PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | “We have to keep this between us…” said Courtney Barnett into the mic while playing the Metro in Chicago on Monday night. I am not good at keeping secrets and I want to capture whatever Courtney Barnett is about to say so I hit the button on my recorder… “I’ve never said this to anyone but, um I love you,” she says. I gotta admit, I swooned a bit.
“…this place is special to us because it’s one of the first places we ever played in February…and we came back and played again, and we’re back here now and even more people are here. That’s pretty fucking cool!” After Monday’s show, it’s apparent that people will continue to catch on to her music for its cool mix of blues and grunge and storytelling. I was shocked when I got a text from an acquaintance that I ran into just before the show saying that he wasn’t going to stay for her set. Yeah, that was a mistake.
Courtney Barnett has been touring for a good while now to support her latest release, “The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas” (not a full-length album but actually two EPs combined). She’s known for her smart, straightforward lyrics that start out somewhat normal but then quickly turn into these funny, sometimes anxiety-ridden stories. Songs like “Avant Gardner” and “History Eraser” come off louder and rowdier than on the recordings and it was the perfect pick-me-up to an otherwise mundane Monday. I was also impressed to learn that she has her own record label, Milk!Records, does all of her own writing and producing, and even does illustrations for her EPs as well as for other artists on Milk!.
Last Saturday gave way for the Swedish folk duo, First Aid Kit to bring their beautiful and mesmerizing sounds to a packed audience at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC.
Touring to promote their third studio effort, the 2014 album Stay Gold, sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg played through their country inspired, indie folk set and couldn’t have been more well received by their DC audience. What struck me most about the performance was their beautiful and careful harmonies—the way both sister’s voices played off of each other was utter perfection, comparable to such acts as Simon and Garfunkel and The Milk Carton Kids.
It’s obvious the this Swedish duo has a long history of working together. Aside from their familial roots and breathtaking vocals, the duo—backed by a top-notch band that consisted of a drummer and a guitar /steel guitar player—had extremely well thought out arrangements and songcraft. While you can tell their roots are folk based, the overall sound was more of an indie band with a country soul.
Le Very’s EP “Playground” is just a small snippet into their world which is rich in electro pop.
The EP starts with a bang as the title track stirs something from within, you’ll be singing along by the end for sure. The chorus is possibly one of the catchiest you’ll hear and it’s what gives the band room to stretch beyond the boundaries of mere electro pop—there’s something epic about this opening track that sucks you in.
“The Dive” has a somewhat sweeter sound, it’s a little softer and more ’80s driven. If you imagine the sound that Zoot Woman honed with their 2001 debut album Living In A Magazine, Le Very have taken this and given it their own spin. The track sounds like a dream somewhere between Zoot Woman and Goldfrapp’s earlier sound.
Heads up music lovers! Amid all the mania associated with the Voodoo Music Experience you don’t want to miss hearing about one of the best shows going on this weekend. So read on. Saturday night, after the gates at Voodoo close, the Joy Theater on Canal Street will feature this killer double bill. Doors are at 11 PM.
Gravity A has been a highly regarded band on the scene since 2004, but they really hit their stride a couple of years ago. Now, they have been really turning ears with a tribute to Talking Heads featuring the guitarist and vocalist Cliff Hines.
When I first heard about this lineup, I was skeptical. Hines is better known in creative music circles and jazz. As far as I know, he was not even regarded as a first-rate vocalist. Intrigued and expecting electro-jazzy takes on T-Heads, I went to one of the early iterations of this tribute last spring at Wednesdays at the Square.
Simply put, I was blown away.
Back in the heady days of groups like Led Zeppelin and The Who, it was taken as a given that being in a band was one of the most awesome things you could do for a living. It was up there with Astronaut and racing driver, for goodness’ sake!
Since then, despite a brief resurgence in the ’90s where Madchester and Britpop once again made life on stage and on the road something that looked exciting, a 24/7 party where you were the centre of attention, it’s all calmed down a bit. With the financial bottom falling out of the music industry, being a successful musician has been revealed as a fairly low paying job considering the amount of effort required to make it to the top and stay there.
However, there is still hope! The Marivaux have arrived on the scene with a music video celebrating everything that’s great about being on the road. There are no flea-infested motels, no depressing pictures of four people jammed into a dressing room with a broken sink; these Manchester boys are having the time of their lives and want everybody to know about it.
“And you can’t even make up my mind/Another song the radio won’t like.”
If you ask me, and I don’t really know why you would seeing as how I’m not very smart and a renowned prevaricator to boot, Kathleen Edwards is the Queen of Alt-Country. “Ah,” but I can hear you saying, “Lucinda Williams is the Queen of Alt-Country.” And you might be right. So let’s just say they’re the co-Queens of Alt-Country, and avoid lots of useless bickering. It’s not like the position comes with a crown or bejeweled scepter or anything. Hell, people don’t even have to bow in your presence.
One could question Edwards’ bona fides, seeing as how she didn’t grow up in Texas or Mississippi or Tennessee or any of your good-for-nothin’-but-producing-country-stars Dixie states (just joshin’). She’s Canadian, for Christ’s sake, and spent her formative years overseas, the daughter of a diplomat. In short, she’s about as authentically “country” as Nico, and I suspect she’s never been within a mile of a three-legged pig. But who cares? Country is a state of mind, and to get to that state you don’t have to drive a battered Ford pickup down any gravel roads way off the interstate, where the roadhouses (and I mean all of them) have neon signs with one letter on the fritz. All you need is a guitar, a couple of albums by Loretta Lynn, and an attitude.
And Edwards has attitude in spades. The first song of her songs I ever heard was “One More Song the Radio Won’t Like.” It was so lovely, yet simultaneously scathing, that I became an immediate fan. She had it all: great songs with great lyrics, and the voice of a bruised but unbowed angel. It didn’t hurt that the album it came off was called Failer, which led me to believe, true or not, that she shared my belief that we humans were placed on earth to fail, and fuck up things real good. I mean I know it’s just a theory, but you have to admit that the history of our species backs me up.
Has it really been 31 years since King Buzzo started the Melvins? Hard to believe that these guys have been sludging up the metal scene for more than three decades, and they still got it. Touring in support of their new record Hold it In, the Melvins played to a sold out, jam-packed Great American Music Hall last week and tore the roof off the place. The latest album showcases the band at one of their finest moments in my opinion, and is the first lineup to feature Buzzo and Crover, with Butthole Surfers members Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus.
King Buzzo certainly lives up to the “King” part of his name. The crowd was full of adoring punks, metalheads, burnouts, and even a sprinkling of hipsters who came to show their loyalty to one of the most eclectic artists in recent memory. (I even saw punk legend Jello Biafra hanging out.) Buzzo stalked across the stage wearing an outfit that looked like he was going to run to the top of a temple and welcome a new alien species to earth immediately after the show.
The live set was nothing short of a spectacle as these three dudes might be the heaviest trio on the planet right now, as far as I’m concerned. The setlist that night was missing a few classic Melvin “hits” if you will, but new songs such as the brilliant “Bride of Crankenstein” made up for any of the expected staples from their classic albums.
Three years after the U.S. release of his first full-length album, singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow released his follow-up LP, Post Tropical, this past January.
Making his music debut in 2010 with a folk, acoustic album, Early in the Morning, Irishman James Vincent McMorrow takes a new approach to his second release. Recorded in eight months on a pecan farm near the Mexican border, his second album, Post Tropical, emerged. Differing from his debut, McMorrow incorporates electronic instruments, creating a soulful, R&B sound.
Just ending the European leg of tour, McMorrow will be touring the U.S. in November. He will be performing at DC’s Lincoln Theatre on Saturday, November 8. We happen to have a pair of tickets, and we’re giving them away, along with a copy of the new album!
With its soaring ceilings, domed roof, and rows upon rows of pews, there are some acts that seem ready-made to perform at Washington, DC’s Sixth & I historic synagogue. Pete Yorn’s “You & Me Acoustic” tour is surely one of them. Yorn is bringing his guitars and folk-inspired catalogue to Sixth & I on November 2 for a stop on his first-ever solo acoustic tour.
Yorn hasn’t released an album under his own name since 2009, which saw an astounding three Yorn albums, including a set of duets with Scarlett Johansson. Fans can rest assured that he has a new solo album on its way, but while he’s finishing up his next release, he decided to take some time off for this tour.
Johansson isn’t expected to make an appearance at Sixth & I, but it doesn’t mean their songs are off-limits for the show—and the same goes for his work with The Olms, Yorn’s side project J.D. King; his past records, including his 2001 hit debut musicforthemorningafter; and even new material. Yorn has said that he’s playing without set lists and taking requests, seeing what works for each night.
Samhain. A Gaelic holiday that marks the end of the harvest and the coming winter. Adopted in the 20th century by Wiccans and Neopagans, the origins of the Samhain celebration date back as far as the 10th century. As Christianity made its way across Europe, the annual observance began the metamorphosis into what we today call Halloween. This Friday, Halloween night, Samhain will rise again at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.
This time, it is not a harvest we’re celebrating, but rather the return of the gothic rock band fronted by the mighty Glenn Danzig. Celebrating “30 Bloody Years,” they have returned to play a handful of dates in 2014, including Riot Fest in Chicago. Danzig has brought back original members London May on bass and Pete Zing on drums, with Peter Adams of Baroness taking over the guitar duties.
What started as a side project became Danzig’s full-time band, as Samhain rose from the ashes of punk legends The Misfits. Drawing from varied influences and layering that with the horror-themed punk of his former band, Danzig, along with bassist Eerie Von, drummer Steve Zing, and an assortment of coming and going musicians, released Initium in 1984. A dark, experimental journey of heavy gothic deathrock, the album was not commercially accepted but gained a huge cult following. The blood-soaked, devil-locked band image on the cover became iconic, as did the first use of the skull that would be associated with Danzig for his entire career.