Woods continues to put out perfect songs, this time letting the musical saw and almost theatrical enunciation take the lead. Just a whole bunch of prettiness down to the “ooh ooh ooh’s”. The song has a swagger befitting a walk down a coastal boardwalk wearing nothing but a bathing suit, confidence and a smile. The musical saw wavers in and out like a polite alien abduction of a falsetto hero:
Since I am a detailed person and a bit of a nut, I enjoy listening to every single band that is being showcased at SXSW before I attend (if you’d like a link to the detailed spreadsheet, follow the blog and I will put up a post when it’s ready close to three weeks prior with calendar). I’ve picked out the best for those that just don’t have the time for this daunting task, and will continue to through the festival, got my flights and vrbo booked, just need new ankle boots. These are my favorite groups out of Group 2 (with Group 1 to come because I accidentally did it backwards).
The Apache Relay- Nashville- Americana folk rock with mano and harp and Edward Sharpeish melodies and singalongs
Black Pistol Fire- Austin- TX rock/garage/blues goodness
Bobby Jealousy- Austin- big, bright happy pop
Brass Bed- Lafayette- reverbed out indie rock
Bully- Nashville- Juliana Hatfield-esque indie rock
Crying Nut- S. Korea- loud, crashing melodic pop punk done right
The Growl- Perth, Australia- sexy garage rock
Hurray for the RiffRaff- New Orleans- gorgeous female vocals, zydeco folk
La Femme- France- plain hot stuff
The Parrots- Spain- garage rock
Quiet Company- Austin- upbeat indie pop
Rey Pila- Mexico City- Scissor Sisters-like disco pop
September Girls- Dublin- grungy but pretty garage pop
So So Glos- Brooklyn- power pop twangy guitar goods
Spires- Brooklyn- jangly psych pop
Streets of Laredo- Brooklyn- fast paced folk rock
Troker- Mexico- funk with some killer organ and horns
When you see over twenty tracks listed, you think either someone has a lot to say, or they need an editor. Cass McCombs is the former, his sound is so pleasing and easy going he could have recorded a box set and it would have all been listenable. With Mike Gordon of Phish playing bass here and there, the thumping backbone of the rhythm section lets his vocals echo and wisp above it all while remaining strong and direct. “Big Wheel” trucks along strong, a beat similar to “When the Levee Breaks” chugging on as Cass purrs seductively with the slightest sneer. The slide is used to maximum beautiful effect in “Angel Blood”, amazing AM pop hooks that remind me of early Beatles through it and the remainder of the album. Some tracks are more segments of songs, as McCombs seems to be sharing any idea he had at the time, fully formed or not. “Brighter!” appears twice, a melancholy song that sounds like it would have fit in on the Twin Peaks soundtrack, and then having cult actress Karen Black take over the vocals the second time around, giving the song and even eerier turn as her final performance before succumbing to cancer.
“There Can Be Only One” has a very Velvet Underground feel to it with the flat story telling vocal delivery, bouncy bass from Mike Gordon (Go Cactus!) and shimmying drums from Furthur’s Joe Russo sprinkling all over the album. “Name Written on Water” is as close to an homage to Bob Dylan as you can get, the repeating Watchtower sounding rhythm growing stronger and stronger as his snarky delivery questions life. The production on this album is great, warm with a vintage feel that just sounds so damn pleasant. This is one of the better and more prolific songwriters out there right now, and with his galley of talented collaborative friends, there’s no telling the body of work he will create in his lifetime.
“There Can Be Only One” with Mike Gordon:
Fantastic Los Angeles indie pop band The Ruse just announced that they will be opening for Muse on their Mexico dates. HUGE for these guys, they are going to kill it out there on this rhyme-y tour. Check out the announcement over at Muse’s website:
The highly anticipated Portugal. The Man release “Evil Friends” comes out June 4th, and I was given a chance to listen to it today. For fans of the expiremental Portland band already, you are going to love it, it’s a new sound that doesn’t stray too far from the old, and I see them gaining a lot of new fans with this album due to the more easily accessible radio-friendly nature of the songs. There isn’t a skippable track here, each has their own catchy melody and lyrics that tell so many bittersweet stories, and they could each standalone as a strong single courtesy of the amazing production by Danger Mouse. They had recorded most of the tracks at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, but scrapped all but two and began working with Danger Mouse on an almost clean slate.
The album starts off great with the synth heavy “Plastic Soldiers”, and I love the lyrics of “Creep in a T-Shirt” about being a loser, they go nicely with the driving beat and twinkling keys. “Evil Friends”, the title track, has a taste of garage punk, while “Sea of Air” is a delicate acoustic ditty that soars as more layers of instruments are brought in. By the time they got to the hand-claps, I was smitten. “Holy Roller (Hallelujah)” is a stand out track with strong lyrics and background choruses singing “ooohs” and “aaahs”, and they even dabble in hip hop with the track “Hip-Hop Kids”, and it works! They’ve got a major tour kicking off May 20th at Irving Plaza, and will be hitting up Denver opening for the Avett Brothers at Red Rocks. If you haven’t seen them live, they are even better and louder in person, songs get stretched out and rocked out, and the new material is so awesome, I can’t wait to hear it live! Don’t miss that Red Rocks show!
Link to Video of Evil Friends
Link to tour dates
Link to pre-order Limited Edition Super Pack
New Jersey two-piece DADS just signed with 6131 Records, causing them to release a new EP and tour this summer! These guys have a wonderful sound, reminding me a little of Pinback vocally with great upbeat guitar licks and crashing percussion. They remind me of working in skate shops as a teen, something very free and earnest about them. Listen to their debut album here, American Radass
And check them out live! They’ll be in Denver July 8th at Circle Music Collective.
06/13 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
06/14 Greenville, NC @ Tipsy Teapot
06/15 Murrells Inlet, SC @ Suck Bang Blow (early)
06/15 Charleston, SC @ The Oasis (late)
06/16 Atlanta, GA @ Wonder Root
06/17 Savannah, GA @ Taco Abajo
06/18 Jacksonville, FL @ Burro Bar
06/19 Orlando, FL @ Wills’ Pub
06/20 Pembroke Pines, FL @ The Talent Farm
06/21 Tampa, FL @ Epic Problem
06/22 New Orleans, LA @ Big Top June
06/23 San Antonio, TX @ The Ten Eleven
06/24 Austin, TX @ Mohawk
06/25 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
06/27 Albuquerque, NM @ The Gasworks
06/28 Meza, AZ @ Nile Underground
06/29 San Diego, CA @ Che Cafe w/ Adventures
06/30 Highland Park, CA @ Growing Up Is Dumb Fest w/ Defiance Ohio
07/01 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Ratchet House
07/02 Oakland, CA @ 1234 Go Records
07/03 Eureka, CA @ Placebo
07/04 Portland, OR @ Garfield House
07/05 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon Lounge
07/06 Boise, ID @ The Shredder
07/07 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Shred Sled
07/08 Denver, CO @ Circle Music Collective
07/09 Kansas City, MO @ Art Closet Studio
07/10 ST. Louis, MO @ Fubar
07/11 Peoria, IL @ Broken Tree Coffee
07/12 Chicago, IL @ Swerp Mansion
07/13 Grand Rapids, MI @ The Turtle Den
07/14 Ann Arbor, MI @ 907 Lincoln
07/15 Indianapolis, IN @ Hooiser Dome
07/16 Pittsburgh, PA @ The Mr. Roboto Project w/ Adventures
07/17 Williamsport, PA @ West 4th
07/18 Philadelphia, PA @ The Fire w/ Daylight
07/19 Alexandria, VA @ The Lab w/ Daylight
07/20 Brooklyn, NY @ Suburbia w/ Daylight
07/21 New Haven, CT @ Bethesda Lutheran Church
Philly based Bleeding Rainbow on Kanine Records are a whole new band. They used to be a noise pop two piece called Reading Rainbow. Now with two more members and a nifty name change, they sound totally different, and they are a powerhouse. With the mix of girlish but strong vocals and layers of fuzz, my perfect band has been created. They are also Dave Grohl approved for what that’s worth. As one person commented on youtube, they sound like they would have been on 120 Minutes, and that was a great great show. Really looking forward to shooting their show at Larimer Lounge on May 8th! The album is already out, watch the video for “Drift Away” here:
Pickwick have released one of the best albums this year, Can’t Talk Medicine. Indie-pop enthused with the bluesy soul of singer Galen Disston, a guy who listens to his dad’s vinyl collection of Grateful Dead and cites Bob Dylan’s lyrics as an influence, giving a positive sound to this Seattle band, a town known for it’s grunge and sludge. Incredible energy live, caught them at sxsw and the audience was dancing, an activity seldom seen there. Catch them live in Boulder on May 8th.
Coffeeshop venues are so easy to dress for. Basically, you can wear what you want, your work clothes, date night clothes, or something like this. Obviously a plaid shirt is always a fall back, but this one is more fitted and buttoned all the way to the top, because the fashion blogs say that’s how we wear them now. almost cholo style, but buttoned to the very bottom. Great for showing off chunky shorter necklaces or a bowtie if you are daring.
I always wear jeans to singer/songwriter type venues. First off, it’s usually a bunch of high tables and stools, so you sit cross legged like a lady ( great time to wear heels, hook it on that lower rung for stability) or you have to sit kind of open legged like a man. I do the latter, so jeans it is.
As for shoes, rock those heels, wear your nice ones, even! These crowds are chill, there isn’t beer spilled everywhere. Only venue I will dare wear a pair of Jordans is of the coffeeshop venue variety, why not? It’s clean! Also, go ahead and bring your nicest purse, you’ve got that high table to flop it on (bonus if they have hooks under the table) and it never leaves your sight!
Doll up, go see some folk and Americana, come home and say “Hey ! My super high heeled boots didn’t hurt tonight!”
Boats out of Winnipeg are really getting some buzz. Noisy pop with hooks galore, and great lyrics about unusual themes. The first time I heard “Great Skulls” I just hit repeat repeat repeat. Stream the album for free at Kill Rock Stars.