Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Neat Bands I Saw at CMJ

Boogie Boarder (myspace/website)
LISTEN TO: "Bio Hassle," "USRA"
Their new record - Pizza Hero - is tough to describe, but I'd situate it somewhere between Ponytail and Les Savy Fav - high energy, barely intelligible lyrics, and sick, sick repetitive riffs. In other words, great stuff. They sound basically the same live, but better, because it's louder and right in your face.

Darlings (myspace/website)
LISTEN TO: everything on their myspace
These cats also had a new record come out over the summer, about a month after Boogie Boarder's, on the same label (Famous Class). It packs the same energy, but it focuses it into lo-fi garage pop. Catchy and delicious. Again, similar sound live, but a LOT noisier, more feedback, and guitar-destructive tendencies. We liked 'em so much we saw 'em twice.

Surfer Blood (myspace/website)
LISTEN TO: "Twin Peaks"
Hadn't heard Surfer Blood before I went to NYC, but I heard they played something like 15 shows over the course of 4 days. Also, the New York Times (?!) digs them. I do too, a lot - they play lo-fi pop, but with a lot of attention to good musicianship and a tight live show. These guys have their shit together and they're great - keep an eye out for a record in the next few months. Also, catch them when they open for Japandroids at the Billiken Club. This will be one of the best shows in St. Louis this fall, DO IT.

Jeff the Brotherhood (myspace/website)
LISTEN TO: "Heavy Days," "Heavy Damage," "Bone Jam," the whole record
Cannot stop listening to "Heavy Days," JtB's new record. Armed with just three strings and a drum kit, Jake and Jamin play some serious (metal/stoner/psych/pop) jams, and when they took the floor at Above the Auto Parts Store in Brooklyn-Kings, the entire crowd of unwashed hipsters went fucking crazy. My knees are still pretty banged up from being beaten into the corner of the stage throughout their 45 minute set. If these guys come through town, don't miss 'em. Oh yeah, check out Brooklyn Vegan's pictures from the show - you'll see what I mean (NSFW).

Sleigh Bells (myspace)
LISTEN TO: them live
Lo, a new buzz band (apparently) that's bound to get a lot of praise from Pitchfork and other hip people who know things about music. In fact, the aforementioned site just named their track "Crown on the Ground" Best New Track - whatever that means - but heads up, it's physically painful to listen to. Not saying awful, just painful. HOWEVER, they put on an awesome live show - just a chick covering vocal and dancin' duties, and a dude playing loud, loud, distorted guitar. Think The Kills, or maybe MIA (who was in attendance, with 50 other people, when I saw them).

OTHER COOL (i think) BANDS (that i saw, but am too lazy to write about)

Delorean - recorded stuff is okay, but they really shine live.
Grandchildren - same as above
UUVVWWZ - spaz-tastic. really lovely stuff, great live show.
Real Estate - great on record and live. check it.


Sunday, October 25, 2009


A couple weeks ago Tom Russell stopped by the station before his show at Off Broadway.

We talked about: the state of modern radio, Leonard Cohen's "There is a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in" and how that applies to shamelessly broadcasting dusty vinyl, fanbase interactions, The Blogosphere, the edginess of Juarez and the borderland, edginess, Dylan, Bukowski, machismo, "insurgent country," the kinship between songwriting and painting that excludes poetry, art, REAL SONGS, "New Folk," "insurgent country," Andy Warhol, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Willem de Kooning, Mt. Olive, IL, Mother Jones, Merle Travis' "Dark as a Dungeon" and "Sixteen Tons" & a whole bunch of other subjects that did, as you might expect, include other famous names, but also other things.

For all you KWUR loverboys--TR name-dropped us at Off Broadway that night, citing "graffiti on the walls and DJs sleeping on the floor," that anecdote meandering to the oblique conclusion "America still exists inside used book stores and on the faces of Amish women" (which I believe he credited as a Lenny Bruce paraphrase). This was a sit-down Off Broadway show and the KDHX sponsorship unsurprisingly ensured the joint was brimming with blue hairs appalled at having to wait in line on Lemp before the doors opened. Great show - the man clearly thrives under the spotlight and his on-stage charisma surpasses his studio delivery (not to undercut the albums). I especially dug an extended version of TR's Dave Van Ronk monologue and the included phlegmy DVR impersonations: "shut up and listen to this goddamn song!" and the clever but somewhat meaningless banter introducing "Criminologist," centering around the "New Folk" heroes and their high voices. "Navajo Rug" encore brought down the house (in a staid, sitdownshow sense, natch).

listen to the whole things right here

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Last night Justin Kinkel-Schuster - lead-singer and songwriter for local band Theodore - stopped in, played some songs and talked some talk. We discussed his band's recent label-signing, his recent RFT awards for "best male vocalist" and "best country (alternative)," George Hamilton IV's "Abilene", "high-voiced New Folk heroes," rock operas, and probably some other things. I'll be broadcasting the interview live on the airwaves (@90.3 fm/kwur.com) at 7 or 8pm (central time, natch), but if you wanna check out the songs right now, give a listen below. Perhaps most importantly, Theodore will be performing tonight at Off Broadway with Samantha Crain and it promises to be a blockbuster humdinger bonanza mindblower so, you know, keep that in mind. Hopefully we'll get the full band in the studio some time soon.

Theodore - Death's Head

Theodore - I Won't Be a Stranger

Theodore - Abilene

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

KWUR Presents - We Fun: Atlanta, GA Inside Out


From Paste Magazine:

A minor blues progression organ-vamps as the handheld camera zooms shakily into the devious grin of a young dude holding a dual-blaze firework lackadaisically, as if the object weren’t emitting a furious spark geyser next to his face.

This moment from a Black Lips concert in the group’s Georgia hometown kicks off the newly-released trailer for We Fun: Atlanta, GA Inside Out, a rock doc by Nashville filmmakers Chris Dortch and Matthew Robison (Silver Jew) and producer Bill Cody who lent his talents to the musical time capsule Athens, GA: Inside/Out (released in 1987).

The barrage of crowdsurfing, crotch fireballs, spirit-chugging and Whirlyball hints at what Dortch meant when he told Paste, “in my mind, we’ve got like 90 Anton [Newcombe]s floating around here [in Atlanta]. And there’s this legitimate love and camaraderie between them that you don’t find in other cities.” Among the merry bands of eccentrics in the film are Deerhunter, Mastodon, the Selmanaires, Anna Kramer, and the Coathangers.

Movie starts at 8, seventy minutes long.



Monday, October 19, 2009


Ultramagnetic MCs - Critical Beatdown
Revolutionary both in production techniques and lyrical content

Tuff Crew - Danger Zone
'88 in a nutshell I guess

EPMD - Strictly Business
So good

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Friday, October 16, 2009



Monday, October 12, 2009

Album Review: Thao Nguyen with The Get Down Stay Down, "Know Better Learn Faster"

Photo by Tarina Westlund
Lilith Fair inspired acoustic pop fronted by Ms. N's breathy, distinctive voice. RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, or a folky Cat Power. She mixes in some Rilo Kiley-type pop hooks here, not sure if it's effective. Positively warm, intimate, vulnerable, sexy even.

Play: 1++(short, but she should have an entire album like this), 2++(The single, fun!), 3+ (boner jam, or, er, sexy), 5, 8

Friday, October 09, 2009

Review Roundup!

No Age-- Losing Feeling EP:
more no-agery from these two LA dudes without age. All Good!
1. real good, long buildup to rocking conclusion
2. slower and quietery, pretty, acoustic guitar!?
3. instrumental, drifty, slow
***4. typical awesome no age song. loud, distorted, fun, yeah! Play it!
All Clean

Jay Reatard-- Watch Me Fall
more dumb but catchy punky garage from mr. Reatard. Plenty of good tracks, but doesn't particularly grab me. Play!
**1. Really Catchy!
4. acoustic but fast
**5. herky jerky, really good
6. less frenetic
**7. sweetheart guitar and backing vocals
12. slower, pretty, nice
FCC Warning: 8, 9


Monsters of Folk:
A supergroup! Jim James (my morning jacket), Conor Oberst and Mike Magis of Bright Eyes, M. Ward. Recommended if you like any of those groups. This ain't just folk-- this is just about everything and most of it works. Electro-pop (1), rock (2.11), country, folk, etc.
Try Anything, but:
1-- awesome, poppy
4-- great MMJ-ish folk
7--upbeat, almost bluegrass, great
10- slide guitar, pretty

The Fresh and Onlys-- Grey Eyed Girls
Recommended if you like: thee oh sees, crystal stilts
another awesome act from S.F, these guys play chilly, distorted garage rock (a la crystal stilts) galloping rhythms and melodies, along with strained vocals, dominate the record. There are some excellent tracks here:
**1-- tongue in cheek lyrics
*2-- okay
****3-- noisy, good
**4-- slower pop
****5-- GREAT
***6-- creepy
***7-- organ, yeah!
**8-- good
***9-- excellent!
*10- good
**11-- galloping rock
****12--- epic build

More to Come!

Avett Brothers-- I and Love and You

Well,for a band that sings so much about breaking hearts, they sure waited long enough to break mine. No more of that raucous energy I loved about them... downplaying banjo and guitar in favor of piano. No more of those harmonies that make you feel like crying and laughing at the same time. Well-produced and some tracks are very pretty. I wish them luck wooing a wider audience, I just wish it didn't come at the cost of what made me love them... that intimate feel, a little edginess, the sense of being on the edge of falling apart (a la the better Replacements albums). An album of very pretty and well-crafted PIANO MUSIC.
Thanks, Rick Rubin. Goodbye, North Carolina, Hello Brooklyn.

Harmonies have gotten broader and poppier, less high-off-lonesome (IE, less bluegrass).
All pretty Midtempo.

Track Rundown:

1. Pretty piano ballad. Title track.
2. great! banjo and longing and sweet melody. what they do best! tender love.
3. piano, bruce springsteen
4, 6. a little looser, guitar, a little bit of scott avett yelling
5. rolling stone says this song is "mature." Really good part in the middle where...
no, wait, this is MTV pop-rock.
7. yeah! Fun and goofy, still piano though.
10. UGH! CMT crap.
11. good! goofy stop-and-start

All Clean

Breaks my damn heart.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Album Review: The Almighty Defenders, "The Almighty Defenders"

(image from www.fromoldbooks.org)

WOAH!! Best thing I've heard all year. The Almighty Defenders is a supergroup of King Khan, The Black Lips and Mark Sultan (as if they all didn't play together anyway). In ten days, they recorded this jangly, lo-fi, whiskey soaked garage soul record. Remin. of Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Northern Soul stompers. This takes the King Khan/Black Lips project to the next level. What No Wave did to funk, this does to soul.

Seriously, play all, no filler. 1+++(walking bass, handclaps), 2++(shalalala), 3+++(ballad), 4++(so good, sam cooke-ish), 5+(ballad), 6+ and 7+(muahaha), 8++ (great cover of a great song), 9+, 10++(vocal riffs [ah-ooh]), 11++ (Screamin Jay, anyone?)

Track 5 is definitely likely to offen most listeners.