From the moment Dirty Beaches took to the stage at Glasslands last Thursday, I was so ready to hate him. “Oh great,” I thought to myself, “yet another electronic buzz band type of thing that’s actually just one guy doing karaoke over super fuzzed out guitar wales and an expensive microphone.” So. ready. to. hate. him. And I will say that I still don’t know if the music has any inherent value, but I can’t blame any other blogs for hyping this guy up. He’s interesting. He’s got a good singing voice. And he is a fantastically charismatic performer. He has the ability to dance on the border of annoying and amazing, making it impossible to look away from what you keep expecting to be a terrible performance. He’s clearly studied Johnny Cash and Elvis in depth. So much so, that I kept wondering if he was serious about music, or if he was a performance artist. He combed his hair, Elvis style, between almost every song. I know some people will hate him right away, but I thought he was a good enough performer to take serious note of. Plus, the improvised freak out at the end with the Dum Dum Girls was pretty fun.
YellowFever were, of course, excellent as always. Twitching melodies and tight but subtle vocal harmonies had the crowd at Glasslands singing along. People were even shouting out requests, which is so great to see happening for such a nice band. Widowspeak were far better than the time I saw them at Monster Island Basement. The singer has a very strong voice, but the band needs to develop a bit more before they really get good. I only hope the Internet buzz machine leaves them room to do that. Pictures and MP3s below.
MP3: “Shangri-la” – Dirty Beaches
Didn’t you idolize Le Tigre when you were growing up? Okay, if you’re not a female between the ages of 20 and 30, maybe not, but they sure were a formative band for me. JD Samson is a big part of that, at least on the band’s second and third albums. Anyone involved in Le Tigre is definitely a cultural force, and her new project, MEN, is certainly noteworthy. I haven’t seen them live yet, but I hear that it’s an act not to be missed. Plus, New Villager is opening. I haven’t heard anything too remarkably new from them in awhile, but let’s be honest, that song “New Doors” it totally still in your head from two years ago. Admit it.
MP3: “Rich Doors” – New Villager
MP3: “Simultaneously” – MEN
As promised, today’s recommended show is not one, but THREE separate shows at record stores throughout the city. Coming directly off garnering “Best New Music” for his new album on Pitchfork today, Vile will be performing solo acoustic sets at Generation Records, Academy LPs, and Other Music- all tomorrow night at 5, 7, and 9 respectively. Sometimes bands do this to stir up publicity AND to support record stores, and I think it’s a pretty fun, intense feat to watch them pull off. Try to make it out to one of them- and besides, they’re all free!
MP3: “I Wanted Everything” – Kurt Vile
I officially declare this week the week of shows in mildly unusual places. Okay, maybe just Monday and Tuesday (I guess you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out on that Tuesday one…or look at any show listing site and predict my extremely predictable blogging…), but the chance to see Alela Diane amidst stacks of used book at Housingworks is a romantic prospect. Her folk and old-time infused songs have a true lasting beauty- I return to To Be Still more often than I do most music I was listening to two years ago. “White As Diamonds,” “To Be Still”- these are the kinds of song that always stay with you. She hasn’t been through New York in awhile, so this Monday is a wonderful opportunity to go see her.
MP3: “To Be Still” – Alela Diane
These pictures are almost already a week old, so I’ll be brief. I was so pleased to find out that Lower Dens was headlining a show at MHOW, and even more pleased when I saw that the venue was almost nearly full for them. I’m not even sure how it happened. It was only two years ago that I saw Jana Hunter for the first time, by accident, in the back yard of Beauty Bar at SXSW. I was IMMEDIATELY captivated and I remember very clearly making a frantic trip to the ATM, paying a $4 surcharge, and just making it back in time to buy her album before she headed off to another show. Then, she and her new band, Lower Dens, were opening a couple shows here and there at places like Death By Audio. Suddenly, and to me, seemingly without any precedent, they’re playing this fantastic show at MHOW. I guess they got a pretty good Pitchfork review (though not best new music), but that doesn’t really explain it to me. What this really signals to me is that at the bottom of everything, people really do have pretty good taste.
The foursome put on a good show- the climbing, spiderweb guitar parts are beautiful to hear executed live. Still, the overall performance didn’t have as much of an emotional effect on me as I thought it would. A little something was left to be desired from Lower Dens on such a large stage. I saw Ducktails open for what seemed like the millionth time this year, and their set was good as always, if not a bit more drunken. Photos below.
MP3: “A Dog’s Dick” – Lower Dens
I’m going to reference the Pixies twice this week. And Dinosaur Jr. And Pavement. And Robert Pollard. If these bands sound generally appealing to you in a major way, if you feel “nostalgic” for these bands, and wish that there were more bands that sounded LIKE them today without being totally boring and derivative, well, then you should 1. Listen to Mr. Dream’s new record, Trash Hit, and 2. go to their record release show this Friday at Glasslands. They’re grungy without being boring, driving and original. These aren’t pop songs (for the more catchy-loving reader), but they’re cool alt rock songs for sure. Mr. Dream is the kind of band that would have an enormous local following if they were from anywhere but Brooklyn. Like Portland or Seattle. Even Pitchfork liked the album, though I don’t know if that’s a check in the column for or against the band (they are actually ex-Pitchfork writers, and the review is quite right when it says that they sound like music writers making music). The Sleepies are also playing. You could probably say many of the same things about The Sleepies, but they have a much more straightforward punk-rock kind of feel. Go to the show! Not only is the record good, but I know that these guys have a compelling live show, too.
MP3: “Holy Name” – Mr. Dream
This Dirty Beaches fellow has been getting a lot of good press from a lot of good places. I’ve listened to a few of the songs, especially the one below. I’m not sure I totally get the hype, but this reserved, quiet, but emotional track is definitely interest-piquing. Take a listen, see what you think, and if you’re remotely interested and have some spare time- I suggest you make it out to this show. It’s definitely going to be one of those buzzy shows with all kinds of people there getting their first glimpse of a potential new buzz band. Should be exciting. YellowFever are up from Austin and are, of course, always a treat. And you’ve got to figure- a Dum Dum Girls DJ set can’t be bad either.
MP3: “Lord Knows Best” – Dirty Beaches
Tennis has been polarizing. Either you love them because they play breezy, digestible pop music, perfect for a warm summer’s walk on the beach, or you hate them because their music isn’t actually all that interesting, just fluffily accessible. I say, why not enjoy them if you enjoy them? Don’t herald them as the saviors of music, but there’s certainly something to be said for a song that gets stuck in your head like “Marathon.” Tennis isn’t the true draw for this show anyways. That would be La Sera. I’m digging so hard on their self-titled debut for Hardly Art. The songs are also simple, but Kickball Katy’s straight-forward songwriting only tricks you into thinking it’s sweet. The sugary coating on the outside of her songs belie something more sinister, and that’s what continues to bring me back to these songs over and over. Check out the track below. It’s totally vibing on The Pixies, and I think it really works. Holiday Shores are another band worth checking out if you never have before- from Florida, and filled with jangly, angly guitar parts. Definitely make sure to get there on time for this one.
MP3: “Devils Hearts Grow Cold” – La Sera
You may recognize the name Meredith Leich if you’ve been around here before. Occasionally, one of her awesome drawings of a live band will make its way onto this page. I always consider myself lucky when I’m able to post one of those, and now I consider myself the luckiest, because she and I are collaborating on a new web comic. She draws, I take pictures, we put it all together and mostly talk about boys. It’s a great combination, if you ask me. I’m very excited about it, and we’re hoping to make it a semi-regular thing. You can check out the first installation of a trip we recently took to The Bell House to see Reigning Sound right here on Impose. I was disappointed by Reigning Sound- none of the brashness of their recordings translated to their boring live show, but I was excited by the surprise opener, Guitar Lightnin’ Lee. He’s from New Orleans and played a fantastic, spirited blues set.
MP3: “Time Bomb High School” – Reigning Sound
This Ding Dong Lounge place- it’s pretty new. At least pretty newly hosting indie bands. The crazy thing is- it’s uptown!! Oh my goodness! Rock bands above 42nd street! What’s going on? Who attends these shows? According to New York Magazine, graduate students who like the 80s, that’s who. That sounds pretty good I guess. I only know a few people who have made it up to this venue, but the reviews I hear are good. Could this be the first domino to fall in a crazy new Harlem hipster scene? Let’s hope not, for everyone’s sake, but this will be a good Saturday night adventure. I can promise the crowd will be just right, especially filled with those Jersey boys’ side project friends. You’ve got fun and sloppy rock and roll from The Surprisers and Home Blitz. The only thing I’ve ever heard from No Demons Here (bass player from Big Troubles’ side project) is the song below, and I really like it. Definitely go to this show this Saturday. Take your date. Impress her with your out-of-the-way venue knowledge. She’ll think it’s cool, I promise. Or maybe she’ll be annoyed you took her on an hour long ride on the 1 to hear bands she could have heard two feet away from her apartment at Bruar Falls. Maybe gauge it on your date. Personally, I would love to go.
MP3: “Every Second Darker” – No Demons Here