With (perhaps) the only Vermont performance of fabled proto-punkers Death tonight at Higher Ground, I've been on something of an early punk and rock and roll kick this week. Obviously, Death weren't the only band exploring the roots of what would eventually become punk rock in the early 1970s. There were others, including Rocket from the Tombs in Cleveland and Australia's the Saints — to name only a couple — both of whom got their starts roughly around the same time Death was blowing out garages in the Motor City, and a few years before the "official" advent of punk.
But the genre's roots can be traced even further back, to at least the mid-1960s — and earlier, if you want to get really particular. Below is a concert video from 1965 by a proto-proto-punk outfit comprised of American GIs station in Germany, the Monks. Rumor has it, they were among the first bands to explore the use of feedback. That's probably not true, though they may be among the first to do so with banjo. And they are almost certainly the first to do so with banjo, in Germany. So they've got that going for them, which is nice.
In any event, here's "Cuckoo," by the Monks, live in Germany. (Big thanks, to my brother, Tyler, for posting this sucker to Facebook yesterday!) Hope to see you all at HG tonight.
Sorry for the lack of activity in this humble little corner of the interwebs of late. What can I say? It's been an interesting week. But enough excuses already. Let's get down to business.
Agenda item number one is some nifty exposure for one of this writer's local favorites, the Vacant Lots. The duo was recently featured on a mixtape over at Altered Zones, Pitchfork Media's sister blog. The band got some love on the big site too. And a nice review of the track that appears on AZ's August mixtape, "Confusion."
In other news, the town seems fairly abuzz over tonight's full-band David Bazan show at Metronome. Count me squarely among those giddy masses. But also count me among those who will try like hell to make it to the 'nome on time (for once) to catch the evening's opening act, Omaha's the Mynabirds. Check 'em out.
If you didn't grow up in the early 1990s, today's date may not have much significance for you. However, if you're old enough to remember "Beverly Hills 90210" — the original, not the atrocity currently airing — then September 2, 2010 is a glorious day indeed: 9/02/10. So with that in mind, I give you the one, the only, David Silver …
My borderline unhealthy love for Das Racist has been well documented in these e-pages this summer. So imagine my delight to find an email with a link to a preview clip in my inbox today. Go ahead, imagine it, dammit … I'll wait.
The Brooklyn-based duo's second mixtape, Sit Down, Man, drops on September 14. But Pitchfork will have an exclusive video premiere of the mixtape's first single, "Who's That? Brooown!" this Thursday. In the meantime, here's the aforementioned preview.
I've spent the last two weeks or so digging into Revelation Skirts, the new album from VT ex-pat Dean Wells, otherwise known as the Capstan Shafts. The album, his first proper studio release and first with another musician, hits stores on August 24. So I have a short feature on Wells and his new musical partner Matt Lemay — who, incidentally, was the critic who first reviewed Wells' music for Pitchfork back in 2007 — in this week's paper.
Anyway, in doing some poking around for the piece, I stumbled across this video from Wells' first-ever live show, an acoustic performance at the Stannard Church, shot by Brian Murphy of late, great False 45th renown. It's a good one and, especially in light of the polished brilliance of Revelation, provides a fascinating contrast and a glimpse at just how far Wells has come. Enjoy.
We've received a lot of interesting feedback on last week's interview with current Gogol Bordello front man and BTV ex-pat Eugene Hutz. Reader responses have run the gamut from "Hey, nice interview!" to "Hey, Eugene wasn't in Wristcutters. Check your facts, idiot!" Good times. (And no, no he wasn't. My goof. Sorry.)
But the most interesting response to that piece comes by way of Trevor Ayer of the Beautiful Ride. Back in the day, Ayer fronted a band called the Death Cows. One of his songs, "Oh Hey, I'm So Enlightened Now" was featured on a totally awesome and long out-of-print compilation called Burlington Does Burlington. If you're unfamiliar, the gist of the comp was a slew of great 1990s era local bands covered each others songs. For example, The Pants did a swimmingly fun version of Phish's "Golgi Apparatus," Belizbeha funked up The Pants' "High Watermark," Barbacoa soaked Envy's "Bloodboy" into a reverb-washed surf-noir gem. Man, I really wish I still had a copy of that …
Anyway, back to Ayer. That comp also featured a very young Eugene Hutz covering Ayer's song with the late, great BTV punk band the Fags. Here 'tis, complete with some pretty awesome old pics. Enjoy! (BTW, if you're interested in checking out more of Ayer's tunes, the link above is basically an archive of everything the dude has ever done. Cool stuff.)
Sorry for the supreme lack of postings last week, Solid State. I was away on vacation. And the week before that? Gearing up to go away on vacation, of course. Sweet, sweet vacation. Sigh …
Where was I? Oh right, vacation.
While on vacation, a good friend introduced me to a Brooklyn-based hip-hop trio called Das Racist and their new mixtape Shut Up, Dude, which you can download for free here. In short, it is pretty much my favorite thing since, well, at least before I went on vacation. It's brutally funny and viciously smart. And despite the inclination of certain critics to dismiss DR as little more than a novelty, it's genuinely good music to boot.
To illustrate my point, here's their latest video for "Rainbow in the Dark." Enjoy.
All week long I had hoped to offer some choice words on Friday's Bear in Heaven show at the Monkey. But betwixt recovering from a weekend of wedding fun (not mine, thank you), banging out this week's issue, cobbling together next week's issue, working on the next edition of our What's Good college guide, keeping tabs on the World Cup and that crazy ass epic Wimbledon match, buying a smart phone (I caved), figuring out how to use said smart phone, surviving an earthquake, getting in some exercise (for me and my half-crazy, half-pitbull Buckley) and catching up on the new season of Top Chef, frankly, I'm pooped. But enough of my problems.
Hey, Burlington. I have a modest proposal for you. Ready?
Can we just all agree not to have really cool shows on Wednesday nights anymore? Maybe have that be the music scene's collective night of rest or something? (Rock 'n' roll sabbath?) Because frankly, Wednesday shows are a huge pain in my ass, logistically speaking.
Obviously, the paper hits newsstands every Wednesday. So the problem is that I never know whether it's better for me to mention a Wednesday show a full week in advance (and hope you, dear reader, either make note or remember it a week later), ORRRR if it's better to hold the mention until the day of the show — and hope you both pick up the paper that day and flip directly to my column, which I'm sure you all do anyway, right? Ahem.
What's a music editor to do? (Complain about it on a blog, clearly.)
Anyway, I made a quick mention of the killer psych-rock show at Club Metronome tomorrow night featuring The Asteroid #4, The High Dials and the Queen City's own The Vacant Lots in my column last week. But in case you missed it (or forgot), I thought I'd highlight said show again using the magic of the Internet, where there is no such thing as a street date. So to that end, here's a video of Philly's The Asteroid #4 and their song "Here We Go." Enjoy!
Ignoring the most obvious question — which is of course, "Why?" — here's a vid from the kids at the Ben & Jerry's flagship scoop shop on Church Street. It's a, um, tasty send-up of Lonely Island's "I'm On A Boat."
I have a love-hate relationship with Lawrence Welks & Our Bear to Cross. On one hand, I honestly appreciate the notion that a band so seemingly unconcerned with conforming to convention (social, musical or of any other kind, really) exists. Also, I really dig their name.
On the other hand, I genuinely despised their last album, Cam Cougar, which I found so willfully obnoxious that it lost any artistic significance it may otherwise have had. On still another hand, I sincerely doubt the band cared what I thought about the record, which really only makes me appreciate them more.
What then to make of this new video for their song "Wet," from their forthcoming "palindromic concept album," Binary Execute Now, directed by Nose Bleed Island's Joey Pizza Slice? On one (more) hand, it is about as, um, "revealing" a music video as has ever breached our local shores. On still another … well, I'll just let you decide.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is really, really, ALLCAPSFREAKINGREALLY NOT SAFE FOR WORK — or school, or church, or old folks homes or polite company of any kind. Please, if very skinny, very moustachioed and very naked dudes offend you, click here.
Everyone else, take a deep breath and click past the jump.
I just caught this little tune by comedy duo Paul and Storm on a recent live episode of the The Nerdist podcast and thought the denizens of Solid State might appreciate it, especially those who have ever been in an opening band — which is probably most of us. Take it away boys …
I can't decide if I love this band or loathe them. But you gotta admit, Moustache of Insanity does inspire a sort of geeky curiosity — and a mild desire to grow a moustache. The London-based duo are part of an international indie pop showcase of sorts at The Monkey House this Saturday, curated by our very own lovable tweeny boppers, The Smittens. And yes, I'm running out of "twee" puns.
Anyway, we'll get into the other bands on the bill later this week. But for now, here are Moustache of Insanity, performing their cheeky lo-fi pop nugget, "Cheese and Freckles."
What a pleasure to wake up this morning and find this little bundle of press release joy nestled in my inbox. Higher Ground has just announced that My Morning Jacket will rock Champlain Valley Expo's Midway Lawn on Friday August 20. Tix go on sale this Friday at 11 a.m. The announcement comes on the heels of last month's news that Primus, Gogol Bordello and Heloise & the Savoir Faire will play the Fairgrounds on July 29.
Very quietly, the good folks at HG seem to be trying to curate a legitimate, mid-level outdoor venue on the Midway Lawn. Especially as the Concerts on the Green at Shelburne Museum continues to trend a little older — but then, don't we all? — this is an interesting development. Here's hoping the experiment works!
In the meantime, here's a clip of MMJ front man Jim James performing earlier this month with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. (And no, it's not representative of an MMJ show at all. It's just cool.)
A happy Thursday to you, Solid State! Feeling a little scattered today, so bear with me …
Higher Ground delighted aging hipsters (like me) around the region earlier this week by announcing that Broken Social Scene will play the Ballroom on Wednesday September 22. Tickets go on sale Friday at 11 a.m. And if it doesn't sell out by, say 11:03 a.m., I will never give Alex Crothers and Co. a hard about time about booking indie bands ever again.
I'll probably mention this in my column next week, but it never hurts to give new material a dry run, right? Anyway, earlier this week, I was minding my own business, just compiling some club listings for next week's issue when I stumbled across this listing for Thursday, June 20 Langdon Street Café website.
JP and the Tough Choices
J.P. Harris and The Tough Choices play Country-Goddamned-Music. Period. Sick and tired of the modern Pop-Country filth broadcast shamelessly and persistently across our beautiful countrysides, The Tough Choices set out to right the wrongs done to a music so classically and quintessentially American. As we speak, Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Carl Smith, and countless other champions of Honky Tonk are rolling in their graves, groaning with disgust over the watered-down contemporary excuse that Nashville presents us for Country Music. Save a few Randy Travis gems and Alan Jackson hits, this flim-flam is pathetic, at best.
And then, I noticed this curious addition to the band's press blurb …
FREE BEER IF YOUR NAME IS DAN BOLLES.
JP, you had me "country-goddamned music."
(PS- Not that I'm above boozy bribery, ahem, but I'll actually be on my way to Philadelphia that night. Sorry, boys. Another time, perhaps?)
In the last week or so, I've had three or four separate people — none of whom are not involved with the band or promoting the show, mind you — email about how much they think I would personally like The Barr Brothers. The Slip-offshoot will be at Parima this Saturday. I'm only just digging in this morning, but I'll say this, any band that effectively uses a harp and hammer dulcimer is aces in my book. Here's a clip:
And last but not least, this week's paper contained an enormous production goof. Long story short, my lead music feature about local hardcore punk band Unrestrained and their upcoming bicycle tour of New England — yes, bicycles — was regrettably omitted from the print edition. Or, at least the first 700-ish words were. Do the band a solid and check out the full story here. And if you really want to help me make it up to them, you could attend their farewell show tonight at 242 Main.
I've been meaning to get to this post all week long, but somehow the days (and nights) keep getting away from me. One of those weeks, Solid State. One of those weeks.
Anyway, you may have noticed Aqua Teen Hunger Force Live!on the Higher Ground Ballroom calendar Friday night and thought, "But that's a cartoon! Cartoons aren't real people!"
No, no they aren't. And good of you to recognize that, I might add. However, cartoons are made by real people. In the case of Cartoon Network's ATHF, they're made by Dave Willis and Dana Snyder, who, in addition to writing and creating the series, also voice most of the characters — at least those not played by Neko Case.
So what do they do live? Dunno, really. But according to the press blurb they sent along, you can expect: "Dave and Dana live! Performing music! Reading from scripts! Amazing unseen videos that may never be shown again! But probably will! Clips from upcoming episodes of ATHF and Squidbillies! Giving out free junk!"
Well, OK then.
Dave and Dana are on the last leg of their tour, and reports from around the blogosphere … exist. I haven't actually read any. Like I said, one of those weeks. I did, however, scavenge the cavernous depths YouTube for like three, maybe four minutes just now and unearthed this gem from an ATHF show in New Orleans last month. Call it Christmas in May. Warning: Hilarity ensues.
In case you hadn't heard, tomorrow (Saturday) is Record Store Day. And just what the hell is that? Glad you asked!
A "record store" — a.k.a. Ye Olde Musique Shoppe — is where people used to purchase their music before Steve Jobs made most physical platforms for listening to recorded music, such as CDs, 8-track cassette tapes and wax cylinders, obsolete. Reco …
What's that? Oh, you meant what the hell is Record Store Day. My bad.
Record Store Day is a pretty awesome celebration of independent record stores, which, in case you hadn't heard, have been in a pretty bad way since, well … since the advent of the iPod. Literally thousands of indie record shops around the country have closed in recent years as music consumers focus their attention (and money) toward online marketplaces such as iTunes. And, of course, just straight up ripping shit off. Ah, the glorious time of enlightenment that is the Internet age!
Despite the hard times facing the industry, in certain pockets of the country record stores are actually thriving. Or, at least not completely going belly up. One of those pockets is Burlington, where not only have two longstanding shops (Pure Pop and Downtown Discs) weathered the storm, a third store, Burlington Records, actually opened its doors last year. Even more amazingly, said doors stayed open. Although in fairness, BR's sister store, Riverwalk Records in Montpelier, was consolidated into the Burlington location last May. Still, how many new stores do you think opened nationwide last year?
(Answer: I dunno. But not many, dammit. And if anyone else did open one, they must have read this article that, amazingly, exists. Ah, the Internet!)
Anyway, the point is that Record Store Day is an international holiday of sorts, dedicated to celebrating those bold few indie shops who have managed to survive, despite all reasonable odds to the contrary. And it's a lot of fun. Nationwide, scads of new and special releases are planned to coincide with the day. Most stores will host special in-store performances as well.
In the 05401 — I call it that now — Burlington Records will feature live DJ sets from the crew at my alma mater, The Lab. Meanwhile, the old purple lady, Pure Pop, will host Grace Potter and (a few of) the Nocturnals. They'll give an acoustic performance in addition to signing copies of a new live EP available only on Record Store Day. Nifty.
For more on Record Store Day, we turn now to our chief gypsy-punk correspondent, Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, in this video that I totally sniped from the Pure Pop website — which you should check out for more specifics about RSD. Eugene …
This just in: Nuclear Power Pants are playing 242 Main next Wednesday (4/14) with fellow Baltimore/Wham City outfit Height and local experimental songwriter tooth ache. Unfortunately, word of this show didn't come along in time for me to work a mention into my column this week. But judging by this video for NPP's "Got Soul, Need Body," it should be a interesting night at 242, to say the least.
If the Midd Kid vid taught us what $50K a year buys you at Middlebury College, I guess this must be what half that — one-third if you're in-state — gets you at Keene State. Not a bad deal, all things considered. Anyway, here is "Granite State of Mind," a clever little spoof of Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind," from Boston-based satirists The Super Secret Project. Enjoy! (And note the nod to VT about midway through.)