Sometimes a band has to wander down out of the mist of the hills and
perform for the fanciful folks of the city. Such
was the case with U.S. Christmas, a band based out
of Marion, a small town up near Asheville at the foot of the Blue
Ridge mountains. I know this town well, as my mom lives
there...the idea that any music of quality could come out of that
hamlet of insular goofs should be a surprise to anyone who has ever
been there. And I know the band well, or at least
the singer/guitarist Nathan Hall - we grew up together and have
remained fairly close since high school. I could now
make some caveat about about being fair and balanced in my reporting on
the band despite my personal connections,
but fuck it...it's my stupid website and I can be as unbalanced as I'd
This was my first time seeing USX with their "new" line-up - the only
holdovers from the old band is Nate and guitarist
Matt. The group has now swollen to seven members, including two
drummers and a violinist, and in my opinion they
sound much, much better now. They were a good band before, but
they seem so much tighter now, these new
members much more accomplished musicians. And what the hell, I
just love bands with two drummers.
There was a nice crowd on hand - not packed, but certainly full.
Earlier in the week they received a big write-up in the
Independent, which I'm sure helped the cause. It also didn't hurt
that they were playing with local rock icons Caltrop. But
the crowd gathered, Nate took off his shirt as per usual, and the rock
began. There were songs from their full length on
Neurot "Eat The Low Dogs", there were songs I didn't recognize...fast
songs, slow songs, grind you up and spit on you
songs. I've long struggled to describe this band, and the closest
I've ever come Neil Young circa the "Dead Man Sound-
track" fronting Hawkwind and playing covers of early "Umma Gumma" era
Pink Floyd songs. Yes, I know how pre-
posterous that sounds, and I don't care. It was awesome, they
were awesome, and if they ever decide to make it down
to the Triangle again, go see them rock your cock out and subsequently
Between helping the lads load out their 18 metric tons of equipment, I
caught the bulk of Caltrop's set. They had
drummers as well (for those keeping count at home, that is four
drummers for two bands, drastically throwing off the
drummer ratio), lending a very strong backline to some pretty stellar
stoner/sludge metal. These local kids were much
more "straight-forward" in their rocking than U.S. Christmas, but just
as enjoyable in a slightly different way. This is
music you can literally bang your head to, and then wake up the next
morning wondering why your neck is so sore and
then remembering that you're in your mid-thirties and too old to hesh
out for an entire evening.
"I try to
be a role model for kids around the park. If some kid wants to grow
dope, they can come talk to me, instead of
growing dope 6 or 7 times through denial and error, they're going to
get it right the first time and have some good dope."
Jay Reatard In honor of
his passing a couple of months ago, here is a six-pack of great songs
he put out during his
short solo run. Always Wanting More Hammer I Miss You I Know A Place Let It All Go Searching For You SeeSaw
Blag'ard - Shame.
I just recently got the new Blag'ard record in the mail, and I'm just
now getting around to posting
my favorite song from their last record. Timeliness, my greatest
Jackson 5 - Doctor
My Eyes (Jackson Browne cover). I only recently found
out this cover existed...I grew up on
the Jackson Browne version, and it's really odd (but great) to hear
pre-weird Michael Jackson singing it.
Here's the original for good measure: Jackson Browne - Doctor
Midlake - Balloon
Maker. Some selections from their first album, a hit
and miss affair but a clear indicator of the
dense baroque prog-pop Midlake would be churning out in the
of Them Were Superstitious.
Modey Lemon - Milk
Moustache. Rock music - so hot right now!
Bear Comes Back Down the Mountain.
White Stripes - Conquest.
I can't get enough of this cover song by the Stripes. It gets
stuck in my head constantly.