Entries tagged with: Versus
by Bill Pearis
The Rogers Sisters
Versus are currently in the studio working on their next album though no word on when that is going to come out. You can however catch them live on November 9 at Rough Trade where they'll play with the Thalia Zedek Band, Antietam, Rogers Sisters, and Cynthia Nelson. The show is a benefit for Letha Rodman Melchior (wife of Dan Melchior and artist in her own right) who has been battling cancer for some time. Tickets go on sale Friday (9/26) at noon.
The Rogers Sisters, regulars in the early-'00s Brooklyn dancepunk scene, disbanded in 2007 but got back together back in January for a benefit for Melchior. (2002's Purely Evil holds up well, listen at Rdio.) Antietam, meanwhile, will also be opening for Yo La Tengo at Town Hall on December 3 (tickets).
Speaking of Thalia Zedek, she also sings on three songs on the upcoming debut album from Exit Verse the new band of Geoff Farina of now defunct '90s/'00s emo/indie rock vets Karate. Along with Geoff, the band includes drummer John Dugan (Chisel, Edsel) and bassist Pete Croke (Brokeback, Tight Phantoms). Their album's self-titled, due November 17 via Ernest Jenning Record Co., and the first single "Seeds" is out now. Check it out below.
A Rogers Sisters video also below...
Before Versus, brothers Richard and Ed Baluyut were in NYC band Flower who put out two albums and an EP's worth of moody indie rock during the second half of the 1980s. You can stream the Crash EP (which was before Ed joined the band) and another track, below. Flower -- who got back together for the Big Takeover anniversary in 2010 -- are reforming again for a one-off NYC show at Cake Shop on June 13. That's the previously mentioned benefit for the New York Tsurphu Goshir Dharma Center, that also has +/- Plus/Minus (featuring a third Baluyut brother, James), James Lindaman (of True Love Always), Trummors (Dave Lerner who used to be in Ted Leo + Pharmacists), and Vomit Fist. Tickets are $15 at the door.
Flower streams, and video from their 2010 Big Takeover performance, below...
Photos by Greg Cristman
The Clientele @ The Bell House, 3/21/2014
chickfactor: what has the clientele been up to? are you back together for good or just a few shows?Chickfactor 22 happened last week (March 20 & 21), the Friday show featuring the recently reunited The Clientele who were sporting the trio line-up of the group that hadn't played together live in nine years. That same line-up will play Merge 25 in North Carolina this July, and their classic 2000 album, Suburban Light, is getting a reissue this year via Merge with new artwork and a disc's worth of outtakes. That's out May 13 and you can preorder it now.
alisdair maclean (the clientele): I've been slowly and painfully writing a novel, and playing in amor de días. mark has moved into a canal boat and is tuning pianos. james has been growing chillis and playing bass for comet gain. ¶ last year I wrote a couple of songs that sounded more clientele than amor de días and it coincided with an offer for the old lineup to play a festival in denmark, which we decided to do for fun. then merge asked us to record a song or two for their 25th-anniversary 7″ singles club so we had a chance to record together again. that's all so far.
why was it important to reissue suburban light?
again, it was merge's decision, as part of their 25-year anniversary reissues series. I over-listened to that record when we mixed it the first time round and I got sick of the songs. james and I were talking about how frustrating that whole time was, we kept losing drummers and we wanted those songs to be on the radio but we were in a little studio trying to cut out the hiss on the tape by sliding the faders up and down. every sound engineer we met tried to make us sound like radiohead. ¶ coming back to it was really positive though--we unearthed a lot of stuff everyone had forgotten. It was weird being in a room and hearing our younger selves bantering on tape. I think the reissue does it justice, and it seems to be a lot of people's favourite clientele record so hopefully it will be enjoyed. - [chickfactor]
Also on the Friday Chickfactor 22 bill were fellow Merge band Versus who played mostly new material, but invited up former bandmember Patrick Ramos and Mascott's Kendall Meade during "Blade of Grass." There was also the very entertaining Barbara Manning, and a one-off reunion of early '00s Slumberland band The Saturday People (featuring Pam Berry of Black Tambourine and Glo Worm). More pictures from the second night of Chickfactor 22 below....
by Bill Pearis
Nice to see that indie zine chickfactor is having a third birthday party -- "chickfactor 22" -- at Brooklyn's The Bell House on March 20 & 21. Headlining the second night are The Clientele, who went on "indefinite hiatus" in 2011 (and haven't played NYC since the year before that); frontman Alasdair MacLean's more current group, Amor de Dias, which is a collaboration with Pipas' Lupe Núñez-Fernández, will play on the first night.
The 3/20 show is headlined by Withered Hand, with sets from Jim Ruiz Set (who has played all three years) and Lilys. The 3/21 show also features Versus, onetime SF Seals singer Barbara Manning and DC area indiepop group The Saturday People (who haven't played in a long time). Tickets go on sale Monday (2/3) at noon, and are $20 for each night in advance and $25 at the door. A $40 two-day pass is available too. You can buy them through Other Music in addition to online.
The Clientele line-up for the chickfactor show will be Maclean, James Hornsey on bass and Mark Keen on drums and this iteration hasn't played together since 2005. The Clientele also have a song on Merge Records' Or Thousands of Prizes 7" subscription, part of the label's 25th anniversary.
Withered Hand, aka Edinburgh singer-songwriter Dan Willson, has a new album, titled New Gods, out March 25 via Slumberland. The new LP features guest appearances by Black Tambourine singer (and chickfactor co-founder) Pam Berry, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines and members of Belle & Sebastian and Frightened Rabbit.You can stream "Horshoe" and watch an album trailer below. Withered hand will be over for SXSW so look out for him there as well.
Versus at Chickfactor 20 (more by Dominick Mastrangelo)
The Philippines are still recovering from devastating Typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda) which hit the country back in November. There have been a few benefits here in NYC -- most notably David Byrne's staging of Here Lies Love at Terminal 5 -- but this Saturday (1/11) there's one at Shea Stadium featuring bands with ties to the Philippines. Headliners are indie rock vets Versus (who haven't had a NYC show in a good while), and also features pow wow!, Crazy Pills, Quiet Loudly, The Planes, and Let's Be Loveless. Tickets are $10 at the door and all proceeds will go to the American Red Cross Typhoon Relief Effort.
Flyer for the benefit below...
Versus at Chickfactor 20 (more by Dominick Mastrangelo)
Versus haven't made too much of a peep since releasing the very good comeback record On the Ones and Threes in 2010, apart from playing the 2012 and 2013 Chickfactor festivals at The Bell House and a few other shows. No word on a new record, but they do have another NYC show scheduled: October 5 at Knitting Factory. Grungy trio Slothrust open and tickets are on sale now.
Video of Versus playing XX Merge in 2009 below...
by Bill Pearis
we had *so much fun* at chickfactor 20 at the bell house in brooklyn, the idea of waiting another ten years seemed too painful too endure. so we made another festival for you! showtime is prompty at 8pm. you may miss a special guest if you get there at 8:10!Indie pop zine chickfactor is putting on another festival at The Bell House on June 11, 12 and 13 with a line-up that includes The Pastels, Future Bible Heroes, The Cannanes, Aluminum Group, The Jim Ruiz Set and more.
This will be the first Pastels show (6/13) in NYC since 1997 (if memory serves, the last one was at Angel Orensanz Center opening for Belle & Sebastian). The Pastels' new album, Slow Summits, will be out a couple weeks prior (June 11) and you can stream new single "Check Your Heart" below.
As for Future Bible Heroes (Stephin Merrit and Christopher Ewen) who play on 6/12, their new album is out June 8 on Merge. Before you get too excited, do note that Stephin Merrit may or may not appear with them. But it will definitely be Christopher Ewen and singer Claudia Gonson.
Additionally, there will be a retrospective of filmmaker Paul Kelly's work on June 15 at NYU's Michelson Theater, including his Felt/Denim documentary Lawrence of Belgravia, the Dolly Mixture documentary, and his three collaborations with Saint Etienne, Finisterre, What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day? and This is Tomorrow. This will be free and more info is here.
Chickfactor 21 happens less than two weeks after NYC Popfest, making it a very busy time for lovers of indiepop.
Full Chickfactor 21 line-up below...
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: Bloody Amateur - Companions (MP3)
photo by Rachel Greene
Over the last 15 years or so, Andy Comer has stayed busy in bands Tel Aviv (in the '90s) and Prosaics (in early 00's) but will release a solo album under the guise of Bloody Amateur on March 5 via Teen Beat. (Maybe you saw Bloody Amateur at the TeenBeat 26 Year Anniversary party at Maxwell's.) Recorded by Versus' James Balyut, it's a stark departure from his previous work, most of the tracks are as spare as they come, mostly just Comer's voice and brittle guitar work that may remind some of Wire (Colin Newman's early solo work, specifically). Says Comer about the album:
The record is about my trust in what, and who, I hold close. That thread runs through the songs--which are instinctive and direct--and into the choices I made, from working with Mark [Robinson, TeenBeat owner] and James to putting a painting by Michael Hainey on the front cover and a photo taken by wife on the back.While the album isn't out till March, we've got the premiere of "Companions" which you can download above or stream below. Album art and track list is below too.
Built to Spill at BV SXSW 2012 (more by Ryan Barkan)
The Hopscotch festival in Raleigh, North Carolina will celebrate its third year from Sept. 6-8, 2012 in downtown Raleigh, with 175 bands in 15 venues. The initial lineup, released today, runs the gamut from traditional indie favorites to punk to noise music to hip hop to noisy black metal and all stops in between, featuring performances from Built to Spill, sunn 0))), The Roots, The Jesus & Mary Chain (who played SXSW), Liars (who have a show coming up at Webster Hall), Baroness, Deerhoof, Death Grips (who play NYC soon and have new material on the way), Danny Brown (who was at Coachella and plays Prospect Park soon), Pallbearer (who play an exclusive East Coast Show soon), Screaming Females (who recently played NYC and are on tour now), Thee Oh Sees, The Spits (who just played NYC twice), Tenement, The Mountain Goats (two sets, one of which will be an all metal-covers set!) and so many more.
(and now we know the Jesus & Mary Chain are coming back soon)
Tickets are on sale. The full lineup and flyer (update: and a few more announced J&MC dates) are below...
photos by Dominick Mastrangelo; words by Bill Pearis
"I feel like we're some weird meat stuck between two pieces of amazing bread." Small Factory drummer Phoebe Summerquash was referring to her band's placement on the bill between Versus and reformed indiepop legends Black Tambourine at Night One of CF*2012: for the love of pop! The three night event at The Bell House celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the '90s-era zine and co-founder Gail O'Hara has gotten a lot of bands to reform/come out of hiding just for the occasion. "Someone said I am like the mafia," she joked. "No one can say no to me!"
Small Factory haven't played in 17 years but, despite Pheobe's protests, the trio sounded like no time had passed whatsoever and were the clear highlight of night one for this reviewer, a justification of the entire three-day shindig. Songs like "Hopefully," "What to Want" and "Suggestions" haven't aged a bit and the band was together and rockin'. (They also played Cake Shop on Friday.) Small Factory are also in some ways the quintessential chickfactor band. The have a song called "Versus Tape" and their cover of Lois Maffeo's "Valentine" had the entire audience singing. If there was a snapshot of the whole night, that was it.
Lois Maffeo, whose 1993 album Strumpet is a Clinton-era indie rock classic, did her own set earlier in the night, playing a few songs solo before bringing out "The Lois Plus": original drummer Molly Neuman and Heavenly's Peter Momtchiloff on electric guitar. She was a real charmer and the Strumpet-era songs really hold up. Lois is also a very funny person. "I'm so glad I made music in the '90s," she said. "'Magazine' is easy to rhyme. I have trouble working 'Tumblr' into my lyrics."
Versus, who are still a highly functioning band with a recent album on Merge, gave, unsurprisingly the tightest set of the evening but I'll admit to not paying that close attention, as I've seen them probably eight times in the last four years. Richard Balyut looked very Easter Sunday dapper in suit and bowtie.
Black Tambourine @ the Bell House
Headliners Black Tambourine were fun but felt more like you were watching some friends' pick-up band at a party. Which was essentially what happened. The instrument switching between Archie Moore, Brian Nelson and Mike Schulman every few songs felt arbitrary, like the all wanted their turn on drums, bass and guitar.
Which isn't to say it was bad at all. It was fun, and clearly they were having a blast. Schulman, in particular, tore into what ever instrument he was playing. And when Moore was on drums -- usually the more gothy, tribal songs (okay maybe it wasn't totally arbitrary) -- they sounded pretty great. Singer Pam Berry seemed nervous, but her voice was clear and as pretty as ever. And, as chickfactor founder Gail O'Hara said in her introduction, you could actually hear the vocals this time around. I never saw them back in the day, so I'll take her word on that.
In addition to BT classics like "Throw Aggi Off the Bridge," "For Ex-Lovers Only" and "We Can't Be Friends," the band did a number of covers including Love's "Can't Explain," The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," and "Dream Baby Dream" by Suicide. Rose Melberg came out to sing Strawberry Switchblade's "Since Yesterday" which had the place dancing. It was a genuine party atmosphere.
The night, which was hosted wittily by Gaylord Fields, started with two unannounced guests. The first was James McNew's Dump who played a low-key set that included a great cover of Prince's "Pop Life." And then Mark Robinson came out to excited cheers to do solo electric versions of Unrest's "Yes She is My Skinhead Girl" and "Isabel".
The chickfactor anniversary party continued on Wednesday with headliners The Aislers Set, Pipas, personal faves The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group and Bridget St. John and more, and then ended Thursday night... but more about those nights later.
Lots more photos and some videos of the first night's fun are after the jump....
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: Black Tambourine - What's Your Game? (MP3)
Black Tambourine at Artsphere, Washington DC (via Sammich's instagram)
Between most songs in Black Tambourine's set, Mike Schulman, Archie Moore, and (Washington City Paper staffer) Brian Nelson switched off between guitar, bass, and percussion. Singer Pam Berry, lectern in tow, stayed in the center--and because it was true to the original recordings, it was OK that her voice was a little low in the mix. Everything was loud, fast, and feedback-strewn. About 5 percent of the audience was absolutely flipping out. Seventy to 80 percent was mostly flipping out, but with less flailing. "We've practiced three times in a row, which is three more times in a row than we'd ever practiced before," Moore said after the show. [Washington City Paper]Black Tambourine are in the greater New York area, having played Maxwell's last night (with Fan Modine and Rose Melberg) and will headline tonight's first of three chickfactor 20th anniversary shows at The Bell House. Tonight (4/10 with Small Factory, Versus, the Lois Plus) and tomorrow (4/11 with The Aisler's Set, Pipas, Bridget St. John, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group) are sold out but you can still get tickets to Thursday's closing show (4/12) with Stevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian), Honey Bunch, The Pines, The Softies).
For those going tonight, there are two unannounced special guests opening the show, so get there at 8PM sharp! Black Tambourine's new EP of Ramones covers (download "What's Your Game?" above) isn't out till May 15 but I wouldn't be surprised if it was at the merch table tonight.
Additionally, for those Small Factory fans who couldn't get tickets tonight (or are maybe going to see Pulp), the reformed Rhode Islanders play Cake Shop on Friday (4/13) with Air Waves.
Click through to see the lovely poster for the chickfactor anniverary, done by Tae Won Yu (who did the art for Built to Spill's Perfect from Now On and Keep it Like a Secret).
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: Mac DeMarco - "Baby's Wearin Blue Jeans (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: TOPS - Turn Your Love Around (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Korallreven - Sa Sa Samoa (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Korallreven - Sa Sa Samoa (For Real For Sure For You) (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Young Prisms - Floating in Blue (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Boy Friend - Egyptian Wrinkle (MP3)
It begins. Bands from all over the world -- England! Canada! Sweden! New Zealand! Virginia! -- descend on New York as they beat a path to Austin for this year's SXSW. Which is good for those who aren't going, as well as folks who are but want to see bands play longer than 25 minutes and aren't strung out on a four-day diet of free breakfast tacos, Vitamin Water and Amstel Light. There's lots more going on than what is covered below, but it's what I'm interested in over the next few days.
New Captured Tracks signee Mac DeMarco is in town from Vancouver to play a couple shows. He plays an all-C/T bill tonight (3/2) at Music Hall of Williamsburg with DIVE, Hoop Dreams and headliners Beach Fossils (sold out), and then Glasslands tomorrow (3/3) with headliners Widowspeak and Quilt.
Demarco, who used to record under the name Makeout Videotapes, has a smoky baritone that is part Chris Isaak and part Tindersticks. His music owes a little to Isaak as well, with an early '60s vibe (Ricky Nelson, Gene Vincent) by way of '80s neon, all on a four-track budget. You can check debut "Baby's Wearin Blue Jeans" from his debut, Rock n' Roll Hotel (out 3/20) at the top of this post, which is indicative of what Demarco is all about. You can also watch the video for "Only You" which is kind of NSFW. Dude's a provocateur.
Tonight's MHoW show is the first NYC show we've had from Blacksburg, VA's Hoop Dreams in a long while. They were good when I saw them at Glasslands last year and have the potential to be breakouts for the label if they ever get around to releasing another record (only a single so far). Live, they're more in the Arcade Fire/Editors anthemic style than the single might suggest. It will also be a good opportunity to hear new music from Beach Fossils who are busy at work on their second LP.
And of course, DIVE, who are probably one of the more exciting live bands in Brooklyn right now and are a definite SXSW must-see if you don't live here and have the opportunity to catch them twice a week like we currently do. (They're also touring with Frankie Rose in April.) The show is sold out tonight, but I'd be shocked if there weren't tickets at the door at least when the box office opens.
Montreal band TOPS are playing 285 Kent tomorrow night as part of a killer bill that includes Blood Orange, Phone Tag and Caged Animals. The four-piece is comprised of most (if not all) of MTL's Silly Kissers who played here a few times over the last few years and were a little on the precious side (they sometimes wore mime makeup). TOPS, however, are more in the Ariel Pink/Puro Instict brand of minimal keyboard pop. Their debut, Tender Opposites, came out this week on Artibus Records, which is also home to Grimes (in Canada). You can download "Turn Your Love Around" at the top of this post and stream the whole thing (and watch the further down.
As you may have read, 285 headliners Caged Animals will open the Official BrooklynVegan SXSW showcase on March 14 at Bar 69 which also includes Titus Andronicus, Screaming Females, 2:54, The Young and one more TBA. If you haven't heard their tuneful, charming debut Eat Their Own yet, it's still streamable at their BandCamp. And they're terrific live.
So is Blood Orange, despite it just being Dev Hynes, his guitar and a laptop. I saw him last weekend at Glasslands where he spent as much time in the crowd as he did on stage. I do wish he'd get a band, but the one-man Blood Orange is a lot of fun. I haven't seen Phone Tag in a while, but I dig their brand of '80s synthpop.
Sunday night (3/4) at Bowery Ballroom is the NYC debut of Swedish duo Korallreven, one half of which is The Radio Dept.'s Daniel Tjäder. I like their debut album a lot, all lush, synth-driven dream pop but, like a lot of music like this, I wonder how they're going to make it an interesting concert experience. I envision two guys behind laptops and keyboards bobbing their heads and singing, with some projections and hopefully smoke machines. Maybe they could move the downstairs couches to the main room? Maybe I'm wrong. We'll see. I'm sure it will sound great in any case. If you haven't heard them yet, you can download "Sa Sa Samoa" in regular and remixed form at the top of this post and watch the video at the bottom of this post. Also playing: Lemonade and Young Magic.
Also playing Sunday night, at Cameo, is Bachelorette -- aka New Zealander Annabel Alpers who I think lives here now. Buoyed by Alpers delicate, breathy voice, Bachelorette make ethereal synthpop not miles away from The Magnetic Fields, with whom she's going on tour for seven shows. (All dates at the bottom of this post.) I liked it better when she had a band, but the loop pedal incarnation is pretty lovely too. You can check out a couple videos below or stream her most recent album on Spotify.
Young Prisms at the Comet, Seattle (photo by Finest Kiss)
And looking into early next week, San Francisco's Young Prisms and Austin's Boy Friend are at Glasslands on Monday (3/5). Young Prisms new album, In Between, is out March 27 on Kanine and is a real step forward for the band. Their still mining first-wave shoegaze, but the songs are much stronger this time out with a couple that go for jangly Velocity Girl style pop. They will be very loud I guarantee you. Boy Friend will make a nice opener, with their hazy, 4-AD miasma vibe. You can download MP3s from both bands at the top of this post. Also playing, seemingly from another show, are Alex Bleeker & the Freaks and Tanks Amigo.
That's the big stuff for the next four days. But wait, there's more. Day-by-day picks of things not covered above:
The Young Empires at M for Montreal 2011
FRIDAY, MARCH 2
Like Friendly Fires and Foals? Check out Toronto's Young Empires are at Glasslands, with Saint Motel, Fan-Tan, and Transmission NYC (DJ set).
Expect a wild evening at Death by Audio with "original line-up" Tyvek, plus Habibi, Feelings and the Numerators. Stick-in-the-muds, go see something else!
Boston's pop veterans The Figgs play Littlefield. The band's new double album, The Day Gravity Stopped, is out sometime soon.
by Bill Pearis
chickfactor #1 with cover stars Small Factory
chickfactor will celebrate its 20-year anniversary with five blissful nights of sparkling indie pop on the Northeast Corridor of the USA (three in NY; two in DC) including the first shows in years by Black Tambourine, Small Factory, Pipas, The Aislers Set, A Girl Called Eddy, The Softies, The Lois Plus, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group and Fan Modine and rare performances from such pop luminaries asStevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian), Frankie Rose, Lilys, Lorelei, Dot Dash, Versus, Bridget St John and Honey Bunch.Those who followed indiepop in the '90s most certainly read (and probably still have their copies of) fabled 'zine chickfactor, which was written all in lower-case and was read sideways like a calendar. Stephin Merritt was among the regular contributors and it was fun, funny and turned a lot of folks on to cool new sounds like Black Tambourine, Lois Maffeo, Small Factory, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group, Tiger Trap and many more. Stevie Jackson wrote a song about it for the second Belle & Sebastian album, maybe you heard it.
chickfactor started in 1992 in D.C. and New York by pop-loving maniacs Pam Berry and Gail O'Hara, who used to travel up and down the East Coast seeing Small Factory, Honey Bunch, the Wedding Present and any other fine indie-pop bands of the era. We are spoiled silly and lucky as all get-out to be able to present this super-stellar line-up. Get your ticket fast, do not dilly-dally!
For chickfactor's 20th anniversary, founders Gail O'Hara and Pam Berry have put together a five-day, two-city festival that gathers many of the zine's most loved bands, many of whom haven't performed in 15 or more years. It happens April 6 and 7 at the Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia and then in NYC April 10 -12 at The Bell House (Maybe some of you went to the 10th anniversary show at Fez?).
The shows shows break down like this:
April 6 (Artispace, Arlington, VA): Stevie Jackson, Frankie Rose, Honey Bunch, The Dot Dash
April 7 (Artispace, Arlington, VA): Black Tambourine, Lilys, Fan Modine, Lorelei
April 10 (The Bell House, Brooklyn): Black Tambourine, Small Factory, Versus, The Lois Plus + Special Guests.
April 11 (The Bell House, Brooklyn): The Aislers Set, Pipas, Bridget St. John, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group
April 12 (The Bell House, Brooklyn): Stevie Jackson, Honey Bunch, A Girl Called Eddy, The Softies
Black Tambourine (first East Coast shows in 20 years) and The Aislers Set (first in almost 10 years) are the big draws here, but this writer is especially excited about folk pop trio Small Factory who haven't played together in 15 years and Minneapolis' The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group whose 1995 album O Brother Where Art Thou? is a lost '90s classic (they're promising a new album this year too).
This comes a mere month before the sixth annual NYC Popfest (happening May 17 - 20) which means this spring is likely to be a very good year for indiepop fans. NYC Popfest hasn't divulged any of its line-up, but I hear it may be their most ambitious yet.
Click though for a detailed rundown of the chickfactor fest line-up, plus some vintage videos from the groups involved.
Adventure (by Tim)
Braids (by Tim)
As discussed and/or pictured HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE, we threw a free, three stage party with M For Montreal at Swan Dive and Barbarella in Austin on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by, to all the bands who played and to Ramesh for DJing. Sorry to Bass Drum of Death for not getting to play due to some confusion. Thanks to the cast of Workaholics for stopping by and for doing some hosting (catch their show on Comedy Central now!). Thanks also to Izzoz, Sensible Portions, Honest Tea, VegAustin, Raw Revolution, NadaMoo, Firefly Vodka, Line 6, Korg, Vox, Blackstar, Nudie Jeans, and ASCAP. Thanks to everyone else that helped and to anyone I forgot.
A whole bunch more pictures from the whole day are below...
by Bill Pearis
Pete & the Pirates @ SXSW Convention Center
"This is the weirdest gig we've ever played. I feel like we're in Las Vegas and you are all eating dinner." Pete & the Pirates singer Thom Sanders was remarking on the weirdness of playing the Dot Com Day Stage at 1PM in the Austin Convention Center. Folding chairs were set up near the stage, there were couches around the periphery, more the kind of place where some CEO reveals annual earnings than hearing some sprightly indie pop.
Yet Pete & the Pirates made it work, 'cause they're so damn good. (The bloody mary I was drinking probably also helped.) They charmed the pants off the room. We got a smattering of songs from their first album, and a few from One Thousand Pictures which is due out in May. This was a great way to start my final day of SXSW.
From there it was off to our final day party of the week, which we were throwing with our friends at the M for Montreal festival. The line-up was pretty sick, if I do say, with !!!, Weekend, Austra, Braids, PS I Love You, Braids, Trail of Dead, Owen Pallet and more. The weather had cooled off a bit making both the outside stage at Barbarella and Swan Dive more comfortable than Friday and it was a great afternoon of music. Highlights for me: Versus, who I'd seen the night before, a kick-ass set from !!! who I don't think I've seen play in three years, an abbreviated but great Suuns, and another killer set from Weekend. (Look for an interview with Weekend soon.) I wish I'd gotten there in time to see Montreal's quirky, funky Misteur Valaire who I heard were the perfect lead-in to !!! (editor's note: they were!).
by Bill Pearis
Wounded Lion @ Shangri La
After Wednedsay and Thursday... I spent most of Friday afternoon -- the hottest day of the fest, well into the '80s --at Sailor Jerry-sponsored East Side dive Shangri La where Chicago label Trouble in Mind was throwing a party in the back yard. Their party at Scoot Inn the year before was one of my favorites of SXSW2010 and I'd have to say the same the same of 2011. The label, run by husband and wife Bill & Lisa Roe (who are also in CoCoComa), is mostly a 7" label, releasing great singles from some of the best garage-pop artists around. Many of whom were there at Shangri La.
I got there as Seattle trio Night Beats were just starting. Never heard them before, but really dug their psych-garage sounds, and they definitely looked the part. They ended their set with a cover of The Count Five's classic "Psychotic Reaction," giving their version a little swing which made it their own. Look for Night Beats debut LP out on Trouble in Mind this summer.
While Cheap Time were playing, I noticed Lars Finberg milling about the yard...what was he doing here? The Intelligence were definitely not here, was his side-project Puberty playing and I didn't know it? No, he told me he was playing drums for L.A.'s Wounded Lion for their Austin shows. I was already looking forward to seeing WL, now even moreso.
I was getting a little antsy and decided to walk around the East Side a bit, stopping by Cheer Up Charlies where I caught a few songs by Norway's Tôg (who are in NYC as we speak) before heading back to the Trouble in Mind party to catch Nashville's The Paperhead. Looking a bit like Red Kross, the band -- all about 19 I think -- are trippier than anyone else on the bill. Their debut just came out on TiM.
Next up Wounded Lion, whose self-titled debut was one of last year's more underrated records. I think seeing them live would change naysayers opinion, they were one of the rockin'est, most fun shows of the week. Two singers: main man Brad Eberhard does the heavy lifting and guitar playing, while singer/percussionist Raffi Kalenderian is more in the Bob Nastanovich of the band, going apeshit with the tambourine and generally keeping things entertaining. There is much switching of instruments. They also let Lars Finberg take lead vocals for the Intelligence's "Turned to Puke." I really thought they'd do "Pony People," a Wounded Lion song that The Intelligence covered on Fake Surfers, but no. Great, great set.
I then Sprinted over to the BrooklynVegan party at Swan Dive for John Grant. Friday was hot and Swan Dive didn't seem to have AC or even ceiling fans and it was an oven in there, but it didn't matter. Another of my favorite shows of the week. I'd seen him play solo at Mercury Lounge, but this show was with Midlake, his backing band on last year's amazing Queen of Denmark. With the band, Grant's late-'70s leaning epics came to lush life. The drums sounded gigantic. So did Grant's voice. All that was missing was sequined clothing and glasses that made points of light look like starbursts. Highlights for me: power-ballad "Mars" and "Chicken Bones" which is some kind of sonic collision of Gordon Lightfoot and Harry Nilsson.
John Grant @ Swan Dive
If you've been following along, you know that this is finally the NINTH and FINAL BrooklynVegan SXSW 2011 show announcement! This one happens on Saturday, March 19th in Austin, at both Swan Dive and Barbarella (they connect). It runs from noon-6pm and is 100% free. We are doing it with our friends from M For Montreal and it looks like this:
STAGE 1 (SWAN DIVE)I'm ready to fall over.
12:00 PM New Moods
01:00 PM Oh Land
2:00 PM Austra
3:00 PM Little Scream
4:00 PM Owen Pallett
5:00 PM Braids
STAGE 2 (Barbarella main stage)
12:00 PM Baths
1:00 PM Misteur Valaire
2:00 PM !!!
3:00 PM Trail of Dead
4:00 PM Mount Kimbie
5:00 PM Daedelus
HOSTED BY: the cast of Workaholics
DJs: Ramesh (of Voxtrot) & 70's Bush
STAGE 3 (Barbarella small stage)
12:00 PM Bass Drum of Death
12:45 PM Adventure
1:30 PM Versus
2:30 PM Malajube
3:15 PM Suuns
4:00 PM Weekend
5:00 PM PS I Love You
And this party will also have:
- FREE vegan Izzoz breakfast tacos while supplies last!
- lots of FREE snacks courtesy of Sensible Portions!
- a lot of FREE Honest Tea!
- FREE Raw Revolution bars to eat.
- FREE vegan ice cream from NadaMoo
- FREE Firefly Vodka cocktails all day (while supplies last.)
- more FREE DRINKS TBA.
- Our official microphone sponsor Line 6.
- and our backline sponsors Korg, Vox & Blackstar.
- our sponsor Nudie Jeans.
- and to ASCAP for sponsoring too.
To celebrate the BrooklynVegan + M for Montreal party, Nudie Jeans is also giving away 5 pairs of jeans (one pair for each day leading up to the party). For your chance to win, friend Nudie Jeans on facebook and send an email titled BROOKLYN VEGAN to email@example.com. For those at the party, we'll also be raffling off more Nudie Jeans you can win while you're there.
We're also happy to announce that, for the second year in a row, we'll be partnering with our friends at VegAustin to host a vegan bake sale for charity at the party. All proceeds will be donated to Compassion Over Killing.
Check out the flyer and stuff below...
The once extinguished but now active Versus is scheduled to play Mercury Lounge on February 19th, their lone East Coast date as part of a handful of US dates late next month. Tickets for Mercury Lounge go on sale at noon. The band released their first LP in ten years, On the Ones and Threes, via Merge Records in 2010.
You can also catch Versus's Richard Baluyut when he appears during Jennifer O'Connor's residency at Rock Shop on February 8th. Tickets are still available, and he'll be joined by Charles Bissell of The Wrens and Kendall Meade of Mascott.
Speaking of Charles Bissell, he is also on the bill of a Project Matters Benefit at Maxwell's in Hoboken on January 23rd with Cymbals Eat Guitars and Escape Directors. Tickets are on sale.
Versus is also on board for Noise Pop 2011 in San Francisco, CA. To be exact, they play Cafe Du Nord with their touring labelmates Telekinesis & The Love Language on February 23rd. The whole festival will take place at multiple venues from February 22-27 and will also feature appearances from Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service), Ted Leo (solo), The Concretes (who are touring), Waaves & Best Coast (who are touring together), How to Dress Well (who plays Brooklyn soon), No Age, Yo La Tengo, and many other favorites. The full slate of initially-announced bands is below, and you can get your badges now.
Full list of Noise Pop bands, some video and all Versus dates are below.
Kaia Wilson & Jennifer O'Connor
Move over Palomar, it's singer-songwriter Jennifer O'Connor's turn to start bringing special guests like Charles Bissell to special residency shows at new Brooklyn venue the Rock Shop. Jennifer writes...
"I am going to be hosting and performing in a monthly songwriter's series called Tower of Song that will take place on the second Tuesday of every month in 2011.The first "Tower of Song" show takes place this Tuesday, January 11th, with Chris Brokaw (Come, The New Year), Amy Bezunartea (Clint Michigan), and Tim Foljahn (Two Dollar Guitar, Cat Power) (tickets are on sale). February 8th's show will feature Charles Bissell (The Wrens), Kendall Meade (Mascott), and Richard Baluyut (Versus) (tickets are on sale).
Each month I will invite three other songwriter's to join me and we will get together at the Rock Shop and each play a handful of songs and talk about our songwriting processes a little bit and collaborate and maybe play a cover or two. I think it's going to make for a really interesting night of music, especially for those interested in the "song" as an art form and maybe learning about how different folks write. I, for one, am totally excited to see what comes from it."
Jennifer, as she explained above, will also be playing at each show. She is also working a new record which she hopes to "have out some time later this year." Flyers, and a video of Jennifer covering "Waterfalls" with Clint Assay, Andrew Singer and Amy Bezbelow at Joe's Pub on December 15th, below...
Joanna Newsom on Kimmel last night
"Arcade Fire will appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight [August 12th]. They'll perform "Ready to Start" from their new album The Suburbs which is currently the # 1 record in the country!Speaking of the Merge store, Arcade Fire weren't the only Merge band that just released an album. As pointed out before, Versus also have a new album and they'll be celebrating at the intimate Rock Shop tonight (8/12). Go see the show and set your DVR for the Arcade Fire segment. All Versus dates below.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart airs on Comedy Central at 11 PM EDT / 10 PM CST. Check your local listings for channel information and set your DVRs.
The Suburbs is available on CD, dbl-LP and digital download (with special digital artwork) in the Merge store."
Speaking of TV appearances and my favorite artists of 2004, Joanna Newsom was on Kimmel last night. Two videos from that appearance, below...
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: Fergus & Geronimo - Girls with English Accents (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Fergus & Geronimo - Harder Than It's Ever Been (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Ty Segall - Girlfriend (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Ty Segall - Caesar (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Royal Baths - Nikki Don't (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Eternal Summers - Pogo (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Rayon Beach - The Memory Teeth (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Dog Day - Synastry (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Dog Day - Wait it Out (Mp3)
DOWNLOAD: Deerhunter - Revival (ZIP)
DOWNLOAD: Versus - Invincible Hero (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: How to Dress Well - Ecstasy with Jojo (MP3)
Wild Beasts @ Lollapalooza 2010 (more by Josh Darr)
Just like the August bounty of tomatoes, corn and zucchini that can be currently found at your local farmer's market, we looking at five extremely fertile days of live music, much of it free. Take advantage now -- this crop is extremely perishable.
Wild Beasts are stopping in NYC tonight on their way back from Lollapalooza, playing Highline Ballroom. Their second album, Two Dancers, was my favorite album of 2009 and a year later I'm still listening to it. It's up for this year's Mercury Music Prize and if anybody is going to beat The xx it'll be Two Dancers. If you missed their shows last September, or their appearances here in February , don't miss them this time. Tickets are still available. The fluid interplay between the band is something to behold -- a real case of four people working as one mesmerizing whole. And those who still haven't gotten used to their vocal style, I say go see them live and everything makes more sense.
Domino Records is offering a free downloadable four-song EP featuring "We've Still Got the Taste Dancing on Our Tongues" in original and remixed form, a track previously only available as a Japanese b-side and an acoustic version of "The Devil's Crayon." The download widget is at the bottom of this post and expires August 14 so get on that. And do go see them live tonight if you can. Denmark's The Kissaway Trail and UK artist Lone Wolf are also on the bill.
Fergus and Geronimo
It's been a year since Denton, TX's Fergus & Geronimo were last in town, and while they haven't released anything new since last summer's initial flurry of singles, that should change soon. The band have signed with Sub Pop subsidiary Hardly Art who will hopefully be putting out a record sooner than later. In the meantime, UK label Transparent (who put out "Tell it in My Ear" last year) have offered up a new F&G track "Girls with English Accents" that you can download at the top of this post. Maybe a little more dreamy/folky and less soul-tinged than their previous output, it's still another winner from this excellent four-piece.
I saw them at 92-Y Tribeca last summer and thought they were terrific. Fergus & Geronimo play Cake-Shop tonight (8/11) with Radical Dads and Little Gold. They then play Saturday (8/14) at Don Pedro's with Liquor Store, Home Blitz, Moonmen on the Moon, Man, and Nashville's Pujol. That sounds like a party.
Also here from Texas this weekend are Austin's Rayon Beach who play Bruar Falls on Saturday (8/14) and Death by Audio on Sunday (8/15). Like a lot of the bands on Hozac Records (or bands from Austin for that matter), this trio fit under the psych/garage umbrella but there's a decided Brit bent to their music. Baroque garage, is that a thing? Think Syd-era Pink Floyd or The Pretty Things more than Woven Bones. Make no mistake -- Rayon Beach can and do get plenty loud. It's just sometimes with pinkies extended. Check out Memory Teeth's title track at the top of this post.
We're just getting started. Ty Segall and The Royal Baths are here from San Francisco, playing Cake Shop on Thursday (8/12) and Death by Audio on Friday (8/13). For my money, it doesn't get much better in the new garage scene than this guy, who has been cranking out records over the last two years. Amazingly, they're pretty much all good, and each record goes somewhere new. The latest, Melted, just out on Goner Records, adds some nice '60s paisley pop touches. You can download two tracks from it at the top of this post. And he's great live.
The Royal Baths, meanwhile, are sort of the flip side to Ty's sunshine pop. I wrote before that they're "kind of bad trip acid rock, dark and seedy but not atonal. But it's definitely down the rabbit hole. In a good way." Royal Baths debut LP is due out on Woodsist in September and you can check out album track "Nikki Don't" at the top of this post.
Still more. Roanoke, VA's Eternal Summers are back -- they were last here for the Northside Festival -- for two shows: Thursday (8/12) at new Williamsburg venue The Pyramids and then Friday night (8/13) at Cake Shop. The band have signed with Kanine records who will put out their first full-length, Silver, in September. You can check out the album's first single, "Pogo," in the popular MP3 format at the top of this post. If you dig C-86 inspired pop like Brilliant Colors or Liechtenstein, you should definitely seek this duo out. Absolutely worth seeing live and nice folks too.
Both shows Eternal Summers are playing have pretty stacked bills. The Pyramids gig is with Philly's Reading Rainbow, all-girl quartet Rescue Bird, the shambly goodness that is German Measles and the wistful surf of Family Trees; Friday's Cake Shop show also has new-ish Brooklyn duo Yvette, the tinny, witty pop of Knight School and Halifax, NS band Dog Day.
Dog Day are actually here playing two shows. They play Thursday (8/12) at Bruar Falls in addition to the Cake Shop show on Friday. It's been a while since Halifax's mid-90s indie explosion that gave us Sloan and Thrush Hermit, but Dog Day are helping put the coastal city back on the map. Led by husband-and-wife team of Seth Smith and Nancy Ulrich, the quartet make moody, melodic indie rock that is not too dissimilar from The Figurines or The Comas. Last year's Concentration was one of 2009's lost gems. There's two songs to download at the top of this post and I highly suggest you do. You might find yourself saying "why haven't I heard these guys before?" Normally a quartet, for these NYC shows Dog Day will just be a duo of Smith/Ulrich and they'll be testing out new songs for their upcoming album.
Savoir Adore @ Coco66 for Northside (more by Don Gochenour)
And last but not least, Friday is the last Seaport Music Festival show of the season but they are really going out with a bang with The Wedding Present and Savoir Adore. I'm told we're getting a full 90-minute set from the Weddoes pretty close to what they played at Bowery Ballroom back in April: a career-spanning "hits" set and then they'll play 1989's Bizarro in full.
I saw the Bowery Bizzaro show and it was fantastic, especially the stuff from Side Two of the LP, the long, jangle-on-speed workouts of "Bewitched" and "Take Me!" David Gedge may be 50 but he can still tear into his guitar like Thatcher was still in office. There's video of "Take Me" from Bowery at the bottom of this post. The hits set was peppered with a few new songs too, which I thought were pretty good.
Savoir Adore, one of my favorite new NYC bands of the last few years, are always good live. If you have yet to check out their self-titled debut from last year, you definitely should.
As if this wasn't enough, here are a few more picks by day that weren't already covered above:
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11
Two of the best new bands of the last year -- Twin Sister and Oberhofer -- play Mercury Lounge with Ontario's MemoryHouse. Twin Sister and Memory House also play together on Thursday (8/12) at Monster Island Basement, the start of a two-week tour together. All dates at the bottom of this post.
At Coco 66 it's another installment of Show Off Your Sugar which pairs one band and one author to benefit 826NYC, a non-profit writing center for New York City students. Rock critic Chuck Klosterman reads and Here We Go Magic will rock.
DOWNLOAD: Versus - Invincible Hero (MP3)
Superchunk @ South Street Seaport July 2009 (more by Chris La Putt)
Those at LPR's Chris Knox benefit on May 6th got a taste of Superchunk when frontman Mac McCaughan closed his Portastatic set (backed by Yo La Tengo) with a rousing version of Superchunk's anthemic early single "Slack Motherfucker." Well, good news: Superchunk will be in NYC for proper shows at Bowery Ballroom on Saturday, September 18th and Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sunday, September 19th. Tickets for both shows go on sale Wednesday, May 19th at noon.
Maybe the shows will be in support of a new album...
"Superchunk never broke up or went on hiatus, they've just been moving slowly -- very slowly -- for the last decade, recording a handful of songs, playing one or two charity or small gigs a year. No particular event, (I thought it may have been their Coachella show last year) really pushed the idea of recording forward for Majesty Shredding, awesomely (just) named ninth Superchunk LP, according to drummer Jon Wurster. "I think it was having the time. Or maybe not even having the time but knowing that if we wanted to do this we have to make the time for it, which is kind of how it turned out. There was never really a defining moment where we decided, let's do this again, actually making an album," he says. "And I don't even think we had a goal in mind. I think it was just 'Let's see how it goes, and if we're still into it-it's like five songs, let's keep going.'" They found time together between their other gigs: Jon Wurster's been drumming for Mountain Goats, touring with Ben Gibbard, Jay Ferrar, and Carl Newman, and hosting WFMU's The Best Show, Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance run Merge records, while guitarist Jim Wilbur plays in Portastatic and works at a bookstore in Durham, North Carolina." [Stereogum]Last time they were in NYC (July '09), Superchunk played an outdoor show with labelmates Versus, who just announced the details of their first album in ten years, On the Ones and Threes, due August 13th on Merge. Versus will be at the Bell House on July 9th and in DC on July 10th as part of the six-date Teen Beat Records tour with Unrest, the Rondelles and more. The NYC show is sold out.
About the new Versus album, Merge writes:
On the Ones and Threes is something of a return to form, featuring the reappearances of original member Edward Baluyut, and engineer Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Cat Power, Spoon) who worked on Secret Swingers and Two Cents Plus Tax.Versus has more tour dates TBA. Other dates for Superchunk include a set at Primavera Fest, a gig in North Carolina and assorted fests. Videos from Superchunk's appearance at SXSW 2010 and more info about the Versus album are below...
The deluxe-edition double-LP format will feature an alternate sequence and two additional tracks from the album's recording sessions. These extra tracks will also be available as a bonus for immediate download when you pre-order the CD or the deluxe double-LP in the Merge store beginning June 8.
by Bill Pearis
Teen Beat Records is celebrating its 26th year of existence and in celebration, label founder Mark Robinson is getting the old band back together -- Unrest -- for a reunion tour, their first in 15 years.* The trio, including Bridget Cross and Phil Krauth, will play six East Coast shows, including two in the NYC area: July 7 at Maxwell's (tickets), and July 9 at the Bell House (tickets).
Robinson has had a number of bands since -- Air Miami, Flin Flon, Grenadine and, most recently Cotton Candy -- but Unrest is probably the band that people hold a special affection for. Formed while Robinson was still in high school, Unrest had its foundations in the DC hardcore scene but by the time Cross joined on bass/vocals in 1990, the band seemed to draw most of its influences from Factory Records and the C-86 scene. The band's finest moment, 1992's Imperial F.F.R.R., was tuneful, smart, funny, sexy and self-aware. You can download "Cherry Cream On" from it at the top of this post. The album's getting reissued on vinyl for this 26th Anniversary. Unrest broke up in 1994 and have only played once since -- at the Teen Beat 20th Anniversary show in 2005, though both Robinson and Krauth played on Cross' 2008 solo endeavor, Maybe It's Reno.
In addition to Unrest, the Teen Beat 26th Anniversary shows all have other bands from the label's history playing. Maxwell's will get The Ropers (who played last year's Slumberland anniversary shows) and former Aden guitarist Kevin Barker who now records as Curritruck Co.
The Bell House show is kind of a Teen Beat wet dream, with Versus (whose new album is due out on Merge sometime this year) also on the bill. Additionally we get a reformed, original line-up Rondelles, the criminally underrated late '90s band who played punky new wave in their teens in Albequerque, NM before moving to DC -- they had records out on Smells Like and K as well.
There's also a rare border crossing (and rare performance in general) from Vancouver, Canada's mercurial pop whiz Bossanova, whose 2006 debut on Teen Beat is kind of a lost gem. (Check out "Calvary" at the top of this post.) Robinson will perform double duty, also playing with Cotton Candy, the duo he formed with wife, Evelyn Hurley, who are an amusing mix of indie rock, performance art and late '70s commercial jingles.
Other shows on the tour will feature other Teen Beat acts, and the July 10 show at the Black Cat in DC will feature mini-sets from two seperate early Unrest line-ups. All tour dates and line-ups for each show, plus flyers and video are after the jump.
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: The Cribs - We Were Aborted (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: BOAT - Prince of Tacoma (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: BOAT - We've Been Friends Since 1989 (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: BOAT - Lately (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: BOAT - I'm a Donkey for Your Love (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: BOAT - Last Cans of Paint (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Pants Yell! - Cold Hands (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Frankie Rose - Thee Only One (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Brown Recluse - Night Train (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Brown Recluse - Contour and Context (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Ropers - Revolver (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Nord Express - The Natural (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Lorelei - Stale Houses (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Max Tundra - Which Song (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Deastro - Reaction To Substance M (MP3)
Tonight (11/11) and tomorrow are the last two shows of The Answering Machine's extended NYC visit, playing Bruar Falls tonight (with Dinnosaur Feathers and Zambri) and Cake Shop tomorrow (11/12, with Sholi). As I've said before, this Manchester band make superior Brit Indie and like their debut album, Another City, Another Sorry, quite a bit. You can get the whole thing at their bandcamp.com page.
Speaking of superior Brit Indie, The Cribs fourth album, Ignore the Ignorant, was released this week, just in time for their shows at Bowery Ballroom on Thursday (11/12, still tickets available) and Friday (11/13, sold out). As you may know, The Cribs are now a four-piece, having added Johnny Marr to their otherwise all-Jarman lineup for the writing and recording of the new album which actually does sound like what you might expect it to. You've still got the big choruses and raw energy The Cribs are known for, but now with the flourishes and panache the onetime Smith is known for. I'd even say Ignore the Ignorant finds Johnny Marr sounding like Johhny Marr for the first time since his days in The The. It's a really strong record. But The Cribs are almost always better live than on record. I will be curious to see how Marr will affect the usual antics of Gary, Ryan, Ross. Will brothers still act like brothers when there's a legend nearly twice their age on stage?
The shows I'm most looking forward to this weekend are from Seattle's BOAT, a truly fun live band whose new album, Setting the Paces, is just terrific, loaded with irresistible indie pop, as much as you can fit on tangerine-colored vinyl. We're talking giant hooks, lyrics that are funny without being novelty (and have just enough of the crying-on-the-inside clown thing going on too), and production that is neither slick nor low fi. This is how it's done, and I've no doubt this will find its way into my Best of 2009 list.
BOAT play Union Hall on Friday (11/13) and Bruar Falls on Saturday (11/14) and you really should do yourself a favor and go see one of these shows. They don't make it East very often. Their live shows are fairly interactive -- they pass out bags of confetti and homemade shakers, and often work with signs and props -- but it never feels forced. They just want you to have a good time. The Union Hall show on Friday is with How I Became the Bomb; Saturday's Bruar Falls show is with Miniboone and Shark?
I feel a little bad that BOAT's show on Saturday is competing with the Slumberland 20th Anniversary show at The Bell House for the indie pop consumer's dollar. As someone who spent his college years going on road trips to Washington DC to see shows and go record shopping, Slumberland is intertwined with my musical upbringing, be it thumbing through Velocity Girl, Henry's Dress and Aislers Set 7"s at Arlington's Go Records, or hearing Stereolab's Switched On for the first time at Smash on M Street.
It's kind of amazing that, after a few years of dormancy, Slumberland has come back stronger than ever in the last year with records that have achieved a national level of attention that seemed impossible in the '90s. I'm still stunned at how popular Pains of Being Pure at Heart have gotten. It's a label that continues to be a labor of love for owner Mike Schulman. Maybe the listening public (now with the wide-reaching abilities of the internet) has come around to his way of thinking.
Anyway, Saturday's eight-band spectacular is a hard-t0-pass-up bill for any indie fan, featuring label heavy hitters The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (previously unannounced) and Crystal Stilts. There's also Boston's Pants Yell!, whose new album Received Pronunciation was just released and is what I'd call a textbook "grower," one whose many pleasures don't reveal themselves till maybe the third listen. The band are also swearing it's their last, and plan to break up next year (Check out an MP3 of "Cold Hands" above). Additionally, the show has Philadelphia's baroque-ish Brown Recluse from the label's current roster, and what is likely to be most people's first time seeing Frankie & the Outs, who were really good opening for Grass Widow at the Woodser a week ago.
There's also sets from three bands from Slumberland's dreamy '90s era: Lorelei, who have been back together since 2003, and The Ropers, and Nord Express who I'm pretty sure are playing their first shows since disbanding. While I know some Slumberland fanatics were hoping, wishing, crossing their fingers Schulman and Bell House booker Skippy might pull a rabbit out of their hat with more classic Slumberland bands (The Aislers Set, Black Tambourine, Velocity Girl or Rocketship), it's hard to argue with this lineup. It's gonna be a great night.
While on the subject of '90s indie rock, Versus are playing at Knitting Factory on Friday (11/13). Now augmented with a violinist (at least at their fantastic Seaport set this summer), they're sounding as good as they did in the '90s. Maybe even better. I'm told there's a new Versus album in the can and they're just trying to work out the whens and wheres of its release. The whole line-up at the Knit is TeenBeat related actually, with label head (and former Unrest frontman) Mark Robinson's new band Cotton Candy; Plus Minus which features Versus' James Balyut and ex-member Patrick Ramos and who are equally popular in their own right; The Solitary Cyclist which includes John Lindaman of True Love Always, Plus Minus drummer Chris Deaner, and food blogger (and friend of mine) Ganda Suthivarakom who has also performed with Miho Hatori, as well as in David Byrne's Imelda Marcos opera, Here Lies Love. Which leads us to the other band on the bill: Filipino indiepop band Ciudad. They've been playing shows here for the last month or so but this looks to be the final one before they head back to the Philippines.
A couple other quick shows of interest. If you ever wondered what became of Einar, the other vocalist in the Sugarcubes (the one who shouted things like "I really don't like lobster!"), his current gig is GhostDigital which matches weird electronics to his particular style of vocals. They play tonight (11/11) at Monkeytown with fellow homemade diode musician Caspar Electronics.
An evening-length concert of original scores and newly commissioned compositions for the intonarumori, or "noise-intoners" As part of its celebration of the 100th anniversary of Italian Futurism, the Performa 09 biennial, in collaboration with the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) and SFMOMA, has invited Luciano Chessa to direct a reconstruction project to produce accurate replicas the legendary instruments (8 noise families of 1-3 instruments each, in various registers) that Russolo built in Milan in the summer of 1913. As the first instruments capable of creating and manipulating noises through entirely mechanical processes, the intonarumori can be considered to be the original analog synthesizer, and the ancestors to the latest electronic synthesizers used today.The night also features Blixa Bargeld, John Butcher, Luciano Chessa, Joan La Barbara, Nick Hallett, Pauline Oliveros, Mike Patton, Anat Pick, Elliott Sharp, Ulrich Krieger, Jennifer Walshe with Tony Conrad, Ghostigital with Skuli Sverrison, Finboggi Petursson, and Casper Electronics.
Sounds pretty cool. Aside: I used to fantasize that Einar formed a band with Fred Schneider. The most annoying band ever created.
OK that's it for this week. Videos and tour dates follow....
by Andrew Frisicano
Mac and Britt embrace (Triangle Music)
The much anticipated XX Merge Festival took place last week in North Carolina with a five-day (July 22-July 26), Wednesday to Sunday run of shows. Last night (Sunday)'s show with She & Him, American Music Club and Wye Oak was the only fully announced lineup. The other four nights (and one day) were a grab bag of any number of Merge bands past and present. Did you go? What were the highlights?
Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band, who recently played a pair of big NY shows, headlined the fest's first night (which also included Magnetic Fields). Superchunk, which features Merge founders Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan, topped the bill of the second night. The third night included the reformed/reunited lineups of Spent, Polvo and Pipe.
Mac McCaughan came out on stage before [Pipe] instead of the night's emcee and announced that there was a lone protester outside. He invited him up on stage and it was Jon Wurster decked out in Phillies gear as Philly Boy Roy. He was holding a sign that said "Boycot MERGE." He complained that Merge didn't have any Philly bands on their roster and Mac said that they have bands from Jersey, which is close to Philly. You never compare Jersey to Philly in front of Philly Boy Roy. It was hilarious.You can see the partial setlist from Spoon, who headlined that night, below.
All of this led to the introduction of New Jersey punks Pipe. As soon as they kicked into their first song, beer cans and plastic bottles started flying. Frontman Ron Liberti ate it up and even put himself in the line of fire, headbutting some of the cans while kicking some back into the crowd. Liberti bounded around the stage, essentially taunting the crowd. The crowd loved the band's antics as did I (but that may have been different if I hadn't managed to stay dry). [triangle music]
In addition to the Cat's Cradle shows (the venue for 4/5 of the night shows), Saturday featured a day show that included Julian Koster solo as Music Tapes and Mac McCaughan with violin accompaniment as Portastatic. A few videos from that set, below.
M. Ward, who's playing the Central Park Summerstage this Saturday (August 1st), played at the fest's Saturday night showcase. Zooey Deschanel joined him for a cover of the Beatles' "Birthday." Not too big of a surprise considering She & Him headlined the Sunday night show.
Other XX Merge artists who recently stopped in NYC include The Clientele and Richard Buckner (they played Music Hall of Williamsburg last Sunday), Versus and Superchunk (they played South Street Seaport last Friday), and Spent (they played Coco 66). Spoon didn't play a NYC show, but they were spotted in the audience of Paul McCartney's third of three shows at Citi Field in Queens. Destroyer is on his way up. He plays Bowery Ballroom on Thursday. Mark Eitzel (as American Music Club) played Le Poisson Rouge and Maxwell's before XX Merge, and now he's on his way back for a show at The Bell House.
Lineups for each night of XX Merge, with videos, and a bunch of setlists, below...