Smith Westerns, Sondre Lerche, Cinema Red & Blue (Comet Gain), URGH! A Music War & more in This Week in Indie
by Bill Pearis
After what seems like an entire summer's worth of epic weekends, this one is looking pretty quiet, music-wise. No surprise, as it's
Memorial Labor Day which is usually a dead time for shows. But that's not to say there's nothing going on. Chicago's glam-rocking teenagers The Smith Westerns are back in town after touring with Los Campesinos and Girls. While a good chunk of their self-titled debut is so Marc Bolan it seems like an exercise in style appropriation, they do it really well. It's not new, but it's new to them and that makes it work I think. They play tonight (9/2) at Monster Island Basement with Titus Andronicus and the So So Glos; Vassar College tomorrow (9/3); and a late show at Bruar Falls on Friday (9/4) (tentative replacement for the show they had scheduled at Swat Bar). They also list a show on Saturday (9/5) as "under the High Line" but what that means, exactly, well your guess is as good as mine.
Comet Gain @ MHOW in April (more by Tim Griffin)
The most exciting show of the weekend, in my opinion, is happening at Cake Shop on Saturday (9/5). Cinema Red and Blue is a Comet Gain side project featuring frontman David Feck, as well as that band's Anne Laure and Hoffner Burns. They're actually in town to record their album at Gary Olson's Marlborough Studios in Brooklyn and decided to play a show while here. I ran into Feck at a show on Monday and he told me that the album is about half covers and to expect the same from the live show. He rattled off a bunch of the songs they're covering but the only one I remember now is a Julian Cope song from his 1989 album Skellington. The band will be augmented live by former Comet Gain / current Soft City member Phil Sutton, plus JB, Andy and Kyle from Crystal Stilts. I have to imagine Gary Olson will contribute trumpet to at least one song. This should be fun.
The whole Cake Shop bill is pretty good, with Kyle Forrester pulling triple duty: keyboards in Ladybug Transistor, and saxophone in German Measles. Ladybug Transistor are one of the NYC indie world's elder statesmen and their lush sound is cool and easy like a late summer breeze. On the other end of the scale, German Measles are usually a jokey mess onstage, I saw them on Monday at Bruar Falls and they actually approached something you could might call competence. Maybe they're getting serious? Opening the night at Cake Shop are the budget baroque sounds of Jacques Detergent.
Sondre Lerche @ Bowery Ballroom in 2008 (more by Faith Ann-Young)
And looking forward to the early part of next week, Sondre Lerche is playing Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday (9/8), which is the same day as the release of his sixth album, Heartbeat Radio. (He plays Music Hall of Williamsburg the next night.) The 27-year-old Norwegian, now Williamsburg resident, has the charms to hold the attention of a Bowery or MHoW-sized crowd by himself, which is how he usually plays in NYC, but I do wish he'd bring his ace band, The Faces Down, to America at some point, as we deserve to hear his songs get the full-on treatment live. Heartbeat Radio is another winner, I think, maybe his best yet -- with Sondre displaying more confidence in his songwriting and ease in his arrangements. (He's also been listening to a lot of Prefab Sprout, I think, with the album's "I Cannot Let You Go" clearly being a tip-of-the-hat to Paddy McAloon.) You can sample album-opener "Good Luck" at the top of this post. And whether he's with band or solo, he is always entertaining.
And finally, as this is a light week, I thought I'd point out that the essential 1980 concert film URGH! A Music War has finally made its way to DVD. For those of a certain generation, this seminal document of the punk/post-punk/new wave scene was seen every other weekend on USA Network's weekend Night Flight and blew minds with footage of Gang of Four, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Cramps, Wall of Voodoo and more. Since then it's shown up on cable and film festivals in about 17 different versions, with some performances being cut for music rights reasons and other legal whatnot. These reasons have also kept it from DVD, much like the first two Decline of Western Civilization films, to the point where I thought they'd never get a legit release. I'm still not sure how legit this is either (read URGH! performer Jim Skafish's blog post about it), but you can buy it via the Warner Archive which has made available hundreds of films that the studio has deemed otherwise unworthy of proper releases. They actually burn you a DVD-R of the movie. You don't get proper menus or any extras beyond the trailer or even proper chapter breaks (they divide it up into 10 minute sections), but the picture quality is good (anamorphic widescreen), and it's almost the whole film. (Sorry, Splodgenessabounds, your footage isn't here.) And it sounds good too -- they did a great job recording the bands. And just to have the footage of Klaus Nomi, The Cramps and Gary Numan, it's worth the $19.99.
There's a few choice clips from URGH below, as well as tour dates fliers and general etc...
Splodgenessabounds - "Two Little Boys" from URGH!
Klaus Nomi - "Total Eclipse" from URGH!
Wall of Voodoo - "Back in Flesh" from URGH!
Smith Westerns of Chic-a-Go-Go
Smith Westerns - 2009 Tour Dates
Sep 2 Monster Island w/Titus Andronicus, The So So Glos Brooklyn, New York
Sep 3 Vassar Vassar College, New York
Sep 4 Bruar Falls Brooklyn, New York (tentativE)
Sep 5 Under the Highline New York, New York
Sep 6 Gooski's Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sep 7 cafe bourbon st. Columbus, Ohio
Sep 21 Empty Bottle w/ Davilia 666 Chicago, Illinois
Sondre Lerche - 2009 Tour Dates
Sept 5 @ Philadelphia, PA - World Cafe Live #
Sept 8 @ New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom #
Sept 9 @ Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg #
Sept 11 @ Washington, DC - 9:30 Club #
Sept 12 @ Northampton, MA - Iron Horse Music Hall #
Sept 13 @ Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club #
Sept 14 @ South Burlington, VT - Higher Ground #
Sept 15 @ Montreal, QC - Petit Campus #
Sept 16 @ Toronto, ON - The Mod Club Theatre #
Sept 18 @ Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom #
Sept 19 @ Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern #
Sept 19 @ Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern (late show) #
Sept 20 @ Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe #
Sept 23 @ San Diego, CA - The Casbah #
Sept 24 @ West Hollywood, CA - Troubadour #
Sept 26 @ Santa Barbara, CA - Soho Restaurant & Music Club #
Sept 27 @ San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall #
Sept 28 @ Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge #
Sept 29 @ Seattle, WA - Triple Door #
Sept 30 @ Vancouver, BC - The Biltmore Cabaret #
# w/ JBM