Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Seen Your Video: Live "Laundry Room" and "I and Love and You" by the Avett Brothers

You know that song that is so haunting, or beautiful, or somehow so moving to you that it gives you goosebumps each and every time you hear it? I have only a few of those but The Avett Brothers' "Laundry Room," and more recently, "I & Love & You," are definitely two high on the list. It's the beauty of their music, sure...hell, Metallica could use cello and piano in one of their songs and I'm sure it would sound haunting...but it's also the stories of longing and resignation in each of these Avett tunes that, paired with their otherworldly harmonies, could move even the most calloused of hearts.

Blissfully, these two tracks are on their forthcoming record, also titled "I & Love & You," out in September.

These videos are from the Avett's recent stop in DC which BL&L covered and photographed (see those here).

Laundry Room

I & Love & You

Ray LaMontage Announces Fall Tour Dates

Ray LaMontagne has announced dates for his fall tour and is working with a really cool organization called Tickets-for-Charity® to offer fans a unique opportunity to buy front row seats while supporting leading charities. A portion of each package purchased on TicketsforCharity.com will automatically benefit The National Children's Cancer Society, plus up to three partner charities of the fan's choice.

LaMontagne will be playing two dates with two Maryland orchestras in October, then a string of solo acoustic dates in November. Additional dates for the solo acoustic leg are going to be added.

Ray LaMontagne Fall Tour Dates

October 15, Music Center at Strathmore, North Bethesda, MD
October 16, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD
November 1, Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA
November 4, Wang Theater, Boston, MA
November 7, Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA
November 9, Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
November 12, The Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
November 13, State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
November 15, Nob Hill Masonic Center, San Francisco, CA
November 17, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver, CO
November 20, Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Lucero Album Presale Starts Wednesday

Our favorite drink-till-we're-gone band from Memphis, Lucero, is starting a presale tomorrow for their upcoming release, 1372 Overton Park, due out officially in October. The neat part is that, much like lead singer Ben Nichols solo release, The Last Pale Light in the West, they're offering an immediate digital download of some of the new record's songs if you purchase the record via presale. Want to make sure you like the record before buying? They're streaming it in full here (requires Quicktime application).
Lucero will be touring for 1372 Overton Park this fall.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paul McCartney's Recent Ed Sullivan Theater Rooftop Performance

We posted a few days back about Paul McCartney's soundcheck/performance from the marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theater when our friend in NYC caught word of it happening early in the afternoon and headed over for the 22 minute soundcheck. The Letterman people very kindly posted video of it; tracks include "Coming Up," "Band on the Run," a great ripping "Let Me Roll It," "Helter Skelter," and "Back in the USSR." McCartney's backing band and his voice are in top-shape, but it sort of bums me out that his incredible rock-n-roll yell (check out the Beatles version of "Kansas City" or "Helter Skelter") has dissipated over time....

Monday, July 20, 2009

News: Author Frank McCourt Dies at Age 78

Ah boo...I'd read Frank McCourt had taken a turn for the worse last week but, as usual, you never expect death so soon.

A friend of mine, who, much like me, has read most of Malachy McCourt's writings but not "Angela's Ashes" for the same reason (McCourt wrote a great sad story, almost too well), had a great summation about his passing;

""Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood,"...probably one of the best openings since ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...’...for letting you know exactly what you are about to dive into...a wonderful bit of writing to open a book...

It’s a shame...he could write a great sad story...so much so I couldn’t bear it...it’s a shame he couldn’t write a sad story funny...then again, guess that’s his brother’s gift...sorry to see him go...especially in that manner...suppose to be a horrible death...not many good story tellers around...and you can never have too many...that’s a loss of a good one...

but as I’m sure he’d agree...it was a miracle he lived at all...and he did live...so good for him...shame he didn’t get more time though...it usually is...

Here's what the NY Post said about McCourt's passing today:
Frank McCourt, the beloved raconteur and former city schoolteacher who enjoyed post-retirement fame as the author of "Angela's Ashes," the Pulitzer Prize-winning "epic of woe" about his impoverished Irish childhood, died yesterday of cancer.

McCourt, who was 78, had been gravely ill with meningitis and recently was treated for melanoma. He died at a hospice.

Until his mid-60s, the Brooklyn-born McCourt was known primarily as a creative-writing teacher and as a New York City character, singing songs and telling stories with his brother Malachy and joining the crowds at the White Horse Tavern and other literary hangouts.

But there was always a book or two being formed in his mind, and the world would learn his name, and story, in 1996.

With a first printing of just 25,000, "Angela's Ashes" was an instant success.

"F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives. I think I've proven him wrong," McCourt later said. "And all because I refused to settle for a one-act existence, the 30 years I taught English in various New York City high schools."

McCourt was good company in the classroom and at the bar, but few had such a burden to unload.

His parents were so poor that they returned to their native Ireland when he was little and settled in the slums of Limerick.

Simply surviving his childhood was a tale. His father drank up the little money his family had. Three of his seven siblings died, and he nearly perished from typhoid.

"Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood," was his unforgettable opening.

The book was a long Irish wake, "an epic of woe," McCourt called it, finding laughter and lyricism in life's very worst.

"Angela's Ashes" became a million seller, won the Pulitzer and was made into a movie of the same name.

Much of his teaching career was spent in the English Department at Stuyvesant HS, where he shared personal stories with his classes, slapped a student with a magazine, and took on another with a black belt in karate.

After "Angela's Ashes," McCourt continued his story in " 'Tis," which told of his return to New York in the 1940s, and in "Teacher Man."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sound and Vision: My Talk with Charles Bissell and Kevin Whelan of The Wrens

Ever since seeing them at SXSW this year, my fingers have found themselves choosing The Wrens on my Ipod pretty consistently. Their live show was a total force of nature, a tsunami of hooks and energy, that left me slackjawed and thrilled; it had been a long time since I had a band knock me on my backside like that. Their history is one of music-industry legend, similar in some respect to YHF-era Wilco, so although they've been around some 20 years now, they've only put out three full-length records and a few EPs. But those few are mind-bendingly good. The last one, 2003's Meadowlands, is comprised of 13 songs that are catchy and hang together perfectly, creating an emotional opus that's an embodiment of the phrase, "That which does not kill you makes you stronger." The Wrens may be the Halley's Coment of indie rock-JD Salinger's next book may come out before their next record-but somehow, it's ok because you know what you'll hear will be truly worth the wait.

I knew I definitely wanted to get an interview with The Wrens on camera. They rarely do video, but after almost hyperventilating from laughter reading this, I was pretty sure that getting at least two of them together on camera would be hilarious. It took awhile coordinating schedules and whatnot, but we finally met up in a great little Irish bar in NYC. In a dark little corner (so forgive the lack of lighting), over pints of Guinness, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Kevin Whelan and guitarist/vocalist Charles Bissell talked to BL&L about influences, collaborations, 20 years as a band, and how they made it together that long. That is, when they weren't cracking jokes...And I know it seems like a whole lot to watch, but I totally promise you, it's worth it.

**1/7: A 23 year-old bass guitar, Liberace, and Charles Bissell Kennedy**

References: Liberace, the Mummers

Give a Listen: North to Nothing-The Wrens (from Abbot 1135)

**2/7: Beginning as a cover band, their 20th anniversary, and mammoth Bissell fingers**

Give a Listen: Z (2007 demo)-The Wrens

**3/7: Song backstories, writing, author recommendations, and the Guinness kicking in**

References: Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Kenneth Patchen

Give a Listen: Life Stories of the Union-The Wrens, Brightest New Year-The Wrens

**4/7: More about songs, the power of Jameson, and Kevin calls out Bon Jovi for a street fight**

References: Maxwells

Give a Listen: This is Not What You Had Planned-The Wrens

**5/7: Changing band dynamics, crazy drummers, and making records opposed to songs**

Give a Listen: This Machine-The Wrens (from Abbot 1135)

**6/7: Thoughts on licensing, connections to Okkervil River, and love for KEXP**

References: WKEXP

Give a Listen: It Ends with a Fall-Charles Bissell covering Will Sheff, Black Boys On Mopeds-Charles Bissell (live, Maxwells, 9/26/04)

**7/7: Brainiac and Tim Taylor's influences, next tours, and why they consider themselves lucky**

References: Brainiac

Give a Listen: Vincent Come Down-Brainiac

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

McCartney Imitating Beatles Rooftop Concert for Letterman Appearance

Paul McCartney is playing the David Letterman show this evening and it seems he will be playing atop the Ed Sullivan Theater, much like the famous Beatles performance atop Abbey Road Studios oh so long ago. Received this from a friend a little while ago:

McCartney is setting up on Letterman's roof...soundcheck soon...dunno if i can get there, they closed streets off just setting up i guess. Tapes at 5:30

So if you're in the area, could be worth a trip over to Broadway and 53rd for a look!

Update (4:22 pm)
So since I work like 12 blocks away, figured I'd go take a walk over to the Letterman studios...when I got there, maybe 500 people on sidewalk in the penned off pit.

When I left probably about 1,000...still plenty of time for people to get there! ;-)

I stayed for 40 minutes, he started right when I got there, unfrotunately they have a black curtain surounding them, but he kept poking his head out waiving too the crowd, etc. Most was only monitor, but they turned on the Pa's here and there, and it still sounds better than a Bruce show.

Not the biggest Beatles fan (no!)

But spoiler for what he rehearsed when I was there:

Some new song I guess, didn't know
Comin' up (quite good)
Get Back (also quite good)
Another newer song, I liked this, chorus has uh ohh uh ohs
Eleanor Rigby (2x's)

Figured at that point my 2 hour lunch hour was enough.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Here Comes Your Tour: Pixies Doing US "Doolittle" Tour This Fall

Where I grew up in upstate NY, it wasn't exactly a mecca for different types of music on radio stations; you got REO Speedwagon, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin for the most part. It hadn't improved much when I went away to undergrad; there was the great WEQX out of Vermont, but that was only accessible if you held the radio antenna at a 90 degree angle and stood on a box when the moon was in its 3rd house. There was, however, a great fraternity downtown that was comprised of the artier kids (at an engineering school this meant the future architects). They always played music that was way off the beaten path, and through them, I discovered great music from the likes of Front 242, Billy Bragg, and The Pixies, so Doolittle became a seminal record for me. It could be said that all of my musical loves thereafter and today are only six degrees of separation from that record (well, that and the entire Replacements catalog of course).

Thus, it was super cool to hear that The Pixies will be doing a North American tour playing Doolittle in its entirety after its European leg is finished (see those dates below). No dates have been set yet, however, Boston's Wang Center seems to be a definite (per Frank Black to Spin.com). US tour dates will be announced after they wrap up in Europe.

Doolittle Tour-Europe
1-2 Dublin, Ireland @ Olympia
4 Glasgow, Scotland @ Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre
6-9 London, England @ O2 Academy Brixton
11 Frankfurt, Germany @ Jahrhunderhalle
13 Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Heineken Music Hall
14 Brussels, Belgium @ Forest National
15 Paris, France @ Le Zenith

Give a Listen:La La Love You (live: Los Angeles, CA, 6/2/05)-The Pixies

Coney Island Becomes Music Lover's Dream with Wilco Show

It's official, I have GOT to get myself up to NYC sooner than later. Reports came in that last night's Wilco show at Coney Island in Brooklyn included guest appearances by Feist, Yo La Tengo, and Ed Droste from Grizzly Bear. It made even my most esteemed rock snob friends melt...and they're not even indie-hipsters! (Best quote: "Ed D. from Grizzly Bear and Yo La Tengo guest with Wilco in Brooklyn. Indie-hipsters question the point of even going on living...".)

Give a Listen: You and I-Wilco (with Feist)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rothbury Festival Day 4: Love and Friendship

by Dave "Scout" Tafoya

Day 4 of my Rothbury excursion, my final day at this strange bubble, was a good one indeed. I met my friend Eric from the Sam Roberts Band for coffee, and we took in The Ragbirds (who played Ren-Fest Folk Jams) and The Hard Lessons (who sounded like a Lita Ford cover band). He took me back and I said hello to the rest of the band and Sam and I got to take in a little of Toots and the Maytals before his band was slated to begin.

Toots and the Maytals still rocking steady

That's the biggest problem with a festival like this: they save the best set times for the jam bands everybody paid to see. The Dead, Umphrey's McGee, String Cheese Incident, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan were all competition free. The little guys like Sam, Parlor Mob, Broken Social Scene and Guster had to fight each other for audiences. I missed Guster and White Buffalo for other bands, which was a bummer to say the least.

Sam Roberts

The Sam Roberts Band is a live act not to be missed. I've seen them once before, in Vermont and they once tried to sneak me into a club in Boston. In other words, unfailingly nice guys and their music is just an extension of that. Sam and his band were one of the few straight-up rock acts all weekend, and they really killed it. Moving from song to song with incredible energy, they took advantage of every minute of their set.

James Hall, bass player of the Sam Roberts Band

When they arrived at the end and put on a 15 minute version of "Mind Flood," their most psychedelic song off their second record, Chemical City, I was floored. They threw themselves into their playing so much, a bomb could have gone off next to them and they'd never notice.

Eric Fares, Sam Roberts' keyboard player and a hell of a guy

In fact, the only band that matched their sheer brute force was Parlor Mob

Nick Villapiano of Parlor Mob

Their riff-tastic rock music is blisteringly loud and the guys on stage play the parts of rock gods remarkably well. One look at guitarists Paul Ritchie and Dave Rosen could convince anyone that these guys mean business.

Parlor Mob looking and sounding like the best of the early 70s
Laceless boots, torn up jeans, flying hair, beat-up guitars, high kicks; I'd never seen anything quite like it in person. They rocked in ways that no one else could have that weekend and at a festival that professed commitment to old Grateful Dead show atmospherics, to see a band that lived that life was refreshing.

Parlor Mob's commitment to rock

When I left, halfway through Willie Nelson's set, it was harder than I imagined. I'd slept uncomfortably, gotten aches, pains, burns, and bites, waded through hoardes of people, smelled beer, sweat, portable toilets and marijuana and had to spend absurd amounts of money on hot food and cold drink. That kind of experience can weigh on you pretty heavily, especially if you'd never covered anything of this magnitude. Coachella was big and had more bands, but was not on such a big property. The reason I and everyone else did it was because we were all in it together. Everyone I met was keen to share stories or offer drugs (while I never actually accepted any, it was awfully kind of them to offer). The other press representatives were always looking to talk and drink to wile away the hours between bands. They looked after one another, just as the rest of the fans did. When you're lugging around thousands of dollars worth of equipment, or just looking to tune out, having someone you can trust is important and everybody was willing to be that someone. If everyone here didn't want to help each other and just be together with a lot of like minded individuals, then this kind of event would never work. It was touching to the utmost and as I walked out the door, I was overwhelmed by the love that made it all work. It was tough to go, but then again, it was good to get home to a shower and a real bed, too.

Rothbury Festival Day 3: Dancing

by Dave "Scout" Tafoya

Saturday was a bit less exciting, at least at first. I woke up and went to meet Wendy Darling, one of the little bands I was excited to see. They were happy that someone was coming to see them play - it was raining and they weren't exactly the biggest act on the bill. Most everyone was sleeping off the String Cheese Incident set which closed the night before.

Wendy Darling work...

Wendy Darling play a sort of rootsy alternative rock and they all looked remarkably hip, even in the humidity of the morning. I was able to catch them having a brief pre-set dance party, which felt pretty special. They did a great job and I got to commiserate with their bass player a little later in the day when everyone else (bands, attendees, press, small animals) had gone to see The Dead.

...as hard as they play

With Wendy Darling's set a distant memory, I took in

I ran into Jo-Ann from Broken Social Scene as she was heading to see the Dead and wound up going along while I waited for MSTRKRFT to take the stage at midnight. Watching the fans of the Dead take drugs and get completely trashed in preparation for their set made a twisted sort of sense. If they had abstained from drugs or alcohol and simply listened to the music, perhaps they would have realized just how dull this band truly is in a live setting. But then, I wasn't there to criticize their lifestyle, so I genially nodded my head in time to the music for an hour or so, then went to get some "fresher" air.

MSTRs of house music

MSTRKRFT, the Toronto-based DJ duo, were next and let me preface this by saying that I don't typically go in for electronic music. It just doesn't click with me for whatever reason. But there have been times that I've found myself caught up in it when it's live. Once was at 2007 Coachella when I saw LCD Soundsystem; and it happened again when MSTRKRFT took the stage at Rothbury. As it was the Fourth of July, Rothbury organizers had been saving a round of fireworks for when The Dead finished their set, which they did, but they must have had some extra. When MSTRKRFT finally took the stage around 1:15 am, fireworks were blasting as the band opened with Jimi Hendrix's version of The Star Spangled Banner, segueing into a mind-blowing DJ set. Suddenly, the fact that I'd been standing all day in the hot sun just disappeared along with my sunburn pain, thirst, and worries. MSTRKRFT rocked from one song to the next, hopping about, twisting knobs, furiously smoking and drinking Crown Royal. They blazed through modern rock, hip-hop and great old soundbytes; I understood suddenly why someone might want to go clubbing. A lot of things became clear to me that day and I could think of no better band to open my mind with than MSTRKRFT. The entire crowd pulsed along with the music, covered from head-to-toe in Glowsticks. The day may have belonged to The Dead, but the night belonged to MSTRKRFT. The trek back to camp was particularly difficult that night after dancing like an idiot to their set. But I was totally and absolutely just fine.

Rothbury Festival Day 2: Reverence

by Dave "Scout" Tafoya

I woke up early the next morning in time for a mostly useless press orientation (I wasn't intent on taking pictures of Bob Dylan, after all), and then it was onto the bands. Man Man went on at 2:15 and wowed their admittedly small crowd. Playing antique keyboards and hopping like madmen, Man Man were most definitely the oddballs at the festival. Ryan Kattner, alias Honus Honus, put on his vampy stage act, looking like a man who's just found his cabaret-star grandmother's costume closet and dove in head first. The abrasiveness of their sound is a bit off putting but they're so engaging I couldn't take my eyes off them.

Honus Honus flaunts his wardrobe

Man Man are from Philadelphia (as am I) so I got to talk to them about the city for a bit. It felt normal for a moment, like I wasn't overwhelmed and they hadn't just walked off the second biggest stage in Michigan.

Man Man, Philadelphia's finest

Femi Kuti was next and it was an honor just watching him. On top of being the tallest performer all weekend, he was charismatic and a hell of a trumpet player.

Femi Kuti

Bright colors and elaborate stage moves on Kuti's backing band

Broken Social Scene are one of my all-time favorite bands. I've seen them three times now, each time with a different line-up. The core five members were there - Kevin Drew, Charles Spearin, Andrew Whiteman, Justin Peroff, Brendan Canning - and rounding out the line-up this time were Evan Cranley and the lovely Amy Milan from Stars, Jo-Ann Goldsmith on trumpet and spontaneous backing vocals, and a trumpet player I didn't recognize (but would learn more about shortly). 

Brendan Canning and Andrew Whiteman from Broken Social Scene tear it up.

After the show, I got to meet everyone thanks to Aaron Brody, their sprinting guitar tech and Apostle of Hustle tour manager. I also met Robin, their current tour manager, who was awesome and really one of the nicest people I met the whole time. She's also an incredibly talented photographer who manages a band called All Leather - a Jill of all trades, you could say.

Facial hair a requirement to be in Broken Social Scene

Kevin Drew

Chromeo weren't much. They play electronic music with a sort of playful edge, name checking Bobby Brown and that sort of thing. They were tight and the one fellow was a pretty excellent guitar player. But that kind of music, with 80s Casio keyboards and faux-hip hop delivery, just doesn't do it for me.

Chromeo's Dave 1

I met up for drinks with Broken Social Scene later, I got into quite a discussion with Canning, and he told me stories about the many bands he'd played with-It was amazing. How often do your heroes sit back on windy nights and tell you about their careers? He's lived an amazing life and that he was willing to tell me about it...it was so surreal. It was even harder to leave that night knowing what I was leaving behind.

I also got to talk to their trumpet player, the one I didn't recognize. His name was Brendan Benham and it turns out he's not from Canada or even in the band! Benham met the band at a previous show, and when he heard they would be coming to Rothbury, he got in touch with Drew and asked if they needed another horn player. They obliged and they taught Benham the songs the night before the show. How cool is that?

Rothbury Festival, Day 1: The Beginning

by Dave "Scout" Tafoya

13 hours is a long drive anywhere. But by yourself, through three states, with breaks only to get gas, and you're looking at one looong day. That's what my drive to Rothbury, MI was like for the Rothbury Festival. It takes determination (or maybe craziness) to do a thing like this alone but that's really all I and a lot of the other press people at Rothbury had, determination. With the exception of the few people who could afford the VIP packages, those who made the pilgrimage to Rothbury have to be called dedicated because it's in the middle of nowhere and the majority of the people I spoke to didn't come from Detroit, they were from Colorado, Los Angeles, New York, and Texas. But Rothbury’s press, bands and festival goers alike were lifers in terms of music. That’s why when they come together for events like this, there's a sort of synergy that makes the whole thing run. And that’s why I was thrilled to be there, even with a late arrival and an embarrassing amount of checkpoint confusion; it just didn’t matter.

Rothbury was unlike any other festival I've been to, one where the only thing keeping everybody sane was the sense of community. After getting my bearings, I wandered by Keller Williams and, though the production was cool, his music didn't really do it for me. He hopped around stage from one instrument to the next, running them through looping pedals, while bubbles and colorful lights and all kinds of other weird hippie stuff went on. Take away the millions of dollars worth of gimmicky stage show and anyone could do what he does. I left after about 15 minutes.

Night fell and I found the band Future Rock. This was my first taste of the downside and the upside of drug culture in the festival experience. Future Rock was good, playing electronic music with bass, drums, and keyboards, but all around, people were hardly paying attention. Glowsticks were wrapped around every finger, people danced, and a girl vomited while her friend unconcernedly held her hair. The dancers were blissfully tuned out to the specifics of the music and the band could literally have been anyone, thanks to the light and the incredibly loud PA system. But you know what? They were all in it together. That girl who got sick, she had a friend nearby. Everyone was of one mindset and suddenly Future Rock's music came into focus. And though we had different reasons, I, like everyone else present, had a great time.

Jonnie Russell and Matt Maust from Cold War Kids

The Cold War Kids set got pushed back to roughly 2 in the morning which made for a cool show. The fog machines were at full blast and the crowd was sleepy but the band made sure to end things on a solid note, pounding out a great 1:15 of rock.

Cold War Kids rock the socks off the nightowls

The band moves were dictated by jagged drums and razor-like guitar with the bass filling out the sound. Nathan Willett, the singer with an unrelenting wail, moved from piano to guitar and kept his odd Elvis-inspired dancing at a constant rate. Though there's no real soloing and Cold War Kids’ songs are simple, their rocking is relentless and they are one of the few acts with more distortion and grit than virtuosity, which I always like to see. Solid and somber rock makes for a lot of impassioned sing-alongs.

Nathan Willett, singer of Cold War Kids

Friday, July 10, 2009

Show Review: Handsome Furs @ The Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY (7-8-09)

by Dave "Scout" Tarfoya

I love Brooklyn. Drink terrible sample soda off the sidewalk, browse through over-priced records, mope around hoping to run in to Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear. Perhaps it’s because I've seen some of my best shows there, but everything I do there just feels more artistic somehow. With that in mind, it's not hard to see why I thought the husband-and-wife team known as Handsome Furs put on one of the best shows I've ever seen Wednesday night at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. One thing’s for sure, it was definitely the sexiest.

I had some expectations about what the Furs live show would be like. I’d seen Dan Boeckner play before with Wolf Parade, and the Furs, on record, are moody and spacey; a little New Order, a little Gary Neuman, and a lot of intense, Eastern bloc sexual tension (which from the front row on Wednesday was palpable). But within eight seconds of the Furs hitting the stage, with their shotgun blast of spastic movements, blistering volume, and unparalleled energy, these expectations were blown clear away. Somehow Boeckner, on a guitar run through a plethora of pedals and a vox amplifier, and Perry, on a drum machine, and the two sharing a little keyboard between them, managed to sound like an airplane after a gunshot tore its hull open. The beauty of Furs' songs is that they're comprised of simple yet sublime chord changes, the kind that rock and roll has been made of for 50+ years. But Perry's processed beats, blips, and buzzes create an ambient blanket over which Boeckner’s guitar just soars, making it more. And live, this guitar became an all-out aural assault.

It also triggered the lovers onstage to dance. Perry bounced up and down wildly, sometimes on one foot, driven by the music produced by their collective hands. Between particularly harsh bursts from the six-string, the two would wildly throw themselves at each other. Knowing that they love each other, that they share everything as man and wife, made this not only a deafening show, but also the most erotic performance I've ever witnessed. It was like Boeckner was channeling Joe Strummer, Elvis Presley, and Mick Jagger all at the same time, howling madly and making his Telecaster beg for mercy, a towering, swaggering warrior in tight black jeans, laceless boots, and a black muscle shirt.

He ripped from one song to the next, confident because the feisty firebrand in the glow-in-the-dark bra next to him was not only his drummer, but the other half of his life. The two moved crazily about the stage every second of every minute of the show, turning tight songs like "Thy Will Be Done" and "Dead + Rural" into flashfloods, forces of nature that were impossible to escape. When they ended with the astoundingly powerful "Radio Kaliningrad," everyone in the Music Hall started jumping along to the beat. Perry and Boeckner put every ounce of their beings into their instruments. It was like sonic foreplay, and it was impossible to tear your eyes (or ears) from the stage.

Give a Listen: Radio Kaliningrad-Handsome Furs

The opening act(s) were many. A two piece from Staunton, VA, (The Cinnamon Band), played laid back country rock, coming somewhere between Phosphorescent and Pete Yorn. Then there was Dri, a four-piece who made sunbaked psych rock band mixed with mock dub. Dri shared little sonically with their predecessor or Handsome Furs, but they kept the crowd pleased none the less. If you'd asked me before if white people could play dub music from scratch and not only sound authentic but vital, I'd have said no. But low and behold, Dri showed me otherwise. Their rhythm section was formidable as well, capable of switching from Yardbirds-style blues to Wailers-style reggae in seconds. THEN, there was a stand-up comedian, no joke (heh). He was funny enough, but I don't quite get why venues feel the need to prolong the headliner with a comedian for eight minutes, especially when there were two opening bands. Sure, it’s more bang for the buck but cmon…

Seen Your Video: Glen Hansard (The Frames/Swell Season) and a Middle School Choir Cover the Pixies' "Gigantic"

I've been on a bit of a Pixies kick the past few days, when "Letter to Memphis" from Trompe le Monde somehow got itself lodged in my cerebral cortex and wouldn't leave. Usually the cure for this involves listening to the song a bunch. But I didn't have that track here at work, so I headed over to Youtube. And that would be fine except then I got listening to other Pixies tracks while I was there as they were just a click away, and the Pixies listening marathon was on till the break of dawn.

In all this clicking, I came across a really good, albeit sort of odd, cover of another great Pixies song, "Gigantic." The cover is done by Glen Hansard (of The Frames and that movie Once) and....an 8th grade choir in Milwaukee, WI. Kids have to have parents sign permission slips to attend Sex Ed classes in some schools; wonder if the same held true so they could sing a song about a woman asking a man of color to "have a ball" hmmm?

Give a Listen:
--Gigantic (live-Norfolk, VA (12/6/2004)-The Pixies
--Letter to Memphis (Live at the BBC, 1998)-The Pixies

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Black Francis/Grand Duchy Tour Starts This Week

Pixies frontman Black Francis starts a busy summer this week with a mass of dates playing solo and with Grand Duchy, his project with Violet Clark (Mrs. Black Francis). Their debut record Petits Fours is dreamy electro-pop with fuzzy guitars; think the Pixies and Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark having a baby. Black Francis' lyrics are more in the mire of love than UFOs this time round, which is perfect as Violet Clark's voice is la la love-ly. It's a sound that's super good for the soul, not to mention the ears.

Tour Dates
July 2009
8 - Regina, Saskatchewan - The Exchange (Black Francis only)
10 - Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock (Black Francis only)
11 - Madison, WI - High Noon (early show) (Black Francis only)
14 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe (Black Francis only)
15 - Easton, MD - Avalon Theatre (Black Francis only)
16 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
17 - Hoboken, NJ - Maxwell's
18 - Brooklyn, NY - Siren Festival
19 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East
20 - Wellfleet, MA - Beachcomber (Black Francis only)
23 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop (Black Francis only)
24 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean
25 - Chicago, IL - Wicker Park Festival
29 - Denver, CO - Walnut Room (Black Francis only)

August 2009
2 - Seattle, WA - Triple Door (Black Francis only)
4 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theatre (Black Francis only)

Give a Listen: A Strange Day-Grand Duchy

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Heartless Bastards Announce Summer Tour Dates

Erika Wennerstrom and her Heartless Bastards are raring up to take over the US and Canada this summer with a plethora of festival dates (ACL, All Points West, and Lollapolooza to name a few), and as openers (The Avett Brothers, Jenny Lewis, and The Decemberists).

Heartless Bastards Summer '09 Tour Dates:
6.22.09 Austin, TX - Stubb's Outside w/ Jenny Lewis
6.23.09 Dallas, TX - Granada Theater w/ Jenny Lewis
6.24.09 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live w/ Jenny Lewis
6.26.09 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues w/ Jenny Lewis
6.27.09 Mobile, AL - Alabama Music Box w/ Jenny Lewis
6.29.09 Orlando, FL - The Plaza Theatre w/ Jenny Lewis
6.30.09 Jacksonville, FL - Freebird Live w/ Jenny Lewis
7.01.09 Athens, GA - 40 Watt w/ Jenny Lewis
7.02.09 Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel w/ Jenny Lewis
7.03.09 Richmond, VA - The National w/ Jenny Lewis
7.05.09 Pittsburgh, PA - Mr. Smalls Theatre w/ Jenny Lewis
7.06.09 Louisville, KY - Headliners Music Hall w/ Jenny Lewis
7.07.09 Fayetteville, AK - George's Majestic Lounge w/ Jenny Lewis
7.10.09 Los Angeles, CA - The Greek Theatre w/ Andrew Bird
7.11.09 Tempe, AZ - Marquee Theatre w/ Jenny Lewis
7.31.09 Jersey City, NJ -Liberty State Park - All Points West Music & Arts Festival
8.02.09 Montreal, Quebec - Osheaga Music and Arts Festival
8.03.09 Toronto, Ontario - Kool Haus w/ the Decemberists
8.05.09 Madison, WI - Orpheum Theatre w/ the Decemberists
8.06.09 Chicago, IL - Metro w/ Decemberists (Offical Lollapalooza Aftershow)
8.07.09 Chicago, IL - Lollapalooza! Exact day and time TBD
8.08.09 Indianapolis, IN - Egyptian Room w/ the Decemberists
8.11.09 Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre w/ the Decemberists
8.14.09 Pittsburg, PA - Byham Theatre w/ the Decemberists
8.15.09 Schwenksville, PA - Philadelphia Folk Festival
8.16.09 Holyoke, MA - Mountain Park w/ the Decemberists
8.25.09 Salt Lake City, UT - Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre w/ the Avett Brothers
8.26.09 Boise, ID - Knitting Factory w/ the Avett Brothers
8.28.09 Seattle, WA - Paramount Theatre w/ the Avett Brothers
8.29.09 Jacksonville, OR - Britt Fest w/ the Avett Brothers
8.30.09 San Francisco, CA - Golden Gate Park- Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
10.03.09 Austin, TX - ACL Festival

The Bastards did an ACL episode with Sonic Youth and Alex Mass of The Black Angels that's set to air this fall. On it, Wennerstrom and Mass do a cool cover of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash's cover of Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter." A studio version will hit stores in early September.

Give a Listen: If I Were a Carpenter (live on Austin City Limits)-Erika Wennerstrom (Hrtlss Bstrds) and Alex Mass (Blk Angels)

Previous: Scout's review of Heartless Bastards/Hoots and Hellmouth @ Great Scott, Boston, MA (2-3-09)

The Cribs Release First Track, "We Were Aborted," from Upcoming Release, Ignore the Ignorant

The brothers Jarman and newbie Johnny Marr are releasing The Cribs fourth record Ignore the Ignorant on September 7th, but wanted to give you a little feel for what the new record will sound like beforehand. Nick Launay, who's worked with folks like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Pil, and Nick Cave, is doing the production and mixing on Ignore so maybe we'll get a bit of that similar indie swoony swing mixed in with The Cribs trademark English jackhammer intensity this time round.

Give a Listen: We Were Aborted-The Cribs

Track listing for Ignore the Ignorant:
1. 'We Were Aborted'
2. 'Cheat On Me'
3. 'We Share The Same Skies'
4. 'City Of Bugs'
5. 'Hari Kari'
6. 'Last Year's Snow'
7. 'Emasculate Me'
8. 'Ignore The Ignorant'
9. 'Save Your Secrets'
10. 'Nothing'
11. 'Victim Of Mass Production'
12. 'Stick To Yr Guns'

The Cribs are headlining throughout Europe in September and October, then hook up as the openers for Franz Ferdinand in November. Quite a powerful live show, so be sure to get your eyes and ears on the same page if you get the opportunity.

Monday, July 6, 2009

News: Panic at the Disco's Co-Founder/Guitarist and Bassist Leaving the Band

Panic at the Disco's co-founder/guitarist and bassist announced today that they were leaving the band to start a "musical excursion of their own." Band and current tour will continue. No word as to who gets to keep the "Backstreet's Back" moves though.

(From today's Billboard.)

Panic at the Disco guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker are leaving the band "to embark on a musical excursion of their own," they announced today.

"Though the four of us have made music together in the past, we've creatively evolved in different directions which has compromised what each of us want to personally achieve," wrote Ross and Walker in a post on the band’s website. "Over the years, we have remained close and honest with each other, which helped us to realize that our goals were different and that parting ways is truly what is best for each of us. We are all excited for the future, you should be too."

The post confirmed that drummer Spencer Smith, who founded the band with Ross in 2004, and frontman Brendon Urie will continue as Panic At The Disco. It also said that all touring and album plans for Panic will continue as previously announced.

Panic at the Disco is currently scheduled to open for No Doubt on August 8 in San Diego, and has U.S. dates with Blink-182 planned throughout August.

As Billboard previously reported, the band had been writing on tour last fall with hopes of releasing their third album sometime this year.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

News: NYC Club Getting Sued for Causing Damage to...the Bee Gees, Poison and Rage Against the Machine?

From today's NY Post. Suing for "public performance"? More like "highway robbery." I only learned this a little while back, if one plays cd's in a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, the owners need to pay a monthly fee, a fee which most restaurant owners I know refuse to pay primarily on principle. Yeesh, if they're going to sue a tiny place like Pianos for "publically performing" music without paying for it, maybe they could go after those awful warbling street musicians butchering "Every Rose Has its Thorn" next? Cause you know Brett Michaels, he has to pay for those bandannas and eyeliner to keep those Rock of Love babes interested, cmon now!

It's a triple bill you'll never see sharing the same stage: the Bee Gees, Poison and Rage Against the Machine.

But the disco legends, glam metal band and left-wing alternative rockers have teamed up to sue a Lower East Side club for playing their tunes without permission.

The Manhattan federal court suit accuses the Pianos club and owner Yoav Kipnes of causing "great and incalculable damage" through the alleged copyright infringement.

The suit, filed by the Broadcast Music Inc. licensing agency, claims the Ludlow Street hot spot allowed "Stayin' Alive," "Talk Dirty to Me" and "Bulls on Parade" to be "publicly performed" during March and June of last year without paying a required fee.

Pianos did not return a call seeking comment.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Wrens Announce Three Midwest Dates

Our favorite recluses around here who hail from the land of refinery towers, The Wrens, have announced they're playing three shows this summer (yeah!), all in the Midwest (boo!).

The two Chicago dates are in conjunction with the club Shuba's 20th anniversary celebration.

Jul 24 2009: A Schubas 20 Event, Schubas, Chicago, Illinois
w/ the Biltmores (sold out)

Jul 25 2009: A Schubas 20 Event, Schubas, Chicago Illinois
w/ TBA Guest (sold out)

Aug 14 2009: MPMF Indie Summer, Fountain Square, Cincinnati OH
w/ Goose, The Harlequins, and Hot Pipes (Free, go here for more info)