Mitch Easter, BNLX, Tamaryn, Sweet Bulbs & more in This Week in Indie
by Bill Pearis
A lot of cool shows this week/weekend, some of which might be a bit under the radar. Let's get into it. Alt rock legend Mitch Easter, in addition to being part of that upcoming Big Star Third show, is on a rare Northeast tour right now that pulls into town Thursday (2/17) at The Rock Shop.
While he's maybe best known as a producer (the first two R.E.M.'s albums [with Don Dixon], Pavement's Brighten the Corners, Moose's ...XYZ among other things), Easter has had a long career as a musician, as a part ofThe Sneakers in the late '70s and frontman/songwriter for Let's Active, easily one of the most underrated bands of the '80s. He's also an incredible guitarist, and Let's Active albums are resplendent with awesome axe-work.
I like everything they ever did but 1986's Big Plans for Everybody is especially great, one of my favorite albums of that decade. Mitch put the kybosh on Let's Active in 1990 and didn't release any original material until 2008's Dynamico, an album which showed he still has chops and songs to spare.
Mitch's set at The Rock Shop is going to be heavy on the Let's Active tunes and if there's a song you really want to hear, like "Talking to Myself" from Big Plans, you can make a request. Opening the show are Brooklyn's own Boy Genius whose album from last year, Staggering, was produced by Mitch and is worth checking out. Also playing: Overlord.
I'm pretty excited about this next one. Minneapolis' awesome and enigmatic BNLX play their first-ever NYC shows this week, stopping at Fontana's tomorrow night (2/17) and The Rock Shop on Friday (2/18).
BNLX seemingly stormed out of nowhere early 2010, releasing a new EP each quarter, featuring hand-printed, Neu!-esque sleeves and press releases like this:
-BNLX has been meeting and / or exceeding expectations since its inception in Q1 2010
-BNLX provides mission-critical services to the entertainment sector in the following categories:
--found art -beatz / rhymez
--obfuscation / parallax
-these services are rendered in the live, recorded, and conceptual spheres
-BNLX is comprised of both organic and inorganic members
-this allows BNLX to achieve standards of performance surpassing nominal criteria
-Stage One of the BNLX First One Year Plan commenced in March, 2010; it has been successful
-Stage Two - the release of BNLX EP #2 - will be executed June 25th, 2010
-BNLX EP #2 will be available as a numbered limited edition CD art package
-it will also be available through iTunes, other digital retailers, and piracy
Keeping things mysterious, you could mainly only focus on the music which is pretty awesome: blistering post-punk inspired rock, with male/female, call-and-response vocals, feedback, harmonies, old-school drum machines and ridiculously catchy choruses. The first three EPs were all originals, and the fourth EP was all covers, including great versions of Rhianna's "Shut Up and Drive" and hometown legend Prince's "When Doves Cry." BNLX actually played the latter at First Avenue last month at an Onion party, which takes balls.
That obfuscation didn't last two long as people figured out that BNLX was the work of Minneapolis indie rock mainstay Ed Ackerson, who has led such excelent bands as The 27 Various and Polara over the last 25 years as well as running Susstones Records. His wife Ashley -- they're both also in Moodswings -- is the other half of the band. BNLX have culled the best of the four 2010 EPs as a free sampler which you can download for free. You can also check out a few of the songs, including that Prince cover, at the top of this post.
The Rock Shop show is part of the monthly Hard Light party which is a must for lovers of shoegaze, post-punk, '60s psych, Krautrock, metal, Sweden, feedback, '90s indie rock, and guitars in general. In addition to BNLX, Hard Light promises "drink specials- weirdo cult movies - and loudness."
Speaking of shoegazy stuff, Tamaryn is back in NYC for her first proper shows since CMJ 2010. She plays Don Hill's on Thusday (2/17), and then an afternoon show at PS 1 on Saturday (2/19). I loved her debut album, The Waves, which came in at #12 on my Favorite LPs of 2011 list, and it's still in pretty heavy rotation here at TWII Headquarters (aka my kitchen). It reminds me a lot of the first Verve album, tsunami waves of guitar matched with a nimble, groovy rhythm section and Tamaryn's lovely vocals.
There are a lot of chilly ice princesses out there right now, but I think Tamaryn deserves the crown. (Though I haven't heard the Austra album yet.) I thought she and her band were great at Coco66, those three songs before the cops shut it all down. If you can't make these shows, she'll be back in April touring with The Raveonettes, including two nights at Music Hall of Williamsburg (4/20 and 4/21). All Tamaryn tour dates are at the bottom of this post.
Keeping with the theme, let's talk a bit about Sweet Bulbs, "Brooklyn's blurriest pop band," whose album came out this week on Blackburn Recordings. It's choc-a-bloc with seriously catchy songs that are buried under layers of swirly guitars and effects pedals and other sludge. As someone who loved bands like The Swirlies, Drop Nineteens, Lilys and Henry's Dress, this is right up my alley. For those mystified by that litany of obscure '90s indie bands, just know Sweet Bulbs make beautiful noise. You can download "Kissing Clouds" from the album at the top of this post.
That's the main stuff this week. A few more picks, day by day are below:
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16
The Church play three albums from their catalog in their entirety tonight at Highline Ballroom: Untitled #23, Priest=Aura, and Starfish. That's over three hours of music, which seems like a lot to me even for a devoted Church fan. Maybe if it was Heyday instead of Untitled #23 I'd be more inclined to go. They'll do it again tomorrow (2/17) at BB King's.
Tonight is also the third week of ARMS' February residency at Pianos, this week with The Silent League, Your Youth, Inlets and Thunder & Lightning (which is the new band from Brent Katz who was Todd Goldstein's bandmate in Harlem Shakes). ARMS were teriffic last week, this is highly recommended.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17
The Beets kick off their winter tour at 285 Kent, with German Measles, Beach Arabs and Big Troubles. Their second LP,Stay Home, came out last month on Captured Tracks and is quite good and a slight step up the fidelity ladder from their debut. All Beets tour dates are at the bottom of this post.
Brooklyn's best indie pop band, Dream Diary, host the release party for their debut album, You Are the Beat, at Death By Audio. Get it cheap at the merch booth!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18
Crystal Stilts' long-awaited second album, In Love with Oblivion, is out April 12 on Slumberland. Get an early taste tonight at 285 Kent where they'll play with Beach Fossils and Widowspeak.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19
Darwin Deez plays Bowery Ballroom tonight with Friends and Ava Luna. DD's album gets a belated American release next week.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20
Air Waves are visiting from Nicole's now home of Austin, TX and will be playing Bruar Falls tonight with Easter Vomit (ex-Beets) and The Sanctuaries. Air Waves new album on Underwater Peoples is well worth picking up. There'll be a proper record release party for it on Tuesday (2/22) at Glasslands with YellowFever, Soft Landing, Glory Girls (formerly known as Inoculist) and Amy of Titus Andronicus also playing.
My Teenage Stride get out of Brooklyn and headline a show at Mercury Lounge that also has the ever-present Widowspeak on the bill, along with Poison Control Center and Crinkles.
That's it for this week. Videos, flyers and tour dates are after the jump.
Let's Active - Every Word Means No
Let's Active - Water's Part
Let's Active - Every Dog Has It's Day
Let's Active - Writing the Book of Last Pages
Mitch Easter - 2011 Tour Dates
2/17 The Rock Shop, Brooklyn, NY w/ Boy Genius and Overlord
2/18 The Elevens, Northampton, MA W/ School for the Dead, Boy Genius and Ribbon Candy
2/19 Main Street Arts, Saxtons River, VT
2/20 Johnny D's, Somerville, MA w/ Boy Genius and One Happy Island
Boy Genius - New Old England
BNLX - Just Got Paid
BNLX informational video #5
BNLX- Row and Row
Tamaryn pre-tour dates
FEB 17 Don Hills New York, NY
FEB 19 Saturday Session @ MoMA PS1 Long Island City, NY
FEB 25 Cafe Du Nord San Francisco, CA
THE RAVEONETTES & TAMARYN - 2011 TOUR DATES
03/30 - Philadelphia, PA - Theatre Of The Living Arts
03/31 - Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
04/01 - Montreal, QC - La Tulipe
04/02 - Toronto, ON - Phoenix Concert Theatre
04/03 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick
04/05 - Newport, KY - Southgate House
04/06 - Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall
04/07 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe
04/08 - St. Louis, MO - The Firebird
04/09 - Kansas City, MO - The Record Bar
04/11 - Dallas, TX - Granada Theater
04/12 - Austin, TX - Emo's
04/13 - Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's
04/15 - Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade
04/16 - Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
04/17 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
04/18 - Northampton, MA - Pearl Street
04/20 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall Of Williamsburg
04/21 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall Of Williamsburg
Sweet Bulbs - Cybergaze
The Beets - 2011 Tour Dates
02/18 Vassar @ The Mug
02/19 Allentown @ Warehouse space
02/20 Washington DC @ Velvet Lounge
02/21 Charlottesville, VA @ Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
02/22 Ashevill, NY @ Broadway's
02/23 Athens GA @ Farm 255
02/24 Nashville, TN @ Glenn Danzig's House
02/25 Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlie's
02/26 Ann Arbor, MI @ Yellow Barn
02/27 Chicago @ Permanent Records In-store
02/27 Chicago @ The Hideout
03/1 Toronto @ Parts and Labour
03/2 Montreal @ Casa del Popolo
03/3 Somerville, MA @ PA's Lounge