Friday, September 29, 2006

Get On The List: Junior Boys @ Empty Bottle

The crack staff at Future Perfect Radio is throwing a pre-launch party this Saturday and they're giving away a pair of passes to see Junior Boys at The Bottle next Sunday (10/8). Apparently this intimate soiree is "super secret" and at an "undisclosed location," so you've got to email futureperfectradio(at)gmail.com to get the top secret password and coordinates. (Must be present to win tix)

RFC Interview: Say Hi To Your Mom

When I first got Say Hi To Your Mom’s latest album Impeccable Blahs back in early August, I listened to it a lot. Since then, I’ve listened to it even more. In the future? I plan to keep on listening to it. It’s just one of those albums that demand that sort of constant attention … Not to say that’s it's needy. In fact, it’s the opposite: It’s a giver. It provides new wave beats so good they can charm those who don’t even like new wave, pop hooks that can catch the most cynical ear, and lines so sharp that they could slice a man in two before he even knows he was being cut. Since I didn’t really know a damn thing about Say Hi To Your Mom, the cd was a complete -- and completely pleasant -- surprise. Still, I needed to know more… So, I checked in with band frontman Eric Elbogen to ask him a dozen or so questions he’s probably heard a hundred times before. But, in the end? I'd like to think we both learned something… (Or else I might be writing while drunk again.) Hi, Eric. How’s it going How long have you been doing this? I started Say Hi To Your Mom in 2002. Before that I had been playing in bands for ten years and had been writing songs for about fourteen years. Wow, that makes me feel old ... You were a solo artist for your first few albums. What made you decide to change to a full band? I didn’t. Jeff and Chris had been touring with me for a couple years and we got along and they were good players and when it was time to make the record they got involved. I’m very glad they did. I actually just played my last show with them though, because they’ve decided they don’t want to tour anymore. I’m about to move away from New York too, to the west coast somewhere, at least for a while. I’ve heard you say elsewhere that Impeccable Blahs is, for lack of a better term, a concept album where all the songs are based around vampires. First off, why vampires? Why not vampires? Do all of the songs have that theme? I can certainly hear it in These Fangs, Blah Blah Blah, and She Just So Happens To Date The Prince of Darkness, but not in tracks like Sad … But Endearingly So. The theme is there in all the songs, although it is a little more blatant in some. Sad is a song about vampires interviewing their potential prey. Were you testing yourself by sticking with one theme? Not so much testing myself as much as just making the writing process a little more interesting for myself. Okay. You’re probably tired of talking about who your influences are. So let me ask you instead, how have your influences changed over the course of recording four albums? I don’t know that they have changed because of making records. They change I guess because new, great records come out and when I hear them, it’s like they are giving me the finger, saying “Ha! Beat that, you wimp.” That happened with certain Spoon records, certain Radiohead records, certain Broken Social Scene records... What the name of your band from? It’s actually my legal name, Eric Elbogen is just a pseudonym. You just went on tour with Dirty on Purpose. How did that go? (Sorry, I missed you guys play in LA.) It was great. I love those guys. And they party harder than Say Hi ever has, so hanging out with them redefined the idea of being in a rock band for me. What’s next for you? Any new tour plans or recordings looming in your immediate future? The next tour starts in a couple of weeks. It ends in mid-November, at which point I’m gonna drive all my stuff to the west coast, set up my studio and make another record. The tour after that won’t happen until March, which will be a nice break for me because we will have toured on and off for half of 2006. Last question: Who are you listening to these days? Dirty on Purpose, The Silversun Pickups, Hot Chip, Spoon, Thom Yorke, Sunset Rubdown, Tokyo Police Club, Dr. Dog, Bjork, The Long Winters, and that new Yo La Tengo record, which I think is incredible. That’s it! Thanks for your time, Eric. Say Hi To Your Mom returns to Chicago on October 13th for a gig at Schubas with The Evangelicals.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Live Review: The Sadies @ Schubas 9/23/06

Sadies

Fear the Sadies. Anyone who attended Schubas on Saturday night was assaulted in a most malicious, unrelenting way. I've noticed sometimes that Schubas is advertised (somewhat jokingly?) as having “hardcore honky tonk nightly.” On most nights I would be prone to question this statement, especially considering just a few hours earlier on Saturday night David Bazan of Pedro the Lion took the stage (no disrespect, though), but with the Sadies on the bill there could be no dispute. The evening began tame enough with a movie entitled Tales of the Rat Fink. The film, a documentary about the life of hot rod & custom car designer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, leans towards the psychedelic and surreal. It is largely a montage of photos mixed with some animation. John Goodman narrates, as the voice of Big Daddy himself, and The Sadies provided the soundtrack. I have to admit, I did not watch the move in its entirety; but if anything, the film may help some understand that the name Von Dutch is much more than just fashion fodder for obnoxious celebrities. First on the bill was Heavy Trash, which consisted of Matt Verta-Ray, Jon Spencer (yes, the Jon Spencer of Blues Explosion fame) and the Sadies serving as a back-up band. They formed a cohesive unit, as does any Sadies backed band/collaboration, and ripped through every track on the Heavy Trash self-titled album with style. Jon Spencer is a very engaging performer who has the presence of a televangelist combined with the moves of a 70’s-era Elvis (sans the bloated, on-too-many-meds look). I seriously mean that as a compliment …after a slew of indie rock shows lately, he may be the most electrifying front man I have seen in months. The performance could have easily been a headlining set on most nights in most venues. This set flowed seamlessly into the Sadies later set, really making this seem more of a two set show than two different bands. After a break, The Sadies were back on stage. Much is made about The Sadies in their varying backing roles, most notably for Neko Case on the extraordinary live album The Tigers Have Spoken. The fact is the Sadies are exceptional in any package, including when they take the stage on their own. While the Sadies may not be the most mobile performers, it quickly becomes apparent that this music can stand on its own. The music does not warrant any dog and pony show, as gimmicks are simply not needed here. They blazed through tracks spanning their entire catalog, with no shortage of their trademark barn burnin’, surf style, western-inspired instrumentals. As to be expected from a Sadies show, they were joined throughout the night by a plethora of guests, including Jon Langford and Sally Timms. The ease they display in morphing into the ideal backing band for whoever steps on stage is something to behold. The evening closed, as it started, with Jon Spencer fronting the band for the last few numbers. The evening was at its most electric with this combination, peaking as Jon Spencer jumped into the crowd to finish the set. As the night came to a close I was left to consider two questions: Are the Sadies the best live act going? And how is this Canadian band able to play Americana, better than most American bands? -Words and photos by Rory O'Connor...click here for the complete photoset

For the suburban faithful out there, The Sadies are playing again tonight at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn.

Indie Rock - Hollywood Style

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Get on the List: Langhorne Slim @ Empty Bottle

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Everyone's favorite porkpie hat wearing, fresh-faced grifter bluesman, Langhorne Slim is playing The Empty Bottle this Saturday and RFC wants to get you on the list. Here's what Chief Honky Tonk correspondent Rory O'Connor has to say about Mr. Slim: Langhorne Slim was born in the 80’s and hails from Pennsylvania but his music sounds like it came right out of the dust bowl era and has roots in that urgent, desperate part of the south where Woody Guthrie once roamed and a Hank Williams once howled. Like these artists Langhorne Slim appears to have a knack for crossing boundaries and bridging gaps. While his album plays like pure Folk and Country, it feels assembled in an atmosphere of rock. RFC will get your name on the list (plus a guest) if you can answer this country rock trivia courtesty of Rory: Give us the name of that seminal Byrds album, that had Roger McGuinn trading in his jangling 12-string for a banjo. It is often cited as the very first country rock album (a dubious tag indeed!) Send your responses to: radiofreechicago(at)gmail.com. If there are multiple responses, we'll pick the 5th correct entry. An additonal winner chosen at random will also receive a Langhorne Slim signed poster. Good luck! (remember, you must be 21+ to visit The Empty Bottle)

Live Review: The Wire Festival 9/20/06

Jandek’s appearance was rare…so rare in fact that when it had been announced last year that he might appear one of the days at the Wire Festival, many people bought tickets for every night of the event just hoping to catch him. Jandek played guitar with his back turned for a substantial portion of the time when he wasn’t singing and at times the vocals were very sparse and tangential. In one sense, it was a matter of free association and yet at times the words seemed more calculated. It felt like a Jim Jarmusch film; intelligent but also dreamy. It was difficult to distinguish at some times whether you were hearing music or an avant garde poetry session. We were all journeying on an unpopulated highway and we could somehow all relate a bit to the terrain of the road. Jandek sang, “Don’t know the reason I feel this way” at one point and “The hours go by but it takes a long time” at another. His audience was willing to wait for him. The songs were lengthy and sometimes circular with repetitive bass lines and intense build-ups but ultimately they made you feel they were composed after an entire night of no sleep and decaf coffee. For a brief moment, one of the bass lines hit some warmer tones that actually reminded me a bit of the feel of Tim Buckley’s Blue Afternoon and I had to wonder what kind of music he might write after seeing Jandek play if was still alive today. After all, he was so inspired at one point by the poet Lorca. The combination of poetry and music definitely left us all with images and thoughts that haven’t been as emphasized by other musicians who end up letting the music get in the way of their words. I have the utmost respect for Rhys Chatham, who has worked with everyone from Phillip Glass to Steve Reich and from Brian Eno to Glenn Branca. Yet, to be honest, I found myself being very disappointed in his set. The reason for this is mainly because he was performing as part of his heavy metal band, which featured himself on guitar with another guitarist and a drummer to create some minimalist metal that I unfortunately couldn’t relate to at all or connect with emotionally. The few times Rhys Chatham approached the microphone, he spoke with a gentle soft spoken demeanor that didn’t quite match the assaulting chords he strummed. It’s clear Rhys Chatham is an incredibly talented musician who has added a substantial amount of history to mysic with his contributions as a composer. I just hope next time he leaves the metal bit at home. Jana Hunter from Texas came out and sang bluesy songs accompanied by her guitar. She sang with a much deeper voice than I expected and she seemed so pure to me in a way with such minimal guitar effects and just a small fender amp. The Empty Bottle felt much more intimate somehow with her on stage. Tim Hecker from Vancouver, Canada plays electronic music that felt very tidal with Brian Eno-esque tones from his ambient era. To describe it, the music swarmed around the audience warmly but there was a presence lurking there amidst all of this that wasn’t as bright as it could have been. The full effect was dark at times but interesting with the unfortunate downfall that Hecker wasn’t very engaging to watch as he mainly just stood on a dark stage and pressed buttons on his PowerBook. It was definitely more of a set to close your eyes to and concentrate on listening and feeling.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Will WOXY rise from the dead...again??

Live Review: Wire Festival 9/22/06

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The Wire teamed up with Chicago’s Empty Bottle to bring us Adventures in Modern Music, a 5-day festival showcasing an experimental and diverse lineup of musicians and bands from all over the world. On this night alone, local musicians gathered with those from Oregon, France, and Brazil for an incredible night that would not have been possible if not for The Wire. (The Wire is a great UK-based magazine for experimental and outer limits independent music. It's a bit expensive, but is worth the cost as it comes with a nice CD sampler of the bands it covers.)

Spires that in the Sunset Rise I agree with the way that the Spires describe themselves: ...the music is a repellant and magnetizing swarm of harps, guitars, cello, drums, harmonium, banjo, mbira, spike fiddle, bells, and vocals. Although technically a four piece, they perfromed as a three piece, though their sound was still quite rich and full. I shouldn’t be too surprised music like this is coming out of Chicago. We do have a significant art scene here and this is definitely music created for and by artists with such emotional eccentricity that you feel literally like you’re being haunted by the sounds. The cello was especially beautiful and there were times when the vocals were like half angelic pained cries. At one point, the chilling sound of a scraping pen writing along the edge of an instrument caused shivers to creep up one’s spine. This small orchestra might be speaking for the actual Earth at times. It definitely serves as a rebuttal for all those who think nothing original is being created anymore. These aren’t anything close to pop songs but are nonetheless rewarding if embraced by the eccentric in all of us. Yellow Swans Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Yellow Swans is a two piece experimental band who seemed like they were going to put on a deafening set of noise until they submerged themselves into a more melodic form focusing on a less assaulting repetition between the guitar, pedal effects, and noise generator. Hear their songs by visiting them on myspace Colleen Colleen is actually Cécile Schott, a French artist who plays beautifully lush instrumentals by looping guitar, cello, and clarinet then fills the remaining air with the sound of wind chimes. She was just lovely while the music inspired a touching sort of emotion in me ala Clint Mansell’s soundtrack work on Requiem for a Dream, only not as dark. It’s very magical both in the live setting and on her two fantastic full length albums: Everyone Alive Wants Answers and The Golden Morning Breaks. Tetine I didn’t quite know what to expect from Brazil’s Tetine (pictured above). Eliete Mejorado came out clad in a bright golden metallic one piece bodysuit complete with a horse’s tail attached to her. Bruno Verner’s dress was much more modest in contrast but he was just as passionate while singing. They both sang and the songs were very keyboard dependent as well. They were captivating, raunchy, and created very danceable music which, even though the lyrics weren’t sung in English, was pretty easy to guess at subject matter wise. If you like CSS, check out Tetine. More coverage of the festival to come...check out the complete photoset here

New Releases Tuesday - 9/26

Adem - Love and Other Planets (Domino) Akron/Family - Meek Warrior (Young God) Botch - Unifying Themes Redux (Hydra Head) The Changes - Today Is Tonight (Drama Club)Changesalbum After two EPs, Chicago indie darlings The Changes finally hit the big time with their debut full-length, a jangly pop affair perfect for autumnal listening. The official album release party is at Double Door next month (more on that later), though you can check them out today at the Virgin Megastore. Download: The Changes - "When I Wake" (MP3) Solomon Burke - Nashville (Shout) Four Tet - Remixes (Domino) Emily Haines - Knives Don't Have Your Back (Last Gang) Emilyhaines Indie heartthrob and favorite front woman of hip guys and girls everywhere, Emily Haines (of Metric and Broken Social Scene), is stepping out of band format and is set to release her first solo album, Knives Don’t Have Your Back. You may hear faint traces of her other bands in this work, but this collection of songs listens more like a chapter from Emily’s personal diary, which makes sense as the album’s content is borne of four years spent living in four different cities while on tour with Metric. With stark piano melodies, and haunting vocals Emily proves her stock as one of the leading ladies in rock today. -Filter Download: Emily Haines - "Doctor Blind" (MP3) The Lemonheads - The Lemonheads (Vagrant)Lemonheads After a solo release in 2003, Evan Dando returns with the first Lemonheads record in a decade. Of course The Lemonheads where pretty much just Dando anyway, though it appears this record should rock quite a bit more than the Jon Brion-produced solo effort. Backing up Dando this time around are ex-Descendants Bill Stevenson (drums) and Karl Alvarez (bass). Download: The Lemonheads - "No Backbone" (MP3) Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah (Universal) Sparklehorse - Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain (Astralwerks) Teddy Bears - Soft Machine (Big Beat) Wolf Eyes - Human Animal (Sub Pop)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Will WOXY rise from the dead?...Again???

Damn, does this station have nine lives? I'll believe it when I see it, but Future Perfect Radio is reporting that the WOXY message boards are buzzing about a possible comeback via the braintrust at LaLa, a legal CD sharing service: Basically, the founder of LaLa, a pretty ingenious, legally above-ground CD sharing service that debuted a few months back, has "discovered" the smoldering ashes of WOXY and is looking to help them pull a Phoenix. This would still be in the name of his company's interests, of course, but the WOXY story would dovetail nicely with LaLa's customer friendly, more-transparent-than-not M.O. Stay tuned, we'll keep you posted...

RFC Interview: The Blow

If you haven't heard Portland's The Blow before, you've been missing out, son. It's the sort of smart, unconventional, highly addictive pop music that makes you realize just how much you really like smart, unconventional, highly addictive pop music. We spoke with the Khaela half of the Jona Bechtolt/Khaela Maricich duo earlier this week, while the two are in the midst of touring the country opening up for Australia's Architecture in Helsinki. And here's a look at how it all went: Hey there, Khaela. How you doing? How’s Portland treating you? Hey, Joe! I’m doing pretty good. I can't tell how Portland is treating me. I’m in Houston, far enough away that if Portland is snubbing me, I can't note the effects. Nor the potential kisses. How did The Blow first come together? Where did the name come from? The Blow has lived in some different ways, through a number of epochs. I played solo as The Blow for a few years, and Jona and I joined forces to turn The Blow into a pop duo in early 2004. The name came from the mouth of my friend's son, years ago, when he was about two years old. (He's eleven now.) They lived in a converted school bus, and the wind would blow through when the door was opened. One time he said, "Close the door! The blow!" The band started out more with more of a raw acoustic sound and then became more poppy and electronic later. That came out of the start of your collaboration together, right? Yeah, the raw stuff was me by myself. When Jona and I hooked up, the sound went pure electric. We were like, "let's make some songs, totally in the style of mainstream chart-toppers. Let's go all the way out." How did you decide to work together? Well, it was like your basic playground relationship story. It started out that we just kind of ended up playing a song together at the What-The-Heck-Festival, in Anacortes, in 2003. So, that was like the incidental first brush with love. Later that year, I asked him if he'd want to make beats for a song of mine. He said yeah, and we did it, and it turned out well, and happened so easily (for the song Hock It). This part was us talking for a minute by the water fountain. Then, our friends Steve Shcroeder and Zac Pennington set us up. They made a limited edition EP series (called the Pregnancy Series), and they asked us if we would work together and make the first EP for the series. We agreed to do it. Steve literally was the one who called me and asked me about the idea. This part was our friends pulling us each aside, and being like, "Hey, you know that he/she likes you, don't you?" And, then, it just worked out. We carved our names in the table. This is the part where I artlessly mention that Hock It and Hey, Boy are two of my favorite songs from the last few years. (I couldn’t work it in anywhere else.) Holy shit! What a compliment! Those are the first two songs we recorded together. What’s the new album like? How’s it different from the last? I wonder how the new album is different. We pretty much continued working in exactly the same way as we had before, the only difference being that there was a year or so of time in between the recording. Maybe you can listen and tell us what's different. What was the process like creating it? Ahhhh the process. Making things is wild, you know. It's the stuff of wild animals. I think when people work together, the process churns up and brings out the absolute best in people, alternating with their absolute worst. It's powerful stuff, bring new things into the world. The literal process usually goes that I lay around my apartment and make up words, and sing them to myself. And then I go find Jona and we sit at his desk and he drives the computer, and I do a fair share of back seat driving-- He will be making a beat, and I will be saying, "Hey, what about in this part we make a sound like if there were silvery fish going by?" He either does or doesn't get a little exasperated, and then he inevitably finds a way to make the perfect sound that is exactly like silvery fish. We get a little tired and we go out for tofutti cuties. What’s next for you? You’re just about to start touring? We are both about to start touring, on two different tours. Jona will be doing his solo show as YACHT, and I will be touring as The Blow, playing the music from the new record. That promises to continue for a while, and then after that? I might set up a face painting booth at a fair, or go build a house for someone in a place where there was a flood. Last question: What are you listening to right now that you like? - A cd my friend Lucas Grey made where he reads aloud from his dreams, with music accompanying in the background. - Arthur Russel: Another Thought. - Dear Nora: Mountain Rock. - That song Toxic by Brittany Spears. That’s it! Thanks for your time. The Blow's new album comes out on October 24th on K Records. You can hear tracks off of it here on their myspace page.

Introducing...BANDWIDTH

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RadioFreeChicago v2.0 is coming very soon and to celebrate the new site we're throwing a big bash (aka "BANDWIDTH...A Launch Party Revolution") at the Kinetic Playground on Friday, October 6th. Also joining us in the celebration festivities will be the local indie music site Future Perfect Radio, who just launched their site last month. Of course, hanging out with a bunch of Bloggers and music dorks isn't that exciting, so we've rounded up with some great local acts to keep you entertained all night long:

Skybox Coltrane Motion All City Affairs DJ LA*Jesus More details to come... ALSO, if for some reason you happen to be reading this from the greater Los Angeles area, be sure to check out our sister site's debut concert series in Hollywood tomorrow night:

Letsindependent

Friday, September 22, 2006

Free JET Concert @ Schubas

After the Lupe fiasco (reformated due to health issues) on Monday, it looks like Myspace Secret Shows is bringing another free concert to Chicago this week. On this Sunday (9/24), you can check out a free performance by Jet at Schubas. To get admission, bring a printout of your Myspace profile with Myspace Secret Shows in your Top 8. Thanks to Mike at FreeIndie for the tip. Update: Wristbands will not be distributed until 5PM on the day of the show, at the club. One wristband per person/profile.

Live Review: Vashti Bunyan @ Lakeshore Theatre 9/11-9/12/06

Vashti Bunyan is delicate, magical, and enchanting. She could charm thousand-year-old oak trees in a forest to start whispering a melody. Playing with a six piece ensemble that included Helena-Espvall from Espers, Vashti filled the air with her songs and you could just tell they sounded exactly the way she wished them to. She thanked the other performers several times and expressed both her gratitude and shock that she would have the opportunity to bring her songs to an audience with such accomplished musicians playing with her. Instruments accompanying her included violin, guitar, cello, flute and more.

Vashti sang a collection of older material from 1970's Just Another Diamond Day and newer material from 2005’s Lookaftering. She also spoke quite a bit about her songs. She expressed how her newer songs were about her children while her older songs seemed to dwell on a journey of 700 miles to Scotland that she took on horseback with a man who broke her heart. It apparently took her two summers and a winter to make this journey and left a clear impression on her. She had such an intimate grace while she was speaking that made you feel like you could be listening to her speak in a small coffeehouse.

The most surprising thing about the set was how juxtaposed amongst each other the songs all took on a different feel. Being brought to life, it almost seemed as if they had been completely removed from the time element of it all. The songs just belonged everywhere in every time period, perhaps because in some respect they are very pure folk songs in what they achieve. It was a real joy to see and hear Vashti Bunyan and I do hope that more people increasingly see her worth. As in the case of some other unrecognized musicians of that genre, Sibylle Baier and Bridget St. John for example, Vashti Bunyan adds something vital to this world and it is enriching to listen to.

Click here for more photos

SET LIST:

Live Review: Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players @ Double Door 9/19/06

Connectors_1I will attempt to follow in the footsteps of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players performance on Tuesday night and make this review short and sweet. Failing that, I will make it short. I was fairly confident walking in to the Double Door on Tuesday night that I knew exactly what to expect from the evening’s show. After all, I had seen the Slideshow Players a little while back and I knew the premise of the band had not changed. I also watched their recently released DVD no more than 3 weeks ago. In some ways I was justified in my confidence. I believe they only introduced one new song into the mix and I was well prepared for the level of kitsch they would reach. At the end of the day though, it is safe to say my confidence was a little premature. One simply can’t be fully prepared for the oddity that is the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. They are not an oddity in that Man Man way (that leans more towards insanity doesn’t it?). The oddness does not suck you in, but rather induces a slight confusion that subtly persuades you in and may even comfort you in some way. For starters, I was not prepared for the opening sales pitch/presentation for ("Super D"?) connectors that Jason Trachtenburg laid upon us. It would also be near impossible to be ready for his random thoughts and banter in between songs. In many ways this banter is what keeps the show moving and feeling fresh. The man is unquestionably funny and in the end, the lasting appeal of their show is its comic aspect in song, slides and banter. The whole set was short but it felt just about right. Many of the songs couldn’t have topped the 2 minute mark. The songs have a very elementary feel but can be exceedingly catchy. They are catchy much in the way a commercial jingle is catchy and I am apt to believe this is not entirely unintentional, given the nature of what they do and Jason Trachtenburg’s penchant for satirizing American consumerism. They went through all the hits such as “Look at Me,” “What Will the Corporation Do?,” “Wendy’s, Sambo’s and Long John Silver’s” and closed with the near painfully infectious “Mountain Trip to Japan 1959.” To critique this show any further would feel a bit absurd, much like their music. I will say on an entertainment level their show is a smashing success. I am not certain how long an act like this will last or can last, but I am not inclined to discuss it because the family seems wholly unaffected by such thoughts. It simply doesn’t really matter. (words and photos by Rory O'Connor)

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Live Review: Jeffrey Lewis Band @ Beat Kitchen 9/20/06

Who the hell is Jeffrey Lewis? I know I asked myself the same question when I heard he was opening for Adam Green. After his set, however, I was sad I never heard of him before (I guess, that's how one becomes a 'best kept secret'). The Jeffrey Lewis Band is actually comprised of two brothers, Jack (bass/keys) and Jeffrey Lewis (guitar/vocals/songwriter), and their friend Dave Beauchamp (drums). Raised by beatniks in New York and a devout comic book fanatic, Jeff plays an eclectic blend of low-fi folk rock with simplistic instrumentation that is transformed by Jeff's fantastical lyrics, which weave tall-tales from fun, to bitter, to just plain weird in such a magical fashion. The standout song of the night was "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror," which is this rambling, stream of consciousness rant that tells of Jeff's encounter with Will Oldham on the train where Jeff is seeking the answer to the eternal question 'is it worth being an artist, indie rock star, or are you better off without it?' His lyrics are profound and hilarious and his music reminds me of The Rugburns and Daniel Johnston. Another great track was "Don't Let The Record Label Take You Out To Lunch," which is a refreshingly bitter, witty ditty about how 'you will always pay at the end of the day...because everything has a price, and you don't wanna overspend.' I also couldn't help but enjoy the two "low budget videos" he presented, which were basically Jeff flipping through this large, tattered comic book he created for a couple of songs as he sang the narration. His illustrations were well thought-out though, and complimented each track quite nicely. His voice may be an aquired taste (slight drone), but it suits his personality and allows his lyrics to shine. He is quite capable of moving from the subtle low-fi folk into more punk rock-fueled tracks without ever missing a beat. I was thoroughly impressed with his set and it was one those that totally came out of nowhere for me. These kinds of experiences are always the best kind of surprise and they're what makes going out to see live shows worthwhile. Be on the look out for a new Jeffrey Lewis album on Rough Trade this fall. Download: Jeffrey Lewis - "Williamsburgh Will Oldham Horror" - (MP3) Download: Jeffrey Lewis - "Don't Let Record Label Take You Out To Lunch" - (MP3)

More Out-takes From the Basement

I've noticed the gluttony of Elliott Smith bootlegs and rarities available on Hype Machine for the last of couple months, but I'm really blown away by this latest set of tracks that have surfaced via the Elliott Smith B-sides site. I know everyone else has been raving about it, but man...that "True Love" track is beyond words. If you haven't checked out the site recently, yesterday they just posted a new version with "a more finalized vocal take." Essential listening...

Live Review: The Dears @ Schubas 9/7/06

Dears

There are so many things both exquisite and painful in this world. From the first word we say to our first time on a swing to the best love we’ve ever had (and the best love we’ve never had), our lives are full of experiences that change the way we remember and keep information that hopefully helps us cope. There is a band, a very special band, that takes all of these beautiful and painful experiences and makes them into the most delicate and passionate songs the world has ever witnessed. And that band, is The Dears. This was the best show I’ve seen all year long. Simply put: phenomenal. The Dears, a six piece from Montréal, Canada are one of my favorite bands of all time and seeing them was a life changing experience. I’ve seen them twice before, once at The Double Door and another time at The Metro, and this was by far the best time of the three. Playing as if they were the voice for millions of revolutionaries bound to start feeling something, The Dears literally felt like they were making the ground beneath our feet shake. The Dears played both some old songs and some new tracks off of their upcoming album (to be released in early October) Gang of Losers, which is finally growing on me to become another favorite after I became so close to the songs off of their brilliant 2004 release No Cities Left. Murray Lightburn played with a passion no one has yet to match and the backing vocals provided by Valérie Jodoin and Natalia Yanchak provided a beautiful sense of balance to the maelstrom of emotion building up. The intensity with the way my favorite song of theirs, “22: The Death Of All The Romance” was perfect. I may have fallen to my knees and wept if I hadn’t been trying so hard to capture it all with my camera. If the Dears are coming to your city or town, do whatever you have to do to see them. Set everything aside for them because they are worth it. The Dears matter. SET LIST: Thedearssetlist Click here for YouTube clip of this show recorded by my friend José Click here for the complete photoset

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Steinski Headlines This Year's Wire Fest

Believe it or not, this man is a hip-hop legend. Back in 1983, this record collecting ad exec dropped the first in his series of pioneering "Lessons" mixes (with fellow studio rat "Double Dee") that would later influence the likes of sample-crazed crate diggers like DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. Known to his friends and family as Steve Stein, this cult figure better known as "Steinski" is now headlining this year's Wire Magazine Adventures in Modern Music festival at The Empty Bottle. For underground music fans, Steinski is this festival's equivalent of landing a Rory Erickson or Os Mutantes on the bill. Or at the very it least, Steinski scores them a high "Jon Brion factor" (i.e. landing an artist who doesn't really tour on your bill). As usual, the Bottle and Wire have amassed an amazing line-up of innovative and influential acts this year...plus a week of great flicks at the Siskel Center to boot! The 5 day festival kicks off tonight, complete listings and details can be found at: www.EmptyBottle.com www.SiskelFilmCenter.org www.theWire.co.uk

Live Review: Annuals @ Subterranean 9/19/06

Annuals are a six piece from North Carolina, though Annuals' brainchild appears to be Adam Baker, the 20 year old singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who recorded much of their album by himself. However, Baker's lush compositions would not translate so well live if it were not for the group of fine musicians that surround him. Due to a time crunch, their set was limited to 30 minutes, but this did not deter them from unleashing some hardcore aural pleasure. With only a EP released at the moment, I have only heard a few tracks but I was thoroughly impressed with their live sound. Ace Fu, home of Man Man, has found themselves another winner, as they will be releasing Annuals full length Be He Me this fall. Their sound is gripping, loaded with emotion, and can be likened to that of Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. This was most apparent on their song "Brother", which has a delicate opening, almost a spacey Elliott Smith vocal. Then, the barrage of grinding guitars and barreling drums power up the instrumentation to a new plateau, as Baker's screams rip through so perfectly. Their live sound was incredibly tight and engaging, and that is all due to the sum of their parts. Kenny Florence with his oversized curly fro is a freakish dynamo on guitar. Bass player Mike Robinson, who barely stood still, layered his bass lines and additional vocals so eloquently. Anna Spence, who played one of the largest KORGs I've seen on the SubT stage, added the softer elements to their powerful sound. The presence of two drumsets was definitely known with Nick Radford and Zack Oden (occasional guitar) pounding away with such intensity that never seemed to clash or feel forced. Finally, Adam Baker who orchestrated the set behind samplers, synths, and misc. percussions, completed their sound with his rich, explosive vocals. It is pretty obvious that the Annuals have the skill, energy, and creative juices to make a name for themselves, it helps that they can translate their sound to stage so successfully. Download: Annuals - "Brother" - (MP3) Download: Annuals - "Bleary Eyed" - (MP3) Download: Annuals - "Dry Clothes" - (MP3)

Live Review: Soulwax @ Double Door 9/17/06

You know, the last time I saw a band perform dance songs with live instruments, I thought it was the most godawful thing I'd ever heard. Fortunately, Soulwax came out on Sunday night and shattered my impression that playing dance music with live instruments is a failed concept. To be honest, I've never really been that big of a Soulwax fan and wasn't completely sold on their new album Nite Versions, which is a reworked version of their previous record, Any Minute Now. Seeing it performed live, however, I was totally impressed. These skinny Belgians are the real deal and know how to throw a good party. I think the key was that it didn't explicity feel like any sort of live gimmick. It just sounded like really solid dance music, with the live performance factor probably adding a bit more punch. Never seeing these guys before (as Soulwax or 2ManyDJs), I thought maybe the live dance thing would certainly bring with it a little bit of a cheese factor, but that wasn't the case at all. I don't want to call it "intelligent" dance music (anybody remember "IDM"?), so let's just say you didn't have to be stupidly drunk or high to enjoy it. Maybe not quite as cerebral as say Ellen Allien matched up with Apparat, but suprisingly it wasn't that far off, either.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Two For Tuesday

Looks like The Crotch (aka Liquor Park) is the place to be tonight, with two solid shows booked on each side of Damen. Over at the Double Door, The Trachtenburg Family Slide Show Players are headlining in support of their great new DVD rockumentary, The Tractenburg Family Slide Show Players Off and On Broadway. If you like your indie rock extra kitschy, this is definitely something you'll want to check out: Then over at SubT, local crazies Bird Names kick things off on a seriously strong bill of nationally-touring indie upstarts. Check out tracks from the rest of tonight's line-up below: The Annuals - "Brother" (MP3) The Annuals - "Blearly Eyed" (MP3) Airiel - "Cinnamon" (MP3) Snowden - "Anti Anti" (MP3)

New Releases Tuesday - 9/19

Arling & Cameron - Hi Fi Underground (Atlantic) Bad Brains - Live at CBGB 1982 (MVD Visual) [DVD] Big Sleep - Son of the Tiger (Frenchkiss) Bonnie "Prince" Billy - The Letting Go (Drag City) Thelettinggo Drag City sez: "his music undergoes a sea change every time he plays it again, and the sounds of The Letting Go are no exception. As “Cursed Sleep” demonstrated, all sonic elements are employed with greater subtlety, combining a twin-guitars-and-rhythm lineup with layers of backing vocals and orchestration and still creating that lonesome echo that all the best Bonny Billy records have. This subtlety allows for greater density of arrangements throughout the record, a feature that’s inspired Bonny to create for the first time ever a surround-sound version of the disc which will be sold to sonic adventurers looking for a new wrap-around joy. The stereo mix is plenty atmospheric in itself, allowing the contributions of Jim White, Paul Oldham, Emmett Kelly, Dawn McCarthy, Ryder McNair, Nico Muhly and Valgier Sigurdsson to shine in turn. However, the song’s the thing, and The Letting Go has some of Bonny’s finest. Cardigans - Super Extra Gravity (Nettwerk) Corrina Repp - The Absent and the Distant (Caldo Verde) Dani Siciliano - Slappers (!K7) Dani_siciliano_137383c Wow, new Dani and new Herbert records this year...here's the press buzz: This isn't a techno record or a dance record. Slappers is comparable to a singer-songwriter record written on the strings of a guitar, but like innovators before her, Dani prefers the 0s and 1s of electronics to balance out her voice and give the album a singular feel. Informed by Dani's own past, Slappers is full of songs of dislocation. After all, Dani started in Arizona, then spent a long period in California before finally moving to England to work with Matthew Herbert Darkel - S/T (Astralwerks) New side project from Air's JB Dunckel (aka, "the short one"). Ensemble - Disown, Delete (FatCat) ¡Forward, Russia! - Give Me A Wall (Mute) Hidden Cameras - Awoo (Arts and Crafts) Kasabian - Empire (Sony) Langhorne Slim - Engine EP (V2) RFC's Chief Honky Tonk Correspondent Rory O'Connor gives this one two thumbs up. Check 'em out next Saturday (9/30) at The Empty Bottle with Two Gallants. Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor (Atlantic) 1158580399_lupe_album1This is such a simple, yet brilliant album title that I can't believe no one has ever used it before (seriously, look it up for yourself on AMG). After a couple of botched record deals, the debut full-length finally arrives for this "Chicago-based Muslim MC." Mohair - Small Talk (Grunion) Mos Def - Tru3 Magic (Geffin) Nina Nastasia - On Leaving (Fat Cat) Working again with Steve Albini, this is Nastasia's first release for Fat Cat after two records and one reissue with Touch and Go. According to the press for the new album, "The Move From Touch and Go implies 'nothing scandalous,' says Nina, 'just moving, the way you move sometimes.'" Pere Ubu - Why I Hate Women (Smog Veil) The Capital Years - Dance Away The Terror (Park the Van) Timonium - In Ives Hall (Pehr) The Whitest Boy Alive - Dreams (Bubbles) ErlendoyeThe name of this Erand Oye side project is not a joke. I believe it was the University of Oslo that conducted the extensive study and the results actually concluded that Mr. Oye is, in fact, the whitest boy alive in the world today, narrowly beating out the dude that played Napolean Dynamite.

Live Review: Cat Power @ The Vic Theatre, 9/13/06

Cat Power’s reputation certainly precedes her. Though I’d never seen her live before this night, countless tales of her extreme shyness and constant onstage meltdowns definitely left me intrigued to witness the disaster that was supposed to be her stage show. I was almost disappointed to learn that in the past year, the formerly fragile chanteuse seemed to gain some confidence and energy on stage, or at the very least had finally got on the right medication. After canceling her tour last spring due to the always ambiguous “health concerns,” my curiosity only grew. Finally, her Chicago date was rescheduled and I got my chance to assess Chan Marshall’s mental state for myself. After a late start, the Memphis Rhythm Band’s eight-plus members made their way out to play a couple of jazzy numbers on their own before they launched into the intro to “The Greatest” and Chan emerged in jeans, a button down shirt, and the most ridiculous pair of five-inch heels I’ve ever seen. “They were a gift from a friend of my in France,” she later told us. “He got them for free. He didn’t want them- he’s a small queen. He doesn’t wear heels.” Barely into the song, she started looking flustered and tapping the monitors before making a big “T” with her hands and forcing the band to quit so the sound guys could fix whatever monitor situation was bothering her. "What, a meltdown so soon?" I thought. But the band merely took it in stride, starting the song over again once Chan was satisfied, and she enthusiastically took to the mic to showcase her incredible voice. From then on Chan and the band ripped through the majority of The Greatest while she paraded around on stage, taking her shoes on and off, buttoning and unbuttoning her shirt, completely incapable of standing still or keeping her arms at her side. Even with the slowest numbers, like “The Moon,” she still danced around with her hands waving around out of time. It was as if as long as she kept moving, she’d be fine. As Chan closed out the final notes to “Where Is My Love,” the band slowly left the stage one by one, leaving Chan alone on stage to kick off Cat Power, Part II- the Solo Show. Without the burden of a band to rein her in, Chan took full liberty in letting her quirks show. Moving back and forth between the piano and guitar, she traipsed her way through pieces of her back catalog for at least an hour, playing songs at half-speed, stopping mid-tune to adjust her seat, frustratingly cutting songs off halfway through only to launch into another one. At one point she told us she was going to sing a new song about “a city that wasn’t Chicago,” but some form distraction led her to a five-minute monologue about the city, Arrested Development (complete with a pretty good Gob imitation), her shoes and the saying “what’s up, chicken butt?” before finally getting back to the music after audience members started yelling out song requests. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized she never even played the song she was introducing! But even if hardly anyone in the audience got to hear a full rendition of any of their favorite older songs, no one seemed to care- the audience seemed to love everything that came out of her mouth. I guess when all you have to live up to is crying and back-turning, it doesn’t take much to excite long-time Cat Power fans. Low expectations are the key to success. The Memphis Rhythm Band returned to the stage after Cat Power’s solo ruminations to begin Cat Power, Part III- The Covers Portion. After letting the band do their own thing for a song that sounded like a blues version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone,” Cat Power rejoined the stage to do a number of high-energy covers, including The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” and every band’s favorite cover song of the moment, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Again, with the band behind her, Chan limited her ramblings and idiosyncrasies, letting the music once again come to the forefront and showing that Chan really can be a great performer when she wants to be. As “Crazy” came to an end, Chan had several of the members stand up with her for a final bow. While the band slowly filed off the stage, Chan wandered around the stage and lingered by the mic, seemingly unable to leave. It seemed ironic how a woman who spent so many years trying to get off the stage now didn’t seem to be able to leave it. I left the show with mixed feelings; Chan’s voice is amazing and it’s definitely fun seeing her enjoy herself on stage (especially in the form of her Mick Jagger impersonation), but at the point when her antics take precedence to the music, it becomes too much. When you’re getting lost in the delicate piano chords of “I Don’t Blame You” and she suddenly drops everything to run over to her guitar, it leaves a little to be desired. Click here for the complete photoset

Monday, September 18, 2006

Live Pics: Nouvelle Vague @ Metro 9/13/06

Touch & Go's 25th: One Last Look

We already posted quite a few here last week, but this weekend Kirstiecat finished uploading all 115 of her pics from the festival. Click here for the complete photoset.

RFC Interview: Dirty On Purpose

It was just a few months back now that Brooklyn’s Dirty On Purpose debuted their first full-length album Hallelujah Sirens, a release so good that it immediately marked the band as one of our favorite new independent artists. Back then, we called it “dreamy, distorted rock with more than its fair share of smart pop hooks; the sort of music you want to follow you around throughout both day and night.” And its haunting, uplifting, and hook-laden tracks like No Radio, Light Pollution, and Your Summer Dress have been shadowing us ever since with no clear sign of abatement. We spoke to Dirty On Purpose guitarist Joe Jurewicz to learn more about the band. Hi, Joe. How’s New York treating you guys? Awesome. There is no better place. Well, actually there are a ton of better places. But those places don't have 24 hour bodegas or delivery services for..um... you know. How did you start? How long you all been together? We started the band in the summer of 2002, I think. George and I had a fairly large art studio that we built with a friend who was roommates with DJ, who in turn knew Doug. So we started a band. Pretty simple, it happened very quickly. It had to… We had a show booked before we had a bass player or drummer. So, we've been together a little over four years, but George and I had played guitar together for a few years before that. From reading previous interviews with you guys, it sounds like you’re all friends … or at least know how to play nice with each other. Is that true? Yeah, we're all friends, sad but true. We don't hang out non-stop or anything -- we all have pretty busy lives outside of the band -- but on any given day, at least two or three of us will be hanging out at the studio working on something. And over the last four years we have learned how to deal with each other and when to back off and all that, so arguments are over pretty quickly. Not a whole lot of blood or anything. Few missing teeth, maybe. Who or what influences your music? Our music is influenced by the combined experiences of four people. To list all of the things that influence us would take days, but to give a short answer: We try to take everything that comes at us, process it, then spit it back out at the world, hopefully sounding somewhat pleasing to the ear. You just toured with Say Hi To Your Mom. How did that go? It went great. We’re friends with those guys, so it was a lot of fun being in strange towns with a bunch of people you can hang out with. Plus those shows were booked by them, so it was a new audience for us, lots of all-ages shows that we normally don't get a chance to play. Ask Say Hi to show you the video of the lady at the gas station… They'll know what you mean. But you don’t tour very often. Why? We haven't toured very often because we all had full-time jobs up until very recently, and touring is not exactly the greatest way to make any money to pay rent. We now have a really great booker, Daniel at Inland Empire, who makes sure we don't have to drive too long between cities, so we'll be out and about a lot more now. What’s the name of your band from? It was a reference to the prevailing aesthetic in Williamsburg around the time we started the band. (Williamsburg is our neighborhood in Brooklyn. I use the term "our" very loosely, as we'll probably be forced out in a few years, by rising rent costs.) It’s by now seeped into middle America, I'm sure. You can probably go to any Wal-Mart and find jeans that are pre-ripped and dirty. In a broader sense, it's about the decline of pretty much everything. No one takes time to do things correctly [and] everything is half-assed because somebody decided one day it was cool to do things that way. "This apartment has exposed brick!" Who on earth gives a shit about exposed brick?! What’s next for you? Any new recordings in the works? Any plans to get out on the road again soon? We’re currently working on the songs for the next record, and getting ready to tour again. We will probably end up recording a lot of the next record ourselves at Death By Audio, our home studio. We learned a lot from Scott and Chris and the rest of the gang at Headgear Recording last time around, and I think we want to try and do more ourselves next time. If we could afford it, we'd use Headgear for everything… They’re amazing. But it's nice to record at home and not have to worry about paying for time. Last question: What bands are you liking the most these days? I can't really speak for the rest of the group, but I have been listening to a lot of Simon & Garfunkel. And I hear a lot of my roomate's bands, A Place to Bury Strangers and Coin Under Tongue, just sitting around the house and listening to them practice. Some other friend's bands that I am listening to lately are Jaymay, The Jealous Girlfriends, Outline Kit, The Shorebirds, The Lucky Bastards, and Th' Haint. I better stop naming them, someone will yell at me for forgetting them. Living in Williamsburg, you can't meet anybody who ISN'T in a band. Listening to music is a lot different when you are in a band I think. I tend to only listen to new stuff if I know who is making it. Otherwise, I stick to old stuff. I’m in negotiations to start a CCR cover band called Creedance Clearwater Revival Revival. Pretty sweet. That’s it, Joe. Thanks for your time. Mark your calendars...Dirty On Purpose hits the Lakeshore Theatre with The Album Leaf on November 12.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Indie Rock + Ice Cream =Tastee

This Woxy's Gone to Heaven

This is it...WOXY.com closes up shop today at 5 (EST). Click here to listen one last time. UPDATE: If you're feeling down about this today, this should cheer you up a bit.

RFC Interview: Soulwax

Sunday night, Belgian electro rockers Soulwax (aka 2ManyDJs) roll into Double Door in support of their latest album, Nite Versions, a 2ManyDJs-style reworking of the 2005 Soulwax release Any Minute Now. RFC recently caught up with Stephen Dewaele, one half of the sibling duo, to find out more about the new album, their current "Radio Soulwax" tour and the intricacies of working under two different musical guises. You guys are quite well known for remixing other people's work, what was the inspiration to go back and remix yourselves for Nite Versions? We liked the idea that during the 80s bands would go back into the studio and re-record their tracks so they could be played in nightclubs. We took it one step further and decided it would be a challenge to then also play them live...which is what we do when we have a Radio Soulwax night [in Belgium], we play live as Soulwax then we DJ as 2ManyDJs and bring along friends. For those not familiar with your work, explain the difference between Soulwax and 2ManyDJs...(obviously Soulwax=rock, 2ManyDJs=dance...but that line seems to get blurred a lot, especially now with Nite Sessions) There is no line for us, but I can see it is confusing to a lot of people. Soulwax is a rock band who use a lot of electronics live and who decide to remix themselves and call that Nite Versions so they could confuse the rock kids by playing dance versions of the Any Minute Now album...2ManyDJs are two guys playing other people's music. How did you guys come to be good friends with New York's LCD Soundsystem? Was it perhaps a mutual admiration of Daft Punk? We were the only two people who DJ'd during all the first LCD shows, that's how we became friends. Plus we all share a passion for espresso, studios, vinyl...and, yes, Daft Punk. Speaking of Daft Punk, tell us more about your cover/remix of their "Teachers" track that kicks off Nite Versions They do a shout-out to their dance heroes and we do the exact opposite by naming all the rockbands that have been an influence on Soulwax. Also, they use a drum machine and synths and we use live intstruments...it seemed like a good idea. Tell us more about this current North American tour that you've dubbed as "Radio Soulwax presents..." (I hear there will be an extensive amount of live instrumentation and DJ work?) Well, we've started playing Nite Versions live as a band and it looks like 4 Europeans in white raving with live instruments. At the end of the night, we close as 2ManyDJs. It's supposed to be one big party...hopefully. (SPEED ROUND) Why is Belgian beer so damn tasty? We are the only two Belgians who don't drink beer Has Daft Punk ever played at your house? No, but I wished they did...although that pyramid wouldn't fit in my house Favorite U.S. club or venue? Lit (NY) Besides yourselves, who is your favorite sibling-led band? The Kinks What are you listening to as you complete this interview? Yellow Magic Orchestra Download: Soulwax - "Miserable Girl" (MP3)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

RFC Interview: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

After seeing them play Wicker Park Street Festival, I quickly realized the potential of this band, whose album Broom is not only filled with songs you can sing along to, but with songs who have lyrics worth paying attention to. There’s an underlying melancholy to some of them as well, a bit like in the case of Shout Out Louds. As a part of an extensive North American tour, SSLYBY will be hitting the Double Door stage this Saturday (9/16).

I’m really enjoying many of the songs off of your album Broom. House Fire in particular really gets to me lyric wise. Was that based on something that really happened or more just a metaphor for an experience of a relationship? I wrote it thinking about a house on fire..literally. That’s what the music sounded like. I never finished the lyrics, so John Robert did. He thought it was more of a metaphor and he came with some weird shit and I couldn’t think of anything better. We’re usually better at mumbling the lyrics so know one can tell what we’re saying. But we got busted on this one. I noticed you have demos for new songs on your MySpace page. Can you talk a little bit about plans for a new album? Yeah, we’re recording everything on our own again. We have 10 or 12 songs ready. We thought we were gonna buy expensive microphones, but we realized our friend B.A. can get them from a college in town. So B.A. is gonna come over to Will’s house and we’re gonna record the new CD in Will’s staircase and piano room. Our goal is not to spend a single penny. Actually, I just made that up. How do you like Polyvinyl Records as a label? Do you find they are supportive of your material? Polyvinyl is rock solid. We’re scurred of the future, but they help us plan things out. They’ve never complained about any of our songs. Who are some of your favorite musicians and bands to play with? Locally, there are a lot of band we love to play with. Sweetwater Abilene, Cindy Woolf, Jonathan Bentley, etc…. and there a lot more we still haven’t played with. Nationally, we like playing with Catfish Haven. Sound Team was cool to tour with, too. We want to see Pheonix real bad. I’m curious as to what the music scene is like in Missouri? Is it a real community? Do you feel music is supported there in general? I think Springfield’s music scene is better than LA, Chicago, New York, and London combined. Any place feels like a community if you have a lot of friends and you go to the same bar. But all the bands get along here and we help each other out and stuff. Honestly, I don’t want indie music to get too big here. I’d rather go see a country band than an indie band. But we get our fair share of both, so I’m not complaining. On your website, you claim that you are the third best band on Weller Street in Springfield, Missouri…which leads me to wonder and ask what you consider to be the first and second best? The first best is one of Elvis Presley’s guitar players. His name is John Wilkinson. He played 1,000 shows with Elvis and he lives across the street from Will on Weller. The second best is Grace Bentley, Will’s cousin. Of course, I have to ask the dreaded “Where did your name come from?” question. I’m hoping for a really great story here… I thought of it at the mall. It’s sorta meaningless. Boris Yeltsin was on my mind because he had just resigned and I felt sorry for him or something. So “Oregon Girl” was in the television show the OC. What was that like for you guys-hearing that in a television show? Do you have any feelings about songs in TV shows, films, and/or commercials? It was real weird. We watched it at a hotel lobby in Denver and I think we got in an argument about something dumb afterwards. Then we played a show for 5 people and they all really liked us, but we got paid $20 and we ran out of money the next day. We almost gave up and drove home, but Will wrote a funny story and we decided to keep touring. You list myspace influences as “pony and moody.” Can you talk a little more about the bands you guys love and some bands that inspire you in particular? Pony and Moody are two fictional characters we made up. As far as bands….we’re inspired by Wharf and Thinking Version. Those are our two high school bands.

Ruminations on Why the Touch and Go 25th Anniversary/10th Hideout Block Party Wasn't a Total Loss

So it’s Saturday evening and I’m in the lot across from the Hideout, getting pee spilled on me and watching babies crack their heads open on concrete, and I’m seeing a bunch of punks and listening to music that doesn’t particularly interest me, and I’m feeling out-of-place and self-consciously testosterone-deficient, and I’m thinking, why the hell am I here? I’m thinking, why am I not sitting on my couch, sipping hot cocoa and working on my great American novel? Then this nerdy little guy and a few of his old friends appear before the crowd, and there’s an undercurrent of electricity among us all, and we shut up and listen. He says in summation that when people talk about the history of music, they tend to jump from the Sex Pistols to Nirvana, but some important music was made in between those two eras, and it’s about gosh-darned time we paid tribute to it, and it’s about gosh-darned time Corey Rusk got his due. Then the nerdy little guy and his old friends start playing some noisy punk rock and I start banging my head, and the people around me start banging their heads, and I’m surprised we don’t knock each other out, and I’m surprised our bodies don’t collapse into piles of boneless goop due to the intensity of the atmosphere. Steve Albini alone is a reason why the Touch and Go 25th Anniversary/10th Hideout Block Party was not a complete waste of time; however, his mantra of respect and appreciation, which was reflected by all of the participating bands and made apparent by the large (and greatly international) crowd, was the true reason for such a festival and made a young whippersnapper like me feel as if this was some sort of private party I was mistakenly invited to. So the number one reason why the TGHOBP shindig wasn’t a total loss? Well, the label probably deserved tribute and attention ten or so years ago, when some of the bands in attendance were more relevant, and when some of the bands relevant now were making the first rumbles of their musical innovation. Touch and Go is a part of Chicago’s musical history, and of punk rock’s musical history, but it is also a testament to Corey Rusk that he has worked to diversify the label over the years so that it remains fresh and influential. Indeed, when the weekend lacked in musical and ambient brilliance, it worked to rectify itself with the sense of community these bands felt, and their appreciation for a man who undoubtedly changed their lives. Now, to specifics. For every few performances that were less than inspiring, there was one that was pretty special. The Big Black reunion was awesome (even though the band obviously didn’t want to do it), and word on the street is that I missed a fun set by Man…Or Astroman? because I was claiming my spot in the crowd for aforementioned reunion, and I’ve also been told that missing Girls Against Boys on Friday night was my big loss. But as everyone expected, at the forefront of the festival’s highlights was Shellac, who capped off the time-capsule of a line-up on Saturday with a set that was raw and powerful. Albini had a somewhat uptight stage presence and a dry sense of humor that made his vigorous guitar strokes seem all the more explosive. Todd Trainer sounded and looked maniacal on drums, and with his cache of flowers and stage-sauntering added a wonderful sense of bizarre zaniness to the performance. For his final act, he selected a few lucky ladies from the crowd to join the band in what was my first (and most likely last) witnessing of a cymbal quintet. The set climaxed with the profound “Billiard Player Song,” which left the crowd half-stunned. Albini sang poignantly about the criminalization of a “crazy” woman, and whether or not she is to blame for her own fall from grace: "He promised her anything/ He never had to deliver/ He promised her everything/ Ask yourself if you could do better.” The tune was haunting and moving and compelled one fan to shout aloud what we all were thinking: “Beautiful.” CocoRosie is about as mismatched with Touch and Go as I am, but their melodious and gorgeous set provided a nice contrast to all of the weekend’s guitar rock and made them one of the standout performances of the Block Party. Sierra and Bianca’s blend of pop, folk, and hip hop was unleashed grandly in the massive setting, casting a delicate luster on us all. Sierra’s instrumentals on acoustic guitar and harp, and her operatic vocals meshed with Bianca’s trinket-playing and smoothly percussive voice to create a stirring and sexy performance in the chilly twilight. They ended the set with “Japan,” which had the band romping around the stage singing “Everybody, just hold hands!” Their quirky, subtly perverse music and strong femininity was truly inspiring.

Another highlight for me was Friday night’s closers !!!, who worked hard to get the somewhat aloof crowd dancing. Front man Nic Offer was his usual psychotic disco self, and seemed to take it personal if he saw people who weren’t shaking their asses. At one point he jumped into the crowd and was body surfed around then thrown back onstage. Afterwards he shouted, “You fucking punk rockers! I was coming out to dance with you, and you thought I was crowd surfing!”

(photo by Marcia Detterline) Pinback was perhaps not up to their usual topnotch form; however, it was apparent that Rob Crow was a bundle of nerves as he kept filling up the band’s onstage downtime with rambling nerdspeak and awkward interactions with the crowd. He admitted being self-conscious, playing for so many people and mingling with some of his personal music heroes. It was endearing to see him acting so bashfully, but all of his energy was released in their closer “Summer in Abaddon,” during which Crow’s voice cracked through his screaming, and he tossed his guitar around like a teenaged demon punkster. So yeah, it was sucky times, it was good times. My schizophrenic experience perhaps coincides with Touch and Go’s own recent tendency towards bi-polarity. The bulk of the label’s roster I find rather uninteresting; however, I’m sure a lot of the punks who claim I’m a jackass because I’m not into hardcore wouldn’t have been caught dead jumpin’ and jivin’ to !!! or swaying sensually to CocoRosie. Such is the difficulty with a label having a sundry playlist: you can’t please all the people all the time. Conversely, this diversity is also Touch and Go’s strength. It could easily have become a stagnant label. It could easily have only brought out one type of person last weekend. Instead Corey Rusk chose to grow, and I chose to risk my own comfort for the chance to celebrate a part of underground music’s history and future.

Live Pics: Touch & Go 25th, Day Three

COCOROSIE
ENON
QUASI