Long live rock, I need it every night

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dispute settled, David Lynch still weird

As I filled my shopping buggy at the Harris Teeter tonight, I listened to NPR's First Listen of Dark Night of the Soul (the Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse, David Lynch collaboration). I recommend you check it out too, dear reader, regardless of what you're doing while you listen. It's future uncertain due to wranglings between Danger Mouse and EMI records, the album will finally be released on July 13th.

It features a variety of other artists (including James Mercer, Frank Black, Suzanne Vega, Iggy Pop) making the album play a bit like a soundtrack. No official videos have been produced, but this one features "Little Girl," with help from The Strokes' Julian Casablancas. Not really a video, but it includes lyrics, which is nice.

Monday, June 28, 2010

America Hearts Fort Reno

That's right DC, it's Fort Reno time again. You lucky bastards. Tonight's show features America Hearts and Tiny Bombs. The Public Good was supposed to perform but had to bow out at the last minute. Who will be the special surprise act to take their place? Let the Fugazi rumors begin!

Here's hoping that Potsy and Jimbromski make the show and file another video review. The site could use more "gratuitous underage cleavage shots" and rants advocating the "fascist-style culling of the youth of America".

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Canada, you are forgiven

The New Pornographers with The Dodos, and The Dutchess & the Duke - June 23 - 930 club - $37

Senior Youth Correspondent, Andrew, fills us in on night number 2 from this week's back to back New Pornographers shows at the 930 club.

Quite unlike the esteemed Potsy, I enjoyed The Dodos quite a bit. I had heard much banter about them recently but had yet to check the tunes. I enjoy their name especially and went into Wednesday’s set looking out for themes of extinction—the fate that their plump, shrewd namesakes were doomed to eons ago.

The Dodos brought together everything that is great about today’s punk-tinged indie acts like Wavves and Japandroids—driving rhythms, melodic hooks, interesting sonic textures—without replicating the annoying aspects of those bands—inability to handle their drugs, endless droning feeback, repetitive or whiny lyrics. Whereas those two bands are drenched in distortion, The Dodos were more light in their approach, substituting glistening acoustic tones for the punishing overdriven sound of Wavves and Japandroids.

About halfway through their set, the band played two new songs that were both top notch. Drums reminiscent of Animal Collective were paired with country-infused strumming and a bowed vibraphone. I thought singer Meric Long did a good job leading his outfit and only sometimes were there hints that the band lacked self confidence. I would definitely listen to The Dodos in my free time, and would likely attend one of their concerts in the future. Solid Opener.

Never miss seeing the New Pornographers, period. Especially when all nine of them show up. NP gigs featuring both Neko Case and Dan Bejar present the listener with a veritable shmorgishborg of musical expertise and pop genius. Case and Bejar are solo artists who approach NP’s level of recognition in their own right, and when you combine their powers with A.C. Newman (who will never, ever be out catchy-ed), just watch out. Potsy was correct indeed—Bejar is a game changer. I love the fact that nothing about him has changed since I saw him with NP in 07: skulking on and off the stage, slinging a bottle of Stella, and looking like he hates the band’s guts. What a dude.

A big fear with a band that is beloved by so many (both nights sold out. I scalped for $38 day of) is that the set list will feature new stuff at the expense of what everyone wants to hear, the oldies. I like the new tunes a lot, they are great, but I love older NP stuff. Thankfully, it seemed that the band had received and decided to play a set list from a savvy fan, one Amad. Dude knew his business, and NP played a slew of classics, some of which hadn’t been played for years according to Newman. These included The End of Medicine, To Wild Homes, Mass Romantic, and The Electric Version, songs that I hadn’t heard since 2006-ish but that instantly brought back a flood of memories (memories of wishing I was as cool as the dudes and girls in the band).

They are impeccable in the live setting. I simply cannot overstate this. If you didn’t enjoy their set, I’d talk to the doctor about it today. I would say they were so good last night that I release all feelings of hatred toward their native country for what happened during the Winter Olympic hockey final. That’s real big.

In addition to their indie-pop dominance, the band’s banter was genuinely hilarious. One ongoing joke on Wednesday about Pitchfork involved Case telling the crowd that their first interviewer from the then unknown website (hard to believe right) was so young that she had to breast feed him. According to her bandmates, this caused the nubile taste-maker/faker to grow a few inches. “My milk is powerful shit,” replied the beautiful chanteuse nonchalantly.

Listen to the Wednesday show online via NPR's All Songs Considered.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Come Together

The New Pornographers with The Dodos, and The Dutchess & the Duke - June 22 - 930 club - $37

This week, we reunite with Senior Youth Correspondent, Andrew, for a look at the back to back New Pornographers shows at the 930 club.

Granted, the New Pornographers don't need any more coverage on this world wide web, and Weds night show was broadcast on NPR for all to enjoy, but we like to read ourselves write. So let's consider Tuesday night's show first.

I only caught the last song from three-piece the Dutchess & the Duke, which was too bad, because there are definitely worth your time. Apparently, my time is more valuable than yours, or I would have gotten to the show on time. Little did I know the 930 would be so punctual. The website said 8pm start for the D&TD and they meant it. Sorry D&TD, your last tune was great.

The Dodos followed, and I was looking forward to this set, having enjoyed a number of tunes off of their Visiter album. But the Dodos are pushing their more recent album, Time to Die, at this point bringing out less familiar tracks to start. I don't know any other way around this, so I'm just gonna tell you like I saw it. The Dodos were disappointing. I don't think their abilities match with their ambitions so much. Not live, anyway.

The Dodos in action - don't let the banner fool you.

They like to do some intricate music making. Lots of finger picking that probably worked out better in the studio than it did on stage Tuesday night. Meric Long struggled to pluck out every note - lagging behind a bit as some songs ran away from him. Keaton Snyder is a recent addition to the band, and he plays the vibraphone and uses a bow. That was kinda cool. Never saw that before, so there's points for that. But there was too much muddling through long songs that never seemed to go anywhere.

By the time headlining The New Pornographers hit the stage, I was starting to question the effort it took to get out to this show. I bought my ticket on my iPhone while driving on the Whitehurst freeway heading back to work from a doctor's appointment months ago. That was actually kinda dangerous. And then there was the bus ride down U Street with the nutty fat lady who wanted to sing gospel music for all us passengers. Not as dangerous, but it looked like it was going to get weirder.

But that all changed once the NP took the stage. Jimbromski and I were relieved to hear hits right off the bat. And not only was Neko Case present for the show, but seemingly-disinterested Dan Bejar is on board for this tour too. I've seen the acoustic Destroyer show before, but hadn't seen the NP with Bejar ever. What a difference that cranky bastard makes.

A.C. Newman made his remark about how he told Pitchfork that DC was his favorite city to play. I know he said it again for the Weds show (cuz I'm listening to it online right now). So that was nice. There's a good bit of banter from the New Pornographers, and Neko Case is always throwing her wit into the mix. I know people are hot for Neko, but that Kathryn Calder is quite fetching, if you don't mind me saying. Oh, and I just learned that A.C. Newman is Kathryn Calder's uncle. That is bizarre to me.

Okay, okay. Survey says, good solid show, the NP. Worth every penny. The New Pornographers have a new album out, Together.

SYC Andrew will fill us in on the Wednesday night show tomorrow. No doubt his account will be more informative than this one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hooray for Blood

Hooray for Earth & Surfer Blood @ the Black Cat - Weds. June 16th

We caught the last night of Hooray for Earth's tour with Surfer Blood and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart at the Black Cat on Wednesday. It was a sold out show, and the audience gathered early enough to check out opening act, HFE who is supporting their Momo EP album. The Cambridge, MA/NYC 4-piece delivers the 80s synth sound that can get a bit ethereal with echo-y vocals but is brought back to terra firma by the occasional squawking guitar. This is a sound that doesn't hold my attention for too long, especially if I'm unfamiliar with the tracks. I have to say this was the case on Wednesday night. Most songs drifting into the next, until the last song brought out members from the other bands on the bill, making it a bit of a We Are the World moment.

What followed, was more to my interest, as I had heard a number of Surfer Blood tracks, and was curious how they'd perform live.

Never having researched Surfer Blood, I was surprised to see how young there were. I guess I shouldn't have been, but I blame it on the similarity of their sound to bands closer to my age like Weezer, and Pavement. Their track "Harmonix" reminded me of The Arcade Fire's Neighborhood #2, and while they suggested that Entourage was going to use the song, lead singer John Paul Pitts said a number of things that weren't necessarily true during their set. So who knows.

I was relieved to feel less old when Bob Boilen stood next to me at one point. I also walked into a conversation he was having with Malitz outside about Weird Al playing a tiny desk concert at NPR later in the week. I do a great Bob Boilen impression that I wish I could amuse you with right now. I love when he hurries to announce the bands taking the stage when NPR occasionally records shows at the 930 and other DC venues.

Any way, the highlight of the show was Surfer Blood's own "We are the world" moment, when they closed the set with a cover of Weezer's "Undone - The Sweater Song." Not played particularly well, but it's a great song to begin with, and this is a band you'd like to hear play it.

If you'd like to see a poor quality iPhone video from the show, here ya go.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Days of Future Passed

The Futureheads
Black Cat

June 4, 2010

I heard an interview with the Futureheads on KEXP back when their first album was released in 2004, where they said that they figured the way they could make the most noise as a band was to have each band member sing each song at the same time. I’m not sure many groups outside of the a capella ghetto try that approach but it certainly lends itself to a big sound. While not a sell-out, the Futureheads drew a pretty good crowd to the Black Cat and were able to keep people interested in the new shit, although it seemed pretty clear, given the enthusiastic reception of the crowd to 2004’s “False Conversation” (from the self-titled album of the same year) that most of the audience was, like me, attending because they wanted to hear the old stuff. The band seemed to enjoy one another’s company, which is a rarity given that two of them are brothers. Also lead singer David Hyde has a early 1980s alternative British guy look about him that you don’t see too much anymore, like he could be one of the extras in the video for “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” and could bore the living shit out of you by complaining about Margaret Thatcher for a few hours straight if you had the misfortune to be stuck in a corner with him at a party. And more than likely the food at the party would suck balls because the hosts would be vegan, and consequently you would be like, Jesus, I need new friends, because look at this lame-assed party I ended up at.

Potsy and I noted that the area around the Black Cat continues to change rapidly and we’re starting to see the sort of people on 14th that you previously would only see south of Dupont, or in Georgetown maybe. I don’t get as up in arms about gentrification as others do—it’s a free country and people can live and hang out wherever they like—but you definitely get the sense that some essential shittiness that made the area interesting has been lost forever and that the Black Cat is probably on its way to becoming some sort of museum piece, like CBGB or something. Potsy even thought he saw a bro get iced while we were in there, which was fucking demoralizing to hear. Nevertheless, I was impressed that the Futureheads were able to energize the audience the way they did, because not only did it include the aforementioned 2004 nostalgiacs, but also a good amount of pikers and summer intern types who likely had no idea who the band was. Well done, Futureheads.

Going back to 2004, does anyone else agree with me that 2004-2005 was a golden age of music? I think we’ve gotten a little distance so I can make a grand, ridiculous statement like that. Look at the albums that came out in that period and tell me they weren’t awesome:

Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
The Futureheads, The Futureheads
Spoon, Gimme Fiction
Arcade Fire, Funeral
Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand
Air, Talkie Walkie
Mark Lanegan, Bubblegum
The Libertines, The Libertines
The Black Keys, Rubber Factory
Wolfmother, Wolfmother EP (am I a jackass for liking this? Someone tell me)
Neko Case, The Tigers Have Spoken
Fiery Furnaces, EP
New Pornographers, Twin Cinema

Maybe this is a symptom of my advancing age, but every time I hear new releases from the bands above, I find myself hankering for that 04-05 sound, and I keep not getting it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Put on your helmet

We're going to see Hooray for Earth tomorrow night (and Surfer Blood too).

Here's a taste of the former:

Friday, June 04, 2010

Lake Effect

The Besnard Lakes
Black Cat Backstage

May 27, 2010

Who’s got the best falsetto in rock? Jeff Buckley? He’s dead. Morrissey? He never broke it out after “Miserable Lie,” and let’s all admit that he can’t really sing, anyway. Brian Wilson? Yes, probably, but he’s fat and insane like your mom, and I’d rather not discuss him.

So that leaves us with latter day castrato Jace Lasek of Montreal’s Besnard Lakes. I last saw Besnard Lakes during SXSW with Jumbo Slice and Baby Stew Steve at WOXY, which was fun, although WOXY vomited blood and died like two days later. Note to media outlets—do not allow any members of DC Rock Club up in your shit because you will regret it, as WOXY and Sunday Source can attest.

This time around, I saw the band with Potsy at the much-less-glamorous-than-the-WOXY-studio-during-SXSW back room of the Black Cat, but the band still laid down the wood and gave a great show. All Montreal bands seem to look like they sell mushrooms to undergrads on the side and the Besnard Lakes are no exception. Lasek has a shaggy haircut with bangs and what looked like one of those pairs of glasses of the type that darken when you step outside into the sun, presumably after being inside all day laying down tracks on your prog rock masterpiece with your friends Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. I would make further catty comments about the other band members’ appearance but I couldn’t really see them, as they broke out a smoke machine, which is a lot like letting your Chevy run in the garage with the garage door closed, given the size of the back room at the Black Cat.

Despite looking like smelly vagrants, or maybe because of it, the band sounded great as they tore through “Like the Ocean,” “Albatross” and “This Is What We Call Progress” (from the new The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night). When I saw them at WOXY they freely admitted that they plagiarized the last from the great Philip Bailey/Phil Collins hit “Easy Lover,” and Potsy and I noted that the Black Cat ticket taker looked like he could be Phil Collins’s son, and that maybe there would be an attempt on Lasek’s life during the show Pantera-style, but nothing went down. They also did “Devastation” from The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, which was epic. I bought a band shirt—it’s a horse made of fire and it’s fucking bad ass and I am too when I wear it.

Before the show Potsy made a good joke that if he owned a freight company that specialized in moving oats from one place to another, he would call it “Haulin’ Oats.” I’ll end this review on that note.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Show Preview: The Futureheads

The Futureheads
with The Like and Static Jocks
Black Cat
Friday, June 4th

In 2004 The Futureheads garnered much acclaimed for their excellent self-titled debut. It was a blistering rock album which featured quick hitting songs like "Le Garage", "Hounds of Love", "Decent Days and Nights". Fans of punk/pop bands like The Jam and Gang of Four couldn't help but heap praise on The Futureheads.

However, after that initial release attention on the band waned. I never quite understood why. Admittedly, the next two albums (News & Tributes and This Is Not The World) weren't quite as brilliant as their debut but they weren't too shabby either.

Now the band has released their fourth album The Chaos. Many are calling it a return to form since it has the same manic energy and the distinct vocal harmonies as their debut. Even an unapologetic fan as myself has to admit this effort is superior to the past two releases. The Chaos is sharp, aggressive, and shows that just because you return to an earlier sound it doesn't mean you can't incorporate some tricks you've learned along the way.

"Struck Dumb" by The Futureheads