Thursday, June 11, 2009 (continuing every other Thursday)
Thanks to some handstand-breakdance maneuver I hoped to land on the dance floor at the first of Phonte’s weekly Tigallo’s Two-Step Thursday affair at Raleigh club Globe, I nearly fractured my thumb last week. It's not broken, I think, but it is about the size of a chicken nugget. At least it’s a casualty of war with which I’m willing to live.
Meat Puppets, Retribution Gospel Choir
Sunday, June 14
Cat's Cradle, Carrboro
Thursday, June 11
Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro
Grizzly Bear didn’t need to convince anyone of its charms at a sold-out Cat’s Cradle last night: Many onlookers wore broad grins when the lights dropped, and the crowd at large welcomed the band to the stage warmly. The quartet gauged the vibe. Singer Ed Droste lauded his first taste of local Locopops. And off they went…
Let Feedback Ring is the punny name Corbie Hill, guitarist for Raleigh trio Battle Rockets, has lent a nine-band show he's booked for Sadlack's on Independence Day. With sets from The White Cascade, Free Electric State, Blag'ard and six others, the lineup looks plenty solid, sure. The real reason for your attention, though, might be the show's not-so-subtle nod to protest of Bud Light Presents Raleigh Downtown Live.
"What I want to establish is a local-oriented answer to the Downtown Live gibberish that has been so blissfully unaware of what's really happening in the Triangle and the region," says Hill, who booked the show between Downtown Live's June 27 engagement with The Tubes and July 11's gig with Joan Jett. The music at Sadlack's runs from 1:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., at which point Hill hopes the crowd migrates downtown for a Red Collar/ Caverns double bill at Tir Na Nog. "Let Feedback Ring, coupled with the Tir Na Nog show, results in 12 hours of solid & original music this July 4."
Line-up drops after the jump.
[Published simultaneously with New Raleigh.]
In two months, Concord, N.C. quartet The Avett Brothers will release I and Love and You, their sixth studio album and first for American Recordings, the Sony imprint run by production mogul Rick Rubin. A major label, a major project, a major timeline: After more than a year in the making, I and Love and You is now in its final stages of completion, having gone through recording in studios on two coasts, mixes by multiple sets of ears and—finally—a series of mastering attempts that try to render the record ready for what’s likely to be an enormous audience.
On Monday afternoon, a not-quite-finished copy of the album arrived at the offices of the Independent Weekly in Durham. Later that night, Independent Weekly Music Editor Grayson Currin and New Raleigh Downtown Editor Jed Gant gathered in Raleigh to listen to the work-in-progress for the first time and offer their instant impressions via their personal Twitter accounts. We’ve gathered those moment-by-moment tweets into roughly edited form, presenting them as a generally obnoxious, sometimes humorous and fairly informative guide to what you’ll expect when the band drops its major-label introduction August 11.
Just to be clear, both listeners love the record and, 48 hours later, consider it to be the most evolved and perhaps best work by the band yet. Also of note: The title track, “Kick Drum Heart” and “It Goes On” might make this band awfully famous.
Tuesday, June 9
Durham Performing Arts Center
You don't go to a Steely Dan concert in search of happy accidents and unscripted moments. No note is out of place, and no spotlight is late to a soloist. The tightly choreographed proceedings unfold with a precision that must inspire envy among Swiss watchmakers. In other words, it's the multi-sensory equivalent of the Steely Dan album's Aja and Guacho, two painstakingly crafted monuments to the quest for musical perfection, the recording studio used as laboratory.
Such was the case with last night’s appropriately Aja- and Gaucho-heavy program last night in Durham. The flawless execution was especially impressive considering that the Durham Performing Arts Center was the first stop on the band’s latest tour and that there were 13 people on stage, not counting the roadie zooming around on a wheeled office chair. A four-piece horn section, three female support singers, a bassist, a guitarist, a keyboardist, a drummer, longtime cohorts Donald Fagen and Walter Becker: Indeed, this was Steely Dan as a big band.
From the colorful monster that adorns its cover to the scattered soundscapes that cover both sides, Waumiss' 2008 self-titled LP offered plenty of enjoyment via its homespun whimsy. The duo's psychedelic, loop-based weird-pop came shaking and clattering and shimmying out of my speakers for months after release and—from time to time—still does.
Now, the duo of Carrboros' Clarque and Caroline Blomquist has taken its playful aesthetic and sprinted: Two newly unveiled videos—both scored by versions of the LP's "R-Dog bumps, Tummy Fix"—syncs that song's unsettling clatter with flashing lights and pinball-machine colors, short toy-shop horror movies of love. Glowing greens and reds shine against a living clutter-drawer or plastic figures and kistchy trinkets. The "Skootch-Babings" version alternates a flashing-eyed tiger mask and a glowing plastic skull in the oreground, while the "Evil Baby" version heads conceptual with a plastic miniature baby that transforms into a plastic miniature goat. And, uhh, back?
I can't imagine a better-suited set of images for Waumiss, itself a perfectly orchestrated collision of quirk and color and vibrant noise. For the "Skootch-Babings" version, hit the jump.
PJ Harvey and John Parish
Friday, June 5
Warner Theatre, Washington, D.C.
“Can I tell you something?"
P.J Harvey, the indie-blues songstress from Dorset, England, crouched onstage at the stately Warner Theatre in D.C. Her long, black dress, hanging loose from her shoulders, gathered in folds behind a row of distortion pedals.
“Can I tell you a story?” she continued. “It’s about me and Billy.”
“Billy" is one of Harvey’s many fictional lovers, the "steaming and sweating and sticking against the wheel” sort from the 1996 song “Taut,” a whispery, slow-groove confessional about guilt, religion and backseat sex. After delivering the first few lines (“I remember it all started when he bought that car/ It was the first thing he ever owned, apart from me.”), Harvey rushed to the edge of the stage. She delivered to the crowd her direct, hurried monologue: “And the color was red/ And the color was red and he drove me/ He drove me out of my mind/ I am over it now.”
Without warning, Harvey’s arresting falsetto—“Jesus, save me!”—shattered the song’s tension. She pounded the prayer-chorus into the ground with her fist. A woman in front of me dipped her head back, staring into the giant, pill-shaped concave that hovers over the back few rows of the 1920s D.C. theater like an upside-down swimming pool. After a few more appeals to God, Harvey ended the song abruptly. Fog-machine mist rose. She took a drink of water and launched into the rest of her otherwise mediocre set list.
Steely Dan was my kudzu band, growing with me as I grew up in the ’70s and always seeming to find ways to wrap itself around parts of my life. Of course, growing up in a small town in upstate New York— a suburb of a suburb of Binghamton, with a population of about 500 and exactly zero stoplights—I had no idea what kudzu was.
But I’m sure Steely Dan’s Walter Becker and Donald Fagen knew. Those guys knew everything. This was a case of opposites attracting: Becker and Fagen were edgy, worldly, wise geniuses, and I was a naïve dumbass who was as complicated as an episode of Murder She Wrote. And their music took me places—from Boston, Biscayne Bay and Barrytown to William & Mary, Haiti, Vegas and even the occasional place where kudzu grew like, well, kudzu.
I loved the tunes, too. Still do, as they maintain the power to transport me back to a terrain where music and adolescence conspired to form indelible memories. So, Steely Dan, by my years...
The entry point, as I was in a phase where I’d dutifully record Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 in a spiral-bound notebook every Sunday night, and both “Do It Again” and “Reelin’ in the Years” cracked Casey’s list. I knew nothing about Steely Dan—it could have been just a guy, not a band—but both songs made an impression, especially the latter. It was as catchy as it was impossible to sing along with. That fella Dan sure could sing briskly.
Time Warner Cable Pavilion at Walnut Creek, Raleigh
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Toward the end of his long set at the Time Warner Cable Pavilion at Walnut Creek Saturday night, country megastar Brad Paisley took a break to thank the audience for shelling out its good money to see him, despite the tough economic times. The nearly sold-out crowd responded with a deafening if half-drunk roar. After all, Paisley and the night had provided what good country music is about these days: a pretty night with a full moon, a packed crowd, songs about love, family and hell-raising, plenty of light domestic beer, and—come to think of it—plenty of songs about light domestic beer, too.
Let the indie rockers whine. Let the hard rappers threaten. Let the pop tarts sell their, uhh, souls: Country music is a different animal. Its critics (and there are plenty of them) complain that it’s a simplistic, dumbed-down, obnoxious form of commerce that has built its success on jingoistic claptrap like Billy Ray Cyrus’ “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.” And maybe it is. But while the rest of the world despairs, modern pop-country singers live happily in a universe of family and the good, rejoicing in simple pleasures of bass fishing, barbecue and youthful indiscretion.