September 30, 2006

That Was The Show That Was: Mobius Band, Baby Dayliner

The Mobius Band at Great Scott, Boston, Sept. 27, 2006As we've mentioned a couple times previously, we made what surprisingly was our first trek to Boston's Great Scott club this past week to catch :: clicky clicky :: faves The Mobius Band make a strong return to town after a relatively extended absence. The band had intended to play here over the summer, but the tire of a borrowed van had other ideas. The trio succeeded in making the scene Wednesday, and they delivered a compelling 45-minute set comprised of equal parts old hits and new tunes.

The band took the stage at about 12:30 and performed two cuts from the City Vs. Country EP, a set that received a surprising amount of attention that night considering the band's most recent release is the fantastic 2005 full-length The Loving Sounds Of Static. Anyway, a road-hardened and confident Mobius Band opened with a stirring version of "Multiply" and then "City Vs. Country" (which is hard not to hear as partially autobiographical, considering two thirds of the band moved to Brooklyn from Western Mass. a couple years back) before launching into the powerful new tune "A Hint Of Blood." The latter number is a bleepy, Peter Sax-sung tune whose demo we've hyped previously here and that you can now download via the band's site here [right click and save as].

From here the band launched into a succession of several new tunes, including one with an unexpected pop reggae rhythm. None disappointed, and the band closed out with another cut from City Vs. Country, which you may have already heard in a shoe commercial, "Starts Off With A Bang." The final line of the tune, which begins "so... sick of music," gets us every time. And it would have made a fitting close to the show, but the fans clamored, and Mobius Band obliged with the "hit" title track to last year's full-length, a remix of which you can download here [right click and save as].

Before Mobius' set we asked guitarist Ben Sterling about the band's future recording plans, and he said that none are forthcoming as yet, that the band is continuing to write new material. We most recently wrote about Mobius Band in Show Us Yours #4, where you can also find the rest of the trio's tour dates. Finally, below we link to three MP3s you should have heard long, long ago, although right now we are digging very hard on Benoit Pioulard's remix of "You're Wrong" posted at the band's MySpace dojo here.

The supporting acts were a mix and match of different genres. Each is worth mentioning for different reasons. The startlingly young-looking openers Scary Monsters took the stage after a few Strokes tunes were played over the public address and the similarities between the two were easy to identify. We would be surprised to hear that the bass player of Scary Monsters was older than sixteen, although his youthful appearance reminded us of Sid Vicious -- only Scary Monster's bassist can actually play. On the whole we were fairly impressed with the act. Several years from now they are probably going to make a record people will really be talking about.

Instrumental post-rockers Caspian played a handful of extended, dynamic space jams that sounded, in a good way, as if they were lifted straight from sets by Mono, Explosions In The Sky or Godspeed You Black Emporer. Really. Caspian was exciting to watch, and although the dynamic road maps for each of their songs were somewhat similar, that didn't make them less affecting.

Like our man H-Dawg From Accounts Receivable, who hipped us to the Baby Dayliner album in the first place, we are still having a hard time knowing what to make of Mr. Dayliner's performance. His set basically consisted of him doing karaoke to his own tracks, which emanated from a recorder stored in a small vintage suitcase situated on a stand behind him on the stage. His performance strangely bordered on something you might expect from a really ambitious busker in a subway station, but Mr. Dayliner's quiet enthusiasm was hard to resist. And perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire night, of any of the sets, was the particularly rabid fanbase that showed up for Baby Dayliner. It was a real crowd of characters, at least a few of who appeared as if they had just been sprung from the Island of Misfit Toys in the old Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer stop-motion classic.

We've got a few pictures of Baby Dayliner at Flickr here, and a whole lotta Mobius Band pics here. Do check 'em out. And because it has been several paragraphs since we mentioned them, below are links to some Mobius Band tracks you can download and play to your heart's content.

Mobius Band -- "The Loving Sounds Of Static" -- The Loving Sounds Of Static
Mobius Band -- "The Loving Sounds Of Static (Junior Boys Remix)" -- Idol Tryouts Two
Mobius Band -- "A Hint Of Blood (Demo)" -- Demo
[right click and save as]

Free Range Music: The Hold Steady, Decemberists, Sean Lennon

The Hold Steady -- Boys And Girls In AmericaIt's weekend album streams galore! Seriously, stay in on a beautiful day and listen to indie rock! Unless you are in Boston and coming to our NEMO panel this afternoon! Exclamation point!

Regular readers may have noticed that we didn't get around to our weekly injection of Free Range Music earlier week. It's just been a little bonkers around here with shows -- two a week is about 100% more than we are used to, and we still plan on taking in a couple more tonight. We've got reviews of the Mobius Band and Yo La Tengo shows in the works -- for a sneak peek you can check out the pictures we shot here and here. But anyway, we wanted to get on the proverbial Free Range Music stick because a lot of great records became available in cascading ones and zeroes this week, not the least of which is this late Friday find via Stereogum, Vagrant Records' listening party for The Hold Steady's virtually unleakable Boys And Girls In America. The record sounds awesome. Really, goosebumps-on-the-arms good as the first song kicks in, we're on the fourth track now and it is a barnburner. Holy twin guitar leads, Batman! But that is far from all. Below we link to pre-release streams of the forthcoming Decemberists, Sean Lennon and Portastatic records, via Stereogum, BrooklynVegan and Merge respectively.

The Decemberists -- The Crane Wife -- Capitol [buy]
The Hold Steady -- Boys And Girls In America -- Vagrant [buy]
Sean Lennon -- Friendly Fire -- Capitol [buy]
Portastatic -- Be Still Please -- Merge [buy]

September 27, 2006

From The Admin Cubicle: Mobius Band Tonight

Ben Sterling of Mobius BandBecause of the NEMO Conference that is descending on Boston beginning tomorrow, posting will be a bit, shall we say, anemic until the end of the weekend. In fact, we are kicking NEMO off a little early with a non-NEMO show tonight: Mobius Band and Baby Dayliner at Great Scott. We aim to review that show, as well as whatever we see Saturday night. Tomorrow night we see Yo La Tengo, and we've called in a favor to our most-rabid-YLT-fan friend, who will write up the show for us. So that's about all. The NEMO wristband giveaway we started last night is still going, so be the first one to email the answer to our easy Lemonheads trivia question in. You can totally Google the answer -- c'mon. Okay, more over the weekend. [Photo Credit].

Review: Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton | Knives Don't Have Your...

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton -- Knives Don't Have Your BackEmily Haines has a lot going on these days, serving as frontwoman/indie rock goddess of Toronto outfit Metric and a part-time member of Canuck supergroup/collective Broken Social Scene. In her spare time while touring with Metric over the last four years, Haines recorded Knives Don’t Have Your Back, an intimate collection of piano-driven songs. Haines is backed on the album by The Soft Skeleton, a cadre primarily comprised of Scott Minor of Sparklehorse, Chris Seligman and Evan Cranley of Stars, Metric's Jimmy Shaw and Justin Peroff of BSS.

Unlike the uptempo, electronic pop offerings of Metric and the multilayered, epic stylings of BSS and Stars, Haines and crew here offer minimal instrumental accompaniment -- horns, drums, organ, guitar in addition to Haines’ piano and vocals -— to maximum effect. Songs like "Doctor Blind," "Crowd Surf Off a Cliff" and "The Lottery" explore themes of sexual politics and identity. Although this ground has been tread by many a female singer-songwriter over the years, Haines keeps things interesting with her plaintive, unadorned vocals and sardonic, non-sappy lyrics. In an age when many female pop vocalists hide behind autotuning and processing, Knives Don’t Have Your Back is a superb album that reminds us of the simple power of song. The set was released this week on Last Gang; we've posted a link to an MP3 of "Doctor Blind" below.

Hardcore Metric fans should take note of a charity auction that Frank Chromewaves is running right now to benefit the ailing Rogue Wave drummer we wrote about previously. Mr. Chromewaves is auctioning off a copy of the ultra-rare Emily Haines set Cut In Half And Almost Double from 1997; full details are here. -- Jay Kumar

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton -- "Doctor Blind" -- Knives Don't Have Your Back
[right click and save as]

[Buy Knives Don't Have Your Back here]

Emily Haines | MySpace

September 26, 2006

Random Thought

That new Voxtrot tune "Trouble" [via Gorilla vs.] loaded into our ITunes right next to The Wake's "Carbrain" from the 1990 Sarah Records compilation Air Balloon Road [info], and we were surprised at how similar the bands sounded when the files played one after the other.

Today's Hotness: Slumberland Records, Anton Corbijn, Shellac

Whorl -- Maybe It's Better / Christmas>> This ILM thread hipped us to the very exciting news that Slumberland, one of our all-time-favorite indie labels, is back with some new singles and a snappy site redesign. One of the best things about the Slumberland site has always been the discographical information and MP3s the label offers. With the redesign the old discographical info has been greatly enhanced. Even more exciting still: the site is offering more downloads, including many of our top ten favorite songs of, you know, all time. While the actual excercise of compiling that list would be more exhausting than it is worth, it would definitely include the Lilys cut "Claire Hates Me" [download here], Velocity Girl's Earth-shaking single "My Forgotten Favorite [download here] and Whorl's "Maybe It's Better" [download here], which we most recently rhapsodized here at Tiny Idols over the summer. Really, the entire Slumberland site deserves your attention, but here are some more highlights: Lorelei, Rocketship, Swirlies, Small Factory. Truly amazing music that knocked our socks off then and still knocks said socks now. Please go check it out for yourself.

>> Tripwire here digs up a subtitled video clip of director Anton Corbijn, who tells some Dutch outfit about the progress being made on the Ian Curtis biopic "Control." One interesting factoid: Corbijn apparently is financing half of the film's 4.5M Euro budget himself. Where does a photographer get more than 2M Euros? Anyway, the clip also features shots of Corbijn at work on the film and archival footage of Joy Division to boot. It's well worth checking out.

>> Aversion is the first to hip us to news about the first new Shellac record in what will be seven years. According to this item, the uncompromising trio of Steve Albini, Todd Trainer and Bob Weston will issue in early 2007 via Touch And Go a set entitled Excellent Italian Greyhound. No more details here.

Going Places: NEMO Festival Blogger Panel / GIVEAWAY

As we mentioned at some point last month, we are going to be speaking on a panel at Boston's NEMO Music Festival this coming weekend. There are numerous panels Saturday, but ours, of course, will be the best. It is called "Music Blogs: Fanzines of the 21st Century" and it is being moderated by DoneWaiting.com's Robert Duffy, who was somehow duped into coming all the way from Ohio to hang out onstage with yours truly. Ahh, we jest. Several notable Boston bloggers will also join us Saturday at 1:45PM, including the ever-amicable Mr. Almanac, as well as the human manifestations of Aurgasm, ExitFare and False45th. We think it is going to be a pretty high time, and we hope that some of you will come watch, ask questions, critique our outfits and perhaps join us for drinks afterwards.

While they will only gain you entrance to music events and not the conference, we have a pair of festival wristbands to give away. Said wristbands get you into venues holding NEMO events Thursday through Saturday nights. We're not one to tell anybody what to do, but we will say that we're making darn sure to check out Yo La Tengo Thursday and Ladytron and The Long Winters Saturday. We're not 100% certain how you obtain these wristbands once you win them from us, but we've sent an email inquiring after these important facts (we're supposed to go pick up our credentials beginning at 5PM Thursday at the Boston Center For The Arts in the South End, which is the home base for the conference, and we expect that is where a winner might pick up a pair of wristbands). OK, here's the giveaway: the first person to email us at our address linked at right with the correct answer to the following EASY question gets the pair wristbands: which big deal Hollywood actress is featured in the video for The Lemonheads' "It's About Time"? [The wild coincidence is we wrote this item last night, but just two hours ago our hit log shows that someone just made their way to :: clicky clicky :: via a web search about this woman's role in the video].

NEMO | InterWeb
NEMO | MySpace

September 25, 2006

Today's Hotness: The Good, The Bad And The Queen, Logh

The Good, The Bad And The Queen -- Herculean>> We don't typically follow the musical endeavors of former Blur fronter and Gorillaz member Damon Albarn, and we don't really go in for gimmick, but this NME item really jumped out at us. Mr. Albarn's latest project The Good, The Bad And The Queen, which includes former The Clash bassist Paul Simonon on bass, will release its debut single "Herculean" in the U.K. Oct. 30. The gimmick? The single will be deleted the very same day, which we believe means you've got one day to buy the thing. Instant collector's item! The move seems fitting for the fairly hyped band, whose live debut -- slated for Oct. 26 -- sold out in a record-setting half hour. According to this Wikipedia entry, The Good, The Bad And The Queen's self-titled debut will be released Jan. 8, 2007, and there is a video teaser at the band's web site here. We are definitely intrigued.

>> Understated Swedish indie rock sextet Logh has posted online a portion of a new demo for the tune "The Black Box" and some pictures from the band's current recording session for the follow-up to the band's superlative A Sunset Panaorama. The thing is, we've got no idea how to access it. The band points to this site, which features a graphic of a bunch of broken glass. All we've determined is that if you click on a piece of glass it disappears, and if you alternate clicks on glass shards and the legend "IV" at upper left, you can get all the glass pieces to disappear. Logh, you are making it really hard for fans to get at your stuff. Maybe we are just a little dense, but we just can't figure it out. We reviewed A Sunset Panorama here [scroll down to Oct. 7, 2005].

>> We're excusing some adolescent/overly idealistic lyrics in this tune because we love fuzzy guitar-pop with great melodies. So check out the video for Scottish quartet The View's "Superstar Tradesman" [WM]. The song has been generating some radio buzz across the pond and will be issued as a single Oct. 23 in the UK. Here's The View's web site.

>> Looks like Stars' web site got hacked.

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: Jana Hunter

Jana HunterItinerant and seemingly haunted singer/songwriter Jana Hunter is touring the Mid-Atlantic and New England next month, still supporting her 2005 sort-of best of Blank Unstaring Heirs Of Doom. The set, which we called "one of the more varied and intriguing submissions we received this [well, last] fall," was released in October 2005; we reviewed the set at World Of Sound here. Earlier this year Texas-based Hunter toured by sailboat, believe it or not, until the vessel hit a buoy in the Chesapeake Bay. After satisfying the tour dates below Ms. Hunter plans to record her sophomore set for Gnomonsong; she recently finished writing and pre-production for the set. You can stream tunes from Blank Unstaring Heirs Of Doom at Hunter's MySpace domicile here.

10/13 -- Providence, RI -- AS220
10/14 -- Northampton, MA -- Eagles Club
10/15 -- Boston, MA -- PA's Lounge
10/16 -- Portsmouth, NH -- The Red Door
10/17 -- Bronxville, NY -- Sarah Lawrence
10/18 -- New Haven, CT -- BAR Nightclub
10/19 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Northsix
10/20 -- New York, NY -- Tonic
10/21 -- Purchase, NY -- SUNY Purchase
10/22 -- Buffalo, NY -- Soundlab
10/23 -- Rochester, NY -- TBA
10/24 -- Worcester, MA -- TBA

September 24, 2006

Rack And Opinion: Release Date 9.26.06

The Lemonheads -- The LemonheadsThe Lemonheads are one of our top five favorite bands, so we're obviously excited about the release this week of the band's first set in a decade [album stream at VH1.com here]. As with all post-Lovey releases, we're pretty cool about this record at the outset. It is good, but no Lemonheads record has leapt out and grabbed us straightaway as the band's earlier, punk and punkish stuff used to. That said, there are lots of strong songs on The Lemonheads, and we are sure that in time we will probably come around as a strong proponent of this one. It took us a couple years to really warm up to Come On Feel The... in particular. It certainly helps The Lemonheads that J. Mascis lends guitar riffage to one tune, and the Descendants-descended backing duo offer a nice bit of punch to the proceedings. Even so, we don't wholly buy chief Lemonhead Evan Dando's pre-release assertion that the record marks a return to the band's punk roots. Our Dando fandom aside, there are a number of other big deal releases this week, including sets from fan favorites Sparklehorse and :: clicky clicky :: favorites Colleen. Those and the rest of our picks for best new releases of the week are listed below. Links go to relevant commercial opportunities with our former tax assessors over at Insound.

Adem -- Love And Other Planets -- Domino
Colleen -- Colleen et les Boîtes à Musique -- Leaf
Four Tet -- Remixes -- Domino
Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton -- Knives Don't Have Your Back -- Last Gang
The Lemonheads -- The Lemonheads -- Vagrant
Sparklehorse -- Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain -- Astralwerks
Wolf Eyes -- Human Animal -- Sub Pop

Review: Citizens Here And Abroad | Waving, Not Drowning

Citizens Here And Abroad -- Waving, Not DrowningSan Francisco-based indie quartet Citizens Here And Abroad showcases some soaring winners on its sophomore set. Waving, Not Drowning collects autobiographical or partially autobiographical songs that chart relationships gone bad from numerous angles. Given the severity of some of the domestic problems in songs like "In The Dark," the record seems almost restrained -- this record appreciably benefits from being played loudly. We prefer to think that restraint as a foil to the tension that makes the music stand up like heavily starched pants. As the aforementioned song strides into its fourth minute it is floating a beautiful coda aloft, a coda that goes nowhere like the loser smoking cocaine on the protagonist's couch. The ominous "The Neighbors Called The Police" is another very strong track, lashing a scary, jerking verse to a gorgeus, smoothly rendered, harmony-laden chorus. The song's bridge (starting at about 3:00) also features the most amazing repurposing of the "oohs" from "Cleveland Rocks" (a/k/a one of the theme songs to "The Drew Carey Show") that you'll likely ever hear. Stellar album closer "Nerves" pleasantly recalls the sound of erstwhile D.C. indie rock act Black Tambourine.

If we had our druthers we'd have sequenced the barn burner "In The Dark" at the beginning of the record, although the tenser "Stranger" does a very good job displaying the band's wares: dueling guitars, dueling vocalists and emotional harmonies. Citizens Here And Abroad have a guitar-heavy sound somewhere between scene contemporaries Film School (check out "Secret") and '90s indie luminaries Versus (album highlight "In The Dark"). Waving, Not Drowning streets Sept. 26 on Turn. The label has posted two songs for you to sample -- neither is one of our favorite tracks from the set, but hey, that's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. We've linked to the MP3s below. The band hits the road in support of the album Oct. 7, but most of the dates are in the U.K. You can see the U.S. dates below the MP3s; full dates are at the band's MySpace yert here.

Citizens Here And Abroad -- "Accelerator" -- Waving, Not Drowning
Citizens Here And Abroad -- "Secret" -- Waving, Not Drowning

10/07 -- Pianos -- New York City, NY
10/09 -- The Annex -- New York, NY
10/28 -- Rickshaw Stop -- San Francisco, CA

September 21, 2006

Today's Hotness: American Hardcore, Rogue Wave Benefit Auction

Beastie Boys -- Pollywog SteW EP (image courtesy of http://www.btinternet.com/~thisispunkrock/ps/ushc/ak/beast.htm)>> The New York Times was all over "American Hardcore" today, with two separate pieces [doink! ploing!] about the documentary film. Neither article gets things exactly right, although the film review is far more off-base than the music review. The news peg of the latter is the taping of the Ian Svenonius talk show we wrote about here yesterday. Indulge our brief quibble with Times scribe Kelefa Sanneh's assertion that at one point Henry Rollins led the legendary Black Flag; any student of the band or reader of Mr. Rollins' astonishingly good "Get In The Van" book/spoken word bit knows the band was guitarist Greg Ginn's directorate, and that the verb Mr. Sanneh or his editors were grasping for was "fronted." Mr. Sanneh also glosses over hardcore kids' exultation of violence; even Ian Mackaye talks openly in the text of "American Hardcore" about early days inciting violence [see pages 136-7].

The Times' movie review makes the mistake of stating the hardcore scene "flamed out in 1986," an idea probably misappropriated from the imposed limitation of the text that the movie follows. The writer's assertion that Class of '77 punk acts should have been included betrays a lack of understanding of the hardcore scene, particularly insofar as the straightedge movement is concerned. Many vaunted '77 punks were on speed and heroin; a recent Henry Rollins clip we saw reveals that his and Minor Threat fronter Ian Mackaye's straightedge sentiments were inspired by clean living hard rocker Ted Nugent, and not many of the punk progenitors. The Times reviewer also lumps the Beastie Boys in with the Red Hot Chili Peppers as bands that "came after" the scene "American Hardcore" concerns itself with. This is, particularly in the case of the Beastie Boys, historically inaccurate. We'd recommend the Times film reviewer next time read the book the movie is based on.

>> Speaking of D.C. hardcore of the sort that somehow survived the "flameout" posited by the New York Times film reviewer, Pitchfork reports that DeSoto records will reissue the final two sets from Jawbox (1989-1997). Full details here.

>> If you've circumnavigated the blogosphere in the last 24 hours you've probably read of the health problem that is plaguing Pat Spurgeon, the drummer for Rogue Wave. Well, Mr. Rbally is stepping up to get some cash flowing in Mr. Spurgeon's direction by staging a benefit auction. Rbally will soon place an older but lovingly maintained IPod Nano on EBay, and the amount of the winning bid will be sent on to Spurgeon. As an added incentive, Rbally will fill the Nano with the winner's choice of appropriately cleared music. Watch this space for a link to the auction, and prepare to try to outbid Uncle Clicky. Incidentally, we here at :: clicky clicky :: would like to think we can do our part by publicizing some causes near and dear to our heart -- check out our sidebar, where we soon will add a link to information about organ donation.

>> A related story here on the minty fresh Idolator informed us of something we had no knowledge of heretofore, namely that pop-punk dynamo J. Church's Lance Hahn is also struggling with long-term health problems. Mr. Hahn's music was a favorite of our crowd during our undergrad years, and we still listen often to the compilation Nostalgic For Nothing, which features amazing covers as well as superlative fist-bangers like "Band You Love To Hate" and the awesome title track. Idolator suggests the best way to offer Mr. Hahn a hand is to buy some of his records; we give Nostalgic For Nothing our highest recommendation.

>> We love The Numbers Guy column in WSJ, and this week Mr. Bialik here looks at just how random an IPod's shuffle feature is. He actually never quite gets there, instead diverging off into an interesting discussion of random numbers and just how to generate them. At the end of the piece Bialik reports a possible technique for determining the randomness of an IPod's shuffle, however. Very interesting.

September 20, 2006

Rack And Opinion: Release Date 9.19.06

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy -- The Letting GoHey music fans. This week's nice batch of new releases should put a bit of a dent in your walking-around money if you are willing to part with it. The big deal is the Bonnie "Prince" Billy set -- we've only heard one track at this point, but the odd promo videos (they're on YouTube) offer a pretty enticing glimpse at, well, just how weird Mr. Oldham is. Other records that would follow along into our shopping cart are the ¡Forward Russia! set and the long-simmering collection from The Big Sleep, which is the longtime, mostly instrumental project of one-time Haywood sideman Danny Barria.

If you've got a whole lot of dough, or if you are of a certain young age and have no familiarity with Jane's Addiction's superlative early records, you should definitely snap up the Jane's best of. Although, really, you should just get the band's first three records. It's serious stuff. Those records and our other picks for the best musical propositions of the week are listed below. Links go to relevant commercial opportunities with our former secretarial assignments over at Insound.

The Big Sleep -- Son of the Tiger -- Frenchkiss
Bonnie "Prince" Billy -- The Letting Go -- Drag City
¡Forward Russia! -- Give Me a Wall -- Mute
Jane's Addiction -- Up From the Catacombs: The Best of Jane's Addiction -- Rhino/Warner
King Britt -- The Nova Dream Sequence -- Compost
Pere Ubu -- Why I Hate Women -- Smog Veil

Today's Hotness: Ian Svenonius, Archie Bronson Outfit, Deerhoof

Nation Of Ulysses -- 13-Point Program To Destroy America>> This is sort of interesting: according to Henry Rollins' Sept. 14 dispatch, Ian Svenonius of Make Up/Nation Of Ulysses fame aims to create a new talk show. Mr. Svenonius has Mr. Rollins and The Evens' Ian Mackaye booked to chat on the pilot episode, which we think taped Friday. D.C. hardcore misfits Nation Of Ulysses released records on Mr. Mackaye's highly regarded Dischord label in the early '90s, including 13-Point Program To Destroy America, which is one of our favorite album titles of all time. The promo poster for the set is one of our prized pieces of schwag left over from the college radio days, although in this day and age there are few places outside the home one can display such a dangerous-sounding poster without fear of a visit from someone in HR. We couldn't find a scan of the poster online, but the album cover we've posted at left is almost as cool.

>> This video for blues rock merchants Archie Bronson Outfit's "Cherry Lips" is about as intense as it is un-subtle. The clip, which the band created itself, would be pretty dull film school stuff if not for the deliciously tight shots and the fact that the edits are synchronized to the propulsive kick drum that drives the tune like a sweating piston. Then the red lights go on and the model is clothed in gold paint and little else and the video just goes haywire. Definitely worth checking out; its available in three nutricious varieties of streaming media: RM | QT | WM. The song is from ABO's sophomore set Derdang Derdang, which Domino released over the summer. :: clicky clicky :: reviewed the record here.

>> Kill Rock Stars reports that Deerhoof last week completed recording and mastering Friend Opportunity, a forthcoming set slated for release Jan. 23, 2007.

Show Us Yours #4: Mobius Band

Mobius Band -- Brooklyn, NY
As we've asserted elsewhere, we've been following electronic rock cyborgs Mobius Band for quite a goodly while, several years even. You can imagine our excitement when we heard the super-cool trio's new demo that uber-blog Stereogum recently posted here. With yet another tour on the horizon we thought we'd check in with Mobius guitarist Ben Sterling and learn a bit about the formerly Western Mass.-based band's new-ish practice digs in Brooklyn. Mr. Sterling reports that a recent rancid stench in the space has suspiciously abated, and betrays some very strong feelings for The National and against Iron Maiden. We wrap up the piece with Mobius Band's fall tour dates, as promised back in August. The band's most recent set, The Loving Sounds Of Static, was issued last year on Ghostly International.

1. Why did you choose this space?

To be honest, it was the first practice space I looked at. We share it with a revolving cast of bands. It's decorated in burnout Dorm Room Chic. There's a truly gigantic poster of Jack Nicholson's head from The Shining. It's really, really big. And as you can see, there is a huge lightning bolt as well.

The place is convenient as hell to get to and, as the neighborhood around it continues to gentrify, there are more and more places to get panini sandwiches when we take our inevitable breaks from the basement. 2/3rds of the band support these panini sandwiches. 1/3rd holds out, probably out of spite that he was last to the panini party (AGAIN).

2. Explain how an idiosyncracy or quirk of this space or a former practice space has affected a song (or even your overall sound).

If anything, our space makes some things more of a guessing game as all the electronics we send through the PA come back really muddy. That PA is so not ready for primetime. We go play a show at a club with a nice system and we're like "oh, the handclap is twenty times louder than the bass drum, awesome."

Before this, we all lived in Western Massachusetts, so we never needed a separate practice space. We'd just practice at a house. Me and Peter lived with a few friends in a run down '70s split-level, sort of a "Love Shack" kind of place. I think that set up, where we didn't have to deal with travel and everything was in-house and set up all the time, was really important in getting us to where we are now as a band. You get so used to each other musically that it makes the fact we can't rehearse as much now a lot easier.

3. You walk into your space. What's the first thing you smell?


Until recently, the fetid stench of decaying rat corpse. It was truly awful. We assumed it was a rat. It was something, though, and it was dead. As of a few days ago, though, the rat seems to have either been removed or entered a "non-stank" cycle in its organic breakdown. I should mention that this isn't directly inside our room, but rather in the "ante-chamber" that leads to it. The practice space itself smells like a mixture of basement smell, tube amps and general "dude."

4. Mobius Band is trapped on the deck of a sinking luxury cruise liner. Two hot air balloons have come to your aid. One hot air balloon is piloted by Richard Branson, the Virgin mogul. The other balloon is piloted by Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden. Which hot air balloon do you choose?

My old housemate is going to kill me, but fuck Maiden. Branson's got the cash and the skills to take me higher.

5. What do the next six months look like for your band?

We're leaving in a few days for a tour. We're doing the west coast dates with The National, which is great. I recently decided they are my favorite band of the aughts. It's been fun to get other people I know into them because it works every time. Otherwise, we're writing new songs down with the rats...
................................................................................................

MP3 | Mobius Band -- "The Loving Sounds Of Static" -- The Loving Sounds Of Static
[right click and save as]

Mobius Band | Interweb
Mobius Band | MySpace
Buy Mobius Band music at Insound

09/27 -- Boston, MA -- Great Scott
09/29 -- Baltimore, MD -- Sonar
09/30 -- Cleveland, OH -- House of Blues
10/02 -- Lawrence, KS -- Jackpot
10/03 -- Denver, CO -- Larimer Lounge
10/04 -- Salt Lake City, UT -- Velour
10/06 -- Seattle, WA -- Neumos
10/09 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Troubadour
10/10 -- San Diego, CA -- Casbah
10/11 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Troubadour
10/12 -- San Francisco, CA -- Great American Music Hall
10/13 -- Eugene, OR -- Wow Hall
10/14 -- Portland, OR -- Berbati's Pan
10/15 -- Missoula, MT -- The Loft
10/18 -- Chicago, IL -- Empty Bottle
10/19 -- Minneapolis, MN -- 7th Street Entry
10/21 -- St. Louis, MO -- Creepy Crawl
10/22 -- Lansing, MI -- Temple Club
10/23 -- Grand Rapids, MI -- Intersection
10/24 -- Detroit, MI -- Magic Stick
10/25 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Khyber

[Read Show Us Yours #1: Shapes And Sizes here]
[Read Show Us Yours #2: Dirty On Purpose here]
[Read Show Us Yours #3: Relay here]

September 18, 2006

Review: The Trolleyvox | ...Present The Karaoke Meltdowns

The Trolleyvox -- The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke MeltdownsOnly becoming aware of his lengthy resume after the fact, we first heard the work of Trolleyvox songwriter and guitarist Andrew Chalfen when he was a sideman with Philadelphia-based indie stalwart Joey Sweeney in the mid-'90s. In this role he added piano to Mr. Sweeney's excellent debut solo EP Heartache Baseball and performed with a short-lived Sweeney lineup that included Alex Kemp and Phoebe Summersquash of Small Factory/Godrays. That was a long time ago. Sometime during the intervening years we moved away from Philly and forgot about Mr Chalfen and what he might be up to. That is, until we caught wind this past July that Chalfen would be releasing a third full-length for his long-running guitar pop project The Trolleyvox. The set, entitled The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns, packs equal parts folk-rock and power pop into a hook-filled baker's dozen compelling tracks.

Front and center in the Trolleyvox sound is Chalfen's dense guitar work and singer Beth Filla's bell-clear vocals. "I Am Annabelle" is ushered in with a Townshend-ian lick before striking jaunty poses across an understated, syncopated verse and chorus; "Deep Blue Central" also has an acoustic The Who feel. "I Know That You're High" touts a soft attack that knowingly winks in the directon of The Byrds. The set skids a bit with the feather-light strummer "Twilight Hotel," but is instantly redeemed by the infectious album highlight "Joyride." It's not all classic rock influence -- fans of the aforementioned Small Factory and acts like Miracle Legion will find a lot to like among these 13 tracks. The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns streets Oct. 17 on the Transit Of Venus label. Additionally, Transit Of Venus plans to release a Trolleyvox double EP next spring. In the meantime, check out the MP3 posted below and at the band's MySpace hacienda. We've also linked to a video for "Just You Wait" and helpfully listed some Trolleyvox tour dates below.

The Trolleyvox -- "Just You Wait" -- The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns
[Just click]

"Just You Wait" at YouTube

09/21 -- The Electric Cafe -- Kent, OH
09/22 -- Club 87 -- Middlefield, OH
09/23 -- The Crush -- Cincinnatti, OH
09/24 -- Cafe Bourbon Street -- Columbus, OH
09/28 -- The Rudder -- Dewey Beach, DE
10/20 -- NorthStar Bar -- Philadelphia, PA
11/09 -- The Khyber -- Philadelphia, PA

[pre-order The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns at the band's MySpace]

Free Range Music: Jane's Addiction, The Big Sleep, Snowden

Jane's Addiction -- Up From The Catacombs: The Best Of Jane's Addiction>> AOL has a bit of minor trivia posted with the Jane's Addiction album stream now available in its pre-release album stream corral. Because we are big fans of the song we feel it is worth relaying that the title of the act's greatest hits package that streets tomorrow comes from the nihilistic, tribal thrasher "Chip Away." That song does not appear on the compilation; it is the last track on the band's amazing semi-live, self-titled debut released on XXX in 1987. The compilation offers a respectable overview of the Jane's Addiction's catalog, favoring as it does the band's astonishing and dare we say important first three records -- records that everyone should own and listen to from end-to-end.

The tracks "Superman" and "Just Because" stick out like proverbial sore thumbs in the running order of Up From The Catacombs: The Best Of Jane's Addiction. That's because the tracks, from Jane's Addiction's 2003 reunion effort Strays, just flatly shouldn't be there. To further amplify our sentiment, it is worth pointing out that according to AllMusic, the then-band members don't even get complete writing credit for the tracks -- hello Bob Ezrin.

Jane's Addiction made three perfect records, but the quartet's efforts in the last decade simply don't measure up. It would be fascinating to hash out why that is, although it may not be possible. Why does any band run out of enthralling material? Working in its favor in its heyday was the fact that Jane's always had a dangerous aura, and -- particularly in the latter days of its first go-'round -- the band also seemed poised to self-destruct at any moment. Jane's Addiction came from, and perhaps largely defined, a time when it seemed like there was really something wrong with the biggest acts of the day -- and that stoked fan excitement no small amount. In the last 10 years it seems that most bands like to assume the affectation that there is something wrong with them, but few actually live up to that odd (and oddly respected, at least by us, but we think also by music fandom at large) status. Again, it would be fascinating to explore why music made by those who are truly f*cked up is more compelling than most. But we'll save that investigation for another time and just state that for five or six years in the late '80s and early '90s, Jane's Addiction was one such band, and they were awesome. Stream Up From The Catacombs: The Best Of Jane's Addiction at the link below. We've also thrown in links to a new Alice In Chains hits comp -- a double-disc set -- and The Big Sleep's Son Of A Tiger, which has been growing buzz for what seems like years.

Alice In Chains -- The Essential Alice In Chains -- Sony
The Big Sleep -- Son Of A Tiger -- French Kiss
Jane's Addiction -- Up From The Catacombs: The Best Of Jane's Addiction -- Rhino

>> Not to be outdone, Rbally has posted what my man Kumar says is a rock solid live set from Jane's Addiction recorded in 1991 in Seattle. We've just put it on and can report that at least as far as the first two tracks are concerned the sound is superlatively clear and powerful and the band is on fire. Good golly, run don't walk over here and get the set while it is still available.

>> Speaking of live sets, don't miss the latest offering from Bradley's Almanac. This week's Mr. 'Nac is offering a hot live set from Atlanta-based indie rockers Snowden recorded last month here in Boston. Check it out here. The band is back in town Sept. 25 at The Middle East.

>> WavedRumor here points us to this stream for the forthcoming Robert Pollard solo set Normal Happiness. We just received the record Friday in the mail and it is a nice set of tight indie rock numbers. Well worth catching the stream.

September 17, 2006

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: Flin Flon [MP3]

Flin FlonTeenbeat Records honcho (and former Unrest and Air Miami guy, among other projects) Mark Robinson is dusting off his Flin Flon project for a brief -- and apparently rare -- tour beginning this week in Charlottesville, Virginia. Ten years ago that city was the homebase for Flin Flonner Matt Datesman's other band True Love Always (which act we saw at C-Ville's basement club Tokyo Rose lo those many years ago, when the city was also our home base for half a year) -- and perhaps it still is. Flin Flon most recently issued its third long player, Dixie, on Mr. Robinson's long-lived indie label. The trio has placed a song from the set online for download, and we've linked to it below. "Darlings" is a typically taut and minimal bass-driven assault not unlike the material from the band's Chicoutimi record, which we played a fair amount around these parts when it came out a few years ago. You can stream three more tracks at the act's MySpace page here.

Flin Flon -- "Darlings" -- Dixie
[just click]

09/21 -- Charlottesville, VA -- Satellite Ballroom
09/22 -- New York, NY -- Cakeshop
09/23 -- Boston, MA -- PA's Lounge (w. Geoff Farina)
09/24 -- Montreal, QC -- Casa del Popolo
09/25 -- Pittsburgh, PA -- The Andy Warhol Museum
09/26 -- Baltimore, MD -- Ottobar

September 14, 2006

From The Admin Cubicle: Asobi Seksu Tonight [Updated]

Asobi SeksuWe're offline this evening checking out Brooklyn dream-poppers Asobi Seksu playing a free show up at Tufts University with Man Man. We're not sure how much Man Man we'll stay to see, but we are aware of the reports out there stating the band's live show is utterly bonkers. So we'll see. Either way, we expect to post a review of the show before the weekend is out. And who knows, perhaps we'll even get a decent picture? In the meantime, why not read our review of Asobi Seksu's transcendent recent set Citrus? Newer readers may not realize how much we dig it; the set is one of our favorites of the year.

UPDATE: Well, we made the scene with H-Dawg From Accounts Receivable and discovered that the venue was a low, long room with no stage and that set times were already delayed an hour. We then met up with and consulted Mr. 'Nac, and a group decision was made to forego the evening's entertainment. We look forward to seeing Asobi Seksu another time in a more formal venue.

P.S. -- We just watched TV On The Radio playing "Wolf Like Me" on Letterman the other night on our TiVo. Holy cow. It's on YouTube here.

September 13, 2006

Today's Hotness: Up Up Down Down, Colleen, The Evens

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start>> This awesome documentary short makes us feel like even bigger jerks for not travelling to Hartford to see Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start when they were in New England last winter. Apparently the band has officially stopped touring and only plays a handful of shows each year. What the hell were we thinking. Anyway, the featurette "Filmed Entirely On..." captures the band as it is setting about recording its live set, which includes tracks from its free, digital-only EP Girl's Names released in January. Incidentally, you can still download the tunes here. The video short was directed by Robert Emmons, and filmed completely over the course of about five hours on March 28 of this year. Emmmons also directed the stunning video for the band's tune "Perris, CA," which you can watch at the band's MySpace casa here. Whoah! We just checked the band's MySpace and they are actually planning a tour to promote Girl's Names. Wowsers! Someone please book these guys in Boston.

>> If recent estimates are exact, filming for a forthcoming Ian Curtis biopic recently wrapped. Shooting for the film, which is titled "control" and based on the Joy Division singer's widow's book Touching From A Distance, commenced July 10 and was slated to end Aug. 26. This very thorough fan site was last updated Aug. 22, so the information is pretty fresh. "Control" is expected to be released next year; it has a very basic web site right here where you can sign up for updates. We did earlier today and received shortly thereafter a message authored by director Anton Corbijn.

>> Swoon reports here that there's a new Colleen EP in the works. The Leaf Label will issue Colleen Et Les Boites A Musique Oct. 2. The record features compositions created completely with music boxes, as its title would suggest to those of you with a working knowledge of French. Colleen is the musical vehicle of French school teacher Cecile Schott. Ms. Schott's sophomore set The Golden Morning Breaks topped our list Ten You Should Have Heard For 2005, which you can read here.

>> Pun Canoes here reports that a new CD from The Evens will be released Nov. 6. The set will be issued by Evens member Ian Mackaye's Dischord label. The band released its self-titled debut last year.

That Was The Show That Was: Touch & Go 25th Anniversary Pt. 3

Coco Rosie at the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary festival, photo courtesy of Bradley's Almanac[This third installment completes music addict Lars Ro's coverage of the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary Festival. Mr. Ro is currently touring North America with his band Sfu-ma-to; full dates here. This photo of CocoRosie, like the others in this series, is provided courtesy of Bradley's Almanac. -- Ed.]

DAY THREE: Sunday saw the arrival to Chicago of the wind, and more problematically, the rain. For one reason or another I missed performances by Arcwelder and Quasi, but these things happen.

Monorchid's reunion was a bit stiff, and the act suffered equipment problems. Otherwise they were quite noisy (not a bad thing), although their vocals were too yelled for my liking.

Enon, the storied poppy trio (a rarity this weekend besides Shellac) traded back and forth from Toko Yasuda's (ex-The Lapse/Blonde Redhead) odd Japanese melodies and John Schmersal's affected, 70's Bowie/Britpop vocals with spunk. They delivered the weekend's first drum and bass breaks, which was exciting. Even so, I still much prefer the early 7" of theirs I have buried somewhere.

Three Mile Pilot was good, sounding like a young, postpunk doctrine-adhering trio -- then quartet with keyboards -- which didn't yet dare to leap full-fledged into the swampy Americana of Black Heart Procession or the math-pop of Pinback.

Tara Jane O'Neil with a few songs created a tangible atmosphere much larger than her and her guitar in the middle of the seemingly massive stage. Chris Brokaw of The New Year (and ex-Come, ex-Codeine, etc.) joined her for the last two songs, the final one turning into an extended jam turned noise soundscape -- ahh...

Seam was another ghost from the past, rocking out in the most straightforward, emo-ish, guitar-driven indie-rock way of the weekend (and making me miss my friends, Haywood) with Sooyoung Park's hushed vocals draped on top. At times the vibe was quite sleepy, although I liked their loudest songs best. Very amusing to see the security guard trying to give one of their fathers a hard time for trying to run around and take pictures.

Brick Layer Cake, a.k.a. Todd Trainer, played a short and hilarious set about glam and decadence. The jury is still out on how much of it was self-referential. Mr. Trainer dedicated one song of odd lyrics and simple chords to the late Syd Barrett.

Thanks to a pain-in-the-ass security guy hassling me about some flyers I had been distributing, I ended up missing half of Black Heart Procession's set. Thanks to the staff at The Hideout for clearing that up. It was the first time I have seen the band outdoors, but their charm was intact. A Tom Petty cover was turned into a tribute to a good label like Touch & Go being hard to find.

CocoRosie virtually made me cry and orgasm simultaneously and were the peak of my weekend. Pathos like you wouldn't believe. And the duo's Sierra Casady made me laugh by playing the "mouth trumpet" -- you could hear a pin drop. Concert epiphanies like this are rare for me -- CocoRosie performs in the rarified air of artists like Bjork or Sinead O'Connor. They were downright magical, tugging at your heartstrings like Cat Power. The act's instrumentation didn't consist of much more than some kind of harp, haunting voices and a few tastefully recorded rhythm tracks. The opera shifted into hip-hop as a flock of birds flew overhead on this "windy night in the windy city." Bianca rapped while Sierra Casady sang through some effect that made it sound as if she was weeping. God-affirming, haunting music. And finally, the first black musician of the weekend (at least the first I saw) stepped on stage and proceeded to beatbox expertly before doing a kick-ass, high-speed rap in French, and then fondling Bianca during a slow jam. "Someone's little baby boy ain't coming home tonight" -- did I say haunting harmonies? Yes, seeing CocoRosie live is a religious experience. Finally they pulled a little girl they referred to as their sister onstage to dance around with them while they sang"everybody just hold hands." I had the pleasure of meeting both women afterwards (missing some Pinback in the process) and they were quite friendly. Go buy their records -- I would have but they were sold out at the Reckless tent!

Speaking of Pinback, the band was a marvel, too. Infectious and tighter than tight, they made us all laugh by waving to Calexico setting up on the other stage, who waved back. Too funny. Pop with a capital P. Thumbs up, but who would want to try and follow CocoRosie?

Finally, the festival's last act was Calexico, who swept in with guitars, horns, lap steel, accordion, vibraphone, contra and electric bass, drums and maracas. Not to be outdone by the thrashier Touch & Go bands, the band seriously rocked out, almost getting punky here and there, transporting us all from a parking lot in the industrial part of Chicago to a wind-swept Arizona desert. An inspired ode to Chicago was played, a rocking encore which has us up dancing, and the birthday festivities were over.

This weekend was a crucial event in rock n' roll history. I wish that I had noticed more than 10 or so African-Americans out of the circa 7000 of us that attended, and I'm appalled that NO ONE mentioned the fact that some Touch & Go fans couldn't come because they're stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving as the man- and woman-power for the unconscionable, imperial occupations of those countries, but que sera sera. As a little side-attraction, I kept my eye out for cool T-shirts (there were many) for an unofficial Best T-Shirt at the Touch & Go 25 Award, and it was a tough call! There was the Japanese guy with a Guns N' Roses t, an old Polvo dragon shirt, a brightly coloured Gang Of Four tee, an old Jesus Lizard shirt with a demented Elvis-like mug, an old Racing Division Touch & Go shirt, a Rapeman one, or the handmade Butt Sex one with accompanying drawing. All I know is the "U.S. Rangers World Tour" with a partial list of the countries the U.S. has invaded since the '80s gets last place. -- Lars Ro

September 12, 2006

Today's Hotness: American Hardcore, Mobius Band, Hold Steady

American Hardcore -- Al Barile of SSD>> This one's a bit of a head scratcher (well, not really, we guess it is just a distro deal, but anyway...). The documentary American Hardcore, based on an awesome book of the same name featuring music acts about as far removed from the '70s and '80s mainstream as physically and sociologically possible, has teamed up with major Hollywood studio Sony Pictures Classics and YouTube for a contest. Basically, winners get to attend one of several premieres for the film, shoot some video, see the documentary and post your video on YouTube. We'd totally enter except we don't have a video camera. Anyway, all the details are here, and the news takeaway is that there are planned premieres of "American Hardcore" in Boston, Los Angeles, Manhattan and San Francisco. According to a blog about the film, American Hardcore screened most recently in a small town in Germany; it was the first showing since Sundance last January. Haven't seen the trailer for the flick yet? There are actually two: watch here and here.

>> Coolfer here name-drops :: clicky clicky :: faves Mobius Band, stating folks from Columbia Records A&R recently attended a show. Coolfer says the visit was more curiosity than interest, but who knows? If Columbia can pull this off, we hope they act on the Mobius Band track jacket idea we had earlier this year. We won't even demand a cut of the action -- just a free jacket.

>> Aversion here checks in on the web site being used to promote the forthcoming set from The Hold Steady and notices that its video promotion is sort of stiffing. A feature of the BoysAndGirlsInAmerica.com site allowed fans to upload video of themselves talking about, um, being boys and girls in America, or something. So far not many have taken the band up on the offer. This sharply contrasts with the relatively broad participation in a similar feature at Yo La Tengo's IAmNotAfraidOfYouAndIWillBeatYourAss.com that we discussed last week. The Hold Steady's Boys And Girls In America streets Oct. 3 on Vagrant.

>> Beginning Friday, the same day its West Coast tour begins, legendary post-punk act Mission of Burma will begin posting a tour diary at Pantsfork. Details here.

That Was The Show That Was: Touch & Go 25th Anniversary Pt. 2

Shellac and guests at Touch & Go's 25th Anniversary Festival[This is intrepid festival-goer Lars Ro's second-day reportage from the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary festival in Chicago, which transpired this past weekend. Day Three coverage will run tomorrow evening. Photo is once again courtesy of Mr. Searles of Bradley's Almanac. -- Ed.]

DAY TWO: Saturday was cloudy and cool in contrast to Friday's sunshine and clear skies. I regrettably missed the day's first act, The New Year, which was especially disappointing since I had been singing their tune "Chinese Handcuffs" all morning.

Uzeda boasted a remarkably chunky, Chicago-ish sound for a quartet all the way from Italy. The female-delivered vocals were often yelled (oh well), but the dissonant guitar spasms were joyfully endless. It's a shame guitarist Agostino Tilotta stood sideways for most of the set because his stance obscured from view the anguished facial expressions accompanying his work on the fretboard. One of the best parts of the set was a hypnotic, very hushed passage that stretched on delightfully. The musical climaxes were full-body experiences for Uzeda -- I guess it's their Mediterranean blood. [Is that some sort of jab at Gov. Schwarzenegger? -- Ed.]

Pegboy came off like hefty, drunk, frat boys playing hardcore-inspired punk. I would rather see Jawbreaker reform, personally.

Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen, formerly of Silkworm, took the stage together with a keyboard player. Midgett played with his back turned, facing the ominously empty drumset which Michael Dahlquist would have occupied had it not been for his untimely death last summer. Cohen soloed and soloed in between verses of a moving elegy for Mr. Dahlquist. After this single song, the men exited stage right, Cohen patting the keyboard player on the back, leaving nothing but the palpable heaviness in the air. We miss you Michael... (The good news is that a double CD of Silkworm covers is out -- somebody send me a copy!)

Next up: Dutch act The Ex. After a silly introduction which overglorified how idyllic The Netherlands is, singer G.W. Sok responded that the last part was true -- that is, the band indeed hails from there. Guitar stabs and songs of political dissent abounded. The jerky, syncopated skronk reminded me of Truman's Water at points -- an association I hadn't noticed before. One guitarist utilized a number of innovative playing techniques, including the "speed-riff-until-you-slash-yr-finger-on-the-strings-sending-a-spray-of-blood-across-the-pickguard-but-just-keep-on-playing" technique. Kat rocked out on the drums, cowbells and woodblock, and Mr. Sok even pulled out a megaphone.

Killdozer featured punk with macho male vocals and humorous banter, with the guitarist tossing and kicking his guitar around.

Jon (from The Mekons) and Kat (The Ex) played a few stripped-down anthems, ending with a catchy one about being in limbo - "that's where you'll stay."

As The Didjits took the stage, singer and guitarist Rick Sims "greeted" the audience with "Can your fake applause -- save it for some other band." Allrighty then. They then played an attitude-infused set a la Supersuckers with the playground brat trying to pick a fight, Sims giving us all the finger, etc. Evil Knievel, I guess.

Thanks to some fellow concert-goers, I then proceeded to get stoned just in time for P.W. Long, who played a short set sitting on a chair and playing a plug-in acoustic [Just say no to drugs, kids -- Ed.]. Most of his set had impressive depth, except when the melancholic met the poppy at one point -- then it was almost embarassing. Long even played Mule's "I'm Hell," which was fantastic.

Negative Approach came on and gave us a very good helping of hardcore. Dormant since the mid-'80s, its brand of punk was much more satisfying than the Pegboy, Killdozer and even the Didjits sets. NA's guitarist sported the handlebar moustache of the year, and singer John Brannon seemed quite troubled. A healthy mosh pit emerged, and overall the band was a lot of fun.

Sally Timms swung the musical pendulum quite drastically to the other stage where she played loungy torchsongy songs accompanied by accordion. At one point Ms. Timms quipped something about a penis before a pathetic attempt at crowd participation which made me scratch my head and wonder what kind of day her ego was having.

Scratch Acid re-united, featuring David Yow and David Wm. Sims of Jesus Lizard fame. The music was good but not on par with Jesus Lizard, in my opinion. Mr. Yow showed off his bicep, then removed his shirt and had his pants down to crotch level in trademark style, thrusting his body this way and that like a much younger man. Sims whipped the bass upwards on the tightest kicks, and then Yow was relegated to playing the ride cymbal for an instrumental. Crowdsurfers appeared not long before Yow explained that the set had to end so as not to encroach on "Medium Grey's set time" -- a joke I didn't get until later that night.

Man or Astro-Man? introduced the visual component to the day by setting up a bunch of TV screens, and they were good background music while I attended to other things. Later I met someone whom they had given part of their drumset to -- what generosity!

Big Black -- consummating the much-hyped reunion -- sounded fudgy to me. The crowd was apparently full of avid fans because every song was a sing-along. The guitar sounded like sheets of metal in typical Steve Albini fashion, and the band delivered the most grateful, heartfelt speech of the weekend to Corey Rusk and his Touch & Go/Quarterstick legacy (and believe me, a LOT of thank you mini-speeches were given).

Mr. Albini was then joined by Bob Weston and Todd Trainer for the night's pinnacle set from Shellac. The trio's precise musicianship was impeccable, as it seems to be everytime I see them. Mr. Weston, who was about to jaunt off to the west coast for some Mission Of Burma tour dates, paused to start a question and answer session (no requests though, so, alas, no "Wingwalker" for me), and then Mr. Trainer thanked Mr. Rusk and proclaimed that tonight was the highlight of his musical career (he went on about how autographs and kisses were welcome, just "don't bother me."). "I side with the defenders," Shellac sang, and I sided with them too.

Shellac proved themselves yet again to be true masters of dynamics (though you probably know this). Trainer's drumming alone was worth watching: he bowed down over his toms during an intro, later struck Albini's strings on the kicks. One of the trio's final songs featured an extra, extended bridge with Albini apparently delivering free verse. Shellac also performed a quality new song about "the final transmission": "Can you hear me now, alien civilisation in 10,000 years?" Albini often did this cool trick of flicking his pickup selector switch back and forth to create some post-punk tremolo effect. He and Weston even trampled around for ten seconds in the middle of one song, doing cow impersonations or performing some odd ritual. Shellac's triumphant last song ended with all three principals being joined by two young women and all of them playing the cymbals together. -- Lars Ro

September 11, 2006

Free Range Music: R.E.M., Yo La Tengo, Metheny/Mehldau

R.E.M. -- And I Feel Fine...>> As a(n officially old) person who began listening to the band shortly after its indie swan song Document was stocked on the shelves of our long-gone hometown record store (we still have the cassette), we feel we've earned sufficient perspective to expend a few sentences talking about how awesome R.E.M. once was. With the release of the new compilation And I Feel Fine…: Best Of The I.R.S. Years 1982-1987, which collects on two discs selections from the band's amazing output on said defunct label, we now even have a news peg upon which to hang our whining. But our sentiments duplicate those of many; they are far from unique. You've heard it all before -- but have you heard it recently?

We were blown away revisiting this stuff this afternoon, much of it for the first time in more than 10 years. AOL Music has the collection in its pre-release album stream corral, and we implore you to have a listen, if only because you probably haven't heard "Pretty Persuasion" in a while. And the tune "I Believe" -- damn that's good... Amazon has R.E.M. performance videos for "Radio Free Europe" and "Wolves, Lower," which are presumably from a companion DVD of videos that is also being released today. You can stream them right off the Amazon site for the record here. Also well worth hearing over at AOL Music are streams for the much-talked-about Yo La Tengo set as well as a very enjoyable collaboration of Brad Mehldau and Pat Metheny. Streams linked below:

Pat Metheny/Brad Mehldau -- Metheny/Mehldau -- Nonesuch
R.E.M. -- And I Feel Fine…: Best Of The I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 -- I.R.S.
Yo La Tengo -- I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass -- Matador

>> Despite all the troubles we had finally hearing it, we will say that the final, released mixes of the TV On The Radio set that streets tomorrow are stellar. More guitars, more sonic definition, just all around more pristine-sounding goodness. You'll be surprised to learn that we know this based on the Amazon.com pre-release album stream that was supposed to be a bonus for those pre-ordered Return To Cookie Mountain. As you know from our ongoing rants, the stream offer was a dud, a bait-and-switch. Magically, we received an email from Amazon this morning stating the issue was fixed and we could now access the stream. So we hit it right away just to make sure Amazon wasn't selling wolf tickets -- again. Lo and behold, there was the stream.

Our conspiracy theory? Interscope held the stream up until the last minute to minimize any financial damage a captured and re-distributed rip of the stream might do. Just a conspiracy theory, mind you, but we've read bits here and there from other music bloggers indicating that any pre-release MP3 bloggery of Return To Cookie Mountain was being policed pretty hard. Of course, most everyone in the world already had snatched up the muddy version that had been floating around the Internet since the springtime. Anyway, it was nice to have some closure to this ongoing frustration, but don't expect us to be linking to Amazon too much in the future, the link above to R.E.M. withstanding.

That Was The Show That Was: Touch & Go 25th Anniversary Pt. 1

Ted Leo at Touch + Go 25th Anniversary Day 1[Indie rock vagabond Lars Ro, one of our oldest friends, attended the Touch & Go Records 25th Anniversary festival in Chicago this past weekend. Mr. Ro is a veteran of numerous indie acts, the longest-running being Sfu-ma-to; he also operates Peace Makes Revolution Records. Below is the first installment of his report; a second and third will follow Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Photos for these items are courtesy of Mr. Almanac himself, Brad Searles, who also attended the festival and whose own coverage is forthcoming at BradleysAlmanac.com -- Ed.]

DAY ONE: Touch & Go Records celebrated its 25th anniversary with a three day festival at The Hideout in Chicago (the event doubling as The Hideout's 10th annual Block Party). On my way there, I found out that the three day passes had sold out. Uh oh... Luckily, a helpful co-organizer of the festivities who wishes to remain anonymous was kind enough to help me out.

The festival set-up split the bands between two stages, but luckily acts didn't overlap (a first for me which I really savoured). The humility of Corey Rusk and his label was evidenced by the small Touch & Go banners on the side of each stage, seemingly smaller even than the also discreet Hideout banners. Behind the West stage a single skyscraper stood in the distance. There we were mere days before the anniversary of September 11th, but tonight the planes were flying well above the building...

Friday was a beautiful sunny day. The Shipping News kicked the whole weekend off, but although I'm a serious fan, I missed the first few songs while my entry was sorted out. The rest of the set was very good, with Todd Cook's repetitive bass lines (repetitive in a good way!), Kyle Crabtree's inspired drumming and what we have come to know and love from Jason Noble and Jeff Mueller. The band thought enough of the event to distribute a commemorative single called "Claws."

Supersystem was poppy, dancy, you know -- what in my case amounts to "whatever..." after not too many notes. The kind of thing that must give the drummer bass drum foot cramps. Disco for the kids, yes.

Girls Against Boys emerged and delivered the entire Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby album plus two more hits! The players thrusted themselves around the stage like they were much younger than their 40s. A bass-heavy, tight, well-oiled machine. You would never guess that it had been however many years since they last played together. In between every song, singer Scott McCloud repeated "Thank you very much" -- the only thing which revealed GVSB's feeling of being out of place/out of practice. A guy near me was dancing so vigorously it looked like contortions. I even spied dragonflies arcing over our heads -- can't say that's ever happened to me at a concert before!

Ted Leo & Pharmacists were high on energy, but did the druggists have anything for my growing headache? Melodies aplenty were the order of the day, and the bassist's fro was all the visual we needed. The pop-punkiness of their set morphed into straight-up white boy reggae a la The Clash for a while. Thumbs up.

Walking out from the bar, what I thought was a Beastie Boys record being played somewhere turned out to be !!!. The septet (which expanded to eight at one point) performed under a gorgeous, near-full moon. The band's vibe made me feel like how I would imagine a that of a British festival feels. The music was a mixed coctail of new-wave, Manchester-ish beats, A.C. Kane (according to my British friend), The New Fast Automatic Daffodils and Talking Heads, to name a few, with an extra indie-sensibility. "Weird band," I turned to him and hollered. They even busted out bluegrass licks before getting funky again with their double drum action. It was so danceable I was even dancing and cheering in the porta-potty. Flangers abounded, and in the spirit of the Joe and Mick reveries, I felt like I was getting "Overpowered By Funk." The only minus was the singer's odd endorsement of Starbucks, because he had apparently picked up a free CD there that day. Great, but $tarbuck$? Come on! -- Lars Ro

September 10, 2006

Rack And Opinion: 9.12.06

Yo La Tengo -- I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your AssAt least in terms of indie rock, Tuesday is one of the biggest release dates of the year. Veteran trio Yo La Tengo is releasing its first new set in four years; rising stars TV On The Radio are finally uncorking what may be the most interesting record of the year, and perhaps the best; and Canadian electropop duo Junior Boys are issuing an anticipated sophomore set. Depending on where you've been looking, there have been legit streams of the aforementioned three records out there to be heard (notably, NME had a working TVOTR stream, Amazon, as you know from reading our regular tirades, did not). Most likely at least a couple of them will be in AOL Music's pre-release album stream corral tomorrow. On top of all that there are several other interesting collections hitting racks. Below is our list for most promising releases of the week, with links going to relevent commercial opportunities hosted by our former dental hygienists over at Insound.

The Album Leaf -- Into the Blue Again -- Sub Pop
The Capitol Years -- Dance Away the Terror -- Park the Van
Junior Boys -- So This Is Goodbye -- Domino
Pat Metheny/Brad Mehldau -- Metheny Mehldau -- Nonesuch
TV on the Radio -- Return to Cookie Mountain -- Interscope
Xiu Xiu -- The Air Force -- 5RC
Yo La Tengo -- I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass -- Matador