Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Best of 2011

Oh christ, its almost time to compile my "Best of 2011" list. Since I am not ready to quite yet, how about you check out the following:

Merge Records favs.
Or Sterogum.
Pitchfork has a Top 10 list for just about EVERYTHING (including worst album covers, ha!)
My friend Michael Hall sent this list from Fluxblog over to me as well as Gorillavsbear.
Or you can vote for your favorites at NPR.
Despite missing Gonzo, Rolling Stone has a fairly solid list of albums and singles.
AV Club too!!

An I'll get back to you, I promise. MMMMMKAY?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Golden Age

For W.B.

All I know is that
There were rumors he was into field hockey players
There were Rumours.

I guess they're more for Gold Dust Wom[e]n
they know how to pick up the pieces and go home
in time to see the Jigsaw Falling Into Place.

Oh, Stop Breaking Down -
Oh! You Pretty Thing!
Find The Book of Love and read it to me
I hear it's supposed to be long
and boring.

But I love it when you sing to me.
If You Want to Sing Out, sing out!
It's easy.
It's So Easy.
          Please Me.

I know you're no good, Heartbreaker.
Dream maker, love taker.
You don't have to go away.
Baby Please Don't Go
(and I Feel Fine).

Well, tell your mom, "I'm stuck on this lovely girl".
And that Maybe I'm Amazed.
And that Possibly Maybe,
Probably maybe, I am Feeling Myself Disintegrate.
In The End,
the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nurses and Dominant Legs

Every time I go to the Red Palace I am reminded why it is one of my favorite DC venues. It's a bitch to get to if you are carless (like yours truly), but so worth whatever effort you must make to get there. The beer is cheap, the selection is good, the bartenders are nice, and sometimes you get to see things like The Big Lebowski while hanging out between sets. 

And that's just the booze. 

In addition, the set up is perfect for either a low key night with a mild and unpacked house or a filled to the brim rager. The sound is high quality (not great, but usually very good), the stage is propped up high so you can see no matter where you stand (with the exception of tall people directly in front of you), and the bands they attract are always good, and sometimes great.  

Last night was no exception. While we sadly missed the opener Dinosaur Feathers, we got there just in time to settle in and watch Nurses set up. This little three-piece from Portland, OR is awesome. They have a blend of sound that rivals Animal Collective, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and maybe even a little Wolf Parade. Plus the lead singer looks like a Hipster version of Tim Roth.  

They played a nice full set, mostly complied of songs from their new record Dracula, which I didn't mind at all. They are great live, and seem to have a lot of potential to grow their sound into something truly new. I'm pretty judgy when it comes to bands that steal each others sound, but its getting harder and harder to sound like an original, and I have hope for these guys. They are really talented and catchy! The West Coast sound is starting to steal my jam sessions almost exclusively, with lead singer-drummers coming in a close second.

Dominant Legs was the headliner, though I must say I enjoyed Nurses more. DL originally began as a twosome, and has sense expanded into a foursome, which sadly still needs to grow some legs. Their sound is choppy, the drummer is too aggressive, and the new songs aren't all that new. Overall, I enjoyed watching them play (and my friend enjoyed the legs of the singer/keyboardist - dominant indeed), but I would have liked to close the night with Nurses. Maybe next time they will headline, I have a feeling it is in their future.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Things You Hear

I went to bed with this in my head.

And woke up with this in there instead.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Love is a Drug

This song makes me think of laying on my back in the grass with my eyes half closed to the afternoon sun on a warm August day. This in turn makes me think of the little park on the corner of Kimberly and Charlotte Street in Asheville, NC. 

Even though this memory is tainted with you and your stupid hair, it still makes me smile to think of it. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shelby Vs. the Greatest of All Time

Strangled by the Stereo Wire
Harnessed in Slums
Dead Red Eyes
Worst Defense
Greatest of All Time
Web in Front
(cannot remember the name of this fucking song)
Plumb Line
You & Me
Smoking Pot in the Hot City
Scenic Pastures
Form and File
Web in Front

Lowest Part is Free
Freezing Point
All Hail the Black Market

Friday, June 17, 2011

Yeasayer (More Like Yeah!! Sayer)

Last night, I again found myself completely blown away by a show at the 9:30 Club. Seriously. While I missed the first of two opening bands - Hush-Hush - I hear it was not all that much to miss (unless you like a lone nerd standing at a computer making digital music about eating pussy).

That's not to say I don't enjoy a good friendly jab at the expense of the fairer sex, as proven by the second opening band, Smith Westerns. These Chicago natives came on right at 9pm, and played a full and fun set. The lead singer, Cullen Omori, looks like he could be Julian Casablancas' younger brother (or evil twin). Young and thin with long, black locks and a shit-kicker attitude, this kid can sing, and his band is obviously down to have a good time (though most of them are underage). They sound something like a mix between early David Bowie (without the flair) and some of the newer surfer rock bands we've been hearing lately (i.e. Cults, Best Coast, The Donkeys). They have a good following mostly due to opening for the likes of Passion Pit and MGMT, and will likely find themselves doing well if they can improve their flow and sing about something other than girls.

I will make note of this favorite moment of the set. Cullen leaned into the microphone and said, "Ok, this one goes out to all the sluts out there!" Too bad for him, marked nonchalance is a game killer for the girls of that ilk, and I doubt any of them got laid (the band or the sluts). Well, except maybe the girl who agreed to make out with her boyfriend at the bar even though he was so drunk he was actually making out with her chin. Get a room!

Anyway, moving on from the children, let's talk about Yeasayer. Holy shit this band is incredible.

The core band, as they are frequently called, consists of vocalist/pianist/music maker Chris Keating, bassist/vocalist Ira Wolf Tuton and guitarist/pianist/vocalist Anand Wilder. These Brooklyn folk are an unbelievably tight band, who can not only belt out tunes so heartfelt you could cry, but also so fun that you really want to dance. And I don't dance in public very often. Seeing this band perform reminded me of a line I read in a review on We Love DC regarding the Beirut show.

Columnist Brittany wrote,

"As much fun as it is to see a great band that just learned to play their instruments play like they are flinging every last bit of themselves out onto the floor, it is a pleasant contrast to see a band like Beirut who take a more elegant, measured approach while still seeming engaged and with great presence on stage."

The same can most definitely be said about Yeasayer. Their calculated approach to making amazing music is greatly appreciated and refreshing. So much in fact, that when I emerged form the show and found myself caught in a serious down pour, I hopped right on my bike and pedaled home in the rain laughing and smiling (I may or may not have hollered a bit too).

Yeasayer played everything I wanted to hear, and threw in some new tunes that seem to be a little less Electronica heavy, and a lot more Pop (in a good way). Hits off All Hour Cymbals like "2080" and "Sunrise" were absolute crowd-pleasers, though my favorite was the closer "Ambling Amps". Hearing the live versions of songs off Odd Blood such as "Madder Red" were well received and helped solidify the rather mixed audience of old and new fans. My friend R.J. took one look around from our perch on the top level of the 9:30 Club and determined that Yeasayer draws a hot crowd. It helps that Chris Keating is really cute too.

Now that I've seen them live, I must admit I can't stop listening to them today, and if given the chance, I would really like to see them again. Maybe next time I can catch them on their home turf of Brooklyn. I bet it brings out the best in them all.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Cults Sure Like Their Long Flowing Locks

Ever wary of a show at the Rock and Roll Hotel, I came into the Cults show with the sneaky suspicion that it would be packed with underage creeps. What I was not prepared for was the opening band's oozing concert fog filling the crowded space. It did not give me the ethereal feeling it was likely supposed to evoke, in fact it kind of pissed me off. That stuff burns your eyes, man! Especially if they are particularly dry from other activities of the evening (wink).

That aside, when Cults finally hit the stage, I was glad I made the trek over to H Street. This young duo (backed by several other youngsters) comprised of Brian Oblivion (great name!) and Madeline Follin are seriously talented. They sound like they just popped off an Austin Powers movie set, like we are supposed to believe we are in the 60's enjoying catchy dance party guitar riffs all the while knowing the lyrics suggest a more modern world view.

They played almost all of their recently released hit album "Cults", winning the young crowd over with their fun and laid back style. Brian Oblivion has a rare talent that allows him to both lead the band on guitar and vocals, yet manage to slip into the background and sing seamless duos with Follin. It probably helps that their obvious chemistry onstage is based on their real relationship off stage. I know, how annoying... actually, only because it trickles of stage and standing next to a ridiculously drunk couple who thought swing dancing in the middle of a sold out crowd would be cute.

P.S. It is not. Someone else's hair on me is gross. And not only does the band have a lot of hair (see below), but the drunk dancing chick's blonde locks whipped me more than I would like to admit.

 But other than a few elbows and a lot, and I mean a lot, of long flowing hair, Cults is a band I expect good things to come from in the future. For now, add them to your party mix and play when you have friends over, it'll make everybody happy.


Things were frantic when I approached the desk to pick up my ticket for Beirut at the Black Cat. Several employees crowded around talking loudly, a girl stood near tears because she had bought a bad ticket from a scammer and couldn't get into the show, and some drunk dude was yelling. I had already had a pretty crummy day (only slightly improved by a hug and a shot of Jameson from my friend Matthew), so I really was just trying to move it along.

When I finally got up to retrieve my ticket it turned out I had bought two. Oops. With the show starting within the next 15 minutes, and no one around to call and join me, I said fuck it, and handed the extra ticket to the sad, ripped off girl. Sometimes, it's just best to pay it forward.

With the load of the day slowly lifting, I found my way to the bar, found some friends and headed into the belly of the crowd. We had a great spot, four or five rows back stage left, and could see most everybody. There were four microphones stationed in a row up front, a drum kit in the middle, and a stand-up bass sitting aloof and alone. The band clamored on stage just after 10pm and took their places in front of the microphones, with lead singer Zach Condon front and center. To the left was the bass player, and a 70's porn-star-look-alike playing the Accordion. To the right were two brass musicians who seamless transitioned from song to song playing a Trombone, Tuba, Trumpet and a French Horn.  If I knew more about these instruments, I might even suggest there was a Flugelhorn too!

Zach took lead vocals and mostly stuck to playing the Ukulele, though he also he also played several of these brass instruments throughout the show. They played a full and lovely set, complete with standard hits like "A Sunday Smile" and my favorite, "Postcards from Italy" (see below). Truthfully, it is hard to keep track of all the titles as often the songs blend together. This doesn't mean Beirut doesn't perform well live, they are a beautiful band (well, not in looks), and the Accordion adds a certain old world French feel to it all. Check out the video below and you'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Times New Viking Will Kick Your Shit (But With a Smile)

The crowd in the Black Cat Backstage was minimal last night, but they sure were full of Memorial Day fury. Well, at least by Times New Vikings' short but sonic set. Lead singer/drummer Adam Elliott took his seat comfortably behind the drum kit and asked "Hi DC! How many of you are drunk? Yeah? Ok, how many of you are on your second drunk? Good, let's party."

Party? Well, I wouldn't go that far. This Columbus, Ohio tripod of "lo-fi indie rock" sure wants to party with their rollicking mix of heavy beats and slow jams, but between the myriad of technical problems, extreme heat and lack of local support, it seemed more like a basement keg party broken up by the cops just after midnight than a rock and roll show.

That's not to say I didn't have a good time, I did. I caught The Babies entire opening set, and despite bassist Kevin Morby announcing his recovery from a bout of food poisoning, they sounded pretty great. Lead guitarist Cassie Ramone looks like she could stand to eat anything at all, but her slim figure doesn't slow down her quick-fingered sound. Adam from TNV watched most of the set and seemed genuinely pleased with these Brooklynites.

While I originally came for The Babies, I decided Times New Viking needed some support considering they likely barely cleared the cost of gas from here to tonight's show in Charlottesville. Merge Records has a pretty wicked hard on for drummers who act as lead singers (See Telekinesis), and usually they are right on target for this kind of talent. It helps when the rest of the band can amply back you, and among other things Merge likes, is a strong female pianist. Beth Murphy doesn't exactly get me going like Missy Thangs from The Love Language, but she is certainly talented.

That, and Jared Phillips is one bad ass guitarist. When his guitar simply quit working midway through the opening riff of one of the last few songs, he kicked a few things around, then just dropped his guitar and went roaring off stage for another nearly identical white fender. This guitar lasted about fours songs more before deciding to break down in the midst of the very last song of the encore. At this point, the band was over it and really wanted to party. They closed the show instead with a Indie appropriate "fuck it" attitude and made their way to find some more booze.

Not bad for a Monday night. While it was, mind you, only 11:45, I didn't stay to hang out. I imagine the gang of crowd thrashers who banged around the front of the stage managed to show these guys a good time. Happy Memorial Day from Times New Viking.  

See also the images from the DCist's review.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

There is something so satisfying about seeing my friends succeed. This past Friday (the 13th!!), I ventured to the dark side, otherwise known as H St NE, to see my pal Josh Epstein in his band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at The Red Palace. Opened up by the Generationals, a group of youngsters so cute you could literally pinch their cheeks and not feel creepy, the evening was fabulous.

The Generationals support each other wholly (even though the band is not technically a whole) with a solid sound somewhere mashed between The Strokes and Vampire Weekend. One lead vocalist has a nice higher pitched sound that compliments the other's more mellow vocal range. They are excitable and come equipped with a rotating group of musicians including a keyboardist, a drummer, and a bass player who looked like Cousin It (though like, on vacation, as he was wearing aviators). They were a great opening piece for the aforementioned Dale and gang.

Josh and his friend Daniel started Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. after discovering a kinship for each other's sound around the Detroit music scene. They were both coming from other projects and were hoping to find something that would give them the freedom to experiment with new ranges while still holding onto the sounds they create so seamlessly. They just added a new drummer at the onset of this tour, and that young whip appears to be a good fit. This band has such an impressive stage presence that it is hard not to have a good time.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Above is a shot of Josh singing into, yes that's right, a telephone. He is wearing a suit, as was the rest of the band, to support their forthcoming album It's a Corporate World. DEJJ played a lot of the covers they are known for, including the highlight, "We Almost Lost Detroit" and the Beach Boys "God Only Knows". The rest of the set consisted of a slew of the newbies due out on June 7. They sounded fantastic, and I was pleased to support my friend.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Oh, did I mention they blew bubbles and invited folks on stage to sing in skeleton masks? Yeah, that too. They also had several giant wooden letters spelling out JR in bright bold lights. I know, hilarious. But don't listen to me, I had such a good time with these fellows I got kicked out of the Red Palace. If you want to get a better idea, watch the clip below, or try your damnedest to see them next time they are in DC.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Love Language/Telekinesis/The Belle Brigade

First of all, forget anything even remotely shitty I might have ever said about Telekinesis. They were awesome. Completely energetic and rocking...  kind of like they are here. Ok, so "rocking" is not the adjective I would normally use to describe their sound, but they kind of did! Not only were they having a lot of fun on stage, they seemed to have formed quite the tight community of sound up there too.

To be fair, the first time I saw Telekinesis, Michael Lerner had a different set of band mates and wasn't really established as a touring performer yet, so it's not entirely his fault. The second time I saw them, the new band, and the still current one, had been added, but they weren't as tight as they are now. This new album, which makes up the bulk of their set, was written in short order in Berlin, mostly on Bass, which is not Lerner's instrument of choice. He's a drummer, ya'll, so having the talents of someone like Jason Narducy, who is known for playing with greats like Robert Pollard of GBV, on with the band to round out the sound, is truly amazing. Plus, I forgot, er well, didn't realize that I recognized the guitarist, Cody Votolato, from his days in Jaguar Love (who I saw at The Black Cat in 2009). I have a thing for guitarists, and he is no exception. He is great. But don't take my word for it... or you know, do.

In addition to the aforementioned talent and seeming growth of this band over the course of a year, the tour itself must have amplified all this. We were also introduced to The Belle Brigade, a brother-sister duo (which never gets old for me) backed by a full band, who aptly prepped the audience for a hell of an evening. It was air apparent that playing with these guys as well as fellow Merge members and ridiculously fabulous The Love Language had everyone on a tour high. Telekinesis and The Love Language feed off each others' sound and energy and made one hell of a night.

To top it all off, I met Bob Boilen of NPR's All Songs Considered at the bar. I managed to squeak out my appreciation for his contributions to the music world by way of public radio.I literally skipped home from the bus stop.

Overall, this was the best of my five night run. I literally skipped home from the bus stop. How could you not? NPR, Merge Records, guitar crush?? Seriously. I dare you to judge me.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wild Flag

Un-fucking believable. Seriously. This powerhouse of these women is unstoppable! Ok, let me back up... I must first admit my ridiculous girl-crush on the fabulous Carrie Brownstein. 
GREAT review on DCist.
I literally can't help myself from being in complete awe of this woman. You may know her from one of the following:

1. Formerly, she shared a space on stage in the now-defunct Sleater Kinney with fellow Wild Flagger Janet Weiss
2. Wrote this amazing blog called Moniter Mix on NPR that I only wish I could be as cool to come up with.
3. Has managed to co-create the hilarious show Portlandia with comedian Fred Armisen.
I mean, really. Not to mention, you know that old saying that we are secretly all attracted to people who look like us? Well, we do kinda look eerily alike, you know, back when I had long hair. You think?

But Carrie is hardly the point of this post. The new super group, again supported by the great Merge Records, and proclaimed as what "the sound of an avalanche taking out a dolphin" would be like, Wild Flag is totally what we needed to shake things up around here. Joined by Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole, The Black Cat packed a crowd full of fans who completely enveloped the racing new sound of these magnificent ladies. Ripping rock back to its core, beating the drums to death, and managing to look fabulous is nothing short of the best time ever. 

Not to mention, I had just spent several hours of pre-show prep hanging with my own killer ladies getting a mad wine buzz on. If you're gonna come armed to a show... you better do it right. And boy did they do it right in return. Wild Flag rocked my Thursday night so wholly that I woke up Friday still buzzing with awe (or was that the wine?). I couldn't help but smirk at the madness I had been a part of, and think to myself, I really hope I get to see these ladies again. They deliver their talent with such heart, so naturally, it's inspiring, and raucous and makes you wish you could rip like that too. Alas, I am not one of the leading rock guitarists of the 21st Century, but I can hope that the things I'm passionate about come out of me with the same amount of gusto. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wye Oak

If you really want to know how this show was, check out Wye Oak Live on NPR. But if you're just here for me, then please continue... First of all, this was Night Three of show going, and followed seeing Wild Flag the night before which couldn't be any more different of a band, except for the lead singers both being female. I was feeling less than enthusiastic enough to stand for the whole show, though I'm not suggesting that I wasn't enthused to see Wye Oak, but sometimes you just want to sit, listen and enjoy. Plus, the drinks flow if you sit at the bar. ;)

That said, Wye Oak was incredible. These Baltimore natives lucked into a sold out crowd and the aforementioned live feed on NPR. The new album Civilians is top notch, and the performance was too. Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner are a happy and talented duo who manage to make their often sad and heavy-layered sound echo across the crowd to create a serene environment. Jenn's voice is oddly deep for seeming somehow light as air. She makes lyrics like "I can't sleep until I see you sleeping/Curse my mind and its all-seeing eye" feel like you might have to hold your breathe and hope someone finds some rest or you too might not sleep for days. An beautiful show, filled with sorrow, hope, love, life and all that floats in between. 

The only part of the show I didn't appreciate was when I spent most of the night with a seemingly nice and flirtatious gentleman who let me leave without even the slightest hint of interest. Must be one of those douche bags who goes out and hits on girls but secretly has a wife and kid at home. But that is neither here nor there in terms of the performance and I dare anyone say they didn't have a good time. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Say Hi

As promised in this post, here is the first review. I showed up to The Black Cat to find that they no longer have PBR on tap (damnit!), but the tall boy was obviously ok as I was just in time to catch the end of the first opening act - Blair. I was bored to tears, so I left and went to sit at the bar and wait for Yellow Ostrich to come on, who I was looking forward to. They were a much better performance, and I'm glad I didn't ditch the show all together.

That is, until Say Hi came on. Talk about an ugly band, my god. And completely mediocre. I mean, I didn't go in expecting them to blow my mind, but I did go with the expectation that it would be a good time. It was not, and by that point, some dude named Eddie had shared his giant shot of whiskey with me and Chuck the bartender had decided he liked my company and given me another one for free. I was feeling no pain, people, except for the mediocrity of the Seattle-based set.

If you are going to claim Seattle as your base, you better be able to place yourself up with the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. Side note: poor Alice... I guess by now you've heard about the second drug overdose to befall the band... former bassist Mike Starr bit the dust on Tuesday, likely due to a drug overdose, joining Layne Staley in the tragic tale of drug addiction (though he wasn't found for 2 weeks after his speed ball overdose).

But anyway, back to Say Hi. More like, "Say Bye" which is what I did about 4 songs in because it was that un-fun. Sorry guys, your albums are pretty good, but you put on a crap show. Maybe I have a hard time with lead singers who are the drummer? Because it was honestly my problem with Telekinesis too... which is tomorrow's show.

I'll obviously keep you posted. Oh, and the "feeling now pain" part of Wednesday night did not translate well into Thursday morning, in which I was most definitely feeling a lot of pain. Fucking hangover blues.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Middle Brother - Shoulda Coulda, Woulda...

I was going to go to the Middle Brother show last Wednesday at the 9:30 Club, but was feeling pretty run down after work and didn't rally in time to go. Now that I've read this Review by Erin McCann from the blog We Love DC that is AWESOME, I'm really kind bummed I didn't make it out.

Shame on me.

However, this week, starting Wednesday night, I will be seeing a show a night for 5 nights. Most of which are Merge bands, which you dear readers should all be well aware of my borderline stalking love affair with.

Wednesday - Say Hi @ Black Cat - First time seeing these guys. I have a feeling a certain someone I don't really care to see will be there, but meh, I plan to have fun, even if I have to forgo a guaranteed orgasm for it.
Thursday - Wild Flag @ Black Cat - Carrie Brownstein!! Portlandia! Sleater Kinney! Pathetic girl crush!
Friday - Wye Oak @ Black Cat - Sporting a new album, "Civilian" that RULES. This will be time # 2 seeing this youthful and talented duo at The Cat in fact.
Saturday - The Love Language/Telekinesis @ The Red Palace - I really like the Red Palace, and I adore The Love Language, so round 3 should be excellent. Telekinesis was a bit disappointing last time, so I am lowering my expectations and just hoping for a good time. Which should be had considering these guys have been touring together for most of the Winter.
Sunday - The Rural Alberta Advantage @ Rock n' Roll Hotel with my ladies... which is gonna be really fun I think, if I don't pass out from sheer show exhaustion. I vow to write a review of each of these show, if you promise to read them.

Screw you winter... I'm taking you out in STYLE. God life is good sometimes!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Take Me Home Country Roads

It's things like this that make me want to move back to North Carolina.

Sarah, if you're out there reading, you heard it straight from me... I do miss North Carolina, baby.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Total Repost

This article appeared in MAGNET Magazine, and I think it pretty much sums it all up. Love me some Paul Westerberg. 
Rewind 16 years. I’m nearing the end of my 20s, newly married to Emily Hawk, still passionate about music, movies and books. There are bills to pay and responsibilities to own up to. As this is the ‘80s, it doesn’t take a genius to move up the ladder. If you can fill up a suit, you can get promoted. That is, if you conform and buy into the whole mousse-and-Vuarnet trip. I like to work, but I can’t conform. So there I am, the general manager of a chain of major appliance stores, working 60-some hours a week. What I want, more than anything, is to be someone else. Remember the cover of Pleased To Meet Me, with the Rolex-and-diamond-horseshoe-ring hand shaking the hand with the frayed sleeve? Mine is the arm on the right and the left.
In that job, I have to be in my office by 7 a.m. I park my Ford pickup outside the building at 6:45, my Windsor knot strangling my throbbing neck, and turn up the v of my tape deck. “Bastards Of Young” comes forward at full volume, the bass vibrating the windows of the truck. That raging, volcanic music somehow gives me the courage to face another day. At work, “Unsatisfied” is constantly running through my head; Westerberg’s howl is my own. In the evenings, Emily and I talk, party and listen to music. Nights with Green On Red, the Dream Syndicate, X, Minor Threat and the Pogues, but always it comes back to the Mats. “Little Mascara” is Emily’s favorite song. I’m into “Left Of The Dial” and “Sixteen Blue.” There are tunes like “Favorite Thing,” “Hold My Life” and “Alex Chilton” for driving, “Here Comes A Regular” for drinking, “Kiss Me On The Bus” for love. The music of the Mats sounds like chaos, but to me it sounds like peace.
OK, here’s another middle-aged guy, getting stupid. Maybe. With rock ‘n’ roll you never know if it was really that transcendent or if it just seems that way in the golden glow of the rearview. Nostalgia clouds your judgment and often makes you unwilling to enjoy the new. “The Strokes are OK, but I’ve got the New York Dolls on Mercury vinyl, and anyway, when I want to hear the Ramones I put on Rocket To Russia.” Etc. But trust me, the Replacements really were that great.
Fast-forward 16 years. I’m in Paris, ending a two-month book tour. Friday night, my final commitment done, I return to my hotel room to relax. I open the balcony doors to get a view of the street, pour a double Four Roses neat, slip Westerberg’s Stereo into my Walkman, put my feet up on the coffee table and touch fire to a Marlboro Red. It’s the most memorable moment of my trip. Listening to “We May Be The Ones,” I’m moved like it’s 1986. And then, a few days later, I’m back in the States, hugging my daughter Rosa, rubbing her back, as “No Place For You” fills the room. Thinking that this music is just as powerful, and yeah, important, as it ever was.
—George Pelecanos

Braid Your Hair, Take a Bath

Yeah, or just go see Braids open for Baths and you'll probably have a better time because that's what I did on Friday night at the Rock and Roll Hotel and it was awesome. Well... mostly. The crowd was decidedly young - which apparently I should have expected because Baths is a youngster too... don't be fooled by his tall, dark-haired, doe-eyed self (complete with Hipster-chic black glasses, oh yes), the kid is a 21 year-old LA native with nothing but creative time to kill. Which is a good thing, because his music is excellent.

A sexy blend of experimental, piano-infused, slide guitar-sounding mixes that make you want to simultaneously close your eyes and sway, dance a little, have another whiskey drink, and/or make out to.

No wonder the X-marked kids were doing almost all of the above for most of the show. I can't say I didn't enjoy a little making out later, but pu-lease.... in the middle of the floor of sold out show? I can be a real bitch if I want to, and red pants make me sassy... I may have thrown a few verbal punches mid-set.

Anyhoo... that being said, Baths made the madness worth it, and the opening band Braids totally met my expectations and then some. Despite the fact that the lead singer lost her voice just after the first song ("Lemonade") the four-top continued to trek through like real winners. She got my seal of approval for managing to still sound good (despite stopping several times for an apology to the crowd). This little Montreal set were a nice opening act, really calm and heart-warming. More on the range of "close your eyes and sway" then "fuck your boyfriend in public", though that didn't seem to stop the couple in front of me. Le sigh.  

Despite all that nonsense - you should check them out. Even The Washington Post enjoyed the show... and duly noted the flagrant group of DC's fledglings. As I prepare to turn 30 this year, I can only assume my annoyance of these show-goers will grow exponentially. Oh well, I'll keep trying to enjoy the music and forgo the hatred.

How un-Hipster of me.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tunes for Washington DC

Ahhh DC, what's not to sing about? This one by The Nightmare Adventure Society also happens to include some friends.

"WASHINGTON DC" -The Nighttime Adventure Society from Victor Suarez on Vimeo.

Looks like they had fun, eh? Other songs you might enjoy about DC? The Magnetic Fields.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Band That Changed My Life

I would never be the person I am today without you. I don't just mean that musically, I mean that in total. The Shelby Lynn Thompson you know and love today, could have only been possible by the discovery of the Archers of Loaf. This is the ultimate in truth. I know, I know... others may claim they had a place in line first, and I still love you Fats Domino, and I always will - but I owe my life to the Archers.

The memories are always fond -
  • Like driving around Chattanooga in Molly's gold Volvo turning up the volume when another one of Trey's mix tapes looped around to "Web in Front".
  • Waking up every morning for high school and cranking up Icky Mettle, much to my mother's dismay.
  • Sitting in Tim's living room, chain smoking cigarettes to a background serenade of Vee Vee.
  • Making a mix called "Shelby Vs. The Greatest of All Time" in which I dared try to go up against the EP Vs. The Greatest of All Time. Needless to say, I lost. I might try again now that I know even more bands that would never make the noise they do without the Loaf.
  • Seeing Crooked Fingers repeatedly at The Grey Eagle so I might get to meet Eric Bachmann - then actually meeting him, and having a beer at the Bier Garden of all terrible places to do so, and being too nervous to say anything intelligent. Le Sigh.
  • Learning that Matt Gentling lived in Asheville and played in lots of awesome local bands and knew the same people I do. 
  • Of getting my blue Vee Vee t-shirt in the mail and discovering that wearing it made me feel less homesick for NC while in my first year of living in DC.
I know - I'm starting to sound like a fan freak, and am trying not to truly earn the name "Audiowhore", because I hear the girl this song was written for was a real cunt.

Not unlike Neutral Milk Hotel, the Pixies or other mystical bands of the 90's that I came to know and love... I wouldn't have become the musical fan I am without the help of All the Nations Airports, or any of the other Loaf albums that still blow my mind from start to finish. And people say no one listens to records anymore. Psssh. 

I digress. The point is, when I read this afternoon that the Archers of Loaf had a secret reunion show at Cat's Cradle LAST NIGHT opening for The Love Language, I about fell over and died. I wish, more than anything in the world, that somehow I could have known that was going to happen, and managed to get my car-less and license-less self to North Carolina to catch the 40 minutes of glory that the lucky few managed to see. 

Here's hoping there's a next time, or that the island on Lost is real, and time travel is possible.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Best of 2010

Yep. It's that time again... time to list the best of the year. Since this is the music blog, then let's start with my best musical moments of the year.

Bear Hands - "What a Drag"
The El Ten Eleven show - A-mazing.
Local Natives - Gorilla Manor - Completely beautiful album.
The Love Language - Libraries
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Best Coast - "Boyfriend"
Freelance Whales at Black Cat
The Dead Weather with Brooke at 930 Club
First Aid Kit - "Tiger Mountain Pleasant Song" video
Guided By Voices!!
Netherfriends - "Friends With Lofts"
Jeff Mangnum re-emerges for a show in NYC that exploded online.
Sleigh Bells - Treats
Warpaint - "Elephants"
Spoon - Transference