever Brains - NPTO. I've easily taken more photos of this band than anyone else, ever. Their live shows are manna
from god, whatever the hell manna is. Hopefully it's a good thing
otherwise the saying doesn't make any sense. Bonus: Yellow Death 2000
***August Thirty First Two
Thousand and Fourteen***
I was going to say these drawers look too big for him, but I guess if you're planning on stuffing them full of doves it might be the perfect fit.
The Strange Tale of the North Pond Hermit - pretty great (somewhat long) article about a man living in the woods of Maine alone for nearly three decades, living off of goods stolen from local camps & homes and not interacting with a soul the entire time.
Garth Marenghi's Darkplace - Hilarious, poorly-made fake scifi medical drama featuring the hilarious Richard Ayoade and
Matt Berry (both also from "The IT Crowd"). Words can't do it's
greatness justice. Link here is to the first episode, but the whole run of six episodes are all on Youtube.
Very interesting article on the Zamrock band Witch, acquaint yourself if you haven't already.
journal entries this round - all of my photos from the Merge 25 shenanigans last month, as well as some snaps from a trip to the beach.
Actually wrote a few music reviews this time: Superchunk, Total Control, Spider Bags, Protomartyr, and the fantas- tic new Pontiak slab.
We braved monsoon-like rains to get to Kings in in effort to roust up some laughs from Kyle Kinane.
Despite having wet pants for the entire show, it was a successful
endeavor. He was working out material for a special he would be
recording in Georgia in a few days, so I guess this was a sneak preview
and/or we were being used as guinea pigs. As an aside, do they actually
test anything on guinea pigs? You'd think how much they get mentioned
in regards to testing that everything runs through them. Anyways,
newsflash: Kyle was friggin' hilarious, and the special is clearly going
to be awesome. I will be more than happy to rehear all of these same
jokes again; especially if he uses his long story about getting a
blowjob from a mentally slow under-aged girl, that shit killed the
I'll generally try to make it to any Spider Bags
show, but this one was special - a release party for their first record
on Merge, "Frozen Letter." Flesh Wounds were doing the exact same
thing in Chapel Hill on this same night - why the two bands didn't
combine their release shows is beyond me and a bummer, because I would
love to have seen both. Spider Bags singer Dan McGee made note that the
only band they could think of to open this show for them was Flesh
Wounds, and since they were clearly busy, the Bags decided to just play
this one by themselves. Since it was only them for the entire night,
they played two different sets. The first set was the new record in
order and in it's entirety, and it was great introduction to their new
material as I hadn't heard "Frozen Letter" previous to the gig. There
was then a 15 to 20 minute break where the crowd and the band both
refueled their Beer cells, and then the Bags launched into their
"greatest hits" aka every song you would ever want to hear them play
from all of their previous recordings. Including the break I think they
played for two and a half hours, and it was a blistering, raucous,
incredibly sweaty affair...seriously, I think it might have been 95
degrees inside of the Pinhook. A sweaty t-shirt is a small price to pay
for a show that good though.
Duke Gardens & The Cat's Cradle 6/25/2014 & 8/2/2014
The chances of getting an unbiased review of the Rosebuds
has never been very high around here - I've known Ivan and Kelly for
many years. Now not only have they added two more friends to their
touring band, Mark Paulson (also of the Bowerbirds) on bass and Rob
Lackey on Drums, but one of my very best friends for a large portion of
my life, Brian Weeks on guitar. We go all the way back to Belk Hall on
the UNCW campus in 1994, moved to San Francisco to- gether in 2000, and
have been annoying each other regularly for twenty years now.
Since I'm too lazy to write two reviews I'm lumping both of
their shows these past couple of months together. The first was at the
Duke Gardens, and sorta seemed to coincide with the Merge 25 festivities
even if the band isn't on the label anymore (I still saw Merge head
honcho Mac at the show, so things must still be copacetic between the
Rosebuds and their former label). It's always a little weird seeing a
band in the daylight, much less in front of bunch of middle aged (or
older) folks spread out on a lawn in camping chairs and sitting on
blankets with picnic spreads of food. The band had a new record coming
out in August called "Sand + Silence," and probably half of the set was
dedicated to premier- ing these new songs to their "hometown" crowd
(neither Ivan or Kelly are actually locals anymore). The rest of the
set was dedicated to highlights from their long career, from "Back to
Boston" to "Woods" to crowd sing-a-long favorite "Nice Fox." There was
also a fun performance of "Get Up Get Out" where Kelly gave shakers and
tambourines and such to a group of little kids dancing in front of the
stage, and they seemed to have a blast. Of course the downside is the
band still had a few more songs to play and the kids never gave the
noise makers back, so the remainder of the set was accompanied by a lot
of arrhythmic percussion coming from the crowd. Maybe best to save the
participation songs for the end...
The Duke Gardens show was a one off, but a little over a month
later they returned to the Triangle as part of their short East Coast
tour, landing at the Cat's Cradle. It was the same group of musicians
and a mostly similar set list, though this gig did focus a little more
heavily on the new record. Also, no children with percussion
instruments playing them haphazardly. The sound was better at this gig,
but that is more of a function of it being inside the Cradle rather
than outside amongst flowers. Most importantly, it was a good time like
Rosebuds shows always are.
was one of the best surprises of last year's Hopscotch - I saw them
randomly at a day party at Slims and was blown away. I think they
rolled back through town another time and I wasn't able to go, so it was
nice to finally catch them again and confirm that my first impression
was not a fluke. The verdict? It was not. The band was ex- tremely
catchy just like last time, comprised of a formula roughly one-third
pop, one-third punk, and the final third nine- ties indie fuzz rock. In
band terms, imagine some sort of combination of Superchunk, the
Thermals, and the Breeders (the Breeders comparison brought to me by my
friend Brian, something I had never thought of but that made perfect
sense as soon as he said it). It was all quite lovely and enjoyable and
I promptly bought both of their records, some- thing I wanted to do at
Hopscotch but passed on because I didn't want to carry the records
around with me the rest of that day.
The opening act was an all-female group of of Massachusetts called Potty Mouth.
They too had a nineties vibe, as so many bands today do - in their
case, more of a Velocity Girl meets Dinosaur Jr thing. People seemingly
have for- gotten all about Velocity Girl, but their first two records
"Copacetic" and "Simpatico" are still great even if the produc- tion on
them is kinda muddy and shitty. Would love to see those two get
remastered and reissued. Anyways, at one point this hot mess of a drunk
girl in the crowd started yelling at the band about how young they
were, which led the bassist to go on a bit of a rant about ageism
combined with sexism in music; and yeah, they looked really young but
why bring it up? What do you stand to gain? Just enjoy the music and
maybe get less drunk next time, hot mess. Pretty much every band seems
young to me these days, and so long as they are enjoyable I could give a
"Six people left in the world and one of them is Bill fucking Murray. I
know that's not your middle name. I've been watch- ing you since I was
like... Since I could masturbate. I mean, not that they're connected."
The Concretes - You Can't Hurry Love. I probably posted this before but it's no less enjoyable now. I just wish I liked their other material even half as much as this song.
The Midwest Beat - Firefly. Some jangly pop kids who are actually from the Midwest and, like so many other bands listed this time, write catchy damn songs. What can I say, I love some pop music. Bonus: Sister Mary Katherine
Thought this article about how france is changing, both demographically and politically, to be pretty interesting. And the way the article is written is especially interesting, the author traces the route of the Tour de France and reports on the small towns he passes through.
couple of skate vids - Crocodile Done Deal - Fourstar tour vid through Australia. Talent through the roof on that team, and Crailtap always make clips that are fun to watch. Kevin Coakley - not only is the skating bad ass, but he skates to the Archers of Loaf. That's just making smart life decisions right there.
journal entries, both a collection of randoms - one band photos and the other just nonsense.
My lack of Music reviews is nothing but laziness at this point. I didn't realize how little I've done lately, mostly just older
seven inches (of which I only have a handful left). I'll do
better next month, or not...who really gives a shit right?
the 25th anniversary of Merge Records is upon us, and the music
festival that goes with it. I'd been looking forward to this for
I managed to hear about two minutes of William Tyler
before entering Baldwin Auditorium...going to shows solo in fancy seated
venues mean you can find a spot up front even if you arrive late,
because there are always a few single empty seats here and there. All
of the bands were set up at the same time on the giant stage, so
switching from one act to the next took no time at all - I think it
might have been five minutes between the end of Tyler and the start of
Mount Moriah, which is unheard of at a rock show.
I've seen Mount Moriah
numerous times in multiple rock clubs across the Triangle, and it was a
little weird seeing them on this giant auditorium stage in front of an
extremely quiet crowd. The band almost seemed unnerved by how quiet it
was, as they should have been - it was downright eerie, way too many
well-behaved adults in one room. The great thing about these types of
rooms are they sound great, and Baldwin Auditorium was no exception.
Yeah, I might have turned the bass up a little bit in the mix, but
Heather's vocals were fantastic and Jenks' guitar work as good as I've
ever seen it. There were only a few older songs in the set, "Miracle
Temple" and an epic, amazing version of "Plane" being the standouts, and
the rest were new songs for an album on which they are working. If
this was the preview for that new record, count me excited to hear the
final results once Merge releases it.
To paraphrase what I said elsewhere, to say Lambchop were awesome would
be redundant because there is never a time when Lambchop aren't
awesome; therefore, a better description is to say Lambchop were
Lambchop. This evening they were doing a rare performance of their
classic 2000 album "Nixon" from start to finish, which Merge recently
issued on vinyl for the first time in the US as part of their 25th
anniversary reissue series. If there is ever a perfect location to hear
Lambchop, it's in a deathly silent auditorium where you can hear every
faint guitar pluck and muted horn and piano tinkle...audio-wise I'm hard
pressed to think of ever attending a better sounding show in my life.
"Nixon" made up the entirety of their set, with the band re-taking the
stage after a brief standing ovation to play a one song encore of Curtis
Mayfield's "Give Me Your Love," a glorious end to a musically gorgeous
Superchunk, Reigning Sound, The Rock*A*Teens, and The Clientele
Cat's Cradle 7/24/2014
two of Merge 25 was upon us, and after last night's cushy seated gig it
was time for a long evening of standing on the cement Cat's Cradle
floors. Let's do this.
I got in the club just before the Clientele
got started, and in my usual way wormed my way near the front amid a
sea of photographers and three videographers with serious professional
rigs. Why all three of them were basically filming from the same angle
is beyond me, but they're the pros and I'm sure they know what they're
doing. I wouldn't call my- self a superfan, but this was one of the bands
I was most excited about. Why? I couldn't say exactly, but probably
some combination of their somber jazz pop sounding really good to my
ears these days, combined with the fact that I've only seen the band a
couple of times so there was a certain novelty to their performance as
opposed to someone like Superchunk who I've seen tons. Is it weird that
I think of them as a British Sea & Cake? It's not an exact match,
but they're mining the same vein. The band is both fantastically smooth
and smoothly fantastic, and the only thing that would have made it
better is if they had played "Rain." I picked up the recent reissue of
their classic "Suburban Light" when I left the club later that night.
Next up was the Rock*A*Teens.
I'm 98% certain I saw these cats a few times back in the late nineties,
be it opening for someone like Superchunk or at the old Kings or
something along those lines. They never really moved the needle for me
back then, and I was interested to see how I would react to them this go
around. The verdict: while still not my favorite band in the world, I
was definitely feeling it more than in the past. They have a
ramshackle, jangly garage pop vibe to them, a little sloppy but I'm not
sure that is particularly important to a band like this. There were a
number of sound issues, most seemingly from the house and not the band,
but the Rock*A*Teens plowed through without a care in the world. I
might need to go back and revisit their old records now.
Speaking of sound problems, Reigning Sound
also seemed to have no shortage of them. Greg broke a guitar string
early in the set and after changing it he just never seemed to get the
guitar tuned back to his liking. My musically stupid ears couldn't hear
anything wrong, but then again I thought the music sounded fine when he
was just playing five strings before he changed the broken one. The
band just released a new record called "Shattered" and played a number
of tracks off of it, as well as some classics like "Stop and Think It
Over," "Debris," "I'll Cry," and probably the best song they've ever
written "Drowning." Despite the difficulties I very much enjoyed the
show, as I do with any Reigning Sound show. So stoked they're on Merge
closed out the night. I had sorta hoped and/or expected them to play a
"special" set in honor of the an- niversary - a complete classic album or
all requests or obscure b-sides or something unusual, but it was just a
regular Chunk show. It might sound like I was disappointed, and maybe I
was a tad, but you can't be that bummed out when one of your all-time
favorite bands is banging out classics like "Skip Steps 1 & 3" and
"What Do I" and "Brand New Love" and "Hyper Enough," paired with great
new jams such as "Low F" and "Digging for Something" and "FOH." At one
point new bassist Jason Narducy got so spazzy he fell backwards into the
drum kit and ended up with a trickle of blood running from his head
down his face and it wasn't until a couple of songs later when Jon
Wurster told him that he had any idea. That's rock and/or roll right
there! So it was a fun show, regardless of "specialness," and a nice
cap on the second night.
Destroyer, Wye Oak, The Mountain Goats, and David Kilgour and the Heavy 8s
Cat's Cradle 7/25/2014
stuffing myself silly at Carrburritos, I got into the Cradle right at
the end of Imperial Teen's set and caught their final two songs. I've
never been all that excited by these guys, but maybe I was in a good
mood or the songs hit me just right but I liked what I heard - tons of
energy and the crowd seemed way into it, but as per usual I don't have
any- thing else to say about Imperial Teen.
I got there a little early specifically because I didn't want to miss any of David Kilgour & the Heavy 8s.
To be com- pletely honest I've not listened to his solo work all that
much, but I love his band the Clean so much I felt it imperative I see
him perform live as much as possible, regardless of what songs he might
be playing. Even though I didn't know any of the setlist, I thoroughly
enjoyed the band's set - most notably Kilgour's excellent guitar
playing, which held me transfixed for much of the set. His New Zealand
accent was so thick he jokingly put on a fake British accent to be
understood, but you need no translator to understand good music.
I've never seen a Mountain Goats
show that featured so little banter from frontman John Darnielle - I
guess they took their short time slot to heart and decided to power
through as many songs as possible. They played a lot of crowd favorites
like "San Bernardino," "Amy," "This Year," and what is probably the
band's greatest song, one that had the entire crowd singing along, "No
Children." There was also a cover of the American Music Club song "Who
You Are," a track I had never before heard, but Darnielle and company
really made it their own. Knowing how rabid Mountain Goats fans are,
I'm betting there were folks who attended this show or even this
festival specifically for them - I hope they at least enjoyed the
quality of their offerings since there was a lack of quantity, because
the quality was high.
held down the penultimate leg of the evening. I've said it elsewhere
but they're really two different bands these days, the former
guitar-based Wye Oak versus the current bass heavy electro-pop Wye Oak.
I really like both versions, though I might give a slight edge to the
older, more rockin' version of the band because that is the one
re- sponsible for their best song "Holy Holy," which they thankfully
played in their set this night. Outside of that track and a couple of
other older ones, Jenn Wasner left her guitar in it's stand and focused
on songs from their new record "Shriek." It's a little bit of a shame
because she is such an excellent guitarist; but it's no surprise that on
the new songs, she dominates the bass just as well. Oh, and that
amazing voice, plus she's incredibly attractive. Honestly it wouldn't
take much cajoling for me to quit my job and travel the world stalking
her professionally (at a respectable distance, of course - I'm no creep;
well, only a slight creep). It's an odd feeling, loving a band's new
direction while simultaneously missing their old sound...usually I hate
when a group changes as drastically as Wye Oak have, but in this rare
case it works.
closed the night, and it was incredible. The last time they rolled
through town in support of "Kaputt," it was like the whole band,
especially frontman Dan Bejar, had downed a fistful of 'ludes before
taking the stage. By com- parison this outing was downright ebullient!
Early in the set Bejar exclaimed "Gotta find my tambourine...it's gonna
be worth it," and I knew based on his mood it was going to be a good
night. Including Bejar the band was running at eight members, including
two full-time horn blowers and an organist. Outside of a couple of new
songs (which sounded great), most of the setlist was made from the
albums "Rubies and "Kaputt" - and the best songs off of those albums to
boot. The list included "Savage Night of the Opera," "Chinatown,"
"European Oils," and the closer for the night, the epic "Rubies." There
was still a little time until 2 AM and I was hoping the band would keep
going until closing, but like some crusty old Englishman once told me
we can't always get what we want. I'm pretty sure this gig is going to
lead me down a manic Destroyer listening party for the next few weeks. I
don't see that as a problem.
Neutral Milk Hotel, Caribou, Teenage Fanclub, Bob Mould, and Mikal Cronin
Cat's Cradle 7/26/2014
tried to prepare myself for a long day of standing in the hot Cat's
Cradle parking lot by purchasing a chocolate milk- shake, and this led to
me arriving at the venue late and only seeing part of Mikal Cronin
and his super-catchy fuzz pop. This might lead the regular person to
exclaim "damn you milkshake!" for making them late, but it wouldn't be
sincere on my part because the milkshake is the true love of my life.
Anyways, I believe all of the songs I did get to hear were from his
excellent Merge record "MCII," and since I didn't miss hearing one of
the best pop songs of the last few years, "Shout It Out," I can't get
too mad about missing part of his set.
I know this will possibly result in my "music fan" card being revoked, but I've never listened to much Bob Mould
or Husker Du. And the thing is, every time I hear a song by either act
I usually enjoy it...just never translated to any pro- longed listening
to his/their music. Mould's backing band is the current rhythm section
of Superchunk, Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster, their second and third
times playing the festival respectively. Narducy managed not to make
himself bleed this time, but Wurster did still sweat a shirt shiny. I
didn't know most of what they played but I liked it - the only song I
did recognize was "I Don't Know You Anymore," and I'm told he played a
couple of Husker Du tracks. Also, host Margaret Cho (oh yeah I forgot
to mention she was the MC of the day's festivities) came onstage and
sang a couple of songs with the band - apparently she's a huge fan. She
didn't have a bad voice for a comedian, but maybe not a great voice for
a musician, ha.
Finally, what anyone with good taste had been waiting for, one of the greatest pop bands of all time, Teenage Fanclub.
I was as giddy as one of those crazed One Direction preteen fans, minus
the high-pitched shrieking. I don't think I've ever seen as many
musicians watching another band as I did during this set - a large
selection of most of the acts on the day's bill were posted at the side
of the stage taking it all in. The band might be a little older but
they haven't lost a step musically - everything sounded gorgeous. The
set list, while short, sampled their entire catalog...sure, there was a
ton of things I would have loved to hear like "Star Sign" and "Radio,"
but getting three songs from their perfect record "Songs from Northern
Britain" takes the pain away. And then there was the end of the set,
when they amped up the awesome exponentially - first with "The Concept,"
then "Sparky's Dream," and finally "Everything Flows." It might sound
like an exaggeration but this set alone was worth the price of the
entire four day pass; this kind of happy doesn't come along that often.
After Fanclub I knew I was kinda going to be ruined for any
other live music, but there were still two bands to go. I went inside
the Cradle to have a drink, cool off out of the sun, and try to get my
brain screwed back on straight. When I wandered back outside, Caribou
was partially through their set. I had always thought that this band
was just one guy manipulating shit on his computer, and maybe that is
the case on the recordings - but live it was an actual four piece band
with an exceptionally bad ass drummer. There's nothing I can tell you
about this band or show that you can't read elsewhere with more details,
but I will say if you are like me and wrote these guys off as boring
knob twiddlers, that definitely isn't the case.
Neutral Milk Hotel
were the closer for the night, and for the festival. After plenty of
admonishment not to take any photos or videos or recordings or to look
Jeff Mangum in the eye (that last part may or may not be true), Mangum
took the stage by himself to perform "I Will Bury You in Time," and was
shortly joined by the rest of the band (which could be anywhere from
five to seven members depending on the song they were playing at the
time). There was a couple of horn players (hornsmen? horners?), each
of them with a ton of different instruments from trombones to french
horns to trumpets to...I think a euphonium? Also, at least one of those
hornsmen was the human embodiment of Papa Smurf, in case you were
wondering. There is really no reason to go into what songs the band
played, because it was ob- viously their two albums they released over 15
years ago. As much as I love their recorded material, the live show was
a bit ramshackle. Maybe it was the mix, maybe it was the musicians,
maybe it was the poor acoustics of an outside show, but whatever it was,
the gig wasn't as good as I had hoped. Not bad by any means,
just...okay I guess. In fact the best material of the night were the
handful of tracks that Mangum played by himself, his voice clear and
unmuddled by the cacophony of sounds coming from the stage. That was
how Neutral Milk Hotel ended the show, the same as how they started -
just the iconic singer and his guitar, closing out a great four days of
Noun with Modern Hut and Lonnie Walker
Nice Price Books and Records
I finally made it to Nice Price for one of their rock shows.
Yeah, I popped and caught a band at a matinee gig while I was out and
about a month or two ago, but after telling myself I would show up for
multiple gigs, I finally followed through.
was the first act of the night...or at least part of Lonnie Walker -
singer Brian, Nathan of DiggUp Tapes on bass, and a drum machine. I
guess the rest of the band wasn't available and Brian wanted to do
something other than a solo show, but who knows. The set list was a lot
of the usual subjects, "Compass Comforts" and "Summertime" and their
cover of Art Lord & the Self Portraits "Bouncing Away" which I
honestly always thought was a Lonnie Walker song. There was also a new
song (or at least new to me) at the end of the set that sounded a
shitload like Modest Mouse's "Dramamine," only further cementing in my
head the comparison between the two acts. The band members might change
but a Lonnie Walker show hasn't much changed in five years, and I'm not
complaining because I always enjoy seeing them.
had the middle slot. The band was a two piece, a dude who handled most
of the vocals and Marissa from Screaming Females on backing vocals -
both were also playing electric guitars. I knew Marissa was going to be
in the final band Noun (this was a major part of the motivation to get
off the couch and to this show), but had no idea she was involved with
this act. The music was earnest and the vocals spoken almost as much as
they were sung - the closest quick comparison I could come up with is
the Silver Jews or more broadly, music you would have expected to be
released on Shrimper in the mid-nineties. I wasn't nuts for the music
to be perfectly honest, but it was decent and it seemed like a lot of
the kids in the crowd were digging it. Oh yeah, the crowd was super
young...that's almost not worth my mentioning anymore, because I'm
clearly the outlier in these scenes.
As mentioned earlier, Noun
aka Marissa from Screaming Females finished the evening. It was just
her, her guitar and her wicked vibrato voice. The crowd piled in close
around her and made it tough for me to take photos (which was already
tough due to the extreme lack of light), but somehow I survived the
whole ordeal. I'd never heard any of this solo material, and honestly
to me it just sounded like Screaming Females songs minus the rest of the
band. The songs were maybe a little less rocking and her guitar
playing a little less shredding, but Marissa's voice is so unique it
would be difficult not to compare this solo act to her main gig. She
was great though - if you've seen Screaming Females you know she puts on
a great live act, and even a slightly mellower version of her is still a
frequently seems to be the case, the older I get the less likely I am
to go out and see the new young bands that are always popping up. No
matter what my age is, there is always a pack of dudes in their early
twenties ready to take on the world with their rock and/or roll.
The first band I saw tonight was Ghostt Bllonde
- yes, the misspellings in their name are apparently intentional. I
often comment how young the crowd is, but this time I suspect many got
into Kings via fake IDs. I had 15 years on almost every person there
who wasn't actually working in the club...including the band. They were
a lively bunch though, crowd and band alike, very upbeat and dancey and
having themselves a fine Friday night party. The music was sort of a
combination of jangly pop ala Lonnie Walker mixed with a little dance
pop upbeat catchiness. It was sometimes a little sloppy, but everyone
seemed to be having fun so who cares right? I would see them again, and
look forward to seeing what these young lads grow into.
Despite being from Wilmington, this was apparently the album release party for the new Museum Mouth
record "Alex I Am Nothing." Maybe they also had a release party in
their hometown and just wanted to have more parties, who knows. Either
way I'd been hearing about these kids for a little while and then heard
one of their tracks on the local NCSU college radio station WKNC and
felt it imperative I see what they were all about live. They are a
three- piece with the unusual characteristic of a singing drummer - like
our very own local Phil Collins or something! I'd put their sound
firmly in the pop-punk camp, but we're talking more Jawbreaker and
Husker Du and Archers of Loaf than Blink 182. On some of the mellower
numbers there was also a bit of Connor Oberst maybe. It was a fairly
quick set, and I dug it enough to buy the record at the end of the
local radio station was putting on a free show, I didn't have shit else
going on, so why not hit the town? I'd never been to Red Hat or seen
any of the bands, so it seemed like an entertaining enough way to spend
As always, free shows bring out weird crowds - lots of very
young kids, random old people, stoners, wookies, folks that are likely
homeless, and rejects from the filming of "Spring Breakers." The line
was all the way around the block so my idea of catching most of J. Roddy Walston & the Business
was out the window - I did get to hear most of the set though, and we
finally got inside in time to take in the last three or so songs. I've
had friends for ages saying they are must-see live, and even though this
was probably the wrong venue I could see what they were getting at.
The band, especially J. Roddy, were very exciteable and enthusiastic on
stage, playing their piano-led southern bar rock with a great deal of
zest and - dare I say it - pizazz. They were somewhere in the spectrum
between the Hold Steady and Kings of Leon, with a little Ben Folds mixed
in. The crowd seemed into it, much more so than I expected.
The middle band - Foals
- was the main draw for the evening (we didn't even stick around for
headliners Cage the Elephant). Where the band is from in England they
apparently sell out eleven thousand seat venues in a matter of minutes,
but in Raleigh they're the middle act of a free gig. Amazing the
difference an ocean can make sometimes. The band has put out four full
lengths, the first two were even on Sub Pop, but somehow I missed all of
this. Anyways, yadda yadda yadda, the band basically plays a modern,
updated version of that Brit pop sound we've all known and loved for
ages now. It's a tough sound to precisely describe, but we all know it
when we hear it. They put on a good stage show, had a lot of fancy
lights happening, and the crowd ate it up. I'm not sure they were a
band I'd seek out for a regular paying gig, but for a free show? They
were well worth it.
Occasionally I make a mix for the wife as my way of cojoling her into listening to the music I love. This is the most recent one. Some of these songs have probably already been posted here...who cares.
Really into this website called GooBing Detroit. It tracks deterioration in the city based on street view photos from google and bing - results that are both fascinating and depressing.
I'm not usually one to get jazzed about bike riding, but this is pretty great - Danny MacAskill does street trials (I think that's what they call it) in the Argentinian town of Epecuen, which until recently had been underwater for thirty years.
And this a short documentary called Pablo's Villa about that town and it's one remaining resident. A good pair of videos to watch back-to-back.
journal entries - the medium format photos from our trip to California last December, and some snaps from a weekend trip to Cherokee.
My lack of Music reviews this month is to be fully blamed on how much time I've spent watching the World Cup, but I did get around to listening to the new records by Wye Oak and Liars, plus a few of the old seven inches.
route to go play old man basketball with some friends, I stopped off at
Nice Price to take in some day rock and try not to buy anything for
once. I can't overstate how much I like a daytime or even happy hour
rock show, it is one of the great joys in life. I knew very little
about who was playing and only had a few minutes to stop in, but it was
free and who cares, day rock! I managed to see a short set by a band
called New Boss,
which is apparently an offshoot of the Charlottesville band Invisible
Hand. It was unclear if this is just a side project or if Invisible
Hand is no more...hopefully side piece status, because I dug the Hand.
The basics are: five piece band, female singer, excellent guitar
playing. The guitar work especially reminded me of Pavement, and the
overall vibe of the band was Teenbeat Records circa 1995. But more than
anything, and this didn't hit me until their last song, they reminded
me of Television Personalities. Or rather Television Personalities with
bitchin' guitar. I'll gladly see these guys again, even at night!
I know Marc Maron
is performing bits when he is onstage, he's been doing this comedy
thing for a few decades now after all. But he's just so damn
comfortable up there that it feels more like a conversation (and
sometimes a rant) than it feels like a comic performing a routine.
There were a few noteworthy bits about driving a car in LA turning into a
"hate pod" and how farting never stops being funny, but the best parts
were his ruminating on Jesus / religion / Good Friday (it was
particularly topical given the date of the show) and taking questions
from the audience. One audience member asked him about crossfit which
set him off on a particularly funny rant if I remember correctly. The
man is easily one of the best working comedians out there today, and
I'll never not ever not miss him tell the jokes and the whatnot.
His opener, Ryan Singer, was the exact opposite - his act
was so perfect and well-rehearsed it felt more like a one act play than
it did comedy, not that I didn't laugh a lot. He also opened the last
time Marc came to town, so one would assume they are friends and this is
the usual Maron live show experience. I enjoyed Singer so much I'd
gladly go see him on his on if he ever came back solo, the guy has a
I missed Protomartyr
at Hopscotch last year or the year before or whenever it was, but I
remember people that I trust giving them a big thumbs up and that was
enough to get me out of the house and into Slims. The place was packed,
probably sold out but I didn't poll the doorman or anything. As I
hadn't even listened to more than a song or two of their music, I was
forming most of my opinion on the band from this show. You would
definitely never know what you were getting into from just looking at
this pack from Detroit - singer Joe Casey looked like the doppelganger
for Craig Finn of the Hold Steady, the guitarist looked like a refugee
from a frat jam band, and i don't recall the bassist or drummer (insert
rhythm section jokes here), but everyone looked like they were coming
from something different. More import- antly though, the music - rad.
Super rad. The overwhelming vibe was a protopunk/postpunk sound along
the lines of the Fall or Pere Ubu depending on the song, with moments of
noise sludge like US Maple and pop punk like Jawbreaker making
occasional appearances. Did I mention how rad they were? So rad.
Radical. Radiating rad- icality. I can't recommend this band enough.
Saw Whatever Brains
again, they had the middle slot, Shocking, I know. They were rad as
per usual, equal parts weird and rock, but the only thing particularly
noteworthy here is it was their first gig with their new bassist, or at
least the first I had seen and the first for Slims. Maybe because he is
still being indoctrinated into the cult of WB, it was their most
"traditional" set I've seen in quite some time...no long jams, no
keyboard skronk offs, no weird covers. But again, rad nonetheless.
The opener was a band called
Spray Paint from Austin. I had briefly listened to a couple of songs
online and while it didn't wow me, it was interesting enough to see what
they were all about live. It turns out they are one of those three
piece bands that features two guitarists and no bassist as seems to be
popular these days. All three band members sang, and often it was two
or even all three of them singing at once. And while I never really got
this vibe from my brief foray into their recordings, I got a strong
A-Frames vibe this night at Slims. Anything that even slightly reminds
me of A-Frames is a very, very good thing.
As a side note, someone obviously needs to set up a show where Charlotte's Paint Fumes follow Spray Paint.
You know you love a comedian when you're willing to drive all the way to Charlotte to see them. I actually had a chance to see Doug Benson
a couple of days earlier in Raleigh, but Superchunk was playing the
same night and I miss Superchunk for no one. He was performing at his
favorite time, 4:20 in the afternoon, not only because he is a stoner
but mainly because having a comedy show in the afternoon usually insures
the crowd is definitely there to see you, and not just some drunk oafs
who decide it might be fun to go to the comedy club at night and be
annoying loud assholes.
First though - Graham Elwood
opened the show, as he seems to often do with Doug on the road. He is
the Washington Generals to Doug's Harlem Globetrotters, only in this
case I'm betting both are terrible at basketball. He is good at comedy
though - not as good as Doug, but I enjoyed his short set. Outside of
some comical karate talk I don't remember much about it, but I
After a few minutes of Graham Doug came out. He read
some tweets and commented on them, did some crowd work, and at the end
of the set he brought Graham back out to play the Leonard Maltin game
with an audience member (who won when Graham couldn't name the movie, if
I remember correctly). In between all of that though, Doug was working
on honing his material for a comedy special he would be recording a few
days later (on 4/20, obviously). Despite having listened to hundreds of
hours of the "Doug Loves Movies" podcast, I've actually not listened to
a ton of his stand-up. He was hilarious. I sometimes try to write
down a few notes on some of the highlights from a comics set, but all I
wrote down after Doug was "carpet and anal sex" - I'm not sure if that
means there were jokes about carpet and jokes about anal sex, or jokes
about the two of them together, but either way I felt the need to write
it down because I must have really had a good laugh over it.
When it was all over we left the club and it was still
light out and that was really weird. Then we went to a Bobcats game to
make the trip to Charlotte complete. The end.
Console - By this River (Brian Eno cover). I had no idea who Console was, picked up this release "Mono" at a local
thrift store. Turns out it's one of the dudes from the Notwist!
And it's pretty great, especially this cover of Brian Eno's best song. Bonus: Magnolia.
Got some medium format pics developed...these were taken at Leo Carillo State Park north of Malibu this past christmas when we visited the wife's family in California. It was a beautiful 80 degrees on christmas day.
A trio of superbly superb skate flicks: - Connor Kammerer from "Tengu: God of Mischief" - Dude has a weird name & video has a weird name but don't hold that against it - skating is beyond rad, great mix of tech and weird and raw street. - Mauro Caruso from "MỤRICA" - Dude just straight up kills the ancient town of Modica in Sicily. No one is ever, ever, EVER allowed to complain about rough ground where they skate again. - Mark Gonzales, re-edit of his part from 2001's "Reel to Reel." Footage that is 13 years old and older, and it's as fresh and enjoyable as anything made today.
In other video news: Wes Anderson made a short film/commercial for Prada called "Castello Cavalcanti" starring Jason Schwartzman. It feels very Wes Anderson, as expected.
journal entry this month - band photos of Perfect Pussy, Whatever Brains, Cheap Time, Last Year's Men, and more.
In the Music reviews, like a broken record still with the old seven inches. New reviews include Stephen Malkmus, Ernie Graham, the War on Drugs, and...shit, that might have been all the new music I reviewed. So lazy.
wife and I went to Wilmington for a little Memorial Day vacation and to
visit my good pal Brian, and it just so happened that a band featuring
both one of Brian's bandmates and his former college roommate, the Carvers,
were having a release party for their record. Why not go see a little
surf rock? well, surf rock with a little vintage sixties garage rock
thrown in. The band was a five piece, all wearing matching burgundy
blazers, and rocked it out like the house band of every Roger Corman
sixties biker flick ever made. It was a mix of originals and covers,
from the Sonics to Dick Dale to the Santo & Johnny classic "Sleep
Walk." The crowd was also as mixed as I've seen in some time - from the
usual young crowd to the middle age set like myself to older folks
cutting a rug to the jams, pretty much every- one was represented here.
Everyone seemed to have a good time, including myself...not bad for a
free show on a whim.
Weird comedy show was weird. To be fair, I knew this would be the case going in.
After a local opener, Howard Kremer
was the first of the touring duo to take the stage. It should be noted
that the whole reason I was even at this gig is because the wife is
obsessed with his podcast "Who Charted," but even she was wary about how
odd this might be. Howard isn't really a stand-up - he occasionally
says funny things, but it's awkward and not well formed at all like a
typical comedian. Still, I laughed more than I cringed so I count that
as a victory.
- not even sure where to start with him. First off, he is crazy. And I
don't mean in the joking way "oh he's so crazy," no, he's actually been
committed. He's been well known in the LA comedy scene forever, does a
ton of audience warm up gigs for various shows, had a documentary show
about him on Comedy Central, and is friends with a ton of A-listers.
But none of this means I'm going to laugh seeing him live. He started
his set by DJing songs from his iPod/iPhone/iWhatever and "pumping up"
the crowd...and then he proceeded to tell jokes for over two hours.
Well, not so much jokes as yell and do his crazy character and I think
he did crowd work on three-quarters of the audience. I'm not actually
sure how much over two hours because that is the mark we left at...at
the time Brody was on stage using a pair of chairs like a drum kit.
Seeing him is like seeing a life coach tripping on mushrooms - lots of
laughs but I basically felt high after it was over.
(Photo not mine, found randomly online. Brody did not perform comedy with a dog.)
a bit of a drive to the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw, certainly more
so than most other venues. But it's a pleasant drive, and with my
friend the Cook-Out tray there to accompany me, we made the trip in no
time and got there in time to see the last half of Loamlands
set. They're almost a local all-star band, mainly consisting of a
couple of former Midtown Dickens members but from show to show includes
any number of other recognizable musicians - tonight in particular Matt
from Portastatic and Bon Iver was handling the drums. Despite the
pedigree I'd not listened to or seen the band before - turns out they
play very pleasant folk pop with a slight country tinge. Singer Kym
Register has a fantastic voice, one that could easily hold my attention
all by itself, but the songs and musicianship seemed to be top notch
across the board. It looks like they're finally releasing some recorded
music this summer, and I'll be gladly picking that up.
Then it was time for my biannual Superchunk
live show experience. Even though I get to see them fairly often these
days, I'm as excited as a teenager each and every time. I don't have
any great insight or special things to say about this show over the many
others I've seen, but like always I feel the need to document it. This
was my second time seeing the band without Laura Ballance on bass and
with Jason Narducy as her replacement; he may not pogo as much and I
haven't had a crush on him my entire adult life, but he is a fair
The attendance (or lack thereof) was somewhat interesting - not that the
place was empty or anything, but there was way less folks than I
expected... I guess it takes some serious motivation to get folks to
drive all the way to Saxapahaw, and since it was only my second time I
can't argue with that. Chunk put on a great show regardless, playing
tons of songs I wanted to hear - they leaned heavily on their newest
record "I Hate Music" as well as "Indoor Living" which was just recently
reissued. Of particular note was them performing "Under Our Feet,"
which according to Jim Wilbur was the first time they had ever played it
live. There was also a cover of a song called "Can't Fool Me" by A
Number of Things - I'd never heard of this band but apparently Mac was
briefly in the group in the eighties and the singer recently passed
away. Track had a nice Black Flag vibe to it, I'd be curious to hear
the original. Other than that, there were a few classics like "Skip
Steps 1 & 3," "For Tension," and "Driveway to Driveway" that I sang
along to like a damn fool. As always, it was a grand ol' time, and I
can't wait to see them again. And again. And again.
I saw Todd Barry again. It was at Kings again. I laughed my ass off again.
This gig was part of his final crowd work tour. What does
that mean? Todd came out on stage without a set of pre- pared jokes, and
instead talked to the audience and riffed off of whatever direction they
would send him in. There probably aren't a lot of comics who can do
this as successfully as Barry, he's just so quick with the banter, and
couple that with his general personality that would have me laughing if
he was reading the phonebook, and you've got a successful show.
There's really not much to say though, other than I laughed so
much my face hurt. He managed to make a bunch of RTP tech nerds sound
interesting. A former NC State soccer coach was there and talked to
Todd - he was a much better sport about it than I would have expected,
but then again this isn't a regular comedy show at a comedy club and I'm
guessing he knew Todd and what he was getting himself into.
Yo La Tengo - Is That Enough. A couple of tracks from the most recent YLT record. They just keep chugging along. Not their best record but it's definitely in the plus column. Bonus: Ohm.
Picked up a Grandaddy-curated mixtape at the thrift store, and these are some of the better songs from it. I might have already posted some or all of these at one point or another, but they're good enough to merit another look. Beulah - Burned By The Sun Blonde Redhead - For The Damaged Fruit Bats - The Little Acorn Snow Patrol - Run