Friday, May 30, 2008

Vampire Hands

Vampire Hands are slowly becoming one of my favorite local bands at the moment. I have thoroughly enjoyed their last two CD’s, Virgin Dust American Lips & Me and You Cherry Red. The music has a wide variety of influences ranging from glam/classic rock to Krautrock. Most of the songs have a strong driving rhythm that is very reminiscent of Velvet Underground being produced by Phil Specter (especially on their newest CD, Me and You Cherry Red). Through it all, they retain a strong sense of autonomy from cookie cutter pop music by employing Brian Eno like noisy soundscapes to roughen the edges of their songs. The band has become something of road warriors as of late, but will be back in their home of Minneapolis/St. Paul this Sunday for the Grand Old Days celebration. They will be playing on the Dixie Stage (there are no set times, but it looks like they are on second to last during the 12-5 set times before the Heirospecs). Admission is $5 to get into the beer tents (where the music is) but you can listen from the streets.

Stay Positive

After getting a solid week of listening to the new Hold Steady record, I can safely say it is very good. It sounds like Boys and Girls in America part duex to me, but as someone who loved that record, I am not complaining. The instant highlights are: the first single, "Sequestered in Memphis", Live staple "Lord I'm discouraged", "Stay Positive" and "Joke about Jamaica". Like all Hold Steady records, it is extremely solid record from start to finish. The band continued its foray into Springsteen esqe rock with their usual arsenal of weapons. Guitars grind alongside roadhouse piano and a driving rhythm section with Craig Finn's literate talk-singing bringing it all together with his gutter poet stories. The band continues to infuse the songs with horns and multiple part vocal arrangements (a la "Massive Nights") on a couple of the songs. While this album is not my favorite record they have ever made, Hold Steady fans should be very excited for the first new Hold Steady record in over a year (a long time in Hold Steady world). Stay Positive comes out July 22nd.

NEW MUSIC- Air France

Sometimes records have an aura or ambiance that jumps out of the speakers the first time your hear them. The new record by Air France, No Way Down, was one of those records. After hearing the single on Gorilla Vs Bear, I promptly picked up the new album. I put it on my car stereo on the drive home, and it was a hypnotic experience. Listening to the beeps and clicks being washed in sampled melodies was quite the experience while driving through the city on a rainy night. The drive, like the music, offered multiple vantage points to life’s large questions. I was feeling both small and insignificant under the reflecting lights, but yet felt an intense sense of wonder. No Way Down is one of those albums that could accommodate an array of moods, ranging from sober to joyous, with the only difference being the listener’s mood at the given time. I have found this flexibility of music more prevalent in good electronic than any other genre.

The disc is only a 6 song EP, but it is a large sounding record. There are a couple of reference point bands I heard from my first couple of listens to the record, most being indie-electronic groups that have been setting the quality standard for releases in this genre recently. The first, and to me most obvious, is Burial. The record sounds like a slightly less apocalyptic take on Untrue. From the other end of the electro spectrum, No Way Down can at times come in like a more restrained version M83’s shiny pop gem Saturdays=Youth and Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colors. All 6 songs are highlights and I can only hope that this is a precursor to a great full length. This album comes out this week on the hipster Swedish label Sincerely Yours. Check it out.


I would recommend this to you if:
You like Burial, M83, Sigor Ros or Cut Copy (or any bands that sound like them). It is a good record to put on and mentally check out. If you like putting on music that can be background music but can also swallow you in at moments notice, this is a great record for that.

Grade: A

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Sigor Ros

Gorilla vs Bear just posted a new song from the upcoming Sigor Ros album Með suð i eyrum við spilum endalaust. The Disc comes out June 24th.

NEW SHOW

Cutesy duo She and Him will bring their 70'a Americana folk to First Avenue Thursday, August 8th. They (guitarist M. Ward and singer/actress Zooey Deschanel) will be supporting their soft and charmingly unoffensive album Volume 1. I like the album on my stereo as I'm falling asleep, but I am not sure how it will translate live, but we will see.

Up for the Down Stroke

If tonight you find yourself in the opposite position that I am in (read:you have money and you do not have the lethal combination of a throat feel like you swallowed razors and a nose running like a faucet) then I would hope you are at First Avenue to see the legendary George Clinton and P-Funk. Tickets are a smite spendy at $25, but c'mon, it's P-Funk. Doors at 8, music at 9.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We are Scientist

Brooklyn based rockers We Are Scientist will bring their poppy-post-punk rock to Minneapolis latter this summer with a show at the Varsity Theatre. Like other bands (Bloc Party, the Strokes, The Editors) from the new wave revival a couple of years ago, We Are Scientist create spastic yet melodic indie rock. I really like their last CD With Love and Squalor and have heard good things about their new CD Brain Thrust Mastery. Oxford Collapse will be opening this 18 + show and tickets are $14.

We Are Scientist MySpace

Shearwater show

Rejoice! fans of Shearwater (*cough* Bill *cough*), the band is coming back and will be in a much deserved position of headlining, unlike their most recent appearance in Minneapolis. Hopefully this allows the band more time to play the material from their great new release Rook to a more attentive and appreciating crowd (I'm looking at you, Clinic fans). According to (the great) local blog Minneapolis Fucking Rocks, these shows will probably be opened by Shearwater friends Frog Eyes or the Evangelicals, two awesome bands that would make this show a can't miss. Check out Shearwater June 25th at the 7th Street Entry. Tickets will be $8.

NEW HOLD STEADY!!!

Nothing like a new Hold Steady song to brighten up a boring work day. The band has put the first single from their upcoming record, Stay Positive, up on their MySpace page. “Sequestered in Memphis” doesn’t veer much off the usual Hold Steady path (Tad’s crunching guitars, Craig Finns talk-sing, Franz Nicolay’s barroom piano), but you know what they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The song is seemingly about someone on the run from the law, and ends with a Boys and Girls in America type group sing along at the end. Overall, it helps to raise my already high level of excitement for their upcoming album after hearing some of the other songs live. Check out "Sequestered in Memphis" on The Hold Steady's MySpace page.

Don’t forget that the Hold Steady are bringing their live juggernaut back to the Twin Cities on July 22 at First Avenue. The scuzzy confines of First Ave should provide a much more intimate and enjoyable experience for the band than their previous stops at local theatres. Tickets are now on sale.

Stream: Sequestered in Memphis @ Hold Steady Myspace

Monday, May 19, 2008

Evil Urges

Like other great bands, My Morning Jacket has always allowed for space to evolve. Like two bands that leader Jim James readily acknowledges as influences, Wilco and Radiohead, the band has escaped the shackles of a genre that they simply had outgrown. Like both Wilco and Radiohead, My Morning Jacket started in a relatively simple genre (reverb soaked country rock) that they had gotten down to an art with their album It Still Moves. During this time, they also took an already strong live show and became an absolute monster. There is no way to argue that by becoming road warriors and allowing for that sort of creativity to creep into their live show, they started the process that has led them down the path they have taken their last two albums. The band took a interesting turn on their last album, Z, which they have taken even further this time around.


Like Radiohead, My Morning Jacket have become stylistically fearless and feverishly independent. The new album, Evil Urges, is brimming with ideas that would have seemed crazy only two albums ago. The opening song, Evil Urges, started with a Strokes-esqe new wave bass line that quickly morphs into classic MMJ. The guitars are soaring and James lets his bright falsetto really fly. The song then naturally takes a left turn into a country stomp hoedown, cause I mean, why not, right? A couple songs in is the first real shocker. The song is called Highly Suspicious and it is insane. I don't even know how to describe it. The guitar is crunching and the drums are straight out of some eighties pop metal song. Then comes in the growling choir screaming "Highly suspicious, I'm highly suspicious of you!" with James shrieking in the background letting his white boy soul voice go on full throttle. The next two songs (I'm Amazed & Thank you too) afterwards are both beautiful ballad types that really show off the musical chops of the band and the great vocal abilities/songwriting of Jim James. The songs sound both new and timeless. The album goes on and on like this. Some songs (Sec Walkin & Two Halves) sound like they should be on those collections they sell at two in the morning packaging the best of the 70's AM gold. Other songs sound like good old vintage My Morning Jacket, but they all sound great and the whole album is a stirring success and well worth the listen.


I would recommend this album to you if:
You like country, rock, alt-country, new wave, classic rock....I could go on. My Morning Jacket have always walked the line mixing the classic sentiments of Neil Young with the weirdo pop of the Flaming Lips. While every song may not connect with you, I would bet most people could find something they like on this record. If you like My Morning Jacket followers like Band of Horses or Fleet Foxes, check this out and see what may be in those bands future (or not). They could also be recommend to fans of Radiohead (for shear ambition) and Wilco (for their avant garde take on alt-country.) This is a great record that offers so many different angles that it is well worth many spins to find your way inside the grand ideas that My Morning Jacket are producing at this point in their career.

April

There are certain people and bands that can make crushingly sad music that is still very beautiful. Obviously Bonnie "Prince" Billy is the first choice for reigning king (or prince? just kidding) of this scene, but one could make a very valid and legitimate argument for Mark Kozelek . Kozelek has gained fame as the singer behind the bittersweet and often dark songs of the Red House Painters and more recently Sun Kil Moon. His latest CD under the Sun Kill Moon moniker, April, only adds to the strength of an already impressive back catalog.

The songs on April are slow and melodic, without much of a driving force behind them. Kozelek takes his time wrapping his stories around his slow and churning alt-country waves. Many of the songs are over five minutes, but none lack for substance. His rich voice is a masterful tool that he uses to make the songs seem richly atmospheric. His vocals are not hidden, but they are also not front and center. There is a hazy, druggy quality to the production that adds a deep and mysterious value to the droning/slowcore production. It is a great album to put on and let yourself become engulfed in its rich textures and soft melodies.

I would recommend this album to you if:
You are patient with your music and enjoy texture. If you want a hook or a catchy chorus, take your business elsewhere. If you are a fan of Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Iron and Wine, Neil Young, Nick Drake or American Music Club and have not checked out any of Kozelek's work, you really cannot go wrong with any of his catalog (except the Modest Mouse cover album, but no one is perfect, right?)

Grade:B

Sun Kil Moon Myspace

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Group Review: Electro type stuff

Here are some records that are out now (or coming out soon) that I decided to review all at once. I took the easy (read: lazy) approach and grouped a bunch of albums who all vaguely use electronic music as a base and grouped them together. Sorry, and believe me, I know that these bands are not that easily boxed in and they probably never deserve to be so easily categorized by someone like me, but you'll have to forgive me, I am incredibly lazy. Cheers.
Cut Copy- In Ghost Colors

Cut Copy sound like LCD Soundsystem mixed with sunny pop music. Where James Murphy sounds like he is dancing to The Fall when writing his songs, Dan Whitford sounds like he was listening to some Scissor Sisters or any other campy pop music. Another difference is his strong embrace of synths and heavy dance rhythms in general. The record is unstoppably bright and will make you want to dance, even if you pretend you are just making fun of raver kids who dance. The CD gets a little long, and does suffer the fact that it is not a strong enough to listen to when you are not in the mood for upbeat, dance music (the reason why Sound of Silver was so great). If you are a fan of this indie dance music, this CD is a wonderful disc and Whitford succeeds in making a constantly stirring record.

Grade: B

Cut Copy Myspace

Video of Lights and Music (from Pitchforkmedia.com)

No Age- Nouns

No Age is an artsy guitar and drum based duo that create lo-fi punk/electronic/hardcore music. They are currently riding high on the wave of hipster Internet buzz, and it is easy to see why. Like many popular “indie” bands (and bands on this post), they are taking what is in essence pop music and making it scratchy enough around the edges to help satisfy their desire to make something outside of the “mainstream”. They are traveling down the same path as bands like Pavement, Husker Du and countless other bands that are somehow classified in fringe genres, but are really just taking pop music and mixing it so that it is not presented front and center. Their songs are rough and loud, but are strong and show a great potential.

Grade: A-

No Age Myspace

MP3: No Age- Eraser (from Spinner.com)

High Places-03/07-09/07

High Places are a low-fi electronic duo. They sound like a female fronted version of Animal Collective or any of Bradford Cox’s bands. The strong portion of this CD is the appealing pop melodies that they have creatively wrapped around different sonic landscapes. They definitely don’t go to the level that many bands in their genre do to create lush and heavy sounds, but the minimalism adds to the novelty of Mary Pearsons sugary sweet voice. It will be interesting to see if they can further their ideas and continue their successful progress on their proper full length.

Grade: B

High Places Myspace

Hercules and the Love Affair- Hercules and the Love Affair

Hercules and the Love Affair is a collaborative effort between indie dance producer Andrew Butler and eccentric singer Antony. The record is on the Death From Above record label, which almost instantly cements it at a chance in the spotlight. Luckily for these two, the record does not need their trendy and influential friends to lean on. The songs are light and brimming with indie-dance, electro and house beats. If you have never heard Antony sing, you will be in for a surprise. He is the Boy George loving lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons, a cabaret pop group that was the vehicle for his poignant chamber pop songs. Antony’s bright and vulnerable falsetto brings a unique perspective to some of the more standard disco beat influenced songs. A very different and original take on the dance rock genre that is so popular right now.

Grade: B+

Hercules and the Love Affair Myspace

Video: Hercules and the Love Affair "Blind"

F+++ Buttons- Street Horrrsing

A beautifully abrasive record. This duo takes a genre (noise rock) that is generally content with simply attacking their listeners with harsh and volatile noise collages at the expense of melodies and cohesion in the songs, and flip the formula. Street Horrrsing sounds like Panda Bear being produced by Black Dice. There are moments when they let the bright, pretty melodies slip through the cracks, but only for a second before the crashing and cold electronic crunches take back over. Like their name, they are obviously challenging their listeners, and the end result is well worth the work the listener puts into them.

Grade: A

Fuck Buttons Myspace

Tapes N Tapes- Walk it Off

Do you know that feeling when you discover that the older family member (cousin, brother) was not the invincible hero you had them pegged as. There is that moment when you finally lose that innocence and you see that they were never quite on that pedestal that you had placed them on so naively in your youth. Well, Tapes N Tapes are my older cousin, and it took their second record for me to realize that.

Now, my hypothetical family member did not turn out to have a weird porn fetish or be a dungeon and dragons level nerd, but let’s say that they are a Dave Matthews Band fan. It is not a something to completely cut ties over, but you realize that the joyful façade you created in your mind was simply a figment of your imagination. Again, I am not saying I do not like Tapes N Tapes anymore or that I will not listen to their records, it just has been a cold realization. I think when The Loon came out, I was so excited to see a Minneapolis band on Pitchfork, I convinced myself they were the greatest thing since the Replacements. Both The Loon and the new record Walk it Off are very good appropriations of many different influences from indie rock (Pixies, Pavement, etc). I thought Walk it Off would give me the same excitement that The Loon had originally, but after spinning the record a couple times and finding nothing that really grabbed me, I realized that a huge proponents of The Loon for me was the sheer excitement of knowing that these guys were from MINNEAPOLIS! The Loon was very good, but with a level playing field, I found that Walk it Off sounded uninspiring and significantly less urgent. What I am left to wonder is whether it is really my lack of enthusiasm, or did Tapes N Tapes run out of steam and mail this one in?

Although my passion for The Loon had waned, I had a moment of hope when I heard the Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev producer extraordinaire Dave Fridmann would be twisting the knobs for TNT's new disc. I mean, look what he did for a couple of idiots like MGMT, I figured he could make TNT sound like the Beatles. What happened was his production style took away the best things (urgency, sloppiness, jagged edges) that were the highlights and cornerstones of The Loon. The polished over nature of the record screams “We are going for the fans who made “Float On” a hit.” Although there are some moments (like the first single “Hang them All”) where the driving, repetitive nature of Josh Grier’s songwriter stand out, there are simply too many moments of sheer indecisiveness and bland rehashes.

I must say that it was hard hearing this record and constantly going for the next button. I thought so much of Tapes N Tapes just a couple years ago (maybe it was youthful indiscretion), and I really wanted to like this Walk It Off, but to no avail.


I would recommend this to you if:

You really like Tapes N Tapes, but if that is the case, you probably already own this record and think I am a heathen and are in the process of convincing yourself I am the worlds biggest idiot. If you are not a huge fan, I would say check them out live, they usually are very good and it should not be a letdown like this album.

Grade: C

Tapes N Tapes Myspace

Clinic/Shearwater The Entry 5/13/2008

It is always interesting to have bands that draw two different crowds on the same bill, especially at a smaller venue like the 7th Street Entry. Both Shearwater and Clinic are very interesting left of center indie rock bands, but that is about where the similarities stop. The show was essentially a double headliner bill, but it was an interesting case of contrast seeing these two bands.

Shearwater was up first and brought their mellow/moody folk rock led by lead singer Jonathan Meiburg. Meiburg, who was dressed in a charcoal colored suit, led his band through a very serious and straightforward set of tunes, with many songs coming from their great new album, Rook. The band has a classic feel, not only in their dress, but with trumpets, woodwinds and upright Bass. The band was really good and I would recommend checking out any of their releases.

I don’t know if my sentiment about Shearwater was shared with some of the kids at the show waiting for Clinic. While Shearwater was a draw for the quieter and more laid back (older) crowd, you could tell the kids were there for Clinic. They had a little bit more edge to them (especially the one in front of me with his own surgical mask). The soft/mellow music with melodramatic surges was not what they were here for. They wanted the pulsing Krautrock that was coming from British eccentrics Clinic. The band came out wearing Hawaiian floral shirts and their trademark surgical masks. Their music, a mix of Velvet Underground type driving rhythms with slicing keyboards with familiar British vocals, sounded great live. Their first set was spent playing their new record, Do it, while the second set, or what they called the “encore”, was them playing songs from their other four albums. The band, which has played with everyone from Scott Walker to Radiohead, showed some great versatility and a wide range of musical styles over their hour plus set. If you are looking for something a little bit out there and different, give Clinic a shot, they may be for you.

Overall, I thought it was a very cool show. I am always against homogenized bills that seem to easy. Often I find that promoters coddle weak minded music fans and give them 2 (or 3 or 4) of the same band. (This does not happen as much with local shows as it does national touring shows) Why would you want to hear two bands playing the exact same music? Don’t people want variety? Maybe not, but for me, I really liked the paring and hope I can see more eclectic bills like this in the future.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blitzen Trapper "Crushing the Wheat"

Surfing the web yesterday, I found this new unreleased track from Blitzen Trapper. It is a little softer and more country-fried than a lot of Wild Mountain Nation, but the band sounds good with this format. One of my favorite songs when I saw them recently was a newer slow country song, so maybe this could be the direction they are leaning for the next album?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Ruby Suns-Sea Lion

Listening to the Ruby Suns new CD, Sea Lion, is like slipping into a warm daydream. The music ranges from warm psychedelia to lush electronic soundscapes with most of the album having tinges of world music, with lots of African rhythms.

The songs are sonically diverse and offer instruments ranging from synthesisers to guitars down to sleigh bells. Like many bands in fringe genres, the songwriting is sometimes not the strongest aspect of the music, but the Ruby Suns still made a very strong record. Some songs, like "Oh, Mojave", take the driving rhythms of African music and infuse them with the indie pop sensibilities that this New Zealand based band favors. Other songs, like the last third of Sea Lion, offers Flaming Lips style pop psychedelic gems that float along in the bands hazy spaces.

The whole record owes a large debt to Brian Wilson and his introspective masterpieces. The band pieces together collages of sounds from many different genres in ways similar to the Beach Boy genius and make a highly enjoyable disc that sounds great as a soundtrack to a sunny day.

I would recommend this CD if you:
Are a fan of Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys more experimental music. If you tend to enjoy music that is a little more abstract and less direct. The music is very good on many levels, including hearing the deft instrumentation through your headphones. This is a band that is very adventurous and the listener will be rewarded for multiple listens by finding new and interesting pieces to the intricate layers of The Ruby Suns music.

Grade: B

The Dodos- Visitor

Making music that is both adventurous yet not abrasive can be a challenging task. It seems that many bands either fall into tired clichés that overburden many genres, while other bands seem to intentionally be confrontational with their sounds. While there are times when direct and unpretentious music can be good and similarly times when harsh and atypical music can quench my desires, yet it is always best when the two poles meet in the mystical area where very few artists find. The Dodos found this area with the masterful new CD Visitor.

The Dodos are a guitar and drums two piece comprised of Meric Long on the instruments and Logan Kroeber on the percussion. Unlike other guitar/drums combos (Black Keys, White Stripes), they do not attempt to make up for their lack in numbers with superfluous noise (although there are overblown moments on the record that add to the ebb and flow). The band is lead by Long’s interesting acoustic styling (think a more unplugged and more pop version of Animal Collective) and filled out with Kroeber’s world beat influenced hectic drumming. Their music is similar to many of the new artists who take pleasure in appropriating lesser known world influences (The Ruby Suns, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer). Many of the songs also venture down the alternative folk route genre represented by such artists as Vetiver and Iron and Wine. The whole record is a very earthy and freewheeling take on some genres that often times are not handled with such ease and grace.

The whole album is very strong, but there are some personal highlights for me. The slack stringed folk stomper “Walker” is a beautiful and haunting opener that sets the tone for the wide variety of styles and moods the album will present. The first single, “Fools”, is what I imagine what the guys in Animal Collective would write if they had taken their Campfire Songs styling and tried their hardest to write a normal pop song. Of course it would not have been normal, but if their goal was being their natural and original quirky selves while trying to write something within the box, they would have sounded like The Dodos do on “Fools.” “Winter” sounds like a dead ringer for an outtake from The Magnetic Fields seminal album 69 Love Songs, which coming from me is a compliment in the highest form. The lyrics are the gloomy love lost type that fills Stephin Merritt’s songs and the vocals even sound like Merritt’s smokey baritone. The song is both funny and crushing, with some great low key instrumentation to supplement the great singing. The last big highlight from the record is the song “Jodi.” The song is a great illustration to what makes the Dodos so great. The song is a simple song about love lost played by a guy singing his heart out and playing his acoustic guitar. Sounds crappy, right? It is not. The frantic playing and howling singing are propelled by the wild drums and the interesting time changes that make the song fascinating throughout its entire 6 minutes. Below are an MP3 of Jodi and a live video of Winter.

I would recommend this disc for you if:

You like folk, alternative folk, rock….basically if you like music in general. I am enamored with this record and find something new to love about it each time I play it. Fans of any of the bands I mentioned in the review are highly recommended to check out this band, you will not be disappointed. This is an early contender for my favorite album of the year.

Grade: A+

The Dodos play July 8th at the Triple Rock Social Club

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Shearwater- Rook

It is easy to see what brought Will Sheff(Okkervil River) and Jonathan Meiberg (Kingfisher) together so many years ago. Both men create the kind of beautiful and haunted folk soundscapes found in other alluring folk weirdos Smog or any of the projects of Bonnie "Prince" Billy. They both work with large pallets of sounds and ideas that help propel their hyper literate songs in new and interesting directions.

Shearwater started out many years ago as a side project for two men (Sheff and Meiberg) who had similar ideas of a new and interesting project. Although Sheff is no longer a member of the group, Meiberg has soldiered on with his his great 2006 release Palo Santo, and now with the beautiful Rook. The songs range from smart folk songs to sprawling sound collages. The record is less dynamic than Okkervil Rivers last disc, The Stage Names, but takes the same approach and uses Meiberg's Jeff Buckley esqe vocals to propel the songs forward.

Rook is solid from start to finish and utilizes a wide variety of instruments (especially a string section) very nicely. The thing that holds all of these ideas together is the solid songwriting of Meiberg and his great band that he has assembled. I am sure the songs would be just as good with on Meiberg and his acoustic or his piano, but the end result is a very powerful record. The marching snare drums on "Lost Boys" elevates the already emotional song forward. The whole band sprawling and churning on "Home Life" is the very intense highlight of the record.

I would recommend this disc to you if:
You are looking for a new twist on haunted singer songwriter folk music. It is a late night disc that can swing from depressing to reassuring, depending on the listeners mood. It is a great disc to have on at the end of a long day in a dark and quiet room. Great for fans of Smog, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Elliot Smith, Great Lake Swimmers, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen or Jeff Buckely.

Grade:B+

Shearwater play Tuesday night at the 7th Street Entry. Their new CD, Rook, comes out June 3rd.

Get of yr Ass ( A friendly reminder of some cool shows in MPLS/ST. PAUL the week of May 12th)


MONDAY
Does it offend you, yeah?/Yo Majesty- 7th Street Entry
DIOY, Y are the newest band to try the indie-dance genre. Yo Majesty is a female fronted hip hop duo. Can’t say that either really do it for me, but I bet it will be upbeat and fun.

TUESDAY
Clinic/Shearwater- 7th Street Entry 9pm
Two bands that have been plugging along in the underground since the start of the millennium. Clinic play driving/moody rock, while Shearwater play atmospheric/highly literate rock. Recommended.

M.I.A- The Myth
Like the Myth, I feel that M.I.A is an over appreciated generic piece of crap that is liked by people who do not know any better. They fit well together.

Flight of the Concords- The Orpheum SOLD OUT
Funny duo will perform their comedy jams to the lucky people who scooped us these tickets.

WEDNESDAY
The Helio Sequence- 7th Street Entry
Dream pop group the Helio Sequence are a poppy electronic band that write solid middle of the road songs that should translate well live.

Doomtree/The Alarmists/Romantica/Gospel Gossip- First Ave FREE
A bash to celebrate City Pages best of issue, this free show combines a wealth of great local talent. Highly Recommended.

THURSDAY
Subtle/Fog- 7th Street Entry
Two well known names of weirdo indie hip hop combine for this show at the Entry.

Dick Dale Tribute- Cabooze
Although the legend himself will not be coming to town for his yearly show because of cancer, some of the bands that have opened for him are getting together for a benefit show.

The Poison Control Center- The Uptown Bar
One of my favorite “local” (they’re from Iowa, but on Afternoon Records), play this late week gig.

FRIDAY
El- P/Dizzie Rascal/Busdriver- Triple Rock Social Club
Some heavyweights from the indie rap community playing at the Minneapolis west bank Punk club….Very cool.

SATURDAY
Romi Di Luna + Heiruspecs + Askeleton-331 Club
A great bill that shows the variety of talent in the Minneapolis scene.

Blind Shake + Romantica + Awesome Snakes + Chooglin- Grumpys NE
Another great local bill at a very cool local bar. Lots of great options for a Saturday night.

SUNDAY

Dr. Dog 400 Bar

I'm not going to wax any philosophical stories about the grandeur and musical adeptness of Dr. Dog, although I easily could(they have an abundance of talent). It is more important to tell you that they are simply fun rock and roll. Coming out in their black plastic Ray Charles sunglasses, they ripped through an energetic set of their Beach Boys harmony soaked retro rock songs. They played many of the tunes from last years amazing We All Belong and previewed many songs from their upcoming release Fate. More than any show I have been at recently, this was a show that fans of any type of music could enjoy. Dr. Dog have the talent and the ideas to be one of the best American bands, and it seems like they don't take themselves too seriously. Seeing Dr. Dog live, plus purchasing and endlessly spinning their great records, is massively recommended. Below is a video of them playing "My old ways" from We All Belong.

Check out their new CD, Fate, on June 22nd.












"My Old Ways"

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cut Copy/Black Kids/Mobious Band The Entry 5/6

After a weekend of puking (non-drinking related, mind you) left me feeling tired and drained, the idea of a packed, sweaty and upbeat show did not seem particularly riveting to me. Luckily I had bought tickets and am of the nature that once you spend the money, you have to go, so I was fortunate that I did not miss the excellent show Tuesday night at the 7th Street Entry.
Going into the show, I had varying degrees of interest/knowledge of the three bands playing. Mobious Band was newest to my radar, Black Kids have been forced down my throat (not that I minded) and Cut Copy have kind of lingered precariously in my conscious for a while, never quite grabbing me completely.

Mobious Band were good, but not great. They played Postal Service type mellow electronic indie rock. The problem I had was that their rocking out on stage was not equivalent to the sound coming out of the speakers. Maybe from the monitors it sounded like Daft Punk to them, but to me, the visual was not matching the audio. I don’t want to create the impression that I want people to stand motionless on stage, but at the same time, when something feels forced and overblown it can tend to take away from the music that is being played.

Next up were uber hyped Florida based indie-pop group the Black Kids. The name is slightly a misnomer, as a majority of the kids are white, but whatever. They could have gone with Teenage Hipsters, as I think most would agree that would accurately describe their overall visage. As far as the music was concerned, I thought they were still underdeveloped, but much more commanding and enjoyable than I was expecting (they only have one, albeit very good, 4-song EP out, so I was not trying to get my hopes up too high). The lead singer has huge star potential (think a hipster version of Prince) and their Go Team! meets new wave pop songs were both funky and really fun. The only bad part for me was the seemingly quiet kid in front of me who mid set felt the urge to release his inner John Travolta and get his groove on. There were a couple things that sucked about this. One was that he was about 5 inches taller than me (not his fault…lots of people are), the other was that he was doing a nerdy version of the running man(most definitely his fault). This was a problem because my solar plexus was right at his elbow level, so in the grand scheme of the running man, every time he brought his elbow back for the arm pumping part of the routine, I nearly got the wind knocked out of me. In a crowded room of people dancing, there were not too many options for me to get away, so I just had to move and try my best to enjoy the show. Oh well. The 5 piece band had more than enough energy to keep my attention over the course of their 40 minute set. They will no doubt be getting much bigger, I just hope the spotlight is kind to them and they get a chance to keep doing what they are doing.

The headliners were Cut Copy and they were very good. Now you have to understand at this point I could have rung my shirt out and the sweat would have filled a pop bottle and I think I could have fallen asleep standing up I was so tired, but they still kept me interested. They are heavy electronic with hints of 60’s pop melodies. I likened them to LCD Soundsystem if you replace the post-punk with 60’s AM radio and you add a little harder edge. There were a couple points where it was straight up rave going on in the cellar behind First Ave.

Overall, I thought it was a very good show. I was jealous of the people who were inebriated and dancing like maniacs (except the running man guy, I was not jealous of him at all), but you can’t really plan your health around shows, right? All of these bands would come recommended from me if you are looking for upbeat music with some soul that you can dance along to(if that is your thing). Just try to remember the people behind you when you are flailing around, ok?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Get off yr ass (A friendly reminder of the cool shows the week of 5-5)

Let me know if I missed any shows.

MONDAY
Ra Ra Riot/The Little Ones- 7th Street Entry 9PM

Best Friends forever- Acadia Café
More a promo of the venue than the band. I still have not been to the new Acadia Café, but the old spot was always a cool play to see live music.

TUESDAY
Cut Copy/Black Kids/Mobious Band- 7th Street Entry 9PM
Two big buzz bands will mean this will be a crowded show, but will almost surely be worth it. Cut Copy play instrument based indie dance rock a la LCD Soundsystem/Hot Chip and the Black Kids are a quirky pop band with the big single “I’m not gonna teach him how to dance with you.”

Tokyo Police Club- Varsity Theatre
The "new" Strokes, Death Cab, ect. I have heard a million descriptors about this band, but they just have not done it for me.

Presidents of the United States of America- Fine Line Music Café
Pop rock legends bring their quirky indie rock to Minneapolis.

Film School- Uptown Bar

Wednesday
Devotchka- First Ave
Gypsy musicians with an eleborate stage show. I have heard nothing but good reviews about this band and their live show.

The Swell Season- Orpehum Theatre SOLD OUT
The duo behind the wonderful mellow alt-rock that the movie Once was based around.
Thursday

Friday
Dr. Dog- 400 Bar
Neo-classic rockers Dr. Dog bring their swirling pop gems to what may be a perfect venue for them. I imagine their Beatles-esqe tracks will sound good in a crowded 400 Bar on a Friday night.

VHS or Beta/Maps of Norway- 7th Street Entry
Good local music.

God Damn Doo Wop Band- Hexagon Bar
More good local music at a great bar that always supports local music.

Talib Kweli- Epic
Am I out of the loop? What the hell is Epic? I think Talib Kweli is great, But I couldn't tell you where this venue is if you had a gun to my head. So basically if you know where this place is, I would say you are more into this scene and you are already probably going to this show, so I will end this rant.

Polara /Alarmists- Varsity Theatre
Record release for the new Polara record Beekeeping. Another great local show for you people looking to get out on a Friday.

Ace Frehley- First Ave
Former Kiss guitarist at the legendary Minneapolis venue. I for one never joined the Kiss army, so this is no big deal to me, but I have been made to understand his old band was kind of a big deal.

Saturday
The Cool Kids- Carleton College
Some cool/indie hip hop if you are willing to put some miles on your car.
Mel Gibson and the Pants/Gospel Gossip/Mystery Palace- St. Paul U of M FREE
A little closer to home is this very cool day long festival showcasing many great local bands. The event is called Peace for the Species '08 and is all solar powered. Cool.

SUNDAY
The Kills- Triple Rock
Noisy punkish duo plays at the punkish West Bank club.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

I literally feel embarrassed even writing this post. I have that feeling that you get when there has been something right under your nose and you have missed it all along. Nick Cave has always been on my radar, and I honestly cannot tell you why I have never dug any deeper. Over the years I have heard tracks and always like them, but never taken that next step. For that, folks, I am a fucking idiot. In my personal book (not a literal book, mind you, but a figurative book) where I keep people like the Replacements, Velvet Underground, Neutral Milk Hotel, Tom Waits, The Hold Steady, Mark Lanegan, The Band and others who seem to do no wrong (and when they do wrong it gets forgotten because they have built up good will) he is very quickly earning a lifetime membership. My first bone-shaking slap in the face was last years epic self titled album under the moniker Grinderman. I am not going to gush or go into too much detail as not to offend the fine people who know much more about him and would surely crush my irrelevant opinion, but I do have a couple thoughts, most of which come back to the fact that I think he is a genius.

I have been listening to Grinderman and his new disc with the Bad Seeds entitled Dig Lazarus Dig on repeat for the last couple of weeks, and have slowly been trying to work my way backwards through his massive back catalog. His music is moody, rough, melodic, gritty, engaging, real, creative....pretty much any positive adjective you would want to use to describe amazing music. The music is often driven by a minimalist tribal rhythms and the songs are carried by his smokey baritone voice and his Tom Waits-esqe gutter poetry. For a 50 year old dude, he is pretty bad ass. He has more attitude and rock and roll in him at 50 then fake poseur "rock" frontmen half his age do. Once again, I am trying not to ramble and sound like I am claiming I found the second coming of Christ, but I wanted to put it out there that I am now firmly in the Nick Cave kicks ass camp. If you are not there, join me soon, you will not regret it. Below are two videos with two of my favorite songs from the last 2 albums. As I listen to more and become a more educated fan (compared with my current naive/star eyed teenage girl like fascination) I will update my loyal reader(s?). Enjoy the videos, and if you are like me, revel in how awesome it would be to have a mustache like that.

Grinderman- No Pussy Blues (from the album Grinderman)



Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Moonland (from the album Dig Lazarus Dig)


Susstones @ the Hoot

The local record label Susstones will be nicely represented at this weeks Hootenanny. Like every Friday evening, the Hootenanny will be at 6:30PM at Java Jacks in South Minneapolis (46th and Bryant S). If you are unfamiliar with the hoot, it is a round robin style session where local musicians bravely strip away the loud guitars and backing bands for the gathered masses. Singer-songwriters take their turns singing their songs to the basement crowd. It was started by former City Pages scribe (and local man on the scene) Jim Walsh. I have been to the Hoot before, and I can say it is a very cool experience that you will not be able to find anywhere else in Minneapolis.

This week the highlight will surely be Polara frontman Ed Ackerson (with his Polara bandmates). Also playing will be The Mad Ripple (Walsh's band), Ashley and Sallie, Janey (Winterbauer) & Marc (Perlman) and Christian Erickson. It will be interesting seeing Polaras loud psychedelic-pop rock stripped down for the Hoot. I'm sure they will be previewing material from their hotly anticipated upcoming release Beekeeping. The album will be out May 6th and their will be an official record release party May 9th at the Varsity Theatre. If you are unfamiliar with Polara, check them out at one of these shows and pick up their new CD.

SHOW UPDATES

A couple of updates on some shows that I mentioned before.

CSS and the Go Team! will now include Matt and Kim 7/30 1st Ave $20


This fun saturated bill has just added a bit more sugary pop goodness to its value. Matt and Kim are most famous for their musical equivalent to crack, their insanely catchy single "Yea Yeah". Good luck getting that melody out of your head. The video is at the bottom of the post, listen at your own risk.



Fleet Foxes- 7th Street Entry July 20th $10
As I have stated before, this is a show that you should not miss. I cannot conjure up words to tell you how great this band is live. With their amazing new CD coming out in June, you should have plenty of times to soak up the sunny jams from this Seattle band.






Wolf Parade- Info in the form of a poster (Poster from More Cowbell...don't know if they made it or not, but wanted to give credit where credit is due)




Matt and Kim- Yea Yeah

Kooks- Konk

After reading some positive reviews of the new newish Kooks record, Konk, I finally got my hands on a copy the other day. I had heard the band from their previous record but had made no concrete decision on whether I liked them or not. I don't really have a lot to say about the record. It did not bring out any strong emotions in me either way, good or bad. I generally assume this is a bad thing, but maybe not. This would be a fine album to put on as the background to an event where no one will be listening to the music.

Konk is generic British Indie rock to the extreme. At moments it sounds like the Arctic Monkeys, other times like watered down Libertines. The guitars are sharp and crisp and the vocal melodies are inconspicuous. The production is a little too good. If you are a fan of Brit-pop or newer, Bloc Party versions of New Wave, give them a shot. If you don't have a built in strong affinity to the previously genres, I can safely advises you to avoid these bands. But then again, who the hell am I to tell you what to do. Below is the video for the first single "Always where I need to Be", so judge for yourself.

The Kooks will be in town on May 31st at the Fine Line Music Cafe, and the show is sold out, so that shows you that at least 1,500 people disagree with me.

The Kooks- Always Where I need to Be