Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Dawn Drapes - Money Cannot Be Eaten - The Post -- Iota - Nov 29 2013

The Post - Coming out of the murky depths of sound so dark and muddled that it would make grunge blush a bright pink, comes an interesting young up and coming band. I don't think this sound was entirely their choice as the soundman brightened things up a bit as it went on. But I hope they keep some of this unusually dark undercurrent that gives strong color to their pop rock moves. It reminds me of the production of an obscure psyche classic, Fenner, Leland & O'Brien, although the band has more in common with Ill Wind and other SF psyche rockers. The keyboardist takes the lead vocal role with her powerful pipes as the guitarist adds some interesting rock textures. They even had a guest sax solo. They are clearly raw and innocent at this stage, but I hope as they keep gigging, they retain as much of this as possible. It really works. One problem... they mentioned their facebook URL two or three times and I can now see why as I cannot find it. Perhaps they should call themselves the Posst or the Postte or something a little easier to find.

Money Cannot Be Eaten - This Harrisonburg Virginia trio has a name that is easy to find and you won't forget any time soon. Thankfully, their music is also quite memorable as they clearly have some strong creative moves within a comfortable rootsy, indie, Americana, rock structure. They employ a guitar, keyboards, and drums with plenty of stirring vocals mostly from the guitarist. The songs are melodic and seemingly simple and accessible enough, but they merge in some of the wildest breaks I have heard in this sort of music. Crazy uses of space, tempo, and sonic shifts rarely come out in ways as this. Most bands would take those ideas and become full fledged psyche bands and far too many bands ignore doing anything like this at all. Full credit to these creative moves as it elevates them from a solid professional outfit to something you should go out of your way for. They closed with a cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" which was fine, but their originals are still sticking with me.
The Dawn Drapes - I saw this band as 'The Two Alpacas' a while back and enjoyed them. The name has changed, but the fine music remains. They do it with two guitars (with switches to keyboards), drums, and three voices. They have a bit of Canned Heat/Ten Years After jamming vibe early on but they roll it through a dough press and come out with something smooth, luscious and more up to date than those bands. The songs vary from near-Dead Meadow tinged folk-rock to straighter material. There is always something interesting going on and it is easy to dig into their material. The hour was a bit late and had people leaving a bit early unfortunately, although many of them were the loud obnoxious self-centered types that can do their bar hopping elsewhere as far as I'm concerned. Thankfully, the remaining crowd dug into the music and got plenty to chew on.  This was a good night of smart yet accessible music. Keep the name 'The Dawn Drapes' in your head as they should become another solid entry into the local DC scene.

Quote of the Night: From someone digging the Dawn Drapes... "Zeppelin!!! but you guys are awesome!"

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Temples - Myrrh Myrrh -- DC9 - Nov 27 2013

Myrrh Myrrh - On with the show. No matter that your vocalist quits on you and according to photos, also plays bass. The guitar and drums carry on with an instrumental set tonight. And as such, it made for a nice rehearsal. They have some skillful rock moves, modern, firm and occasionally playful. But as they said, we could pick up free music and listen to it online and see if the vocals matched what are imaginations came up with. Hopefully they will get that bass and vocals back some time, as there could be something to work with here.
Temples - Direct from Kettering (not the Ohio town I grew up in, but in Northamptonshire, England), comes this terrific quartet. OK, I give up, I am now a full fledged sucker for all of this excellent pop psychedelia floating about in the nethersphere. From the great Jacco Gardner show to the excellent (and a bit harder edged) Gringo Star show to this one, I am a full fledged convert. It still takes a band to come up with great songs and these guys have that down in addition to the fab sounds. They employ either two guitars and or a guitar and keyboards atop a steady and even murky rhythm section. The guitars are strong and alternate between lush melodies and edgy cutting barbs. The vocals carry the pop brilliantly, but make way for long instrumental passages that remind me a bit of a Wooden Shjips/Door hybrid. It is as if wild psyche bands like Group 1850 or International Harvester work hard on covering the Kinks or the Zombies. Rarely do bands cause me to move around in snakey undulations that I am glad I don't have on video. But these guys completely charmed me in an overwhelming way, which makes me utterly thrilled I made it out on this cold windy night. Please work this band into your listening and stay tuned for future tours, as this first visit to the US can not possibly be their last.

Quote of the Night: Fair warning from the opener's welcome... "Hi everybody--thanks for being here and not at Rob Zombie down the street. We're Myrrh Myrrh and we normally have a vocalist but she quit ten days ago."

Watermelon - Paperhaus - North Country - Gallons to Ounces -- Black Cat - Nov 27 2013

Gallons to Ounces - Seemingly from North Florida or Georgia, but actually from our DC vicinity comes this classic southern rock line-up complete with keyboards, bass, drums, and guitar. Well, that is one guitar as opposed the cliched three guitar line-up, but there is still plenty of guitar in this bluesy soulful rock outfit. The band gets rolling at 8:18 which means only about 10 of the eventually 50 people are there at the start, but at least it filled up rather quickly. Four area bands, holiday travel... this probably should have been booked in the smaller downstairs stage. Yet there was still enough energy to make this enjoyable set work. The band all have the ability to carry their parts where they both stand out as well as fit into the song's structure. The guitarist handles the lead vocals and has the power to liven up the material. It is in the classic Allman Brothers, Little Feat style with its southern blend of three or four genres. They move from fast to slow and focus on a specific genre a bit more in certain songs, which make for nice variety. The only thing to work on would be to create more distinctive songwriting as the most memorable number was their ripping cover of "Crosstown Traffic". The crowd really enjoyed the set and it got the evening off to a nice start.
Unfortunately for the rest of this show, I had to be off to the DC9 for another engagement (I am working on bringing in other writers next year, so I don't have to double book myself in future). I hope it went well for all bands as they all do a great job almost every time I see them.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Black Checker -- Acre 121 - Nov 22 2013

Black Checker - The EP release party takes place at a Columbia Heights venue I'm visiting for the first time. It is quite large with bar and restaurant area. The stage is in the corner and there is a lot of seating with room for standing and dancing, which a few people took advantage of. The crowd was large, filled with many familiar faces in the DC music scene which is a plus as the audience was into the music. And why shouldn't they be as Black Checker is becoming one of the sharpest power pop bands in the DC area. They have always been fun, but seem even tighter after plenty of gigging and continued songwriting. They have a new EP out which I gave a quick listen to and will review in a week. In three words: it is excellent. The only problem with it was that it reminded me of the weakness of the PA tonight. It simply was not sufficient for a large room and a big crowd. The soundman did as well as he could as the vocals were clear and strong, but the guitar was a bit too compressed and the drums did not have the sufficient drive. Yet, the energy was there and you could hear all the instruments well enough as they gave life to these snappy, varied songs. Of course they played the new EP, which I recognized. But the real test to how good of hooks they have is that I recognized older cuts that I had not heard in nearly a year. All good power pop bands should aspire to create songs that stick and stay with listeners and Black Checker has that going on. They even offer a few slices of varied tones and styles, both in their originals and their cover of the Toadies "Possum Kingdom". They asked if I remembered the 90s? Actually, no I don't, but this was a fun change of pace. This is a band that is worth going out of your way for and hopefully they will continue to follow the arc they are presently on.
Apologies to the Dead Women and the Joads who played after, but it was getting late and this is not the most healthy of weeks for me.

Quote of the Night: "MUSIC!!!" yelled the bar patron to my right as the bookers tonight made a major miscalculation by having a comic start of proceedings (and at 10:07pm with three bands to follow). Frankly, this booking has never been anything short of a disaster when I have experienced it before. I was stunned when Bonnie Prince Billy wanted a comic before his set of music (and after a brilliant opener) at the Birchmere some years back. You could hear every cough across the room as the leaden material was instantly entombed by the perplexed audience. Even Jello Biafra, who has drawn big crowds for spoken word shows, was heckled long and hard with his 'talk' between sets of music in Denver, as a sold-out crowd was dying for Slim Cessna's Autoclub (who were on Biafra's label and wanted him to perform). Tonight, this poor comic had a PA that did not cut through the indifferent crowd and spent 10-15 of the worst minutes of his career trying to garner the attention of the audience. It is a noble attempt to combine comedy and music (or not so noble if it is vaudeville), but I have yet to see it work.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gringo Star - Ski Lodge -- Black Cat - Nov 21 2013

Ski Lodge - I am hearing the Cure and, of course, the Smiths says my musical buddy for the evening. I was picking up on the Smiths, which happens frequently enough, but his Cure comparison may be even better (which frustrates me since I listened to the Cure more than I did the Smiths). But enough about us, this NYC quartet is led by Andrew Marr (yes, really) and has a perky pop styling with a nod to psychedelic and the occasional rock oomph. Warm and pleasant are the words that come to mind. The 35 minute set is almost a little too comfortable, but there last song contained a wildly surprising melodic shift that was as exciting as it was unexpected. Hopefully they can come up additional strong songs and a nice little band could become a must hear band.
Gringo Star - Second time around for me seeing this Atlanta based psyche-rock band. Again, they show great skill in digging deep into some of my favorite sounds with a thorough understanding of 1960s music and the crisp energy of a post-punk world. They have all the hooks and stellar vocal harmonies to present popsike material. Instead, they rev it up into full fledged rockers, but not to the point of jamming or distorting the lovely core of a sincere pop song. They are very similar to Jacco Gardner, but move to the heavier rock side of that equation. I even hear some of the Sadies in a couple of songs, which is a nice nod to the heartland without moving too far into that territory. Their recent album was fantastic and the live showcases the creativity there in more of an upfront raucous approach. The variety of vocalists and the mix of keyboard or two guitars keeps things lively and these guys keep the music coming even with the instrument switching. This is a class act all the way and if you have not explored them yet, then I suggest you do so. They had a great room full of fans at the Black Cat backstage, but I just don't see how the smaller settings can contain this highly accessible music.

Quote of the Night: From Gringo Star (nothing terribly exciting, but it reminds me of a Keith Relf Yardbirds bootleg moment)... "We appreciate you all being here. You're the most lovely audience."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mono - Majeure -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Nov 20 2013

Majeure - This one-man show emits a Tangerine Dream blast that is welcome to these ears. He has a bank of electronics and synthesizers and coaxes out some pulsing synth runs atop a strong sequencer pattern with steel eyed Germanic melodies. The middle portion of the set is varied a bit before the strong sequencer patterns come back for the last cut. There was nothing terribly original or earth shattering here, but it was no less enjoyable for the quality of the music presented. And Majeure is the drummer for a coupe of interesting spacey Pittsburgh bands, Zombi and Timespan.
Mono - This hard touring Japanese band makes it through DC yet again. They have been around 14 years now and I have been checking them out regularly for the last seven years. The formula has not changed much with their instrumental music which is shoegaze, but instead of shooting for volume highs like most of the lazier bands of this genre, they instead work dynamics and classical music melodies and forms. Although there is the occasional volume burst, most of their music relies on steady ascensions and descensions. Theirs is some of the most majestic sounding music of any rock band you will encounter, yet they seemed even a bit heavier tonight than last time through. There are two guitars constantly at work with a drummer that spends some time on glockenspiel (as does the bass player). The bassist also plays quite a bit of piano, although the heavy moments still come through in most of those songs. This is music worth exploring and the club was over half full with a very attentive bunch that stayed extremely quiet during the quiet moments and crowded forward to get close to the sound. I am always quite happy after and evening with Mono.

Quote of the Night (actually Tuesday): Me, to my dentist.... "Actually, I hate my teeth" as he proceeded to give me one less tooth to hate.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quilt - Happy Jawbone Family Band -- DC9 - Nov 17 2013

Happy Jawbone Family Band - Brattleboro, Vermont is a nice little place, but not so pristine that it is not capable of hatching a ragtag oddball group like this. These five smiling oddballs seem the perfect fit for many of the bands I have seen up there, maybe a bit more raucous and outgoing with spirited adventurous music. Primitive garage jamming, jagged edges, warts and all, is what I take away from this lo-fi style. Is it Jandek meeting Plastic Crimewave? Half Japanese becoming full? Sons of the brothers of Guided by Voices rehearsing for the sock hop? As ragged as it all can be, complete with a stoner vibe throughout, these people can put it all together and have some intriguing sounds going on. It is lighthearted and looooose, and certainly not for everyone, but I found it all surprisingly charming and fun. Some of the songs really clicked, especially the one where it sounded like Wishbone Ash on too many mushrooms. Small Sunday night crowd, but they seemed adventurous enough to enjoy what was going on.
Quilt - The very name of this twin-guitar quartet simply cannot keep me from thinking of one of my favorite bands--The Loom. I have not seen the the Loom in quite a while, but they always put on great shows in town with their fully realized vision of a new type of psychedelic Americana. The great thing about Quilt is that I can say the same thing about them, yet they have a fully distinct sound from that of the Loom and just about everybody else as well. It is the basic twin guitar, bass and drums line-up with some subtle synth washes coming out of somebody's pedal board. The real key beyond the high quality jangled guitar work and rock steady rhythm lines are the vocals. All four of them sing in various combinations with the guitarists carrying alternating leads. There are variations in harmony and droning tones in different registers. It is kind of like the Holy Modal Rounders meet the Hollies in the H section of the record bin (and if it was my collection, Jake Holmes would be between, interjecting some of his style). It is also a bit louder and more electric and the music flows actively with a strong undercurrent. There are some strong shifts of tone and style now and then, but it never stops the flow. I hope they find their audience, because if life is fair (one can hope) it should be a very large one the next time they come to town.

Quote of the Night: From the opener... "This song is 'I Have to Speak to Rocky Balboa' based on an actual event."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Devil Makes Three - Shakey Graves -- 9:30 Club - Nov 15 2013

Shakey Graves - As I stepped into line tonight, they said the person in front of me had the last ticket as it was now sold out. Forunately, they had my name on the list and had space (barely), so I made it in a little late to see the opening solo act. Although I caught about half the set, I immediately was sorry I didn't catch it all as Shakey Graves is one interesting 'gentleman from Texas'. He sings, plays acoustic guitar and kicks at a kick drum (while standing), yet if you close your eyes, you swear you can hear a whole band roaring away. the fuzzboxes in use creates this strong sound for his heartland songs. The songs are good enough to work for acoustic busking, but I am happier to hear them fill the big club so well. He was over huge with the crowd where you could hear the building enthusiasm during the set. He is clearly one to watch for future tours.

The Devil Makes Three - When you have a trio of standup bass, acoustic guitars or guitar and banjo with three voices (one female) you can probably guess the general direction of the sound. And you would certainly hit their sound because this band has a wonderfully broad blend of Americana taking us through folk, Appalachian, Western swing, rockabilly, country rock, and many more. The songs are rich and hearty and the playing crisp, quick, and enthusiastic. They vary the rhythms, although most are infectiously toe tapping. They add a guest violinist for a few numbers which adds even more interesting sounds to the mix. Their vocals, personality, and steady enthusiasm pulls the crowd right into the hootenanny they created here tonight. I can't really find anything to fault here tonight. This is a strong band that plays in a comforting manner that will get a lot of fans from a lot of different places and genres joining in.

Quote of the Night: From the Devil Makes Three at 8:49pm, 50 minutes into their set... "Boy, it is early, isn't it?"

Yes it is, although at least the club started things early enough tonight, unlike Tuesday night's show. The bands' sets did not feel rushed and they left plenty of time to get set up for their 10:30pm show. So this one worked out ok for me (and if there was someone I wanted to see at the Velvet Lounge or Black Cat or DC9, I could have headed over there just after, but not this night).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lost Civilizations - Br'er - Marian McLaughlin -- Black Squirrel - Nov 13 2013

Marian McLaughlin - Joanna Newsom and Marissa Nadler do not have much of anything on Marian McLaughlin aside from a massive following and larger audiences respectively. Although she is off to Baltimore, she plans to be back in DC plenty of times, gracing stages and house shows with her lovely deep psychedelic tinged folk music. I am sure I have mentioned Vashti Bunyan, Veronique Chalot, and Joan Mills before and all of that is evident here tonight. In paying attention to her intriguing guitar technique, I find even more Incredible String Band flourish within the choices she makes. Like the ISB, this music is creative, but digs deep emotionally with comfort and style. It is beyond high time her music finds bigger audiences and hopefully her new record coming out early next year will help in that regard.

Br'er - This is a one-man show featuring voice, harmonium, and intensity. He begins with a Swans cover of "You're Not Real Girl" and although it was likely not planned, he got overly animated toward the end and toppled his harmonium over. That gave him the chance to walk among the crowd singing the 'nothing inside you is real' refrain in a chilling moment. Hard to top that beginning, but the set was solid the whole way through. The harmonium is a really cool instrument as it wheezes, bleats, and bends its sound out into a room. He used his voice to twist and turn along with it creating drama throughout the songs. Sitting with some fine local musicians, allows me to steal the name of Alan Vega of Suicide as an influence which does make sense to me. I was also thinking of Tuxedomoon's Winston Tong, although this is more intense. And of course Nico used a harmonium. Fascinating music that certainly demands attention.
The Lost Civilizations Experimental Music Project - I have long been a fan of this improvisational outfit and they (along with their well chosen opening acts) are particularly welcome tonight after last night's big name band debacle. The core of this group is Ted Zook on an electric basscello and Mike Sebastian on saxes. They are joined tonight by percussionist Amanda Huron sitting at a drum kit. Although jazz obviously comes to mind with the improvisational approach and choices of instruments, they hit many avant garde buttons along the way and live up to the 'experimental music' part of their name. Yet it is easy to drift off in the tones, occasionally being jarred by moments of sharp contrasts and integration between the players. It is not too far removed from the urban sounds of the no wave era of NYC. Urban comes to mind, but that got me thinking if a saxophone can ever truly sound rural? If there is an example, please let me know. Anyway, this was another fine set that let me drift off into those thoughts and more and I again recommend this band to anyone who enjoys the creative process and music lovers that want to grow outward.

Quote of the Night: Paraphrasing Br'er as he started... "Thanks for coming tonight, although I'll miss the person who was telling all of us about the South. It was so fascinating!"

So again, it is not just me. People who engage in "inane bar chatter" (his quote, but I think I've used the word inane, too) are incredibly annoying to those around them and they also cut into the musicians' concentration as well. Now tonight was a free show, which as great as that is, also invites people who come to the bar for usual bar things and don't have anything invested. Still, a little volume control would be nice. Why is respecting one's environment so difficult? Oh, the answers evident there.

The Black Squirrel is more bar than club with a long bar filling its narrow confines in its Adams Morgan locale. Yet, the stage affords room for small bands and solo acts and the sound was quite good tonight. So there are some positives here, for sure.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Flamin Groovies - Young Sinclairs -- U Street Music Hall - Nov 12 2013

Young Sinclairs - Garage rock and power pop is the theme for tonight with the venerable Groovies and the openers have the formula down pat. A 12-string guitar provides the jangle while the 6-stringer has the crunch. The rhythm section is steady, but the best part is the two-part harmonies they employ. The songs are solid, although they are the typically short pop ditties that start to blend together a bit too much. I would have enjoyed a reverb drenched extended jam to break things up a bit. They had a really sharp song that was their second-to-last cut that livened things up nicely. Oh wait, that was there last song as they were unceremoniously told after saying they had one more song to do. And thus concluded their 24-minute set. Now if you are going to cram two separate paying shows into one night, U Street Music Hall, perhaps you will let a band start a little earlier to get a full set in, rather than delay the start time to one hour after the doors open. The crowd was there.
Flamin Groovies - It is hard to believe this is the first ever show in Washington DC for this band that formed in the 1960s. Granted, their career has not exactly been on a straight trajectory and there were many years of down time, but this rare event did bring out a good crowd tonight. But based on tonight's show, this likely will also be their last show in DC as I doubt too many people would bother coming back. It is a credible line-up with 2-3 long-time members manning the guitars and bass along with a newer drummer. And there was some of their signature energized power pop flair evident in the set. But with the awful, awful sound full of feedback, there were plenty of grumbles on stage and in the crowd. They played a lot of cover songs which was ok, although when they played "Jumpin Jack Flash", it reminded me that I only saw the Stones play this a few months ago. They had a guitar string break (with no back-up), leaving one guitarist to go solo by playing the second Byrds (Dylan penned) song of the night, "Chimes of Freedom". I am not sure there was any magic even early on, but any positive vibes were slipping away, even as some of the crowd was trying to keep it lively. I had to laugh and agree with the shout of "Nooo!" when they said they were going to another Jagger-Richards cut. "Paint It Black" came out and again reminded me of the real deal just this past summer. I decided I had enough and followed a few people out the door, not waiting for the mighty "Shake Some Action".  Serves me right for not following my own advice I wrote only yesterday about shelling out $25 bucks for a name band as opposed to checking out 3-4 bands at the smaller clubs for $8. Oh well.

Quote of the Night: From a Groovie (Chris Wilson) to the sound booth after some feedback "This better stop, right now!"

This was one of two complaints about feedback after complaining that he couldn't hear himself in the monitor. Bravo, U Street. It will take a very special show to pull me back into your club with your supposedly great sound system. Whether the band deserves some blame, or whether it was double booking tonight, this was yet another dud.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

DC ROCK LIVE - Fifth Anniversary

DC ROCK LIVE is 5 years old. What started as an experiment in continuing a nearly 40 year love affair with music has become more established than I ever could have guessed. After some involvement with the music business over 25 years ago, this was my way to dive back in. It was simply an experiment in seeing how new media techniques worked as well as allowing me to try my hand at non-business writing for the first time since I did fanzines so long ago. I also wanted to keep a track record of the live shows I was seeing to communicate with my music buddies scattered about the globe. There have been a host of surprises along the way and ultimately it has been a blast. But 5 years is a long time, as my body constantly reminds me. I will be considering various changes to my modus operandi as I go forward, with everything on the table such as plowing on with the usual busy schedule, to getting more writers on board, or to the complete shutdown of the site.

But to help me with this decision, I will flesh out five positive factors that keep me going strong, along with five negative factors that will either get me to cut back or quit completely.


1. Live music is a joy, so why not write about it? Although I do a lot of album reviews and will continue to do so for a long time, there is an explosive charge from a live show that is easier and more fun to write about than the more clinical review of an album. A live show is a snap shot in time of bands simply trying to have fun themselves by playing their music to people, be it a dozen or thousands. The atmosphere is highly positive most nights and even mediocre music can resonate majestically in the right environment. I enjoy documenting an event when I feel it succeeds.

2. Local music is exciting and it is important to remind people of that. Although I certainly will embrace seeing bands that are spending the big dollars to tour, I always want to see the local openers as well as going to shows fully comprised of local bands. I have always struggled the mindset of being the 1,200th person in the 9:30 Club seeing some perfectly likable band for $30 or $40 as compared versus being that 15th or 30th person to see three bands at the Velvet Lounge for $8. And in my experience, you will often get more exciting music at the lower priced show. I want to play a part in reminding people to be adventurous towards the unknown band. They just might be headlining the 9:30 Club in a few years. For instance, the first time I saw Husker Du, they played to eight people.

3. It has been a great experience assisting local bands and vibrant touring bands coming to town in the desire to share their music to people that will enjoy it. One of the stupidest things that happened to me during the formative years of the blog, was not anticipating how many up and coming bands would be pleased with getting coverage and would get to know me. This led to all the basic networking within the local scene and beyond that I don't need to explain further. The stupid part was me forgetting that this would be an obvious result of the blog, as it was such an essential part of the late 1970s punk scene that I was a part of in Dayton, Ohio and beyond. The business has changed a lot since then, but the basics of networking remain the same and it is fun to be a small part of it all.

4. Seeing art created is a pleasure. It may be small 'a' art or be a rock solid capital 'A' artistic experience, but either way, I will always be a part of mankind's forays into artistic expression. I have always enjoyed movies, theater, almost all styles of music, literature and will continue to do so to the end of my days. Spending time on the creation side is important as well and I hope to expand my boundaries more and more.

5. Uncovering historical connections and learning more about musicians is what makes it fun for me. Even if I never wrote a word, I enjoy fitting sounds, songs, and styles into my musical history which covers the early 1960s through the late 1980s in depth. It impresses me seeing young musicians getting into bands who I personally knew and saw many times, when today's crop of musicians had not even been born. Also, the blog has given me the chance to interview some very interesting bands and artists which has been terrific fun. I would do more of this, but transcribing is the most annoying part of my work. But when I space it out well enough, it is especially invigorating for me.


1. The live setting causes increasing pain for me. I have had serious back problems and sciatica for almost 15 years now. The standing and hard seating at a majority of clubs takes its toll more and more, especially now that I am the ripe old age of 54. This is a young person's game for many reasons and physical pain reminds me of this every single day to varying degrees.

2. If you have read me regularly you know how tired I get of noisy crowds. I am glad that I have found others that agree with this, but the problem remains. Enthusiastic talk about the music is fine and yes, there is a bar and a merch table going, so there will be area noise that I am willing to accept. Yet I will never get used to the people that pay cover fees to have inane conversations with people, many of who they see regularly anyway. It is quite varied depending on the club or the bands playing, but it gets progressively worse and worse. I am not ready to fully retire to the Hamilton with comfortable seating and a nightly announcement to shut the hell up for the benefit of your neighbors and the artists, but there are nights I wish that DJ/announcer was there at the other club shows I attend. I am a firm believer in the need to protect and respect your environment in the broadest possible sense.

3. Doing 150 to 200 shows a year is a bit overwhelming. Really? How shocking, eh. The worst of it is when the music all starts sounding the same to me or I just start lazily clustering it together whether it makes sense or not. Some nights this mental exhaustion is more of a concern for me than the physical pain is on another night.

4. I don't have the desire to keep up with new musical trends. I will see the bands, but I do not see the linkages with the present and recent past as opposed to the longer historical view. This has its place, but ultimately becomes less meaningful over time. And even though I review over 300 albums a year, I do not have or am willing to take the time to hear many of the bigger artists. I went through four major magazine/webzine lists of top 50 albums from 2012 and found I had not heard more than two records on any of the lists all the way through.

5. I don't like losing the passion for seeing live music. Early on in this blog, I would comb the club calendars to find shows to do. Now, with bands, labels, and publicity agents sending me 20-40 emails a day, my calendar is loaded and I comb it in hopes of finding days off. I still don't want too many free evenings either, but I have to find the balance where there is a pleasure that builds to the point of going out for the evening. That does not happen as much as it used to.

But the positives still outweigh the negatives and even when that day comes that I know I should stop, I will do so with no regrets of investing the time I have on this project. And I see on my calendar that I have a show tonight and one tomorrow, both of which I am looking forward to very much. I hope I see a lot of people joining me.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Blow - Love Inks -- Black Cat - Nov 8 2013

Love Inks - It is Friday night on the big stage at the Black Cat. Austin's Love Inks steps up to get the crowd warmed up. Well, at least half of the crowd that actually chooses to pay attention to this entertaining music. The rest engage in their usual mundane conversations that could exist anywhere and at any time, but for some annoying reason, it exists here and now. It is worse than usual tonight as Love Inks has a mostly delicate sound with recorded beats, guitar and bass, electronics, and quietly intense female vocals on top. There are some intriguing contrasts in the music with the bass player mirroring the pace of the beats, while the guitar and even the vocals dance around make their presence known at alternate pacing and volume. At times they get too settled, but when this works, the guitars reach out with menace, while the vocals soothe and the rhythm goes and goes. It is a likable sound that would work better if you get lost in it and not have that extra buzz from people masquerading as an audience. The singer sounded a lot like the Nuns' Jennifer Miro, although she clearly is inspired by Yoko Ono (along with the Washington Generals, Richard Brautigan, Pamela Des Barres, and others from my young adult years). There was a nice cover of 'Rock On' by David Essex, making me wonder just how old this band is. No matter, they hit the right buttons with me and hopefully made a few fans from the huddled crowd that was engaged in this fine set.
The Blow - This 'band' has one woman on stage singing and dancing and talking a lot,while the other woman is on a platform set up between the soundman and the stage, looking like a conductor with nothing to conduct. But there are computers and some music of sorts comes out. They wanted the room darker, but the bar areas were quite bright as usual. Frankly, the lights left a bit to be desired anyway, so it hardly seemed important. But there was some interesting talk about silence (ha!, dream on), creation from nothing, etc. There were some catchy bits here and there, some intelligent although overblown banter. Yet this really was not working for me as a live presentation, and although a slightly higher percentage of the crowd was paying attention (at least after the first song), I chose to take my future conversations home early tonight.

Quote of the Night: From the Blow... "It's pretty hard to find silence in the world."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Turnpike Troubadours - Mallett Brothers Band -- Birchmere - Nov 6 2013

Mallett Brothers Band - From the lovely city of Portland, Maine comes this six-piece alt country band made up of two brothers and four other fine players. They have a rocking rhythm section and rotate among various acoustic and electric guitars along with the occasional lap style acoustic guitar played standing up. This was usually employed when the songs really rocked and the slide moves fit in perfectly. I enjoyed it much more than a steel guitar which can become too dominating and cloying if overdone. Of course, you could not dominate the speedy runs from the lead guitarist, unless you had the soundman cheating on your behalf, as he was flying. Particularly fun, was the point where one of the vocalists asked during a pause in a particularly fast rocking number if we wanted to see their two lead guitarists shred even faster than that? Of course, so they did. There were some slower cuts which offered nice contrast and still had plenty of heart and melody to keep the set moving forward. This was a solid and occasionally exciting 40 minutes here.
Turnpike Troubadours - This quintet has a strong fan base, well represented here tonight, and builds nicely on the opening set. They do not rock quite as much, but it is very close and they show plenty of pace and excitement when they want to turn it up. There slower numbers feature top notch vocal work and there is some violin in the mix to keep things interesting. The banjo comes out and again, does not dominate but fills in well with the rest of the standard instrumentation. This is accessible music, but well beyond cliche with a deep emotional groove established. They remind me a bit of an American Fairport Convention in that respect. They keep a firm hand on their sound and have the songs to make for great success. It was no surprise to see the positive response from the crowd and there was even some quality dancing in the back that fit the second stage at the Birchmere perfectly (this was a standing show in the main bar area). Good blood pumping music tonight!

Ridiculous observation of the night... The first band had a ratio of three baseball style caps, two cowboy hats and one hatless player. The second band (as shown above) had two cowboy hats, one cap, and two hatless players. I wonder if these percentages can work as a predictor for rock speed and volume in a band (say more caps, more rock). Of course, this is almost assuredly complete nonsense as the hard rocking lead guitarist in the first band was one of the cowboy hats, but at least gives me something to play with for future shows. I do like the mix as it removes the uniform component that some bands employ.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Jenny Hval - Kirin J. Callinan -- DC9 - Nov 5

Kirin J. Callinan - I try to do as little research as possible about the support bands I see, and unless I have multiple choices of shows (like tonight), I won't listen to or read about the headliner either. If I read other reviews, they may mention band comparisons that will cause me to debate including them or trying exclude them, even though they make sense. I do read artist websites and Facebook pages right as I start to write, which causes some of my notes to come into a sharp focus. Such as with Kirin J. Callinan, who I had thought was from the UK. My notes are full of how much he reminds me of Nick Cave and now I see he is from Australia. So that makes perfect sense and it says a lot about the music we got tonight. I also saw some hard-edged Bowie here, as Callinan has a heavy dramatic style with a big voice. He has an intense guitar style and is backed with a drummer and bass player who also adds plenty of electronics into this thick modern sound. There is also a goth Munly Munly style and look going on here. Callinan walks a tight rope between accessible songs and challenging bravado and manages the trip with fully composed balance. He's not working with a net, though, as there is and edgy vibe throughout his 46 minute set, no less so than when he engages in strange whispering stage patter. This is strong material and quite exciting to hear live. I am not sure what the small crowd thought of it, but I bet they have a strong opinion.
Jenny Hval - Also with a brief residence in Australia, Norwegian Jenny Hval leads an eclectic trio in some of the more fascinating music you will find on tour. Hval has a voice that can handle any straight up rock or pop song, but she also has the ability and creativity to twist it into unexpected turns--jazz like, but not jazz. Her voice is half ethereal, half grounded. Kate Bush comes to mind, as she often will any time you see something highly creative in a pop rock context. I am also reminded of the sadly missed Sian Alice Group, as this band works similar terrain with a mixture of sparse and full arrangements that are highly mysterious and utterly absorbing. After a few challenging quiet songs, the trio kicks into a grooving rocker that reminds me of a smoother Wooden Shjips, which is quite a jolt. After that her guitarist does some great Andy Gill (Gof4) riffs to some of her Bush-like vocals, as they twist their set into even more remarkable directions. This was a very cool set and I am glad I chose this show of the choices I had tonight. The others were probably good, well attended, but I bet were a lot safer. These two artists and their bands remind you of the unexplored corners of music that open up new parts of your mind, yet are fully accessible for those up to even the most minor of challenges. Bravo.

Plug of the Night: Folkworld Issue 52 is out now and is filled with the usually great coverage of the extended folk scene on this planet. There are bucketfuls of album reviews that you won't see here, plus some reprints of some of my live folk and folk-esque show reviews. Check it out.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Irrepressibles -- Atlas Performing Arts Center - Nov 3 2013

The Irrepressibles - The Atlas Performing Arts Center has a great calendar filled with a lot of interesting music, both in Jazz and World-rock and folk styles. In from the UK tonight, are a intriguing pop-rock collective led by songwriter and voice, Jamie McDermott. There are multitude of members, but tonight he is joined by a cellist and violinist. He switches between piano and acoustic guitar and delivers his fascinating and soaring vocals. The beginning songs are quite experimental consisting of minimalism as well as strings layering. When his voice kicks in, I am immediately transported to the land between Tim Buckley and Scott Walker. Things grow a bit more toward traditional song patterns and ultimately this style fits comfortably next to Antony and the Johnsons. He also discusses a cover song by a female artist that is a major influence. Even with that partial introduction I was quite sure he was going to say Kate Bush and he did. This hour plus set flew by, occupying a sonic space that few are able to work in. And even with all the creative moves, like a Kate Bush, this trio managed to pull the crowd in with music that you can connect to with mind and body. The last cut was an older one that some in the crowd were familiar with and it had a great prog rock structure to it. This was a pleasure tonight and I am going to keep this venue on my radar as a great way to get something alternative to the usual rock and folk clubs.

Quote of the Night: the unmistakable whole note 'twang' during a tuning... "It's in dropped D"

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nik Turner's Hawkwind - Hedersleben - St. James & the Apostles -- PhilaMOCA - Nov 2 2013

St. James & the Apostles - Road trip (or rather Amtrak trip) to Philadelphia tonight for some space journeying. But we begin with local roots as a rather intriguing trio begins the evening. These guys are cousins with music that does more than hint at inbred southern craziness. It is blues most kozmik, loose, heavy, with a grunge component. It is guitar, drums, and keyboards, so at times it feels like Leslie West jamming with Rod Argent (with West on vocals) and there are times when I am reminded of Reverend Horton Heat. Very cool set, even with sounds you think you know, these guys have a way to twist and power them to new places.

Hedersleben - Up next are the touring partners for Nik Turner as this is a four-piece with guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards. All of them sing and there is some nice electric and acoustic mixes on guitar with some good stinging steel string acoustic early on. The music goes from Popol Vuh to Guru Guru and it is no surprise to see their Facebook page simply mention 'krautrock' in the about section. They move the atmosphere around from moody to rocking and are a perfect warm-up for Nik Turner's Hawkwind. But as I see a few minutes later, they were merely getting warmed up themselves, for they are Nik Turner's Hawkwind.
Nik Turner's Hawkwind - 73-year old Nik Turner joins this fine band he has assembled including Nicky Garrett, known for his longtime service in the UK Subs (and confirming the proto-punk Hawkwind style and influence). This is an art space and is small but quite crowded with a lot of older fans who have wanted to see Hawkwind hit the US for a long time. We were to see two Hawkwinds touring this year, but Dave Brock's more continuous band had to take a break for illness (due to this copyright fight is what was stated). Nik Turner addressed this and said they are too old to fight and did not want to mess anything up but keep a part of the name and band he helped found, if not even play together again. These are complex issues that most fans should not be taking sides on and I could write a lot more, but look elsewhere for that or just let them figure it out. Any fan in this room knows how to discern which band is which, no matter what they are called, so whether this is Nik Turner's Space Ritual, Hawklords, or anything else, it was certainly going to be a fun filled no-controversy night.

Now, the music. The band blasted away at most of Space Ritual all through the night, even the Robert Calvert narrations. There was a big wall behind them for projections, but aside from a drum riser, the band was floor level. They continued to rip out the tunes with more feral intensity than touch, which was more in tune with the live 'Space Ritual' sound as opposed to the studio albums. The keyboard/synth player was even doing her version of Stacia complete with a little less make-up and a lot more clothes. She did the synth parts well, so was important to the music in addition to the dance moves she employed at times. Turner's vocals were very thin, which was as much due to the PA than his age, although on "Children of the Sun" it may have been better if the PA was even lower (to be fair, I don't think he could hear himself much of the night). There were feedback problems as this small PA was not up to a band of this caliber. But there was enough volume to give the crowd a serious Hawkwind fix tonight, as the 90+ minute set that included only a bit of his fine recent solo album featuring much of this band. The drums were great, Garret added fury and style and Turner's sax and flute playing is still excellent. This was a fun night where the PA was the only letdown, keeping this from being fully transcendent.

Dave Brock's Hawkwind, or perhaps just 'Hawkwind' depending on the continent or legal ruling will be in DC at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on March 15th and will likely be doing all the other postponed dates of their extensive tour.

Lemmy's Hawkwind aka Motorhead also had to delay a 2013 tour of Europe until February 2014 for health reasons. Hopefully America will follow.

See 'em all. It's all good.

Quote of the Night: From somebody in a car in front of the club talking/yelling at a guy he knew waiting to get it in... "I've been driving in circles for 15 minutes trying to find this dump!" (the only sign being the carving... 'Finney & Sons est. 1850... Monuments')

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside - Mount Moriah -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Nov 1 2013

Mount Moriah - There is a big crowd on hand tonight and clearly there are fans of both bands on hand to make for a festive evening. And it did not take much effort or copious amounts of alcohol to get excited about the great sounds of Mount Moriah. It was not so much that there was anything unique or overwhelming, but it was a band that just oozed personality. Certainly, Heather McIntyre's vocals and rhythm guitar is the place to start with her waif-like looks that belie her vocal power and control. The lead guitar work is very smart and alternates between working around the vocal lines and propelling things forward. The rhythm section keeps it all together and they end up reminding me quite a bit of the Walkabouts, maybe a tad less Americana, although the Walkabouts transcend that genre as well. It is all a little urban, a little rural, and they can really rock and jam out when they want to go beyond their fine songs. There is a lot to like here and the DC crowd did.
Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside - This quirky Portland quartet makes a quick return to DC to engage us all with their signature sound combination. They start off with an instrumental that places them squarely in the garage with that heavy reverbed Duane Eddy/Dick Dale guitar enveloping the sound. They move into their more indie rock material that ebbs and flows into blues, garage rock, and other song oriented forms with ease and style. There is even a Loretta Lynn cover, "Fist City", which was a request. They are a playful band, but not loose, more flexible with the subtle shifts in style, volume, and pace. Their songs stand out from the crowd and stay with you well after the evening's close. The crowd was sizable and as into the music as many that I've seen, especially for younger indie bands.

Quote of the Night: From Heather M. .. "Can I get more light? I want a spotlight. I'm kidding"
"She's not."
"I AM kidding!"

Friday, November 1, 2013


If I forgot your record, please remind me. I have a system--everybody has a system. Systems break down. I also review albums for Folkworld and even buy albums for my own consumption, old school as that is. So anyway, stay in touch as there is a lot going on in my head at any given time. That said, I think most of the submissions are covered here and there are some gems and lots of interesting records this month, so peruse, please...

After wincing at the painful pun in the title, I settle in to listen to this four-song EP from Belgium. Although many easy listening types would be wincing at this heavy post metal dirge, I find it welcome to my ears. The band has a melodic structure through much of it that matches Birthday Party sharpness to Melvinsesque forms. There is a looser, more raw and fuzzy tone to this music, as opposed to those bands. They are able to compose a complete song and execute it under three minutes, or take it to long droning lengths. That is the kind of variety I like in breaking this up for longer and repeated listenings. There is a lot going on in Belgium that is worth a listen and if you like droning alt metal, I would recommend driving this one around the block.. or rather letting it drive you.

Punk rock from Italy in 2013? Why not, as Raw Power was one of the better hardcore punk bands back in the late 1980s. This EP goes a little further back and forward as the grinding chords and twisted vocals remind me more Swell Maps meets the Weirdos. AustraliA uses throbbing piano as the core rhythm in "I Can't Go On" with murky guitar chords as the jarring element. The twisted vocals are surprisingly melodic and this song is quite catchy in an odd pop punk style. I appreciate their eclectic style, which is nearly essential for anyone wanting to establish a presence in the broader punk rock world of the 21st Century. Yet, "Xyz" has a wonderful head bobbing sharp pop-punk melody pushing the Buzzcocks through a Butthole Surfers blender.
Boardwalk has a great take on old pop music. While they clearly bring back fond memories of the Lee Hazelwood style, they incorporate lush shoe gaze sounds with electronic jabs of modernity. The old and new marry well in these songs with tricky little guitar lines and chords dancing around while the vocals float along. Variety while often important is not a criterion I can apply to this album, although the band does a good job of differentiating between the songs with subtle arrangements shifts and melodic differences that ensure you don't feel like you are listening to one album of ambiance. These are nice songs with a lot to focus on. If you are not a fan of the style, you probably won't be converted, but if you enjoy anything like this, I believe Boardwalk may become one of your favorites.
Songs to try out first:

I'm Not Myself - There is a playfulness in this lush pop opener that also goes a bit Lynchian (David, not Jane).

Crying - The opening guitar lines had me expecting Nancy Sinatra or Lesley Gore to walk in the room.

High Water - This cut has some well written passages that subtly work a lot into the mix.

I have seen two good shows by this interesting twin guitar Virgina based quartet. Often when I enjoy a rocking performance by a singer-songwriter, indie rock styled band, I am disappointed by their recordings as it ends up softer and more middle of the road. Thankfully, this is not the case on this six-song EP. "Into Your Arms" opens up with heavy riffing guitars that combine with the rhythm section to take the Bo Diddley style into a more modern treatment. They move into more classic and indie rock territory with jangly rhythm guitars, crisp leads and nimble bass atop the drums. The vocals are smooth and welcoming. That this sounds good is no surprise as it is a Don Zientara production from Inner Ear Studio. These guys offer some personality within comfortable rock forms and should be investigated by local rock fans.
This is good, strong indie rock offered up by this local trio. It is not precious indie rock, but full throated rock music that spans a couple generations. This is another fine recording from the Inner Ear Studios, which may have something to do with it sounding like late eighties hardcore properly advanced into the 21st century. There is that shared sense of emotion in the vocal work, but it is not overdone like happens too often. The guitars are not afraid to push forward hard and loud, while the rhythm section is interesting with solid drum work and a few prominent bass lines. There is nothing terribly original here (as is the case in most releases), but there is simply high quality rock music that works its way into your system with ease, style, and just the right amount of force. It is worth a listen and then several relistens.

Songs to try out first:

This City Will Burn - The title cut establishes the sound and hooks you in early.

Keys - Old style big rock sound with a charming indie style.

Us Against - Another song that could be from many eras, just a pleasure to listen to.

Normally I do not review singles, but when you issue one that is 9 1/2 minutes long, that's an EP for me, so it is worth the time. And I don't say no to Philadelphia's Disco Machine Gun, who have far too long been flying under the radar as one of the most creative and entertaining alt metal acts. They make music for progressive fans who just cannot seem to find anyone heavy enough that understands creative music and thoughtful arrangements. Listen to the violins trade off with the guitar solos here, this is just not a sound that I can compare to too many bands. Yet the overall effect should have Opeth and Kylesa fans drooling all over this. Come on metal fans that want more, I know you are out there. Get aboard here, before it is too late. And even if it is, there is a profoundly good quality of work these guys are leaving to us.
Thomas Medard of the Belgian band Dan San has released this intriguing solo record under his chosen name of 'the Feather'. He chose the name well for this music is like a feather floating in the proverbial gentle breeze. This is flowing rock music with a pastoral folk feeling and even some electronics merged in organically. The music varies a bit, but it works a terrain in between baroque pop and the prog-psyche-folk of Fit & Limo. The vocals are lovely and even have that far away enchantment of COB at times. Think Brian Wilson and George Martin style complexity when the words 'pop music' are used for music such as this. The production is not quite that complex, but it is more than what you usually hear these days. It is even more amazing when Medard plays everything on this record. This is in the same area as Jacco Gardner and even Syd Barrett at times, although not as whimsical as either of those. Along with the Jacco Gardner album, this is one of the best of the year.
Songs to try out first:

The Songs we Sing at Sunset - Hopefully the opener will set the mood for the album. This succeeds.

What If - Here's the COB harmonies merged into a song that would be a psyche folk classic, were it only psyche-folk in style. As it is, it's a classic song.

Around - At nearly six minutes, it is still not long enough. It creates a world I want to live in for a long time.

Imagine Kate Bush making a record with arrangements from early Nico, yet with modern electronics. That hardly describes this creative outing, but it puts you in the right direction, a direction few of us travel too often. This is bold and striking music, but comes forward with intimacy and controlled dynamic shifts. When you can bring real warmth to experimental music and keep in a context that a simple pop music fan can pick up on, then you are doing something very right. There is a a whole lot of warmth underneath this Nordic cool that this Oslo born singer works into her songs. They tell me that her live shows are compelling and with music this imaginative, it is hard to know how it will change for the better or even to stay at this level. But I aim to find out when she comes to town.

And she does that this Tuesday, Nov 5th at the DC9. See you there.

Songs to try out first:

Innocence is Kinky - It's also a bit spooky, the way Jenny Hval sings it with a throbbing beat, various drones, and jarring guitar among a lot of open space for these intriguing vocals.

Renee Falconetti in Orleans - I simply love the title… google it, if you don't get it.

Amphibious Androgynous - This has epic qualities with ringing acoustic guitars, dreamy drones, and wailing backing vocals behind her strong lead work.

It is hard to be extremely original within a rock music setting any more, but there are still plenty of ways to combine forms and styles in interesting ways. King Khan has done that here with his take on garage rock by using unique arrangements and subtle cultural melting pots of sound. He is from Montreal, although he spent much of his youth on a Mohawk reservation. I am not sure what music motivated him early on, but eventually he found a way to assemble a great band and come up with exciting arrangements for his uptempo pop-rock songs. There is a lot more than rock going on here to, as lounge music, purer pop, funk, and other worldly moves pop up from song to song. This has the spirit of Fitz and the Tantrums, but is more unpredictable. And more often than not, the unpredictable nature of his musical choice is a successful path. Jaded music lovers who tire at quantity of even good bands stacking up on their listening pile, should make some room for King Khan & the Shrines.

They play tonight, Nov 1st, at the Black Cat.

Songs to try out first:

Born to Die - Right away, you know you are in for something special with Eastern modal patterns and brass integrated into a catchy garage rocker.

Thorn in Her Pride - More great brass and fine vocal work.

Darkness - A vocal that is eerily similar to that of Aphrodite's Child, which is hard to do. Nice style shift.

When punk rock broke, there was a flurry of seven inch singles, seven inch eps at 33 1/3, 12" singles at 45rpm, as well as conventional long players. What this meant, was you would often play records at the wrong speed. Once in a while they sounded kind of cool, but most of the time, you would have this reflex action of looking down toward your turntable speed switch. I had that when this EP started even though I was listening to an MP3 and my turntable had been switched off for months. So this is my long way of saying that these Chipmunks styled vocals are quite intentional. They vary them a bit, but a couple songs are downright distracting due to this. The music is full-on electronica and dance oriented, although not at an overly throbbing pace. The songs have abrupt endings and frankly this does not sound very good at all to me. Even though this is not my area, I am not sure this record represents Odesza terribly well.
Snappy synth pop works for me when the hooks are strong and the vocals are good. Piano Club pretty much covers these key points. Even better, they vary the songs so you get places where they push the envelope with a little more noise and other times they emit pristine electronic pop music. I would recommend seeing them live at a club near you, but you will have to one of my Belgian readers to take that advice.

Songs to try out first:

Me and Myself - Snappy pop tune that takes me back to the 80s with a more modern electronic production working.

On the Wagon - This one is particularly bouncy with nice counterpoint guitars and keyboards.

A Long Time Ago - This has a more industrial pop style with almost a dub sound at times. Interesting deep vocals, too.

This local band takes a shoe gaze approach to electronic music and has created five songs heavy on atmosphere, that lean a little dark and contemplative. "Bummer Shakes" really works well in a Banshees meets Cocteau Twins cocktail that has me refraining from, typing so I can take it all in. "Goldleaf" was also lovely, although the rest have abruptness issues or are nice backing sort of sounds. Still, there are some fine things working here, so it would be a pleasure to take in a full set in a club or to listen further for follow-up.
Kurt Vile joins former bandmate Robert Robinson for this three-song ep which is lovely psychedelic-folk stroll through the woods. At least it starts out that way, but by the end of the third cut, these two have dug deeper into the inner space of the mind or the outer space of the solar system. You decide. Either way, this is a fine example of why it is always worth spending time on Kurt Vile projects. I am also going to keep Sore Eros in my listening sphere as well.
Thick and creative metal fans, step this way. Supervoid has the riffs and power to fill that deep craving that never is quite fully filled, despite the many quality bands in this field. The music is solid, but what is often either a fail or a cliche are the vocals for upcoming sludge/death metal bands. Thankfully this band rises well above that as these quality vocals vary from tough death metal style to something that seems a cross between Kyuss and Pearl Jam. So not quite as extreme as Opeth, but it does have that welcome contrast. There is plenty of thought in the arrangements and the album has smooth and smart transitions. The songs are tuneful and memorable. This is a fine achievement and a band that should develop a strong fan base if they can hook up on enough quality metal billings.
Songs to try out first:

Coat of Luminous - Lots of genre shifts within two minutes and the transitions are smooth and powerful.

Wake of the Smoke Jumper - Good hard sound to spooky psyche sound shifts always work with me, at least when done this well.

The Bear - At just under 8 1/2 minutes, the closer covers quite a range of styles, yet flows majestically.

Long one of my favorite DC area live acts, this is the first Teen Mom record I have listened to. It is only a four song ep, but clocks in just under 20 minutes, so it is a good way to explore their sound. The first cut establishes a dreamy psychedelic pop vibe with some sharp guitar chords and some lightly funky bass moves toward the end. The next three songs follow with a similar popsike vibe. They are smoothly flowing tunes with gentle pop hooks that maintain the atmosphere while evoking motion. By the time of the chunky, fuzzy guitar chords to ride out on, you can try to pull yourself out of that relaxed position in your mind or lounge chair. Give this EP a taste test and be are to catch Teen Mom live. They put on a great set and are usually part of a good bill.
Listening to five ripping barroom rockers with a good vocal touch is a fine way to spend 20 minutes. This local trio grinds out the goods and breathes enough life into the hard rock genre, to warrant a listen. They may lapse into Black Oak Arkansas land musically, which is not a bad thing, but thankfully elevate matters with more stylish and less domineering vocals. This EP is an appetizer for the main course, which is the live on stage show for music such as this. And after seeing the set recently, it is one to check out some time soon.

This shoe gaze pop is served dry as the desert, which makes sense as they are from Tel Aviv, Israel. Shoe gaze is not really fair to the subtlety of their sound and the fine songs they write. It wavers between dreamy and drone and the guitar magic almost sounds like Wire more than that of Jesus and Marychain. They sound a bit like Sonic Youth at their subtle best with vocals closer to some lost British post punk dream pop rocker. The songs vary in that some grab me and stay all over me with every note, while others are merely nice moody pieces suitable for the background of other tasks. So at their worst, Vaadat Carigim is a pleasant band that is listenable, while at their best, they have great songs with a lovely sound.
Songs to try out first:

Odisea - The contrast between the tasty crunch of the electric guitars and the clear tones of the acoustic guitars work some magic.

Kezef Al Hamayim - What a pop hook here, sounds so familiar, yet very personal and unique.

Ein Nehama Ladoachim - A good example of how to make a classic rock melody sound modern and interesting.

This active local band is back with their third LP and the power pop is popping once again. This is hefty, hard rocking power pop with fully propulsive instrumentation. The pop is located mostly in the vocals as these guys still remind me a lot of the Undertones with their infectious hooks (and strong guitars). At times, it may get a bit overwhelming if you are not a fan of this style, but they do it so well, that the best songs translate well with rock music fans of different genres. This is a fine band that is worth going out of your way for.

And you can do just that at their ALBUM RELEASE SHOW at Jammin Java, Monday-Dec 2nd.

Songs to try out first:

You Set the World on Fire - A powerful song with a powerful hook will jump out and grab you right out of the box.

Nikki's Plan - The vocals are very Feargal Sharkey-like as this shows off their personality as well as any song does.

Rings Around the Sun - Not so much power pop, as grandiose pop, big in sound, big in spirit.


This is folk music that has that psychedelic sensibility not with flailing sitars or reverb, but more of a sense of space in the vocals and the staggered timing in the guitar notes. There is some distant violin and piano punctuation that creates intriguing atmospheres and tensions, but the lead male vocals and female harmonies lead the way in these six songs. They remind me a bit of the Mills/Raven albums, but this foursome has their own sound takes its cue from classic English, European and American folk from the late sixties to late seventies. There may be some traces of Hunter Muskett and Mac Murrough in here, too, although this is more American than that (although I don't hear a lot of San Antonio, Texas here). The band members all have some unique skills of timing and emotional resonance they bring to the arrangements, which set them apart from simpler players. This is memorable music and far better than for a lot of what has passed as nufolk or wyrdfolk in recent years. They can be the third band in to my dream billing of Espers and Faun Fables.