Thursday, March 26, 2015

Making a statement on either side of the pond

John Cooper Clarke is touring the U.S. this spring. See him while he's 66!

Thursday, April 30
Hard Rock Hotel
Las Vegas, NV

Saturday, May 2
El Rey
Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, May 3
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, May 5
Lincoln Hall
Chicago, IL

Thursday, May 7
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY

Saturday, May 9
Stage One
Fairfield, CT (There's a market for him in CT?)

Monday, May 11
World Café
Philadelphia, PA

Tuesday, May 12
Washington, DC

Thursday, May 14
Berklee Recital Hall
Boston, MA


Well, it's happened. Women in Glasgow have finally discovered Olympia and third-wave feminism.

This is Pennycress.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Brisbane, Calabasas, Dublin

Brisbane, Australia's Morning Harvey are poised for a giant, commercial 1992 debut -- they're really grand pop, would've fit beautifully on the '90s-era Creation Records roster. Have a listen to some of their older things at Bandcamp.


Guys, hate to say it, but Willow Smith's a grower.


This one's a beauty; Lakker, from Dublin, have got an album set for release on May 12. Tundra will be put out by R&S Records, and "contains field recordings from motorway tunnels in Japan, church bells from Schöneberg, a female choir from Dublin and Inuit throat singers." "Three Songs," above, features the voice of Eileen Carpio.

Show Me the Body: Jewish New Yorkers who make a hybrid of hip-hop and punk and aren't the Beastie Boys

Show Me the Body is the sort of band you'd probably manage to see live every month, if you were trapped in a certain Brooklyn bubble, except they're from Queens. "Bone Soup Outta You" suggests that they're doomed to one poor recording job after another (see their first release, Yellow Kidney), but they've got an original little mish-mash of hip-hop and sludge going. And there's a banjo.

SMTB gets released April 21 via Letter Racer. No doubt, this project won't last more than five years, but everybody gets to be twenty at some point.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Twilight Sad came to Costa Mesa and we drove at least two hours to see them

When the Twilight Sad were fresh to Los Angeles, about eight years ago, promoting Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, they were sort of awkward about their performance style, even if they were musically exceptional. Frontman James Graham would decide that his services were no longer needed at some point during a song, and so he'd sit like a child at the front of the stage, dodging eye contact and waiting for its end. He appeared a bit autistic, really. Then-bassist Craig Orzel would play in a yoga pose, and after a Knitting Factory performance could be found walking around the floor of the venue, eating a banana – decidedly un-rock 'n roll.

But god, they've grown. At Costa Mesa's Wayfarer, a beautifully lit bar out of place in the strip mall of an otherwise residential neighborhood, the sometime-five-piece played a set heavy on last year's Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, whose lyrics we could only assume, given Graham's silence, were entirely influenced by a breakup. (Refer to album closer “Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep” for particularly self-pitying lyrics: “I'm leaving you/just to be cruel/you don't want me anymore/you don't need me anymore/Tell me who ruined you/Throw me on the fire.”)

But then, look back to Forget the Night Ahead's devastating “Seven Years of Letters” for a hint of what would come, with its references to “the dress that you'll never wear” and “the dance that we'll never share,” presumably a story about a couple too hesitant to commit to marriage in the long term. And then we read that Graham has a girlfriend in the present, and we realize, finally, that Nobody Wants to Be Here is perhaps not a breakup album after all – Graham is just a phenomenal storyteller, and the lyricist everyone hopes to encounter at some point. Not in the context of a breakup, of course, but in the ability to inspire to the extent that a beautiful song comes out of that meeting, whether said meeting lasts five minutes or five years. It is all too easy to become obsessive about the Twilight Sad's lyrics, to wonder who or what idea prompted them, and to keep them for yourself, because as much as you'd love to shout to the hills about what fantastic music this is, you don't want to share it with a soul.

The funny case of the Twilight Sad as a live band is that their songs are incredibly serious, and incredibly sincere, yet Graham tends to downplay that sincerity on stage and poke fun at their loaded song titles before putting on an incredibly serious and sincere performance, as though he's embarrassed about his sincerity and feels he ought to apologize as a precedent. He'll announce “I Became a Prostitute” or “Drown So I Can Watch” with a self-aware grin. And as a performer, he is the factor that has most evolved over the last few years, which is significant, because he's currently the only member of the band who doesn't look bored on stage. Where Mark Devine and Andy MacFarlane have steadily provided a noisy and glowing wall of a backdrop, wearing poker faces all the while, Graham has developed from the boy who looks absent and unhappily drunk into a grown man who appears more comfortable with himself, and who might be the introvert with an on/off switch, suddenly okay with allowing himself to be seen for eighty minutes.

Last night he was energized, unafraid, and put his everything into singing with sincerity, while bassist Johnny Docherty blew out an amp and MacFarlane, who quietly drives the tone and aesthetic of the band, played silently in the corner, almost entirely with tremolo, and a small but loyal audience, most of whom had driven hours to get to this strip mall in Costa Mesa, looked on in love. There is no more euphoric feeling than the one that comes while watching this Banton band perform.

This was not shot in Costa Mesa last night. But it's a charming, lovely and stripped down set recorded last month that ought to be seen.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Garfield humps the air; punchline at 2:14

Comrade do you hear the sound? We’re kicking it down to the ground!

There's a new Wire album coming forth! Thirteenth studio album Wire gets released April 13, and there'll be a tour in promotion.

American tour dates:

May 26 - USA - PORTLAND, OR - Dantes
May 27 - USA - SEATTLE, WA - Nuemos
May 29 - USA - SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Slim's
May 30 - USA - LOS ANGELES, CA - The Echoplex
June 02 - USA - CAMBRIDGE, MA - The Sinclair
June 03 - USA - BROOKLYN, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
June 04 - USA - NEW YORK, NY - Bowery Ballroom
June 05 - USA - PHILADELPHIA, PA - Union Transfer
June 06 - USA - WASHINGTON, DC - Black Cat
June 08 - USA - CLEVELAND, OH - Beachland Ballroom
June 09 - USA - DETROIT, MI - Majestic Theatre
June 10 - USA - LOUISVILLE, KY - Headliners

Speaking of well-seasoned punks -- remember that nifty little Christmas release by Hard Left? They've got a full record coming out, releasing one song via Bandcamp per week, and the first track's just come out. The band is very much of a formula, extremely self-aware, and have jumped 100% into the aesthetic and message of yesteryear's political punk rock. Good things never die, and Hard Left want you to know that punk rock is a good thing.

They've also got some shows scheduled to celebrate:

April 30 - Hemlock Tavern, SF w/Bad Daddies, Voided Social Contract & Schleim
May 1 - La Cita, Los Angeles - Punky Reggae Party w/Terry Malts
May 2 - The Night Light, Oakland w/ Suede Razors

And -- decidedly not aggressive much -- English folk band This is the Kit have just offered up the second song, first official single, of their upcoming Bashed Out.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New side project from the oafish voice of Elias Ronnenfelt (Iceage). Coming to L.A. next month!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bill Mountain: Because "Rock with Saxophone" Should Be a Genre

It seems we've got a giant group that combines Oneida, Love is All, and Black Eyes in Bill Mountain. If there's more of this to be had in Louisiana, then Louisiana may be the location of the next good party music movement.

Tour dates in the American South (only):

03/31 Houma, LA @ The Boxer & The Barrel
04/03 Hot Springs, AR @ The Exchange
04/04 Dallas, TX @ Double Wide
04/25 New Orleans, LA @ Banks St. Bar
05/08 New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
06/19 New Orleans, LA @ TBA
06/21 Houma, LA @ The Boxer & The Barrel


Monday, March 9, 2015

Day two of International Women's Day: Girlpool and Soko

Before The World Was Big comes out June 2 on Wichita Recordings.

The new Soko album is great but sounds nothing like her (very French) record from 2012 and is extremely '80s Los Angeles. In this context, not this context. Album and cat stuff available here.

Be Forest visited Los Angeles last night.

Last night's Part Time Punks lineup featured two-thirds-female Italian shoegaze trio Be Forest (headlining in time for International Women's Day!), supported by San Francisco act VANIISH, whose frontman Keven Tecon was once a member of PTP favorite Wax Idols.

Where the two acts lack originality, they compromise in musicianship; VANIISH in particular is well aligned with fellow '80s-inspired dark wave act Wax Idols, albeit playing with three of its members lined up in an untouchable wall -- this metaphor applies musically as well as visually -- and where drummer Nick Ott borrows heavily and consistently from "Atrocity Exhibition," he does it skillfully and gracefully.

Be Forest, meanwhile, bodes well for the continuation of the current shoegaze revival and could easily open for Ride's reunion tour if the stars were aligned for such (though they did open for Slowdive in Padova last summer, which is just as fitting). In promotion of 2014's stunning Earthbeat, the young band played a dazzling set that was cool and collected, breezy and controlled. Erica Terenzi, who came from the Moe Tucker/Frankie Rose school of drumming, switched places with guitarist Nicola Lampredi toward show's end, demonstrating that the pair are extremely interchangeable in skill and energy, and the set concluded as consistently as it had begun.

For the real stuff, though: Now that lyrics have been posted, is it possible that Earthbeat was lyrically inspired by the Twilight series? See below for samples:

Captured Heart:
I would like to fall in love, and then have a broken heart 
it’s better you run away from me 
‘Cause all my life I have been dead inside

Lost Boy:
I want to know if you can change your life and not betray your own soul 
I just want to know but i don't care who you are. 
I want to know if you can see the beauty and don't hide your eyes 
I don't want to know how did you get here. 

I don't care what you have lived 
I don't care how old you are 

Everyone is gone 
with their fangs 
You are alone and you've nothing left to lose 
How can it feel this wrong baby? How do you feel? 
They don't know who you are 
Nobody knows

Sparkle (obviously about Edward, from the perspective of Bella):
My feet are covered 
under soft roots 
Tonight is the last one, 
he tells me 

Don't cry for me: I am not here. 
I'm not sleeping. I am a thousand winds that blow. 
I'm a sparkle in the snow. 

If you can hide in the fog and fend off the dust 
can you see this endless joy? 
It's the power of the life 

Don't cry for me: I am not there. 
and then i leave

Thursday, March 5, 2015