Friday, January 31, 2014

Novakaine - Junker Grain -- The Pinch - Jan 30 2014

Junker Grain - This local quartet features the usual guitar, bass, and drums with a female singer who adds just a wee bit of welcome trumpet now and again. This band generates classic bar band sounds with rock music at the heart of it all as they shift from light ska to R&B to country (they may want to rethink that one) to lounge jazz. The lounge moves show a bit of swing, which is something they should try to incorporate further. The sound is a little thin, part due to the band and part due to a preset sound system here. Although the Pinch is a fine place to see a show, a house PA with a soundman would help. Junker Grain did a nice job and will hopefully continue to improve and find their sound.

Novakaine - This local band has been around a short time, but shows a strong muscial background member for member. The vocalist plays acoustic guitar and is the chief songwriter. The electric guitarist offers up some very tasty leads and careful and highly successful use of a wah-wah pedal. The bass player is rock solid and adds some excellent backing vocals. The drummer has creative moves well beyond the average rock drummer and I would guess could handle a lot of styles. The best part of these players is that they come together with more confidence than I expected and really pushed their quality songs forward. There were a bit too many covers for my liking, but their set lasted over an hour and I enjoyed a couple of them (I Want to be Sedated? That was a trip). Some of the original cuts from their recent album were excellent, particularly the opener and the long closing number. This band has a great foundation with the skill to stay on the stage with just about anybody around town. For balanced rock music with some creative flourish and just enough pop, give Novakaine a listen.

Quote of the Night: From Novakaine introducing their Ramones cover... "We have another old school cover for you"

Arggh. How did this crazy far off the mainstream punk rock music make its way into TV commercials, CNBC discussions, and now 'old school' music. What a future I am living in!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Preview of Coming Attractions - February Part 1

I was going to take February off, but there are just too many good things happening in town, so I will be busy as ever and I hope to see you in the clubs filling them up, keeping live music vital for the fine DC bands and the excellent out of towners who spend a lot of money and time to get here. As always, give these sounds a listen and take a look at my recommendation section to see where I'll be (or would be if I could).

Join me this Saturday (Feb 1st) for some exquisite DC music featuring Black Clouds, Tone, and Highway Cross at the Black Cat. This will be a good one!

The Jamestown Revival hits the U Street Music Hall this Tuesday.

Mutual Benefit performs at the Black Cat on Wednesday, February 5th for our... (ok I'll say it) mutual benefit.

Dale and the ZDubs are a fun live band who tear it up pretty much every night. You can catch them at Penn Social on Thursday, February 6th. Here is there new video.

Or if you are so inclined, there are two more shows on Thursday the 6th. Night Beds is at the 9:30 Club with the Drowners at the DC9. I have no idea where I'll be as I type this, but it will be at one of these.

And in another battle of the videos, you can choose to see Lanterns on the Lake at the U Street Music Hall on Saturday, Feb 8th or head over to the Rock'n'Roll Hotel for Son Lux.

together PANGEA returns to the Black Cat on Tuesday February 11th.

Lake Street Drive hits the Hamilton on Wednesday, February 12th.

Yuck along with Alvvays comes to the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on Thursday, February 13th and each is worthy of a visit.

And in one of the worst booking collisions of the year, on the same Friday night (Feb 14) that Dead Meadow hits the DC9, their buddies the Black Angels along with the amazing Roky Erickson come to fill up the Black Cat (but when this sells out you can go see Dead Meadow).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sylvan Esso - Ploy -- DC9 - Jan 28 2014

Ploy - If you can imagine what a Coltrane fan thinks of smooth jazz, then you can imagine the difficulty I have with this brand of electronic pop. This local duo has exquisite vocals atop the light electronica sounds and has some smooth and steady bass underneath. Actually, they do this quite well. It may not be my 'thing', but they definitely fit comfortably on the bill tonight and should do well in a lot of clubs around town. They did win over the crowd tonight, as I could see more movement up front as the set went on. The pretentious long winded conversationalists around me enjoyed the background music I suppose. Certainly give Ploy a fair listen if this brand of pop music is your 'thing'.
Sylvan Esso - If you are going to keep it stripped down to one guy on electronics and one woman on vocals, then one of them better stand out significantly (if not both). My vote tonight goes for the vocals of Amelia Randall Meath, who has a strong playful style that could work in jazz, folk, or any offshoot of pop/rock music. She rolls out her vocal lines and dances around the treble clef in clever ways to keep things fun. Nick Sanborn begins with looping these fine vocal patterns and adds some decent moves of his own. There is not anything overly exciting for me here, as I prefer darker Germanic moves personally, but he has the pop formulas down well and keeps the energy of the music moving forward. This duo clearly knows what they are doing as they drew a near sold-out crowd on a Tuesday night. Everyone dug what they were doing and can be happy to have seen them at the DC9, as I imagine bigger things are in store for Sylvan Esso next time around.

Quote of the Night: From a sincere wide eyed Nick Sanborn... "I have to ask... What are you guys doing here?"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires - Turf War -- DC9 - Jan 27 2014

Turf War - Good old fashioned power-pop/punk never goes out of style, even to those of us who remember when this sound was a massive blow against the empire. This Atlanta quartet offers absolutely nothing new with no reinvention to this sturdy wheel. Yet they have formed a strong and smooth wheel that grips the road and moves along at a brisk pace. You will hear elements of the Ramones, Blondie, Nerves, and the Undertones and many more of your favorites in these tunes. The 33 minute set tonight went over well with a fairly decent Monday night crowd who braved the cold to hear some good rock music. Turf War should be welcome on many a billing.
Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires - This band is also a twin-guitar quartet with one guitarist handling the lead vocals. They are also from the south, Alabama in this case. And they follow in that same sort of punk pop rock mix, although these guys play it a little looser, with a bit more glam sleaze. The guitarists really have a way with working around each other, brazenly working off the highly melodic vocal lines. They have that classic NY Dolls, Dead Boys thing going on that hearkens back even further into the older glam scene. But these guys have the pace and a powerful rhythm section to make it tougher and faster than anything that came out before 1977. This is their first time in DC, yet they seem quite road tested with the comfort level they have on stage. The best of their songs really moved and jumped and the lesser ones were decent enough. The crowd dug them and they should be gaining  a lot of fans on this tour. I would see them again any time.

Photo of the Day - As I ready myself for another Premier League day, some clever sort offered his idea to aide ailing Manchester United Fans featuring my favorite Sir (Alex Ferguson).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Gipsy Kings -- Birchmere - Jan20 2014

The Gipsy Kings - The 25th Anniversary tour makes its way to the Birchmere for this famous band from the south of France. I thought the steep ticket price (even as it comes with their new album as a bonus) may keep people away, but there was a good crowd, although short of a sell-out. This is an elaborate production musically, as the six Gipsy Kings all brandish acoustic guitars in front of band comprised of keyboards, bass, drums, and percussion. Four of them sing together or with different lead vocalists, aside from the instrumental tunes. Thankfully, the sound man was up to the task as everything was crisp and clear. This is a family band consisting of brothers and cousins (and they seem a lot more together than the Wilson/Love clan). Although flamenco music is the starting point, they seem to have additional influences at work. One cousin handles all the lead guitar work and although he has flamenco flair, I could easily see some of his runs translated on electric guitar in front of a monster hard rock band. The rhythms are excellent, on the percussion as well as the guitar and they keep a brisk pace all through the set. Late on they moved around to the back-up musicians allowing them plenty of solo time. I believe this was the first time I have seen a bassist play with his left hand fingering the fretboard through a towel. Pretty cool, although it was disarming to me as he looked like an auditor I used to work for, the inappropriately named Ernie Kite. The spirited music worked its charm on the crowd and had many of them dancing in the aisles. I wondered if it would have been more fun on the second stage which is all standing, but this show reminds me of why the Birchmere struggles to find that balance with a show where some people need to sit and relax, while others want to get up and dance by having two stages where it is one and not the other. Still, I doubt too many people tonight left unhappy as this music should charm even people who knew little about the band.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Marian McLaughlin - DeenaOH - Lies About -- DC9 - Jan16 2014

Lies About - I am back to my home away from home in recent days known better as the DC9. They have some hot bookings and tonight's show has another sizable crowd that has made an excellent choice. First up are dual guitarists with a drummer. I believe they also use the name 'Lies About Butter' and from what I gather, their whimsical style can undergo quite a few shifts as well. Some may call them a bit too twee (although I bristle when some of my favorite folk artists are saddled with that), so I will say that they have a loose casual airiness to their approach that will work better for some than others. I mostly enjoyed it tonight, as the drums carried things along and the guitars were electric with one sometimes played as a bass. This is the type of band that will take me a few listens to get a full grasp of, if I ever do. That probably can be said about everyone tonight if you are seeing anyone here for the first time.

DeenaOH - This may seem a little casual with guest musicians and singers joining lead vocalist DeenaOH in different combinations for every song, but it does not take much attention to feel the steady construction of a fascinating set of music. There is frequent spacey guitar moves leading to an overall psychedelic folk vibe with great care in the vocals. They can mix in intense and dramatic moments comfortably and some sort of band combination would be a great impact at just about any serious psychedelic rock festival that has room for the quieter psyche bands. A few less covers and a steadier lineup could be quite amazing, but I will be back for whatever DeenaOH dreams up next time around, no matter how it is set up.

DC9 photo credit: Matt Laslo

Marian McLaughlin - This was a special show as Marian McLaughlin's self released album is out--click on the link here for a preview. I have always enjoyed her highly individual approach to folk music, as she has her creative spark drawing the ether from such vast time periods from the ancient psyche folk days of Vashti Bunyan and Mary-Anne (Patterson) to the modern renaissance. There was a great large crowd filled with a lot of friends to celebrate the event, but also with newer fans that have picked on the high quality songs in her repertoire. Tonight was extra special, as not only did she have her double bassist with her, but also a second guitarist on a couple of songs, violin and cello for half the set, and even some brass. The arrangements were excellent, especially in the way the strings alternated atmospheric support to high impact bursts of emphasis (especially on 'Horse'). Everything worked splendidly tonight and hopefully this will be one further step in expanding her audience. Marian McLaughlin may be not completely of our time, but there is a place and a lot of music lovers that should be taking the journey here.

Quote of the Night: From the opener... "Did you ever notice how only living things can heal themselves?... like when I scratched my guitar and it won't heal itself. My guitar is dead."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cate le Bon - Kevin Morby - Pree -- DC9 - Jan 15 2014

Pree - It has been a while since I have caught this excellent local quartet and clearly things have changed. They are still recognizable with their delicate vocals and skillful mood setting music, but they seem to have shifted a bit from psyche folk into popsike. Hardly earth shattering moves here and it all works extremely well tonight. The vocals have a deep quivering quality to them while the guitars are spacier than ever with steady rock rhythms holding it all together. Their half hour set is worth the price of admission alone and tonight they begin a loaded and complimentary bill with all the skill of a headlining act--no surprise to the many Pree fans in attendance.

Kevin Morby - Morby plays bass in the band Woods and not only comes out with guitar and lead vocals tonight, but brings along a rhythm section and second guitarist (joining in from song three on). They also employ some keyboards to their highly engaging sound. They have a warm west coast rock vibe that reminds me in spirit of Dino Valente or the Beau Brummels. Yet they could push it a little with some Greg Sage (solo vs. his Wipers songs) style guitar and songwriting. The big difference there would be the smooth delivery of the vocals more in keeping with those sixties San Francisco rockers. This was a strong 38 minute set and shows that Morby and his band is every bit as interesting as Woods. I could really leave happy right now, but that is not a serious option.
Cate Le Bon - This is the second time I have seen this Welsh singer songwriter and I would have mildly looked forward to this based on the first show, except that I heard (and reviewed) her recent album which I thought was a major step forward. There were a lot of daring moves in the writing and arrangements, so I was hopeful that she could make that same sort of magic on stage tonight. I am not the only one as this place is packed, which is a big improvement from the last time she was in DC. So people are listening and catching on to her talents. And with tonight's set just under an hour, she is practically guaranteed to have even more people interested as the word spreads. Her songs seem to float above ground but hang by within reach using perfect control of ballast. It is a smooth journey with a few sharp turns that showcases her creative talents just as her recent album did. She can engage in some serious rocking as well as lock in some pop hooks while never losing her special atmosphere. This concluded a top notch show that I can not imagine anyone leaving unfulfilled.

Quote of the Night: "You ought to spend half of your review exploring the possibility that she is the secret child of of (Duran Duran's) Simon Le Bon."

Been a while since I have done detective work and it sounds like it would require some serious work to develop into a story or more likely a conspiracy theory.  But for now, no, it is not happening.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Blue Pinto - Round About - Bellicose -- Velvet Lounge - Jan 10 2014

Bellicose - A local twin guitar quartet takes the stage, at the expected start time no less. They instantly show a maturity beyond what I expected as the rhythm section is locked in and the twin guitars have interesting patterns, even as they heavily rock it out. The lead vocals are different as they have a quivering Feargal Sharkey quality to them, which is a welcome change from the more dominant vocal styles. They maintain a sprightly pace and sound and the guitars constantly push the barriers. The bass runs are also playful as the sound musical rhombus stretches wildly at the side from the string instruments with the top vocals holding the melody and the bottom drums maintaining the beat. They get even a bit heavier at the end, employ some double leads, and have a couple of songs that would stand out in any set. Keep this band on your radar, they will be doing good things as they get the gigs.

Round About - Aside from the changes at lead guitar, this local band continues to offer a rock solid brand of rock music that always plays well in the clubs. The new lead guitarist fits in well, and I like his liquid style which reminds me a bit of Buck Dharma. They have a guest keyboardist from the Walkaways (among others) which makes for a fun addition to the sound. There was a cost however, as the acoustic rhythm guitar and bass got a little muddied in the mix. The vocals were strong and stayed on top of it all, so the overall effect was good. This was another solid effort from the band on a good night at the Velvet Lounge with a sizable crowd (a little self absorbed at times, but there was some very enthusiastic music fans present).

Sorry Blue Pinto, but I was a bit under the weather, so I will have to catch you some time down the road.

Quote of the Night: A classic for once... Heraclitus... "There is nothing permanent except change."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Potty Mouth - Priests - Radiator Hospital -- DC9 - Jan 8 2014

Radiator Hospital - Time for me to buckle up and hit the clubs on a regular basis once again after a severely diminished holiday schedule. Tonight's DC9 show is packed and will prove to be a great entry into the 2014 season. First up is a Philadelphia power-pop/punk band who gets things rocking from the first note. Crisp Undertones styled guitars and all the expected hooks make it easy to stay involved with their music. The vocals are a bit scattered at times, but decent enough. Broken string issues clogged up the proceedings a bit, but not too much as they kept the tunes coming after a few jokes.

Priests - This local band is still busy as ever and is perfectly placed on this bill as they move the sound forward heading in the direction that the headlining band will employ. Priests are taking their post-hardcore sounds into even more traditional surf garage areas, but with added throbbing rhythmic thumps and powerhouse vocal intensity. Imagine Ari Up replacing Jello in the DKs with them playing their most psychedelic songs and you get something like the set tonight. Guitar sounds were even spacier with a leslie amp--one of my favorite sounds (especially on organ). This band is as solid as ever and is a force on the local scene, as well as making some noise world-wide. Give them a listen some time if you have not already. Judging from their draws, many of you have.
Potty Mouth - Three graduates from Smith connect with a local Amherst, MA singer/guitarist and form a band, and what a band! They have similar guitar sounds to that of the Priests and the rhythm section is steady and a little more dramatic with their moves. The vocals are the biggest change with a more droll approach such as the more subtle Siouxsie songs. There is a raw feral energy that is deep within the sounds, but they have a sense of control that belies their short time as a band. The packed house in the DC9 was fully into their set and this band easily lived up to all the positive buzz bandied about. There was not much that boldly stood out, but rather a deep steady sound that grabbed hold with clarity and vision as the songs kept coming. They have made it onto my playlist as I need to study this some more. It is hard to tell how good they really are, but they have what it takes to hook you in to their world.

Quote of the Night: from some club conversation... "...well, effectively I 'm 24, but people think I'm a lot older, like 28."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Previews for Coming Attractions in January

Lots of great shows in January as I get back into the rhythm of the night. Here are some video and audio highlights. Also check out my recommendations at the right for these and other shows where you sure to see something good or better.

Northampton, Mass is one of my favorite cities and they are sending us a fun pop-punk band called Potty Mouth, so head on out to the DC9 this Wednesday for the fun.

The extremely interesting Welsh singer songwriter Cate le Bon will bring some great new music to the DC9 on Wednesday, Jan 15th. I'll be there, seeing her for the second time and don't intend to miss any date she is in DC.

Marian McLaughlin has a new album out, a video that NPR featured and a show coming up at the DC9 (yet again) on Thursday, Jan 16th. She is one of my all-time local favorites.

Gipsy Kings hits the Birchmere on Monday, Jan 20th, and is worth the trek south. Trust me... or just watch the video.

Phosphorescent is getting raves for its album and you can see if they live up to it on stage at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, Jan 22nd.

Waxahatchee is a very hot band, especially with other musicians. See what makes them special at the Black Cat on Friday, Jan 24th.

Damien Jurado makes a return to our city at the DC9 on Sunday, Jan 26th. He's a serious talent as you will see.

Sylvan Esso continues to make the DC9 the place to be in January, this time on Tuesday, Jan 28th.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Best in Shows for DC - 2013

Catherine Lewis of ShowlistDC recently posted that she listed 11,568 shows in the DC area for 2013. I went to 158 of them along with three out of town shows. So always keep this extraordinary small sample size in mind when you see this or anyone's list. This alludes to one of my personal pet peeves, those Top 50 Album lists. I listen to at least 250 new records every year (more often 300+) Yet, when major site lists come out, I find that they list about 45-49 records I have not heard on their Top 50. I am quite confident they did not compare their choices to hardly any of the 300 records I may have heard. Instead, they follow the buzzy records and the major releases with a few cool local choices.

One more thing to keep in mind. As I was going through the shows, I realized I saw a local band three separate times, yet I can't hear their sound in my head or remember what they look like. What's more, I wrote that they were pretty good. So quantity can create a problem in the memory. That said, I hope to see everyone out there in clubland for more shows in 2014. I believe I am energized enough to have another busy year. I know the choices will be plentiful in DC.

And with that, from 10th best to my favorite show, here is the Best of 2013.

10. Rolling Stones - Verizon Center - June 2013:  The old men showed how music can keep you young as this was far better than I had expected.

9. Garnet Rogers - Jammin Java - April 2013:  I was harshly proven how far I had underrated this excellent folk singer-songwriter. His banter was almost Robyn Hitchcock good and his songs, voice and guitar were exquisite.
8. Retribution Gospel Choir - DC9 - February 2013:  Always a favorite of mine, this Duluth trio (where I was born) let it fully rip tonight with some blazing drones added to their heavy songs--the perfect antidote to the death of my cat earlier in the day. I really needed this show and somehow they managed to crank it up a notch for me.

7. Iceage - Rock'n'Roll Hotel - June 2013:  These really young Danes managed to combine pure punk and postpunk in a swirl of intense noisy riffs with some tricky songwriting in there--wise beyond their years.

6. Temples - DC9 - November 2013:  popsike is becoming one of my favorite genres and these English newcomers have leaped over the wannabes and are delivering lush, fabulous music, as they showed DC.
5. Goblin - 9:30 Club - December 2013:  Every year, there is a show I never ever expected to happen. This year it was a DC date from this classic Italian progressive rock band's first US tour. I am not a monster fan and thought it would be nice and pleasant. Instead, they knocked my socks off and reminded me what a great progressive band can do when they have the power.

4. Jacco Gardner - Black Cat - October 2013:  This Dutch band/songwriter is the pinnacle of the new psychedelic pop scene to my ears. I saw them twice this past year and they were great both times. I loved their recent album and really hope they find a huge audience.

3. Graveyard - Black Cat - January 2013:  The only repeat from last year's list (sorry Spiritualized, you didn't quite blow me away this year). This Swedish quartet has fully mastered heavy rock with plenty of blues and a power that starts from the garage but could fill arenas if it had to. They can even write songs that will stick in your head.

2. Man or Astroman - Black Cat - June 2013:  Holy gobsmack! There are times I like to be proven an idiot and this was one of those times as I could not believe I had waited decades to see the brilliance of this hyper-twanged garage band. They were brilliant and the crowd was with me on this during this raucous yet melodic set.
1. Woven Hand - DC9 - April 2013:  One of my favorite bands cut back to a power trio and fully engaged in David Eugene Edwards further evolvement into drone-psyche with still enough of his psyche-folk moves. His songs are brilliant and they were delivered with his brand of frightening passion that night.

1A. Comus - Shirley Collins - Islington Assembly Hall - September 2013:  OK, the list goes to eleven as I had to include the one non-DC show that was as great as anything I saw this year. From seeing Dame Shirley Collins do anything to my second jaw dropping experience with Comus, this was pure magic. No one, but no one is capable of sounding like Comus.

And please enjoy this video from their comeback show on a boat near Stockholm  a few years back (eagled eyed spotters may find me in the crowd)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014



When a band writes me and says something like 'we are a psychedelic band who…', they can stop right there. Sold! I am always interested in anything from the tried and true style from the sixties to further modern explorations. The Black Waves has all the great spacey moves down like their fellow 'Black' bands, the Black Angels and the Black Lips. They shape their sound into a rock drone mixture that makes me think of Echo and the Bunnymen, if Echo couldn't come up with clever hooks and instead went deeper into drone. This band still have enough melodic moves here, so it is far cry from background music. And they vary the instrumentation later on in the album to really add some spark. This reminds me of a more historically placed Spacious Mind or a slightly Euro post punk Black Angels. There are many fine psychedelic rock bands out there and the Black Waves can clearly be added to that list. They are from France, so I won't expect to see them in a DC club right away, but with this kind of talent, I hope it can happen some time.

Songs to try first:

The Shepherd - This establishes the rock based drone style with a comforting vocal workout as well.

Electric Waves - A slower, somewhat menacing song as the descending pattern grows louder and fuzzier.

Levitation - No, not the 13th Floor Elevators, but a Floydian beginning moving into something closer to Woven Hand meets International Harvester.


This local band has released this five song EP and have managed to come up with a sound that is capable of standing out. They take a relaxed psychedelic folk approach but add elements of California rock along with modern indie rock in the mix. "Cellar Floor" is a fine song with great dual vocals that is made even more brilliant with a crazed slide lead guitar (sounding like a wild slide whistle pattern for the guitar). There is an outsider off-the-grid feeling in here at times. And at other moments, I get glimpses of intriguing bands like Gravy Train, such as in "Captain and Crew" with its loads of flute. This is definitely a band I want to see some time in 2014, since I missed them in their initial year of operation.

And we all get the chance to see them live at the DC9 this January 29th.


It is the holiday season, so it is time to head back home to family and friends. For me, that is Dayton, Ohio, and it was this trip home that brought me to this record album with two of the four band members being veterans of my Dayton punk/hardcore/artcore scene many decades back. And although I do not often poetically hear the history of a music scene in new music, this record has all of that and more. There are equal doses hardcore intensity along with alt metal sounds and moves. There is early punk vocal stylings and art damage musical moves to veer into. The unrelenting approach keeps the music thick and powerful and it gushes out with great sleaze-rock guitar challenges made by the two axe wielders. This was a blast from the present and this band could knock down a few walls in the DC clubs--hope they make it out some time.

Songs to try first:

Des Moinesermaker - The opening cut establishes the Dark Backward mood with dark and thick guitars over a pummeling rhythm section.

Reject Yourself - A cover of a classic 100 Flowers song done with all the appropriate intensity and Wire-esque monster drones.

Supermundane - Anything, but.


These local bar room stomp specialists have done quite well in a relatively short time and are back with another fine album to lay claim to the most foot stomping, beer swilling country honky tonk rock band to walk the streets of DC. You could swear they were from California as they pull together the western side of country with a bit of rockabilly, blues and Byrdsian guitar rock worked in. But when a song called "I Need My Ass Kicked" has a chorus that feats a chorus using the word 'culminating', then I guess there is a little DC in here after all. They are a blast live and thankfully they capture that quite well on this ten song album. The instruments are as clean as the topics are dirty (in a pleasant sort of way) and the band revs them up with just the right amount of energy to get them rocking, while retaining the roots at the heart of the song. There are alternating and harmonizing lead vocals between a man and a woman, which leads to a wide variety of tones and emotions. The Highballers continue to roll down the dusty old highway that runs between these big city buildings.

Come on out to the Iota on Saturday, January 11th to enjoy the rollicking live show and pick up a hot, freshly pressed slab of vinyl or CD.

Songs to try first:

Fire and Smoke - This one just crackles with guitars cutting notes around the crisp rhythm patterns

Lula's Gone - Gutsy Americana rocker with both the twang and the power and a great female vocal (+ harmonies).

King of the Plains - Sounds like some brilliant early 1960s cowboy ballad reimagined by the Sadies.


This seven song EP has a modern warm psychedelic vibe to it, perhaps trisecting a point between Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, and Tunng. I like the dreamy vocals and there is some interesting music being made here. It gets a little too sleepy for me by the seventh song of this EP, as I would have liked a few songs to show some contrast. Another approach would be to add something soft but not as relaxing as much of the tones are in these cuts. It is an interesting approach that should do well and I would not mind seeing what they can create on stage. There is talent at work here.

And you can join me in seeing what they can do at the Black Cat on Wednesday, February 5th.


This EP has four songs by Justyn with a Y of the local band New Canada. This side project has all the signature American style psychedelic folk moves that he manages in much of the music he writes. And even though these are home recordings, there is a lot of clever work within the arrangements. This manages to create an alternate world to explore with the music, which is the goal for most anyone dabbling in psyche-folk. It is an enjoyable EP by itself and I would encourage people to check it out. In fact, this kind of music (and always a couple of others I encounter every month) is a perfect example of the pleasures of challenging yourself to explore music beyond both the mainstream and the well publicized hip scene. There are so many rewards with fresh oddball music someone is putting out from their bedroom as well as the obscure record with the odd cover in some used record store. Challenge yourself and keep exploring.


I am really enjoying several bands tackling psychedelic pop music these days. Painted Palms does some of this here and are quite successful at it. It is a little edgier with more rhythmic thrust and rock strength, so for music fans that like a bit of heft, they should not be disappointed. Still, the catchy hooks in the vocal work is the starting point with these songs. I slightly prefer the dreamier 1960s sound, but this post punk popsike fusion is a nice alternative twist to that and should pull in a lot of intelligent music lovers out there in listening land. Yet this should work magnificently when played live on stage.

Songs to try first:

Too Hight - Always start with an opener if it captures the core sounds and this one does.

Forever - I like the mix of old synth rock sound with the post punk rhythm bursts and sunny vocals.

Soft Hammer - A dreamy and odd long excursion into jarring ambience?


Presto Bando is no more, but their significant trailing memory is hefty enough to support one more release. This album is played by the guitarist and bassist, with plenty of extra instruments by both (and Brandon Ables on guitar has been a full time drummer previously, so percussion is aplenty here). All the signature elements are here: fluid bass runs, jagged guitar runs, twisted vocals, creative themes, and a surprise or more around every corner of every song. This is a long player so it is not for the faint of heart. This band, like sea urchin, is an acquired taste. When you get there the complexities and individual talent, skill, and creative flair will make it worth it. Yet there is something that is always difficult with a posthumous release like this. It is hard to cut loose and enjoy as you know it is the last… at least the last of this version.

Songs to try first:

San Francisco - The opener is quite catchy and would be a hit single in more interesting universe.

Energy - The skronky energy builds well as this freaks out while retaining its form.

Life Without End - The classic is finally recorded.