Divino Niño, playing tomorrow night at Eleven's WHERE IS MY MIND TONIGHT? party at mushmaus! Though it sounds like a smoky slow-burner from the '60s, this video for "Woman" is brand new. If you enjoy Sixto Rodriguez in "Searching for Sugarman," and/or Tuneyards' loop-savvy percussion, plan on enjoying yourself at the party. Divino Niño's first up!
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
OK, first off: have you heard about the newest joint in town: The Demo? Well, The Fox Hole at Atomic Cowboy is being transformed into the new venue, which will be run by some familiar folks: bookers from both Lola and Firebird will be pitching in to bring more live music life to the Grove’s nightlife. This should be good news for the nieghborhood, and should be welcomed by the Gramophone, an excellent but sometimes undertrafficked venue that could use some live-music neighbors to help spur audiences over thataway.
But have you heard about their opening night show? Vintage Trouble is a searing hot slab of showmanship, bringing James Brown’s twitch and jive (and tightly tailored suits) to the modern era. Singer Ty Tyler is a spinning, wailing, mesmerizing dervish, and the whole band burns down every song in their repertoire. It’s that same old revelation: truly great moves make a truly great show.
And speaking of old-school legit: their gig at The Demo is squeezed between arena dates on their US tour opening for The Who. Even if you don’t take my word on Vintage Trouble’s moves and grooves, I happily defer to the wisdom of Pete Townsend and crew. Considering they’re playing such an intimate room, this is one case where you’ll want to be there when it goes down.
Friday, February 8, 2013
When it comes to well-crafted 90's/early 00's power-pop that has withstood the test of time, it really doesn't get a whole lot better than dada. The Los Angeles trio, consisting of guitarist Michael Gurley, bassist Joie Calio, and drummer Phil Leavitt, created some of the most melodic and memorable music of that era; served up with tight three-part harmonies and more hooks than most coat racks. Best known for their hits “Dizz Knee Land” and “Dim”, both off of their debut (and arguably finest) release Puzzle, dada also has a strong reputation for playing marathon-length shows, which generally last about two and a half hours (almost twice as long as most rock groups play these days, outside of the jam-band category). After a several year hiatus from national touring, they are currently making up for that lost time with an impressively extensive (and most likely exhausting), six week, 34-date tour that is a well-deserved celebration of dada's 20th anniversary.
What separates this monumental tour from others before it is that the band will be (a) playing towns that it has rarely, if ever, played before, and (b) performing songs that it has seldom, if ever, performed live. According to the band's website, Calio promises they'll be “digging deep into our roots—examining and celebrating them."
Another intriguing aspect of this tour is that one of the two opening acts (both will play on every date) is a countrified blues, drums/electric guitar/harmonica duo comprised of Calio and Leavitt called 7Horse. This isn't just dada reworked or revamped; it's a totally new, fresh-sounding project that Calio says “allowed two friends to discover radically new sides of each other.” In addition to arriving early enough to catch their set, you should check out their highly addictive song “Low Fuel Drug Run” online—it's pretty damn great.
By trading a youth spent in archetypal Smalltown, USA, for a studio space shared with Yim Yames and Andrew Bird, Tift Merritt went from a place where everybody knew everybody to a place where everybody wants to know her. On her fifth and latest album, Traveling Alone, she tells us how she knows herself, exploring loneliness, loss, and ultimately, perseverance—darker themes than one might expect, given her laidback persona.
Merritt didn’t have a label or a manager when she recorded Traveling Alone, but when you can borrow guitarists from Dylan and drummers from Calexico, and when Emmylou Harris dubs you a “diamond in a coal patch,” magic can be expected. The album does not disappoint. Recorded in just eight days in Brooklyn, its tales fuse the steely confidence of Judy Collins with the dreamy desperation of Ryan Adams at his best. It’s unsurprising to learn that Merritt is also a writer and photographer, as her artistic fruits brim over with a southern-fried edge that leaves no doubt she can stand alone when the time comes.
Setting the stage for Ms. Merritt will be David Wax Museum, at its core the unlikely pair of David Wax and Suz Slezak who came together—he from Harvard and she from Columbia, MO—by bonding over a shared passion for Mexican Americana. A performance from David Wax Museum has that vivacious anything-can-happen (and anything-can-be-an-instrument) quality that makes the stage even better than the studio. Just when you’ve accepted that the jawbone of an ass can provide raucous percussion beneath horns and strings, DWM transcends into lush back-porch gospel harmonies.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The first time I saw Water Liars, I wished desperately for a whiskey—their road-weary songs and highway-hypnosis reverb of the alt-country via rock ’n roll duo just seemed to be calling for the heat of liquor in the throat. This was in the basement of a local college where The Mountain Goats were scheduled to play. Preparing the way for John Darnielle’s literate poetry set to music is a tall order, but Justin Kinkel-Schuster and Andrew Bryant were more than equal to the task. Thundering opener “$100” from their debut album, Phantom Limb, introduced their head-nodding barnburner of a set, a grunge-tinged slab of drone-rock between passages of ear-bleeding country.
2012 went by quick, and included the death of Kinkel-Schuster’s previous hometown hero band Theodore, the formation of Water Liars, the debut album on Misra, touring the US most of the year, and signing with Fat Possum Records for their second effort. It’s that highly anticipated record, titled Wyoming and coming out March 5, that will be showcased at this homecoming Off Broadway stop. If you haven’t seen these busybodies yet, catch them now—before they’re selling out The Pageant.
If you recognize Jonathan Richman as the busker in the Farrelly Brothers’ There’s Something About Mary instead of as frontman of The Modern Lovers, (think The Velvet Underground without the heroin), or his prolific solo career, then it is high time you dug in.
Richman has released nearly a record annually since 1976; choosing one to start with may seem daunting. These three records will help provide the best representation of his massive catalog: The Modern Lovers; I, Jonathan; and his most recent release, O Moon, Queen of Night. The latter features rug-cutting rhythms driving the honest, surprising, and oftentimes hilarious songwriting that is his trademark. “My Affected Accent” triggers pangs of familiarity with anyone who has looked back in horror at failed attempts at individuality during their formative years: “I droned like William F. Buckley does/ I should have been bullied more than I was.” Richman last played St. Louis two years ago, delighting the crowd with his unrestrained joy and skillful, engaging performance. This time through, he brings drummer Tommy Larkins to help get the job done. Dance like you’re at a lesbian bar.
Friday, February 1, 2013
Kishi Bashi, Plume Giant, Ross Christopher
Saturday, February 16
Who needs sex and violence when you could have sexy violins?! If you love four strings and f-holes, Firebird’s got you hooked up.
Truly a composer, Kishi Bashi builds walls of sound from scratch before your eyes in what can only be described as an ethereal experience. Singer, violinist, effects pedal master, and charming performer, he dropped dozens of folks’ jaws at his last STL appearance at Off Broadway in 2012 with Tall Tall Trees. If you’ve been to a Regina Spektor or Of Montreal show in their last few tours, you’ve most likely heard his work, as he’s been the touring violinist with both between his own solo outings.
Ross Christopher’s influences are like the stack of CDs in the car of that upperclassman you thought was so dreamy back in high school—Dave Matthews, U2, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin. Despite the seemingly cliché list, you haven’t seen anyone do what he does. Innocuous at first, he often starts with thick, rich acoustic guitar riffs and sincere yet simple, strong vocals. With those basic elements looped, he trades out his guitar for a violin, and starts all over again. Expect some wicked violin solos and strings, at times so distorted and sonically manipulated you’ll go, “Wait, is that still the violin doing that?”
Brooklyn trio Plume Giant is made of equal parts strings, vocal harmonies and random musical objects. Their jazz-influenced Americana pop will warm your insides, STL February be damned. I recommend bringing a friend to this show, just so you have someone to hug or hold hands with and skip around after Plume Giant’s set. They’ll make you feel all right.