Friday, March 9, 2007

A whole messa stuff.

Got to see Langhorne Slim and his lovely 2-piece backing band the War Eagles open the Monday night residency at Spaceland on Monday. If you've never had a chance to see Langhorne, he's one of the most genuinely exciting and energetic acts still limited to, you know, opening free shows at small venues. Even as a solo performer, his brand of accidental Appalachian folk-rock is made entertaining with his commandingly loud voice and mopey-boy humor.

I also believe I may have been standing next to his girlfriend, the muse and source of the "curly blonde hair" he loves and so has immortalized in song. She danced more enthusiastically than the others and knew every word. Aw.

Langhorne Slim - Sweet Olive Tree
Langhorne Slim - Restless
Langhorne Slim - In the Midnight

Track down Langhorne's V2 debut, the Engine EP, before his new full-length comes out.

...and if you're in New York on March 15, you can see Langhorne Slim open for...The Pogues?! Greatest show ever!

Speaking of fantastic live combinations, happening tonight at the lovely, dark, doubly lovely Echo in Echo Park is a show featuring The Nice Boys, The Time Flys, The Tyde and Japanese Motors. Extra exciting lineup, 50% Birdman Records-affiliated and at least 25% magically sloppy. If your residence doesn't fit into the "greater Los Angeles" category, you can see them on any of these dates.

Nice Boys Tour Remainder:

Mar 09 - Los Angeles CA @ The Echo w/ The Time Flys, The Tyde & Japanese Motors
Mar 10 - Tucson AZ @ The Vaudeville Cabaret w/ The Time Flys & The Birthday Suits
Mar 11 - Albuquerque NM @ The Launchpad w/ The Time Flys & The Ashes
Mar 12 - Ciudad Juarez Mexico @ The Line Bar w/ The Time Flys & Super Cobra
Mar 14 - Austin TX @ SXSW - Birdman Showcase

Mar 19 - Hollywood CA @ King King w/The Time Flys & Electric Shadows
Mar 20 - Glendale CA @ The Scene w/The Time Flys & Electric Shadows
Mar 21 - Oakland CA @ The Stork Club w/ The Time Flys & Electric Shadows
Mar 23 - Portland OR @ Dante's w/ The Time Flys & Electric Shadows
Mar 24 - Seattle WA @ The Comet w/ The Time Flys & Electric Shadows

If you wanna know what tonight's bands sound like, 'cause you're one of those people who won't pay to see the unfamiliar (you unadventurous bastard, you), check out Detailed Twang's bit on the Time Flys, the Nice Boys review I wrote for last year (below), or check out the opening bands at these lazy links.
The Nice Boys - s/t - 2006 (Available at Birdman's website)

One of the biggest disappointments of the year, as all sorts of music publications (and people) start rounding out their Best of 2006 lists, is that much of the material on Birdman Records will go overlooked because of how little publicity their records get. The Nice Boys certainly fall into this category, and the few who do mention their debut album – released in late August – will likely do so because of the names behind the music rather than the music itself.

The name that first comes to mind is Terry Six. The tall, shaggy-haired guitarist for Portland’s Exploding Hearts found a new project in the Nice Boys after the 2003 car accident that took the lives of the Hearts’ three other members. They had been a great power-pop band with classic punk attitude, and front man Adam Cox had a British-style sneer to complement his high, slightly nasal voice. But Terry Six was just as important as Cox because he led the group’s only record with guitar solos and sophistication that held together the otherwise gritty but youthful pop of each song.

The only survivor of his band, Six has since found a new identity in the Nice Boys, paying tribute to his former group by maintaining their spirit and classic ‘70s teenage rock appeal, even honoring a bit of the Hearts’ love of pink and yellow in the Nice Boys’ album art (which mimics XTC’s Oranges and Lemons just a touch). And while the band does contain four other members (Gabe Lageson, Colin Jarrell, Alan Mansfield and Brian Lelko, to note), it’s impossible to discuss the Nice Boys without mention of the Exploding Hearts, because had the Hearts survived, there would ultimately be no Nice Boys record.

To match the new identity of his music, Terry Six has grown out his hair. Once the most Ramones-esque member of the Exploding Hearts, he’s now as free to hide behind his long hair as his new mates. The appearance pairs well with the change in sound he’s undergone; while Six once stole the show as lead guitarist, he now fronts the Nice Boys with more subtlety than he exercises on guitar, and his voice (not to mention the background vocals of Lageson and Jarrell) are much more oafish and masculine than Cox’s tight, nagging sneer had been. But this band’s got what it takes to appeal to teen girls straight out of the 1970s – just as the Exploding Hearts had been a power pop band with punk tendencies, like the Undertones or Buzzcocks, the Nice Boys are a power pop band with classic rock and pop tendencies. Think Cheap Trick or a harder, slightly older Bay City Rollers. These guys could easily adapt to an arena, lights and all, but there’s absolutely no air of cockiness in their harmonies.

One of the best aspects of the record, which the Exploding Hearts had also grasped well, is the record’s sound quality, which could easily pass for being thirty years old. Terry Six harks from within a tin box while the rest of the band taunts him from outside. Regardless of the medium you’re using to listen to the Nice Boys’ record, it may as well be played off a piece of vinyl, because that’s what you’re going to hear whether you want it or not. Personally, I want it.

The album’s first few moments combine cowbell and dropped bottle caps, slinky vocals from Six and less restrained hollers from behind. "Teenage Nights" is the musical equivalent of Dazed and Confused, and would make just as solid a single as essentially any track on the Boys’ record. “Dugong Along” has got some handclaps and catchy drum rolls to match its sharp guitar riffs. And “Another Girl” is the record’s token ballad in the same sense that “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” is a token ballad for the Ramones. There’s nothing sappy here (except perhaps “Cheryl Ann,” which rocks some falsetto and an acoustic/electric power blend), but for the nostalgic rocker girl or the boy who hides a soft spot behind tough exterior and tight jeans, the Nice Boys have all sorts of lovin’ to offer.


The Tyde - Go Ask Yer Dad
The Nice Boys - Johnny Guitar

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